Tuesday, 20 February 2018
Ahead of the UK premiere of COLD SKIN at Horror Channel FrightFest Glasgow 2018, director Xavier Gens reflects on the film’s emotional journey to screen, bachelor parties and what scares him the most…
Q: You were a fan of the book by Albert Sánchez Piñol and wanted to make it after FRONTIERE(S). What took so long?
It took so long because we had to find the right combination between budget and the story we wanted to tell. If you adapt a film from a book and you are respectful of the original story you have to find how to make it perfect. And reading the first chapter of Cold Skin I was thinking “how can I do that with the budget of an indie film?”
So, first we wrote the script, which took over two years, and then we started looking at the best locations. We have been everywhere…Canada, Iceland, Ireland… Each time studying where the technician can be from, how to build the light house, how to create everything related to the story we need to tell. Then you have to find the right actors… I was lucky to find David Oakes and Ray Stevenson as they both are incredible human beings who totally got the film I wanted to do. And then I encountered Aura Garrido in Madrid who was so clever on her approach to Aneris. But to reunite all the elements to do the film I wanted to make took the time. It’s been an amazing Journey.
Q: How different is the book from the film?
The film retains the philosophy behind the book and my approach after talking with Albert Sanchez Pinol was to understand what pushed him to write this story. He is an anthropologist with a scientist’s mind, so it was interesting to understand from where the inspiration was coming. I wanted to catch the spirit of that. He decided to create his own theory of evolution and give an original take about the myth of the mermaid. I wanted to be so close to the book on his philosophical approach and on his realism as I could.
The book is more violent and sexually brutal with the character of ‘Aneris’ but the film is more poetic. The character of ‘Friend’ is an intellectual. So I wanted the film from Friend’s point of view and keep his romantic feeling.
Q: You built the lighthouse on the Canary Islands. Was finding the right desolate location difficult?
Yes, it was really difficult to find the right place to build the lighthouse. We visited so many places, then we arrived in Lanzarote and the location was fantastic. The volcanic rock, everything, was like I imagined it. Then we took a small road in Tinajo on the Atlantic side of Lanzarote. The location was so dramatic and creatively perfect but it was almost impossible to bring a crew there. So we decided to keep it and build the base camp and a road to access this place near the national park of Timonfaya at the bottom of a volcano. If you like hiking it’s the best place to go!
Q: Amazing that with COLD SKIN and THE SHAPE OF WATER we currently have two films about amphibious creatures encompassing both horror and romantic elements?
Yes, I’m happy for Guillermo Del Toro that The Shape of Water is getting this worldwide recognition. It will help fantasy and horror movies to exist. I believe the audience need to dream and I think of the experience like an explorer of alternate realities. My hope is that with movies like The Shape of Water and Cold Skin, we propose a different kind of cinema.
Q: Why were actors David Oakes and Ray Stevenson perfect for their parts?
David Oakes is really the most incredible and cool human being I have ever met. He is very creative, he draws, is passionate about poetry and 19th century authors like John Keats. And working on the film I wanted to keep that literal approach, express the feeling you can have when you read a book. And David is really from another time, he captured that elegance I needed for the character and this deep, natural kindness. You can feel a real sensitivity in him and it’s why he was so perfect as Friend.
For Ray I wanted someone with a strong charisma, strong voice, a force of nature. And Ray is like that. He is Titus Pullo! He’s able to perform in a very physical and violent way and then, in an instant, turn into the most vulnerable character. For Gruner the most challenging aspect was to be unpredictable. Gruner is a broken man who hides who he really is behind a shell of violence. And Ray has got this incredible talent to go into these emotional places. I’m so glad both actors accepted to work with me and accompanied me is this adventure. I feel blessed.
Q: The role of Aneris is crucial; why did you pick actress Aura Garrido and how did her look evolve?
First, we worked on the creature design. Then I saw Aura on a film and I was so fascinated by her eyes. She is so magnetic. And I wanted Aneris to be magnetic, as graceful as Aura is. When we met she told me how she liked body expression and she wanted to explore and give life to Aneris without any words. So she trained for two months before the film – learning how to move, how to express her emotions with her body…She also went on a strict diet as her character is almost naked all the way through the film. We need to believe she is amphibian, swimming hours every day. She was incredible. She worked so hard to give life to Aneris, you can’t imagine how difficult it was. I’m eternally thankful for what she did.
Q: You’ve said the visual inspiration is from the German painter Caspar David Friedrich, can you explain more?
I love Friedrich’s painting of a man looking at the ocean. For me this painting contains everything I wanted to express in Cold Skin. I don’t know how to explain… it’s more a feeling and when I’m looking at this painting I feel emotions I wanted to give to the audience in the film. There is a feeling of loneliness and isolation that is very personal for me and that’s what I tried to communicate in the film.
Q: How much of the movie is CGI as opposed to physical effects?
There is more than a thousand shots with visuals effects in the film. Felix Berges, David Ramos and Laura Petter from the company El Ranchito did them. I can’t tell you the amount of hours of work there is behind this film. I think in almost every shot of the film there is something we changed or created.
Q: What was the worst aspect of filming? The weather?
The weather was amazing. We really enjoyed being in Lanzarote and the atmosphere on set was really great. I think Cold Skin was the most agreeable shooting experience I’ve ever had. It was hard for the actors but we had such an amazing location to shoot. Every morning you arrive near the ocean to make a film, with the sound of waves crashing on volcanic black rocks. It’s just perfect.
Q: Many audiences knowing your French Extreme reputation will be surprised by the elegance and eloquence of COLD SKIN. Was that the shock to the system you wanted?
There is no calculation. I just wanted to tell the story I loved while reading the book and share those emotions with the audience. There are violent beats in the film but it’s not a film about violence. Frontier(s) and The Divide are movies talking about violence but Cold Skin is talking about humanity, isolation and a main character who wants to escape from violence.
Q: What scares you the most?
Movie critics! Ahahaha. No, I’m kidding. What scares me the most is current politics. We have such a social crisis in the world and particularly in Europe right now. It’s urgent to find solutions. And I’m scared and angry that we are not able to solve the problem. We are in 2018 and we should be able to stop human conflicts by talking rather than killing…
Q: Finally, what’s next?
I just wrapped a French movie called Budapest, which will be released in France this summer and stars Manu Payet, Jonathan Cohen and Mister Poulpe. It’s a comedy about two friends who decide to create a company to organise bachelor parties in Budapest where everything you want to do is possible…
COLD SKIN is showing at the Glasgow Film Theatre on Fri 2 March, 8.45pm, as part of Horror Channel FrightFest Glasgow 2018. Xavier Gens will be attending, alongside lead actor David Oakes.
COLD SKIN will be available on DVD and Digital HD from April 23rd, courtesy of Signature Entertainment.
Monday, 19 February 2018
To celebrate the release of Jigsaw on Digital Download 19th February and DVD, Blu-ray, 4k, Steelbook & Box-set 26th February, we have a great competition for you and a copy to give away.
One of the highest grossing horror franchises of all time is back, taking Jigsaw’s signature brand of twisted scenarios to the next level. After a series of murders bearing all the markings of the Jigsaw killer, law enforcement find themselves chasing the ghost of a man dead for over a decade and embroiled in a new game that’s only just begun.
Is John Kramer back from the dead to remind the world to be grateful for the gift of life? Or is this a trap set by a killer with designs of their own? Modernised for new fans, Jigsaw is also highly satisfying for fans of the series.
Directed by Michael Spierig & Peter Spierig (Predestination) Jigsaw stars Matt Passmore (The Glades), Tobin Bell (Saw), Callum Keith Rennie (Memento) and Laura Vandervoort (Supergirl).
Click here to buy from Amazon (Opens in a new window)
For your chance to win just answer the question below.
Who Directs Jigsaw?
Send you name, address and of course the answer to firstname.lastname@example.org
Lionsgate UK presents Jigsaw on Digital Download 19th February and DVD, Blu-ray, 4k, Steelbook & Box-set 26th February
1. Closing date 05-03-18
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.
Thursday, 15 February 2018
Ahead of the UK premiere of TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID at Horror Channel FrightFest Glasgow 2018, director Issa Lopez tells us about her journey from Mexico’s SESAME STREET to creating an internationally admired feature film and why the horror genre has always been her passion.
