Tuesday 23 February 2016

Interview with Paul Hyett

On the eve of THE SEASONING HOUSE receiving its Network Premiere on HORROR CHANNEL, director Paul Hyett talks to us about the difficulty of casting the lead role, the virtues of listening and the proudest moment of his career (so far!)

Q: Did you know from a young age that you wanted to work in movies?
Yeah, when I was in my teens. I loved movies, they were such an entertaining escape for me and horror movies were my favourites - The Thing, Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th… I decided early on that as soon as I left school I wanted to work in the film industry. Because I loved sculpting, painting and art, coupled with my love for creatures and gore, I figured that special make up effects was the way to go.
Q: You made your name working as a special effects make-up artist, can you recall what it was like being on set for the first time?
Well, I went into the industry the very low budget route so it wasn’t daunting. Most of what I was working on were student films, short films and micro budget features, so everyone was learning together. It was exhilarating and so much fun learning my craft and being part of movies. I think when I got onto the more professional ones, it was a step up in responsibility and work ethic, and it was more daunting, but you grow and learn. Experience is key in this industry and I had to learn quick still being a teenager.
Q: What would you say was your greatest make-up effect?
Well, it’s hard to pin down a particular make up effect, I suppose ‘The Descent’ was a landmark as we were producing large scale manufacture of silicon appliances for the crawlers. As far aa I’m aware, no one was really doing that. It was a real step up from foam latex, and we did so much on that film, fifty applications of crawlers, mechanical heads, dead bodies, gore effects, dead animals, stunt weapons and a thousand bones in about six weeks of prep. It was an undertaking, and a major achievement in my career.
Q: Was becoming a director always part of your career plan?
Not at first. When I was a teenager, it was all about special make up effects, creatures and gore. But over the years, the thought of putting my own visions on the screen grew. I was getting so much work in prosthetics, sometimes ten films a year, running large departments, that I had no time to pursue writing and directing. But about eight years ago I decided, enough, I want to make my own movie, and so I started to really pursue it, making time to write and that’s when about four years ago, we finally came up with ‘The Seasoning House’.
Q: The Seasoning House is getting its Network Premiere on Horror Channel this month, how did the project come together?
I had known the producer Michael Riley for about fifteen years at that time, and the last few years before we made TSH we had spoken about doing a film together with me in the director’s chair. At the same time I had spoken to another writer. Helen Solomen, about a project she had about sex trafficking, about a young girl trapped in a brothel.  It was more a real life docu-drama, and I said I thought it would make a terrific horror thriller, I went away and wrote a fifty page pitch and then brought on a co-writer, Conal Palmer, and we developed it into a feature length script. I then pitched it to Templeheart films, they loved it and raised the money and we made it.

Q: Was it a difficult movie to cast as Rosie Day and Kevin Howarth in particular are outstanding?
Well I’d known Kevin for years and thought he’d be great for the role of Viktor, a manipulative, cunning swine. The role of Angel was more difficult, we saw 130 girls in open auditions, and Rosie was in the final ten, I was worried, then Rosie came in, and she blew us away, her strength, her vulnerabilities, she was fantastic from the start, she nailed it.
Q: How nervous were you sitting in the director’s chair for the first time?
Not at all, I feel more comfortable on a set than anywhere else, and I think that took away the nervousness, I had in my head what I wanted to do, and just did it, I had a great producer, and a lovely cast and crew.
Q: It’s a bleak and challenging film, what was the atmosphere like on set?
It was always in our heads that we weren’t making an exploitative film, and the girls wanted to do justice to a real life horror in the world. On set it was a fun atmosphere, we all got on so well, considering the subject matter, everyone had a fun time.
Q: Was it a tough shoot?
Not really, it was only four weeks long, and it was mostly just cold, The real challenge was doing a movie with strong performances, lots of stunts, wire work, VFX work, SFX elements, chases through woods in the cold winter, all in such a short space of time.
Q: How nervous were you when it premiered at FrightFest in 2012?
YES! VERY nervous. But the FrightFest crowd was lovely and so welcoming.  And Alan, Paul, Greg and Ian really made it special. It aas such an exhilarating experience, easily the proudest moment in my career.
Q: What did you learn of the craft of directing whilst making The Seasoning House?
Always prep as much as you can, listen to your cast and crew, bring out people’s skills, let them flourish as artists. You’re as good as your cast and crew, as long as you bring a vision, and know exactly what you want it should all fall in place. I’ve been lucky to have good producers, good cast and crews on my films.
Q: Would you approach it any differently if you were to make that movie now?
I would cut out Angel arriving at the woman in the pig cottage, I think it slows down the pacing at that point, but because she changes costume, we couldn’t change it in the edit. It’s the one mistake I regret, painting myself into that corner.
Q: So what can you tell us about your latest movie, Heretiks?
It’s the movie I was initially going to do after ‘The Seasoning House’, when Howl came along and I jumped onto that one first. ‘Heretiks’ takes place in the 17th Century, where a young woman, Persephone (played by Hannah Arterton), is saved from execution by a mysterious woman, played by Clare Higgins. She is taken to a priory to serve penance looking after the sick. However Persephone realises there is a much darker evil already there.
Paul Hyett, thank you very much.
THE SEASONING HOUSE is broadcast on Horror Channel on Sat 27 Feb, 10.45pm.
Paul will be attending FrightFest Glasgow 2016 on Sat 27 Feb to present an exclusive clip from HERITIKS

