Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Interview with Gabriel Campisi - Producer of Death Pool

Gabriel Campisi is a Los Angeles-based filmmaker who shot his first movies on Super-8mm and 16mm as a kid, the more elaborate ones going on to win national competitions. Proficient in creating practical and optical special effects at a time when computer-generated imagery was not yet prominent, he was recognized early on by national film festivals and magazines for his stop-motion animation and split-beam cinematic techniques.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Campisi spent many years dealing in the high-stakes world of motion picture finance, subsequently writing the bestselling The Independent Filmmaker's Guide to Writing a Business Plan for Investors (McFarland Publishers) presently in its second edition.

Campisi studied with UCLA's screenwriting professor Richard Walter, and has written for industry publications and genre magazines, including Hollywood Reporter, Variety, and Fangoria Magazine. He is a partner at Traplight Pictures and a member of the Producers Guild of America (P.G.A.).

Gabriel joins us today to talk about Death Pool


How did you get into producing, Gabriel?

I started making movies around the age of 8, when I discovered my father’s Super-8mm movie camera.  Star Wars came out around the same time, and I remember experimenting with stop-motion animation.  Of course, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing at the time, but I just knew it was something I really enjoyed.  I started shooting more elaborate “movies” over the next few years and eventually shot award-winning short films.

As I got older, the natural progression of “making movies” led to handling the productions from the ground up, and that meant putting on the producer’s hat.


Do you find producing more interesting than directing?

I find both positions equally exciting and challenging.  They each have their own distinct set of nuances and rewards, but as producer you’re more in charge of the production, and there are a lot more responsibilities involved.

I enjoy the creativity involved with directing.  Right now I have too many projects I’m dealing with as writer and producer, and not enough peace of mind to take on the responsibilities of a director, but it’s something I will be going back to again soon.


And what about on Death Pool, what were your main responsibilities?

On Death Pool, I had all the responsibilities inherent in any production to contend with.  From preparation and pre-production to post-production and delivery of the finished movie to our sales agent and distributors.
Making sure the project stayed within budget and on schedule was always a dominating factor, as well as making sure the director Jared Cohn could get all the shots he needed to bring the screenplay to life.
Safety was also an issue, since we were dealing with a lot of water and drownings.  As producer, you always want to make sure nobody gets hurt in any way, so that often means jumping in and saying, “Sorry, we can’t do this.”  No shot is worth someone getting hurt.

Luckily, we had a great crew and great actors, and things went very smooth.


What was your toughest day, as a producer, on Death Pool?

I think the first day is always the toughest on any movie.  It’s also the most exciting, but the first day is when all the wrinkles are fresh and need to get ironed out.  Cast and crew learn to work together, and everyone sort of has to feel each other out and learn each other’s personalities, strengths and weaknesses.
A good producer must possess good diplomacy skills and know how to deal with different character types – and believe me, you see every character trait imaginable on a movie set!

Like I said before, though, we had an amazing cast and crew, and they made the entire production fun and laid back.


In terms of casting or creative choices, were there ever disagreements between you and director Jared Cohn?

Jared and I are best friends, first and foremost.  As business partners, we equally respect one another, which is fundamental to the success of any creative and business relationship.  For this reason, it’s very rare that we disagree on things.  However, if we do, we merely discuss the issue at hand, point out the pros and cons, and either compromise or convince the other to our point of view.

The casting on Death Pool was spot-on perfect.  Randy Wayne, Demetreus Stear and Sara Lane are amazing and incredible performers, and they brought life to the fictional characters.  So did all the other actors.


Was the film inspired by a real-life case?

There were some stories in the newspapers many years ago about some drownings in the San Fernando Valley that were viewed as suspicious and deliberate, and were never solved by the police.  At the same time, there was a guy who was arrested for drowning a victim in the same area, and the question arose: could he be responsible for these other drownings?

Although there was never any formal connection between the events, and a serial killer was never declared by authorities, Jared used these elements as the basis for the screenplay.

The original title of the movie was “The Valley Drowner.”  But apparently the title didn’t translate well in other languages, so our distributor strongly recommended we change the name.


Any of those death scenes disturbing to film?

Everything in a movie is make-believe, and there are many people standing around the set, so it’s not as disturbing as seeing the finished project unfold on the screen.  However, there was always some form on anxiety while shooting the drownings, because the actors really got into their scenes.  For a split second you could suspend disbelief and just say, “Wow,” because you know how real it all looked.


Why was MTI Home Video the right home for this one?

MTI has been around since 1984, so they really know what they’re doing.  They have broad experience with genre movies, including horrors and thrillers.  They have a vast library of movies, with connections to every outlet imaginable, and a very intelligent staff that runs the operation.

The same goes for Artist View Entertainment, our sales company.  Scott Jones, the CEO, is a genuinely nice person and really knows the industry.  It was his idea to go to MTI, and I couldn’t be happier.


Can you tell us what’s next for you?

We’re prepping another movie through Traplight Pictures, but I’ve been busy writing a new book tentatively titled Paradigm Shift: The New Hollywood for Independent Filmmakers.

The finance models Hollywood has been using for the past few decades are changing.  There are new players in town (i.e., Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, etc.) that are shaking things up and changing how audiences watch scripted entertainment.  This change has affected how money changes hands, and a lot of the money pots that used to help finance companies in the past are no longer viable.  My new book discusses all this, and I’m supplementing it with interviews with industry executives and producers, like I did with my last two books.

I’m also working on a project called Damnation Come, which hopefully everyone will hear more about soon.


Death Pool is out now on DVD and you can order it from Amazon at the following link.
Death Pool DVD (Opens in a new window)

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Interview with Tim Curran by David Kempf


Tim Curran is an American author of horror fiction. His works include the novels Skin Medicine, Hive, Dead Sea, Resurrection, Skull Moon, The Devil Next Door, and Biohazard. His most recent books have been The Spawning, the short story collections Bone Marrow Stew and Zombie Pulp, and the novellas "1867: The Skulleater Campaign", "The Corpse King", and "Fear Me"


When did you first become interested in writing?

Oh, probably when I was 12 or 13. Up until that point my exposure to horror fiction came in the form of movies, TV, and horror comics. It was then I started ordering horror books from the back pages of Creepy and Eerie magazine. That’s when I really started falling in love with it—the Pan Books of Horror, Masters of Horror, Horror Times Ten, the Frankenstein Horror Series, those Dracula paperbacks by Robert Lory. I fell in love with horror fiction then. Before that I read a lot of science fiction, particularly H.G. Wells, Robert Heinlein, Issac Asimov, and those Ace Double science fiction books.


How did you get involved in fantasy/horror?

That started even younger. I used to watch Dark Shadows when I was a little kid. Sometimes it really scared me bad, but I loved it. Around that time, I also went to a movie called The Oblong Box with my mom and sisters and it absolutely destroyed me. I was never so scared before. I remember my sisters showing me an ad for it on the back of a magazine…that oblong box nailed shut. I knew something awful was going to be in there. I was terrified of what it might be.

Later on, when I was 8 we had this guy called Alexander, a horror movie host, who came on late Friday nights and showed the Universal Shock package of movies, all the classic ones with Karloff and Lugosi, as well as giant bug movies like The Deadly Mantis and, of course, my personal favorite, the Creature from the Black Lagoon movies! I was hooked and have been ever since. When I was in grade school, all the neighborhood kids would get together and walk down to Main Street to see things like The House of Dark Shadows and Hammer movies. What attracts you to it? Who knows. It’s just in you and when you make contact with it, you’re never the same again. It’s your thing. It sure was mine. Still is.


Is this a full time job?

