Thursday 31 January 2019

Interview with Jack McHenry - Director of Here Comes Hell

Ahead of the World premiere of the stand-out period horror comedy HERE COMES HELL at Arrow Video FrightFest Glasgow 2019, director Jack McHenry tells us about the challenges of a £22,000 budget. casting his mum and why nothing beats puppets and real blood.

HERE COMES HELL is to receive its world premiere at Arrow Video FrightFest Glasgow. Excited or what?

It’s amazing! I made this movie for people like me, people who like horror movies and crazy genre films. It’s the perfect place to premiere this kind of movie, as horror audiences are the most open minded movie-goers, they’re not turned off by low budgets or films made by first time directors.  They just want an exciting cinematic experience.

The film started life as a Kickstarter campaign. Were you pleased with the outcome?

We shot a short trailer and a pitch video. That was the worst part for me, having to talk in front of a camera. I feel much happier behind the lens.  When we posted the Kickstarter I had no idea it would turn out so well, I was a nervous wreck all the way though the campaign, I was terrified we wouldn’t make our goal. But it was really encouraging to see people getting behind the project. I’m so grateful to everyone who donated, without them we wouldn’t have a movie.

It’s been described as “Downton Abbey meets The Evil Dead”. True?

Yeah, that was our “elevator pitch”. The idea came about when I was watching David Lean’s Blithe Spirit and was like: what would happen if instead of his wife coming back and it being funny, it turned into a full on horror picture? I’ve always been a massive fan of Agatha Christie and early Hitchcock, but also at the same time I love horror movies like Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead and Peter Jackson’s Braindead and this movie allowed me to combine these two elements in a really fun way.

The film has copious amounts of crazy carnage. How did you achieve so much gory glory on so low a budget (£22,000)? Not to mention the caviar and cocktails…

“Gory glory” that’s cool. It was a tight budget, especially for what we were trying to achieve.  I really wanted the audience to feel as if they are watching a film from the 1930’s so it was really important to try and make if look and sound as authentic as possible, and that was hard on our small budget.  A lot of the effects we built from just joke shop stuff, like masks and fake arms. I wanted a lot of the gore and monster effects to be in camera, and have that old school feel about them. Nothing beats puppets and real blood.

What was the biggest challenge you faced as a director?

This is my first feature film and biggest project I’ve ever done, so that was already really terrifying for me.  We shot the movie in 19 days, 10 of those were the main chunk of the film set in “Westwood Manor” so it was a really tight schedule. There were days were we were literally sprinting between set-ups, and at the same time I really wanted it to look as grand and luscious like a massive studio picture from the 1930’s or 1940’s. But the cast and crew were so great I think we managed to pull it off.

There are some terrific performances. What was the casting process like?

The actors really make the film; without them the movie wouldn’t be anywhere nearly as engaging. I’d worked with Margaret Clunie and Tom Bailey on a short film before this and they were so great. I really wanted to work with them again, so when we started writing this we wrote with them in mind.  Margaret introduced me to Timothy Renouf, and as soon I met him I knew he had to play Freddie - he has this old movie star feel about him. Then I saw Charlie Robb doing a stand up show and he was so funny and I thought he would bring something interesting to the part of Victor. Jessica Webber was acting in a play that the composer of Here Comes Hell, Ben Pearson, was working on. When I saw her she really reminded me of Joan Fontaine, which was perfect for the role of Elizabeth. Then finally my Mum plays Madam Bellrose, so that was really fun working with her.

It looks like you all had a lot of fun. How tough was it balancing the comedy with the horror?

Like any horror comedy you have to make sure you get people to laugh at the funny bits and be scared at the horror moments, and that can be a hard line to tread.  I looked to movies like An American Werewolf in London and Ghostbusters to the way they deal with the tone.  I never wanted it to feel as if we were making a “spoof” or poking fun at the movies we were referencing, instead I wanted to make a love letter to genre movies.

Who are your genre influences?

For this film the influences were people like Sam Raimi, John Carpenter, Hitchcock , Argento and James Whale. Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula is one of my favourite movies, I love the visual style, and that was a massive influence on this film. But there’s also Peter Jackson’s early works in there and some of the Ealing comedies, as well as some elements of Rosemary’s Baby and The Shining.

Tell us a bit about the ambitions of your company Trashouse,

To make good movies! We’ve got a great crew of people together and we’ve got plenty of ideas. When we were making Here Comes Hell our pitch was always that we can make really original, entertaining films on a really low-budget, and we think that sums up Trashouse. We wanted to show, “hey, look what we can do for £22,000, imagine what we could do with £200,000!”

Finally, what’s next?

We’re developing a couple of scripts at the moment. One is a horror-adventure set in medieval times, and the other is an 18th century smuggler movie.  Think The Departed meets Treasure Island…

HERE COMES HELL is showing at the Glasgow Film Theatre on Fri 1 March, 6.30pm, as part of Arrow Video FrightFest Glasgow 2019.  Jack McHenry will be attending.

Monday 28 January 2019

Interview with Lawrie Brewster - Director of Automata

Ahead of the World premiere of the darkly erotic AUTOMATA at Arrow Video FrightFest Glasgow 2019, director Lawrie Brewster tells us about his record-breaking Kickstarter campaign, the growth of Hex Studios and his fascination with creepy dolls.

AUTOMATA has earned its place in Kickstarter history as the UK’s most funded narrative film ever. Why do you think that happened?

The reason this happened is because there is a disconnect between a swathe of the audience, in our case a genre audience, and commercial distributors. Because commercial distributors and broadcasters for that matter, are so adept and so accustomed to selling a type of predictable product, that a form of repetition occurs whereby films that might not fit the mould, are simply not sold, and hence not usually produced. With Automata, and with all of our films at Hex Studios, we utilise that underserved niche, to produce unique genre films, which would be considered both unpredictable and even risky. Despite the financial merit of our achievements, when met with these facts, most industry types bury their head in the sand and plug their ears.

You have described the film as a glorious celebration of gothic horror. Can you elaborate?

