Thursday, 21 February 2019
Ahead of the UK premiere of their sensational directorial feature debut FREAKS at Arrow Video FrightFest Glasgow 2019, Zach Lipovsky and Adam Stein talk about making impossible ideas believable, the challenges of fatherhood and casting Bruce Dern.
This is your debut feature. How did the two of you meet and decide that this was the film you wanted to make?
ZACH: We met on a reality competition show called On The Lot, which was produced by Steven Spielberg. It was basically an American Idol-type show that aired on Fox. We were competitors who had to make a new short film every week, and we became close friends and collaborators afterwards.
We worked separately as directors for a few years, but kept coming back together, finding the nature of our collaboration very rewarding. We were struggling to find films that represented our taste, so we decided to write one that would show the world the kind of movie we like to make.
When writing the script, did you always visualise it as a genre movie? Were there any particular influences in that area?
ADAM: When we were writing, we knew that fantastical things would happen in the story, but we didn’t try to fit into the box of a particular genre. We wanted the movie to feel real, intimate... so we knew the story would capture small moments of the family relationships and go deep on the emotions. At the same time, we knew we wanted to tell the story from Chloe’s childlike perspective, so we were more focused on how she was discovering the world and how it felt to her. When things are scary for her, the movie feels more like a horror movie and when she’s full of wonder it starts to feel more like a Spielberg Amblin movie… so the mix of genres is motivated from her character journey.
What personal experiences did you bring to the writing process? I’m thinking, in particular, of the strong coming-of-age narrative and the child-parent dynamic driving the film throughout.
ZACH: The genesis of the story idea was inspired by watching Adam's son grow up. We got to see him observe and interpret the world for the first time. To him, impossible ideas were believable, and normal things were terrifying. We thought it'd be fascinating to capture that perspective in a genre film.
ADAM: As a new dad, I often felt incompetent and unprepared. I used to worry and imagine how I could possibly do this alone, without my awesome wife. I took a lot of classes and had great mentors, and with that support network I became a better father. But we imagined Emile’s character as a father who never had the benefit of that support network. Before the start of the film, his character had been an outcast and a criminal, on the run for most of his life. So now, because of the way the world has isolated him, he’s raised Chloe with no training, not even a book about parenting. We wanted to show his primal protectionist instinct has been twisted into paranoia and a hair-trigger temper, but underneath it all he’s got deep love for her.
It’s tempting to think that the film taps into the current socio-political upheaval in the US and, in particular, the paranoia of ‘outsiders’ appearing to threaten the dominant majority. Was there an intention on your part to shine a light on Trump’s America?
ADAM: The social commentary in the film is inspired by discrimination and violence in our world, where the tools of government can be used to destroy the lives of people who are considered Other. We weren’t directly talking about Trump’s America but we were inspired by the cycle of the discrimination and violence against “outsiders” that has recurred around the world and throughout history. We wanted to hold up a mirror to the way hatred and tribalism can create horrible outcomes.
It feels like the story has become even more relevant since we wrote it. When we were writing the movie, the idea that children would be torn away from their parents and detained by the government was science fiction, now a couple years later it’s happening in America.
ZACH: We tried to make it universal rather than concentrate on one single issue. Besides the Trump immigration issues that many people see, we were inspired by family histories of hiding children with non-Jewish during the Holocaust, the history of forced relocation of Native Americans to reservations, and the epidemic of police shootings of black men in America.
You call them ‘freaks’, which can be seen as a derogatory term, but they are in fact charismatic and powerful beings. Why did you choose that title?
When the world is set against something, bent on its annihilation, it can overwhelm any virtues. For the universe of the story, we wanted to find a word that we could imagine becoming a common slang word -- something with a bite that could be used by both adults and children as part of the common speech of this world. After we wrote the script, we experimented with lots of alternate titles but kept coming back to this essential word. Audiences also bring their own associations to the word "Freaks," which can help throw them off when they first sit down in the theatre.
The performances are all exceptional. Take us through the key casting decisions. In particular, what persuaded Bruce Dern to sign up for the ride?
ZACH: Thank you. The film is all about the performances, and we were very lucky to assemble this incredible cast. Bruce was one of the first cast members to sign on, he really connected to the father-daughter story, because of his own relationship with his daughter. He always looks for stories that have intensity and real grounded characters, and he told us he often doesn’t think science-fiction films have real voices. He hasn’t done a science fiction film since 1972 (Silent Running).