No, part time. Over here in the U.S. our health care system is shit. You have to work a job to get it. If I loved in the UK or Canada, I’d probably write full-time. I’m sure I would.


How would you classify the genre you write?

I write horror fiction. I’m not too proud or pretentious to say that. I’m proud of the fact. I see it as a very legitimate form of writing. I realize there’s a tremendous amount of shit that comes out, both in books and film, but the small percentage of really good stuff makes it all worthwhile for me as not just a writer but as a reader.


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

Oh, it’s pure escapism. It gets us away from the troubles, stress, and real horrors that lie beyond the pages. It can be inspiring to see characters in a story go through things ten times worse than anything you ever faced and come up standing. It’s also cathartic, they say. Horror helps us purge negative emotions.


What inspires your stories?

Oh, everything. I think as a kid I was scared of a lot of things—fear of the dark, fear of strangers, fear of being left alone, fear of death etc. All that is pounded into your head by your parents and friends and siblings. I’m sure there’s also a level of instinctive fear involved, too. I channel it into stories. That’s really the yardstick for a scary tale. If you write it alone, late at night, and it chills you, you’re doing it right. Your channeling childhood fears and transforming them into deep-seated adult phobias.


What do you see as the differences between American horror and British horror?

I’m not seeing much distinction between the two these days. There was a time when there was a difference--you know, Stephen King was very different from James Herbert, Ramsey Campbell was different from Jack Ketchum. I think the splatterpunk thing over here in the ‘80’s and the paperback nasties of the UK might have changed that, blurred the differences.


What are your favorite horror books?

Well, I like the classics, that’s for sure—Lovecraft and Blackwood, Machen and Hodgson and Henry S. Whitehead. I like Stephen King’s early stuff a lot, particularly ‘Salem’s Lot and Pet Sematary. There’s nothing wrong with his new books, of course, but the old ones were more straightforward horror. The Doll Who Ate His Mother by Campbell. Ghost Story by Straub. The first three Books of Blood by Clive Barker. The Totem by David Morrell. The Specimen by Pete Kahle. Ghoul by Brian Keene. Ghoul by Michael Slade, too. I love Thomas Ligotti’s Songs of a Dead Dreamer. Usher’s Passing by Robert R. McCammon. Cold Moon Over Babylon by Michael McDowell. Off Season By Jack Ketchum. The Stake by Richard Laymon. Snowblind by Michael McBride. Light at the End by Skipp and Spector. The list could go on and on, from old things to new things. And if you asked me next week, it would all probably change!


What are some of your favorite horror movies?

The list would be too long. It would stretch from Karloff’s The Bride of Frankenstein and Lugosi’s White Zombie to the Val Lewton films of the 1940s, Godzilla, Fiend without a Face, and Curse of the Demon in the 1950s to the AIP Poe films and Hammer Films of the ‘60’s to Halloween and The Thing and on and on. A couple in the last few years have really caught my eye—Spring, The Babadook, and especially, The Blackcoat’s Daughter. Just blown away by that one. Like Picnic at Hanging Rock (another of my absolute favorites), you really need to pay attention to subtlety and detail. Wonderful, disturbing movie.


What do you consider your greatest accomplishment as an author?

I think it was probably when Cemetery Dance put out my novella, The Corpse King. That was a real thrill for me. When you make it with CD, you know you’ve reached the upper echelon. I don’t mean that to sound egotistical or anything. It’s just that when you reach the level where Rich Chizmar and Brian Freeman pay attention, you figure you’ve done something right.
             

Do you have any advice for new writers?

The best advice is the simplest: READ! Read everything. Not just in your chosen genre, but everything, fiction and non-fiction. Feed your head, expand your mind. Some of the worst horror I’ve ever read is where you can tell that the author is influenced by movies and TV. That’s fine if you’re a screenwriter, but if you’re doing books, then you need to dig.

You need to go back to Poe and the Gothics and climb the ladder up through Lovecraft and Machen and Blackwood right up to King and his contemporaries and onto the current crop of writers. You need to do this. You need to absorb their ideas. I’m sure some writers do fine without doing this or reading outside their genre, but I don’t recommend it. Another thing, and this from my own experience as well, make your writing lively. Don’t let it lay there. Energize it. Create atmosphere and describe what you see in your mind’s eye. Don’t just tell us that a zombie is rotting, tell us how it’s rotting. Subjective viewpoint is everything.
     

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

I think it’s a good thing to give people a venue to express their creativity and a bad thing because, well, let’s face it, there’s a lot of really bad books coming out of it. Stuff that would never make it past a legitimate editor. All we can hope for is that for every twenty or thirty bad ones, we can mine one good one.


What are your current projects?

My projects are currently up in the air. DarkFuse, as you know, is coming to an end. As sad as that is, I saw it as a sign to explore other possibilities, time to begin working with new publishers and try a few things I hadn’t done before. It’s so easy to get comfortable and get in a rut, that sometimes when things like this happen, it can shake you up and get you moving. I’m talking with a couple other publishers right now, so we’ll see what comes of it.


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

There’s not much to tell about myself, but as far as my work goes, I write the kind of thing I like to read. I’m not sure if this is what others do, but to me it’s the main thing. I have to be passionate about what I’m writing or it just doesn’t work. I really need to embrace my subject matter. When it’s something historical like The Corpse King or Skin Medicine, I can be a very diligent researcher. Every detail is important. There’s nothing worse than a weird western that riddled with historical mistakes or one that draws its inspiration from crappy Hollywood westerns, most of which have nothing to do with the Old West and are pure invention. I use this as an example. I like research. I like finding out things. That’s part of the fun of it for me. An interesting story with a solid background. That’s what it’s about with me.

Links
http://www.corpseking.com
https://www.amazon.com/Tim-Curran/e/B002OXU6R8

Film News (UK): Horror Channel brings murder and mayhem to Saturday nights in July


Horror Channel has five prime-time Saturday night film premieres in July including the UK premiere of Brad Parker’s chilling disaster horror CHERNOBYL DIARIES. The film is written and produced by Oren Peli, who first terrified audiences with his ground-breaking thriller Paranormal Activity.

There are also network premieres for Todd Lincoln’s supernatural spine-tingler THE APPARITION, starring Tom Felton, Don Coscarelli’s surreal cult classic PHANTASM, David Jung’s paranormal found-footage soul-shaker THE POSSESSION OF MICHAEL KING and Andrew Paquin’s murderous home-invasion debut OPEN HOUSE co-starring his sister Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer.

Full details of premieres in transmission order:


Sat 1 July @ 21:00 –CHERNOBYL DIARIES (2012) *UK TV Premiere

A group of young tourists (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Jonathan Sadowski, Devin Kelley), hoping for an adventure off the beaten path, hires an extreme-tour guide. In spite of warnings, the tour guide takes the sightseers to the town of Pripyat, Ukraine, once home to workers at the nearby Chernobyl nuclear power plant but abandoned after the 1986 nuclear disaster. After briefly exploring the ghost town, the tourists find themselves stranded -- and worse, they are not alone.


Sat 8 July @ 21:00 –THE APPARITION (2012) *Network Premiere

Plagued by frightening occurrences in their home, Kelly (Ashley Greene) and Ben (Sebastian Stan) learn that a university's parapsychology experiment produced an entity that is now haunting them. The malevolent spirit feeds on fear and torments the couple no matter where they run. Desperate, Kelly and Ben turn to a paranormal researcher (Tom Felton), but even with his aid, it may already be too late to save themselves from the terrifying presence


Sat 15 July @ 23:00 –PHANTASM (1979) *Network Premiere

The residents of a small town have begun dying under strange circumstances, leading young Mike (Michael Baldwin) to investigate. After discovering that the Tall Man (Angus Scrimm), the town's mortician, is killing and reanimating the dead as misshapen zombies, Mike seeks help from his older brother, Jody (Bill Thornbury), and local ice cream man Reggie (Reggie Bannister). Working together, they try to lure out and kill the Tall Man, all the while avoiding his minions and a deadly silver sphere.


