Thursday 27 August 2020

Interview with G-Hey Kim - Director of Don't Click

Ahead of the FrightFest World premiere of DON’T CLICK, director G-Hey Kim talks about the challenges of making her debut feature

Your 2017 DON’T CLICK short was hugely successful on the festival circuit. Is that when you decided to expand it, or was that always the plan?

I never planned to extend my film because I never expected it to actually happen. Only a few short films have had the opportunity for a full feature version such as Saw (2004), Mama (2013) and Lights Out (2016). So I wasn't expecting that my short film would ever get that chance. When I got a call from George Mihalka about creating a full length production of my film, I was very surprised and incredibly glad. From then on I began to think of my film as a full length feature

Was it difficult to think of ways to elongate the concept into feature length?

It would have been difficult without my amazing writer, Courtney. It's  hard to extend the plot of a short film without it dragging or feeling bloated. But Courtney was a fantastic writer. She understood the exact concept I was going for and knew the best way to get there. I enjoyed developing the story for the feature version with her.

Your executive producer is slasher royalty! How did you get George Mihalka (MY BLOODY VALENTINE) on board?

I may have had a bit of help in that regard, due to the fact that when I created my short film DON'T CLICK, it was as an assignment for a class that he was teaching. He was really impressed by the film and recommended I submit it to some festivals. He's been a good mentor, helping me a lot to get this project off the ground. I'm so thankful I got the chance to work and learn from him.

Valter Skarsgard in DON’T CLICK

Had you seen Valter Skarsgard in LORDS OF CHAOS? Did he jump at the chance to play Josh?

I hadn't seen the film before his name was brought up during the casting meeting but after I had seen his work, I was convinced that he would be perfect for the role of Josh. We sent the script off to his agency and we were all incredibly pleased when word got back that he was interested. It was a huge relief because he was definitely the right person for the job.

You didn’t want to act in the feature like you did in the short?

Seeing as it was my first time as the director of a feature film, I wanted to make sure I was focused and wasn't taking on more than I could handle. That's why I decided to stay behind the camera this time as otherwise it could quickly become overwhelming. It turned out to be the right decision, but the experience that I had as an actor did come in handy while working on the feature film. It helped me to communicate with the actors, knowing what they were experiencing on the other side of the camera.

Websites, technology, the nasty side of the Internet, is DON’T CLICK a warning for our times?

Absolutely. Due to the ever evolving nature of technology and science, our lives are rapidly becoming more convenient. But we're also facing new problems that we've never seen before, such as what I show in my film -  the disconnection to criminal and pornographic violence when viewed over the Internet. It may feel like something that only happens in movies. But the online chatroom sex abuse case in South Korea was real. It's time for us to really sit down and think about it.

What were the main challenges for you as director this time around?

As I mentioned before, it was my first time as a director of a feature film. I went from having a crew of 3 to having a crew of 45. It often made it difficult to communicate everything I needed to the right people. I made some mistakes, but luckily the crew I was working with were amazing people with lots of experience. They were experts in their fields and they always supported throughout the project. Not only the staff, but the actors were fantastic as well. The feature film is a well-made horror film thanks to their efforts, dedication, and passion.

The feature was shot in Canada and we are seeing so much talent emerging from that territory. Why is that, because it’s easier to fund genre pictures?

One of my favorite genres is horror. What I believe is that a director can make a film very well when he likes the genre and understands it fully. Ideas are popping up left and right and filmmakers here are clamoring to make them. Hopefully. this surge of talent continues, and helps Canada grow more and more on the global stage.

FrightFest is delighted to be hosting the World Premiere of DON’T CLICK at their virtual August event. What does that mean to you, and is it the perfect platform considering the subject matter?

Don't Click is about the disconnect in the virtual world. So it's meaningful to me to show it to the audience for the very first time through a virtual event. I think the audience may feel more scared watching at home alone on their laptop, just like the characters Josh and Zane did. They may find that on the internet, anyone can find themselves in Josh and Zane's place.

Finally, what’s next for you?

The feature film Don't Click was a great opportunity for me. I have learned a lot of things from it. I almost feel as though it were my first love. But now I need to think about my next step. I've been looking into making some short films and I'm currently shopping around some feature length scripts that I'm hoping will get picked up.

DON’T CLICK is showing online on Saturday 29 August, 8.45pm, in the Arrow Video Screen, as part of the Arrow Video FrightFest August Digital event.

