Wednesday, 29 March 2017


Prepare for a fresh slice of terror from the warped imaginations of VFX and design masters Steven Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie. The Void is a highly anticipated new horror following a series of successful and prestigious festival appearances. Encountering a blood-soaked man on a dark deserted road, a police officer rushes the victim to the local hospital. Soon the staff and patients are trapped by a terrifying, otherworldly threat and forced on a hellish voyage into the depths of the building to escape the nightmare.

Shocking, haunting and boasting mind-blowing practical special effects, The Void is a new must-see horror event, starring Ellen Wong (Scott Pilgrim vs the World), Kathleen Munroe (Alphas), Aaron Poole (Forsaken) Kenneth Welsh (The Aviator) and Daniel Fathers. Written and directed by Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski.

Signature Entertainment presents The Void at UK cinemas from 31st March and on Digital HD from 7th April

Cinema Tickets:
Digital HD link: iTunes

To enter all you have to do is answer this easy question...

Who Writes and Directs The Void?

To enter Email us on with your answer, along with your name and address.

Terms and conditions
1. Closing date 14-04-17
2. No alternative prize is available
3. When the competition ends as indicated on this page, any and all entries received after this point will not count and emails blacklisted due to not checking this page first.
4. Winners will be chosen randomly and will be informed via email.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Film News (UK): Soska Sisters head up Slasher Season on Horror Channel

Get ready for hooks, surgical knives and power saws as Horror Channel adds a cutting edge to April’s schedule as the UK TV premiere of the Soska Sisters’ SEE NO EVIL 2 heads up a season of contemporary slasher films. The season also has the network premieres of Stewart Hendler’s sadistically slick SORORITY ROW with Carrie Fisher, the darkly deranged GIRLHOUSE, and Nelson McCormick’s axe-crazy PROM NIGHT.

Fri 7 April @ 22:50 – SEE NO EVIL 2 (2014) *UK TV Premiere

A group of friends pays a late-night visit to the city morgue to surprise Amy (Danielle Harris) on her birthday. But the surprise is on them when the one-eyed corpse of brutal psychopath Jacob Goodnight (Glenn ‘Kane’ Jacobs) unexpectedly rises from a cold sub-basement slab. Their wild party quickly turns into a terrifying slay-fest as the sadistic mass-murderer resumes his savage rampage complete with hooks, surgical knives and power saws. Also stars Katharine Isabelle.

Fri 14 April @ 22:50 – SORORITY ROW (2009) *Network Premiere

A sorority prank goes wrong and a girl is accidentally murdered. Desperate to get on with their lives and avoid taking responsibility for their actions, the surviving sisters and their male accomplice agree to dump the body and never speak of the incident again. Just after graduation, however, a mysterious killer begins stalking everyone, leading the survivors to fight for their lives against a masked maniac with a deadly modus operandi.

Fri 21 April @ 22:50 – GIRLHOUSE (2014) *Network Premiere

In an attempt to make some extra cash while away at college, Kylie (Ali Cobrin) moves into a house that streams content to an X-rated website. After a deranged fan hacks in to determine the house's location, she finds herself in a terrifying fight for her life.

Fri 28 April @ 22:50 – PROM NIGHT (2008) *Network Premiere

After surviving a horrible tragedy, Donna has finally moved on and is enjoying her last year of high school. Surrounded by her best friends, she should be safe from the horrors of her past. But when her prom night turns deadly, there is only one person who could be responsible - a man she thought was gone forever. Now, Donna must find a way to escape the sadistic rampage of an obsessed killer. A loose remake of the 1980 film of the same name.

Other highlights this month include the UK TV premiere of Benni Diez’s enormously fun creature feature STUNG, which airs on Sat 29, 10.55pm. When illegally imported plant fertilizer infects a local species of killer wasps, a nearby fancy garden party at a country villa gets thrown into turmoil when the swarm attacks. Laying eggs in their human prey, the wasps mutate into 7-foot tall predators with a severe attitude problem. Stars Lance Henriksen.

Plus there are channel firsts for Irvin Kershner’s cult classic THE EYES OF LAURA MARS, (Sat 1 April, 11.05pm), starring Faye Dunaway and Tommy Lee Jones, Rupert Wainwright’s remake of THE FOG (Sat 15 April, 9pm), starring Selma Blair; Stuart Hazeldine’s gripping EXAM (Sat 22 April, 9pm), starring Pollyanna McIntosh, Jimi Mistry, Gemma Chan and Colin Salmon; and David Hackl’s killer bear actioner INTO THE GRIZZLY MAZE, (Sat 8 April, 9pm), starring James Marsden, Thomas Jane, and Billy Bob Thornton.

