Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Festival news: Arrow Video FrightFest cancels October Cineworld event midst growing COVID restrictions


Arrow Video FrightFest will go virtual for the second time in 2020, having taken the difficult decision to cancel its planned physical event at the Cineworld, Leicester Square. due to continuing COVID restrictions making the event socially, practically and commercially untenable. The digital edition will run over the same days, from Oct 22-25 Oct, and will combine the in-cinema and proposed Halloween digital event into one online festival experience.

Ian Rattray, co-director, said today: “It’s with a heavy heart that we announce the cancellation of the Cineworld event. Although cinemas are not affected by the new hospitality rules, it was the tipping point in terms of what kind of event we were comfortable in presenting to the fans. And with the threat of further London lockdown rules being imposed, it was felt the best plan was to move everything online”

The line-up, which will include over forty films, will be announced on Thurs 1 Oct, with tickets going on sale the same day. As with the August online event, passes as well as individual tickets will be available.

Arrow Video will continue as headline sponsor and other partners confirmed at this stage include broadcast sponsor Horror Channel, global entertainment outlet Den of Geek and online pop culture retailer Zavvi.

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Interview with Caroline Goodall, writer & producer of psychological thriller THE BAY OF SILENCE

Ahead of the release of the UK release of THE BAY OF SILENCE on Sept 28, Caroline Goodall talks Hollywood influences and the mental health issues that drew her to write and produce her first feature film.

Why did you choose to become an actor?

Performing was my freedom. I had a childhood stutter but it disappeared when I pretended to be someone else, so acting freed me from the stutterer’s crippling shyness. I desperately wanted to be an actress, but I had no clue how to go about it as a career as my family weren’t in the business, though they loved the theatre. So, I thought if I took every opportunity maybe I’d find my way. I joined the National Youth Theatre and then in my last year of school, I was spotted in a school play. I spent the summer starring in a BBC period drama series called The Moon Stallion. I had to ride side saddle and spent most of the shoot trying to stop my horse from charging the cameraman. Dorothea Brooking, the director (a rare woman at the BBC at the time) encouraged me to take up my place to study English and Drama Bristol University, maybe hoping I would end up doing something else, but I’d had a taste of the life of a professional actor and my mind was made up. Bristol led to The Royal Court, The National Theatre and then the RSC where I co-starred with Brian Cox (in Misalliance) who years later agreed to star in my film The Bay of Silence.

Do you have a career defining moment?

Yes, being picked by the always amazing Steven Spielberg to play opposite Robin Williams in Hook. It was the first Hollywood 100 million dollar movie. I thought they would all be like that. Watching Spielberg work every day was my film masterclass and with Robin, Steven and Dustin I got to endlessly improvise and play with the script. It was a revelation.

Steven asked me to be Emilie Schindler in Schindler’s List two years later, which was a personal and professional life changing experience. I was so proud when years later, my daughter opened her history book on World War 2 and found a photo of me as Emilie Schindler from the film.

Is it true you’re the only British actress to star in two different Steven Spielberg films?

YES! And I feel truly blessed.

Has writing always been part of your creative life or is it a newly-nurtured talent?

Our house was awash with books. My parents were great storytellers. My father was Liverpool Irish so that came with the territory and my mother’s stories of Sydney life growing up in Australia inspired me. She is still one of the most entertaining people I know. I was always a book worm. Acting and writing are two sides of the storytelling coin but having faith that anyone would want to listen to my written words took time. Screenplays are deceptively difficult to write and demand intense discipline. But then selling them is even harder….

What drew you to THE BAY OF SILENCE?

The book is beautifully written. I remember reading it in the Bay of Silence itself. Lisa St Aubin De Teran, the British born writer, famous for her colourful life chronicled in books like ‘Slow Train to Milan’ and ‘Keepers of the House’ was writing about places and people I could relate to. The book deals with a lot of things, including the idea that you can marry someone and not really know them. 

The character of Rosalind (played brilliantly by Olga Kurylenko) has deep-rooted mental health issues. Madness always scrapes at the edge of creativity. My grandmother who graduated from Oxford in the early 20th century was a bit of a Sylvia Plath - she had breakdowns throughout the war and would disappear for days. My father, the eldest of five kids, would get on a train from Liverpool and search London for her. She was usually found sheltering with the Servite nuns. I know it affected him and he rarely talked about it. She died at 52. I never met her. My grandmother’s brother, my great uncle, Roland Berrill, was allowed to be ‘eccentric’ unlike I suspect my grandmother. He co-founded Mensa, the society for people with a high IQ, was a Fabian, Naturist, ran an art school in Venice, dabbled in the occult and designed a pack of tarot cards that are reputedly cursed. I located a deck once for my father’s birthday and he refused them. It’s the only time I saw him superstitious.

Producing is a very stress-inducing role. What made you decide to do it?

Actors have always hacked away at the rock face to tell stories they want to tell, so to produce is a natural extension of what I already do. No one can get an indie movie made these days without being prepared to lead on it.  A good script isn’t enough. I don’t tick boxes – I am a woman of a certain age for a start -  so I knew I had to learn the job boots up. It’s a lonely road. I financed it in classic independent film model – script, business plan, sales agents, attaching talent, finding investors, pre-selling 14 territories to prove market appeal. It’s chicken and egg always.