The whole film is is built around the the character of Chloe, and we knew we needed to find an incredible little girl. We built an audition process that was very different from the normal way of doing things. We did a lot of improvisation first to see if the girls could connect to real emotion from their lives, then we’d slowly push them towards the written scenes.
Lexy was the only young actress we found who could both improvise and stay on track with the scene, while staying completely connected to the intensity of the subject matter. She was also the only one who could immediately snap back after “cut” and return to being a normal healthy seven year old. She was a joy to work with.
The ending to the film suggests we haven’t seen the last of Chloe. Are there plans for a sequel?
ADAM: We have lots of ideas for what happens next and also for other rich stories in this world. We’re currently developing some of these ideas into a TV pitch. A sequel film probably only makes sense if people buy tickets to this one… So if people like the movie, we hope they spread the word to their friends!
2018 was a great year for the genre. What have been your outstanding film choices?
It WAS a great year! Love the variety of genre films that are being made, with such a range of tones. We really liked Prospect, which was an indie alien planet movie that had a great intimate style and rich world-building. Sorry To Bother You was such an incredible creative ride -- loved the unique tone and the unpredictability of what was around each corner. A Quiet Place was more traditional but still very well done. And Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse! An explosion of wonder and visual creativity that had our jaws on the floor the entire time.
What’s next for you guys?
ZACH: We are writing a new film, as well as finishing a film for Disney. That one is the live-action adaptation of Kim Possible, which was a very popular animated series from ten years ago. Kim Possible comes out in February / March 2019.
ADAM: We hope to get the opportunity to make a lot more films like Freaks - personal stories with lots of surprises.
FREAKS is showing at the Glasgow Film Theatre on Sat 2 March, 9.00pm, as part of Arrow Video FrightFest Glasgow 2019. Zach will be attending.
Monday, 18 February 2019
Be prepared for a Zombie invasion as Saturday nights in March on Horror Channel give rise to SEASON OF THE DEAD, a collection of modern zombie movies. Highlights include the channel premieres of critically-acclaimed MAGGIE, a heart-breaking take on the Zombie genre starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Joe Dante’s BURYING THE EX, a radical blend of classic horror and screwball zomedy. There are also welcome returns for post-apocalyptic zombie actioner EXTINCTION, directed by Inside helmer Miguel Ángel Vivas, Matthias Hoene’s ultra-splatter comedy horror COCKNEYS VS ZOMBIES, starring Michelle Ryan and John Erick Dowdle’s [REC]-inspired QUARANTINE
Full film details:
SEASON OF THE DEAD
Sat 2 March @ 21:00 – MAGGIE (2015) *Channel Premiere
As the world narrowly recovers from a near apocalyptic virus, an infected teenage girl (Abigail Breslin) with only a precious few weeks to live must find the strength and bravery to face her fleeting mortality as her father (Arnold Schwarzenegger) struggles helplessly to protect her from the frightened town and keep the family together in the face on inexplicable horror.
Sat 9 March @ 21:00 – BURYING THE EX (2014) * Channel Premiere
Max’s relationship with his new girlfriend, Olivia, takes an unexpected turn when his dead ex-girlfriend rises from the grave and thinks they’re still dating. Max realises that his only chance at a future with Olivia relies on him doing the unthinkable: breaking up with Evelyn, a maniacal zombie who’s determined to do whatever it takes to get her man.
Sat 16 March @ 21:00 – EXTINCTION (2015)
After several hundred thousand years of evolution and supremacy, an infection turns most of humanity into rabid zombies, Two men, Patrick (Matthew Fox) and Jack (Jeffrey Donovan) and a 9-year-old girl (Quinn McColgan), are the only known survivors, However, not only must they protect themselves against their monstrous attackers, but must overcome their mutual hatred for each other…
Sat 23 March @ 21:00 – COCKNEYS VS ZOMBIES (2012)
Just as brothers Terry and Andy Macguire decide to rob a bank, workers on a Docklands building site uncover a burial ground sealed up in 1666. However, some of the corpses aren’t Brown Bread at all and before you know it, London’s East End is infested with hungry zombies. Can the two dodgy Hamptons get to the Bow Bells Care Home in time to rescue all the Raspberry Ripples under siege with only their Zimmer frames and wheelchairs to kick some zombie Khyber Pass? Stellar cast includes Harry Treadaway, Alan Ford, Honor Blackman, Richard Briers and Michelle Ryan.