Q: Could you tell us about your career background leading up to TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID.
My first paid job in the business was writing and directing segments for the Mexican Sesame Street. Eventually I moved on to write soap-operas, or Telenovelas, as they are known in Mexico. Terrible job, but quite the school for writers. It took me around five years to find my way into movies: writing romantic comedies. It took a while to convince producers I could direct myself, and that I didn’t want to direct the rom-coms I was known for, but very caustic comedies. I directed two of these. I know, nothing of this seems to lead to Tigers, but actually, it did: genre has always been my passion, and so many years, pages, scenes without it pushed me into going full-fantasy, full-grit with Tigers.
Q: TIGERS is very different to your previous works, what were your inspirations for the film?
So many of them… it’s a very weird, very honest blend of passions. From ‘Goonies’ and ‘Stand by Me’ to ‘Los Olvidados’, by Buñuel, and of course Del Toro’s two Spanish movies.
Q: The performances in the film are simply sensational, especially Paola Lara as Estrella. How was the casting process and how did you find working with the young actors?
We saw six hundred children to find these five. It was exhausting, exhilarating and heart-breaking, all at the same time. It is tough to say no to kids, and it was so much fun to watch them improvise… for the final round, we enlisted the help of acting-guru Fátima Toledo, the Brazilian genius behind the performances in ‘City of God’. Fátima and I went together through the final twenty to pick the five. We agreed on most of it, disagreed on some, and ended up very happy with our choices. I love them all, and it was a joy to spend with them the prep and the shooting.
Q: The film has a beautiful look and feel to it, was that difficult to achieve and how did you set about it?
Thanks! For every project, even while writing, I start to create endless boards of visual references that were the spine for the look and universe you saw on the screen: this kind of ghost city retaken by children and wilderness. To recreate it, I enlisted the help of two amazing artists: Juan José Saravia, my DP, who immediately understood what I wanted. Together we came up with this feeling of a sixth kid in the gang: us. The camera, hiding, running, playing with Shine’s banda. And then, of course, there’s Ana Solares, whose Production design not only captured what I wanted, but actually brought into the mix elements as central to the story as the graffiti. I ended up writing it into the script.
Q: What personal experiences did you draw on to make the film?
I lost my mother when I was eight. Of course, the circumstances where, thankfully, very far from the brutality of what happens to my characters, and to so many children in Mexico -and the world. But still, this sense of coming home from school one day and never seeing your mother again, never having a chance to say goodbye, never seeing a body, a casket…gives you a feeling of a ghost following you around, waiting for you to look at it, and acknowledge death. Hence Tigers.
Q: How have audiences reacted to the film both at home and internationally? You must be delighted that Stephen King via Twitter gave it such a glowing appraisal…to quote him: “This is one terrific film, both tough and touching. Two minutes in I was under its spell."
It’s been absolutely incredible! I LOVE sitting down in theatres, around the world, and experiencing the emotional impact the movie has through such different cultures, and how the differences melt when the story and the characters unfold. People cry. A lot. And it is such a moving, incredible feeling, to know that what we started off trying, actually happened. Is it terrible to say it feels good to make people cry?
Mr. King and Mr. Del Toro’s reaction… how to describe the feeling of your personal heroes saying you did well? I still can’t believe it, honestly.
Q: Are you looking forward to the screening at FrightFest Glasgow?
I’m dying to see how it plays in Scotland! Are you kidding me?
Q: What is the state of play with the film industry in Mexico currently, are they generally supportive of genre projects?
Nope. Mexican audiences, for the last five years have been demanding and consuming comedy, when it comes to local production. Not surprising, considering the violence we are submerged in right now. So, even though we Mexicans absolutely love genre… we import it. Absurd, right? I hope that changes soon.
Q: What films this year have caught your eye?
Oh, so many! What a year! Especially for genre. It’s almost pointless to say what a movie ‘The Shape of Water’ is. What maturity, heart, originality it has, and how pertinent to the moment we are all going through. But then there’s ‘A Ghost Story’, that made me cry so much, ‘Thelma’, ‘It Comes at Night’, and ‘Blade Runner 2049’, of course, doomed to become a cult classic, like the original… and soon a couple of gems doing the Fest Circuit are going to be available to all, like ‘Lowlife’ and ‘The Endless’.
Q: What is next for you? Will you stay within or perhaps return to the genre at some point?
I’m going to FrightFest, then fly back home to premiere a comedy. After Tigers I so needed a good laugh, and I had it. It’s called ‘Todo Mal’ and it is also a bit of a genre-bender, but quite a different beast. Next? All genre. I’m playing around with two projects I’m quite in love with. More soon on those…
TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID is showing at the Glasgow Film Theatre on Sat 3 March, 9.05pm, as part of Horror Channel FrightFest Glasgow 2018. Issa Lopez will be attending.
Monday, 12 February 2018
Ahead of the UK premiere of SECRET SANTA at Horror Channel FrightFest Glasgow 2018, director Adam Marcus tells us about his obsession with Christmas Eve, being inspired by Orson Wells and why family is the real ‘monster’.
Q: Over the past few years we’ve seen a lot more seasonal based shockers than ever before. Why is the Christmas Holiday period so ripe for horror?
I’m not sure. Maybe, because it’s the “Happiest Time of the Year”, it’s ripe for the picking when it comes to our genre’s ironic sense of humour. I think there is a cynicism that’s kind of permeating everything. Nothing is as it seems. No one can be trusted. So, perhaps these films are playing into people’s cynical fear, and that’s the cause for the trend. If you can’t trust your government, or your neighbours who might vote for that government, why trust the “Happy” Holidays?
Q: You take a typical fraught family get-together and take it to limit. Was that the basic idea, the beginning of the project?
I can tell you that I’ve been obsessed with Christmas my whole life. Truly. My parents were married on Christmas Eve and always had a big holiday party every year to celebrate. The feeling and look of Christmas is so romantic. But as I got older and my parents divorced, Christmas Eve had a stranger feel to it. It was still beautiful but it almost became a way of my parents celebrating their divorce. And that juxtaposition fascinated me. People all seem really happy and kind but just under the surface they’re hoping the other one chokes on the Christmas Turkey. That’s why Secret Santa isn’t about a Killer Santa or a Krampus or an evil Snowman come to life. It’s about the real monster, Family.
Q: You wrote the script with your wife Debra Sullivan. Can you give an insight to how that relationship worked?
Debra and I have written over fifty scripts together, all the while maintaining a very happy marriage. If you want to keep that happy marriage, you have to find ways to compromise while still challenging each other to do better every day. It’s a bit of a high wire act but we make it work. And with each script it changes. Some I’ll take the lead, others she will. I will say that on Santa, Deb let me do a lot of the heavy lifting because she knew this one lived inside my head. We wrote the script in twenty days. That’s from first day of concept to finished draft. We’re fast but we’re rarely that fast. It poured out of me and Deb let that happen. She was busy re-writing and generating notes to challenge my logic and character relationships. The give and take was amazing. That’s why it went so fast. And it had to. We had picked a shoot date that was only two months from the first week of writing so we had no choice.
Q: Everyone in the movie is so horrible, you can’t wait to see them die, was that the idea?
It sure was! I wanted the audience to love it when these people got their comeuppance. And the funny thing is that the initial conversations about that came from Orson Welles’ masterpiece “The Magnificent Ambersons”. And I’m not being some pretentious film-school jackhole right now. That film is one of the most influential on my filmmaking. My first Cinematographer, Bill Dill, showed it to me when we were prepping “Jason Goes to Hell”. I even used it in “Jason”. The eye-light that Welles used, we used it to indicate when someone was possessed by Jason. That eye-light would go out. So now, many years later, I used “Ambersons” again in that idea of comeuppance. That the whole story of “Ambersons” is waiting for this one spoiled, arrogant, bastard to get his comeuppance. You wait the whole movie to see it happen. My feeling was, I want to do that with an entire cast. Now, there is one person in the film who is truly an innocent and you should be heart broken when that person dies but the rest of them, it should feel like, YAHOO!!!
Q: Comedy horror is a very difficult balancing act. Give us your basic rules for such an endeavour to be successful?