Myself and Sarah Daly, we both grew up on classic Hammer Horror, Amicus and the American International Pictures (particularly those produced by Roger Corman and Vincent Price.) That, coupled with a great love of Gothic literature, and the art-movement which shares its name. It places the raw intensity of human emotion and the supernatural at its core, aspects which are of great importance to the human experience. In this respect, it provides a perfect field of creative exploration, with a rewarding sense of rich storytelling, romance, and spine-tingling chills. Our film celebrates all those influences mentioned in the above and adds to them an adult sense of perversion. The idea, that something can look pretty, beautiful even on the outside, and be pitch black on the inside. Gothic narratives, are a great way to explore such theatrical depictions while retaining a deep sense of psychological narrative.

As with your previous features, there is a supernatural fusion of historical narrative with contemporary themes, but would it be fair to say that AUTOMATA is your most darkly erotic?

That is a really interesting question because, with my head down working on the film it is easy to lose a sense of the outside perspective, especially of anyone's new perspective. If you’re to describe the film as a dark erotic Gothic Fantasy / Horror then that is fairly compatible with its influences. Additional influences stem from the Marquis de Sade, and of the novel Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, among others. We examine adulthood, some aspects of perversion and the manner in which we may become complicit in thoughts and deeds we’d admonish in others. So, to answer your question I would say, yes.

Some of the main cast have appeared in your previous films. Does this reflect a close collaborative process? Take us through the key casting process.

Yes, we do take a collaborative approach to our filmmaking. I was always inspired by the John Waters ‘dream team’ approach and I do enjoy our team feeling like a family. Of course, each film brings new talent a well, but we do offer a strong sense of appreciation and loyalty towards those we’ve worked with both in front and behind the screen. With casting, there is a sense of repertory theatre, but the benefit of this model is that it allows us to grow our talents together. From each film, myself and our actors can discuss where we can take our talent forward.

Literature seems to be a huge inspiration in all the films you and co-creator Sarah Daly have made through Hex Studios. Are there literary roots to AUTOMATA?

There are definite literary influences, though they may be difficult for me to singularly identify. Broadly speaking, me and Sarah take influence from Gothic authors such as M. R. James, Edgar Allen Poe, H. P. Lovecraft, Henry James and modern authors such as James Herbert. This particular film takes additional inspiration from the works of the Marquis De Sade, and of Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. In general, we produce so much pre-production material and research for the histories that abound in the sliver of story told by our films, that they almost feel like adapted novels, rather than specifically produced screenplays.

Where do you think our fascination with automata, particularly with automaton dolls, comes from?

I’ve always had a fascination with creepy dolls and have found Automaton to be of particular interest. I hadn’t thought of producing a horror film specific to that subject, until I saw one depicted in the horror film ‘Gothic’ directed by Ken Russell. I wondered then, with so many ‘creepy doll’ films why the story of a such a doll hadn’t been told before. Also, in the context of a Gothic Romance, which the period of those creations would be ideally suited.

Without giving too much away, there is a magnetic, perverse beauty in Alexandra Nicole Hulme’s interpretation of ‘The Infernal Princess’. What challenges did bringing the doll to life present?

Primarily our challenge was to produce the correct balance of what might present the ‘uncanny valley,’ that so-called determinator of the line between ‘life like’ and ‘artificial’ that we find so disturbing. Alexandra Nicole Hulme produced a brilliant performance, which I believe presents the uncanny valley experience for the audience, while also creating a sense of humanity and sensuality in her portrayals of the doll and it’s living muse, in the flashback scenes. Alexandra also choreographed careful movements and a magnificent clockwork dance, which is truly quite breath-taking to behold.

AUTOMATA is to receive its world premiere at Arrow Video FrightFest Glasgow 2019. How important is your relationship with FrightFest?

We’re honoured and delighted that FrightFest have chosen Automata to be a part of FrightFest Glasgow. I’m a huge admirer of everything that FrightFest has built and achieved for the genre community of filmmakers and fans. If it weren’t for FrightFest, and it’s commitment to present a diverse range of genre films to its audiences, then studios like Hex would struggle to find the appropriate platforms to share our films. Through our relationship with FrightFest, we are able to support that event, and receive their support in such a way, that we can build an alternative path for films to reach audiences outside the traditional market model. FrightFest is a pillar from which new independent films can be supported.

Hex Studios has created a YouTube Channel, which currently has over 270K subscribers. Having shrewdly released Kate Shenton’s EGOMANIAC, what future plans do you have for the growing indie supporting platform?

We’ve two channels now, our main channel for which we hope to produce more Horror themed prank videos, web series and indie film presentations of the type you mention. Our overall aim with the channel is to create a platform and a voice for independent horror genre film-makers that will allow us to grow together, while expanding the audience for us both. We also have a new channel: ‘Hex Creepypasta’, which will be focussing on narrated horror stories as well.

What does 2019 hold in store for Lawrie Brewster?

2019 will be our biggest year yet, in which Hex Studios will be distributing a number of feature films, including two of our own productions Automata and our portmanteau For We Are Many. We’re also looking to produce several web-series, while developing new feature films, as well as distributing two hard-back books, filled with terrifying short stories. While our plans are somewhat broad and ambitious, our target remains niche, which is to say, we aim to produce great horror entertainment for an audience that feels underserved. While so many are being ‘too cool for school’ or begin meta-ironic and retro, we’re instead quite earnest and traditional. Horror is a timeless and beautiful thing and we do our best to keep the candle alive… even in its darkest vaults!

AUTOMATA is showing at the Glasgow Film Theatre on Sat 2 March, 1.00pm, as part of Arrow Video FrightFest Glasgow 2019.  Lawrie Brewster will be attending.

Wednesday 23 January 2019

Interview with Tamara Thorne - By David Kempf

Tamara Thorne's first novel was published in 1991. Since then she has written many more, including international bestsellers Haunted, Bad Things, Moonfall, and The Sorority. Tamara's interest in writing is lifelong, as is her fascination with the paranormal, occult, mythology and folklore. She's been an avid ghost story collector and writer all her life. 

When did you first become interested in writing?

I don’t recall a time I wasn’t interested. My mother read to me every morning from the day she brought he home, so my indoctrination into books came early. I remember walking around singing Paperback Writer in first grade. I was already telling kids ghost stories about various houses we could see from the schoolyard. I started writing them down because that made it easier for me to keep them straight. That’s how I found out how much I liked to write. 

How did you get involved in fantasy/horror?