TV: Sky 319 / Virgin 149 / Freesat 138 | Freeview 70 | |

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Competition: Win Ibiza Undead on DVD

Ibiza Undead is out on DVD on 20th March and to celebrate we have a great competition for you and 3 copies of the DVD to give away.

The Inbetweeners meets Shaun of the Dead in this riotously entertaining British zombie film. A group of young people head to Ibiza for the holiday of a lifetime - all the sun, sea and debauchery they can handle.

Leaving the girls behind, the lads get in to an exclusive club where the performers are the undead. But one of the lads’ drunken antics lead to the zombies escaping their restraints… Soon all hell breaks loose and no one on the party island is safe. Starring Emily Atack (The Inbetweeners), Matt King (Peep Show), and Cara Theobold (Downton Abbey).

Check out the release on Amazon by clicking the link below: (Opens in a new window)
Ibiza Undead [DVD] [2016]

To enter all you have to do is answer this easy question...

Who Directs Ibiza Undead?

To enter Email us on with your answer, along with your name and address.

Terms and conditions
1. Closing date 27-03-17
2. No alternative prize is available
3. When the competition ends as indicated on this page, any and all entries received after this point will not count and emails blacklisted due to not checking this page first.
4. Winners will be chosen randomly and will be informed via email.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Interview with Aaron Sterns by David Kempf

Aaron Sterns is the co-writer of Wolf Creek 2 (Best Screenplay Madrid International Fantastic Film Festival 2014), and author of the prequel novel Wolf Creek: Origin – which won the 2014 Australian Shadows Award for best Australian horror novel of the year.

Author of various Aurealis Award-nominated and Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror recommended short stories, including ‘The Third Rail’ and the dark werewolf-bouncer world of ‘Watchmen’ (the basis for his upcoming novel Vilkači), Sterns is a former lecturer in Gothic & Subversive Fiction, editor of The Journal of the Australian Horror Writers and Ph.D. student in postmodern horror.

He is currently at work on his next novel and a raft of screenplays.

Interview with Aaron Sterns by David Kempf

Q. When did you first become interested in screenwriting?

A. I lucked into screenwriting in many ways. Although I’ve been involved in the horror field for many years, coming from an academic background in Literature my focus was always studying and writing fiction. I loved film, which has of course become the driving force of contemporary horror, but it always seemed daunting or unattainable, especially for someone from the isolated realms of Australia. Then I stumbled upon examples of the screenplay form in collections by Dan Simmons and Dennis Etchison and Stephen King, tucked in amongst fiction pieces, and was intrigued by the style and that it seemed so much more artificial and sparse than the overdescriptive, elegiac prose I’d previously been drawn to (Cormac McCarthy, William Faulkner, etc.). 

I attempted scripts of my own in my teens, but found it too hard to format on the old word processors (Final Draft broke open the script form in many ways and probably allowed countless new writers to pour into the field). It was really only fortuitously meeting and sharing an office with Greg McLean (who would go on to direct Wolf Creek), and a director from LA called Adam Simon who started dating my best friend’s sister (and who I spent many, many long nights with discussing horror theory), that the world of screenwriting began to open up to me. The funny thing is that following Wolf Creek 2 most people see me as a screenwriter -- which I’m happy to cultivate because it’s nice to be known for something -- and yet I’ve written fiction for years and also wrote the Wolf Creek: Origin prequel novel. You go where the work is, and most of my projects now are indeed screenplay-based.

Q. How did you get involved in fantasy/horror?

A. I was fixated on death and existence from an early age, so I think I have a natural tendency to the dark. I was also a voracious reader, secluding myself in my room and churning through Orwell and Huxley and other fun reads even at the age of ten. I like the satirical and metaphorical weapons that ‘fantasy’ (as in, an alternate reality or projection or exaggeration of reality, rather than castles and dragons) provides, and the unflinching existential exploration that is at the heart of good horror.

Q. Is this a full-time job?

A. I used to think writing never could be, which is why I pursued a Ph.D. and lecturing at university in the first place – to sustain the outside career of writing. But then I got sick of talking about other people’s work and quit the academic field some twenty years ago. Since then I’ve done any number of grueling part-time jobs to keep my head above water – bouncer (a lot of years of that), actor, typist. But I’m happy to say I went full-time a couple of years ago, with my fiancée’s help, and now write whenever I’m not looking after our whirlwind four-year old daughter.

Q. Would you consider writing in other genres?

A. I’m currently working on a violent gangster movie, a scathing and funny LA horror-satire, I have a couple of SF scripts amongst my slate, so if the story or the approach is interesting enough, sure. But I tend to gravitate back to the broad field of ‘horror’ due to its ability to skewer social norms and comment on the human condition or the current political climate or the family unit without being too obvious or preachy. There’s always a way to slip something deeper into horror, even as subtext. If you don’t/can’t acknowledge the context of the world then what’s the point of story?