My experience working with Spielberg and Hook producer Kathy Kennedy, inspired me to enrol in evening classes at UCLA and study Film Finance as well as screenwriting. I learned to budget and schedule the old way, fitting scene strips into a folding board thinking if I learned how to produce I might be ready, if ever the time came - but timing is everything and time went by. Marriage, kids, lots of acting work - the classic work/life balance problem.

Then my kids grew and my acting work stopped revolving around their school holidays. In 2014 I was asked to curate a screenwriter’s retreat in the Villa di Ulignano, a magical place renovated by Franco Cristaldi, who was Fellini and Visconti’s Italian producer who married to Claudia Cardinale, now owned by his son, Massimo. That one week lit a fire in me. Jim Hart (who wrote Hook), Olivia Hetreed, Michael Hoffman, Joanna Murray Smith, Andy Paterson - amazing writer/director/producers from around the world, gifted their time and talent. I resolved then and there that I would fulfil their faith. At different times they all pulled for me on this movie, stepping in with support and advice.

Packaging a film project involves constant meetings, film markets and travelling. Step by step I built the team. By the time we got into production, my daughter Gemma had graduated from Goldsmiths College, London University, in Media and English. She started as producer assistant moved to assistant production co-ordinator and on to post production and delivery. My son was an extra. My husband, Nicola Pecorini, who is Terry Gilliam’s cinematographer, gave advice, read different drafts, talked technical logistics and listened to me moaning. My line producer sister checked my early budgets. The list of people to thank is endless. Of course, there are war stories but I am so proud and grateful that we got there! I set the date. June 4. My brother’s birthday. When that happened, things started falling into place. Paula Van der Oest said yes to directing. Then Claes, Brian and Olga’s schedules firmed up, just as some money fell out - but I had momentum and momentum is everything.

Behind the Scenes of THE BAY OF SILENCE - Caroline (middle, dressed as Marsha, the character she plays in the film) with her son, Leo (crosslegged to her left) and his girlfriend Belen (top left on cushion) along with other extras.

The casting is inspirational, Were the three main leads always your first choices?

Packaging and financing a film is never a straight line. Paula Van Der Oest (our Oscar nominated director) and I knew we needed actors who were both contemporary but with archetypal movie star appeal, to tread that heightened reality of Neo Noir. 

I had worked with Brian Cox at the RSC. He was always supportive of the script, and my only choice for Milton. Brian is an actor magnet - everyone wants to work with Brian. Olga is not only smart, talented and a Bond Girl but generous and down to earth. I asked my husband, cinematographer, Nicola Pecorini, who was working with her on Terry Gilliam’s The Man who Killed Don Quixote to slip her the script. Olga responded immediately and said, ‘when do we start’? It still took a year till a green light but she kept the faith and literally wrapped on one movie, got on a plane and flew to us in Italy, to start shooting.

I saw Claes Bang in The Square in Cannes and knew he would be a brilliant Will. I called my casting director, Sharon Howard Field, who discovered he had a UK agent, Simon Sharkey, who ironically, is also a writer and we had worked together! Claes is a theatre animal, like me, and invited me to see him in a play. Peter Garde, my first exec producer (and king of finance plans), is also Danish so I flew to Denmark. Peter picked me up from the airport and directed me on the train to a small regional theatre where Claes Bang star of The Square, Best European Actor 2017 was playing a matinee on a tiny stage - in Danish. Even though he was a huge success at Cannes, he had kept all his theatre commitments. We then had dinner with his wife Lis. Claes fought to make time in his schedule but also introduced me to one of my investors, Dan Friedkin, who also directed him in The Last Vermeer. 

When I look back it looks like a straight line of luck and coincidences but at times I felt like I was in a never-ending boxing match with an unknown opponent. I’d go to bed thinking I can’t keep going but I’d wake up the next day with a new idea about how to resolve whatever the problem was and start again.

Finally, what’s next?

The Bay of Silence received its world premiere at Shanghai (SIFF) – a big film festival where normally we’d have pitched up to tread the red carpet - but of course, because of Covid, we couldn’t. We have released theatrically in some physical and Virtual cinemas in the USA and Canada and are on Video on Demand in 100 million homes there! We had strong reviews from the industry critics, especially for the actors, director and cinematographer, Guido van Gennep which makes me so happy, and the film is starting its journey into the world. It’s a strange feeling, not being able to celebrate all the hard work with everyone but it’s also a vulnerable moment. My instinct would likely have been to run and hide anyway. I prefer doing the work – promoting it always hooks into the anxiety of my shy stuttering child self.

On the acting front, I can be seen in Cold Courage, currently on Britbox. I play Maggie, an ex-actress hired to use her thespian skills to fight an international crime syndicate.

Since Covid-19 stalled production, I have been doing pick up shoots on two projects which have returned  -  an Amazon film, Birds of Paradise in Budapest written and directed by Sarah Adina Smith. I play Celine Durand, the troubled US Ambassador to France and mother to Kristen Froseth's aspiring ballerina and a steam punk Sci-Fi indie movie called The Islander, in Croatia, where I play the mysterious ass-kicking Baroness.