I’ve loved ghost stories all my life. I think I was just born that way. I’ve written about conspiracies, UFOs, and even done non-paranormal thrillers, but I always return to the ghost story. I teethed on Twilight Zone and One Step Beyond, Star Trek, and Dark Shadows. I discovered Ray Bradbury and Arthurian legend at eight, Shirley Jackson at eleven and Tolkien at twelve. 

Tell us about your beliefs in the paranormal and the afterlife. 

My mother says that in my second year, I told her there was no such thing as Santa Claus. I’m a born skeptic, neither a believer nor a debunker. I’ve seen a number of things I can find no explanation for and that delights me. I don’t consider something like telepathy paranormal and I think there are explanations already within reach for poltergeist activity and residual hauntings.  The latter are really no different from the ghostly waft of 80-year-old perfume from a handkerchief discovered in a long-closed attic trunk; they’re just a whole lot more fun.

How would you classify the genre you write?

Genre is important for letting readers find you, so I’m horror/thriller in that sense. Contemporary horror, gothic horror, horror with a bit of science in it. Horror woven with  mythology or history. It’s all good. But horror is something that’s found in every genre. It’s just the amount present that determines if it’s straight genre horror or if it’s called something else.

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

Such tales provide an exciting escape from the real world. They’re safe thrills that spark the imagination and give you something to think about. 

What inspires your stories?

Anything and everything.  I draw from real life, from my own experiences, including exploring alleged hauntings, as well as from written accounts. I draw from stories about science, from history and legend, from places I visit, and even from my own dreams. 

What do you think the difference between American horror and British horror is?

British horror - at least the books I’ve read - seems a little more subtle. Ghost stories are easier to find. I’m a fan.

What are your favorite horror books?

Jackson’s Hill House, Matheson’s Hell House, King’s The Shining, Straub’s If You Could See Me Now all come to mind. A newer favorite is Paul Tremblay’s A Head Full of Ghosts. And if you want to read something absolutely terrifying - it has a feel of The Shining yet is much more compact - try Jay Bonansinga’s Self Storage. 

What are some of your favorite horror movies?

The Uninvited (1945), Kubrick’s The Shining, The Haunting (1960), Ghost Story, Silence of the Lambs, The Woman in Black (BBC), The Exorcist, Poltergeist, Carrie, Evil Dead 2, Interview With the Vampire, An American Werewolf in London, and Shaun of the Dead. 

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment as an author?

Finishing the latest manuscript is always my greatest accomplishment.

Do you have any advice for new writers?

The usual - read every day and write every day. Also, it’s good to find someone you can honestly critique with. But finding the right person is vital.

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

Traditionally published writers - who know the value of proofreaders, copy editors, and editors - can do well with self-publishing. If you’re new, however, you must be patient enough to hone your craft until your writing is professional - and you must find those editors and use them. Amateurish work is a glut on the market. The important thing is not how a work is published, but the quality of that work.

What are your current projects?

My new solo, Brimstone, will appear soon. It’s a ghost story set in a former hospital - now a hotel - in a small mining town. Brimstone is a coming of age tale loaded with ghosts and mysteries, and is set in 1968. It’s heavily based on a real location and even incorporates a few of the real ghost stories.

My collaborator, Alistair Cross, and I are releasing episodes of our serial novel, Ravencrest: Exorcism every few months. Exorcism is the third book in the saga. The first two books, The Ghosts of Ravencrest and The Witches of Ravencrest are available as complete novels.  

We also recently saw publication of our collaborative novel, Darling Girls. It’s a standalone follow-up to our solo vampire novels, Candle Bay (Thorne) and The Crimson Corset (Cross). In Darling Girls, we send our motley crew of bloodsuckers to the town of Eternity (from my novel, Eternity) for a vampire festival called Biting Man. It was a hoot to write and great fun combining our vampiric worlds. We’re also reaching the halfway point on our next novel, Spite House, and enjoying the hell out of writing another mystery/thriller. (Mother was our first.)

We also continue our popular weekly podcast, Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE! where we interview horror illumaries of all variety.  

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

I am my work. Not an hour goes by that I’m not thinking about storytelling. Every place I visit I see as a potential trove of story ideas. I love words and books and bad puns, along with movies and cats. I live a quiet, peaceful life; my philosophy is that drama belongs on the page.

Interview with Danishka Esterhazy - Director of Level 16

Ahead of the UK premiere of LEVEL 16 at Arrow Video FrightFest Glasgow 2019, director Danishka Esterhazy tells us about the long journey to get her film made, the empowering nature of female friendship and her love for Sci-fi.

It has been 10 years since first draft to a world premiere at Fantastic Fest. Quite a journey. What inspired you in the first place and what kept you going?

Yes, it has not been an easy road with this film. I wrote Level 16 right after graduating from film school and I had hoped that it would be my first feature film. But I could not find any investors or broadcasters or distributors who wanted to support the film. I love science fiction, love dystopian films, but I had not seen many (any?) with a primarily female cast. Most science fiction films have a large male cast with maybe one or two female actors in smaller roles, most likely the love interest. But as a Sci-Fi fan, I wanted to see more stories about women, with women in the lead. So, I wrote Level 16 and I never gave up on the idea. I was lucky to find a producer (Judy Holm) who loved the story as much as I did. Together, we continued to fight for the film until the film industry evolved and caught up to our idea!

When writing the script, did you always visualise it as a genre movie? Were there any particular influences in that area?

I definitely knew that I was writing a genre film. I had two main inspirations. The first was Logan’s Run -  a film that I really loved as a child. I’ve seen it dozens of times. I loved the contained world of the domed city and the idea that the hero had to uncover the truth by questioning everything he had been taught by the system. My other inspiration was Jane Eyre — one of my favorite novels. I loved the early part of the novel that takes place in the Lowood Institution for orphan girls. In an early draft of Level 16, the two main girls were named Jane and Helen. But as I continued to rewrite and revise (I wrote sixteen drafts of the screenplay) the story evolved and changed into the unique world of the Vestalis Academy.

Did any personal experiences inform the writing process?

I did use my own memories and experiences as a teen girl throughout the story. As a teen, I felt very isolated and oppressed by the educational system. I felt that my school was more interested in fostering conformity than feeding young minds or encouraging free thought.  What helped me get through that experience was the close relationship I had with my best friends. At the age of sixteen, friendships are intense and powerful. In film, the friendship between teen girls is often portrayed as toxic or competitive. But in my experience, it was empowering. I wanted to show how the friendship between young women can be one of the most important relationships in life. And how powerful young women can be when they come together and support one another.