Friday 19 February 2016

Interview with John Palisano by David Kempf

John Palisano is the current Vice President of The Horror Writers Association. His short fiction has appeared in many places. Among them: Dark Discoveries, Horror Library, Darkness On The Edge, Lovecraft eZine, Phobophobia, Lovecraft eZine, Terror Tales, Harvest Hill, Halloween Spirits, the Bram Stoker Award® nominated Chiral Mad, Midnight Walk, Halloween Tales, and many other publications. NERVES was his first novel. He is working hard on its sequel, as well as many other upcoming works.

His non-fiction has appeared in FANGORIA and DARK DISCOVERIES, where he's interviewed folks like Robert Englund, director Rob Hall, and Corey Taylor from Slipknot.

Currently, DUST OF THE DEAD, his first book from Samhain Publishing, arrived in June 2015 with GHOST HEART on February 14, 2016, with NIGHT OF 1,000 BEASTS to come in the very near future.

His work has been cited by the Bram Stoker Award® three times.

"Available Light" was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award® in 2013. "The Geminis" was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award® in 2014. "Splinterette" was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award® in 2015.

John's had a colorful history. He began writing at an early age, with his first publications in college fanzines and newspapers at Emerson in Boston. He's worked for over a decade in Hollywood for people like Ridley Scott and Marcus Nispel. He's recently been working as a ghost-screenwriter and has seen much success with over two dozen short story sales and his novel NERVES continues gaining critical and reader acclaim. There's more where that all came from.

When did you first become interested in writing?

Early on, in grade school, I was asked to do a writing exercise where we were given a picture and told to make a story up surrounding it. It was a photo of a man climbing inside an F-15 at sunset. I imagined it was the President who was off to fight an alien invasion. From that point on I knew I loved creating stories. I went through all the kid’s books, and in middle school, I ventured out of the kid’s section at the bookstore and saw Stephen King’s Night Shift paperback. The one with the eyes in the fingers. I had to have it. I loved the stories within and started making my own.

How did you get involved in fantasy/horror?

Mostly, I blame my parents. They took me and my brother to science fiction conventions when we were kids. I once danced with Nichele Nichols. My brother got to go up on stage with Christopher Reeve. We were little, little kids. We all used to go to the drive-in, and for a long time, it was Grease and Star Wars. One night we saw a double feature of Demon Seed and Alien. Alien messed me up in the best way. Then my dad had me watch Night of the Living Dead, and I thought it was good, but then the ending came with him getting shot, and the newsreel stuff, and I freaked. How could they do that? It blew my mind. It was such a huge statement. I was learning about the Civil Rights movement at school, and there was a lot of race issues in my little home town. I was entranced at how a made-up story could have such a profound commentary on the real world. It was all over for me after that!

How did you make this a full time job?

Writing takes full time hours, but doesn’t pay full time wages. I don’t know many writers who make a real living strictly from writing, unfortunately. Most have other day jobs. I’m no exception, as I work for an animal rescue and write when I can. There is a chance it could grow into a full time career if there’s a good amount of luck coming my way. It’s getting better. Last month was one of the first times income from writing paid my rent. So it’s building.

How did you become Vice President of The Horror Writers Association?

For several years I’ve been working with the HWA in varying capacities. Recently I was a Trustee. I heard the then current VP was leaving, and so I ran, and won. I’m still a little bit in shock.

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

They address situations and feelings wonderfully. They embrace people who are different, while also including those who may seem very normal. Horror especially gives people a safe place to work out many, many issues, while also empowering the disenfranchised.

The power of story is unreal. Last year I was reading the Harry Potter books with my boy. This has been a huge lift for him. Halfway through the first book, he put the book down and looked up at me. “Dad? Harry has a scar on his forehead like me. He’s the boy who lived. Like me.”

I kept it in, but I cried like a baby later that night. Leo had surgeries for a brain aneurysm that was very touch and go for a few years. He has a small scar at his hairline and a little bump from a small plate. You wouldn’t know it without looking, but he’s very sensitive about it. And he knows how serious it all was, even though he was very young. People are intuitive at every age.

So imagine how profound that was for me to hear him connect. And he’s in a split home, going between places. He loves to draw—he’s insane about drawing creatures he invents—and he says that’s his magic. And he felt so good that someone like Harry Potter also had a scar, and also went through so much, that it inspires him. How absolutely unbelievable is the power of fiction?