Sat 22 July @ 23:00 –THE POSSESSION OF MICHAEL KING *Network Premiere

Michael King (Shane Johnson) doesn't believe in God or The Devil. Following the sudden death of his wife, the documentary filmmaker decides to make his next film about the search for the existence of the supernatural. Michael decides to make himself the centre of the experiment in the hope of proving that religion, spiritualism, and the paranormal are nothing more than myth. But something does happen. An evil and horrifying force has taken over Michael King. And it will not let him go. Also stars Dale Dickey, Tomas Arana and Julie McNiven.


Sat 29 July @ 22:45 –OPEN HOUSE (2010) *Network Premiere

Alice (Rachel Blanchard) is just going through a divorce from Josh (Stephen Moyer) and has her house on the market. Unknown to her, a murderous couple, David (Brian Geraghty) and his accomplice Lila (Tricia Helfer), has sneaked in and hidden. When Alice returns, instead of killing her, David takes her captive, locking her up in the crawlspace in the basement. He wants to keep her alive but doesn’ttellLila. Whilst the psychotic couple engage in a sex and kill-spree with anyone visiting the house, Alice begins to understand the strange bond between her captors and David's interest in her…

TV: Sky 319 / Virgin 149 / Freesat 138 | Freeview 70
www.horrorchannel.co.uk | twitter.com/horror_channel | facebook.com/horrorchannel

Friday, 16 June 2017

Interview with Charles Pinion - Director of American Mummy

Charles Pinion is a visual artist and director who made the punk rock skateboard zombie movie Twisted Issues (1988), the post-Cinema of Transgression witches in the snow movie Red Spirit Lake (1992) and the gritty San Francisco cannibal movie We Await (1996). His 3D feature Aztec Blood (chapter one in the American Mummy trilogy) premiered at the Revelation Film Festival in Australia (2014).

Wild Eye Releasing has unleashed American Mummy on 3D + 2D Blu-ray and standard DVD out now!
So we sat down with Director Charles Pinion to find out more

Did anyone or anything inspire the film, Charles? 

What inspired the film originally, back in 2004, was the title American Mummy. From there we explored different ideas of what “American” meant. One early idea was to set the story in a Native American village. Then we thought about setting it in the Revolutionary War. What does “American” mean? Finally my partner went with the mesoamerican Aztec god Tezcatlipoca, Lord of the Smoking Mirror. That’s who our American mummy is.


Tell us about the Mummy – what it’s motivation in the film? 

Tezcatlipoca wants to be fully in his body, so that he can fulfil his destiny. Right now he’s a shrivelled husk, hundreds of years old. The blood ceremony helps him begin to wake up. For him to fully embody, he will need a lot more blood.


Did you model the look of it on any from films past? 

No. We did our research based on various archives of Aztec artifacts. The very scary mask that our mummy wears is made from a human skull, which was an Aztec tradition.


And was it all done via CGI? 

There was no CGI on American Mummy. We shot the movie in 3D, and 3D CGI would have been too expensive. Every messy effect was there in front of the camera, and often all over us who were behind the camera as well!


Is there anything you did on this one that you wouldn’t do on the next? Or did it all go perfect? 

It is very difficult to shoot in 3D. I’m glad I learned so much from the experience, and had so much fun with it, and I’m pleased with the result in American Mummy. Still, it will be nice to shoot in 2D again.


Can you tell us who is distributing and what we can expect from the bonus features component? 

American Mummy is being distributed by Wild Eye Releasing. The bonus features are some trailers (one very bloody), a couple of behind the scenes videos (one of them pretty funny), and a short video about our 3D rig, the Polecam.


Is there a sequel? 

Yes, it’s always been thought of as a trilogy. Part 2 requires a pretty big budget. Lately I’ve been thinking of making a smaller, less expensive movie that lies between 1 and 2.

Thank you for your time and for joining us today.

Buy from Amazon By Clicking Here  (Opens in a new window)


Thursday, 25 May 2017

Interview with J. Lincoln Fenn by David Kempf

J. Lincoln Fenn began her horror career in the 7th grade when she entertained her friends at a sleepover by telling them the mysterious clanking noise (created by the baseboard heater) was in fact the ghost of a woman who had once lived in the farmhouse, forced to cannibalize her ten children during a particularly bad winter. Strangely, it was the last slumber party she was allowed to have.

Her debut novel, POE, won the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award for Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror and went on to become an Amazon bestseller. DEAD SOULS was published in September 2016 by Gallery Books. The author grew up in New England and graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of New Hampshire. Currently she lives in Seattle with her family, and is at work on THE NIGHTMARCHERS.


When did you first become interested in writing?

I think like all writers, I started out as an avid reader. I was the kid who checked out the maximum number of books from the library and wore holes in the fabric of the couch from reading. Then in college I knew I wanted to tell stories, but wasn’t sure what medium. So I took all the writing classes I could, from poetry, to screenwriting, playwriting, even acting and directing. My work is very dramatic - I look at it as a way to produce a movie in someone’s mind.


How did you get involved in fantasy/horror?

The strange thing is I started out trying to write a memoir about my parents’ deaths. And I just couldn’t nail it - it was too close. Then this character, Dimitri, started rumbling around in my head, and I wrote the first paragraph, so I wrote the first chapter, then the next, and these paranormal/urban fantasy elements surfaced, and I went with it. But it still has a lot of narrative details of things that really happened to me.

And then I’ve always been interested in the supernatural - in high school I had a copy of The Modern Witch’s Spellbook, I owned runestones and tarot cards, and as I grew older that interest pointed toward Eastern mysticism. I spent two years living in a Buddhist retreat center. And it seems to me that what we call reality is actually skimming the surface of something else. Fantasy/horror is where you can explore that creatively, and then walk away and say ‘ha ha, just a story, nothing to see here,’ when in actuality, there is.


Why do you think the deal with the Devil is so popular in horror fiction?

It’s interesting that you ask that, because Discover recently posted an article, The Origins of an Ancient Fairy Tale, where researchers think the ‘deal with the Devil’ story could possibly go back about seven thousand years. So it’s been pretty popular for a while.

It’s a story about human hubris and aspiration, avarice and ingenuity. There’s always this struggle between our base instincts and something higher. I think we’re all the characters in our stories - it’s a way to look at our complexity, try to make sense of it.


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

We’re very imaginative creatures, and we can’t quite be satisfied entirely with reality the way it is. We have to tinker with it, create new and different worlds. It’s also a place for us to look at the things that are too disturbing to look at directly.

The War of the Worlds was H.G. Wells’ attempt to get people to feel the shock and horror of a colonizing force with advanced weaponry and an agenda that’s unknowable. What that would feel like. A straightforward novel about British imperialism might have been harder to connect with emotionally.


What is it about Edgar Allan Poe do you believe is so timeless?

‘Worst ways to die’, hands down. It’s something we all worry about - how we’ll die - and he comes up with ingenious, torturous deaths that you will never, never get out of your head.


What inspires you?

The characters. I love it when I have a good idea of how the story will go, and then the characters take shape and change it. Something spooky happens in that I’m no longer the creator, but the recorder of what happens. I know it’s right when what I think doesn’t get in the way, and it just develops, like a photographic print in a chemical bath (yes, back when there was no such thing as digital cameras and dinosaurs roamed the earth).


What do you think the differences between American horror and British horror are?