First, you have to respect the audience. That’s never gonna work if you’re constantly winking at them or making fun of the genre. Comedy has to come from playing it straight. An audience wants complete characters, honestly portrayed. Then you let those character foibles lead the way. You can call attention to the tropes of the genre just don’t make fun of it. An audience isn’t going to laugh if you’re calling them stupid for loving the kind of film you’re making.
And let’s be honest, comedy is so much like horror, in that you set up an expectation and then you turn that expectation on it’s ear. A scare and a laugh come from the same place. Look at our genre’s classics, “Rosemary’s Baby”, Ruth Gordon is freaking hilarious in that film. The constant jabs at New York life. I grew up in that city and Polanski nailed it. “The Exorcist”, which wins most people’s top prize for horror, was written by the guy who wrote “A Shot in the Dark”, the first Pink Panther movie for goodness sake. There is so much comedy in ‘The Exorcist”. “The Shining”, “The Thing”… Without the light of comedy, the darkness of horror just becomes mud. Hitchcock was a hilarious sadist. He made you laugh then scared the crap out of you. That takes real skill.
Q: It’s great the way you make the gore a part of the joke, that way nothing the audience sees is considered too violent and always generates a fun vibe?
Thank you. We’ve had the coolest thing happen with ‘Secret Santa’ in that the number of people who tell me how they “hate horror movies” or “they’re just not into horror, it gives them nightmares”. Then I tell them, “trust me, you’ll dig this movie”. I can’t tell you how many people have told me they love the movie because it was “really funny, so I didn’t mind the horror stuff”. That’s the trick. No one hates horror. They hate the constant JUMP SCARES or the sense that what’s the point, we’re all just meat in the end, kind of storytelling. Look, I love some movies like that. Don’t get me started on ‘Inside’ or ‘Frontiers’ but most audiences will join in for our genre if you ease them in.
Q: Skeleton Crew Productions is your new company geared around the old Roger Corman model, creativity trumping budget. What do you hope to achieve in the long run?
A whole lot! Look, a few years ago, I looked around and asked, “Where did all the Roger Corman’s go? Why the hell have all the indy Gods forsaken us”? I mean, I know that the new norm is cast a mega-star and go to festivals with a movie that cost millions of dollars and they call that an indy. But that’s not indy?! Indy used to mean, we have no money and can only get someone who starred in films a decade ago but we made a story that is unafraid to kick you in the nuts and laugh while doing it. Indy was supposed to be about making something so audacious that there was no way that a studio would make it. When Carpenter made “Halloween” or “Assault on Precinct 13” he wasn’t thinking about how do I squeeze a dozen sequels and remakes out of these puppies. He was telling stories that excited him. We look back on those films now and think, “Well, those weren’t that radical”. But they were for their time. As was “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “Night of the Living Dead” and “Evil Dead”.
Skeleton Crew came about a few years ago when Debra and I teamed up with our absolutely brilliant producing partner, Bryan Sexton. We felt as though movies seemed to be bloated and sluggish. And with the rise of television and a million ways to binge, we wanted to create entertainment that was in many ways unsafe but still well-made.
I’ve been teaching screen acting, writing and direction for over two decades in LA, and I’ve got over 60 acting students that I work with every week. They’re some of the best actors in Los Angeles. They’re unbelievably talented. A lot of them you would know the minute you saw their faces. But they’re people who do a lot of guest spots on television, or do small parts in movies. They don’t get to break into those huge roles that their talent is deserving of. So one of the things that we do, is when we bring a director into the micro budget side of Skeleton Crew, we say, “you’ve got 65 actors at your disposal. Take a look, this is the troupe.” This company is about giving people their shot at what they really want to do.
Q: Some very familiar faces in the exceptional cast and it looks like they were all having fun. Were they?
Well, as I said before, we have a cast that comes from careers that are stocked with film and television roles. But there are a couple of exceptions. Even though they are both part of the Skeleton Crew troupe, Michael Rady has been a top of show lead for shows like ‘Unreal’ and ‘Melrose Place’, and Drew Lynch is a world renowned stand up comedian who captured the hearts of America with his Golden Buzzer Performance on Season 10 of ‘America’s Got Talent’. My wife Debra, gives a performance that is among the best pieces of character work I’ve ever seen. But my whole cast give remarkable performances in this film.
The amazing thing about the cast experience on Secret Santa is that we only had 12 days to shoot the entire film. And as we drove up the mountain to Big Bear, where we were shooting, there was a blizzard that heaped a record-breaking snowfall on our cast and crew. We ended up being snowbound for most of the shoot! We all lived and shot together in three neighbouring houses that sit at the frozen edge of Big Bear Lake. It forced us to live and work as a family. So when it came time to portray one on screen the task was much easier. It was the single best experience of my career and I think for the rest of the team it was, if not the best, the most unique film shoot of theirs.
My favourite story from the set was on day six, we had just finished shooting a twelve hour day and the sun was just coming up. Everyone was heading off to bed and Bob Kurtzman stopped me on the way to my bedroom, “Hey, Adam”. “Yeah, Bob”. He looked at me with serious eyes and said, “I just wanted to say thank you”. I said, “Dude, I should be thanking you”. He replied, “Naw, man. I mean, thank you for asking me to do this. It’s the best experience I’ve had in like, ten years. It’s making me remember what real filmmaking is”. Then Bob hugged me. Even telling the story it’s getting me to punk up. This genius maddog, one of my closest friends for the last twenty-five years, was thanking me for the experience. These are the moments you live for. This is why filmmaking can be the best thing you can do with your life.
Q: Must mention JASON GOES TO HELL: THE FINAL FRIDAY. When you look back on that now what are your feelings?
Wow! That’s a big question. I am very grateful that I got to co-author and direct that film. I know it’s one of the most divisive of the franchise. And I guess I’m a little bit proud of that fact. Shoot, it’s been twenty-five years and people are still arguing over it. That’s a hell of a lot better than being discarded and forgotten.
I was 23 when I made JGTH and I was so cock-sure of myself. Again, kind of a blessing and a curse. I just kicked in the door and did it. I can tell you I am very proud of the acting, the effects and the look of the movie. I could have made another wrestler in a hockey mask movie. There were six of those movies already so I dared to do something different. The fans that get it, cool. The ones who don’t, cool. Do I wish I could go back and fix the cut of the movie? You bet! Do I wish I could go back and make improvements using today’s technology. Hell, yeah! Am I proud of the film? Damn skippy, I am!
Q: What’s the one big Lesson you learned from directing SECRET SANTA?
To make films on my own terms. It’s the single best experience of my professional life. And it’s because we wrote our own rules. We worked with people we love. We worked with a small team and got it done in record time. I learned to trust my instincts regarding not only the kind of stories I want to tell but also how to execute that vision. I learned there are a lot of much easier ways to make money but filmmaking is a passion and if you’re not passionate about what you’re making then go get a different job. I love what I do, now more than ever.
Q: What scares you the most?
As I said before, I’m from New York, and there is a certain little creature that lives there that I won’t even call by name but they are a type of bug and… AH! I’m not kidding. I pride myself on being a bit of a badass but those little fuckers. If I’m walking down the street and I see one I will cross the street. Just talking about it is making my skin crawl. And BTW, true story, when I was a teenager I made my first trip to London with my theatre troupe and one of my buddies played a trick on me and put a rubber one of those fuckers in my bed. I hung the guy out of a seventh floor window of the Hyde Park Hotel over that one.
Q: Finally, what’s next?
I’m going to be directing a film called ‘Dread’. It’s inspired by movies like ‘The Raid: Redemption’ and is a high power thriller about three women trapped in a hotel run by a human trafficking ring. I’m also doing ‘The Harvest’, which is another thriller about a young woman trying to go to college only to find her mother, who left her as a child, has stolen her identity and destroyed her chances of a better life. We are also a producing a film called ‘Fat Camp Massacre’. It brings me back to my ‘Friday the 13th’ days. It tackles the issues of body shaming and body dysmorphia. And then there’s a web-series we’re producing called ‘NerdGirls’ which is about a group of comic book creators who happen to be women. But they are never taken seriously so decide to take matters into their own hands and create the careers they deserve.
We also have several projects with Drew Lynch from ‘Secret Santa’. He’s a great comedian but an incredible actor. We’ve just produced his first comedy special ‘Drew Lynch: Did I Stutter’, and we have a television show we’re developing with him as well.
