Wednesday, 27 July 2016
Q: Firstly, congratulations Jon, on completing your first solo feature film. Has this been a long time in the making ?
JON: Thank you, it has indeed been a long time in the making, in fact a lifetime nearly! This is a very personal film as it's based on true events that I've experienced. It's almost a compilation of scenarios that have made a lasting impression on me. The gang of kids are a mixture of who I once was or people I knew, though I coupled that with modern electronic devices. There have been studies that have shown these devices are retarding the development of empathy in young minds. I took that concept to the next level.
Q: How would you describe the film?
JON: Essentially as I did with The Dead, I just made a film that I wanted to see. I love revenge movies (or the concept of them) but pretty much all of them try to be clever and have it that revenge is not really completed or it's the wrong person, or it all ends so badly because revenge is wrong blah blah blah. Essentially by trying to be different...they end up the same.
The film is a violent clash of two generations. It's about morality and perspective. There are no good or bad people in this world, we all have different perspectives on right and wrong. Most films follow a morality dictated by religion, I wanted to explore other perspectives. For instance killing is not always wrong is it? A soldier is sent to war to kill people, that's considered right and lawful by most people. However if you kill someone who attacks you or just generally annoys you, that's considered wrong in the eyes of the law and most people. I wanted to explore what happens when ordinary people are driven to murder and are ok with it. They don't suffer any post trauma, they carry on with their lives. In real life people commit murder and get away with it some of the time. Go to any police station in any town in any part of the world, the walls are covered in missing persons pictures...most of who will never be found. I'll stop there as I could go on all day about this subject Lol.
Q: Lisa Eichhorn plays a lead role. How did you get her on board?
JON: Lisa is an incredible talent! She did a cameo on my brother's film Never Let Go, so he introduced us and I thought she would be perfect for the role of Helen Martin. She loved the script and (like a lot of people who read it) she felt it touched on an important subject about how young people are increasingly involved in violent or even sexual attacks and the erosion of empathy. She had been reading up on that very subject at the time so she was very much into it, much to my delight! I couldn't believe I was going to have a genuine Hollywood legend in my movie. She really elevates the intensity of the scenes as does Russell Floyd who plays Bernard Martin. They were both fantastic and I'm so greatful for bestowing the film with their talents.
Q: The locations are stunning. How did you choose them?
JON: Thanks, I now live in the south of France, not far from the Black mountains so I was able to find some incredible locations which were perfect for the film. Like The Dead films I wanted to set the horror in a beautiful place. It's the French idyll gone rotten. For once in my life I enjoyed the process of making a film. A lot of the cast are local theatre actors and they did an amazing job ! I wanted the film to have an authentic feel so we shot entirely on location. The thunder storms, the chirping of the cicadas at night, the lonely winding roads, all crank up the tension.
Q: The story will hit a lot of nerves, given current European topics and the underlying xenophobia at the heart of your film. What can you say about that?
JON: The signs of a crumbling global union are evident in the film. It's a very touchy subject and I can get myself into all sorts of trouble. I'm not making a political statement, I'm just a filmmaker who is making a piece of entertainment. At the end of the day I love France, I've lived there for 5 years now, but I did want to explore a dark undercurrent that exists... What do you expect from a film called Offensive? ha! It looks like there is a love hate relationship between the French and the Americans. There is this strange paradox, on one hand they are very greatful for the liberation in WW2 but to quote a line from Offensive, "we're getting a little sick and tired of the American liberator story...why don't you find somewhere else to go play hero". After all, xenophobia probably exists in every country in the world. Like all great horror movies it's all based on fear of the unknown.
Q: The theme of cultural alienation between generations is very strong. The young French gang in the film have been described as ‘a new breed of technological sociopaths’. An accurate observation?
JON: I guess there will always be a generation gap issue for young and old and "what one doesn't understand one fears"...I just take that to the extreme. There's nothing worse than moving to a place where you're not welcome.
Accurate?.There are "no go" zones in the outskirts of some of the main cities in France, which the media are "encouraged" not to report on. Even the police won't enter. They're basically gang controlled.