What we’re afraid of plays a part in the kind of horror we’re drawn to. When I think about British horror, I think about societal collapse or the loss of order, like 28 Days Later, and with American horror we seem fascinated by the bogeyman, probably because we feel vulnerable to random acts of violence.

One of the things I love about British horror is the way it can blend suspense, horror, and comedy. It’s really hard to walk that line, adding a joke into a horrific situation, because it naturally releases tension. When I was writing POE, that was something I struggled with. I watched Shaun of the Dead and Being Human to see how they got away with it.


Do you see differences between the male and female writer’s perspective on the world?

If the writer is really good, it’s something you shouldn’t notice. I’ve read great work by male writers who really capture the experience of being a woman, and vice versa. To be a writer you need a high sense of empathy - the ability to feel another’s emotions. And you have to ruthlessly let a character be their flawed selves.

I had a few readers of POE complain the main character, Dimitri, was a bit misogynistic, (which he is), and then by extension think that I was misogynistic because I ‘wrote’ him that way. Others were surprised to find out I’m a woman because he was so ‘realistic.’ But human experience is human experience - we’re more the same than we are different.


What are your favorite horror books?

That would be a mighty long list, so I’m going to just point to a few of my new favorites. A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay, The Troop by Nick Cutter, John Langan’s The Fisherman, The Devil Crept In by Ania Ahlborn and Harrowgate by Kate Maruyama. All guaranteed to keep you up a bit later at night.


What are some of your favorite horror movies?

The Grudge scared the bejeezus out of me and Stephen Spielberg’s War of the Worlds always leaves a disturbing taste in my mouth for days afterward. But my favorite popcorn/grab your partner’s hand/horror movie of all time is The Thing. I’d hate to see it remade with CGI.


What do you consider your greatest accomplishment as an artist?

Just getting published. It is a long, rocky, treacherous road and I’m so grateful to have been given the opportunity to reach so many readers.      


Do you have any advice for new writers?

Focus on writing the best book you can. Then toss it if you have to, and write a better one. There’s no shortcut, there’s no magic, it’s just a lot of sitting at your computer, typing, and your best move is to write a great book. Yes, social media is important, but if you have to choose between spending a half hour on social media or a half hour on writing, go for writing. It will open doors.

For some practical advice, when you’re writing a query letter to an agent or a book proposal, make sure it’s perfect. I mean perfect. If you write a good book, but toss off a query letter or synopsis that’s less than exciting or has a typo, you’re doing all that hard work a big disservice. Every writer hates writing a synopsis, but make sure yours is polished and interesting. Show it to friends and ask for an honest opinion.


What do you think of the rise in self-publishing?

It can be a great opportunity for people who enjoy the business side of things - I know writers who have been extremely successful with that model. On the down side, there’s so much out there for free it makes it harder than ever to get your book noticed.


What are your current projects?

Coming out next is The Nightmarchers, a twisty, Lovecraftian-style horror story set on a remote island, and then I’m working on a three-book proposal that my agent will shop around.


For our readers we'd love a paragraph about yourself & your work. 

Fenn began her horror career in the 7th grade when she entertained her friends at a sleepover by telling them the mysterious clanking noise (created by the baseboard heater) was in fact the ghost of a woman who had once lived in the farmhouse, forced to cannibalize her ten children during a particularly bad winter.

It was the last slumber party she was allowed to have.

Her most recent novel, Dead Souls, was called ‘wickedly entertaining’ by The New York Times, and Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review, writing that it was “one of the scariest and best to come down the pike in ages....The narrative twists and turns are reminiscent of Dean Koontz or Stephen King at their finest. This story is horribly, horrifyingly awesome.”

In 2013, her debut novel POE won the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award for Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror and became a #1 bestseller in both Fantasy and Horror on Amazon.

The author grew up in New England, graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a degree in English, and lives in Seattle with her family.

Links:
https://www.jlincolnfenn.com
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7129846.J_Lincoln_Fenn

https://twitter.com/jlincolnfenn

You can buy Dead Souls from the Amazon links below.
Dead Souls - Amazon UK
Dead Souls - Amazon USA




Thursday, 18 May 2017

Film News (UK): Horror Channel unleashes eight premieres for June


Horror Channel has eight prime-time weekend film premieres in June including the UK premieres of RETREAT, Carl Tibbets’ ‘ménage a trois of terror’ starring Thandie Newton, Cillian Murphy and Jamie Bell and R.D. Braunstein’s smartly gripping I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE 3: VENGEANCE IS MINE – widely seen as the best of the series. There are also network premieres for Jennifer Lynch’s uncompromising and dark chiller CHAINED, William Malone’s gruesome cyber thriller FEARDOTCOM, starring Stephen Dorff and Natascha McElhone and Michael Reeves’s highly acclaimed WITCHFINDER GENERAL, starring Vincent Price.

In a deadly virus catching month, other highlights are first channel showings for John Pogue’s [REC] inspired scareline QUARANTINE 2 TERMINAL, Breck Eisner’s critically-acclaimed remake of George Romero's 1973 movie, THE CRAZIES and James Cameron’s directorial debut PIRANHA 2: THE SPAWNING starring Lance Henriksen and plenty of flying killer fish.

Full details of premieres in transmission order:

Fri 2 June @ 21:00 – QUARANTINE 2: TERMINAL (2011) *Network Premiere
A bizarre disease, unleashed in a run-down Los Angeles tenement killing everyone, has somehow mutated and got out. Now, aboard Flight 318, the first symptoms begin to show. As the infection begins to takes root, all on board begin to transform into terrifying, bloodthirsty killers. Forced to land at an isolated terminal, and surrounded by armed government agents, the crew and passengers grow increasingly desperate. The only question now is how far they will go to survive..


Sat 3 June @ 22:50 – WITCHFINDER GENERAL (1968) *Network Premiere
Set during the English Civil War, Matthew Hopkins (Vincent Price), a lawyer and self-appointed 'Witchfinder General', tours the Eastern counties instigating witch-hunts and extracting 'confessions' under torture. When a young woman, Sara (Hilary Dwyer), is raped by Hopkins and her priest father murdered, Sara’s lover, Richard Marshall (Ian Ogilvy), a soldier in Cromwell's army, vows revenge. The last and best film of director Michael Reeves's tragically brief career, Witchfinder General has received broad critical admiration


Fri 9 June @ 22:45 – I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE 3: VENGEANCE IS MINE (2015) *UK TV Premiere
After her harrowing experiences in 2010, Jennifer Hills (Sarah Butler) has taken the name Angela and is now working in an anonymous office job. Attending a rape support group to find closure, she meets feisty Marla Finch (Jennifer Landon) and they become firm friends. Then Marla suggests that Angela join her in taking revenge by proxy on the abusers they hear about in their secret sessions…


Sat 10 June @ 22:55 – FEARDOTCOM (2002) *Network Premiere
When four bodies are discovered among the industrial decay and urban grime of New York City, brash young detective Mike Reilly (Stephen Dorff) teams with ambitious Department of Health researcher Terry Huston (Natascha McElhone) to uncover the cause behind their violent and inexplicable deaths. The only common factor shared by the victims? Each died exactly 48 hours after logging on to feardot.com. Also stars Stephen Rea and Udo Kier.


Fri 16 June @ 21:00 – THE CRAZIES (2010) *Network Premiere
Anarchy reigns when an unknown toxin turns the peaceful citizens of Ogden Marsh into bloodthirsty lunatics. In an effort to contain the spread of the infection, authorities blockade the town and use deadly force to keep anyone from getting in or out. Now trapped among killers, Sheriff Dutten (Timothy Olyphant), his wife (Radha Mitchell) and two companions must band together to find a way out before madness and death overtakes them all.