SECRET SANTA is showing at the Glasgow Film Theatre on Sat 3 March, 6.30pm, as part of Horror Channel FrightFest Glasgow 2018. Adam Marcus will be attending.
Wednesday, 7 February 2018
Ahead of the official World Premiere of ATTACK OF THE BAT MONSTERS at Horror Channel FrightFest Glasgow 2018, nearly two decades after it was shot, writer / director Kelly Greene reflects on the film’s long and winding journey, reveals his Christmas movie plans and his inter-dimensional monster creations bent on re-claiming the Earth…
Q: How did ATTACK OF THE BAT MONSTERS come about?
The idea for ATTACK OF THE BAT MONSTERS was generated from serendipitous research into 1950s sci-fi lore for my Master's thesis on post-war Universal science-fiction films. A.I.P. and Roger Corman really stood out. I was struck by Corman's ruthless efficiency, such as using car headlights when generators failed during night shooting; his conflicts with Paul Blaisdell, Paul Birch and method actors; Susan Cabot almost suffocating during the climax to WASP WOMAN; Corman's symbiotic relationships with Beverly Garland, Jack Nicholson, Chuck Griffith, Francis Ford Coppola, ad infinitum. Most remarkable to me was Corman's repeated M.O. of shooting a second film with leftover sets and actors on contract after wrapping early on BUCKET OF BLOOD, LAST WOMAN ON EARTH, and THE RAVEN, which resulted in, respectively, LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, CREATURE FROM THE HAUNTED SEA, and THE TERROR.
Q: The film is full of comic evocation of 1950s’ grade-Z grindhouse. Which films particularly inspired you?
For the black-and-white movie being produced in the film. I borrowed generously from ATTACK OF THE CRAB MONSTERS and IT CONQUERED THE WORLD. But there are numerous Easter eggs throughout BAT MONSTERS for history buffs, designed to pay tribute to different aspects of 50s sci-fi. John Carradine's penchant for Shakespeare, wardrobe mishaps on the set of THE ASTOUNDING SHE MONSTER, Lon Chaney Jr.'s drinking woes, Hazel Court's claims of nude scenes shot for European market – many, many others. The dancers' encounter with super adhesive tape was actually a story I stole from a gal that worked at a Texas Renaissance Festival.
Q: When was the film first screened?
We shot the film in Super 16MM but we couldn't afford to cut the negative for a film print, so I edited the film on BetaSP which is standard definition video. It premiered in L.A. at the Dances With Films Festival, in the summer of 2000 and won the Grand Jury for Best Feature. Corman's Concorde-New Horizon and Arrow Entertainment both liked the movie and offered finishing funds, 30,000 dollars, to cut the negative for a 35MM and/or a DigiBeta master. Remember that format? I turned them both down, hoping to do a straight sale of the film. Remember, those were the days of million dollar deals for no-name films like CLERKS, THE BROTHERS McMULLEN and EL MARIACHI. I just wanted to make my money back! I also turned down Troma. At the time, I was getting requests for VHS screeners from Miramax, Palm Pictures and several smaller distributors.
Q: Was it not picked up for distribution?
No. By 2001 no more offers were forthcoming, so I revisited Arrow, Corman and Troma, who were now “no longer interested.” Lessons learned: One, despite their claims, distributors take rejection personally. Two, find an experienced sales agent, producer's rep (whatever you want to call him/her), let them negotiate. So I put the project in mothballs. Then, Mark Rance, from Watchmaker Films got in touch in 2009, offered to scan the negative and conform to 2K and distribute on DVD, Blu-ray. We signed the film over, mainly because of Mark's offer to upgrade the film for the new HD world.
Q: FrightFest knows Mark Rance as he brought Tobe Hooper’s Eggshells to the festival in 2010. He has lovingly refurbished your film. How did you two work together?
Like most long-distance relationships, it's been difficult. Mark is in London and I work out of Austin. But Mark has two strengths that have tremendous value. First, he's very astute technically when it comes to film-to-digital transfer. Secondly, he's a true cineaste. His restoration of Eagle Pennell's LAST NIGHT AT THE ALAMO was extraordinary. I think he likes the idea of resurrecting films, kind of a Lazarus complex.
Q: Although the film is a wonderful homage to low budget horror and fantasy films, it’s brilliantly crafted and has a very special humour all of its own. Did you set out to write a comedy?
I set out to tell a story about men and women engaged in a mission, almost like a caper film. From that standpoint, I hope it has universal appeal, regardless of the viewer's esoteric knowledge of film history. The majority of the film's action is meant to be amusing, but there are deliberate scenes designed to be purely dramatic and even to produce pathos. We had no budget for rehearsals, and some of the actors came to set with their performances cranked up and manic, as if they were trying to be funny, and I had to squeeze them down a bit.
Q: The acting is consistently brilliant throughout. Tell us about a little about the casting process.
We didn't have the money for a SAG project. I actually built the film around Michael Dalmon, who played Chuck. I had worked with him on numerous video shorts and knew how talented he was. Many of the actors were poached from a film-acting class of an Austin-based instructor named Marco Perella. Check out Marco's work in BOYHOOD – I thought he stole the movie while he was in it. From that class, Fred Ballard, Ryan Wickerham, and Rob Bassetti all understood the less-is-more approach I was after. Kudos to Mark Spacek, my co-producer, who suggested a ton of great actors that I never met until they got to set, like Doug Taylor, Bill Wise, Robert Graham and Maurice Ripke. Mark did a nice turn as Harry, the make-up artist, as well. Casie Waller came in at the last second as Beverly and showed incredible attention to detail. She studied Beverly Garland's films, designed her own hair, and mastered an utterly perfect scream.
Q: Are you excited about it being presented at FrightFest Glasgow all these years later?
“Terrified” is more accurate. We're being screened alongside smart stylish horror films that clearly had real budgets. However, it's truly an honour and this is a bucket-list kind of thing, to finally see the film projected in its full glory in a theatrical setting. Here's the thing – Tom Hennig shot those scenes in the quarry during winter days in perpetual “golden hour” lighting, on 25 ASA Kodak film, usually at F16 or F22, so we're talking minimal grain and depth of field worthy of Gregg Toland. This is a rare instance when a Super 16MM film should look like gorgeous 35MM. I'm interested in seeing how that stock holds up with the faster film we used indoors.
Q: Are there plans to make another film in a similar style?
I originally envisioned BAT MONSTERS as part of a trilogy. The second film, THE BAT MONSTERS WALK AMONG US, takes place in Mexico in the mid-60s, focusing on the Lucha Libre vs. classic monsters craze there, while the third, BRIDE OF THE BAT MONSTERS, would move to Austin in 1974 to explore the environment that produced TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE.
Q: Finally, if not more ‘Bat Monsters’, what’s next from you?
Horror, science fiction and fantasy are my true cinematic loves. I adore certain aspects of the Lovecraftian horror model and I've designed my own series of inter-dimensional monsters bent on re-claiming the Earth, which I'm referring to as “Disciples of the Cosmic Rift.” I've written the first script, called AMERICAN MONSTERS, and I've outlined the other two.
Conversely, I've also been studying the plots and structure of those Christmas movies that have become part of the American TV landscape after Thanksgiving in the U.S. It's truly the hot new exploitation sub-genre, since we're talking about an annual wide-open market of films driven by inherently low-budget scenarios. My hope is to be the Val Lewton of the holiday season, to lure people in thinking they're seeing a silly Christmas romance, then hopefully give them something a little more substantial. Christmas movies have so much potential in that regard. Also, I'm currently in meetings here in Austin with Tom Hennig and another writer-producer-director, Jeff Stohland, to shoot something that we can turn around and get out into this voracious demand for streaming content.
ATTACK OF THE BAT MONSTERS is showing at the Glasgow Film Theatre on Fri 2 March, 3.50pm as part of Horror Channel FrightFest Glasgow 2017. Kelly Greene will be attending.
Thursday, 25 January 2018
Interview with Andy Nyman & Jeremy Dyson ahead of GHOST STORIES screening at Frightfest Glasgow 2018
Ahead of the special screening of GHOST STORIES at the Horror Channel Frightfest Glasgow 2018 event, writer / director team Andy Nyman & Jeremy Dyson discuss their special relationship, the film’s journey from stage to screen and no, they don’t believe in ghosts…
GHOST STORIES receives it’s Scottish Premiere at FrightFest Glasgow 2018. Excited?