Also I particularly wanted my gang to be very young, as the level of cruelty at that age can be staggering sometimes! The Bulger case comes to mind... I wanted the threat to come from society's protection of the young rather than the more obvious physical threat of the gang themselves. Also having witnessed and been the victim of young kids who essentially, in the eyes of the law are almost untouchable, as minors. It can be an impossible situation if kids decide to target you. It's a frightening prospect as there's almost nothing you can do. I used to live in a rough area where a neighbour of mine was targeted by kids, they smashed his windows regularly, spray painted pedo on his walls just because he was old and alone. He finally had to sell what was left of his house and move away. You watch, afraid that if you help, they could target you too. Like the gang in the film..."they're just having fun..."
Q: What films were an influence? Straw Dogs comes to mind.
JON: I love Straw Dogs and you're not the first to make a link with Offensive but apart from it being a sort of revenge film in a rural setting and the main protagonists are foreigners, there are not too many similarities.
To be honest, for this film, as I mentioned, I drew on real life personal experience more than other films, (apart from the killing which is based on a real case that I can't mention for legal reasons) which I hope will give it something very different to all other movies.
I'm also breaking a few rules by having a retired couple as the main protagonists instead of some good looking overly muscular teenagers who happen to be martial arts and weapons trained and look more at home on a catwalk. I'll be interested to see how that goes down.
Q: What do you hope the FrightFest crowd, who are, of course, familiar with your work, get most from the film?
JON: Firstly it's not about muscly super heroes, standing in a manga pose, spouting gravely voiced one liners, before blowing someone's head off, one handed with a shot gun then winking into camera. I wanted to give it an old school film style with a modern intensity to the violence and reality. I wanted it to cut deeper. Most of us will have experienced some of the situations that happen in Offensive, from bullying to harassment. That's why I hope it will touch us all on a personal level. There seems to be an epidemic in modern filmmaking in that they desperately want to be "cool", maybe it's the desire of a nerdy film director who is anything but?
I hope that they are prepared for a very different film that seems simplistic on the surface but is layered with a serious subtext. I hope they feel the torment and anger that the characters do. I hope it makes them consider morality, technology and humanity. I hope it gives them a different perspective on how society is "progressing".
Q: You haven’t completely stopped working with your brother, he plays a cameo role in the film, doesn’t he? And Angela Dixon, star of Howard’s Never Let Go, also has a role. Seems you’re never too far away from each other!
JON: Howard plays Charles Martin who liberates the village during WW2. It's a cameo but it is still quite a pivotal character, he gets to brutally murder some Nazis which I think he enjoyed. As I played one of the kidnappers in Never Let Go who gets his arm snapped, nose broken then run over by a truck...again! Now you mention it... something's not right here! I'll have to have a word! Ha!
Yes we're always there for each other, essentially we share a lot of the same ideas and philosophy on life. I hope we'll always help each other out as brothers should.
For Angela Dixon...I had written this incredibly difficult emotionally charged role of Sarah, a tormented language tutor who has to deal with some of the psychological aftermath of the gang. I thought...who the hell could pull off a role of that intensity...Angela Dixon was the first person that sprang to mind. She was great and it's such a different character to the one in Never Let go, it really shows what a top class talent she is!
Q: As a fan of horror films, what are your personal Top 3?
JON: That's a tough one! I know it's a slightly cop out answer but it really does depend on what mood you're in. 1) I still have to stick with the original Dawn of the Dead, it just blew my socks off. 2) The Exorcist is a master class in filmmaking. 3) The original Evil Dead is hard to beat. But on another day I may feel differently. As you can see, I'm generally into older movies.
Q: Finally, are there any plans for you and Howard to join forces for The Dead 3?
JON: This one keeps coming up... After part 2, we always talked of it as a trilogy and I have to say we can't stop ourselves from firing off ideas for it. It would be one hell of a 3rd and final chapter! If anyone out there has the means then we're open to it.