And that’s why for someone like Leo, and me, these stories draw us in and keep us.

How did it feel the first time you were nominated for a Stoker Award?

Shocked. I still feel very unworthy, and that I still have a hell of a lot to learn, and that I’m still not so great at this writing thing. I’m told that’s good and healthy, and that means I’m not an insufferable narcissist. I do feel like said insufferable narcissist having to promote my stuff mostly myself. It feels very awkward. Hi! It’s me! I’m awesome! My stuff is awesome! Won’t you come buy some of my awesome stuff so the awesome people who put it out will keep doing so? Yay! Very strange times, indeed.

What do you think Rocky Wood’s legacy is?

Outreach. He was able to grow the HWA and the positive visibility of the genre in so many last ways. He started scholarships and many other programs that will continue to help new writers meet new readers for quite some time. I think of him often, and I so badly wish I could write him every so often for advice or to show off a latest accomplishment. He’s very much missed.

What are your favorite horror books?

Tastes change over time, naturally. Different stories speak to you at different ages. Currently I am loving the Weird Fiction movement and the wonderfully unhinged Bizarro movement. In those two places I feel at home and they tend to reflect great stuff back to me as a reader. In other words: I often learn things about myself. In weird fiction, there is a lot of explorations of the spirit, or lack thereof. There’s also lots of monsters and alternate places. In Bizarro, the sky’s the limit, and I love that there aren’t the same constraints placed on it as with most other fiction. Metaphors can be a lot more interesting. Characters are fascinating. The creativity at play is wonderful. But there’s also a tremendous amount of heart and soul to the authors. It reminds me so much of when I discovered punk rock growing up. You could be anything. You didn’t have to fit into the mold. Expression was everything. I love that.

What are some of your favorite horror movies?

Dellamorte Dellamore comes to mind. A very underrated classic to me. Beyond the old classics like The Shining and Alien, I’ve really loved Shaun of the Dead and It Follows. To be honest? I think the best filmed horror is on television. In general, I think the series format allows a more robust experience. Feature films are saddled with countless stories shoehorned into that format, with three act structure, and everything wrapped up. The series format feels much more like novels, where we can linger and explore things a little more fully. In features, it’s always: let’s get in and get out and make every bit exciting and perfect. But that can often take the heart from the proceedings and make it all feel very processed. So shows like The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Penny Dreadful and Hannibal, to name a few, are very fulfilling.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment as an author?

So far? It was finally finding a publisher for my first novel Nerves, which was a very long and disappointing journey. It’s out there, and is the best I could have made it,

Do you have any advice for new writers?

Read a lot, and read widely. If you aren’t reading, you’re doing yourself a disservice. It’s one of the best places to find out how it’s all done. Read what’s old, and read what’s new. And then write a lot. To get good, you need to practice. Learn your instrument!

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

I think it has shown its potential, both good and not-so-good. Francis Ford Coppolla once said there’d be a little girl who’d one day make an extraordinary film with a tiny camera, democratizing the entire filmmaking process. He was right. The same thing has happened with publishing. The only tough part has been vetting the great from the nearly-unreadable. So much of what I’ve seen wouldn’t have ever been published by anyone, and amounts to people finishing a first draft and clicking to upload it. Many aren’t seasoned writers, and a lot are simply memoirs or life fantasies with the names slightly changed. That’s fine, but it’s hard to steer clear of. There’s certainly a great benefit because many larger houses are dependent upon certain kinds of books to sell to keep afloat. Self pubbers don’t have that requirement, so there can be some great stuff in there, for sure.

What are your current projects?

I’ve just turned in what I hope will be my third book with Samhain. We shall see. I’ve got a gentleman’s agreement on a novella, which I’ve never done. There are several short stories that I am in the process of writing by request, which amazes me to no end. My first collection, All That Withers, is due out in May from JaSunni and Cycatrix Press, which is really a big deal to me. Other than that? I am working on a new novel, as always. For me? I’ve found speaking of works in progress takes away a lot of their mojo. This happened for me with my last book. I told someone about it when I hit the ¾ mark, thinking I’d be safe. But they asked questions, and the whole thing was so much harder to steer on track. So I keep the details to myself until I write the last line these days. It’s much better for me that way. I’m not alone in that. I know several authors who have exactly the same issue. It’s very bizarre. The big picture is that I am going to have a ton of work released over the next few years, which is a dream come true.

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

I’m on a journey, steeped inside darkness, as is most of my work. In all of my work, there’s a truth that’s being sought. How successful each one is? Well, that’s still up to a reader. Here’s hoping I’ve hit that mark a time or two.

Thank you! 