The basic premise of a group of young women incarcerated in a prison-like institution could have easily been moulded into a voyeuristic story of sexual exploitation. How did you resist going down that road?

I did receive notes that encouraged me to add titillating scenes. A specific note that I remember is “you have to show the girls showering naked or you will never get this film made.” I was shocked and dismayed to get these notes. Also enraged, which drove me to move in the absolute opposite direction of story-telling. To make sure that the girls in the story are never treated to a sexually exploitive gaze. To make sure that the story is about their inner life, their intellectual and emotional transformations. And I did shoot a scene in the showers. With the actors fully clothed! Shooting that scene felt like a vindication.

Although described as a ‘YA dystopian thriller’, the film has also been cited as a timely story of feminine empowerment and sisterhood. Do you go along with that?

I have been a bit amused to hear the film described as “timely” because it took so long to get funded. But I think the film would never have been greenlit if not for the recent #timesup and #metoo movements. The film industry has not been a welcoming place for women. But I am glad to see that things are beginning to change. I am feminist and proud to wear that label.

Doctor Miro, as played by Peter Outerbridge, is one hell of a creepy psychologist. A kind of Lector meets Dr Frankenstein. And both Sara Canning’s performance as a Stepford-wife headmistress and Katie Douglas’ heroic teenaged Vivien, are spell-binding. Take us through the key casting process.

I am so proud of our cast. They each embraced their characters with such passion and nuance.

Peter Outerbridge is an actor I have watched and admired for years. I still remember seeing his amazing early performance in Lynne Stopkewich’s Kissed. So I was thrilled when he agreed to play Doctor Miro. Because I knew that Peter would bring subtlety and realism to the part — that he would never dip into melodrama.

Sara Canning was the lead in my first feature film Black Field. We have been friends, and mutual fans ever since. Sara is a brilliant actor who digs deep into every story. We had wonderful discussions about the history of Vestalis, about Brixil’s past, about the themes and layers in the story. Watching Sara as Brixil, you can see so many emotions and thoughts that are never expressed. It is a performance that is enjoyable to watch again and again.

I didn’t know Katie Douglas or her work. She’s a young actor just emerging on the scene. But in her very first audition she had me spellbound. She has such range and talent. She would make unique yet perfect choices. Every day on set she would surprise me — in the very best way. I see very big things in her future.

What do you want audiences ultimately to take away from the film?

Level 16 is a story about friendship. So what I want most is for the audience to care about Vivien and Sophia. To be afraid for them, to cheer for them, to feel heart-break for them.  But it’s also a cautionary tale about what could happen in a society where the rich can exploit a vulnerable underclass. What can happen when human life is undervalued and when luxury, perfection and glamour are pursued without restraint.

And finally, I hope that people will reflect on how we educate girls. When writing the script, I read educational manuals for young women from the Victorian period up to the 1960s. Those manuals demonstrated such a shocking disregard for female intelligence and independence -  indeed, they seemed designed to stamp those qualities out. Today, the books and toys and lessons aimed at girls do not seem that different. Our educational system fosters inequality from childhood. I hope my film will shine a light on this issue.

Do you think there are still misconceptions about female directors working in the horror genre?

Unfortunately, yes. When I was trying to raise funding for Level 16 I was told: “women don’t watch science fiction” and “women don’t direct genre films”, which is ridiculous. Being a woman director who loves genre, who wants to make genre, is never easy but the audience has always been more progressive and diverse then the industry. We just have to get past the gatekeepers to our audience.

The genre is currently at its most vibrant and popular, pushing boundaries and asking tough questions of audiences by reflecting relevant political and social issues. Do you think this will attract more female directors into the fold?

There are so many female directors already out there. They don’t get the same access to funding and the same attention in the press. But they are quietly making extraordinary films with small budgets. What we need now is to see women directors given access to the same budgets, the same tools, as their male peers.

So, what’s next?

I am about to fly to Cape Town to shoot a horror film for Warner Bros. and Syfy Channel. I can’t say anything about it yet — not even the title. But I am really excited to make this film! There will be lots and lots of blood…

LEVEL 16 is showing at the Glasgow Film Theatre on Fri 1 March, 1.15pm, as part of Arrow Video FrightFest Glasgow 2019. 

Monday 21 January 2019

UK premieres for REDWOOD and THE TALL MAN lead Horror Channel's February line-up

February on Horror Channel sees the UK TV premieres of films by two highly talented directors: Tom Paton brings a fresh spin to creature-in-the-woods mythology with REDWOOD, a nerve-shredding chiller that will make you think twice about going camping, and THE TALL MAN, Pascal Laugier’s follow-up to his classic Martyrs is another sensational thriller of astonishing depth.

There are also channel premieres for Luls de la Madrid’s unholy supernatural shocker THE NUN, John Dahl’s white-knuckle thriller JOY RIDE, the Wachowski Brothers’ stylish, neo-noir crime caper BOUND , starring Jennifer Tilly and Gina Gershon, and Alexandra Aja’s intensely disturbing MIRRORS, starring Kiefer Sutherland.

Sat 2 Feb @ 21:00 – THE NUN (2005) *Channel Premiere

Years ago, a cruel and merciless nun turned a boarding school into a living hell for her students until they could no longer bear the abuse, causing her undiscovered death. Now, the alumni are being brutally murdered one by one. Feeling a familiar and evil presence, the surviving women regroup to save their lives and lay the nun to rest one final time.

Fri 8 Feb @ 21:00 – REDWOOD (2017) – *UK TV Premiere

After some bad news back at home, musician Josh and his girlfriend Beth head out to a secluded national park in search of some clarity on the situation they’ll face when they return. But the couple get more than they bargained for when they ignore the advice of Park

Rangers and venture off the trail, coming face to face with The Redwood’s legendary wildlife. Starring Nicholas Brendon, Tatjana Nardone, Mike Beckingham, Muzz Khan, Jessica Jane Stafford.

Sat 9 Feb @ 21:00 – JOY RIDE (2001) * Channel Premiere

It’s the summer break, and three college students are ready to embark on a cross-country road trip. But what was supposed to be a vacation turns into a terror-driven nightmare game of cat and mouse when a psychotic trucker decides to stalks them.