And then there’s the second instalment of The Hitman’s Bodyguard, The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, due in 2021. I’m Crowley, the Head of Interpol, distracted by the antics of Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson and Salma Hayek.

Producing wise, I am in post on a documentary with my partner Cheyanne Kane of Vigilants Entertainment. It’s about Hot Rods and Ed Iskendarian or ‘Isky’ - also known as ‘The Camfather’ - who is 99 and still working.

I am trying to find time to finish a historical fiction book I started, which is set in both ancient and modern Italy and like all screenwriters during Covid times, I am writing a one location film (a comedy/drama) as no one’s, least of all my wilder, bigger budget ideas will get much traction till a vaccine is developed.

Signature Entertainment releases The Bay of Silence on DVD & Digital HD from 28th September

Thursday, 17 September 2020

Arrow Video FrightFest announces line-up for October 2020 Cineworld event

The UK’s biggest horror and fantasy film festival gets physical and celebrates its 21st year with a return to the Cineworld Leicester Sq. London

Following the cancellation of the traditional 5-day August event, Arrow Video FrightFest is back at the Cineworld Leicester Square from October 22 – 25, 2020, with a packed programme of thirty-four new features, presented over three screens. Embracing ten countries and spanning four continents, the nation’s favourite fear-a-thon includes seven World, two International / European and twenty-four UK Premieres.

Tickets will go on sale Mon 21 Sept.


As previously announced, the opening night attraction is the UK premiere of TRAIN TO BUSAN PRESENTS: PENINSULA, one of the most hotly anticipated action fantasy happenings of the year, and closing the festival is the World Premiere of HELD, described as “Parasite and Get Out meets The Stepford Wives”, from The Gallows franchise directors Chris Lofting and Travis Cluff.

British directors feature prominently: Neil Marshall joins us, alongside co-writer and star, Charlotte Kirk, with the UK Premiere of his plague-driven tour-de-force THE RECKONING, as does Chris Smith with the UK Premiere of his pre-World War II haunted house horror THE BANISHING. Also returning is Marc Price, who caused a media sensation with his Zombie horror Colin, made for £50. He’s back with the World Premiere of the slightly more expensive space survival thriller DUNE DRIFTER. A home-grown survival thriller with a more malicious bent is Adam Leader and Richard Oakes’ possession pandemic debut feature HOSTS, which enjoys a World Premiere, as does Will Jewell’s CONCRETE PLANS, in which five builders spiral out of control.


There are also extraordinary British debuts from director Gavin Rothery with his gripping futuristic thriller ARCHIVE and Damian McCarthy with CAVEAT, a terrifying journey through madness and memory loss. Both directors will be attending for their UK Premieres.

Then there is the popular ‘First Blood’ strand, sponsored by Horror Channel, which continues to unearth home-grown talent in spectacular fashion. There are four further entries this year with the World Premieres of Danielle Kummer and Lucy Harvey’s wonderfully infectious ALIEN ON STAGE, Leroy Kincaide’s paranormal chiller THE LAST RITE (based on real-life experiences) and David Ryan’s blood-soaked REDWOOD MASSACRE: ANNIHILATION, starring Danielle Harris. Last but not least is the UK Premiere of Karl Holt’s BENNY LOVES YOU, where Chucky meets Fatal Attraction!

Charlotte Kirk in THE RECKONING

FrightFest will also be physically screening RELIC, by first time writer/director Natalie Erika, who has crafted an unforgettable new spin on the haunted-house movie – a theme that, laced with isolated and murderous desperation, runs through Bryan Bertino’s harrowing THE DARK AND THE WICKED, LET’S SCARE JULIE, which is cleverly filmed in one uninterrupted continuous take, and HONEYDEW, in which a young couple seek refuge in a house belonging to an unforgettable new geriatric horror villain. Home is also certainly not where the heart is in Julius Berg’s THE OWNERS, in which the seventh ‘Doctor Who’ Sylvester McCoy and Swinging Sixties icon Rita Tushingham take on Maisie Williams and her invading gang, and home invasion is taken to new gory heights in Canadian entry FOR THE SAKE OF VICIOUS, an eye-grazing splatter rollercoaster ride.


There is a different kind of murderous ride with the UK Premiere of TAILGATE, a Dutch Duel with a ferocious bite, and the action continues with the UK Premiere of SKYLIN3S, the thrilling third entry in the epic sci-fi Skyline franchise, once again written and directed by co-creator Liam O’Donnell. Another successful franchise is The Final Destination and its creator, Jeffrey Reddick, gives us DON’T LOOK BACK, a new take on supernatural karma and its horrific consequences. And wanting to be someone else can have murderous consequences, as presented in Jill Gevargizian’s portrait of a female serial killer, THE STYLIST, a stunning debut feature based on her 2016 short, starring Brea Grant and Najarra Townsend.

Comedy horror, thankfully, is in rude health, and FrightFest has its finger on the genre funny-bone. So get ready for the UK Premiere of SLAXX, the tightest fitting bloodbath in history as a pair of vengeful jeans goes on the rampage. Other laugh-out-loud entries are New Zealand’s supernatural buddy murder mystery DEAD and Andrew Thomas Hurt’s crazy action body horror SPARE PARTS.