Offensive screens at Horror Channel FrightFest on Saturday 27th August, 6.05pm in Discovery Screen 3, Vue Cinema, Shepherd’s Bush, W12
Monday, 18 July 2016
A black market animal trafficker releases one of his most treasured exotic species into serene Lake Tahoe for ‘safe-keeping’ while he serves a prison sentence. However this isn’t so safe for the locals, who begin to become part of the food chain at an unbelievable rate.
While everyone around her brushes the attacks off as a bear on the loose, a local sheriff sees the truth and makes it her mission to capture the bull shark with the help of a local marine expert.
Meanwhile, the trafficker is released from prison and faces a very angry gangster client who wants his shark. Starring Dolph Lundgren.
Shark Lake [DVD]
To enter all you have to do is answer this easy question...
Winners will be chosen randomly and will be informed via email.
Disorder is out on DVD on 25th July! and to celebrate we have a great competition for you and 2 copies to win.
Paranoid thriller directed by Alice Winocour. Vincent (Matthias Schoenaerts) is suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in Afghanistan as a French Special Forces soldier. When he returns home and takes on the role of bodyguard for Jessie (Diane Kruger), the wife of a wealthy but shady businessman living in France, he becomes enchanted by her.
Suffering from hallucinations and unable to cast off the role of alert on-duty soldier, he becomes convinced that the woman he is protecting is in danger from a strange outside threat. This paranoia blurs the distinction between reality and illusion and for Victor becomes all-consuming.
Starring Matthias Schoenaerts, Diane Kruger
Directed by Alice Winocour
To enter all you have to do is answer this easy question...
Winners will be chosen randomly and will be informed via email.
Saturday, 16 July 2016
When did you first become interested in writing?
I was never good at math or science so naturally I was attracted to English. I majored in English in college; writing papers saved me from low grades in other subjects. When I was in high school and college, I wrote screenplays for the short movies my friends and I made. After graduating from college, I wrote for local newspapers doing small-town news events, feature stories and movie and theater reviews.
How did you get involved in fantasy/horror?
I guess I’ve always been interested in it. When I was a kid I liked Scooby- Doo and the stop motion animation movie Mad Monster Party. That’s when I was very young. When I was a little older I liked watching the classic horror movies like Dracula and The Wolf Man. On TV I liked to watch creature features and Ultraman, Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot was also a favorite. The first horror novel I ever read was The Shining and then I read Jaws. Edgar Allan Poe followed and I was hooked on reading horror. Star Wars and Alien also inspired me, the books and the movies. I wrote short thriller stories in college and grad school for the local fiction magazines Lemuria and The Grackle. When I was younger my friends and I made short films for the local cable station. Then I started writing for you, I wrote interviews, I wrote stories and then finally I wrote my first novel Dark Fiction in 2009.
What do you see as the primary difference between British and American horror?
That’s a good question. England is the birthplace of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, Frankenstein and Dracula. Americans, of course have Poe and Ray Bradbury. I would say the main difference is that in many cases American horror is about how the monster is the other. British horror seems to be largely about how the monster is us. John Carpenter said that a lot better than I did (about the difference between leftwing horror and rightwing horror) but I think you get the gist of the message.
What are your favorite horror books?
There are probably too many to name but here goes. It’s kind of a three way tie between Jonathan Maberry’s Patient Zero, Peter Straub’s Ghost Story and Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire. In addition to that I think the classics like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Anything by Poe would come to mind. Stephen King’s Pet Sematary is the most terrifying book I have ever read. I also enjoy just about anything by Ray Bradbury and William F. Nolan. I like to listen to audiobooks as well. Ray Porter’s reading of Richard Matheson’s Hell House is brilliant. Every summer I listen to the audiobook of Jaws. The differences between Peter Benchley’s novel and the movie are profound. Clive Barker’s Books of Blood are the best collection of short stories I have ever read.
What are some of your favorite horror movies?