Sat 30 March @ 21:00 – QUARANTINE (2008)
Television reporter Angela Vidal (Dexter’s Jennifer Carpenter) and her cameraman are assigned to spend the night shift with an LA Fire Station. Soon a routine 911 call takes them to a small apartment building, where they learn that a woman living in the building has been infected by something unknown. After a few of the residents are viciously attacked, they try to escape, only to find that the building has been quarantined. Trapped, and fighting a brooding entity, they become engaged in a brutal battle for survival.
Fri 1 March @ 21:00 – LEPRECHAUN: ORIGINS (2014) *UK TV Premiere
Backpacking through Ireland, two unsuspecting young couples discover a town's chilling secret when the town's residents offer them an old cabin at the edge of the woods. Soon, they discover that one of Ireland's most famous legends is a terrifying reality
Fri 8 March @ 21:00 – RESURRECTION OF EVIL (2016) *UK TV Premiere
Jackie Sullivan (Julie Benz), a troubled young woman with a serious alcohol addiction, is released from rehab and given a second chance with a new job and a furnished apartment at Havenhurst. Recovering from the tragic loss of her 6-year-old daughter, Jackie is drawn into the unsolved disappearance of the apartment’s previous occupant, a young woman who disappeared without a trace. Jackie soon discovers that she must not only battle her inner demons but the very real ones that live deep within the walls of Havenhurst.
Fri 15 March @ 21:00 – KILL COMMAND (2015) *Channel Premiere
Set in a time where robots handle all manual jobs, unemployment has soared and riots are a near everyday occurrence. Against this backdrop, veteran US marine Captain Bukes (Thure Lindhardt and his unit, are sent on a routine training exercise. What they discover when they reach the island is beyond anything they could have imagined. What starts as a simple training exercise descends into a terrifying battle to the death, a fight for the survival not only for Bukes’ unit but also for the future of humanity itself.
Fri 22 March @ 21:00 – ROAD GAMES (2015) *Channel Premiere
When hitchhiker Jack (Andrew Simpson) rescues Véronique (Joséphine de La Baume) from a road rage altercation, in rural France the twosome decide to travel together for safety’s sake after learning a serial killer is cutting a murderous swathe through the region. Tired and hungry they decide to take up an offer to stay the night at a mysterious elderly couple’s mansion. And that’s when the deranged, demented and bloody escapades begin. Also stars Barbara Crampton.
Fri 29 March @ 21:00 – LEGEND (1985) *Channel Premiere
Set in a timeless mythical forest inhabited by fairies, goblins, unicorns, and mortals, Tom Cruise is a mystical forest dweller chosen by fate to undertake a heroic quest. He must save a beautiful princess (Mia Sara) and defeat the demonic Lord of Darkness (Tim Curry), or the world will be plunged into a never-ending ice age.
Horror Channel: Be Afraid
TV: Sky 317 / Virgin 149 / Freeview 70 / Freesat 138
Thursday, 14 February 2019
As writer, director, producer Juliane Block prepares to shoot Zombie home invasion movie HOBBES HOUSE, she reveals her early obsession with monster make-up, casting for a big fantasy Xmas movie and her fascination for the dark side of the human mind.
So tell us how HOBBES HOUSE was developed?
I always felt like I needed to get back to shooting an out-and-out horror film. There's nothing like the fun on the set of a Zombie flick. While waiting for Lyra's Wish, my next big project to be greenlit, I was talking to executive producer Malcolm Winter if he was game to shoot and finance a low budget film in between. Malcolm came back to me with a figure he felt comfortable raising in a very short time span. That was in October 2018. Wolf-Peter Arand, the writer, immediately got to work, developing the story together. He went on to write a treatment and from the treatment the script, and here we are in February 2019, fully immersed in pre-production and the shoot scheduled for February / March.
How would you best describe it?
Hobbes House is a hybrid of two classic horror themes: the spooky horror house and a classic Zombie tale: When down on her luck Jane Doherty learns about the death of her grandmother she expects a life-saving inheritance but finds herself battling bloodthirsty Zombies instead, fighting for her life.