Q. Why do you think horror and fantasy books remain so popular?

A. Precisely because of what I’ve been saying – that they present alternate versions of the world that highlight and tear asunder assumed conventions. They can make the audience think, even unwillingly, forcing them to consider post-apocalyptic worlds in which the taken-for-granted safety and security of their current society falls apart, or to imagine their loved ones as betraying psychopaths, or the inevitability and unsympathetic nature of death (something which we in the West seem to be brought up to ignore, presumably so the good little worker bees don’t question the value of work and the quarter-acre home and the 2.4 kids in the face of eventual nothingness).

Q. What inspires your stories?

A. Everything. Every minute of every day. I’m sure all writers are inundated with story ideas constantly. It’s a matter of sifting through and blocking out all the inane detritus – the silly little ‘what-ifs’ that plague you. I do try to write the more fully-formed ideas down though, as you never know when you can develop them into something useful.

Q. The Wolf Creek saga is very disturbing. What made you think you could write so dark?

A. The world is dark. Wolf Creek is one of those horror stories that projects from real life, imagining the true happenings and terror behind the numerous murders and disappearances we’ve heard of in the outback. I think a lot of people were surprised by the novel Origin even more so than the movies. I’d obviously been storing up a lot of disturbing material and ideas about the forging of serial killers that poured out into that book. I still get comments that “I can’t believe you put such and such in”, and I have to think for a second, then admit “Did I? I can’t believe it either!”

Q. What do you think is the difference between Australian and American perspectives on horror?

A. Well, American horror is more mature in the sense it’s been developed by so many masters over the years (Hawthorne, Poe, Lovecraft right up to the present day in literature; countless Hollywood and independent films). Australia has a long tradition of gothic fiction, but a relatively smaller crop of current horror fiction writers. And while there was a bump in genre films in the 1970s thanks to the tax incentives, only a handful of horror films are made here every year (not surprisingly, considering our population). 

But there do seem to be distinctive qualities to Australian horror – a defining element of Australian gothic for instance is that the tension arises not from antiquity or architecture or romantic melodrama as it does in the European tradition, but often from our unforgiving landscape. The earliest forms of settler art depicted the bush as a mythic and impenetrable stealer of children and of hope and dreams, a theme played out in many of the early works of fiction by such writers as Lawson and Baynton. 

A period of cultural cringe seemed to quell this (the dark period of the 1990s when we put out dreck like Cut), but then Wolf Creek unashamedly embraced landscape as horror again and arguably paved the way for a resurgence that taps into this (Jamie Blanks’ remake of Long Weekend for instance, but also movies like Dying Breed, Primal, Van Diemen’s Land). And now recent entries like The Babadook are notable for the very fact they don’t rely on the geography of Australia for its effect. The American perspective on horror would take a book to detail, though I tend to find US studio films are often hampered by the need to assuage focus groups and market segments. Horror’s a naturally risky genre, so maybe it gravitates towards the independent low-budget scene to allow the greater freedom the more challenging ideas require.

Q. What do you think the legacy of fellow Australian Rocky Wood is?

A. Rocky’s legacy is still being felt in the Horror Writers Association, that’s for sure. Many of his initiatives and relentless campaigning continue to expand its numbers, and encourage exposure of the field to the wider community. He also put Australia on the map in some ways in the horror world, staunchly promoting those of us from his homeland at every opportunity (without ever being nepotistic). He was also a mentor to many of us, and was always available for finely-honed advice. His passing is still a shock now.

Q. What are your favourite horror books?

A. Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door, Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho, Peter Straub’s Koko, J.G. Ballard’s Crash. All seminal in some way.

Q. What are some of your favourite horror movies?

A. The classics: The Thing (1982 of course), The Howling, Videodrome (in fact, anything by Cronenberg), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978). More recently Ringu, Martyrs, Inside, and the amazing Black Swan.

Q. What do you consider your greatest accomplishment as an author and screenwriter?

A. Perhaps actually getting published, and actually getting a film made? I think people assume it’s a fait accompli that a writer merely has to write something and then it gets published (or filmed in the case of a screenplay). That’s the process. The hard part in all this is convincing the powers-that-be to actually back the thing!

Q. Do you have any advice for new writers?

A. Your words aren’t golden. Be prepared to take on criticism and advice. But at the same time be unwavering in your confidence in your ability. It’s tough to walk that tightrope without becoming disillusioned, but you won’t publish anything if you quit.

Q. What is your opinion of the new self-publishing trend?

A. It’s called ‘vanity publishing’ for a reason. If your work’s not strong enough to make it past a commissioning editor there’s a reason.

Q. What are your current projects?

A. I probably have ten or twelve scripts I’m working on at the moment, in various stages of development. I’m hopeful of two going into production this year – one in New York, and the other here in Australia. But we’ll see. You never believe something will get made until the first day of shooting. I also have a novel I’d like to get back to, but as you can imagine juggling so many projects there’s not a lot of time for everything.