John Carpenter’s The Thing, Alien, The Evil Dead (1982), Black Christmas, The Exorcist, The Shining, The Dead Zone, The Fly (1986), Hellraiser, Poltergeist (1982), Scream, Psycho 2, The Hunger, Let’s Scare Jessica to Death, The Haunting, Dressed to Kill, An American Werewolf in London, The Silence of the Lambs, Fright Night (1985), Rosemary’s Baby, The Omen. The Changeling, and An American Haunting. Last but not least on the list would be Halloween III: Season of the Witch. I will always stand by it and defend it. May those who hate on it spend eternity in a realm where no Halloween candy is available. Those are my favorites but I still like the so bad its good stuff and I think amazing work can be done on a low budget. Don Dohler’s Nightbeast and Fiend come to mind. Douglas McKeown’s The Deadly Spawn is another good one. Jaws is my favorite movie of all time and always will be.
Travel Bug is my third novel. It’s very different from the first two Dark Fiction and The Petsorcist. It’s the combination of science fiction and horror that I love so much. It’s about a young man and his great grandfather traveling through time to find the identity of his parents’ killer. Along the way they discover that human history is not what it seems to be in terms of the history books. Cherished and sacred beliefs are shattered during their travels. Among them is the idea that people are more good than evil.
Travel Bug focuses on controversial things like politics, religion and the meaning of life. Why did you want to get into those awkward topics?
If you actually had a way to travel through time, I think these elements would be inevitable. You would have to confront them. Human history and civilization is full of conflicting beliefs and actions. The basic premise (at least as far as the antagonist is concerned) is that time travel dispels most of your most cherished beliefs. Now what happens after that?
Is the story meant to be taken literally?
Not necessarily. The opening line of one chapter is “Are they revelations or hallucinations?” I think that kind of leaves the door open for the reader to interpret the story. There are many fantastic elements in the story combined with real life events and things that don’t exist. Let’s face it there has never been any evidence of time travel. At least they don’t exist as far as I know. So I think whether the story is real, a hallucination or a dream is in the eye of the beholder.
Is this a sequel to Dark Fiction in any way?
No but it takes place in the same twisted universe as Dark Fiction. There is even a certain professor who makes a cameo appearance. So Dr. Wells and Christopher are mentioned in passing but mostly its new characters who struggle under much different circumstance. The evil genies The Jinn are occasionally mentioned but this story is not about them.
Are the characters of Harold and Andrew based on people in your own family?
Yes, to a certain extent they are. Andrew is my son and Harold was my grandfather. The book is dedicated to him. He was an avid reader. My grandfather was a devout Catholic and his favorite book of all time was James Clavell’s Shogun. The book’s main premise was that the world would have been better off without Christianity. That’s hilarious. He had an open mind. Still, these are fictional characters. Typically I take a composite of real life people and blend them together. The result is often that they take on a life of their own.
What do you consider your greatest accomplishment as an author?
The fact that I haven’t given up, I guess. My books have received mixed reviews and occasionally some folks have told me they don’t understand them or that they are “really out there.” Other than that I suppose actually writing my first novel and seeing it come to fruition. I can’t tell you how many times people tell me they are going to write a book someday. They almost never do it. I think probably the most meaningful accomplishment I’ve had is putting all of my interviews together for The Horror of It All.
Do you have any advice for new writers?
Yes. Write everyday if you can. Read all that you can. Read outside of your genre. If you write two pages a day in a year you will have a novel. Then you won’t have to be one of those poor souls who talk about doing it and never do. If you write horror then write about what scares you. Don’t hold back because you might surprise yourself by how far you will go. Then once you have something good or at least half decent, get other writers to read your novel. You should try to get as many blurbs as possible. I ask a lot of people to write them, sometimes they say yes and sometimes the answer is no. I think that it’s a good idea to diversify too. Some of my blurbs are from other novelists but I also try to get editors, short story writers and people in the movie industry.
What is your opinion of the new self-publishing trend?
Where would we be without Amazon? It’s the great equalizer that makes things fair for the independent author. They have standards so it’s not like people can publish anything. Still, there is a great deal of freedom now. Most new writers will not land major book publishers and small publishers are limited. Some traditionally published authors believe it’s producing a lot of bad books. Others think that books that would have not otherwise been published can now be available to the public. I think that many of the major publishers are similar to movie studios in that they are obviously looking for the profits of a sure fire hit. Sadly, this explains why we keep getting the same unoriginal stuff over and over in the bookstores and certainly at the movies. So I certainly welcome the self-publishing trend. I also love visiting independent bookstores and I hope they can co-exist with the phenomenon of eBooks which I believe will be the future of publishing.