Emily Mortimer in RELIC

Completing the line-up is Takeshi Kushida’s captivating and visually mesmerizing WOMAN OF THE PHOTOGRAPHS, Courtney Paige’s THE SINNERS, an occult take on the Seven Deadly Sins, John Berardo’s twisty teen slasher INITIATION, Teddy Grennan’s gritty survivalist thriller RAVAGE, with Bruce Dern in menacing form, Aaron B Koontz’s bloodthirsty hybrid Western horror THE PALE DOOR, Thomas Robert Lee’s dark, coming-of-age shocker BLOOD HARVEST (US Title: The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw), Adrian Langley’s brutally served dish BUTCHERS and, from the producer of It Follows, BROIL, a fairytale about a family with a monstrous secret.

Three shorts have been added to the monstrous menu: Italian director Federico Zampaglione’s BIANCA: PHASE 1 and BIANCA: PHASE 2 – a double-bill of creepy family stories set in Rome under lockdown, which Zampaglione shot single-handedly on his iPhone and LITTLE WILLY, Andrew Bowser’s dark comedy about a failed actor’s distorted relationship with the puppet he found fame with.

FrightFest co-director Alan Jones said: “Thrilled as we were that our virtual event in August was so well received, applauded and reviewed, nothing beats the real FrightFest deal and our globally envied community interaction. So we have extended our usual one-day Halloween celebration to an action-packed four-day get-together in order to put our mutually inclusive world back on track and fill that missing summer gap”.

The full guest line-up will be revealed in due course.

For detailed information on the line-up, ticketing details & event guidelines

Arrow Video FrightFest October 2020 takes place at the Cineworld Leicester Sq. between Thurs Oct 22 & Sun Oct 25.

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Horror Channel reveals October slate of premieres

October boasts eleven premieres on Horror Channel, including a hellish Halloween night double-bill of Corin Hardy’s impressive Irish monster movie debut THE HALLOW and Ante Novakovic’s rampant Halloween slasher FRIGHT FEST. Both channel premieres will be broadcast on Saturday 31 October, with THE HALLOW at 9pm and FRIGHT FEST at 22.55pm.

There are also four prime-time UK premieres: Demon chiller FIRSTBORN, with Misfits star Antonia Laura Thomas, hashtag horror SELFIE FROM HELL, the haunting, award-winning ECHOES OF FEAR and the pint-sized gold-digger is back in the Leprechaun sequel LEPRECHAUN RETURNS.

There are five further channel premieres: PET, a twisted tale of obsession and complexities of the human condition, starring Dominic Monaghan, David Cronenberg’s cult classic body horror THE BROOD, British director Tom Paton’s giddy nerve-shredder, THE ASCENT, psychological thriller THE RESIDENT, starring Hilary Swank and featuring Christopher Lee in his final movie performance and finally, killer crocodiles and giant anacondas clash big-time in LAKE PLACID VS ANACONDA.

Full film details in transmission order:

Saturday 3 October @ 21:00 – LAKE PLACID VS ANACONDA (2015) *Channel Premiere

Get ready for a non-stop bloodbath in this vicious battle between mutated crocodiles and genetically engineered anacondas In the latest instalment of the Lake Placid and Anaconda franchises. When they’re not hunting for human prey, they’re more than willing to take on each other. Staring horror legend Robert Englund

Sunday 4 October @ 21:00 – FIRSTBORN (2016) *UK TV Premier

Charlie and James are just starting their lives together. Young and in love, they’re relishing having no responibilities until Charlie discovers she is pregnant. In a moment of youthful abandon, they decide to keep the baby. So into their world comes Thea, a beautiful girl. But her arrival brings with it terrifying entities that threaten their newly formed family.

Friday 9 October @ 21:00 – SELFIE FROM HELL (2018) *UK TV Premiere

Socially awkward Seth (Dominic Monaghan) works diligently at an animal shelter. One day he sees old schoolmate Holly on a bus and tries to rekindle the acquaintance. But the waitress is just coming off a failed relationship and isn’t remotely interested. Realising his feelings will never be reciprocated the stalker takes drastic action to find a new way of showing his crush how much she needs him in her life.

Saturday 17 October @ 21:00 – LEPRECHAUN RETURNS (2018) *Channel Premiere

The eighth instalment of the Leprechaun franchise picks up 25 years after the original​. Lila, the daughter of Tory Redding, returns to the home that changed her mother forever. Joined by a group of girls who attempt to convert it into an eco-friendly sorority house, Lila is forced to face the demons of her mother’s past. Although Lila grew up to believe the demons lived purely inside Tory’s head, it turns out there really is an indestructible Leprechaun on a murderous rampage in search for his gold…

Sunday 18 October @ 21:00 – ECHOES OF FEAR (2018) *UK TV Premiere

After inheriting her grandfather’s house, Alysa must confront the mystery of his sudden death and the evil that hides inside.

