Wednesday, 9 October 2019

13 nights of scares as Horror Channel presents a Haunted Halloween Season


For thirteen nights, from Saturday 19th Oct to Thursday 31st Oct at 9pm, Horror Channel presents a HAUNTED HALLOWEEN SEASON, a supernaturally spooky selection of the scariest movies, including the UK premiere of the ghostly chiller THE UNSPOKEN and the channel premiere of the terrifying thriller PAY THE GHOST, starring Nicholas Cage.

Other highlights include Damiano Damiani’s diabolical prequel to The Amityville Horror - AMITYVILLE II: THE POSSESSION. James Watkins’ spine-chilling remake THE WOMAN IN BLACK, starring Daniel Radcliffe, Ti West’s The Shining slacker-style indie sensation, THE INNKEEPERS. the 2008 US remake of THE EYE, starring Jessica Alba and box-office supernatural horror hit THE PACT.


Full film details in transmission order:


Sat 19 Oct @ 21:00 – THE UNSPOKEN (2015) *UK TV Premiere

In 1997 the close-knit Anderson family vanished from their home without a trace. No bodies were ever found and no explanation satisfied curiosity. For seventeen years the house has remained undisturbed...until now.


Sun 20 Oct @ 21:00 – AMITYVILLE II: THE POSSESSION (1982)

A hard-hitting prequel to The Amityville Horror, this tells the 'true' story of the Montelli's, a dysfunctional Catholic family who arrives in the Amityville house years before the Lutzes of the first film. Sonny, the eldest son, is horrifically possessed by a sinister supernatural presence rising up from a secret basement room, and the rest of the family, including family priest Father Adamsk, appear powerless to stops the unfolding evil rampage.


Mon 21 Oct @ 21:00 – THE INNKEEPERS (1998)

After 100 years of silver service, the Yankee Pedlar Inn is shutting its doors for good. The last remaining employees – Claire and Luke – are determined to uncover proof that the hotel is haunted. As the Inn’s final days draw near, odd guests check in as the pair of amateur ghostbusters begins to experience strange and alarming events that may ultimately cause them to be mere footnotes in the establishment’s long unexplained history.


Tues 22 Oct @ 21:00 – STIR OF ECHOS (1999)

After he is hypnotized at a neighbourhood party, Tom Witzky (Kevin Bacon) changes. He sees things he can't explain and hears voices he can't ignore. As the horrific visions intensify, Tom realises they are pieces of a puzzle, echoes of a crime calling out to be solved. But when his other-worldly nightmares begin coming true, Tom desperately tries to rid himself of his eerie, unwanted powers.


Wed 23 Oct @ 21:00 – THE MESSENGERS (2007)

The first English-language horror entry by the Pang Brothers and produced by Sam Raimi  this suspenseful supernatural thriller centres on the dysfunctional Solomon family, who leave the fast paced life of Chicago for the secluded world of a North Dakota farm. Amidst the tranquil sway of the farm's field of sunflowers, Jess, 16, soon realises how terrifying seclusion can be when she and her brother Ben, 3, begin seeing ominous apparitions invisible to everyone else.


Thurs 24 Oct @ 21:00 – FLIGHT 7500 (2014)

From the director of The Grudge comes this spine-chilling journey into fear. On a flight from Los Angeles to Tokyo, a plane is shaken by severe weather. When the turbulence subsides, a passenger suddenly dies—and a supernatural force is unleashed, overtaking the passengers as they desperately fight to figure out what it is and how to stop it.


Fri 25 Oct @ 21:00 – THE WOMAN IN BLACK (2010)

Based on the classic ghost story, The Woman in Black tells the tale of Arthur Kipps, a lawyer who is forced to leave his young son and travel to a remote village to attend to the affairs of the recently deceased owner of Eel Marsh House. Working alone, Kipps begins to uncover the town’s tragic secrets and his fears escalate when he discovers that local children have been disappearing under mysterious circumstances. When those closest to him become threatened by the vengeful woman in black, Kipps must find a way to break the cycle of terror.