You can visit him at:

Tuesday 16 February 2016

Competition: Win Frankenstein on DVD

Frankenstein is out on DVD on 22nd February! and to celebrate we have a great competition for you and 3 copies to win.

Set in present day Los Angeles, FRANKENSTEIN tells its tale entirely from the point of view of The Monster (Xavier Samuel – The Twilight Saga, Fury) as he is artificially created by a husband and wife team of eccentric scientists (Danny Huston – X-Men Origins: Wolverine, 30 Days Of Night and Carrie-Anne Moss – Pompeii, The Matrix Trilogy) and then left for dead.

Confronted with nothing but aggression and violence as he attempts to make is way in the world, The Monster must get to grips with the horrific nature of humanity as he searches for his own.

Also starring horror stalwart Tony Todd (Candyman, Hatchet II) and Maya Erskine (TV’s Man Seeking Woman), FRANKENSTEIN is a full-blooded and unflinching reimagining of a timeless classic that terrifies as much as it casts a mirror over the nature of humanity and science.

Win This:
Frankenstein [DVD]

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


To enter Email us on competition@mastersofhorror.co.uk with your answer, along with your name and address.

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.

Winners will be chosen randomly and will be informed via email.

Competition: Win Last Stop on DVD

Last Stop is out on DVD on 22nd February! and to celebrate we have a great competition for you and 2 copies to win.

Ten friends on a college break, take a road trip up into the mountains of New Mexico. Their destination; a small cabin resort so far off the beaten track that it takes a full tank of gas to get there.

Upon arrival, they find signs of life but the resort is completely deserted. With their cars out of fuel and no cell signal, the friends are forced to stay, in the hope that help will come.

When members of the group suddenly begin disappearing in the blink of an eye, the realisation that something is very wrong begins to grow, as does the tension within the group.

Win This:
Last Stop [DVD]

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


To enter Email us on competition@mastersofhorror.co.uk with your answer, along with your name and address.

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.

Winners will be chosen randomly and will be informed via email.

Interview with Tyler MacIntyre

Exclusive Interview with PATCHWORK director Tyler MacIntyre
Tyler MacIntyre is an editor and producer, known for Patchwork (2015), Whiskey Jacks (2005) and Flicker (2007).

Not many people can say they were mentored by Roger Corman, Peter Bogdanovich and Stuart Gordon for their feature debut. What did you learn from each of these filmmaking icons?

I have been incredible fortunate so far to have met any of these guys! Stuart was actually the only one who helped directly on this film, giving feedback on the script and helping shepherd us away from some big missteps with schedule and makeup effects. But Roger, and especially Peter are people that I’ve spent more time with, and really helped shape the way I think about film. I used to watch a lot and read about these filmmakers when I was younger, so it has been eye-opening getting to know them and finding out they’re every bit as awesome as you’d hoped, but still down-to-earth people.

Was your short film PATCHWORK a testing ground for the feature?

Sort of. We shot a two-minute short and called it PATCHWORK as a tone-test for an unrelated feature script I wrote called THE DISSECTIONS. It worked, and got people excited about the idea, but probably too well because they kept asking “Hey, is there a feature version of that short?”.  Then Chris and I started to flesh out what a longer idea would look like, and used the short as a proof of concept.

How long did it take to write the script with Chris Lee Hill and how did you hit on the idea for the main visual concept of the three women as one entity?

The seed idea of three people in one body was in the short. That’s something that we’d never really seen before in a horror film, and was a fundamentally creepy way to approach a Frankenstein-esque story. From there Chris and I zeroed in on the idea of Frankenstein as a metaphor for cosmetic surgery and self improvement.  Once we figured out the idea of seeing inside her head, with the three girls embodied and interacting with each other, the main characters became very apparent. We both really loved RE-ANIMATOR, DEAD ALIVE, and EVIL DEAD II so we veered pretty heavily in that direction and things started to fall into place. It was only three weeks before we did our first table read of the script and started looking for financing.

FRANKENSTEIN meets Frank Henenlotter: an apt description?

That’s funny, a lot of people have been bringing up FRANKENHOOKER to us, for obvious reasons. The stories aren’t really very similar, but I like Frank Henenlotter a lot. I had seen BASKET CASE and BRAIN DAMAGE growing up, but truthfully hadn’t seen FRANKENHOOKER until we were already in the middle of shooting the movie. We were deep in prep before I got a copy at Amoeba Records and I didn’t have time to check it out until Chris and I sat down on our one day off, in the middle of production. There is definitely a lot of the same anything-goes horror-comedy style in our movie, but it wasn’t really on our radar.

Tory Stolper is amazing as Jennifer and almost seems to be channelling Steve Martin in ALL OF ME for her awkward movement role. Was that your suggestion?

I wish it was, but bringing in a lot of the physical comedy references was all Tory. Oddly, I was more concerned with the make-up and voice stuff going into it, so we had a lot of rehearsals one-on-one that just dealt with that stuff. We got really lucky that she took such ownership over the physicality and was capable of doing the vast majority of her stunts herself.