Friday 23 October @ 21:00 – THE ASCENT (2019) *UK TV Premiere

A special operations squad known in secret elite circles as Hell's Bastards is sent to infiltrate a civil war in order to retrieve vital intelligence. But the crack unit soon finds themselves trapped on a never-ending, twisting and turning stairwell, which they are forced to climb - or they will die. To survive, they must revisit past sins and take important steps if they ever want to get off the staircase to nowhere. With: Shayne Ward, Toby Osmond, Simon Meacock and Rachel Warren.

Saturday 24 October @ 22:35 – THE BROOD (1979) *Channel Premiere

Frank Carveth is becoming increasingly concerned about his ex-wife Nola’s secretive treatment at the sinister ‘Somafree Institute of Psychoplasmics. Headed by cult figure Dr Raglan, his controversial and extreme methods seek to unleash his patients' rage, often taking on physical manifestations. As Frank delves deeper he is finally led to an horrific and repellant final confrontation.

Sunday 25 October @ 21:00 – THE RESIDENT (1979) *Channel Premiere

After separating from her adulterous husband, Dr. Juliet Devereau (Hilary Swank) moves to New York and settles into a new life in her spacious apartment, Mysterious occurrences lead her to suspect she is not alone and quickly her fears become all too real as she discovers her seemingly charming landlord, Max, has developed a dangerous obsession with her. A terrifying game of cat and mouse ensues as Juliet is forced to fight and free herself from Max’s increasingly sinister intentions. The film also features a cameo from Christopher Lee, in his first collaboration with Hammer Films since 1976's To the Devil a Daughter and his last before his death in 2015.

Saturday 31 October @ 21:00 – THE HALLOW (2015) *Channel Premiere

When a conservationist is sent to Ireland with his wife and infant child to survey an area of forest believed to be hallowed ground by superstitious locals, his actions unwittingly disturb a horde of demonic creatures who prey upon the lost. Alone and deep within the darkness of the remote wilderness, he must now fight back to protect his family against the ancient forces’ relentless attack.

Saturday 31 October @ 22:55 – FRIGHT FEST (2018) *Channel Premiere

Blood runs rampant on Halloween night when the Mayor of Sommerton decides to mount a live Fright Fest event within the walls of a long abandoned lunatic asylum. Only problem is a van of criminally insane prisoners crashes just outside and the trick or treaters think their murderous acts are part of the performance. Enter if you dare…

Find The Horror Channel
Freeview UK: Channel 70
Sky UK & Ireland: Channel 317; Channel 318 (+1)
Virgin Media UK: Channel 149; Channel 202 (+1)

Thursday, 10 September 2020

TRAIN TO BUSAN PRESENTS: PENINSULA to open Arrow Video FrightFest October 2020

Four years after TRAIN TO BUSAN was voted the most popular FrightFest Closing Night film ever, comes the hotly anticipated stand-alone sequel, TRAIN TO BUSAN PRESENTS: PENINSULA, which will open this year’s Arrow Video FrightFest October event, courtesy of STUDIOCANAL. The film will play on Thurs Oct 22, 6pm, across three screens at the Cineworld, Leicester Square.

FrightFest co-director Alan Jones commented: ”Ask any die-hard FrightFester what their favourite ever Closing Night film was and they will say the fabulous TRAIN TO BUSAN. The continuous standing ovations, cheers and applause engendered by our sell-out screenings of that instant genre classic has become the stuff of FrightFest legend. So we are delighted STUDIOCANAL is granting us the opportunity of opening our Arrow Video FrightFest October event with the epic stand-alone sequel TRAIN TO BUSAN PRESENTS: PENINSULA. The FrightFest audience really connects with Korean director Yeon Sang-ho’s stellar work and we have no doubt his latest Asian blockbuster will raise the roof once more with his resonant brand of turbo-driven, fantasy action entertainment”.

Four years after South Korea’s total decimation in TRAIN TO BUSAN, the zombie outbreak thriller that captivated audiences worldwide, acclaimed director Yeon Sang-ho brings us PENINSULA, the next nail-biting chapter in his post-apocalyptic world. Jung-seok (Gang Dong-won), a soldier who previously escaped the diseased wasteland, relives the horror when assigned to a covert operation on the quarantined peninsula with two simple objectives: retrieve and survive. When his team unexpectedly stumbles upon survivors, their lives will depend on whether the best—or worst—of human nature prevails in the direst of circumstances.

Directed by Yeon Sang-ho, the film stars Gang Dong-won, Lee Jung-hyun, Lee Re, Kwon Hae-hyo.

STUDIOCANAL will preview the film for Halloween, it will then be released in cinemas on Nov 6 and available on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital from Nov 30.

The full-line up for the October event will be announced on Thurs 17 September, along with ticketing details and the first news of the Halloween Digital event.

Arrow Video FrightFest October 2020 takes place at the Cineworld Leicester Sq. between Thurs Oct 22 & Sun Oct 25.

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

w4free, the UK’s newest AVOD platform, gets scary with raft of premium horror titles

Bobcat Goldthwait’s critcally-acclamied Bigfoot parody WILLOW CREEK, Bruce McDonald’s  terrifying tour-de-force PONTYPOOL, Adam Green’s jaw-dropping slasher HATCHET and ELFIE HOPKINS, the twisted tale of cannibalism starring Jamie and Ray Winstone head up a slate of impressive genre movies, which are free to stream via the W4free App.