Sat 16 Feb @ 21:00 – THE TALL MAN (2012) *UK TV Premier

In the depressed Canadian town of Cold Rock, children are disappearing, Witnesses say they have seen a Tall Man at the scenes of the crimes, When this ‘tall man’ kidnaps the son of Julia Denning (Jessica Biel), the town nurse, Julia finds herself at the centre of an unravelling legend.

Fri 22 Feb @ 21:00 – BOUND (1996) *Channel Premiere

Ceasar’s a guy who launders money for the mob. Violet's the woman he's been keeping the past five years and Corky is a beautiful ex-con who just got out jail. What's the last thing that would come between them all? Could it be two million dollars in a suitcase on a desk in an apartment in Chicago? Or something else entirely…?

Fri 23 Feb @ 21:00 – MIRRORS (2008) *Channel Premiere

From Alex Aja, the acclaimed director of Switchblade Romance and The Hills Have Eyes, comes a re-imagination of the South Korean horror hit Into the Mirror. Ben Carson is a troubled ex-cop relegated to security guard duty at a department store. The fashionable store has a tainted past due to a fire that resulted in horrific fatalities and injury. And now some mysterious deaths of employees and customers are occurring beside the floor mirrors. Ben begins to suspect supernatural powers at work and starts to investigate the strange and eerie events…

Weekdays @ 20:00 from Thurs 7 Feb - SLIDERS, Season 3 (1996) *Channel Premiere

This one-hour science fiction series chronicles the travels of four people who ‘slide’ to parallel dimensions of Earth, experiencing and exploring the world as it would be if a different path had been taken, either personally or historically. Stars Jerry O’Connell, John Rhys-Davies, Sabrina Lloyd and Cleavant Derricks.

Horror Channel: Be Afraid
TV: Sky 317 / Virgin 149 / Freeview 70 / Freesat 138

Thursday 10 January 2019

Arrow Video FrightFest announces Glasgow Film Festival 2019 line-up

It’s full scream ahead as Arrow Video FrightFest, the UK’s favourite horror fantasy event, returns to Glasgow Film Festival for a 14th fearful year, from Thursday 28 February to Saturday 2 March, 2019.

Presenting a stunning and resonating two days of trauma, terror and tantalising thrills, this year’s line-up, once again housed at the iconic Glasgow Film Theatre, embraces the latest genre discoveries from around the world, spanning four continents, with two world, two European and six UK premieres.

Alan Jones, FrightFest co-director, commented: “Currently at its most vibrant and popular, the horror fantasy genre is constantly garnering critical acclaim, pushing boundaries and asking tough questions of audiences by reflecting relevant political and social issues. The genre isn’t just about escapism but a key tool to make sense of the chaos and confusion swirling around our everyday lives and FrightFest has known this for 20 years now, so it’s fantastic the rest of the world has finally woken up and smelt the coffins.”

The bloodiest of violence and the heaviest of Black Metal make for an incendiary mix in LORDS OF CHAOS, FrightFest’s special Thursday night presentation, courtesy of Arrow Films. This is a shocking, true to life portrait of the band ‘Mayhem’ who were at the vanguard of the underground Norwegian music scene in the late 1980s.

We have lift-off on Friday with the UK premiere of LEVEL 16, a skin-crawling dystopian thriller by up-and-coming director Danishka Esterhazy and the first of three Canadian entries. This is followed by the European premiere of THE DEAD CENTER. Billy Senese’s acclaimed slow-burning indie creeper, co-produced and starring Shane Carruth (Primer, Upstream Colour). Next up is the World premiere of HERE COMES HELL, described as ‘Downton Abbey meets The Evil Dead’. So be prepared for caviar, cocktails and plenty of carnage in Jack McHenry’s debut pitch-perfect horror comedy. Jack and the main cast and crew will be in attendance.

The 8.30pm presentation is the UK premiere of Adrián García Bogliano’s BLACK CIRCLE. The celebrated South American auteur returns with a hypnotic supernatural nightmare starring Swedish exploitation icon Christina Lindberg. Lindberg was Quentin Tarantino’s inspiration for the Bride in Kill Bill through her startling role in the 1973 Scandinavian cult classic They Call Her One Eye and we’re pleased to announce that Christina will be with us, alongside one of the film’s producers, Rickard Gramfors.

Rounding off the evening with an irresistible dose of sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll and humungous insects is the UK premiere of Ron Carlson’s DEAD ANT. This is Spinal Tap meets Them! in a fabulous blast of creature feature horror hilarity.

Getting the Saturday programme off with a mighty splash is the UK premiere of Perry Blackshear’s expressive and atmospheric mermaid terror, THE RUSALKA. It is hoped that the They Look like People director can make it to Glasgow. This is followed by the World premiere of AUTOMATA. FrightFest has been proud to support the work of Scottish auteur Lawrie Brewster through The Unkindness of Ravens and The Black Gloves. So we are delighted to present his latest work, a subversive, brooding Gothic chiller. Lawrie, writer Sarah Daly and the cast will be in attendance. As will Søren Juul Petersen, the director of sizzling Danish shocker, FINALE This will be the UK premiere of’ Peterson’s dark exploration of deviant sexual fantasy.

The evening programme kicks off (literally) with I Saw the Devil writer Hoon-jung Park’s Korean smash hit THE WITCH PART 1: THE SUBVERSION, which reinvents the action genre in thrilling and chilling ways. Following this is the much anticipated UK premiere of FREAKS, Zack Lipovsky and Adam Stein’s genre-bending psychological sci-fi thriller, which is laced with energy, innovation and imagination. The film is made even more memorable by some fiercely brilliant performances, including a rejuvenated Bruce Dern. The directors are hoping to attend.

This year’s feast of fearsome fancies ends on a horror comedy high with the UK premiere of spooky spoof THE HOARD, the latest from the talented team behind Pontypool and The Hexecutioners.

FrightFest Passes are £75 and available from noon on Mon Jan 14, 2019.  Passes cover all films on Fri 1 March and Sat 2 March ONLY.

Tickets for LORDS OF CHAOS, plus individual tickets for the Fri/Sat films are on sale Mon Jan 28 from 10am. Price: £11.00. £8.80 concessions.