Tuesday 25 August 2020

Interview with Jordan Barker, Director of Witches in The Woods

Ahead of Horror Channel’s UK TV premiere of WITCHES IN THE WOODS, director Jordan Barker reflects on the challenges of filming in sub-zero temperatures and the time-bending ambitions of his next film…

Why did you respond so strongly to Christopher Borell’s script (originally titled STRANDED) – because it mixed an age-old witch hunt tale with up-to-the-minute contemporary issues of sexual harassment? 

Hi All and hope everyone is staying safe and sane during these very strange times.  Borrelli’s script spoke to me on many levels.  I felt it took a contemporary look at what it means to live in our post truth world; how our realities are shaped by the lens through by which we choose to observe.  To me the film was summed up by nothing being more terrifying than being possessed, not necessarily by a vicious evil demon, but instead by an idea.

Is it based on any actual folklore tale or urban legend? Did the Stoughton Witch Trials actually exist?

Stoughton Valley is a fictional place in Massachusetts but named after the very real William Stoughton, the judge who oversaw the Salem Witch Trials in the 17th century.

There are seven characters in the movie and what is so good about the script is that each has a proper back-story. Is that why you could attract such a great cast? 

Thanks for that.  We really worked hard to make the characters as real as possible.  David Fincher once said to make all your characters right and we definitely tried to take that advise.  One thing I said during the writing was to ground each character to at least one other person in the car with some kind of issue or conflict.  I also wanted to make sure we had different types of relationships to play off of.  We thought it would be fun for instance to make one of the people in the car only connected to the others through her new boyfriend, that way when things went to shit, she’d have no one to hang on to.

WITCHES IN THE WOODS takes a very thoughtful approach to what in other lesser hands would be cliché material. How hard is it to do different yet still be creepy and involving?

I don’t know that we tried too hard to be different other than just trying to find the most exciting way to bring the pages to life.  For example we open on a very complex single take shot set inside the car as we introduce all our characters.  In some cases this might be considered gimmicky, but I believed it was the right way into the story as I wanted the viewer to start off the film as an almost omniscient observer floating through the car, following the conversation.  We are meant to start objectively and then slowly move into the subjective point of view of our lead character.

Good to see such strong, sympathetic female characters and the performances of all three actors are evidence of that. They come off as so much more level headed and together than their male counterparts? 

Hannah (Jill), Sasha (Alison) and Humberly (Bree) brought so much to these characters.  During the Salem witch trials, many women were persecuted, not for any real crime, but as scapegoats for a patriarchal societies anxieties and fears.  There is a backstory laid into Witches in the Woods of an event that victimizes one of our female characters in a multitude of ways.  It was important for us to give all the characters, male and female, a place to stand up for themselves and be pushed to show who they really are and what they are capable of.

WITCHES, tick. But what about the WOODS? You make the forest environment as much a character as anyone else?

I don’t know about you, but whenever I’ve found myself alone at night in the wilderness and I take a moment to tune into the sights and sounds around me, I feel like I’m paying attention to something that maybe I should have noticed earlier on.  You realize it’s always been there, just outside your senses and when your brain tunes you in, you think for a moment…why? Is there danger?  In so, the environment can become a foe and especially in a film like this, it was important to make the audience feel that way as well.

What were the challenges of filming in the freezing cold in Ontario, Canada, especially as you caught pneumonia?

Everything is just slower. Everyone takes up more space because they are layered up.  Equipment freezes. Safety precautions have to be put in place due to dangerous terrain and weather.  We wanted our characters to be wearing fashionable clothes that look good, but don’t necessarily protect you from long periods of time in the cold.  The film has an underlying theme about the thin veneer that separates us from chaos and our reliance on technology (cell phones, the car, heat, fabrics) comes at a cost.  That being said, the crew was warm and the actors were as cold as their characters which made it incredibly difficult for them to do long takes out in the cold.  We also had issues with our lights up on big cranes, swaying in the harsh winds.  Continuity was one of the hardest things to deal with in regard to the cold.  Our film takes place over one night but we filmed it over a month and the weather kept changing.  One night it would snow, then the snow would melt, then it would be windy etc.  And then yes, I caught Pneumonia!

Is the overall message about the primal urges that kick in when you go from what passes as civilization to the rawest of natures? 

I think that is certainly part of it.  I said above one of the most interesting threads throughout the film for me is the thin veneer between civility and chaos.  This is a group of friends going on a trip, but what happens when you peel the onion.  Are they actually good friends? It’s very easy to be nice and civil when your life isn’t at stake.  This also plays into the question of truth and point of view.  We all agree to disagree and can see the world slightly differently in a civilized society.  What happens when that falls apart? All of a sudden, a different point of view makes you the enemy and you have to be eliminated…for survival.