Q. What advice do you have for aspiring authors who want their work to be adapted into a screenplay?

A. You could always write it yourself. Failing that, you could try to convince a screenwriter (which isn’t likely – they have more than enough scripts to work on thank you very much), or somehow get it to a producer, however one does that. Just realize getting a film made is statistically much harder than a novel published (and that is incredibly hard). So if you happen to be approached for an option, consider it a nice validation of your writing, but you’ll probably never one day sit in a cinema watching an adaptation (and probably not one you’re proud of). That said, if someone does come looking get a lawyer quick smart.

Q. Please in your own words, write a paragraph about yourself & your work.

A. I’m a former university lecturer, now novelist and screenwriter, and have been involved in the horror field for over twenty years. I’m the co-writer of Wolf Creek 2, which won best screenplay at the Madrid International Fantastic Film Festival, and am the author of prequel novel Wolf Creek: Origin, which won best Australian horror novel at the Australian Shadows Awards. I’m currently writing scripts in collaboration with Greg McLean, Matthew A. Brown, Jamie Blanks and other genre masters, and find myself saying yes to far too many cool projects.


Thursday, 2 March 2017


FrightFest and FAB Press once again join forces to launch THE FRIGHTFEST GUIDE TO MONSTER MOVIES, which goes exclusively on sale during Horror Channel FrightFest 2017, Aug 24 – Aug 28. Following the success of The FrightFest Guide to Exploitation Movies, this is the second in a planned series of wide appeal books for both the curious spectator and the cult connoisseur,

Written by celebrated writer, editor & critic Michael Gingold, the book contains 200 of the most frightening, fantastical and fun monster film features. Starting in the silent era, it traces the history of the genre all the way through to the present day. The films are given detailed individual reviews, with fascinating facts and critical analysis.

There are the Universal Studios favourites such as Frankenstein's Monster and the Mummy, the big bugs, atomic mutants and space invaders that terrorised the '50s. Then there's the kaiju of Japan, the full-colour fiends from Hammer and the ecological nightmares of the '70s and '80s, to the CG creatures and updated favourites of more recent years.

Cult-favourite filmmaker Frank Henenlotter, creator of some of the screen's most idiosyncratic and bizarre beings, contributes a foreword, and it's all illustrated with a ghoulish gallery of scary stills and petrifying posters representing the remarkable range of monstrous movies. Do you dare open the cover and confront the beasts within?

The official launch is at Horror Channel FrightFest, Cineworld, Leicester Square (24th to 28th August) The FrightFest exclusive hardcover will be on sale for just £20. The book's international street date is 18 September 2017. Paperback price: £16.99 (UK) $24.95 (US)

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Interview with Anthony Crowley by David Kempf

Anthony Crowley,is a Author & Poet of Horror & Speculative literature,and a non-fiction Author of Esoteric Studies and Philosophy.He also has written for Sanitarium magazine, Massacre Magazine (Founding contributor) and various Horror website sites, including lyrics and a little music composing.

When did you first become interested in writing?

Since I first held a Parker pen in my hand. I was about six years and it has been my passion ever since. I also learnt various styles of writing, especially calligraphy. I was fascinated with how the writing flow appeared to be incredibly artistic and decorative. I was then intrigued by Old English.

How did you get involved in fantasy/horror?

I was one of those children that often had bizarre and strange nightmarish dreams. To me it was a huge realization because the outside world in society played a key role. That was my initial inspiration. I then suddenly became addicted and appreciated the classic horror films of Hammer, Amicus and Universal. I used to focus on everything about the film, such as acting techniques, dialogue and camera directing. From that analysis from what I witnessed had fascinated even more. The Hitchcock films were also unforgettable and still are just like those I mentioned a moment ago

Is this a full time job?

I have many interests involved with creativity, whether writing, drawing, etc... I’m also a campaigner for naturist rights.

How would you classify the genre you write?

We are our own connoisseur to our special blend of creativity. I usually write for myself first and secondly for my readers. I find it a healthy, positive balance to write in more than one genre. I currently write speculative literature, historical, fantasy, spirituality, philosophy, science, naturism, etc.

Why do you think horror and fantasy books remain so popular?

Personally, I believe horror has never been outdated or left us. We are surrounded by horror every day in the news and the reality. Fantasy is an extension to our mind escapes which can be either dark fantasy, action fantasy and so on. My future novel series, titled Sorcero is a Roman dark fantasy idea which I’ve had for some time now. I think my readers will enjoy this adrenalin-fuelled darkness.

What inspires your stories?

There is inspiration all around us, past, present and future. I’m inspired by everything. The mind is a fascinating tool that can go travel so far.

What do you think the difference between American horror and British horror is?