To book tickets:
+44 (0)141 332 6535 /


21:00 LORDS OF CHAOS (Special screening)

The loud, up-tempo, Satanic hard rock genre reached its height of expression in Norway in the late 80s when the band Mayhem took the bleak movement to extremes of arson and murder to prove themselves its most authentic adherents.  Filtering the explosive psychology of adolescent angst through horror movie aesthetics, this incredible true story of head-bangers who really lost their minds is an unrelenting trip through the minefields of clique and celebrity at any danger or cost.

Director: Jonas Åkerlund. Cast: Rory Culkin, Jon Øigarden, Emory Cohen. UK/Sweden 2018. 112 mins. N/C 18+. Arrow Films.

FRI 1 MARCH – GFT Screen 1

13:15 LEVEL 16 (UK Premiere)

Sixteen-year-old Vivien feels trapped in The Vestalis Academy, a prison-like boarding school, keeping to herself and sticking her neck out for no one while being indoctrinated in the feminine virtues of cleanliness, obedience and sweetness. Until she is reunited with Sophia - the former friend who betrayed her - who has stopped taking her prescribed medication and now has so many questions about their clearly rundown institution. Together the girls embark on a dangerous search to uncover the horrifying truth behind their submissive incarceration.

Director: Danishka Esterhazy. Cast: Katie Douglas, Celina Martin, Sara Canning. Canada 2018. 101 mins. N/C 18+. MPI Media.

15:35 THE DEAD CENTER (European Premiere)

An unidentified suicide victim has come back to life in Metro General Hospital morgue. Medical examiner Edward Graham knows the John Doe’s real name but has no idea where the reanimated body went. Psychiatrist Daniel Forrester can answer that question since a catatonic amnesiac mysteriously turned up in his ward, except he doesn’t know he’s the missing, previously dead man Unaware they are separately unravelling the same strange case, the two professionals enter a mind-bending shock corridor of supernatural suspense and macabre moodiness.

Director: Billy Senese. Cast: Shane Carruth, Poorna Jagannathan, Jeremy Childs. USA 2018. 93 mins. N/C 18+. Arrow Films.

18:30 HERE COMES HELL (World Premiere)

THE OLD DARK HOUSE style mystery thriller gets an affectionately murky makeover in director Jack McHenry’s Agatha Christie-meets-Lucio Fulci feature debut. In stunning Black & White, with cut-glass British accents and a dodgy American in the cocktail party mix, a sophisticated 1930s soiree at an isolated country mansion descends into carnage, gore and demonic possession as rivalries and old friendships are put to the test when a gateway to Hell opens up.

Director: Jack McHenry. Cast: Margaret Clunie, Jasper Britton, Timothy Renouf. UK 2018. 73 mins. N/C 18+. Trashouse Films.

20:30 BLACK CIRCLE (UK Premiere)

When her sister Isa recommends she listen to the B-side of an old 1970s vinyl album she swears changes lives, Celeste is sceptical to say the least. But deciding to go along with Isa’s request she plays the ‘Magnetic Hypnosis’ record just as slumber hits only to realise she has released a ghostly doppelganger desperate to replace its original. 

Director: Adrián García Bogliano. Cast: Christina Lindberg, Felice Jankell, Erica Midfjäll. Sweden/Mexico 2018. 101 mins. N/C 18+. Salto de Fe Films.

23:00 DEAD ANT (UK Premiere)

The 1989 ‘one-hit-wonder’ glam-metal band Sonic Grave embark on a trip to the No-chella rock festival with their long-suffering manager in the hopes of a comeback. Making a detour to Joshua Tree to score some peyote, their carefree psychedelic pit stop soon upsets the balance of desert nature and they find themselves fighting an army of flesh-eating ants. Worse the antsy bugs keep increasing in size as the band hurtles towards their last desperate gig.

Director: Ron Carlson. Cast: Sean Astin, Jake Busey, Tom Arnold. USA 2018. 87 mins. N/C 18+. FrightFest Presents.

SAT 2 MARCH – GFT Screen 1

10:45 THE RUSALKA (UK Premiere)

Tom falls in love with a mysterious woman who swims in a lake at night where far too many people have recently drowned. Drawn to her almost immediately upon arrival at his holiday cabin, he must deal with the man out to revenge his late wife’s ‘accidental’ death. Unfolding in quiet restraint but with an ever-deepening intensity that explodes in an outburst of violence and monstrosity, Blackshear’s tale of doomed star-crossed lovers is a wonderfully elegant nightmare.

Director: Perry Blackshear. Cast: Evan Dumouchel, Maragret Ying Drake, MacLeod Andrews. USA 2018. 80 mins. N/C 18+. FrightFest Presents.

13:00 AUTOMATA (World Premiere)

Antique expert Brendon Cole is summoned to authenticate a 300-year-old clockwork doll with a notoriously dark history known as The Inferno Princess. In the remote Highlands mansion where it has recently been uncovered, Brendon soon finds himself the victim of the automaton’s legendary curse as the malevolent forces surrounding it are terrifyingly awakened. 

Director: Lawrie Brewster. Cast: Erich Redman, Alexandra Hulme, Nick Ford. UK 2019. 95 mins. N/C 18+. Hex Studios.

15:30 FINALE (UK Premiere)

Denmark has reached the finals of the European Championships and everyone is glued to their TVs.  The small petrol station on the edge of town is yet to open. This is where Agnes, on her final shift, before heading to Germany to start a new life, and Belinda work. They’re hoping for a quiet night but they have been chosen as players in a gruesome game and no customers means no witnesses.

Director: Søren Juul Petersen. Cast: Anne Bergfeld, Karin Michelsen, Damon Younger, Kristoffer Fabricius, Mads Koudal, Kim Sønderholm, Gustav Scavenius. Denmark, 2018, 100 mins. N/C 18+. 2 Feet Entertainment

18:15 THE WITCH: PART 1 - THE SUBVERSION (Scottish Premiere)

A government experiment to augment certain children with superpowers ends in bloody massacre. But Koo Ja-yoon escapes to become a simple farm girl trying to help her adopted family through financial hardship. An appearance on a TV talent contest for prize money blows her cover, putting her once more in the sights of the sinister organisation responsible for her undercover plight with devastating, shocking and spectacular results.