Sat 26 Oct @ 21:00 – THE POSSESSION (2016)

From two acclaimed masters of horror - producer Sam Raimi (EVIL DEAD,) and director Ole Bornedal (NIGHTWATCH), comes a terrifying true story of how a family must unite in order to survive the wrath of an unspeakable and malicious evil. Divorced Clyde and Stephanie Brenek see little cause for alarm when their youngest daughter Em becomes oddly obsessed with an antique wooden box covered with arcane Hebrew inscriptions she purchased at a yard sale. But as Em’s behaviour becomes increasingly erratic the couple fears the presence of a malevolent force in their midst,


Sun 27 Oct @ 21:00 – THE NUN (2005)

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.


MON 28 OCT @ 21:00 – THE EYE (2008)

Sydney Wells (Jessica Alba), blind since childhood, undergoes surgery that successfully restores her sight. But unexplainable shadowy and frightening images start to haunt her. Not knowing if they are an aftermath of surgery, her imagination, or something horrifyingly real, Sydney becomes convinced that her anonymous eye donor has somehow opened the door to a terrifying world only she can now see.


TUES 29 OCT @ 21:00 – THE PACT (2012

Following her mother's funeral, Annie reluctantly returns to her childhood home - a place she would rather forget. Then as her sister Nicole and cousin inexplicably disappear, Annie is forced to unlock the doors to the past to discover the hidden secrets of the house and in doing so finds a room that she has no memory of. Things take a sinister and terrifying turn as Annie soon realises she isn't alone in the house...


Wed 30 OCT @ 21:00 – BOO (2005)

Written and directed by Anthony C. Ferrante and Dog Soldiers producer Davis E. Allen, this jump-out-of-your-seat movie bursts with goo and gore and neat homage as a group of young friends spend Halloween in a dilapidated hospital, and soon find trouble-a-plenty in the ghoulish form of a psychotic spirit intent on escaping the dank wards.


Thurs 31 Oct @ 21:00 – PAY THE GHOST (2015) *Channel Premiere

Almost a year after his young son disappeared on Halloween night in New York City, Mike (Nicolas Cage) is alone and haunted by terrifying visions of his son. Determined not to let go, he researches all the cases of missing children in the city and comes to a horrifying conclusion: that every Halloween a vengeful ghost surfaces to abduct three children and if they don't recover their son within a short window of time on All Hallows Eve, he will be lost to the spirit world forever. Following a series of terrifying clues, Mike is led deeper into the ancient curse that could destroy him and all he loves.

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

Monday, 7 October 2019

Interview with Michael J. Epstein By David Kempf


When did you first become interested in filmmaking?

I have had a lifelong interest in film and filmmaking, but only really started making films once digital technology made it feel cheap and accessible enough. I had played in bands for many years and had some success with music videos. We worked with other directors to make a few videos that opened some doors for us, including: 2008’s The Motion Sick’s “30 Lives” video, which was played on a number of TV networks including some secondary MTV channels and ended up in several Dance Dance Revolution games and 2011’s Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling’s “Episode 1 - Arrival” video, which ended up on Time Magazine’s most creative videos list. 

After those videos, it made sense that in order to be sustainable, we’d have to make our own videos. So, my partner, Sophia Cacciola and I started buying gear and creating our own videos for almost  no money, which were also pretty successful.
 

How did you get involved in fantasy/horror?

I have always loved horror. As a kid, my best friend and I would go almost every day to the video store and look for the weirdest, most outlandish bizzaro movies we could find. We loved browsing the horror section looking for the goriest or more compelling box art and images. 
 
It was just natural that when Sophia and I started making films, we both wanted to work in the genres that we loved most - horror and sci-fi. But I would also argue that genre is a misdirected concept. I sort of like the “fantastique” concept more than I like specific genres like horror or fantasy or sci-fi. I would say that we love and make films that are not based in realism. Nothing is more boring to us than watching something similar to what we already see in real life. 
 
I know a lot of people consider horror to be a “lesser” genre, but to me, true drama is the least elevated genre. By not transcending realism, there is little space for subtext or any content that actually drills deeper into the audience’s brain, leaving a lasting impression. Now, that said, a lot of stuff that gets called “drama” is really actually fantastique to me. Bergman, Fassbinder, Cassavetes, Altman, and a lot of other creators transcend reality in their presentation of “realistic” situations. 