Sat 17 June @ 22:55 – CHAINED (2012) *Network Premiere
A trip to the movies becomes a nightmare for Sarah (Julia Ormond) and her young son Tim (Eamon Farren) when they are kidnapped by Bob (Vincent D’Onofrio), a deranged taxi driver, and taken to his remote home. There the nine-year-old sees his mother murdered - but it isn’t the last slaughter he witnesses for Bob enslaves Tim, chains him up and forces him to bury his victims’ bodies. As years go by, Tim is allowed some freedom only if he turns killer himself. Now the reluctant protégé must make a choice between following in Bob's bloody footsteps or breaking free.


Fri 23 June @ 23:00 – PIRANHA 2: THE SPAWNING (1981) *Network Premiere
James Cameron’s directorial debut centres on a mysterious batch of eggs that have been left unrecovered from a sunken naval wreckage off a popular Caribbean island resort. When a series of bizarre deaths occur, scuba diving instructor (Tricia O’Neil), her biochemist boyfriend (Steve Marachuk) and her police chief ex-husband Lance Henriksen) try to find the link between the mutant strain of piranha fish terrorising everyone and their lair at the bottom of the sea...


Sat 24 June @ 23:00 – RETREAT (2011) *UK TV Premiere
Taking an isolated break on an uninhabited island, Martin (Cillian Murphy) and Kate (Thandie Newton) are about to find that their island retreat is about to become a prison of unimaginable terror. When a blood-soaked stranger (Jamie Bell) stumbles through their door claiming an apocalyptic virus is sweeping across Europe, their lives are turned upside down as they face what could be the end of everything they know. Using all means necessary, they must fight to escape the approaching threat. But escape is only the beginning of their terrifying fight for survival...


TV: Sky 319 / Virgin 149 / Freesat 138 | Freeview 70
www.horrorchannel.co.uk | twitter.com/horror_channel | facebook.com/horrorchannel

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Interview With Graham Masterton By David Kempf

Graham Masterton is a  majorly accomplished British horror author. Originally editor of Mayfair and the British edition of Penthouse, Graham Masterton's first novel The Manitou was released in 1976. This novel was adapted in 1978 for the film The Manitou. Further works garnered critical acclaim, including a Special Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America for Charnel House and a Silver Medal by the West Coast Review of Books for Mirror. He is also the only non-French winner of the prestigious Prix Julia Verlanger for his novel Family Portrait, an imaginative reworking of the Oscar Wilde novel The Picture of Dorian Gray. Masterton was also the editor of Scare Care, a horror anthology published for the benefit of abused children in Europe and the USA.

Masterton's novels often contain visceral sex and horror. In addition to his novels, Masterton has written a number of sex instruction books, including How To Drive Your Man Wild In Bed and Wild Sex for New Lovers. Masterton also spells Djinn different than I do in my books. Djinn as opposed to Jinn. One of us wrong. It was very generous of Graham to take the time to be interviewed by Masters of Horror U.K. today.


When did you first become interested in writing?

At about the age of 7 when my parents took me to see the movie of Jules Verne’s “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea” with James Mason and Kirk Douglas. I was so impressed by the submarine’s adventures and the battle with the giant squid that I rushed home afterwards and wrote my own novel about fighting giant squids. My hero was a harpoonist called Hans Lee. When I had finished the book I stuck a cardboard cover on it and drew a picture on the cover and sold the book to my best friend for a penny. After that I never stopped writing stories…and even wrote and illustrated my own comic, Flash! with a space pilot called Don Kenyon who bore a distinct resemblance to Dan Dare in the Eagle comic.


How did you get involved in fantasy/horror?

I started reading Edgar Allan Poe stories when I was 10 or 11 and loved The Pit and The Pendulum and other gruesome tales. That was when I started writing short horror stories for my friends and reading them at break time in school. One of my friends got in touch with me years later and said that I had given him nightmares for years with a story about a man whose head is cut off but continues to sing “Tiptoe Through The Tulips” out of his severed neck.


Do you think vampires are werewolves are overrated in horror fiction?

Very much so. I admit to have written two vampirish novels, Manitou Blood in which vampires are employed by Native American demons to strike at the white man in modern-day New York, and Descendant, which is about a vampire hunter in the closing days of World War Two. The vampires in Descendant, however, are the Romanian strigoi which have been recruited by the Nazis, and they don’t do anything as ridiculous as bite people in the neck to drink their blood. I wanted to write a vampire novel that was as close to the original mythology as possible. I didn’t want them swooping around in long black cloaks or turning into bats. But my general feeling is that horror writers should look for different and unusual threats…there are so many scary demons in the mythologies of various countries that you would never have time to write about them all.


How do you spell Djinn? (I think I made my own spelling for my book). 

It’s Djinn, all right.


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

The horror/fantasy market has had its ups and downs, but one of the main reasons is that readers can immerse themselves in really scary stories while at the same time knowing that in reality they are quite safe. The real world is frightening enough, and sometimes it’s reassuring to get yourself involved in a fictitious world in which you know that good will eventually triumph and in which you won’t be bombed or starved or fall victim to some ghastly sickness.


What inspires you?

Life. People. I was a newspaper reporter from the ages of 17 to 21 and I learned then to talk to people about what made them happy and what made them sad, and to ask penetrating questions that most people wouldn’t dare to ask. There are stories everywhere.
You only have to look for them, and there they are.


The idea of the wish gone wrong makes for great dark fiction. Did W.W. Jacob’s The Monkey’s Paw inspire you?

I did read The Monkey’s Paw and thought it was a great idea. Life for most people turns out to be a wish gone wrong, so there’s plenty of inspiration everywhere.


What do you think the differences between American horror and British horror are?

You have me stuck there because although I write horror fiction I never read it. I am critical enough of my own writing without picking up a horror novel by somebody else. I have never read a novel by Stephen King, for example, or even by my late friend Jim Herbert. The last novel I started to read was The Process, the story of a journey across the Sahara, which was given to me in 1970 by Brion Gysin who was a friend of William Burroughs. I have got to page 37.


What are some of your favorite horror movies?

I enjoyed both the Japanese and American remake of The Ring.


What do you consider your greatest accomplishment as an artist?

I think I have managed to develop my writing to the point where readers feel very involved with my characters and backgrounds, which is what I have been working hard to do for years.


Do you have any advice for new writers?

Keep at it. I have helped a young woman Dawn Harris to write her first novel Diviner and she slogged away at it without losing heart despite my very sharp criticisms. It ended up brilliantly. Don’t be disappointed by rejection and don’t be put off by bad reviews. Keep believing in yourself. Don’t try and copy anybody else…always try to be original and surprising. And put moisturiser around your eyes because you’re going to be peering at a computer screen for many years to come.


What do you think of the rise in self-publishing?

I believe that new writers need professional editing and promotion. Sometimes a self-published book can turn out to fantastic, but mostly they need a great deal of editorial attention.


What are your current projects?

I am finishing a second crime thriller set in the 18th century featuring Beatrice Scarlet, the daughter of a London apothecary, who is something of a Georgian CSI. I will also be writing a 9th novel featuring Detective Superintendent Katie Maguire, and a new horror novel which is almost finished but must remain a secret for the moment!


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

The best thing that ever happened to me was being expelled from school and starting work as a trainee journalist at the age of 17. By the time I was 21 I had four years’ experience as a news reporter and feature writer and so I was able to land a job as deputy editor of Mayfair the new men’s magazine. I worked there for four years before having a bit of a barney with my boss and leaving to become deputy editor and eventually executive editor of Penthouse magazine. This gave me the opportunity to talk intimately to many different girls and what I gleaned from them I was able to use as the basis for a series of best-selling how-to books about sex, such as How To Drive Your Man Wild In Bed (which is still in print).