You’ve been to FrightFest with three movies (THE MARSH, TORMENT), what is the importance of the global genre festival circuit to your work?

I am so grateful to have been invited back to FrightFest.  As directors, you spend so much time tinkering in a dark room well after most of the crew has left and done 2 or 3 other films.  Being able to share the work in a live space with other like-minded genre fans across the world is an integral part of keeping the artform alive. It is honestly why I do it, to share the experience with an audience.

Finally, what’s next for you?

I can tell you that my next project is a time-bending sci-fi horror called HARBINGER.  It’s an adaptation of a LoveCraftian short story about a group of particle physicists who are working on a machine to transmit information faster than the speed of light.  When they begin receiving ominous messages from their future selves, things take a dark and dangerous turn as they race to save themselves from a mysterious entity.  It’s a bit of a Primer meets The Thing meets Memento.

WITCHES IN THE WOODS is broadcast on Horror Channel, Saturday 29 August @ 21:00
You can also purchase from Amazon at -

Thursday 20 August 2020

Carpenter, King & Kane Hodder usher in Horror Channel’s September line-up of prime-time premieres

Carpenter, King & Kane Hodder…genre royalty ushers in Horror Channel’s September line-up of prime-time premieres, including the UK TV premiere of outlandish Brit Zom Com SHED OF THE DEAD, starring Ewen MacIntosh, Lauren Socha, Emily Booth, Kane Hodder, Bill Moseley, Michael Berryman and Brian Blessed, followed by the Channel premieres of hard-core space thriller JOHN CARPENTER’S GHOSTS OF MARS, starring Natasha Henstridge, Ice Cube, Jason Statham and Pam Grier, and A GOOD MARRIAGE, a gripping psychological thriller based on the Stephen King novella.

There are also UK TV premieres for supernatural heist thriller THE VAULT, starring James Franco, and Blumhouse frightener VISIONS, plus Channel premieres for Clive Tonge’s intensely demonic jolter MARA, starring Olga Kurylenko, creepy alien-zombie adventure NIGHT OF THE CREEPS, and the powerful supernatural angel-avenger  LEGION, starring Paul Bettany and Dennis Quaid.

Full film details in transmission order:

Friday 4 September @ 21:00 – SHED OF THE DEAD (2016) *UK TV Premiere

Trevor and Graham live very ordinary lives. Except when they inhabit their alter egos, Casimir and Sir Brandt, characters from the fantasy war games they play in Graham's basement and Trevor's allotment shed. Then, they really are the heroes they imagine themselves to be. So when a neighbour's murderous activities unfortunately coincide with the zombie apocalypse, Graham and Trevor set off on a quest to save the women in their lives, and therein try to live up to the mantle of 'hero'. With starring Ewen MacIntosh, Lauren Socha, Emily Booth, Kane Hodder, Bill Moseley, Michael Berryman and Brian Blessed

Saturday 5 September @ 21:00 – THE VAULT (2017) *UK TV Premiere

In order to save their brother Michael, the Dillon sisters have organised a bank robbery, but when the upstairs vault doesn’t have enough money to cover Michael’s debt, on the advice of Assistant Bank Manager Ed Maas (James Franco), they drill into the downstairs vault. The bank’s basement hides a terrible secret and before long, the Dillons have to choose whether to face the police outside or the terrible supernatural forces in the vault below.

Friday 11 September @ 21:00 – MARA (2018) *Channel Premiere

Criminal psychologist Kate Fuller (Olga Kurylenko) is assigned to the murder of a man who has seemingly been strangled in his sleep by his wife and the only witness is their eight-year-old daughter, Sophie. As Kate digs into the mystery of an ancient demon which kills people as they lie in slumber, she experiences the same petrifying symptoms as all previous victims and spirals through a chilling nightmare to save herself and Sophie before she dares to fall asleep again.

Saturday 12 September @ 21:00 – JOHN CARPENTER’S GHOSTS OF MARS (2001) *Channel  Premiere

Mars, 2176 AD. On a Red Planet that has become the dangerous manifest destiny of an overpopulated Earth, police Lt. Melanie Ballard (Natasha Henstridge) is on assignment to bring James “Desolation” Williams (Ice Cube), the planet’s most notorious criminal, to justice. What began as a battle between cop and criminal soon turns into a battle for human survival and escape from the doomed planet, as Ballard and Williams join forces in mortal combat with the “Ghosts of Mars”.