I just saw Altman’s The Long Goodbye the other day, and on the surface, it’s sort of a realistic film, but its entire subtext is built around how Marlowe can’t fool his cat. It’s a fantasy film pretending to be a crime drama. I don’t think there is any meaningful difference between the presentation of that film and a good horror film. People considering genre are usually using arbitrary metrics that I do not really agree with as capturing important elements of film. In short, I don’t like realism unless I’m watching a documentary. 
 

Do you have any personal beliefs in the paranormal or supernatural?

Not at all. I follow the absolute rules of logic and science in which we must assume something to be untrue or non-existent until we have sufficient evidence to reject that it’s possible that something does not exist. I do not think paranormal or supernatural phenomena of any kind meet that criteria. 

That said, I grew up obsessed with the paranormal and supernatural. I read every book I could find in the library about ESP, UFOs, unexplained phenomena, etc. I always found the stuff super compelling, despite that, even at a very early age, I didn’t really believe in any of it. 

Maybe it was just the age and timing, but when I saw Children of the Stones, it really freaked me out and left me with a lasting impression about those sorts of powers and phenomena. When I visited Avebury in the mid-2000s, I still didn’t want to touch the stones!

So, I guess even as logical and skeptical as one can be, it’s still possible to be freaked out by the suggestion of the supernatural. 


Which of your movies is your favorite and why?

It’s so hard to pick a favorite. I like things about them all and hate things about them all. It’s too easy to remember the challenges and compromises when you look at your work. We approach each film with a different purpose and a different need for exploration, so it’s never really easy to compare them to each other in terms of our goals.

I guess if I have to look for external validation, Blood of the Tribades, which originally came out in 2016, has been picking up new reviews and coverage, even in 2019. The sustained interest means a lot to us, and it’s even more amazing that we have been included in a number of comprehensive articles on the history of lesbian vampire films. It was such a specific, niche film with the specific goal of exploring that genre through a flipped lens, and getting some recognition for that is really quite moving. One of the newer reviews from this year actually made me cry because of how much the movie spoke to the writer and for them, filled the exact contextual hole in the history of that narrow film niche that we wanted to fill. 


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

Because they are not constrained by realism, fantastique films can use fun, compelling, challenging content to reach well below our surface perceptual understanding of the world. They have the opportunity to recontextualize everything in our lives and to change the way we see our realities. More broadly, to me, this is the specific role of art, and the abstraction of fine and high art is well accepted throughout the world and throughout history. With film, we are really only beginning to see that wider understanding of the break from reality amongst critics and scholars. Fans have known since the beginning! Even as a little kid, I knew horror was different and reached deeper than realistic drama. 


What inspires your stories?

We always try to bring something surprising to people who follow our work. We make sure that each project has a purpose and a different goal while ensuring that our DNA is still clearly expressed. We are big fans of theme-driven filmmaking and so far, the constant interwoven thematic threads present in our work seem to be the most relatable element to our audience. We want to start conversations and get people thinking while they have fun watching our movies. 

They always start with a kind of existential question. We want to explore who we are and why we do the things we do. A lot of our films are about performative identity and questions about the existence or non-existence of a true self. We love stories testing how the same person sent on deviating paths can find commonality. Sometimes, like in our first film, TEN, this is about how performance shapes the self. When does a performance start to become your reality? For Magnetic, we actually have the same character replicated many times, each embracing a kind of classical path like art, science, or religion. In Blood of the Tribades, we explore the degradation of memory and tradition. And most recently, Clickbait is the manifestation of all of these themes in internet popularity culture. All of these ideas and controversies about social media and the internet really date back to the beginning of human consciousness. And if there are other lifeforms in the universe, these are probably universal questions for all forms of sentience. 

Essentially, all great stories are about fears and insecurities and the comforts we might find to address them. We just hope that people can find something useful for navigating their own lives in our work, even if that is just a momentary escape from reality.


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

I am not sure how much of a difference exists anymore, but I grew up watching tons of Hammer and Amicus films, and I think being in an environment that once lived a certain history makes it more compelling to include. American cultural history is so relatively short that we have very little to draw from. There is a lot of American horror about the safety of the suburbs being a lie, for example. That is the greatest American fear from my generation. British horror often explores class subtext or other types of societal structuring that is not as pronounced in the US. 