After the sex-book market began to wane, I submitted a horror novel that I had written for my own amusement to my publishers – The Manitou. That became an instant best-seller and was filmed with Tony Curtis in the lead role. I continued to write horror novels but also branched out to write historical sagas, political thrillers and disaster novels. My late wife Wiescka and I lived in Cork in Ireland for several years, and my experience of life in Ireland led me to write a series of crime novels featuring Detective Superintendent Katie Maguire. The murders in this series are sufficiently grisly for me not to have lost my horror readers (although, as I say, I am working a new straight-out horror novel) but obviously the crime audience is very much bigger. Thanks to Wiescka I became very successful in Poland and in January I launched the Graham Masterton “Written In Prison” Award which is a nationwide contest for inmates of Poland’s prisons to write a short story. It has been a great success and recently I visited HM Prison Holme House in Yorkshire to talk to the inmates about launching a similar contest in the UK. You can read more about me and see a full bibliography at www.grahammasterton.co.uk

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Competition: Win Frankenstein: Complete Legacy Collection [Blu-ray]

Frankenstein: Complete Legacy Collection is out on DVD & Blu-ray™ on 8th May and to celebrate we have a great competition for you a Bluray set to give away.

Synopsis:
Universal Pictures’ classic monsters are unleashed onto Blu-ray™ on 8th May in four bonus-packed box sets; The Mummy Legacy Collection, The Frankenstein Legacy Collection, The Dracula Legacy Collection and The Wolf Man Legacy Collection.

Combined the four box sets contain 27 classic monster movies, 22 of which have never been released on Blu-ray before.

The Mummy, Frankenstein, Dracula and The Wolf Man are some of the silver screen’s most unforgettable characters. Collectively these four classic monsters have inspired generations of filmmakers for years and paved the way for a rich and varied genre.

Old fans and new can now own the complete Legacy Collections, digitally restored to look and sound more terrifying than ever!

Check out the release on Amazon by clicking the link below: (Opens in a new window)
Frankenstein: Complete Legacy Collection (BD) [Blu-ray] [2017]

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



The Mummy Legacy Collection, The Frankenstein Legacy Collection, The Dracula Legacy Collection and The Wolf Man Legacy Collection releases on Blu-ray™ on 8th May in four bonus-packed box sets

Terms and conditions
1. Closing date 15-05-17
2. No alternative prize is available
3. When the competition ends as indicated on this page, any and all entries received after this point will not count and emails blacklisted due to not checking this page first.
4. Winners will be chosen randomly and will be informed via email.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Competition: Win "XX" on DVD - Released May 8th

XX is out on DVD on 8th May and to celebrate we have a great competition for you and 3 copies of the DVD to give away.

Synopsis:
XX is a new horror anthology featuring four murderous tales of supernatural frights, thrills, profound anxiety, and Gothic decay.

Written and directed by four fiercely talented women the film stars female leads and is framed around innovative animator Sofia Carrillo.

Vigorously challenging the status quo within the industry, this collection of tightly coiled short films by some of horror’s most influential women offers a refreshing jolt to the senses.


Check out the release on Amazon by clicking the link below: (Opens in a new window)
XX [DVD] [2017]

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

On what day is "XX" released on DVD in the UK?

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



Terms and conditions
1. Closing date 15-05-17
2. No alternative prize is available
3. When the competition ends as indicated on this page, any and all entries received after this point will not count and emails blacklisted due to not checking this page first.
4. Winners will be chosen randomly and will be informed via email.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Film News (UK): SEED OF CHUCKY, THE DIVIDE & DAYBREAKERS amongst Horror Channel premieres for May



Horror Channel has eight prime-time weekend film premieres this May including the network premieres for Don Mancini’s killer-dolls spin-off SEED OF CHUCKY, starring Brad Dourif, Jennifer Tilly & Billy Boyd, Xavier Gen’s unsettling post-apocalyptic horror THE DIVIDE and the epic vampire-battling DAYBREAKERS, starring Eithan Hawke and Willem Dafoe.

There are also UK premieres of José Manuel Cravioto’s pulse-pounding thriller BOUND TO VENGEANCE and Mary Lambert’s evil-spirited gripper URBAN LEGENDS: BLOODY MARY.  Other highlights are first channel showings for Stephen Kay’s monster in the closet chiller BOOGEYMAN, Jamie Blanks’ teen slasher URBAN LEGEND and Ryuhei Kitamura’s mystery-man rampaging NO ONE LIVES.

Full details of premieres in transmission order:

Fri 5 May @ 21:00 – BOOGEYMAN (2005) *Network Premiere


Tim (Barry Watson) is haunted by traumatic memories from his past, linked to the death of his father. Desperate to resolve his issues, he returns to the house where he grew up. But while Tim wants to convince himself the ghostly memories he carries are just a figment of his imagination, he is plagued by a crippling fear that can only be resolved by facing up to the ‘Boogeyman’.  Also features Lucy Lawless.

Sat 6 May @ 22:50 – DAYBREAKERS (2009) *Network Premiere


In the year 2019, a plague has transformed almost every human into a vampire. Faced with a dwindling blood supply, the fractured dominant race plots their survival. Meanwhile, a researcher works with a covert band of the undead on a way to save humankind. This classy chiller is packed with many disparate genre influences, not to mention a fine performance from Ethan Hawke and a truly fun turn by Willem Defoe as a futuristic Van Helsing with a Big Secret.

Fri 12 May @ 21:00 – URBAN LEGEND (1998) *Network Premiere


Students at New England's Pendleton College have their own urban legend -- 30 years ago, a demented professor killed six students and then committed suicide in Stanley Hall. But when a real series of strange deaths begins occurring on campus, assertive student Natalie (Alicia Witt) suspects they're murders based on urban legends and soon realises she's the next number in the killer's body count. A starry cast includes Robert Englund, Jared Leto, Tara Reid, Joshua Jackson and Brad Dourif.

Sat 13 May @ 21:00 – BOUND TO VENGEANCE (2015) *UK TV Premiere


A young woman, Eve (Tina Ivlev), is held captive in the basement of a sexual predator (Richard Tyson). Against the odds, she fights back, and manages to escape her malicious abductor. However, after discovering she may not be the only victim, Eve unravels a darker truth and decides to turn the tables on her captor. A subversive revenge tale with an unusual twist.

Fri 19 May @ 21:00 – URBAN LEGENDS: BLOODY MARY (2005) *UK TV Premiere


A homecoming-night dare turns into a runaway nightmare for a trio of high-school friends who unleash an evil spirit in this terrifying entry in the Urban Legends series from Pet Sematary director Mary Lambert. Abducted by a group of high-school jocks, the trio, although rescued, witness their tormentors falling prey to a deadly but unseen menace. Could it be their imagination or could the spirit of Bloody Mary truly have returned from the grave to seek vengeance? This is the third and final instalment in the Urban Legend series

Sat 20 May @ 22:55 – NO ONE LIVES (2012) *Network Premiere


Fourteen students are murdered and the crime scene offers no clues as to the whereabouts of the one person who could be the only survivor. Months later a gang of robbers screw up their latest heist and mug a couple in a car instead. What they realise too late is that the driver is the killer responsible for the student massacre. Then it’s Psycho vs. Psychos in a taut, tension-laden cat-and-mouse chiller that sees both sides trying to outdo the other.