This will be the first time you’ve directed a feature film in the UK. Excited?
I'm super excited! It's not my first British production, but different then my last film 3 Lives, this will be entirely shot with British actors on British grounds. And there's nothing as entertaining as being on set with Zombies. I’m looking forward to three very intense and fun filled weeks in Bristol.
Looks like you’ll continue to be based in the UK to direct a family adventure film, LYRA’S WISH, in which a little girl takes it upon herself to save Santa Claus from extinction. What can you tell us about the project?
I’m working very closely with screenwriter Wolf-Peter Arand. Sitting together, trying to get 3 Lives off the ground and getting somewhat frustrated about it, we thought about doing something different. Animals are commercial, family entertainment is and everyone loves Christmas. So we threw those three elements into one story and garnered it with fantastic creatures and old traditional myth around Christmas.
We had some very exciting news for Lyra's Wish over the holiday. Two major stars have expressed their serious interest to star in the movie. We are just waiting for the Letter of Intent from one, and I'm scheduled to have a talk to the other one possibly next week. Once that's all signed, I hope to be able to openly announce their attachment.
You’ve recently completed two unflinching thrillers, 3 LIVES and 8 REMAINS. Both deal with the psychological trauma of sexual abuse but shot in very different ways. Can you tell us what inspired you to make them?
3 Lives was inspired by my own past. The story has nothing to do with what happened to me, but certainly helped me to come to terms with some ugly events in my own past. 8 Remains was written by Laura Sommer, and that she is interested in similar subjects shows the importance of this topic for all women, and subsequently also men I believe.
I believe the numbers out in the public about how many women had to deal with sexual abuse in their lives are only showing half the truth. For 3 Lives it was 94% of all female crew. I therefore believe we need films portraying abuse through stories written by women and through the eyes of women. When men write about or portray abuse, women almost always end up to be absolute mad revenge angels, or the victims who deal with the abuse internally. But the truth lies in between.
You live and work in Germany. What are your thoughts about the current state of the horror genre there?
We have great recent developments in the Indie film scene in Germany. More and more filmmakers are looking for a way outside the common funding system, which is not appreciative of genre, and are doing their own films, funded in creative ways. I think give it a couple more years, and we might have a number of great horror films also coming from Germany.
What were your early influences in deciding to become a film director?
I had an early obsession with make-up, when I was about eight or nine. My mom gave neighbourhood parties for the local women, selling beauty make-up. I collected the left overs and used them to create my own make-ups: it was always all about monsters, never anything pretty (in the common sense.) I started to experiment with latex and foam as teenager, moving on to Zombie masks. When I finally met Marc Fehse, a fellow student at University who was working on a no budget Zombie flick, that was my introduction into the world of filmmaking, and I loved it.
You made your directorial debut with the short film UNSECURED LOAN in 2007. What gave you the inspiration to choose the violent world of drug-dealing in Malaysia?
I’m fascinated by the dark side of the human mind. When I came to Malaysia, I realised at some point that I can’t wait forever of the perfect job opportunity to come my way in the film industry. If I want things to happen, I have to do this myself.
My brother wrote a short story, which the film is loosely based on. I used it and adapted it for the screen in Malaysia. I think my specific interest in loan sharking was also due to the fact, that it’s something which happens a lot more aggressively in Asia than in Europe.
The Horror genre is enjoying a terrific global resurgence. What’s your take on this?
Whenever there's political turmoil in the world, horror, and specifically Zombie films become very popular. Currently, with Brexit looming, with Trump in the US and a number of populists rising in mainland Europe (not to talk about wars and conflicts on other continents) I believe it's an expression of the feeling of the people.
Which directors do you admire and why?
One of my favourite directors is the Korean director Kim Jee Woon. I stumbled across his films in Singapore, when randomly choosing his movie The Good The Bad The Weird. I was blown away. I think he combines wit with stunning pictures and a captivating story.
I really like Taiki Waititi’s, who recently directed Thor 3. I was laughing throughout his film What we do in the Shadows and I think his move from this indie film to Thor 3 is really inspiring.
Last but not least I really admire Patty Jenkins. I loved what she did with Wonder Woman and of course I believe there should be more women directing super hero movies.
What else is in the pipeline?