Personally, I am favourable of Gothic literature and psychological themes. I enjoy reading my books which are written in British English. I maybe old-fashioned but it’s my preference. I have nothing against American style horror but I am into the classics.

What are your favorite horror books?

From those early Hammer films, I then came across the works of Dennis Wheatley who had a few adaptations into Hammer productions and another few of my early influences were Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker and Edgar Allan Poe, H.P.Lovecraft. My favourite authors of today are Clive Barker and Jack Ketchum. I had the pleasure of interviewing Jack Ketchum last year for Fear Magazine.

What are some of your favorite horror movies?

The same as my favourite literature. I enjoy the old Gothic style films like Dracula, Frankenstein and Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, though I also enjoy the classic Universal horror films too.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment as an author?

I haven’t got there yet. I will let you know when it happens.

Do you have any advice for new writers?

Be real to yourself, believe in yourself and work hard.

What is your opinion of the new self-publishing trend?

It has its advantages and disadvantages such as the convenience and control of your work. The stigma that everyone can self-publish puts a dampener on it. Publishing a project is a special moment and I’ve noticed some newcomer writers and they haven’t got a clue what they’re doing because it comes down to confidence, courage and hard work but also it comes down to passion. Some minorities begin writing for the fantasy of being rich and success. It doesn’t work like that.

What are your current projects?

I’ve recently published my second full-length dark poetry collection, titled Libro de Lumine. It was an exciting project with much difference compared to its predecessor Tombstones. This collection focuses around life, death and the speculations surrounding the afterlife. The title which is also known in English as ‘The Book of the Light’ has a slight concept to some of the featured verses. Are we on Earth for a purpose? What happens to our human existence when we die?  Many people have been curious in believing that a certain light would appear when we die. Some people say it's a new beginning. While some people believe, it has a whole new meaning.

I think the book will appeal to many readers of horror but also to readers of other genres. I’m currently working on numerous projects, including another poetry collection, titled Stripped Verses which is themed around naturism and the great outdoors. A different direction but also something that is close to my heart. The book will be published by RFI Publishings. I am also working on my second novella, titled BeautEVIL. This will be my second novella since The Mirrored Room.

This story idea I had when I wrote Saturnalia which is featured in Ravenwood Quarterly and Demonology. Expect some dark themes and twists of an ancient demonic awakening within this story. I also have new industrial horror/survival horror themed short story “The Looking Glass” which will be featured in a new anthology, titled “Whirling World Standing Still” published by Tickety Boo Press

Please in your own words, write a paragraph about yourself & your work. 

I’m a positive, deep thinking, philosophical nature boy. I dislike wearing clothes. I guess I should use a pen name as the Naked Poet or something similar to that. Haha!  From the moment, I held a Parker pen in my hand it was like my destiny began to awaken. Away from the projects and creative time which is a rare moment I prefer the solitude and silence.

I’m a private person and I hardly socialize with many people. I feel awoken more so around nature and the environment. I speak to the trees and the stars in the sky. I’m also passionate about photography, art and cooking my favourite Italian and Indian dishes.

The last year I made the decision to quit eating meat and fish products. Honestly, I’m incredibly healthier now and my mind is in a better place all round. I also have an interest in script writing. I initially began writing my first script last year but at the moment I’ve had to put it on hold due to other deadlines, media interviews, etc.. I will also be making my first documentary film themed around UK naturism, which will be titled Nude Britannia. Early stages yet but it’s another direction in my creative life and something which I’ve always wanted to do. I campaign each week for equal human rights. I’ve never been such a political person but I think people should speak up and use their voice in the right direction to make a positive change.

Links - Official Anthony Crowley Facebook Page   Official Anthony Crowley Twitter Page   Official Anthony Crowley Instagram   Anthony Crowley at IMDB

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Film News (UK): Bad Milo! And The Cottage amongst nine Horror Channel prems for March.

Horror Channel presents nine fear-filled premieres in March including the UK TV premiere of BAD MILO!, Jacob Vaughan’s laugh-out-loud comedy horror blending sharp social satire with copious amounts of slimy gore. Broadcast on Fri 31 March at 11.20pm, BAD MILO! stars Ken Marino as normal nice guy Duncan, who discovers that a cute bloodthirsty creature is living in his lower intestines. Every time he gets stressed, it crawls out of his rectum to feed on the flesh of those riling him up. This was a huge hit at FrightFest in 2014.