We are beyond excited! It is honestly a dream come true.
Can we go back to the beginning…how did the idea of GHOST STORIES first materialise and take us through its initial stages of creative development.
Our friendship was born out of a shared love of horror films. We met aged 15 and used to call each other every time a new issue of ‘Starburst’ came out, or one of us would manage to get a copy of Fangoria. We used to read Alan Jones’s columns to each other!
About ten years ago we started talking about working together and how much we wanted to make that a reality. We had the idea of creating an Amicus style film, but on stage. The idea very quickly became ‘Ghost Stories’. The play opened at the Liverpool Playhouse and then went to the Lyric Hammersmith and the rest is history. It exploded! It’s now had 26 months in the West End as well as many international productions. It’s remarkable.
When you wrote the stage play did you ever envisage it in cinematic form?
The joy of the play was that it was almost taking tropes from horror films and putting them on stage. Putting that back onto film is a massive challenge, how to do it without it simply feeling like you’d seen it all before. So at the beginning, the idea of a film felt like a distant dream.
Here’s one for you Andy. How much influence did your background in magic inform the play’s creative process?
That’s an interesting question. My many years of work in the world of conjuring certainly helped with the ‘magical thinking’ within the play. The layering of clues and secrets definitely comes from mine and Jeremy’s shared love of magic.
Jeremy, you also share Andy’s love of horror, but how did your comedy background influence the play’s story-telling journey?
It happened in an unspoken way, perhaps through an emphasis on character. Each of the stories protagonists has comic elements that just emerged naturally in the writing. Don’t forget that Andy is a very funny man and a very gifted comic actor. Much of our time together is spent crying with laughter – so it was probably inevitable that comedy would be part of the mix. Also, we both share a deep love of American Werewolf in London – it was one of the films we first bonded over – and that is a perfect dance between comedy and horror.
What challenges did you both face writing the screenplay? Did it help knowing you were also going to direct?
It really was a case of unpicking everything and starting all over again. Whilst the key story is basically the same, we knew there were big sequences that were not achievable on screen as they were of a purely theatrical nature, namely Goodman’s story. What feels satisfying to us is that the film has many new shocks and surprises, so if you are a fan of the play, there are big new twists and moments waiting for you.
Andy, you also play the lead role in the film, so how did you both share the director’s chair?
It was always very natural. We continually talked about the shots and if it was scenes i was in, i had a stand-in so we could set everything and then i would go in for the actual shoot. In terms of my performance, Jeremy would always give me great notes and I totally trust him.
Can we expect another horror anthology from you?
Have to ask…do you believe in ghosts?
Finally, what’s next for you both?
Afraid you’ll have to wait and see!
GHOST STORIES is showing at the Glasgow Film Theatre on Thurs 1 March, 9.00pm as part of Horror Channel FrightFest Glasgow 2017. Andy Nyman & Jeremy Dyson will be attending.
Tickets will be on sale from Monday 29 January, 10am.
+44 (0)141 332 6535 / email@example.com / www.glasgowfilm.org/festival
Tuesday, 23 January 2018
Throughout February, Saturday nights at 10.55pm will be devoted to SEASON OF THE WOLF as Horror Channel presents a fang and fur-filled selection of classic and contemporary werewolf movies, including the UK TV premieres of Adrian Garcia Bogliano’s freshly-biting LATE PHASES and Paul Hyett’s HOWL, a hairy horror and bloody action adventure, starring Ed Speelers, Shauna Macdonald and Sean Pertwee. Plus, there are network premieres for Lowell Dean’s rage-fuelled WOLFCOP and Joe Dante’s genre transforming cult-hit THE HOWLING In a premiere-packed month there are also UK TV premieres for Derek Lee & Cliff Prowese’s award-winning fear-inducing AFFLICTED and Brett Simmons’s supernatural shocker THE MONKEY’S PAW.
Everyone’s favourite serial-killer doll is reaping more murder and mayhem in the network premiere of Don Mancini’s CURSE OF CHUCKY. There are also first channel showings for William Friedkin’s intensely haunting THE GUARDIAN, John Carpenter’s unforgettably creepy THE FOG, starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Charles Band’s B-Movie masterpiece PARASITE, TALES FROM THE CRYPT: DEMON KNIGHT, the first theatrical feature spin off from the famed television series and TALES FROM THE CRYPT: BORDELLO OF BLOOD, the second of the three planned movies under the HBO Tales from the Crypt banner,
Full film details in transmission order:
SEASON OF THE WOLF
Sat 3 Feb @ 22:55 – THE HOWLING (1981) *Network Premiere
A female reporter is attacked by a notorious serial killer and to get over her trauma she is sent to ‘The Colony’, a remote mountain resort. But there her problems really begin, as the residents are werewolves. Considered one of the superior werewolf movies ever made, it stars Dee Wallace, Christopher Stone, Patrick Macnee and John Carradine.
Sat 10 Feb @ 22:55 – LATE PHASES (2014) *UK TV Premiere
Crescent Bay is not the best place to live out one’s golden years. Once an idyllic retirement community, the gated hamlet has been beset by mysterious deadly attacks. So when blind war veteran Ambrose McKinley (Nick Damici) moves in, the residents are put off by his abrasive personality, But it’s his grizzled take-no-prisoners attitude that’s needed to survive the sinister secret the tight-knit neighbourhood is harbouring.
Sat 17 Feb @ 22:55 – WOLFCOP (2014) *Network TV Premiere
Lou Garou is a lazy, alcoholic cop by day, a violent crime-fighting werewolf by night with a new found sense of duty to uphold. Overnight, the small rural town of Newhaven has a new lycanthropic hero and he’s determined to become a better policeman…one full moon transformation at a time.
Sat 24 Feb @ 22:55 – HOWL (2015) *UK TV Premiere
Young ambitious ticket collector Joe (Ed Speelers) is overseeing the last train out of London on a dark and stormy night. Suddenly the train screeches to a halt in a forest after hitting something on the tracks, but the investigating driver never returns. Realising an unknown and dangerous threat is lurking in the woods the disparate group of strangers aboard must work together in order to survive a common feral enemy
OTHER FILM PREMIERES
Fri 2 Feb @ 21:00 – TALES FROM THE CRYPT: DEMON KNIGHT (1995) *Network Premiere
Ex-soldier Frank Brayker (William Sadler) is the guardian of an ancient key that can unlock unimaginable evil. But a demon, in the guise of a ‘The Collector’ (Billy Zane), also wants the key so he can initiate the apocalypse. Brayker stops at a boarding house in New Mexico where, with the help of its quirky residents, he plans to face off against The Collector and his savage band of ghouls.
Sun 4 Feb @ 21:00 – AFFLICTED (2013) *UK TV Premiere
Two best friends see their world trip of a lifetime take a dark turn when one is struck by a mysterious illness that changes his metabolism, making him superhuman. A clever spin on a classic scary story, dual-threat Cliff Prowse and Derek Lee make an impressive horror feature debut.
Fri 9 Feb @ 21:00 – TALES FROM THE CRYPT: BORDELLO OF BLOOD (1996) *Network Premiere
After her troublemaking brother, Caleb (Corey Feldman), goes missing, Katherine Verdoux (Erika Eleniak) hires a private investigator to track her brother down. Caleb is eventually tracked to a seedy brothel run by Lilith (Angie Everhart), a powerful vampire who has Caleb under her spell. Rescuing him will take all of Katherine’s might…
Sun 11 Feb @ 21:00 – THE FOG (1980) *Network Premiere
A Northern Californian fishing town, built 100 years ago over an old leper colony, is the target for revenge by a killer fog containing zombie-like ghosts seeking revenge for their deaths. John Carpenter’s first horror thriller following Halloween, sees him reunited with Jamie Lee Curtis. Janet Leigh and the great Carpenter himself also star.
Fri 16 Feb @ 21:00 – THE MONKEY’S PAW (2013) *UK TV Premiere
After Jake Tilton (C. J. Thomason) is given a mystical “monkey’s paw” talisman that grants him three wishes, he finds the world turned upside down when his first two wishes result in his co-worker Tony Cobb (Stephen Lang), being resurrected from the dead. When Cobb pressures Jake into using his final wish to reunite Cobb with his son, his intimidation quickly escalates into relentless murder – forcing Jake to outwit his psychotic friend and save his remaining loved ones.