Currently I’m in the process of optioning a German Children’s book, which is kind of a nice follow up project to Lyra’s Wish and would be the first German film I’d direct. There’s a Sci-Fi Action adventure called Foster, which I started writing years ago and a Sci-Fi thriller called The Fall of Men.
HOBBES HOUSE will go into production on Feb 17, shooting for three weeks on locations in Bristol, UK.
Saturday, 9 February 2019
When did you first become interested in vampires?
When I was bitten. No, actually, it started long before then. I first became interested in vampires when I was a young mortal child. At first I was very frightened of vampires because Dracula was the only monster I never felt sorry for. Frankenstein, Wolfman and the Mummy did not choose their fate. It was forced upon them. Dracula chose to become a vampire and to be evil. That’s why I never had any sympathy for him. Most vampires after Dracula were not given a choice. If a vampire wants you, they take you. Although, some of the victims want to become an undead blood-sucking creature of the night, so that’s on them. Also, vampires are very classy - well, except for the ones who “live” in the sewers and feed on rats and spiders.
How did you get involved in the fantasy/horror aspect of history?
It just seemed to fit, unfortunately. When I began writing The Vampire Tour of San Francisco, I first wrote the script as only true history. Then I went back and, where I thought it fit, I added in the vampire lore and humor. I was surprised at how easily it fit into the real history.
Tell us about the Vampire Tour of San Francisco.
The tour takes place on top of Nob Hill, a very beautiful area of San Francisco. I conduct the tour in costume and in character as Mina Harker from Dracula. The stops are: Grace Cathedral, the Nob Hill Café, Huntington Park, the Pacific-Union Club, the Fairmont Hotel, and the Mark Hopkins Hotel. I tell the history of each stop and how vampires played a role in that history. I also include a few areas of San Francisco that are not on Nob Hill, such as Alcatraz, Civic Center, the Financial District, and the cemeteries that were moved from San Francisco to Colma, just south of “The City” over a century ago. The script contains about 85% true history with fun vampire lore and humor mixed in. It is not dark and gory, but presented in a way to entertain and amuse the audience, and is suitable for all ages.
Are you an Anne Rice fan?
Yes, Anne Rice is a wonderful author! I mention her once on the tour to honor her contribution to literature.
Why do you think horror and fantasy books remain so popular?
One reason they remain popular is because they take the reader out of reality and exercise their imagination. The fear factor in horror books gives a thrill like the one you get riding a rollercoaster. The ending of the book has a lot to do with the excitement you get from reading it. If it ends with good being victorious, you are left with feeling safe and relieved. If evil wins in the end, the excitement of fear and anxiety lets the adventure continue in your imagination.
What inspires you?
People who are successful inspire me. They don’t have to be a successful writer, as long as they were persistent and made a beneficial contribution to the field they are working in. This could be entertainment, medicine, education, sports, art, or any field at all. I love hearing success stories. They really keep me going.
What do you think the difference between an American and British vampire tour is?
That would be the accent of the vampire. But seriously, funny you should ask. I have decided to expand on The Vampire Tour of San Francisco, and write tours for other cities that fit the genre. So far, I have also written The Vampire Tour of London, which takes place mainly in Covent Garden. This tour is written to be conducted by Lucy Westenra, Mina Harker’s friend in Dracula. I am in the process of looking for someone, possibly a tour company or a company that specializes in the horror genre, who would like to purchase the script of the tour and organize the conducting of the tour. I was thrilled when Radio Wey, a very entertaining radio program in Surrey, broadcast a reading of The Vampire Tour of London! If you would like to hear the production, you can watch below
I have also written, The Vampire Tour of New York, which takes place mainly on the Upper West Side, and begins at the Imagine Stone in Central Park and ends at The Jekyll and Hyde Club. This tour is written to be conducted by Dr. John Seward from Dracula.
I would say that the main difference between the American and British vampire tour, the way I write them, is just the location. I write them all to contain mostly true history with fun vampire lore and humor, so they will educate as well as entertain.
I have only taken one other vampire tour, and that was in New Orleans. That tour is not like mine because mine is mostly true history with fun vampire lore and humor mixed in. The tour in New Orleans is very horrifying and gory. If that is what you are looking for, you will love it!
What are your favorite horror books?