Dark laughs also run amok on Fri 3 March at 10.55pm with the network premiere of Paul Andrew Williams’ blood-drenched hostage thriller THE COTTAGE, starring Andy Serkis, Reece Shearsmith and Jennifer Ellison. Feuding brothers David (Andy Serkis) and Peter (Reece Shearsmith) abduct a young woman (Jennifer Ellison) and hole up in a remote rural cottage, But their hostage turns the tables and soon it’s all for one when they find that the deranged farmer next door is the real threat. Hellraiser’s Doug Bradley makes a cameo in this terror treat.
There are also network premiere for Irish hit SCHROOMS, a stylish psychedelic shocker, directed by Paddy Breathnach (Fri 10 March, 11pm), ADRIFT, Hans Horn’s emotionally wrenching sail into terror (Fri 24 March, 9pm), Steve Barker’s atmospheric Nazi zombie thriller, OUTPOST (Sat 11 March, 10.50pm), Rob Schmidt’s cult  cannibal chiller WRONG TURN (sat 25 March, 11pm) and Hammer’s THE CURSE OF THE MUMMY’S TOMB (Sat 4 March, 10.45pm).
Plus there are channel firsts for Dave Payne’s tongue-in-cheek horror romp REEKER, starring Michael Ironside (Fri 17 March, 9pm) and Nicholas Mastandrea’s vicious canine nail-biter THE BREED, produced by Wes Craven and starring Michelle Rodriguez (Sat 18 March, 9pm.
TV: Sky 319 / Virgin 149 / Freesat 138 | Freeview 70

Interview with Steven Kastrissios

Ahead of the World Premiere of his latest film BLOODLANDS at Horror Channel FrightFest Glasgow, Steven Kastrissios discusses the challenges of making the world’s first Albanian / Australian horror film.

So what have you been doing in the eight years since making your amazing debut with THE HORSEMAN, a FrightFest favourite?
Writing. I was just 24 when I shot ‘The Horseman’ and it was only my second feature script, so I wanted to expand my horizons and I wrote many scripts in completely different genres and styles. I developed other little projects and came close to doing other features with other people’s scripts but for various reasons they fell through, usually over the script. I also stumbled into music and that bled into my film work too.

How did BLOODLANDS come about as the first Australian/Albanian collaboration?
Coffee with my Albanian-Australian friend, Dritan Arbana. He told me about the blood-feuds and I instantly saw an idea for a story and also importantly, how to make it a viable production with limited means. Dritan is an actor with no experience or desire to be a film producer, but I trusted him and anointed him as my producing-partner and two or three months after that coffee, we were in Albania prepping the shoot.

Why have the Albanians shied away from the genre up to now? Because their own history is so frightening?
I’m not Albanian, so I can’t answer this exactly, but from what the crew told me, they had a solid industry decades ago with the USSR influenced propaganda films, but their local industry has had limited opportunities since. They tend to like local comedies more and deal with the issue of blood-feuds as straight dramas, which there has been plenty. There were no stunt-coordinators, armourers, special-effects make-up artists we could find there, so limitations like that would make it difficult for any budding local genre filmmakers. I have a post-production background so I had the advantage of knowing how to design shots where we only had to do certain minimal things on-set, like very simple make-up, and the rest would be completed in post. We could do things safely too, like have real guns but no ammunition on set. Not even dummy cartridges. No explosive squibs too. All this stuff would be done through a subtle use of VFX.

When did you come across the legend of the Shtriga?
During my initial research. There’s various types of witches in the Albanian and Balkan cultures. There’s even a witch that will maim you if you waste bread, so they have a witch for everything there! And fortunately the Shtriga myth fitted perfectly with the backstory I had in mind for my witch. 

Directing the movie in a foreign language? Much more difficult surely because you need to understand the performance shadings?
This was just another hurdle we had to jump through collectively, but people learn fast and adapt so it wasn’t a big problem and most of the cast/crew spoke English, so I had a team of translators around me at all times for when someone needed help understanding me and vice versa. Whilst I don’t have an ear for Albanian, I did have the advantage of being the writer and the fact that I’d based the main characters on my own family, meant that I knew these characters inside and out. 

How did you go about tackling the portrayal of Albanian people and their culture, which to outsiders still carries a lot of negative clichés.
I was not aware of the clichés so much, coming from Australia. Dritan filled me in on countless tales of Albania, but what we were exploring was at the end of the day, a horror story with fantasy elements. So we weren’t necessarily tied down to absolute reality all the time and the film is lens in a way that embraces the ominous horror elements, wherever we found them. And the story is set in the mountains of a rural village, so we weren’t exploring modern city life with local crime figures, which may be the clichés people speak of.

The Albania I saw, mainly when we were location scouting, knocking on doors and seeing into people’s home lives, gave me confidence to know that the story I’d written in Sydney felt authentic to Albania. Anything that didn’t fit we re-wrote with either the actors or with Dritan’s consultation beforehand, who translated the script for me. I’m half Greek and Albania and Greece share a border, so there was that familiarity for me as well. Although the two countries certainly have significant cultural differences, there is still a Mediterranean through-line that is similar.