Tory and co-stars Tracey Fairaway and Maria Blasucci work seamlessly together. Did it take time for them to find their chemistry or was it instant?

It was actually a really strange process to see, from my perspective. I’d met with the actors all individually, and then we had one group rehearsal before the first day. Tory basically knew the script verbatim because she’d been working for months. I knew Tracey from a previous movie, and she is always a brilliant ball of energy. I had only just met Maria, and I knew she was very sharp and extremely funny - so they were all quite different. But on the first day, once we got everyone in costume and started walking it through - everything just clicked, and their chemistry got better and better as the shoot went on. Now they’re actually good friends.

Was it difficult to strike the right tone between the balance of splatter and slapstick?

Yes, that was our biggest story concern, finding the right balance. I think a lot of recent horror films take themselves too seriously - as in they literally seem to take place in worlds where laughter is somehow non-existent. We wanted to try and do something closer in tone to horror movies we grew up with, many of which had a very wicked comedy streak. Doing something that is kind of throw-back can also have its pitfalls, because we wanted it to be contemporary, creative and original, not like a cover-band version of an ‘80s movie. Overall, we really just wanted to make a fun ride. Personally, I was aiming for a horror-comedy not a comedy-horror, and it probably ended up a little too far on the comedy side for some of the diehard horror fans out there. But hopefully they pick up on enough influences to know that we are legitimately massive horror fans ourselves and forgive us.

Great Saul Bass/Alfred Hitchcock style opening credits, you must be a big fan?

Huge fan of both, obviously. I’m pretty sure you’re almost not allowed to be a horror fan if you don’t like Hitchcock. Its hard not to love anyone so influential. The title people at Eevolver were also really stoked that we chose to go that direction with the opening animation, and once they heard the main theme it really came together.

Why did you choose Russell Howard III, composer of HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN, for the soundtrack?

Haha - I’ve actually worked with Russ many times and he always kills it. Especially on HOBO if anyone hasn’t seen it. He did my thesis film at AFI, as well as a bunch of projects subsequently, so we’ve gotten to know each other pretty well. For a lot of crew positions you usually have a list somewhere with ideas for people you could work with, but for me, my list of composers is really just a post-it note beside my computer that says “Russ”.

You are clearly a horror lover, so will you be remaining in the genre for the foreseeable future?

I am definitely a horror lover, and most of the scripts I am developing right now have some horror element to them. I don’t think I will remain there forever, but I do tend to come up with genre-type stories, which are also a lot of fun to make, so I’m hoping to stay in this part of the narrative world where you can get away with pretty much anything!

PATCHWORK screens as part of FrightFest Glasgow 2016 on Fri 26th Feb at the GFT Screen 1, 11.15pm. Tyler MacIntyre will be in attendance.

To book tickets: http://tickets.glasgowfilm.org/en-GB/categories/frightfest

Thursday 11 February 2016

Full Movie (USA Only) - Rumpelstiltskin (1995) - From The Paramount Vault

In the 15th century, Rumpelstiltskin is imprisoned inside a small jade figurine. In modern-day Los Angeles, the recently widowed wife of a police officer, with baby in tow, finds her way into a witch's shop and purchases a certain figurine, resulting in the cackling beast being freed and demanding possession of the baby.

Tuesday 9 February 2016

Interview with Joe Begos

Writer-Producer-Director at CHANNEL 83 FILMS. Flicks include ALMOST HUMAN and THE MIND'S EYE.

Q: Have you got your love of 80s movies out of your system now?

I'm not sure! A lot of it comes through as organic as that's what my brain sponged in at the most impressionable movie-going age possible. I definitely would love to make some more contemporary movies in the future but I feel like no matter the time period, the aesthetic of the 80's (all practical, fun, sensationalized filmmaking) will bleed through.

Q: Brian De Palma or David Cronenberg? Which director had the most inspirational impact on THE MIND’S EYE?

I think they both seeped through, as I love the stories and imagery that Cronenberg has come up with, though the highly technical and orchestrated filmmaking process of Brian De Palma was equally important.

Q: Actor Graham Skipper stars again like he did in ALMOST HUMAN, and you wrote the part of Zack Connors for him, Why do you like him so much, what does he bring to your table?

Graham has so many qualities that I like as an actor, it's hard to single out specific ones. For this film in particular, I feel his blue collar, regular look really helped attribute to the "off-the-grid drifter" feel, and his giant bulging eyes were integral to the telekinetic scenes. No matter what you put on the page, Graham is willing to transform himself into it and give you whatever you need to make what's in your head a reality.

Q: John Speredakos brings new meaning to the words over-the-top as Dr Slovak, his idea or yours?