Dracula is still the best in my opinion. That book is so beautifully written, and really gets your imagination tingling. I couldn’t read it right before I went to sleep. I did that once and was up for hours! My other favorite was Anne Rice’s, The Vampire Lastat. I think that is my favorite from her series, Vampire Chronicles.
What are some of your favorite horror movies?
I have to pay homage to the original, Dracula of course. Others I will never get tired of watching are: Bram Stoker’s Dracula, An American Werewolf in London, which I just watched again the other day, The Howling, Wolfman, Frankenstein, Shadow of the Vampire, Psycho, King Kong (the original), A Nightmare on Elm Street, and of course, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein and Young Frankenstein must be on the list.
What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
Getting published is my greatest accomplishment. I never expected that to happen, and Samuel French has published 5 of my plays. I still have a hard time believing that. Since I wrote the script for The Vampire Tour of San Francisco, the tour’s success is also included in this accomplishment. I am so very grateful to God for giving me the talent of writing. It has enhanced my life tremendously!
Do you have any advice for newcomers in the industry?
I think the best advice I could give someone is to think of an idea that intrigues you, and let your imagination run with it. Trust your imagination and don’t stifle it. It’s the best friend a writer could have, especially if you are writing horror or fantasy. Also, don’t give up. If you don’t get the results you want right away, don’t let that discourage you. Keep going.
What is your opinion of modern vampire novels?
I like the novels that are well written with interesting stories. If the gruesome details are done in a way that is fitting to the story, that’s great; however, some books are overly gory just for the sake of being gory, and to me, that is not good writing.
Is Dracula still the greatest vampire novel ever written?
I would say that it is, mainly because the writing is gripping and never boring, from the first page to the last. Besides, it was the original novel that opened the door for so many authors to come.
What are your current projects?
Since I recently retired, I am currently writing a new play about being retired, which is a lot of fun for me. I am also gathering information to write a new vampire tour as well. This one will take place in Hollywood. That just fits too perfectly to pass up!
Please in your own words, write a paragraph about yourself & your work.
My involvement in the entertainment field began when, to my shock and amazement, I was cast in a musical production in the San Francisco Bay Area at the age of 27. Opening night, when I took a bow for the first time, I was hooked! For the next 10 years, I performed in one show after another. I also worked behind the scenes of shows, learning how to build and tear down sets, as well as working with props, lights and sound, and stage managing. The next step just naturally seemed to be writing a play. Once again, I was shocked and amazed when the first play I sent in to Samuel French was accepted and published. Four more followed. I had a wonderful day job, working in the training department at the pharmaceutical company, Roche. We had a training session in New Orleans, which was when I took the Vampire Tour in the French Quarter. As we walked with the tour guide and listened to his stories, I thought to myself, “Why isn’t anybody doing this in San Francisco.” As they say, the rest is history.
The Vampire Tour of San Francisco
Thursday, 7 February 2019
Ahead of the UK premiere of Adrián García Bogliano’s hypnotic BLACK CIRCLE at Arrow Video FrightFest Glasgow 2019, star and Swedish exploitation icon Christina Lindberg reflects on memorable moments, meeting Tarantino and making a comeback.
How did your modelling career start and did that inevitably lead to your career as an actress?
I was discovered the classic way; on the beach at the age of 18. After having been photographed as a “bathing girl” for most of the newspapers in southern Sweden, I was asked to do a centrefold shoot for one of Sweden’s biggest men’s magazines, by Siwer Ohlsson, the most celebrated glamour girl photographer of the time. I said yes to throwing away my bra, despite the fact that as a young woman, I was very shy.
The photos grabbed a lot of attention, and a Swedish film producer got in touch. He offered me a role, even though I wasn’t an actress. Since the film was directed by one the most famous Swedish directors at that time (Jan Halldoff), and the other actors were real giants of the theatre stage,
I was suddenly in the spotlight, just a few days after completing my high school exam. The film was Rötmånad (Dog Days) (1970), and, incidentally, it had its international premiere at the Edinburgh Film Festival!
When did you first learn that Quentin Tarantino based the Bride character in KILL BILL on your role in THRILLER/THEY CALL HER ONE EYE?
I had only seen Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction and thought it was a really good movie. But I didn’t know much about Tarantino apart from that. So it took me a while to really grasp what an incredible homage to Thriller it was, that he was inspired by it, and talked about it in interviews.