There is probably also a strange history of film dictated by the imposed censorship in each country. I love 1970s Italian films, and a lot of the content was cut for both British and American releases. Filmmakers can only make the movies they can sell, so that historical censorship has certainly led to within-safety-zone boundary pushing, which differs in each country.         
 

What are your favorite horror books?

I am a bit embarrassed to say that I’ve read very little of what is widely considered horror. I have never been a big Stephen King or Lovecraft fan, for example. Even with modern writers, I don’t tend to be drawn to horror, which works better for me in visual metaphor. These days, I don’t get to read as much as I’d like. I find myself watching 400+ movies a year and constantly reading scripts and writing, so my fiction reading tends to be limited to a handful of books a year, sadly. This is quite a turn, as I was an avid reader as a younger person.

When I read, I tend to love more dystopian, sarcastic science fiction or speculative fiction. Kurt Vonnegut is my favorite author. Philip K. Dick is probably second. I also love the humor of Douglas Adams and the imagination of Neal Stephenson.         


What are some of your favorite horror movies?

 My all-time favorite horror film is probably Phantasm, and I love the entire series. It’s just such a great subtextual exploration of how we cope with and come to understand death across our lifespan. It has so much wonderful imagery and storytelling that I keep coming back to it. 

I’m also a huge fan of The Abominable Dr. Phibes, which is probably the most fun movie ever made. Beyond that, I love 1970s Italian films like Deep Red, Short Night of Glass Dolls, Lisa and the Devil, and many, many more. 

If we blur genres, I usually describe The City of Lost Children as my favorite film ever. I could probably also watch Barbarella or Death Race 2000 on repeat for the rest of my days. 

In very recent years, the new Suspiria is probably my favorite modern horror film. 
     

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment as a filmmaker?

Everything about filmmaking is surreal to me. The fact that I sometimes sit in a packed movie theater watching something I was involved with making still feels like a fantasy every time. Not everyone will like everything, but those moments where you hit someone with something that sticks deep inside of them cannot be surpassed. That is everything I always wanted to do with creating, and when it happens, it means the world to me.  


Do you have any advice for new filmmakers?

Everyone is going to try and stop you and tell you that you should not be making films. When I say everyone, I mean everyone. Just be ready for a lot of rejection and a lot of mistakes and failures. If you can cope with that, just keep creating and working hard to get better and achieve something closer to what you envision. 
Celebrate your successes, but not for too long. Keep going forward!

I have also solemnly sworn to always answer this question by saying to make sure to shoot your movie with 180-degree shutter angle. I keep seeing indie films at festivals shot unintentionally with shutter-speed technical problems. Don’t do that.


What are your current projects?

We have four micro-budget feature film projects that seem to be going forward. A lot of the timelines on these will just depend on money, and projects collapse all the time, so it’s hard to say too much about them yet. The only one we can talk about is a documentary currently in post-production about women’s experiences in rock music, as part of the Women of Rock Oral History Project, for which we’ve been shooting video interviews for years. 


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

Sophia Cacciola and I run the production company, Launch Over, with a primary mission of creating socially conscious narrative and documentary films, especially in the horror and science-fiction genres. We’ve release four features so far: social satire horror, Clickbait (2019); vampire throwback, Blood of the Tribades (2016); cerebral time-loop trance, Magnetic (2015); and deconstructed murder mystery, TEN (2014).  
We hope to see you at the theater! 


Friday, 4 October 2019

Arrow Video FrightFest announces line-up for Halloween 2019 event


Arrow Video FrightFest continues on its highly acclaimed and hugely successful Twenty Bloody Year rampage with a fear-packed journey through Halloween traditions, religious deviance, unstoppable maniacs, warped fairy tales, terrifying board games and the very rules of horror themselves.

The popular Halloween all-day event returns to the Cineworld Leicester Square on Saturday 2 November and the 12-hour monstrous marathon embraces four UK premieres, one European and one International premiere.