What will Albanian audiences make of it do you think? When will it be released there? Will the film kickstart a genre industry in Albania do you think? Or hope?
I have no idea. I made the film for a global audience. The Albanian sensibilities in the arts is unique to itself, so it could go either way. There was certainly a lot of interest in the project when we were there shooting, so I would imagine there would be a natural curiosity about the country’s first horror film.

Are the Albanian cast stars in their own right, or did you discover them? 
They are all stars in my eyes. Gëzim Rudi who plays the father is one the most recognisable actors in Albania. Ilire Vinca who plays the Shtriga was in The Forgiveness of Blood and Suela Bako, playing the mother, has had a lot of experience too and is a filmmaker herself. But it’s the feature debut for most of the cast I believe.  

Bearing in mind how difficult it is to get indie genre films released, was it a conscious decision to not make the film in the English language?
Certainly having non-English language does hurt sales internationally, but what’s the alternative? Having Albanians speak English instead? People have suggested that, but I think that’s a terrible decision long-term that would seriously compromise this project. Albanian is an ancient language rarely heard outside of the region and it’s one of the few that has no root in other languages, so we should preserve it. Global audiences obviously do find foreign cultures of interest so we have that on our side and people so far do seem to be genuinely intrigued in a horror film about an Albanian witch!

And finally, what next?
I’m developing another little project while I make my first serious attempts to go to USA with a script I’ve been developing. In the past I only sent one script out to a handful of people in USA, and I wasn’t even there to do the pitch meetings, as I was based in Sydney and focusing on Australian projects mainly, with no desire to move. But after the fun I had in Albania and the speed of which it came together, I’m all for working internationally.
BLOODLANDS is showing at the Glasgow Film Theatre on Sat 25 Feb, 2.20pm as part of Horror Channel FrightFest Glasgow 2017.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Exclusive behind-the-scenes stills revealed as slasher horror THE TOMBS completes production

Templeheart Films, the producing company behind Paul Hyett’s HERITIKS and Andy Edwards’ IBIZA UNDEAD, are set to unleash a new kind of monster in THE TOMBS, which has just finished filming at The London Tombs, The London Bridge Experience’s horror themed tourist attraction.

Dubbed ‘Celebrity Big Brother’ meets ‘Friday the 13th’, the gruesome slasher stars Jessica Ann Brownlie (Valley of the Witch), Jess Impiazzi (The Only Way Is Essex), Marcia do Vales (Ibiza Undead), Jessica Cameron (Truth or Dare), Akie Kotabe (Humans), Anthony Ilott (Wrong Turn 6), Ayvianna Snow (Heretiks) and Devora Wilde (Rush). It’s directed by Dan Brownlie (Self-induced Nightmares, Serial Kaller)

Synopsis: A clutch of C-list celebrities and the tabloid press have gathered at ‘The London Tombs’ to participate in a publicity stunt for a new horror movie being launched  They and the cast are to take part in a filmed challenge in which their task is to find the skull of notorious necromancer Robert White. The tour guide actors are on hand to make their mission as scary as possible.

Little do they know that deep in the bowls of the building something has awoken and what starts as a night of frightful fun turns into one of intense terror when the evil entity starts stalking the claustrophobic halls of this maze of terror.
Some games just shouldn’t be played…

THE TOMBS, shot over a five week period at the end of 2016, was the first film allowed access to The London Tombs.
Director Dan Brownlie commented: “We were incredibly privileged to be allowed to film there. considering this was the first time that the attraction has ever allowed third party photography of any kind to take place. It was an fantastic opportunity not to be missed”

Producer Rachel Gold added: “With the success of attractions like ‘Secret Cinema’ and, the growth of interactive genre experiences, it was a great opportunity to create a movie where the actual film location is open to the public to experience for themselves what our film’s characters are going through.”
The film is set to be released later this year,
THE TOMBS is a Templeheart Films & The Attraction Movie Production, produced by Rachel Gold, exec produced by Elisar Cabrera, Lyndon Baldock & Kevin Kane. Directed by Dan Brownlie and written by Michael W Smith.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Interview with Colin Minihan

Ahead of the UK premiere of his latest film IT STAINS THE SANDS RED at Horror Channel FrightFest Glasgow, Colin Minihan chats about the creation of his ‘zombie love story’, the challenges of shooting in Death Valley and his new movie ‘Still/Born’.

Colin Minihan with Brittany Allen

Q: Are The Vicious Brothers still an entity? You’ve only co-directed ‘Grave Encounters’ under that moniker – ‘Extraterrestrial’ and ‘It Stains The Sands Red’ carry your separate credits. That’s the way you want it from now on?

COLIN: Our roles were just less defined when we made ‘Grave Encounters’ because we were both very young.  If we make a film together and feel like it's a Vicious Brothers film, then I think we’d use it again...But then again there are far too many “brothers” right now – it starts to feel a bit gimmicky. 