Fri 18 Feb @ 21:00 – PARASITE (1982) *Network Premiere
Superstar Demi Moore leads a talented cast in this suspenseful yarn about a scientist who discovers a deadly parasite which can be used for the good of mankind. But some unscrupulous people have other uses in mind. Thrilling and full of action, this earlier performance by Moore is a treat for more than just her legion of fans.
Fri 23 Feb @ 21:00 – CURSE OF CHUCKY (2013) *Network Premiere
Chucky arrives to wreak havoc within a dysfunctional family that’s regrouped for a funeral. In the wake of her mother’s passing, Nica – in a wheelchair since birth – is forced to put up with her relatives as they say their tearful goodbyes. When the people she loathes start turning up dead, Nica is horrified to discover the culprit might be the weird doll she was sent a few days earlier. Picking up events from the preceding SEED OF CHUCKY with helmer Don Mancini back in the director’s chair, this sixth instalment of the series delivers even more blood-splattered thrills and chills.
Sun 25 Feb @ 21:00 – THE GUARDIAN (1990) *Network Premiere
In his first film since The Exorcist, Oscar-winning director William Friedkin spins a terrifying tale based on every parent’s worst fears. Jenny Seagrove plays Camilla, the enchanting guardian, who enters the home of new parents Phil (Dwier Brown) and Kate (Carey Lowell) possessing impeccable references and an affinity for children. But as her true intentions are revealed, the battle for the child’s soul begins in this chilling film based on Dan Greenburg’s popular novel, The Nanny.
Friday, 19 January 2018
The Devil Has A New Playground. Don’t Breathe meets You’re Next in writer-director James Crow’s ‘’brooding and compelling horror with a crime thriller twist”* HOUSE OF SALEM, streaming on VOD 1/23/18 from Wild Eye Releasing.
A group of kidnappers become a child's unlikely protectors after discovering they have unwittingly been set up to take part in a satanic ritual. As they begin to uncover the truth of the house they find themselves trapped, they must battle demonic forces and uncover a legacy of over a hundred years of murder in the name of the Devil.
Jessica Arterton, Jack Brett Anderson and Liam Kelly star in “an excellent watch”** HOUSE OF SALEM, premiering on VOD this January from Wild Eye Releasing.
The film looks great, what do you film it on?
Thank you. We shot it on black magics in 4k in raw. A great name for a camera to film a horror film with.
Was it important to you that the film have as much substance as it did style?
I’m very inspired by visual directors like Alfred Hitchcock and Dario Argento, so style is a very big thing for me. It’s why I’m normally still quite hands on with the camera while also being Director, despite it driving producers mad. But I tried to give this film depth with characters too. I think it’s still a character piece alongside a horror.
One can only imagine that some of today’s newspaper headlines might have played muse to the script?
I don’t know whether the newspapers tend to have much influence on me. Art and music sometimes do, although maybe not so much with this film. Although I do like watching a lot of creepy youtube videos about unsolved mysteries, they may have had an effect.
Genre movies sometimes can end up being a bit silly, was it important to you that yours have some black humour about it?
I always like black humour, although no one has called House of Salem silly to me which is good. I think its a dark story and I think the characters are very conflicting and troubled.
The film has a really great score. How important is sound to you? Who composed it?
Pete Coleman who I worked with on Curse of the Witching Tree created again another amazing original score. He’s also scored my film Black Creek coming out next month too.
How much of the film comes together in the editing room? I imagine that’s when a lot of the scares start to work?
Yeah they and with the music too. This film was so long, so many scenes got cut. Thats the hardest thing. House of Salem uncut could have easily been over two hours.
VOD seems to be the main spot we’ll find the film. Do you prefer audiences see it this way at their own time, in their own space?
I do like VOD and I think it’s an important way forward but I love having my blu-rays with special features of my favourite films. Wildeye will be releasing a hard copy of House of Salem I think around March.
Do you believe VOD is the way of the future?
Yes I do. I think also streaming services, which is included in that. I do think there will always be a place for hard copies though, just like vinyl is making a return to music lovers. I think those who love and support their film makers like I do, will like having that collection with all the special features.
Do you recommend we eat or drink anything in particular while watching the film at home? What do you recommend?
Red wine like the client who runs of House of Salem most probably.
Tuesday, 16 January 2018
Mark McLaughlin's fiction, nonfiction, and poetry have appeared in more than 1,000 magazines, newspapers, websites, and anthologies, including DARK FUSIONS: Where Monsters Lurk!, GALAXY, LIVING DEAD 2, WRITER'S DIGEST, CEMETERY DANCE, MIDNIGHT PREMIERE, DARK ARTS, and two volumes of YEAR'S BEST HORROR STORIES (DAW Books).
His latest trade paperback releases are the story collections, HIDEOUS FACES, BEAUTIFUL SKULLS and BEST LITTLE WITCH-HOUSE IN ARKHAM. He has also written a two-author paperback collection with Michael McCarty, DRACULA TRANSFORMED & Other Bloodthirsty Tales. Other books by Mark include the story collection BEACH BLANKET ZOMBIE and the collaborative horror novel, MONSTER BEHIND THE WHEEL (with Michael McCarty). Mark is the coauthor, with Rain Graves and David Niall Wilson, of THE GOSSAMER EYE, a poetry collection which won the 2002 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Poetry.
When did you first become interested in writing?
When I was little, my mom would drop me off at a library while she went shopping. I didn’t have time for reading novels, so I would read short stories. I eventually found myself gravitating toward horror stories. Fortunately, the library in question had a lot of old Arkham House books and August Derleth anthologies. As I read those stories, it dawned on me, “I could do this. I could write stories about monsters.” The vast majority of my stories have monsters in them. I started writing horror stories in my teen years, and my first ones were published while I was still a teenager.
How did you become interested in H.P. Lovecraft?
That library I mentioned stocked some Lovecraft collections, and I fell in love with his works after I read his stories, “The Dunwich Horror” and “The Outsider.” I read everything Lovecraftian I could get my hands on, and eventually I started buying books through the mail directly from Arkham House.
Since those days, I have written many Lovecraftian works, including BEST LITTLE WITCH-HOUSE IN ARKHAM; THE CREATURE IN THE WAXWORKS (co-written with Michael Sheehan, Jr.); THE RELIC IN THE EGYPTIAN GALLERY (co-written with Michael Sheehan, Jr.); SHOGGOTH APOCALYPSE (co-written with Michael Sheehan, Jr.); THE BLASPHEMY IN THE CANOPIC JAR (co-written with Michael Sheehan, Jr.); THE HORROR IN THE WATER TOWER (co-written with Michael Sheehan, Jr.); and THE ABOMINATIONS OF NEPHREN-KA (co-written with Michael Sheehan, Jr.).
Not everything I write is Lovecraftian, but I do enjoy romping in that particular field of terrors and tentacles.
How did you get involved in fantasy/horror?
Eventually I discovered horror, fantasy and science-fiction magazines and started writing stories for them. Over the years I’ve written hundreds of stories, articles and poems for those publications, and developed some wonderful friendships with many great editors. The late Karl Edward Wagner reprinted a couple of my stories in his iconic YEAR’S BEST HORROR anthology series, and I always enjoyed talking with him.
Do you think horror and comedy can really go together?
Certainly. It’s good to be able to laugh at life’s nasty shadows. Show those shadows who’s boss! People weren’t meant to cower in fear. If you can laugh at a fear … well, it’s no longer a fear then, is it? In the past, I’ve written a lot of comedic horror stories, but in recent years, I’ve been moving away from the humorous aspect – especially in my Lovecraftian stories. In those stories, I’ve been concentrating more on the otherworldly science aspect.
Is horror a full-time job?
It’s more than that: it’s a full-time life. My mind is always percolating, thinking about the next story I’m going to write, and the next, and the next…. The craft of writing is certainly a full-time job for me, since I also write in my ‘day’ career in marketing and advertising.
How would you classify the genre you write?
I don’t write in just any one genre. I write horror, Lovecraftian stories, humorous stories, science-fiction, fantasy … and over the years, I’ve also written tons of nonfiction, including articles about green building, women’s health, community businesses, interviews, horror movies, you name it!
Why do you think horror and fantasy books remain so popular?