Also unleaahed on the new, already popular, UK AVOD service are Romero’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, the infamous Welsley Snipes’ cowboy zombie mash-up GALLOWWALKERS, the stylish and erotic chiller AFTER.LIFE, 80’s cult classic DEAD AND BURIED and THE HAUNTING OF MOLLY HARTLEY, starring Haley Bennett (Girl on a Train, Swallow)

Chris Sharp, Chairman of W4free, said today: “The Horror genre has always been dear to my heart and today’s announcement is only the beginning of what will be a steady output of international genre titles, ranging from cult classics to the contemporary”.

w4free, founded by Chris Sharp, former Chief Operating Officer for Cello Zone and AMC Networks UK, has also acquired a raft of international hit movies including Lars Von Trier’s DOGVILLE, Grant Gee’s celebrated documentary JOY DIVISION, the Irish musical drama ONCE, Oscar-winning LA VIE EN ROSE, the irresistible Australian comedy MURIEL’S WEDDING and the inspiring New Zealand drama, WHALE RIDER.

The entertainment service, which also provides TV series and documentaries, can be accessed on all mobile devices and via Apple, TV, Swisscon TV Box and Sky Ticket. It has also  recently launched on Netgem TV in the UK and Ireland.

The group behind the service, Philipp Rotermund’s Video Solutions AG, provides a range of AVOD and SVOD brands in Europe, including Watch4, available in Germany, Switzerland and Austria with a reach of 10 million people per month.

Friday, 4 September 2020

Interview with Jeff Schneider - Director of Evil Under The Skin

Ahead of the release of his latest film Evil Under the Skin – on DVD and Digital 8th September – filmmaker Jeff Schneider talks about making the transition from being a circus performer to a filmmaker.

When did your filmmaking career kick off?

I started my career with a circus and performing arts troop traveling for several years all over the United States doing pole climbing, hoop diving, juggling, hypnotism, sword fighting and other arena and outdoor entertainment.

I have loved film my whole life. As a kid playing make believe, acting in high school, and working on a circus for 20 years. Film, though, when I got my chance to start that journey of my life it really grabbed me. I love seeing how different people get different things out of films. 10 different people have 10 different strong opinions and interpretations of the meanings of the film.

Most cite “Star Wars” as one of the films that spurred them towards a career in the industry. What film was it for you? 

Yeah it was Star Wars! I still remember not wanting to see it I was thinking it would be like the other sci fi films I had seen. But that film, I saw it when I was five, it just blew me away. It cemented my love of sci fi in an instant.

Have you always naturally been drawn to horror?

 I do like horror I remember seeing Alien and that movie scaring me to death. I like the different ways horror can affect you I remember seeing the Blair witch Project while in a trailer by a spooky forest and being alone. That really amplified the feel of it. Hearing the noises outside and watching the film at the same time. It is always fascinating how watching a film with a group and watching a film alone how that affects you.

In the case of Evil Under the Skin, where does the story come from?

Luc Bernier wrote the script for Evil Under the Skin and we partnered with him.

I imagine you’re very close to it, so maybe the wrong person to ask (filmmakers hate the question), but what do you believe makes the film superior to others of a similar type?

I think films are like people so each is slightly different and its own person. For me I think it’s the cast and everyone’s love of the craft that elevates it. I think when people watch they will feel that love. We want people to enjoy it and we do the most with what we have so for me it’s not about it being superior as much as making a connection.

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

COMPETITION: Win Koko-Di Koko-Da on Blu-ray


Koko-Di Koko-Da is released on Blu-ray on September 7th

And to celebrate we have a great competition and a copy on Blu-ray to give away.

A couple, Tobias (Leif Edlund Johansson) and Elin (Ylva Gallon), embark on a trip to find their way back to each other and repair their broken relationship. A sideshow artist (Peter Belli) and his shady entourage emerge from the woods, terrorizing them, luring them deeper and deeper into a maelstrom of psychological terror and humiliating slapstick.  Desperately the couple tries to escape, only to find themselves back where they started: in their tent, waking up at dawn. By way of their tangled dreams, we relive one particular night in their lives over and over again.  From this nightmarish atmosphere, underpinned by a haunting score and striking cinematography, a poignant story emerges about relationships, grief and reconciliation, and love as a healing force.

KOKO-DI KOKO-DA is written, directed and produced by Johannes Nyholm, a Swedish writer and director regarded as one of the most original and intriguing filmmakers of his generation. With a background in classical animation, Nyholm often mixes different styles and cinematic universes, moving freely in the border between dream and reality.  He first gained recognition for his animated film series The Tale of Little Puppetboy, widely shown at festivals and galleries around the world including Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes in 2009.  His shadow puppetry short-film Dreams from the Woods which followed also premiered in Cannes.  In 2011 his short film Las Palmas gained worldwide fame from its trailer alone and won a flurry of awards, screening in Cannes and Sundance.  In 2016 Nyholm made his highly anticipated feature film debut with The Giant, a fantastical and wondrous drama that received critical acclaim from its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, followed by San Sebastian and a host of other international festivals.  The film won three Guldbagge Awards as well as prizes at the San Sebastian, Rotterdam and Warsaw film festivals.