Friday 18 September @ 21:00 – NIGHT OF THE CREEPS (1996) *Channel Premiere

The night of the prom becomes the "Night of the Creeps" for a small-town college with a big-time problem! Johnny (Ken Heron) and his girlfriend Pam (Alice Cadogan), the perfect co-ed couple, are enjoying Lover's Lane one evening in 1959 when suddenly Johnny's attention is diverted to an evil light. He leaves to explore it, never to return again. Twenty-seven years later, when two college boys, Chris (Jason Lively) and J.C. (Steve Marshall), pledge a tempestuous fraternity, they encounter Johnny's frozen body.

Saturday 19 September @ 21:00 – A GOOD MARRIAGE (2014) *Channel Premiere

From the legendary Stephen King comes a terrifying thriller. Celebrating 25 years of marriage, Darcy feels her life is complete with a loving husband and wonderful children. Outside their lives a serial killer hunts his victims, killing young females, whilst a suspicious stranger stalks Darcy’s family. Gradually, she realises that her husband is not who she thought and it’s not only her marriage under threat, but also her life.

Friday 25 September @ 21:00 – VISIONS (2015) *UK TV Premiere

Leaving her hectic city lifestyle behind, young mother-to-be Eveleigh (Isla Fisher), joins her husband David (Anson Mount) at their beautiful new vineyard home only to be plagued by terrifying noises and visions of a sinister hooded figure. No one else hears or sees these hallucinations, not even David, who grows increasingly worried about his wife’s well-being. Desperate to prove her sanity, Eveleigh hunts down locals who reveal the haunted history of the vineyard in which she now resides. But when the pieces come together, the answer is far different – and more dangerous to her and her baby – than she ever imagined.

Saturday 26 September @ 21:00 – LEGION (2010) *Channel Premiere

The Archangel Michael (Paul Bettany) descends to earth to ward off God's legion of angels sent to herald the Apocalypse and destroy mankind. He travels to the remote Paradise Falls diner, an unlikely battlefield where the diner's owner (Dennis Quaid), a group of strangers and a young pregnant waitress (Adrianne Palicki) are humanity's only hope for survival.


Monday 17 August 2020

Interview with Barbara Crampton

Ahead of Horror Channel’s UK TV premiere of Julian Richards’ REBORN, on Sat 22 August, actress, producer and genre icon Barbara Crampton reflects on how You’re Next changed the direction of her career, the joy of discovering new talent and the possibility of directing one day…

Talk about art imitating real life! REBORN is about a B-Movie actress trying to get back in the game after a career rough patch. Is that what you responded to in the script?

That was certainly something I could relate to. As I hit my late 30’s, jobs started to dry up and the phone didn’t ring as often. I was married around that time and my husband convinced me to move to San Francisco as he was being transferred with his work. I honestly thought I was leaving Hollywood and the film business behind. I wasn’t sad as much as I looked forward to a new adventure with my husband and hoping for the children who came very quickly. I felt that perhaps I had already made my mark in RE-ANIMATOR and FROM BEYOND and that would be that. About six years later, I received a call out of the blue to appear as the mom in YOU’RE NEXT. I did it as a lark, for fun, not knowing the filmmakers or their wild talent and not realizing the new path that special film would put me on. I feel like my character in REBORN was ME hoping to get a part for many years and then being fortunate enough to be offered a stellar film like YOU”RE NEXT. That would be akin to the role my character In REBORN receives from Peter Bogdanovich. So in reality, what happens to Lena in the film happened to me.

Although director Julian Richards had you in mind for the part of Lena O’Neill early on, you were actually cast right at the very last minute. Was that jumping in with virtually no time to prepare a difficult challenge?

Another wonderful actress was cast before me even though Julian had me in mind at the outset. Sometimes casting takes place by committee and not everyone gets their first pick. The other gal wasn’t able to do the part after all and so I was called in with about 48 hours notice. It was a bit harrowing. I read the script once, packed up my car and drove down to LA within 24 hours. I knew many of the people on the film so I really leaned in for advice from our DP Brian Sowell, who also worked on BEYOND THE GATES, Michael Pare who I’d worked on PUPPET MASTER: The Littliest Reich with and the effervescent Rae Dawn Chong, whom I didn’t know, but became a close and trusted ally on set. Julian And I know each other well and he trusted me and I appreciated his gentle care in guiding me along on the role. We filmed many scenes in Brian Yuzna’s house, which doubled for my character’s residence and it was warm and welcoming to see him shuffling about in his slippers during our filming.

CARRIE and FRANKENSTEIN are the obvious inspirations for REBORN. Did you see any other resonances in the script you wanted to draw attention to? 