What are your current projects?
I’m working on a novel that is a direct sequel to Dark Fiction with all of the characters returning in it. There will also be some new ones I hope the reader will find interesting. I’ve also written some stand-alone novellas that will eventually be published.
Please in your own words write a paragraph about yourself & your work.
I’m a horror and science fiction novelist and short story writer. I believe that every book from The Wizard of Oz to Justine, or the Misfortunes of Virtue has something to teach us about the human condition. I like to take some traditional monsters and put some new twists on them. So I hope to be entertaining and disturbing at the same time. I want the reader to know that no one is safe, death is coming for all of us and I hope I do it with a good sense of humor.
Thank you for joining us for this interview David, below you will find some links, please everyone go check them out!
Buy Travel Bug from Amazon
UK: - Travel Bug
USA: - Travel Bug
David Kempf - Amazon About Me Page
Friday, 1 July 2016
Film news (UK): Horror Channel FrightFest 2016 announces line-up, including 19 World and 35 UK & European premieres
From grindhouse to art-house, feel-good to squeal-good, blockbuster to ghostbuster FrightFest returns in all its gory glory, now housed at the 12-screen Vue Cinema at Shepherd’s Bush, West London, from Aug 25 - Aug 29.
In its 17th year, the world renowned genre film festival will present 62 new feature films, embracing sixteen countries and bringing together established filmmakers, British first-timers and emerging international visionaries from six continents.
The opening night attraction is the European Premiere of MY FATHER DIE, Sean Brosnan’s brutal and beautiful feature debut – an ultra-stylish, uber violent revenge thriller that’s a calling card for Brosnan’s brilliant talents. And our closing night film is another breakneck paced masterpiece - the UK Premiere of TRAIN TO BUSAN, so join ‘The Commuting Dead’ as director Sang-ho Yeon takes you on a first class horror action thrill-ride, mixing slaughter, suspense and splatter with incredible visual élan.
In between these two banner titles are the scream of the crop from all over the globe, strongly represented in our line-up of World Premieres by the incredible Italian supercar tension-ratcheting MONOLITH, the gory Dutch treat THE WINDMILL MASSACRE, the stunning South African nightmare FROM A HOUSE ON WILLOW STREET, Tricia Lee’s creepy Canadian chiller BLOOD HUNTERS and three American shock absorbers KNUCKLEBONES, ENCLOSURE and the Eurotrashy radical BLOOD FEAST remake.
Reflecting a productive year for British horror, there are twelve UK World Premieres, including Shaun Robert Smith’s intensely powerful BROKEN, Jon Ford’s visceral revenge thriller OFFENSIVE, Wyndham Price’s dark fantasy CROW, Kate Shenton’s auto-satire EGOMANIAC, Ben Parker’s claustrophobic THE CHAMBER, Marty Stalker’s shock-doc HOSTAGE TO THE DEVIL and Andy Edward’s sun, sea and sex gore-fest IBIZA UNDEAD.
Five of the UK World Premieres make up the ‘First Blood’ strand, in which home-based directors are given a chance to shine with their debut efforts. These are: Phillip Escott’s harrowing CRUEL SUMMER, Brad Watson’s urban gang shocker HALLOW’S EVE, James Crow’s deadly HOUSE OF SALEM, Stewart Spark’s 666 Short Cuts To Hell entry THE CREATURE BELOW and Lawrie Brewster’s PTSD-inspired THE UNKINDNESS OF RAVENS.