Director: Hoon-jung Park. Cast: Woo-sik Choi, Min-soo Jo, Da-mi Kim. South Korea 2018. 125 mins. N/C 18+. Signature Entertainment

21:00 FREAKS (UK Premiere)

Seven-year-old Chloe never leaves her ramshackle suburban home unless under the watchful eye of her paranoid father. Instead, he trains his daughter to adopt an assumed identity if she’s ever separated from him, or to hide in a well-provisioned panic room if he should not return from one of his infrequent forays outside. However something clearly isn’t quite right with this weird family dynamic and Chloe is determined to find out what exactly lies outside the door her father is so frightened of.

Directors: Zach Lipovsky, Adam B. Stein. Cast: Emile Hirsch, Bruce Dern, Lexy Kolker. Canada 2018. 104 mins. N/C 18+. Well Go USA Entertainment.

23:25 THE HOARD (European Premiere)

The ultimate reality show turns into a deadly nightmare, as a crew of TV personalities, including a professional organiser, a psychologist, two ghost hunters and a team of junk removers attempt to reform a legendary hoarder who owns four condemned and haunted properties. It’s the pilot episode for their comeback series 'Extremely Haunted Hoarders.’ What could possibly go wrong?

Directors: Jesse Thomas Cook, Matt Wiele. Cast: Lisa Solberg, Tony Burgess, Barry More, Ry Barrett, Elma Begovic. Canada. 98 mins. N/C 18+. Foresight Features. | FB: /FrightFestreal | Twitter: @frightfest | IG: @frightfestUK

Tuesday 8 January 2019

Interview with Marcia Do Vales - Actress and Producer

When did your interest in horror films begin?

About the age of 11 or 12, I started enjoying watching horror films, after my parents had gone to bed. I remember watching Child’s Play with the volume turned off, sitting directly in front of the TV so I could quickly turn it off if my parents came in.

Tell us about your first horror film role

In my first film role, I played The Girl in The Reverend I found myself working alongside the legendary Rutger Hauer who was cast as the Devil.  He had his own private room but in fact he chose to come out and be with us most of the time, which was lovely. My first lead role was as Gabby in Deranged. This was a major step for me as I was also the producer and English was actually my third  language at the time!

Who are your genre inspirations?

I truly admire Clare Higgins. I worked with her on Heretiks and she delivers an amazing performance. I was very impressed with her preparation too.  I ‘m also a big fan of Milla Jovovich, especially in The Fifth Element and Resident Evil.

What was your role in Brit horror comedy IBIZA UNDEAD?

I played Mari, a kick ass promo girl for a bad guys' nightclub in Ibiza. Maria hates her job and her gangster boss Karl. Finally she quits but Karl won't allow that so easily. She's destined to become the next "undead" attraction in Karl's club.  Maria's a feisty, take no shit, girl and I loved that.

You were the lead producer on Paul Hyett’s HERETIKS. What was that like?

Heretiks was originally a script called The Sisterhood, written by Gregory Blair, that I found with my business partner Keven Kane. It's an English period chiller and we fell in love with the whole idea of it. Templeheart came on board, then Paul (Hyett), who re-wrote the script with Conal Palmer. The executive producer, Lyndon Baldock, then brought Michael Riley on board to co=produce the film with me. We had a fantastic cast with Clare Higgins, Hannah Arterton and Michael Ironside and discovered some amazing new young talent too.

You recently finished playing the lead role in a new supernatural thriller, QUAIL HOLLOW. Spill the blood please.

I play identical twin sisters Sunny and Mila. They have paranormal powers that leads one to suffering and torment and the other to shun her abilities. Separated at a young age, Sunny ends up institutionalised, while Mila tries to lead a normal life. Now, 10 years on, Mila goes to Quail Hollow to bury her sister. Mila stays around to investigate the circumstances of her sister's death and uncovers a shocking truth about her sister and her own powers.

My father was also a twin, unfortunately his brother died very young. So, I’ve always had a very strong curiosity in identical twins and their unusual relationship.

What scares you?

Elevators. Given a choice, I always prefer to walk up and down the stairs. There was a point in my life when I was searching for a school where I could go learn about elevator repair, just in case I ever got stuck in one. On a trip to Israel I did get stuck in one. The help button didn't speak English, Portuguese or Spanish.  I lost my mind and opened the door with my bare hands breaking one of my nails. The funny thing was the elevator was on the same floor. It hadn't moved at all.

What’s your horror film weapon of choice?

An Oscar. It’s heavy and you could carry it around without being arrested.

Favourite horror film of 2018?

It's not a film but The Haunting of Hill House has blown my mind. Delightfully scary! Heretiks is my favourite film of the year, of course…

What’s next for you?

Quail Hollow is now in post-production and I’m really looking forward to seeing the final product. We have a reality TV series called Loft Studio Miami also in post-production. Then there's the amazing puzzle like horror movie called The Foreseen with directors Anthony Melton and Ben Franklin, which I’m producing with Mark Sandell and Templeheart Films.  I'm also Exec Producer on a fabulous new female driven and led sci-fi thriller with producer Rebecca Clare Evans and directed by Natalie Kennedy. We shoot early 2019.

Marcia stars in IBIZA UNDEAD, which has its channel premiere on Horror Channel, Sat Jan 12, 9pm.

Wednesday 2 January 2019

Interview with Dominic Brunt & Joanne Mitchell

Ahead of the Horror Channel’s UK TV premiere of Attack of the Adult Babies, on Jan 5, 9pm, director Dominic Brunt and actor / producer partner Joanne Mitchell unpin the nappies…

On the 5th of January, ATTACK OF THE ADULT BABIES will receive its UK TV premiere on Horror Channel. Are you both excited?

DOMINIC: I’m over the moon. As a fan of horror, I’m also a fan of the Horror Channel. It’s an honour to have our work premiered with one of our favourite channels. The Horror Channel (along with Fright Fest and Metrodome) took Before Dawn under its wing when that was released as our debut feature film. It marked our transition from horror fen geeks to horror film makers and we were well looked after indeed.

JOANNE: We’re delighted and incredibly excited that the film will get its TV premiere with the brilliant Horror Channel. We’ve always been massive fans and the channel has always been incredibly supportive of us and our movies as well as so many other film makers.