People need fantasies to distract them from the world and its troubles – often, the more elaborate the fantasies, the better. The escapism of reading is a delightful little mini-vacation for the mind.
Why do you think people are so fascinated by the Devil?
It’s because they secretly envy him! He pretty much does whatever he wants. A lot of people would like to live like that. But ultimately, a life of sin and indulgence can only lead to sickness and loneliness, with nothing to show for it when the day is done.
Demonic possession. Are you a believer or a skeptic?
I think the vast majority of individuals involved in such cases are probably misunderstood, albeit creative individuals. But, I wouldn’t completely rule out the possibility that malevolent entities might exist. Maybe they are the souls of the restless dead, or life-forms of an alien or transdimensional nature. Who can say? It’s a big universe. Who knows what may be lurking out there in endless void?
What inspires your stories?
Everything! I’m especially inspired by nature and science. The world’s oceans and jungles are full of monstrous creatures. The microscopic world is teeming with ghastly little terrors. I’m also interested in the mythologies of various lands, including ancient Greece and Egypt. In today’s world, myths and gods have been replaced by movies and celebrities, and I find inspiration in that.
What do you think is the difference between American horror and British horror?
In general, I think British horror is more subtle and psychological. American horror is pretty much anything-goes. But, there are a lot of exceptions to those guidelines on both sides of the pond!
What are your favorite horror books?
I love the writings of H.P. Lovecraft, Robert Bloch, Mary Shelley, August Derleth, Carl Jacobi, Basil Copper, Hugh B. Cave, and Clark Ashton Smith. Basically, they’re all authors who I would consider ‘Classic Weird.’
What are some of your favorite horror movies?
Don’t get me started – there are too many to count and they’re all very different! My favorites would include Suspiria, Dracula, Frankenstein, Dracula’s Daughter, Black Sunday, old Three Stooges movies, James Bond movies, The House by the Cemetery, Inferno, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show (both old and new versions). I especially like crazy, cheap B-movies like The Manster, Bloody Pit of Horror and Fangs of the Living Dead.
What do you consider your greatest accomplishment as an author?
My main goal is to keep creating, and the fact that I create on a regular basis is one of my two greatest accomplishments. I don’t worry about awards, being honored or anything like that. I’ve already won a Bram Stoker Award, and while I’m honored to have received one, the fact that I have one doesn’t make me any taller, thinner or younger. I’m still just plain old me.
My other great accomplishment is successfully working with my two regular collaborators, Michael McCarty and Michael Sheehan, Jr. They are both great people, and working with them has led to the creation of some great books (in my humble opinion, of course!). With Michael McCarty, I have written the novel MONSTER BEHIND THE WHEEL, along with other poetry and story collections. With Michael Sheehan, Jr., I have written THE ABOMINATIONS OF NEPHREN-KA and other Lovecraftian collections.
Do you have any advice for new writers?
Just keep writing! Don’t worry if you think any other writer is doing better than you. Just be the best YOU that you can be. I’ve learned over the years that you just need to keep your eyes on the road … the road to your own future!
What is your opinion of the new self-publishing trend?
Actually, I’ve been doing some self-publishing myself, and my self-published works sell much better than any of my works from traditional publishers. So there are indeed merits to self-publishing, if you recognize that you need to work a lot harder to get results. But while you have to work much harder, you can get better results because you have more control. Having said all that, I still believe in traditional publishing and haven’t ruled out working with more publishers in the future.
What are your current projects?
My most recent Kindle releases are THE CREATURE IN THE WAXWORKS, a new collection of Lovecraftian tales, and MAGIC CANNOT DIE, a collection of stories about sorcery and enchantment. I also have other projects in the work, but none of them are close enough to being finished to announce.
In your own words, write a paragraph about yourself and your work.
I’ve been writing for more than thirty years and hope to be writing for at least a thousand more. I suppose my body will wear out some day, but hopefully some kind of super-science will come along that will allow my head to be grafted onto some of eternally typing cyborg body. That would be just fine with me!
Mark's latest digital releases are the Kindle fiction collections, MAGIC CANNOT DIE; THE CREATURE IN THE WAXWORKS (co-written with Michael Sheehan, Jr.); THE RELIC IN THE EGYPTIAN GALLERY (co-written with Michael Sheehan, Jr.); SHOGGOTH APOCALYPSE (co-written with Michael Sheehan, Jr.); THE BLASPHEMY IN THE CANOPIC JAR (co-written with Michael Sheehan, Jr.); THE HORROR IN THE WATER TOWER (co-written with Michael Sheehan, Jr.); THE ABOMINATIONS OF NEPHREN-KA (co-written with Michael Sheehan, Jr.); FOREIGN TONGUE; and DRUNK ON THE WINE THAT POURS FROM MY WICKED EYES. All of these are available on Amazon.
Visit Mark’s Author Pages at
Thursday, 11 January 2018
Be prepared to feast on a chilling cornucopia of savage shocks, unsettling surprises and devilish delights as the UK’s favourite horror fantasy event returns to the Glasgow Film Festival for its 13th year, from Thurs 1 March to Sat 3 March 2018.
This year’s bold line-up, once again housed at the iconic Glasgow Film Theatre, embraces the latest horror, fantasy and sci-fi discoveries from ten countries, spanning four continents, reflecting the world-wide popularity of the genre.
GHOST STORIES remains one of the scariest stage shows ever seen and on Thursday night FrightFest kicks off with a special screening of Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson’s smash hit phenomenon. Starring Martin Freedman, Paul Whitehouse, as well as Nyman, this unforgettable screen adaptation terrifies in a whole new thrilling and chilling dimension. Jeremy and Andy will be attending. This is followed by the Scottish premiere of Brian O’Malley’s supernatural romance THE LODGERS, a masterful Irish set Gothic ghost story, starring Charlotte Vega and David Bradley.
Friday’s line-up lunges into vampiric action with the UK premiere of Dragos Buliga’s THE WANDERERS: QUEST OF THE DEMON HUNTER, an inspired modern twist on Transylvanian mythology. This is followed by the world premiere of writer/director Kelly Greene’s pastiche gem ATTACK OF THE BAT MONSTERS. If you liked The Love Witch, this is your new retro-perfect jam and Kelly will be in attendance. Next up is the UK premiere of THE RAVENOUS, writer/director Robin Aubert’s surreal and wickedly humorous addition to the Living Dead canon.
The 8.45pm presentation is the UK premiere of the powerfully gripping COLD SKIN. At the vanguard of French extreme cinema, director Xavier Gens made his name with Frontiere(s) and The Divide. Now he brings us a stunning adaptation of Albert Sánchez Piñol’s acclaimed novel that’s part H.P. Lovecraft, part Joseph Conrad and Xavier will be at the festival to discuss his film. Rounding off the evening is the European premiere of PRIMAL RAGE, a creature feature that blows the lid off traditional Bigfoot mythology. Special effects guru/director Patrick Magee has created an intelligent, cunning primitive warrior being guaranteed to terrify.
Getting the Saturday programme off to a demonically hellish start is the UK premiere of Paul Urkijo’s visually breath-taking fantasy THE BLACKSMITH AND THE DEVIL a vivid Basque fairy-tale, produced by Spanish legend Alex de la Iglesia, This is followed by the European premiere of supernatural chiller PYEWACKET, a beautifully paced, dread-filled study of occult belief by writer/director Adam MacDonald. Next up is the UK premiere of FRIENDLY BEAST, Gabriela Amaral Almeida’s intense shocker, which explores the latent evil within us all.
Climb on board for a fiendishly tense slay-ride as the evening programme kicks off with the UK premiere of director Adam Marcus’ savvy seasonal shocker SECRET SANTA. Marcus will be joined onstage by some of the cast and producers. Following this is the much anticipated UK premiere of TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID, an unflinching South of the Border cautionary fable, an audacious mix of Pan’s Labyrinth and Narcos, which firmly announces director Issa López as a rising star of Mexico’s New Wave cinema.
This year’s global celebration of the genre ends on an adrenalin-fuelled high with the European premiere of Neil Mackay’s ultra-violent, action-packed thriller SIXTY MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT. Actor Arnold Sydney Junior and producer Frank Leraci will be in Glasgow to introduce the movie.