A couple of years ago I met Tarantino, in conjunction with the Swedish gala premiere of Inglorious Bastards. The film distributor set up a meeting at the Grand Hotel in Stockholm, requested by Tarantino. We talked for quite a while, and exchanged autographs. To see to it that the meeting was documented properly, he brought me out on the red carpet that night, so we could be photographed together. Something he knew I could benefit from.
Christine Lindberg in Thriller/They Call Her One-Eye
Oh, yes! I have lots of memories. It was a film shoot out of the ordinary…There was a lot of drama behind the camera. For example, the director never got permission to use the locations or fenced them off, so one day when we shot a scene in a park, when I threw myself out of the (fake) police car, with my leather coat, eye-patch and sawn-off shotgun, people on their casual Sunday walks actually started running for their lives!
This was a film that really stood out at the time, but that it would still be of interest and celebrated 45 years later, was something I could never have imagined.
When you look back at your 1970s film career, what stands out? Do you have any particular affection for any of the movies or are they now just cause for embarrassment?
I have always tried to do my best with my film roles. I have no regrets about what I did in the movies. But of course some films are closer to my heart than others.
You became a noted aviation journalist and animal rights activist after you ended your film career so what made you decide to come back to acting after a 30-plus year gap with BLACK CIRCLE?
I never really let go of my film career past. That’s why it felt completely natural to say yes, when Bogliano offered me the part in Black Circle. It was like coming home again.
What did you like most about the BLACK CIRCLE script?
It was the mystery and the darkness in the story. The role as Lena fitted me perfectly. I have some of her character in my persona.
Were you aware of the work of director Adrian Garcia Bogliano? What films of his did you watch before signing on to play the character of Lena?
I had only heard positive things and admiration for Bogliano, before I accepted the part. I knew he was a fan of Ingmar Bergman, as well as of Thriller. I had seen two of his films that I really liked; Scherzo Diabolico and I’ll Never Die Alone.
Christina Lindberg (Centre) in Black Circle
How did you find being back in front of the camera after all these years?
It was completely unproblematic. It just felt good. But I have to confess, it took some running-in…
And working with co-stars Hanna Asp, Hanna and Erica Midfjäll, Madeleine Trollvik, singer Johan Palm and especially Inger Nilsson, the original Pippi Longstocking!
The atmosphere on location was fantastic. Everyone involved in the film was eager to do their very best, especially since we had a tight shooting schedule.
You’re back, does that mean you are now open to other movie offers?
Absolutely. I just shot a short film - a drama about relations set at Christmas time. I have also been offered a part in a new Swedish feature film, Biodlaren (The Beekeeper), which will be shot this year. Black Circle has really given me an appetite for more.
BLACK CIRCLE is showing at the Glasgow Film Theatre on Sat 2 March, 3.30pm, as part of Arrow Video FrightFest Glasgow 2019. Christina will be attending.
Monday, 4 February 2019
Ahead of Horror Channel’s UK TV premiere of REDWOOD, director Tom Paton reveals the secrets of his prolific work-rate, talks about tackling the subject of fake news and the twists and turns of his new film Stairs.
REDWOOD gets its UK TV premiere on Fri 8 Feb, courtesy of Horror Channel. Excited or what?
Honestly, I’m so proud that Redwood has made its way onto Horror Channel. I’ve been a huge fan since the channel launched and over the past decade I’ve discovered so many horror gems on there from classic through to films I’d never heard of but now love. It feels incredible to know that someone might discover Redwood in the exact same way.
Is it true you wrote the script in two days?
It is, although I wouldn’t recommend that as it caused me some serious stress. The production company had a very limited window of time to use the funds and location that the film was made on, so if we were going to do it then we had to move quickly. It was a real challenge to craft something at that speed that I was going to be proud of so I focused in on something that felt very real and tangible, but was happening within this world of vampires.
The film is one of the lowest-budgeted to grace opening night at FrightFest. How did you pull that off?
I have absolutely no idea how that happened! I was so blown away to find out that the movie was going to be playing at FrightFest that I had to pinch myself. I fully expected for us to be one of the more low key films, tucked away in a corner somewhere. When the programme was announced and we were one of the opening night films I had to pick myself up off of the floor. FrightFest has been the most incredible platform for my career and the spotlight it placed on Redwood. It’s a debt I can never repay. Black Site (my third feature film) played at the festival the following year and I’m hoping that it’s a relationship that will continue for many years to come.