What would you like TV viewers to take away from the film?

DOMINIC: We’d like viewers to watch it first and foremost as entertainment but to hopefully take time to reflect on any wider meanings and intentions. We’ve really enjoyed the fact that the film has been embraced as a roller coaster of gore and insanity!

JOANNE: Primarily I’d like viewers to just enjoy themselves and give in to the crazy ride. We dared to make something totally different from anything else we’ve ever made and are proud that it has been called a stand out horror movie. It’s a lot of fun, and was to make too!

Dominic, do you think your Emmerdale fans will be surprised / shocked to find you’re directing full-bloodied horror films?

I think they’ll either ignore what I’m up to, in regards to horror films, or they go along with the idea and support what we have “out there” on Netflix and Amazon etc. I’ve been involved in genre festivals in Leeds for over a decade and Before Dawn was made almost eight years ago. We’ve had clips shown on day time TV from a couple of the films so I’m not sure there’s any shock at what we do any more (although hopefully the content of our films is willfully so). Before Dawn and Adult Babies are pure fantasy without any spite, and you can’t argue that we weren’t sincere with our intentions regarding Bait.

Joanne, you’ve played four characters in Emmerdale and you’ve recently appeared in a lead role In Coronation Street. How does soapland compare with splatterland? 

Oh my goodness, they couldn’t be more polarised! However, each genre is a great platform for stories and characters, just that soaps are much quicker and very slick. With indie horror films though you can take more risks!

AOTAB, underneath all the satirical fun and gore, deals with some pretty dark issues. Was it always your intention to make a politically-motivated horror comedy?

DOMINIC: I do believe you can make an allegorical, political point without being dull or boring or preachy. Bait is incredibly political but it is clothed and presented as a thriller and (hopefully) a gripping story first and foremost. I don’t think we’ll ever make a film that isn’t a metaphor or allegorical of something other than the surface story.

JOANNE: Yes, it was our intention – the idea of big adult babies making important decisions within our society tickled us – such a great terrifying image. We wanted to see how far we could take it – and I think we succeeded in taking it pretty bloody far!

Class issues rear their ugly head. Dominic, do you feel they are just as embedded in UK society as they were in the past – hence just as topical?

DOMINIC: Always were and always will be. For one single instance, look at the laws on hunting as a microcosm of the whole of society and the laws imposed on the working classes. Who adheres to what, and who carries on regardless?  Who turns a blind eye, and in some cases actively supports the breaking of the laws passed in the same parliament supposedly enforced by the same police force created for “all of us”? The anger is hidden but it is there. I’m 48 so I’ve seen the unions crushed, raves stopped, films banned, ancient monuments cordoned off and football monetised to the maximum, traveler friends assaulted and stigmatised for living an alternative lifestyle.

The movie certainly caught the attention of reviewers, Hey You Guys called it “…the sort of deranged, balls-to-the-wall grossness that only ever seems to show up once in a generation”. How confident were you that you that the film could chime with audiences?

JOANNE: To be honest, you just never ever know. Audiences can be so different. The FrightFest audience, for example, are always very supportive, but then it went down a storm with the regional festivals too, as well as abroad. The French audience for example (Paris) was a surprise – the film had subtitles and I really wasn’t sure if it would translate well, but they had a great time watching it and really got it.  We knew it would work well within the genre festivals though as I think horror fans are open to seeking and watching something different, it is a wonderful exciting platform to keep telling stories. So hopefully the fans of the Horror Channel will enjoy it too.

DOMINIC: Well it’s hardly the new Star Wars but within its own little niche, I’m absolutely delighted. We have to be thankful for a good release in the form of distribution through Nucleus and AMP supporting us, and then people like FrightFest and The Horror Channel being there to broadcast our ideas and stories. Otherwise you’re shouting at a wall.

Its chaotic sexual anarchy made it felt quite Orton-esque in some media corners. Was Joe Orton an inspiration? Who did inspire you? Were there any films that were particularly influential?

DOMINIC: I LOVE Joe Orton but he wasn’t on our minds at all I don’t think. It’s more a visual representation of the old EC horror comics from the 50’s which I like reading. We tried to make them flesh around Jo’s story and Paul Shrimpton’s script.

JOANNE:  There was a mass of influences really, both from myself and Dominic, especially regarding political figures, exploitative male bosses and various scandals from the society we live in, with movie influences including the Blob, the stuff, all the saucy Carry On and Benny Hill farcical kinky humour too

Joanne, it was your idea to centre the film around the world of infantilism. How did you first discover this clandestine world?

It was an amalgamation of things really. I’d spent talking to a very intelligent and articulate young woman who was a dominatrix. She ran her own dungeon and was very successful doing so. She fascinated me. She spoke fairly discreetly about what her job entailed – from what I could glimpse of that world it was pretty bizarre and interesting: Businessmen who wanted nothing more than to spend the day regressing as an infant or baby, relinquishing all the pressures and stresses of their high powered jobs. It piqued my interest and my imagination.

Dominic, the acting was very strong and the casting of cult TV comedian Charlie Chuck particularly stands out. Was it difficult to get the actors you wanted?

I think at our level you have to cast and audition for the part rather than fill your film with faces and names. We were lucky to have Kate Coogan, Sally Dexter, Jo, Andy Dunn, Nicky Evans, Thaila Zucchi, Seamus O’Neil, Laurence Harvey, Charlie Chuck etc who are all character actors of much experience, but we are limited by a budget so you have to cast smart. They liked the script first and foremost (fortunately) and not necessarily the budget.

Your production company Mitchell-Brunt Films has been going for seven years and you must be proud of what you’ve achieved so far (feature films BEFORE DAWN & BAIT) What plans do you have for the future?

DOMINIC: Several folders FULL of stuff.  Also, 101 films are looking to re-release Before Dawn and Bait on BluRay, with lots of new extras. They’ve only been previously released on DVD, so we’re very pleased and flattered about that.

JOANNE: We’ve more ideas for films in the future and currently have one film in development, Lost Dogs by Jeff Lemire. I’ve also just directed my first short film, SYBIL, which is currently doing the rounds on the festival circuit.

Following the success of the LE Blu-ray edition, Nucleus Films is releasing a standard edition Blu-ray on Jan 28, 2019.

Buy from Amazon by clicking here (Opens in a new window)