Alan Jones, FrightFest co-director, said today: “With our bold choices and the quality of programming, FrightFest is once again positioned to deliver at our beloved second home in Glasgow. It’s no surprise to us that the genre has just had its biggest and most successful year. If you’ve ever attended one of our events, you’ll know exactly why. For FrightFest will always create a communal space where the pure enjoyment of the occasion is paramount and a vital shared experience. Welcome to our Pleasure Dome, FrightFest Glasgow-style”.
FrightFest Passes are £75 and available from noon on Mon Jan 15, 2018. Passes cover all films on Fri 2 March and Sat 3 March ONLY.
Tickets for GHOST STORIES and THE LODGERS, plus individual tickets for the Fri/Sat films are on sale Mon Jan 29 from 10am. Price: £10.50. £8.50 concessions.
To book tickets:
+44 (0)141 332 6535 / firstname.lastname@example.org / www.glasgowfilm.org/festival
THURS 1 MARCH – GFT Screen 1
21:00 GHOST STORIES (Special screening)
Professor Philip Goodman (Andy Nyman) is a renowned sceptic of the supernatural and clairvoyant. Given the opportunity to investigate three case histories of baffling paranormal activity, he uncovers mysteries beyond his own imagination leading to a shocking personal nightmare conclusion.
Directors Andy Nyman, Jeremy Dyson Cast Martin Freeman, Paul Whitehouse, Alex Lawther UK 2017, 1hr38m, 15+
23:20 THE LODGERS (Scottish Premiere)
Set in a rapidly changing 1920s society under the weakening grasp of British colonialism, orphaned twins Rachel (Charlotte Vega) and Edward (Bill Milner) share a strange existence in their crumbling family estate. For each night the property becomes the domain of a sinister presence enforcing three rules upon them; bed by midnight, no outsiders past the threshold, and any solo escape attempt puts the other twin in jeopardy. Now the curse is about to be tested by a troubled war veteran who is mysteriously drawn to Rachel.
Director Brian O'Malley Cast Charlotte Vega, David Bradley, Bill Milner, Eugene Simon Ireland 2017 1hr32m N/C 18+
FRI 2 MARCH – GFT Screen 1
13:30 THE WANDERERS: QUEST OF THE DEMON HUNTER (UK Premiere)
Louis (Armand Assante) is the most famous ghost and demon hunter in the world. The hardened American has travelled with Robert, an Israeli journalist (Lior Ashkenazi) to investigate a mysterious event that happened at the infamous Zalesky Castle, an imposing edifice towering over a village drenched in bloody history. Joined by a Romanian guide and a Korean television reality show team, the duo attempt to untangle the evil secrets lurking at the dark heart of this frightened community.
Director Dragos Buliga Cast Armand Assante, Lior Ashkenazi, Branko Djuric Romania 2017, 1hr46m, N/C 18+
15:50 ATTACK OF THE BAT MONSTERS (World Premiere)
Join schlock impresario Francis Gordon as his intrepid crew attempt to shoot an impromptu monster movie in the three days left over from the film they’ve just wrapped. From the Saul Bass opening title homage to its highly authentic, comic evocation of 1950s’ grade-Z grindhouse, this was lost when it was made in 1999. But ace restorer Mark Rance (who brought Tobe Hooper’s Eggshells to FrightFest 2010) found it and has lovingly refurbished it under writer/director Kelly Greene’s supervision.
Director Kelly Greene Cast Michael Dalmon, Maurice Ripke, Fred Ballard USA 1999 1hr 29m. N/C 15
18:30 THE RAVENOUS (Les affamés) (UK Premiere)
The zombie apocalypse has begun. But for the still-human residents of rural Quebec assistance of any governmental or community kind is zero. So lone survivors must figure things out for themselves, even if it means joining tentative forces and risking a hideous death…
Director Robin Aubert Cast Marc-André Grondin, Monia Chokri, Charlotte St-Martin Canada 2017, French with English subtitles, 1hr40m N/C 18+
20: 45 COLD SKIN (UK Premiere)
At the dawn of the First World War a young man named Friend (David Oakes) arrives at a desolate Antarctic Circle island to take the post of weather observer and where a race of amphibious humanoids emerge from the seas every night to besiege him and his rancorous lighthouse keeper companion, Gruner (Ray Stevenson). How much horror can the human heart endure?
Director Xavier Gens Cast Ray Stevenson, David Oakes, Aura Garrido Spain/France 2017 1hr48m N/C 18+
23:15 PRIMAL RAGE (European Premiere)
Lost deep in the forest of the Pacific Northwest, Ashley (Casey Cagliardi) and her ex-convict husband Max (Andrew Joseph Montgomery) are stalked by a terrifying creature the locals call Oh-Mah. Soon they find themselves forced to face nature’s harshness, a band of unsavoury hunters and become embroiled in a strange land of Native American legend turned absolutely real in their life or death battle.
Director Patrick Magee Cast Casey Gagliardi, Andrew Joseph Montgomery, Eloy Casados USA 2017 1hr46m N/C 18+
SAT 3 MARCH – GFT Screen 1
11:00 THE BLACKSMITH AND THE DEVIL (Errementari) (UK PREMIERE)
Ten years after Civil War in Spain 1833, orphan Usue (Uma Bracaglia) seeks escape from her abusive guardians and constant harassment from uncaring villagers. When her beloved doll is stolen, it ends up at the property of Patxi (Kandido Uranga) a lonely and feared blacksmith who is the keeper of a terrifying secret, a horrible truth that Usue innocently reveals.
Director Paul Urkijo Alijo Cast Kandido Uranga, Eneko Sagardoy, Uma Bracaglia Spain 2017. Basque with English subtitles. 1hr38min N/C 18+
13:15 PYEWACKET (European Premiere)
Confused and enraged for being forced to move away from school friends after her father dies, Leah (Nicole Muñoz) performs a blood incantation calling on an evil entity to punish her grieving mother. Immediately regretful, too late she realises she can’t reverse the ritual curse and an unholy presence now stalks them both in their rural home.
Director Adam MacDonald Cast Nicole Muñoz, Laurie Holden, Chloe Rose Canada 2017, 1hr27m, 15+
15:15 FRIENDLY BEAST (O Animal Cordial) (UK Premiere)
It's nearly closing time at a struggling restaurant. Staff want to go home while the boss struggles with money troubles and a desire for more power in his life. Enter two robbers, the catalyst for a violent situation, which the boss is initially able to contain and gain the upper hand. Suddenly, the already dangerous and explosive situation turn deadly; sides are taken and people turn to the most abhorrent behaviour in an instant.
Director Gabriela Amaral Almeida Cast Murilo Benício, Luciana Paes, Irandhir Santos Brazil 2017 1hr38m Portuguese with English subtitles. N/C 18+
18:30 SECRET SANTA (UK Premiere)
The Pope family’s Christmas Eve dinner goes horribly and hilariously wrong when someone puts something in the party punch causing everyone to tell the unvarnished truth at the already dysfunctional holiday reunion. When the head of the household psychopathically freaks-out, the scene is set for murderous mayhem and splatterific revenge as the deviant relatives reveal their long-buried hatreds and festering loathings.
Director Adam Marcus Cast Michelle Renee Allaire, Petra Areskoug, Scott Burkett USA 2017, 1hr29m, N/C 18+
21:05 TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID (Vuelven) (UK Premiere)
Thousands have been murdered or gone missing in the ongoing violent drug war in Mexico. The result is many orphaned children living on the streets caught in the unceasing cartel crossfire. In her third work of immense beauty, pain, fear and joy, writer/director Issa López tells the magical story of five such urchins making the best of their daily struggle to survive.
Director Issa López Cast Paola Lara, Hanssel Casillas, Rodrigo Cortes Mexico 2017, Spanish with English subtitles, 1hr23m N/C 18+
23:00 SIXTY MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT (European Premiere)
It’s New Year's Eve 1999 and former soldier Jack Darcy (Robert Nolan) wakes to find himself mysteriously entered into a murderous new TV game show. He has sixty minutes to kill or be killed by a group of strange armed men who’ve surrounded his house. But what his would-be assassins haven’t realised is that Jack has learnt a few tricks from his military days. He has a hidden bunker full of weapons and he isn’t going down without a vicious fight!
Director Neil Mackay Cast Robert Nolan, Arnold Sidney, Terry McDonald Canada 2017, 1hr23m, N/C 18+.
For further information: www.frightfest.co.uk