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Which actor plays Tobias in Koko-Di Koko-Da?

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1. Closing date 14-09-20
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Thursday, 27 August 2020

Interview with G-Hey Kim - Director of Don't Click

Ahead of the FrightFest World premiere of DON’T CLICK, director G-Hey Kim talks about the challenges of making her debut feature

Your 2017 DON’T CLICK short was hugely successful on the festival circuit. Is that when you decided to expand it, or was that always the plan?

I never planned to extend my film because I never expected it to actually happen. Only a few short films have had the opportunity for a full feature version such as Saw (2004), Mama (2013) and Lights Out (2016). So I wasn't expecting that my short film would ever get that chance. When I got a call from George Mihalka about creating a full length production of my film, I was very surprised and incredibly glad. From then on I began to think of my film as a full length feature

Was it difficult to think of ways to elongate the concept into feature length?

It would have been difficult without my amazing writer, Courtney. It's  hard to extend the plot of a short film without it dragging or feeling bloated. But Courtney was a fantastic writer. She understood the exact concept I was going for and knew the best way to get there. I enjoyed developing the story for the feature version with her.

Your executive producer is slasher royalty! How did you get George Mihalka (MY BLOODY VALENTINE) on board?

I may have had a bit of help in that regard, due to the fact that when I created my short film DON'T CLICK, it was as an assignment for a class that he was teaching. He was really impressed by the film and recommended I submit it to some festivals. He's been a good mentor, helping me a lot to get this project off the ground. I'm so thankful I got the chance to work and learn from him.

Valter Skarsgard in DON’T CLICK

Had you seen Valter Skarsgard in LORDS OF CHAOS? Did he jump at the chance to play Josh?

I hadn't seen the film before his name was brought up during the casting meeting but after I had seen his work, I was convinced that he would be perfect for the role of Josh. We sent the script off to his agency and we were all incredibly pleased when word got back that he was interested. It was a huge relief because he was definitely the right person for the job.

You didn’t want to act in the feature like you did in the short?

Seeing as it was my first time as the director of a feature film, I wanted to make sure I was focused and wasn't taking on more than I could handle. That's why I decided to stay behind the camera this time as otherwise it could quickly become overwhelming. It turned out to be the right decision, but the experience that I had as an actor did come in handy while working on the feature film. It helped me to communicate with the actors, knowing what they were experiencing on the other side of the camera.

Websites, technology, the nasty side of the Internet, is DON’T CLICK a warning for our times?

Absolutely. Due to the ever evolving nature of technology and science, our lives are rapidly becoming more convenient. But we're also facing new problems that we've never seen before, such as what I show in my film -  the disconnection to criminal and pornographic violence when viewed over the Internet. It may feel like something that only happens in movies. But the online chatroom sex abuse case in South Korea was real. It's time for us to really sit down and think about it.

What were the main challenges for you as director this time around?

As I mentioned before, it was my first time as a director of a feature film. I went from having a crew of 3 to having a crew of 45. It often made it difficult to communicate everything I needed to the right people. I made some mistakes, but luckily the crew I was working with were amazing people with lots of experience. They were experts in their fields and they always supported throughout the project. Not only the staff, but the actors were fantastic as well. The feature film is a well-made horror film thanks to their efforts, dedication, and passion.

The feature was shot in Canada and we are seeing so much talent emerging from that territory. Why is that, because it’s easier to fund genre pictures?

One of my favorite genres is horror. What I believe is that a director can make a film very well when he likes the genre and understands it fully. Ideas are popping up left and right and filmmakers here are clamoring to make them. Hopefully. this surge of talent continues, and helps Canada grow more and more on the global stage.

FrightFest is delighted to be hosting the World Premiere of DON’T CLICK at their virtual August event. What does that mean to you, and is it the perfect platform considering the subject matter?

Don't Click is about the disconnect in the virtual world. So it's meaningful to me to show it to the audience for the very first time through a virtual event. I think the audience may feel more scared watching at home alone on their laptop, just like the characters Josh and Zane did. They may find that on the internet, anyone can find themselves in Josh and Zane's place.

Finally, what’s next for you?

The feature film Don't Click was a great opportunity for me. I have learned a lot of things from it. I almost feel as though it were my first love. But now I need to think about my next step. I've been looking into making some short films and I'm currently shopping around some feature length scripts that I'm hoping will get picked up.

DON’T CLICK is showing online on Saturday 29 August, 8.45pm, in the Arrow Video Screen, as part of the Arrow Video FrightFest August Digital event.

Tuesday, 25 August 2020

Interview with Jordan Barker, Director of Witches in The Woods

Ahead of Horror Channel’s UK TV premiere of WITCHES IN THE WOODS, director Jordan Barker reflects on the challenges of filming in sub-zero temperatures and the time-bending ambitions of his next film…

Why did you respond so strongly to Christopher Borell’s script (originally titled STRANDED) – because it mixed an age-old witch hunt tale with up-to-the-minute contemporary issues of sexual harassment? 