The day kicks off with the European Premiere of Josh Hasty’s CANDY CORN. With an impressive all-star genre cast (including Tony Todd, who exec-produces), an innovative iconic killer and cool score, say hello to a new twist on a Halloween tradition

This is followed by a 80s throwback horror comedy, WE SUMMON THE DARKNES. From Marc Meyers, director of My Friend Dahmer, this UK premiere delivers gore and guffaws with gleefully twisted abandon.

Next up is the International premiere of UNCANNY ANNIE, directed by Paul Davis, who gave us the fabulous documentary Beware The Moon: Remembering ‘American Werewolf In London’  This dice-throwing game of death and survival kicks off the second season of Hulu’s Blumhouse-produced series Into The Dark and Paul will be introducing the film.

Then there is the UK Premiere of SWALLOW, a warped fairy tale, posing provocative questions about the expectations imposed on women and the psychologically damaging effects of patriarchal culture. Anchored by Haley Bennett's knockout performance, this bold and atmospheric film marks the feature directorial debut of Carlo Mirabella-Davis.

The 8.30pm film is the UK premiere of TRICK, from Patrick Lussier, director of Drive Angry and the My Bloody Valentine remake. This surprising slasher delivers graphic shock after shock.

The finale presentation is SCARE PACKAGE which introduces us to the next generation of horror directors, Each of the eight talented filmmakers has selected a different horror sub-genre, taking aim at the tropes and overused clich├ęs we find all too often in horror films.

Plus, we’ll be showing THE HAUNTED SWORDSMAN, the latest in acclaimed puppeteer Kevin McTurk’s Spirit Cabinet series. Corin Hardy, who backed the hugely successful Kickstarter campaign, will be joining us to introduce the acclaimed short.

Alan Jones, FrightFest co-director, said today: “Get your knives out, your chainsaws revved up and your machetes raised as FrightFest,  the UK’s biggest and best genre event returns to the Cineworld Leicester Square on Saturday November 2 for a morning of mayhem, an afternoon of anguish and an evening of evil in a day of the dead extravaganza. Happy Halloween everyone!”

Day passes (£47) and single tickets (£14.50) go on sale at noon on Saturday 5th October.

To book: http://www.frightfest.co.uk/tickets.html
(Online booking only)


FULL LINE UP:


11.00: CANDY CORN (European Premiere)

Director: Josh Hasty. With: Courtney Gains, PJ Soles, Tony Todd, Sky Elobar. USA 2019. 85 mins.

Synopsis: It’s Halloween in Grove Hill, Ohio. A traveling carnival arrives for the weekend and local outcast, Jacob Atkins, is hired as one of the freaks in the main attraction, ‘Dr. Death’s Side Show Spook House Spectacular’. But the local bullies are planning their annual public hazing of Jacob, only this year things go too far, a monster hungry for blood is created by one of the carnies … and revenge never tasted so sweet.


12:45 WE SUMMON THE DARKNESS (UK Premiere)

Director: Marc Meyers. With: Alexandra Daddario, Logan Miller, Keean Johnson, Johnny Knoxville. USA 2019. 87 mins

Synopsis: Be careful what you pray for! It's 1988 and people are terrorised by a nationwide rash of apparently satanic murders, which appear to be connected to kids who go to heavy metal concerts. Three girls meet three guys at one such gig and go back to Alexis' family's country house for a debauched after-party. There the boys learn to their horror that the girls are not the enthusiastic rock fans they seem to be, but something much more terrifying.


PLUS….THE HAUNTED SWORDSMAN (UK Premiere)

Director: Kevin McTurk. With: Jason Scott Lee, James Hong. USA 2019. 16 mins.

Synopsis: Kevin McTurk’s handcrafted epic puppet film, follows a Ronin samurai (Jason Scott Lee) on a supernatural quest for vengeance with only a severed head (James Hong) as his guide.


15:15 UNCANNY ANNIE (International Premiere)

Director: Paul Davis. With: Georgie Flores, Adelaide Kane, Paige McGhee, Jacques Colimon, Dylan Arnold, and Evan Bittencourt. USA 2019. 80 mins

Synopsis: On Halloween night, a group of college students get trapped in a mysterious board game that brings their darkest secrets and fears to life, where they must play to escape…and win to survive.