Fri 26 May @ 21:00 – SEED OF CHUCKY (2004) *Network Premiere


Billy Boyd voices Glen, the orphan doll offspring of the irrepressible devilish-doll-come-to-life Chucky (again voiced by Brad Dourif) and his equally twisted bride Tiffany (voiced by Jennifer Tilly). Glen heads for Hollywood, where he brings his bloodthirsty parents back from the dead. Much to his horror they go on a spree of murderous mayhem. Cult film director John Waters makes an appearance, as does hip-hop artist Redman. This is the fifth in the popular series of Chucky (Child's Play) horror comedies and is directed by franchise creator and writer of all five films, Don Mancini.

Sat 27 May @ 22:45 – THE DIVIDE (2011) *Network Premiere


From Xavier Gens, director of Frontier(s), this post-apocalyptic shocker explores the nightmare unravelling of humanity under the most extreme circumstances imaginable when New York City is decimated in a nuclear holocaust. As the survivors sit in the makeshift fallout shelter the ‘divide’ begins. With no one knowing the evil each person in the group is capable of, trust issues arise, paranoia emerges, factions form and values are debased in a brutal and visceral vision of a broken future. Stars Rosanna Arquette, Milo Ventimiglia, Michael Biehn and Lauren German.

Sky 319 / Virgin 149 / Freesat 138 / Freeview 70

www.horrorchannel.co.uk | twitter.com/horror_channel | facebook.com/horrorchannel

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Horror Films Rediscovered on the BFI Player


In 2010 the BFI published their Most Wanted list, a tantalising countdown of 75 British films classified as ‘missing, believed lost’. Of all these forgotten gems (which ranged from silent Hitchcock to '60s pop), nothing excited horror fans more than the inclusion of José Ramón Larraz’s 1974 little-seen cult classic, Symptoms.

Symptoms is available on BFI Player, here
Selected for the 1974 Cannes Film Festival before promptly falling into cinematic obscurity, this claustrophobic Repulsion-esque chiller, which tells the uncanny tale of a young woman’s descent into madness at a remote English country mansion, was long confined to the blurry terrains of VHS bootlegs and online rips.

Now lovingly restored and looking better than ever, Larraz’s infamous curio is available for all to enjoy on BFI player. And so, to celebrate the long-awaited arrival of a neglected genre classic, here are 5 more horror gems waiting to be discovered on BFI’s online platform.

Let the nightmares begin...


The Night Has Eyes (dir Leslie Arliss, 1942)
One of only a handful of British horror films produced during WWII, this delicious slice of gothic melodrama (think Jane Eyre meets The Old Dark House) stars James Mason as Stephen, a reclusive composer living in an isolated mansion on the perennially misty Yorkshire Moors. When two lost women stumble on his property, Stephen offers shelter and a place to stay.

But as romance blossoms between the taciturn recluse and one of his new guests, so too does the macabre truth of Stephen’s dark past. Also released under the more salacious titles Terror House and Moonlight Madness, this atmospheric chiller was given the BBFC’s dreaded H-for-Horror rating when it was released in 1942, possibly thanks to its surprisingly nasty conclusion.

As ever, Mason makes for a broodingly effective leading man, while special mention should also go to Tucker McGuire for her scene-stealing role as man-hungry schoolteacher Doris. But the real stars are the Moors themselves – evocatively captured by Gunther Krampf (famed cinematographer whose work included Pandora’s Box and The Hands of Orlac) – which reek of dread and dark foreboding.


Fiend Without a Face (dir Arthur Crabtree, 1958)
Something of a cause célèbre when it was first unleashed in 1958, Arthur Crabtree’s low-budget monster mash was deemed so outrageous, and so morally reprehensible, that it actually sparked debate in Parliament, where questions were raised as to how a work of such supposed depravity had passed through the censors in all its gory glory. Years later, and of course the shock value has diminished.

But while the film may not still possess the power to appal with quite the same ferocity, it remains one of the most wonderfully twisted little sci-fi shockers of the period. The plot (typical of the atomic obsessed sci-fi pics of the time) concerns an army of nuclear-powered flying brains (complete with spinal cords) who attack a US military base.

Naysayers might dismiss this off-kilter British production as little more than a mindless (!) special-effects showcase – but when the climactic scenes are so unhinged and the stop-motion effects so glorious – who cares? If it all sounds frankly preposterous, that’s because it is. And wonderfully so.


The Night of the Hunted (dir Jean Rollin, 1980)
Of the 50-odd films directed by Euro-sleaze connoisseur Jean Rollin over the course of his illustrious career, The Night Of The Hunted might stand as his most idiosyncratic, and, in many ways, most beautiful effort. A far cry from the saucy vampire pics he is perhaps best known for, this anomalous head-scratcher blends erotic horror with austere science-fiction (not unlike the early works of David Cronenberg) to tell the story of a young amnesiac woman being held in a strange asylum seemingly against her will.

As perversities and murders begin to mount around her, she must make sense of why she is there and how she can escape.

As with most of Rollin’s films, the end result is by no means perfect - the leisurely pacing can be testing at times (the lengthy sex scenes in particular feeling unnecessarily drawn out) - but for those of a more patient disposition and an keen eye for the perverse, this clinical shocker is quite unlike anything else, replete with scenes of abject terror which will not be quickly forgotten.


Heartless (dir Philip Ridley, 2009)
The long-awaited third feature from Philip Ridley (following his extraordinary sun-drenched slice of American gothic The Reflecting Skin, and the lesser-known, but equally fascinating backwoods allegory The Passion Of Darkly Noon) saw the London-born filmmaker return to his home turf with a Faustian morality tale set in the East End.

Jim Strurgess plays Jamie, a socially awkward teenage outcast born with a large heart-shaped birthmark on his face, who discovers a gang of demons are plaguing the streets of his hometown. As one would expect from one of horror cinema’s true visual poets, Heartless is a feast for the eyes, steeped in fertile symbolism and menacing atmospherics.

But perhaps most memorably, it is a richly empathetic piece of work, which succeeds as much as an unconventional character study as it does an unnerving and eccentric horror film.


The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears (dir Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani, 2013)
An audacious exercise pure, unadulterated style, this modern day giallo from the gloriously twisted minds of directing duo Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani (Amer) is one of the most visually imaginative horror films of recent years. Following the unexplained disappearance of his wife, a man is thrown into a web of mystery and intrigue as he attempts to uncover her whereabouts.

Traversing the labyrinthine halls of his ornamental apartment building, he encounters its various inhabitants, whose tales of sensuality and sadism play out before him. In this dreamlike (or should that be nightmarish?) world, traditional narrative gives way to a more sensory, instinctive approach to storytelling, resulting in an experience which can be as perplexing as it is hypnotic.

For those with a taste for something different, this truly singular work delivers devious surprises with every blood-splattered frame. Watch it loud. On the biggest screen you can.

http://player.bfi.org.uk


You can also buy these films from Amazon

Friday, 14 April 2017

Interview with Ray Porter by David Kempf

Ray Porter is from New York and worked for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for twenty years. He has appeared in the movies Almost Famous and Argo. His televison appearances have included It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Sons of Anarachy. Ray's remarkable voice talent can be heard in several audiobooks including Jonathan Maberry's bestselling Joe Ledger series. One listen to his remarkable voice on the Richard Matheson Hell House audiobook and you will be hooked until the end. It was very generous of him to take the time to talk to Masters of Horror U.K. today.


When did you first become interested in acting?

Well, it was kind of the family business. I’m third generation as far as I know, there may be a few show business ancestors who wouldn’t admit it. But I wasn’t going to be an actor. I had been raised around theatre and I knew I wanted to do something that was “serious and responsible”. That lasted right up until I saw a production Of “Heartbreak House” by Shaw. I cannot really say why, but I left the theatre that night knowing that I wanted to be an actor. And that put paid to “serious and responsible”.


How did you get involved in fantasy/horror?