Other festival highlights in the Main Screen strand include the European Premiere of Adam Wingard’s intense chiller of the moment, THE WOODS. destined to be one of the key horrors of 2016. We also have this year’s most ferocious possession movie in Cody Calahan’s LET HER OUT, as well as Todd William’s superb Stephen King adaptation CELL, starring John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson. Then there is the top box office Italian sensation THEY CALL ME JEEG ROBOT, Adam Rifkin’s tour-de-force DIRECTOR’S CUT, starring Penn Jillette, Rob Zombie’s ultra-violent grindhouse slasher 31, ‘Saw’ man Darren Lynn Bousman’s graphic novel inspired ABBATOIR, Simon Rumley’s latest visionary masterpiece JOHNNY FRANK GARRETT’S LAST WORD, Jackson Stewart’s supernatural switcheroo BEYOND THE GATES, the zombie theme park hell ride THE REZORT, the full-blooded cracker RED CHRISTMAS, the cryogenic chiller REALIVE, the home invasion twister MERCY, the darkly unpredictable PET, starring Dominic Monaghan and the beguilling THE MASTER CLEANSE, with The Big Bang Theory’s Jonny Galecki and Anna Friel.
South America is rapidly becoming a major genre player and FrightFest is proud to be presenting seven specialities from Argentina, Chile, Brazil and Mexico. Daniel de la Vega’s WHITE COFFIN is co-written by FrightFest favourite Adrian Garcia Bogliano, Laura Casbe’s BENAVIDEZ’S CASE stretches surrealist boundaries, Patricio Valladares’ DOWNHILL mines H. P. Lovecraft for inspiration, THROUGH THE SHADOW puts Henry James’ classic tale of terror ‘The Turn of the Screw’ through a south of the border filter, THE SIMILARS is pure ‘Twilight Zone’ inspiration, FRANCESCA a thrilling Buenos Aires take on giallo and WE ARE THE FLESH comes with serious artistic endorsements from fellow Mexican filmmakers Alfonso Cuaron and Alejandro G. Iñárritu.
The Discovery Screen strand is as bold as ever and includes a restored version of Shelden Renan’s controversial documentary THE KILLING OF AMERICA, Anna Biller’s gloriously art-directed THE LOVE WITCH, the cursed silent movie FURY OF THE DEMON, the Berlin Film Festival break-out, SHELLEY, the visionary sci-fi fantasy LOST SOLACE and the darkly hilarious ghost-busting ANOTHER EVIL. Then there’s Julian T. Pinder’s chilling murder investigation POPULATION ZERO, Martin Owen’s High-tec underground thriller terror LET’S BE EVIL, Tim Reis’ slimy creature feature BAD BLOOD: THE MOVIE and Michael Boroweic’s acute study of alien paranoia, MAN UNDERGROUND.
Plus, you can witness the stag party from hell in THE UNRAVELLING, the bad taste shenanigans of NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE, , the viral thrills of THE EVIL IN US, the vehicular chills of PARANORMAL DRIVE, the die-hard dystopia of HERE ALONE, the eye-popping shocks of FOUND FOOTAGE 3D, and the ‘goriously’ insane ATTACK OF THE LEDERHOSEN ZOMBIES.
Ahead of its FrightFest Presents DVD release, there is an encore airing for ROAD GAMES, this time with a live interactive commentary with director Abner Pastoll and a London premiere for one of the most popular movies shown earlier this year at FrightFest Glasgow, Sean Byrne’s THE DEVIL’S CANDY.
The Duke Mitchell Film Club is back with the UK premiere of Kim Sang-Chan’s outrageously infectious KARAOKE CRAZIES and a first showing of all three episodes of the mesmerising French TV mini-series BEYOND THE WALLS.
Alan Jones, co-director of FrightFest, said today: “For seventeen years now FrightFest has led the way through landmark changes in the genre, altered perceptions of fandom and embraced the revolutions in platforms and distribution models. It continues to do so this year with a breathtaking selection of genre attractions with the widest appeal and breadth of focus. We stand out because we stand for something special – a one-stop roadmap through everything you need to see to be totally up to speed with what the next year in horror fantasy will be all about”.
This year’s special events, retrospective programme, the guest list and the Short Film Showcase entries will be announced in the coming weeks.
Festival and day pass sales will go on sale Sat 2 July at noon and will only be available to buy online: http://www.frightfest.co.uk/tickets.html
Single tickets will go on sale on Sat 23 July.
For full programme details and timetables go to: www.frightfest.co.uk