18:15 SWALLOW (UK Premiere)

Director: Carlo Mirabella-Davis. With: Haley Bennett, Austin Stowell, Denis O’Hare. USA 2019. 94 mins.

Synopsis: Hunter is a newly pregnant woman whose idyllic existence takes an alarming turn when she develops a compulsion to eat dangerous objects. As her husband and his family tighten their control over her life, she is forced to confront the dark secret behind her uncontrollable obsession.


20:30 TRICK (UK Premiere)

Director: Patrick Lussier. With: Omar Epps, Kristina Reyes, Ellen Adair, Tom Atkins. USA 2019. 97 mins.

Synopsis: Halloween night in Benton, New Jersey, 2015, and the student they call Trick suddenly freaks out and causes a bloody massacre. Injured by his friend Cheryl, Trick is taken to hospital but miraculously escapes…. and every October 31st returns to cause further murderous mayhem. Detective Mike Denver promises to bring the seemingly unstoppable killer to justice – a vow that begins to border on obsession as he becomes convinced they are dealing with a supernatural entity.


22:45 SCARE PACKAGE (UK Premiere)

Directors: Courtney Andujar, Hillary Andujar  , Anthony Cousins, Mali Elfman, Emily Hagins, Aaron B. Koontz, Chris McInroy, Noah Segan, Ryan Spindell, Baron Vaughn. With: Gabrielle Maiden, Baron Vaughn, Noah Segan, Tristan Riggs. USA 2019. 103 mins.

Synopsis: Chad Buckley is a lonely horror aficionado spending his days at his struggling video store, where he argues with his only regular customer, Sam. When Hawn, an unsuspecting applicant, shows up, Chad teaches him about the Rules of Horror, much to Sam’s chagrin, illustrated by different hilarious horror shorts, each one geared at cleverly subverting a unique set of terror tropes. As Hawn learns the ropes, he suspects Chad of something sinister, while he too may have a secret of his own.

For full programme details: http://www.frightfest.co.uk/

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Interview with Nicholas Vince ahead of his one-man show I AM MONSTERS!


Behind the masks…ahead of his one-man show, I AM MONSTERS! at The Pleasance Theatre, actor and writer Nicholas Vince describes his monstrous journey…

You’re best known for your portrayal of the Chatterer Cenobite in Clive Barker’s Hellraiser and Kinski in Barker’s Nightbreed. What is it you remember most about playing these iconic monsters?

The many talented people and long processes involved in creating the makeups. I may have brought life to the characters, but it was the makeup artists (Nigel Booth on Chatterer, Cliff Wallace on Chatterer II and Neil Gorton on Kinski) who sculpted and painted them based on Clive Barker's designs. Before we reached filming those guys spent weeks creating the masks.

Most of all I remember the laughter. OK, wearing Chatterer was extremely restrictive in terms of seeing, hearing and speaking, and Kinski was early starts and 5 hours in makeup, but there was a great atmosphere on all the films. In fact on Hellraiser I was threatened with death by the sound engineer as my laughter in the dressing room was ruining takes on the nearby set.


How did you first become attracted to monsters?

Aged eight I borrowed a copy of The Golden Treasury of Myths and Legends by Anne Terry White from the local library. It contained stories from Greek, Norse, Celtic, French and Persian myths and legends. I must have run out of time to read all the stories as I clearly remember the Greek and Norse stories, and less so the ones at the back of the book. Obviously, the stories are written about the heroes, but they interested me far less than the Minotaur, Medusa and Sphinx.


You were born undershot and had to have major surgery aged nineteen. Can you describe the experience for us?

Basically, I was born with a smaller than usual top jaw meaning my upper teeth closed behind my lower, rather than the other way round, which is normal. The surgery lasted nine hours, during which they detached the upper jaw and using pieces of bones from my hips as wedges moved it forward. It was a pretty trying experience as I was in intensive care for two days afterwards, during which I nearly died. Following that I had my jaws wired together for six weeks. Mum served my portion of family meals on a plate to check I was getting enough and then liquidised it. I remember fish and chips required a lot of salad cream so that I could suck it through a straw.


In your one-man show you talk about being gay but remaining closeted during the 70s. How did this impact on your relationships?