I think it was a combination of us both finding the rhythm and tone. It's a delicate balance in something like this, but between his performance and the editing, i feel like we were able to strike it just right.

Q: It’s quite a romantic movie too? Are you going soft on us?


Q: Great to see Larry Fessenden play Zack’s father, do you see him as a creative mentor? 

It was a dream come true to have Larry in the film. His whole attitude towards filmmaking and the art form in general, even after all of his success really is something to behold. To see him having fun on set and be proud of his work in the film was unbelievable.

Q: Steve Moore’s soundtrack is absolutely brilliant, and complements the movie so much.   Where did you find him?

Steve is amazing. Steve is a member of the fantastic synth horror band ZOMBI, and I became a fan of his work through that. I reached out to him, and in some weird twist of fate he had just watched ALMOST HUMAN. It really did work out perfect, as I can't think of somebody better who could have complemented the movie as well.

Q: You had a cameo in ALMOST HUMAN, why not here?

I actually do! I'm on the other side of the pay phone during the phone call. I just haven't credited myself on IMDB yet.

Q: What did you learn shooting ALMOST HUMAN that you applied here?

Never shoot a movie in 18 days.

Q: What was the best thing that happened while you were filming?

The fact that it was the worst winter in decades. It was a nightmare to shoot, but that snow looks INCREDIBLE, and we certainly never planned for it.


Follow Joe Begos on Twitter - @JoeBegos 


THE MIND’S EYE screens as part of FrightFest Glasgow 2016 on Fri 26th Feb at the GFT Screen 1, 9.00pm. Joe Begos will be in attendance.

To book tickets: http://tickets.glasgowfilm.org/en-GB/categories/frightfest

Sunday 7 February 2016

Interview with James Frazier by David Kempf

James Frazier is the owner of Cyborg One (est. 1992), a small comic book shop in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, just north of the city of Philadelphia.

Interview with James Frazier by David Kempf

When did you first become interested in comic books?

Comics were always around me as I grew up, but I think I turned the corner into hardcore fandom after the arrival of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the 1989 Batman film.

How did you get involved with Cyborg One?

After graduating from Penn State, I moved out to the Philadelphia area to pursue training in professional wrestling, believe it or not.  I wound up working at Cyborg to make ends meet, with the thought of saving up for wrestling school, and four years later, the owner sold me the business.  It’s been almost twelve years now, and running the business has become my career.

How do you think that comic book fans are different from other readers?

I’ve never worked at a book store, or a prose-specific book store, if you will, so I can’t say for sure.  As a theory, though, I’d say that comics are still such a young medium that it’s possible for one person to have read all of the groundbreaking works — to really understand where comics are and where they’re going as an art form.  It’s also possible, if you’re into a specific genre like superhero action/adventure, for you to have a certain mastery of the history of the characters and plotlines, and be able to discuss an entire publisher’s library of titles with some facility.  No one in the bookstore is a master of, say, Penguin or Ballantine Books, but comic fans tend to be pretty rabid consumers, even hoarders of information on comics.  Again, I don’t run in “book” circles, but from what I see, it seems like comic fans tend to feed social media a lot, too.  Whether they do it intentionally or unintentionally, they’re helping create buzz and sales, which is a great positive feedback loop.

You majored in English. How are comic books similar to classic English literature?

If you ignore the words-and-pictures hybrid nature of comics as a storytelling medium, it’s hard to say how comics are different from prose.  I think a lot of people would make a qualitative comparison between comics and classical literature, which is some elitist bullshit, of course.  We don’t judge all novels by the worst bodice-ripper, so some ratty issue of Cable doesn’t invalidate all comicdom.  I really do believe that comics can tell the stories of real or fictional people and ideas as effectively as any other medium.  I’m not sure that we’ve had our William Shakespeare yet — I can only speak to English-language material, really — but he or she is coming.

Which graphic novel do you think has had the most societal impact?

I think Superman, although he doesn’t have one single graphic novel that did it, has probably had the most societal impact of all comic book properties, inasmuch as Superman helped turn the American comic scene into a publishing juggernaut, from which success we’ve probably derived everything that followed, both culturally relevant and irrelevant.  I think you could make an argument that a cultural icon like Superman was also a positive role model for kids for many years, reinforcing popular moral attitudes, although modern readers seem to bristle at Big Blue’s sort of unsympathetic, unachievable goodness.

Superman aside, is there a single graphic novel that’s made the most impact with the most people?

I don’t know.  Part of me thinks that whatever the highest-selling GN or TP of all time is, that’s the one that’s going to have made the most impact, like it or not.  Maybe that means The Walking Dead volume 1 is more relevant than Maus or Persepolis, which seem like the books you’d want to answer with, but I think The Walking Dead enters more readers’ brains.

Why do you think The Walking Dead is so popular and hypnotic?