Although the vampires are ever-present, the film is very character-driven. Was telling the very touching human story your main priority?
I’m as much a fan of a good jump scare as any modern movie watcher, but I do think it’s a very overused technique these days. I felt that because the film was being made in this high-speed, low budget fashion, that it allowed me to make something a bit more restrained and character focused. Humanity is this strange, beautiful, scary thing and I really wanted the real horror to stem from something that we’ve all had an encounter with in the real world - cancer. The vampires are forever lurking just around the corner just like the illness and as a viewer you aren’t sure when or how they will strike, or if they will at all. But it’s that constant fear of them that I think plays as a strong external metaphor to what Josh and Beth are going through personally. It’s more of a tragedy than a straight horror film I think.
You shot the film in Poland. Why?
We made the film with a Polish based production company, and it was really them that were the driving force behind the location choice. But I have to say, I would shoot in Poland again in a heartbeat. They have these huge, forest covered mountain ranges that really stood in as a good substitute for the USA and the crew over there were such a pleasure to work with. The cost effectiveness of shooting in Poland really helped us maximise the budget too, which is why I think the movie looks like it really escapes the trappings normally associated with a lower budget.
Mike Beckingham, who stars in REDWOOD, also has a main role in your film BLACK SITE. What makes your working relationship so special?
I didn’t know Mike before we shot Redwood but I could tell from our first meeting that me and him were going to get along well. He’s a really charismatic presence to have around and filmmaking can be such a tough experience sometimes that having him on set becomes this really positive force creatively. We became really good friends during production and I started to feel that I could write something that would really play to Mike’s strengths as an actor and so I wrote the part of Sam Levy in Black Site specifically for him. Hopefully we’ll finish our little trilogy together very soon with something new.
What is it about the genre that most appeals to you?
Horror just gels so well with different types of storytelling. It’s one of these rare things in the medium that plays well with others, so you can partner it with comedy, tragedy, action etc and allow yourself this ability to remix things you love into something new. No other genre really affords that same creative freedom. Redwood is a prime example; although the container is horror, under the hood it has comedy, cancer and character driven drama…no other genre would be able to support those tone shifts except horror.
You’re renowned for your prolific work-rate. You currently average a film a year and the quality is impressively consistent. What’s the secret?
Caffeine! But seriously, I’m just very good at approaching my career with a sense of momentum. I think as filmmakers we work so hard to build hype around ourselves and our projects that I see it as a waste to let that dissipate once the project is complete. So I’m just very focused on keeping the party going. This year I’m actually doing two movies instead, as well as having an animated adaption of Black Site in the works. I love what I do and only intend on speeding up really.
Your next feature, STAIRS, is currently in post-production. Can you tell us a bit about the supernatural thriller? What are your current plans for the film?
Stairs is a totally different beast to anything I’ve made before. It’s an ensemble film this time and really ramps up the action and horror elements from my previous movies. It’s also a bit of a head scratcher. I’ve always focused on very linear storytelling and creating character focused stuff, but with Stairs I’ve changed that up and made something with a lot of twists and turns that features a huge dose of time-travel. I’m very excited for people to see it. The premise is that a team of special ops go into a war zone they aren’t supposed to be in. They carry out their morally dubious orders and then find themselves trapped in an Escher-esque nightmare as the universe forces them to own up their sins. I won’t give anything else away though!
You’re shooting a big budget space film shooting in 2019. What more can you tell us?
The movie is called G-LOC and is indeed set in space. There’s a lot of world building going on and i think we’ve created a really fun action adventure movie that sci-fi fans are going to love. Keep your eyes peeled for news on this one.
We also hear you have got another horror film planned for July 2019. True?
That is true. I’m tackling the subject of Fake News in a horror movie called The Manuscript. The story straddles two timelines and deals with a mysterious book that has evaded translation for sixty years and is steeped in mythology and murder…but is everything as it seems? You’ll find out after I shoot it!
Finally, Tom, when are you taking a break?
I might have a holiday this year, we’ll see if there is a little gap in there somewhere.
REDWOOD has its Channel premiere on Horror Channel, Fri Feb 8, 9pm.
You can also watch on demand at iTunes using the following link - Redwood - Tom Paton