Hi All and hope everyone is staying safe and sane during these very strange times.  Borrelli’s script spoke to me on many levels.  I felt it took a contemporary look at what it means to live in our post truth world; how our realities are shaped by the lens through by which we choose to observe.  To me the film was summed up by nothing being more terrifying than being possessed, not necessarily by a vicious evil demon, but instead by an idea.

Is it based on any actual folklore tale or urban legend? Did the Stoughton Witch Trials actually exist?

Stoughton Valley is a fictional place in Massachusetts but named after the very real William Stoughton, the judge who oversaw the Salem Witch Trials in the 17th century.

There are seven characters in the movie and what is so good about the script is that each has a proper back-story. Is that why you could attract such a great cast? 

Thanks for that.  We really worked hard to make the characters as real as possible.  David Fincher once said to make all your characters right and we definitely tried to take that advise.  One thing I said during the writing was to ground each character to at least one other person in the car with some kind of issue or conflict.  I also wanted to make sure we had different types of relationships to play off of.  We thought it would be fun for instance to make one of the people in the car only connected to the others through her new boyfriend, that way when things went to shit, she’d have no one to hang on to.

WITCHES IN THE WOODS takes a very thoughtful approach to what in other lesser hands would be cliché material. How hard is it to do different yet still be creepy and involving?

I don’t know that we tried too hard to be different other than just trying to find the most exciting way to bring the pages to life.  For example we open on a very complex single take shot set inside the car as we introduce all our characters.  In some cases this might be considered gimmicky, but I believed it was the right way into the story as I wanted the viewer to start off the film as an almost omniscient observer floating through the car, following the conversation.  We are meant to start objectively and then slowly move into the subjective point of view of our lead character.

Good to see such strong, sympathetic female characters and the performances of all three actors are evidence of that. They come off as so much more level headed and together than their male counterparts? 

Hannah (Jill), Sasha (Alison) and Humberly (Bree) brought so much to these characters.  During the Salem witch trials, many women were persecuted, not for any real crime, but as scapegoats for a patriarchal societies anxieties and fears.  There is a backstory laid into Witches in the Woods of an event that victimizes one of our female characters in a multitude of ways.  It was important for us to give all the characters, male and female, a place to stand up for themselves and be pushed to show who they really are and what they are capable of.

WITCHES, tick. But what about the WOODS? You make the forest environment as much a character as anyone else?

I don’t know about you, but whenever I’ve found myself alone at night in the wilderness and I take a moment to tune into the sights and sounds around me, I feel like I’m paying attention to something that maybe I should have noticed earlier on.  You realize it’s always been there, just outside your senses and when your brain tunes you in, you think for a moment…why? Is there danger?  In so, the environment can become a foe and especially in a film like this, it was important to make the audience feel that way as well.

What were the challenges of filming in the freezing cold in Ontario, Canada, especially as you caught pneumonia?

Everything is just slower. Everyone takes up more space because they are layered up.  Equipment freezes. Safety precautions have to be put in place due to dangerous terrain and weather.  We wanted our characters to be wearing fashionable clothes that look good, but don’t necessarily protect you from long periods of time in the cold.  The film has an underlying theme about the thin veneer that separates us from chaos and our reliance on technology (cell phones, the car, heat, fabrics) comes at a cost.  That being said, the crew was warm and the actors were as cold as their characters which made it incredibly difficult for them to do long takes out in the cold.  We also had issues with our lights up on big cranes, swaying in the harsh winds.  Continuity was one of the hardest things to deal with in regard to the cold.  Our film takes place over one night but we filmed it over a month and the weather kept changing.  One night it would snow, then the snow would melt, then it would be windy etc.  And then yes, I caught Pneumonia!

Is the overall message about the primal urges that kick in when you go from what passes as civilization to the rawest of natures? 

I think that is certainly part of it.  I said above one of the most interesting threads throughout the film for me is the thin veneer between civility and chaos.  This is a group of friends going on a trip, but what happens when you peel the onion.  Are they actually good friends? It’s very easy to be nice and civil when your life isn’t at stake.  This also plays into the question of truth and point of view.  We all agree to disagree and can see the world slightly differently in a civilized society.  What happens when that falls apart? All of a sudden, a different point of view makes you the enemy and you have to be eliminated…for survival.

You’ve been to FrightFest with three movies (THE MARSH, TORMENT), what is the importance of the global genre festival circuit to your work?

I am so grateful to have been invited back to FrightFest.  As directors, you spend so much time tinkering in a dark room well after most of the crew has left and done 2 or 3 other films.  Being able to share the work in a live space with other like-minded genre fans across the world is an integral part of keeping the artform alive. It is honestly why I do it, to share the experience with an audience.

Finally, what’s next for you?

I can tell you that my next project is a time-bending sci-fi horror called HARBINGER.  It’s an adaptation of a LoveCraftian short story about a group of particle physicists who are working on a machine to transmit information faster than the speed of light.  When they begin receiving ominous messages from their future selves, things take a dark and dangerous turn as they race to save themselves from a mysterious entity.  It’s a bit of a Primer meets The Thing meets Memento.

WITCHES IN THE WOODS is broadcast on Horror Channel, Saturday 29 August @ 21:00
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