I think The Walking Dead has long-form comic book storytelling nailed down.  Denny O’Neil, I think it was, once laid out his formula for ongoing books: have an A, B, and C plot.  When A, the big, important arc, wraps up, B becomes A, and C becomes B, while you introduce a new C, a new side-story that will continue to develop.  On and on.  Robert Kirkman is always moving the plot forward in this way, and excels at leaving you with last-page cliffhanger beats to keep you coming back.  Also, while the dominant superhero genre often moves characters forward just to reset them back at status quo — the “illusion of change” concept —  I think The Walking Dead plays with its characters in permanent ways.  Limbs are lost, differences are irreconcilable, and deaths are permanent, so every issue or trade paperback has meaning in the chronicle of this world — you can’t miss part of the story, because it all means something.  I don’t think it was the first book to do any of this, but it’s one of the all-time greats in terms of sales and popularity, and it’s only about twelve years old.

Do you think adult comics like Heavy Metal magazine have changed the rules?

I’m not the best archivist and historian of the medium, so I don’t know that I have a good answer for this one.  If anything, I hope that if there are rules, creators just ignore them completely and create works to the best of their abilities.

What are the differences between comic book heroes in comics versus movies?

Well, I guess that comparison could go on and on, at least in a superficial way, like saying Superman’s cape should sprout from his shoulders, not his neck, and so on.  I hear a lot of that on a day-to-day basis, so I’m kind of inured to it.  I’m perfectly alright with film adaptations of comics that miss out on a character having a two-finger versus a three-finger glove, as long as the core concept of the original work is still expressed.  I thought the movie version of V for Vendetta got what the comic was trying to say, although not every beat was the same.  Conversely, — I say this as a huge Alan Moore fan — I thought the film of From Hell missed the point of the book entirely, and the added romance plot was predictable and, I don’t know, juvenile.  Comics and movies are two different media, and while they have some similarities, they’re such different animals that no movie concept is going to work the same way on the comic page that it does on-screen, and vice versa.  Imagine all the mood and texture of Blade Runner on the comic page.  There are comics that have great settings and depth, but it’s all achieved in a very different way.  Put some comic book concepts directly onto the screen and they fall completely flat.  Have you ever noticed how unfunny Spider-Man actually is?  Like, how often have you ever laughed out loud at a funny quip from Spider-Man in a comic?  Yet you still understand that he’s meant to be funny.  Watch the Spider-Man movies, though, and most of what he says out loud sounds like Schwarzenegger puns and dad-humor.

Do you think that Christopher Nolan accomplished something remarkable by making The Dark Knight trilogy as realistic as possible?

Because of how wacky a guy dressing up as a bat and fighting crime actually is, and how weird it would look for the traditional underpants-clad Batman to run around on camera, I think Nolan did about the only thing he could do with the character to make him look and feel plausible on film.  I love the two Tim Burton Batman films, but the rules of that world are very different from the rules of the Nolanverse.  Even still, look at how much more armor-like and uniformly black Batman’s costume and gear was in those films, and how the scripts avoided any characters using magic or psychic powers.  A lot of comic concepts just don’t work the same on screen.  Look at Green Lantern’s power.  It’s wonderful on the comic page — making all these glowing green thought projections, flying across the universe to protect alien worlds and people — but it was goofy as all hell on film.  I like the Nolan films, but I think, if anything, he played it safe by making Batman so realistic.  Part of what makes Batman such a great character in the comics is that his achievements exist on a fantastic scale — he’s the world’s foremost forensic detective, an inventor, an amazing martial artist, and a lady-killer.  Squeeze all that impossibility onto the screen while he’s fighting Clayface and the demon Etrigan, and I think it’d fall apart, yet it works on the page.  I mean, sometimes.

Which superhero stands out the most for movie fans?

Batman.  I haven’t checked the ticket sales, but he’s got to be tops, right?   Avengers killed at the box office recently, but does any one character sell more t-shirts and tickets than Batman?

Do you try to help local comic book artists gain exposure?

Minimally.  I have a few friends who’ve self-published ashcans and one-shots, and I’ve carried their stuff, but realistically, in a small shop like mine, you can’t spare prime retail display space for an unproven work, where a stack of The Dark Knight Returns would make you guaranteed sales.  Where possible, though, I do try to rep local writers and artists, especially if their work is of the quality where a recommendation can be honestly made.

What are some of your favorite movies?

Excalibur, La Dolce Vita, 8 1/2, Suspiria, Roman Polanski’s Macbeth, Conan the Barbarian, Lawrence of Arabia, and Network.

What are your current projects?

I’ve reconnected with professional wrestling, actually, and I’ve got a job doing color commentary for the Keystone Professional Wrestling organization based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  I also collect antiques and comic books.