Q: ‘It Stains The Sands Red’ is such a terrific and deceptively simple idea, where did the inspiration come for the story?

COLIN: A combination of things. The main one was that I had just moved to LA and was eager to find an idea befitting of the desert – which I’ve always found to be extremely cinematic but never had a good idea for. I think after watching ‘World War Z’, I jokingly asked Stuart what hadn’t been done with zombies and could be done on a low budget… He responded something like,  “I don’t know… One Zombie?” -- It was a light bulb moment for me, like, “that’s it! ONE ZOMBIE!”

Q: Did the overall arc of the story change in the writing process? Molly’s zombie pursuer would always become her best friend, then confessor, and finally saviour?

COLIN: The lead character changed throughout the writing process. The first drafts were actually written for a male protagonist who was a struggling alcoholic and had abandoned his son in the city.  After rejecting that idea, we wrote this other script called ‘The Last Stakeout’, which I’d like to make someday, but then finally I pitched the new take on the story for ISTSR to Stu – which would follow Molly, a troubled Las Vegas stripper on her journey through the desert with and against the Zombie – who she would name Smalls. This version really clicked fast while writing… it wasn’t like pounding away at the idea by force. It came out relatively quickly, which is always nice and usually means it’s flowing well. It also felt more do able on a low budget as the flashbacks were extremely minimal and most of the shoot would be just two actors on screen, albeit one is in full prosthetics.

Q: You play with zombie clichés brilliantly, and upturn them like an expert. It makes the movie a constant surprise as a result?

COLIN: We tried to just let Molly’s character arc guild the end result of the script. We knew we needed to break her down throughout and get there in an organic way – it was very challenging to write this film because she is talking to someone who can’t talk back. So she is giving exposition but it can never feel forced – it has to be earned. Which is very challenging in this case.

Q: Brittany Allen carries the movie superbly. She’s a Scream Queen favourite and you cast her in ‘Extraterrestrial’ too. Was it written for her?

COLIN: When the script was re-written for a female lead… We knew right away that it had to be Brittany. There was never anyone else. She is a character actor who has been acting since she was a child and is completely transformative in many of the rolls that she’s played… I hope people see how insanely talented she is with this film. It’s definitely her film. 

I also want to mention my pal Juan Riedinger (who is in ‘Grave Encounters’ as well). He brought a ton of depth to the role of Smalls and without his absolute commitment to the role, and his patience, this movie would not exist. He is both horrifying and lovable.

Q: The way Molly grows as a person from vacuous party girl to committed mother is superbly handled in the script by Brittany. That was always the core, the most engaging and surprising aspect of the movie?

COLIN: ISTSR was always a character journey through the desert. We were more inspired by Gus Van Sant's ‘Jerry’ more than anything while writing. 

Q: Talk about the filming rigours; where was the location (the Valley of Fire in Nevada?), how long was the schedule, and it looks a really difficult shoot?

COLIN: It was probably the most difficult shoot I’ve ever been a part of. We kind of knew that going into it as when scouting Death Valley as a possible location we had a close call, almost passing out from the intense sun on top of a dune.

This film is as indie as it gets. I didn’t even have an AD or Script Supervisor on set – and those are two of the main people a director leans on while making a film. We had no money so we had to be as economic and guerrilla as possible in order to pull off this sweeping story.  It was a rag tag group of like 10 people on set on any given day and the make-up crew was in a blood covered RV trying to get Juan camera ready.  -- At one point, Juan even slept in his zombie make up for three days straight because the application was so time consuming, never mind the time it took taking it off.   

Because of what happened in Death Valley in the summer (heatstroke), we aimed for the Las Vegas’ desert in November and December in hopes it would be mild and maybe a bit colder at night. Unfortunately it ended up being freezing cold most of the time, even during the day. If you watch the film it is actually taking everything in Brittany to pretend to be hot when really she is freezing. 

Q: The movie ends on an optimistic note, you see hope in an impending zombie apocalypse?

COLIN: If there is an impending Zombie apocalypse, we are all fucked. Much worse so than we already are.

Q: What can you reveal about your next project HAUNTED TEMPLE?

COLIN: ‘Haunted Temple’, aka ‘Temple’ is no more. Let’s skip this question. ha! 

Q: So finally, If not ‘Temple’, what is next?

COLIN: I have a new film that I am very excited about called ‘Still/Born’. It is in the final stages of post-production. It’s about a young mother trying to protect her new-born baby from a supernatural entity. It’s probably the scariest film I’ve been a part of. I co-wrote it and produced it and it should premier very soon.
IT STAINS THE SANDS RED is showing at the Glasgow Film Theatre on Fri 24 Feb, 4.00pm as part of Horror Channel FrightFest Glasgow 2017.