I’ve always enjoyed horror and some fantasy. I have always been a voracious reader and my taste is pretty eclectic. Good writing is good writing. End of. It doesn’t matter the genre, if it is well written then it is worth reading. I find turning your nose down at something because it isn’t something you are familiar with a little silly. I read all sorts of things. So when I started narrating audiobooks, I didn’t expect that I would get more books in one genre than another. But, happily, I’ve had the privilege of narrating some great horror and fantasy books that people seem to like. I’m glad about that and I find it fun to read too.


Do you think audiobooks deserve more respect as an art form?

I’m about to say something that some people may disagree with. It’s okay if you do. I feel about audiobooks very much the way I feel about being an actor. I tend to avoid calling what I do an art form. I believe the author or playwright has created a work of art and if I execute my craft well, then the audience or listener will create a work of art all their own inside themselves. It’s a little like if the postman came round and instead of delivering your mail, opened it in front of you and then decided what bits of your mail are important and then told you what to do with it. I really just want to deliver the letter the author has written to you as cleanly as I can. I am extremely grateful that people have liked my narrations, it would be laughable to say I don’t care what people think. But my goal is to help you enjoy the book you paid for. I think audiobooks are respected. It is an industry that has exploded in the last few years.



How would you classify the genre of audio books you are mostly associated with performing?

I’ve become fond of saying that if it has quantum physics or the word f**k in it, then it’s one I’ve narrated. I even had a physics book that had that word in it! That was a good day. I’ve gotten to do a lot of different things, for which I am very grateful. But quite a few of my books have science or monsters or guns in them. I hope I can classify them as “Fun”.


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

When you read the news or watch the headlines don’t you sometimes wanna be somewhere else? I know I do.


What inspires you?

So many things. Music is and has been a very large part of my life and I draw a lot of inspiration from that. Again, eclectic as hell. You would find my iTunes collection pretty confusing.

I’ve just returned from living in England for a year and a half. Inspiration? Just look out the window. Go down the pub. Walk in the woods, walk around London. I’m going to try very hard to go back as soon as I’m able. There’s lots of inspiration for me there. Also, McVitie’s digestives with the milk chocolate on the top…. And Cornish pasties…. …….I digress.

The work of others inspires me. Musicians, actors, photographers, dancers, authors, other narrators. I listen to people a lot. I’m the guy eavesdropping at the next table in the restaurant, you might end up in an audiobook.


Tell us about your work on the audiobook version of the classic novel Hell House.

Such fun to do. It was really my first horror book. I had only done about ten books at that point. I really tried to just tell the story and stay out of the author’s way. When you have a book that is considered a classic, of course people have expectations about it. Maybe they’ve read it and might not like a certain choice I make with a passage in the book. I have to balance that with the person who has never even heard of the book and are encountering it for the first time. I recorded that at Blackstone Audio’s studios in Ashland, Oregon. They are great people and I’m so glad I started my narrating career with them.


Tell us how you became involved in Jonathan Maberry’s Joe Ledger series.

Grover Gardener assigned me the first book. I was available and honestly, it was my good luck that I was given the book. After it came out Jonathan Maberry wrote to thank me. It was the first time an author had ever contacted me, I was pretty excited. Right from the start, I read Joe Ledger and realized we were a good fit. I really do talk like him. Which has gotten me in trouble sometimes. Jonathan has since become a good friend.


What do you think the differences between American horror and British horror are?

Actually its very clear: In a British horror story if the character drives a car, that character drives on the left side of the road. In American horror, they drive on the right (unless under duress).

I don’t know that I can define a difference between horror in America and Britain. I’ve read some seriously frightening things from authors of both nationalities. Obviously, there will be some colloquial differences but, again, good writing is good writing. I’d love to narrate more books by British authors but I don’t have the right accent.


What is your favorite audiobook from another performer?

Oh man, thats impossible to choose. Grover Gardener, Simon Vance, Bronson Pinchot, Scott Brick, Erin Bennet, Xe Sands, many many other narrators. I listen to these people (many of whom are friends) and I wonder how it is I get to narrate books too. They are so good.


How much live theater have you done?

Lots. And I have the scars to prove it. 18 years at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, lots of other theaters around the country. Years and years.


Who are your favorite actors?

Gary Oldman, David Strathairn, Derek Jacoby, Anthony Hopkins, Ciaran Hinds, Bronson Pinchot, Derrick Weedon, Jonathan Hogan, Jerry Reed, Sarah Lancashire, Helen Mirren, and probably a whole crowd of actors I am forgetting right now


What are your favorite horror books

That’s a big damn stack of books. I love “The Stand” and loads of Stephen King’s books. I’d love to narrate one of his. But there’s quite a few horror writers that I think are geniuses. Jonathan Mayberry, Neil Gaiman, H.P. Lovecraft, Peter Straub, Richard Matheson, etc.


What are some of your favorite horror movies?

Yikes. Another list. Alien, The Shining, 28 Days Later, The Exorcist, The Ring, The Conjuring, Ghost Story, Nosferatu, The Cell. Those are the ones that spring to mind right now.


What do you consider your greatest accomplishment as an artist?

There’s a few things that come to mind. It’s nice to be nominated for things and sometimes even to win them but that’s not really what I think of when I think of as an accomplishment. I was playing Rosencrantz in “R+G are Dead” in San Francisco years ago. One afternoon I was crossing the street and a taxi drove by. As it passed, the driver leaned out and banged on his door and yelled “Hey Rosencrantz, you were great!”. That is about the coolest thing ever. Other than moments like that, just being able to keep working is accomplishment enough.


Do you have any advice for new actors?

If you want to be special, recognize that you aren’t special just because you are an actor. Read everything you can get your hands on. Recognize that the people working backstage are the ones who are really working and stay respectful and humble. Recognize that people come to see you perform not because they want to admire how skilled you are but because they want to be told a story and to feel something. The best drama or comedy is really ultimately just about humans being. Figure out how to best do that without getting in the way.


Is there a rise in self-published authors getting their novels turned into audiobooks?

I think so. Audiobooks have become such a major part of book sales in recent years that of course authors are looking at that option to get their books out there.


What are your current projects?

I’m working on a very cool couple of books for Podium Publishing, and I think I’ve got a project for Blackstone coming up that excites me but I don’t want to give anything away right now.


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

Oh man, uhhhh…. okay.

I grew up in a small town in Indiana and came to the West Coast for College. I have a degree in acting from CalArts. I worked for 18 seasons at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon. Also I’ve worked in other theaters. I’ve been in a lot of TV shows and films. I have a son who is 9 years old and is utterly amazing. Plus, he’s an athlete and I’ve no idea where that came from. So, I went from being a theatre actor to being a hockey dad in just a few short years. I love reading. I am endlessly grateful that I get to narrate audiobooks. If I wasn’t recording them, I’d probably have a few more books on my nightstand than I do right now. I like to work under the hood of my 1969 Mustang Mach1. If I ever get to where I can tune a carburetor as confidently as I approach text, I feel I will have accomplished something. I play guitar. Im an astronomy geek and a total fanboy of anything to do with NASA. I moved to England a year and a half ago and fell completely in love with that country. I’ve since returned to the states and I am going to try very hard to be able to move back there. Just writing about it makes me want to head down to my local for a pint. I keep looking out the window here in L.A. and expecting to see Hertfordshire out there.

I am grateful and humbled by the positive responses I’ve gotten from my narration and I will endeavor to keep earning them.

Also, I’ve learned that if you let an actor talk about himself, he will take up more than one paragraph.


Huge thanks to Ray for joining us today, here are some links if you would like to find out more and follow him on social media.

Twitter @ray__porter
Facebook Facebook.com/NarratorRayPorter/