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

I used to illustrate and write a lot more, and it’s sort of my great shame that I don’t create as much now.  I do get a lot of fulfillment working on signage for the store, though, and I do a bit of repainting and antiquing of purchased goods for home decoration.  Basically, imagine a house furnished like a Hammer-era Castle Dracula crossed with Miss Havisham’s, and that’s the place I’m trying to outfit.  As a person, I’m sort of an intense, bipolar type, which can be good and bad; I just try to be a good shopkeep and host, for the most part.

If you’d like to check out my art — also both good and bad — I maintain a pretty comprehensive gallery at http://jamesjfrazier.deviantart.com, with some prints for sale, and also a t-shirt shop at http://www.zazzle.com/cyborgone.  For any wrestling fans in the UK, please know that I’m a fan of British wrestling as well as all wrestling and martial arts, so I won’t neglect to mention Billy Robinson, Davey Boy Smith, or Johnny Saint on commentary, small as my role may be. The website at http://keystoneprowrestling.com is still a work in progress, but we hope to have some videos with my commentary up soon!

Friday 5 February 2016

Dead Town : Episode 1 - 'Road To Nowhere'

John eats mayonnaise for a living. At least he did until his boss turned into a zombie then tried to eat him. Now all he wants to do is find his daughter Emily and keep her safe. But in zombie infested Runcorn, even simple tasks like crossing the street or finding batteries for your vintage Sony Walkman have become a matter of life or death.

Armed with a mayonnaise stirring paddle and porno mags for armour; John, along with his retro best friend, 80s Dave and his apocalypse obsessed brother, Butty begin the search for his daughter.

Or they would if their car didn’t keep breaking down!

Tuesday 2 February 2016

Interview with Johannes Roberts

Johannes Roberts was born on May 24, 1976 in Cambridge, England as Johannes Christopher Edward Roberts. He is a director and writer, known for Storage 24 (2012), F (2010) and Hellbreeder (2004).


Ahead of the European premiere screening of THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR at the Glasgow Film Festival, we asked the director Johannes Roberts to spill the beans…

Q: How did producer Alexandre Aja become involved with this project?

Bloody Frenchman! Ha. He had just produced a movie with them and they passed him the script. He really got the Pet Cemetery vibe. We worked very closely together to make sure thr script was as good as it could be. He would drive me mad on set! But he’s a great guy. We’ve become good friends.

Q: All your movies (F, STORAGE 24, next 47 METERS DOWN) are in the fantasy genre, why do you like it so much?

I love to be scared. It doesn’t happen much anymore but I admire a filmmaker so much when he can do it. But I also love fantasy storytelling. I read Lord of the Rings when I was ten and it blew me away. And then I discovered King and Carpenter.

Q: What was the starting point for THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR?

There is a real village in the South of India called Bangrath which is supposedly the most haunted place in the world. It is totally abandoned and no one knows why. It is all fenced off with signs from the movement forbidding entrance after dark because supposedly the ghosts of the dead roam the place. That story fascinated me.

Q: What was the inspiration for the evil goddess Myrtu?

She was drawn from various Indian deities - particularly Kali. Bt of the Grudge in there as well! But basically I just wanted to cast Javier Bodet - I’d seen the stuff he’d done in Mama and it was crazy insane shit.

Q: Tell us about casting Sarah Wayne Callies from ‘The Walking Dead’ and Jeremy Sisto from ‘Law and Order

Ha! Sisto would kill you if that is how you thought of him - the guy from Law and Order. I am a huge fan of Sarah. Love the Walking Dead. She was just incredible. Got off the plane and went straight into filming in the slums. We had a blast. She got pretty ill though so you can see her getting thinner and thinner in the movie. Jeremy was a great laugh. I grew up on Six feet under so was very cool to have him in the movie. Oddly, by chance, all the crew and Jeremy had just come off filming the worst movie ever made called Air Force One is Down. He arrived on set, saw the crew and was like ‘oh fuck what have I got myself into.’

Q: How much of the film was shot in India?

It was all shot in Mumbai. The actual exterior of the house is where Rudyard Kipling was born. The interior as all shot at film city. We would get to work every day surrounded by all these Bollywood movies. I loved Mumbai. It’s a crazy crazy place.

Q: What had your previous forays into the genre taught you regarding filming this one?

Don’t make When Evil Calls.

Q: What were the challenges shooting THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR?

Hahaha. Everything. EVERYTHING. It was crazy. I think I aged about 100 years making that movie. I loved it though. Mumbai is awesome. It’s sheer chaos and that suited me very well.

Q: Any recent horror movie you would loved to have directed?

I saw they just found a new director for IT - I really wanted to do that. It’s my favourite book.

Q: If you could bring a loved one back from the dead via an ancient ritual, would you?

For sure. What could go wrong?

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR screens as part of FrightFest Glasgow 2016 on Sat 27th Feb at the GFT Screen 1, 4.40pm. Johannes Roberts will be in attendance.

To book tickets: http://tickets.glasgowfilm.org/en-GB/categories/frightfest