Once I'd moved away from home, I was able to come out to close friends, but not my parents. That didn't happen until my mid-thirties. I do regret that as they were very loving and when a relationship fell apart with a boyfriend, it meant I missed out on their support. And not being completely out, by which I mean just keeping quiet about relationships, being an apparent loner, it complicated my friendships with good looking straight men, as I was afraid if they realised I fancied them they'd either cut me off or beat me up.


How did you meet Clive Barker?

At a party in Crouch End. We got chatting and he invited me to model for him as he was preparing paintings for the covers of the UK hardback versions of his six volume collection, The Books of Blood. So my face, and other parts of me, appear on the covers of most of the books in that edition.


Is it true that the design of the Chatterer was partly inspired by your own facial reconstruction?

Yes. I'd told Clive about a documentary I'd seen about facial reconstructive surgery where they'd obviously used a similar technique to my surgeons, as the only cut was between my upper lip and gum and they'd peeled the face back so they could detach the upper jaw. The flesh of the face was held in place by clamps, much like Chatterer.


To play the Chatterer, you had to wear a mask and makeup that were extremely restrictive. How challenging was that?

I could only see a portion of the floor through a small hole below my left eye; had false teeth in so speech was like having my hands shoved in my mouth and muffled hearing due to the foam latex mask. So, I had a minder with me at all times leading me onto set holding hands, like a toddler and then they had to relay instructions from behind camera by shouting through the mask. The costume was very tight fitting as they'd taken a life cast of my torso so it could be made as close fitting as possible. I could only lift my arms to shoulder height.

Someone recently complimented me on my 'meticulous performance' and I realised that's one of the strengths of Chatterer. We could only do short sequences with me as I had to learn my moves quickly and I worked hard to replicate them accurately, but that stillness and precision give him a great deal of power.


And the make-up for Kinski in Nightbreed was reported to take two people five hours to apply. Is that true?

Yes, up at 3am for a car from Streatham to Pinewood for 4am and the makeup chair for five hours. But I just had to sit still for that time. The two guys who applied it, Neil and Mark, were on their feet all that time making sure the pieces were properly applied and you couldn't see the edges. I wasn't allowed to fall asleep, so they had a VHS player and I remember watching Steve Martin and John Candy in 'Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Which was frustrating as I also wasn't allowed to laugh either!


You left acting after Nightbreed to concentrate on writing comics for Marvel and collections of short horror stories. What is it about the writing process you find so alluring?

It's the fun of telling stories and talking to readers.  In many ways it's more challenging than acting as there you have a script and you're putting the flesh on the bones, but with writing you're faced with the sometimes terrifying wastes of a blank page. I remember Peter Atkins, the screenwriter of Hellbound: Hellraiser II, telling me when I first started writing, "Nick, there will be a time, at least once a day, when you'll wonder why you ever thought you can write."

He was right and the only way I've found to get through it is to do research, which as a writer said at literary event the other day can be, "Research, bordering on procrastination." And then it's just a question of writing something, anything, as you can polish it.

And I guess the allure for me, is that I get to get some of the really weird stuff in my head out and into the world.


In recent years you've returned to acting in UK independent horror films, such as Hollower (dir. MJ Dixon), Book of Monsters (dir. Stewart Sparke), Borley Rectory (dir. Ashley Thorpe) and For We Are Many (Lawrie Brewster and Paddy Murphy). Do you have further roles in the pipeline?

There are a couple, but I'm waiting for them to be released before I can talk about them. I did do an interview for the extras on the Arrow Video release of the theatrical and director's cuts of Nightbreed, which they're releasing on 28th October, and which is available for pre-order. I believe this is the first UK release of the film since the VHS version back in the 1990's.


Do have any other plans for I AM MONSTERS! after its premiere at the London Horror Festival?

People have been very interested in the show and I've had enquiries about taking it to Liverpool and Las Vegas. Both of which would be really cool, as Liverpool is Clive's home town and I've never been to Vegas.


Nicholas will be opening the London Horror Festival 2019 with his one-man show I AM MONSTERS!, from 8th to 10th October (7pm) at the Pleasance Theatre.

Tickets: 020 7609 1800
https://www.pleasance.co.uk/event/london-horror-festival-i-am-monsters#overview