As far as the character of Tess is concerned those two films are apt references. For me and from the perspective of my character, the film is about regret and second chances and what gets in your way, if you let it. Lena is held back by something in her past. She’s haunted by the death of her daughter and she just can’t move forward. She’s stuck both in both her head and heart. I actually looked at REBECCA 1940, as the leading character played by Joan Fontaine is stuck by the overwhelming shadow of her new husband’s deceased wife. I also used aspects of IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE. Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey is so consumed by his life, he can’t see the goodness of what’s right in front of him. Of course I always use myself. How would I feel if I were in the same circumstances as my character? My own children mean the world to me and if I’d lost one…. That thought are pretty devastating.

You shot a lot of the movie in Brian Yuzna’s house, the producer of your horror breakthrough REANIMATOR. Did you ask him for that favour? Are all the framed movie posters a fixture in his house or just there to help your character’s back-story?

I believe John Penny, our producer, asked Brian if we could use his house. It’s right off Hollywood Boulevard and it has a lot of old world charm and glamour. Perfect for Lena’s house. Pretty much all the posters you see on the wall belong to Brian and some of the items reflect movies we’ve done together so it was perfect!

Barbara Crampton as Lena in REBORN

What an incredible cast, some you worked with before; Chaz Bono, Michael Pare (PUPPETMASTER: THE THIRD REICH, Rae Dawn Chong, Monte Markham (WE ARE STILL HERE) and more! Is a prior connection a blessing or a curse?

It’s always a blessing unless you didn’t get along with someone! I started my career working with Jeffrey Combs, made 4 projects with him. The familiarity you have with someone always bleeds into the work and there’s a comfort, especially on indie horror where you’re working very quickly. I very much enjoy working with people I know and trust. It was a joy to work with the legend Monte Markham once more. Meeting Chaz Bono was fun, as he is so excited and passionate about the work, although we didn’t have any scenes together. I do love working with new people as well. I feel like I learn something from just about everyone I work with and I am able to collect may new friends along the way.

Did you ever expect to get so busy post YOU’RE NEXT?

No! I thought it would be just a brief return to acting and that would be that. Yet, I had such a great time performing again, I knew I had to return to working if I could. I actively sought out more roles, hired a manager and became reacquainted with my agent. After I did SUNCHOKE, ROAD GAMES and WE ARE STILL HERE, I felt like people knew me again, that I was serious and committed to a second round of my career. People then started to call me. In the last few years, I’ve also been working as a producer and I can easily say I’m more excited about this business than ever! I don’t intend to slow down.

Your career resurgence has been one of the greatest and most gratifying aspects of the current genre scene. What do you see as the main differences between working with Stuart Gordon etc in the 1980s heyday as opposed to now?

There’s more being made. It’s wider field and the kids today know more about all aspects of film making then in the 80’s We all stayed in our lanes then: Director, actor, producer. But many wear more than one hat today and it’s easier and more accessible to be able to go out and make something without a studio. The emergence of smaller film festivals has allowed new filmmakers to find an outlet for their art to be showcased and network with other like-minded creatives. A young filmmaker can get noticed and make a name for themselves through these fests. Hopefully they can parlay that into working on bigger material.

Is directing something you would like to try? If so, what sort of horror subject would attract you the most? 

You really need to make a commitment to one project for at least a whole year and while the idea is intriguing to me to direct, I have so many other projects I’m developing as a producer and have the occasional acting gig and so it would be hard to fit in directing a feature. However, I would love to direct a short and I’m keeping my eye out for material for that possibility.

As the First Lady of FrightFest, what value do you see in the global genre festival circuit of which you have become so much a beloved part?

These fests are the lifeblood of independent genre cinema. All these global fests and the talented programmers who run them are like grand hosts who introduce the world to fresh and new voices. They are the biggest champions to new filmmakers, many of whom prove themselves to be so gifted, they are invited back again and again. Without them, how who we meet these new talents? The audiences love to watch new films and studios and distributors send scouts to check out emerging talent at film fests across the globe. Also, I am able to meet many genre loving and passionate cinephiles and the fest circuit is really so much fun! Movies, panels, karaoke, contests, celebrations!

Finally, what’s next for you?

I produced and starred in JAKOB’S WIFE, which we finished filming right before the covid-19 shutdown. We are currently in post and it will be available sometime in 2021. I’m working hard on developing three other features and one TV show. Hope to see you all again soon in the flesh with hugs and love…

REBORN is broadcast on Horror Channel, Saturday 22 August @ 21:00

Thursday 13 August 2020

10 Questions with JESSE O’BRIEN, director of TWO HEADS CREEK

Ahead of the UK premiere of TWO HEADS CREEK, a playfully dark cannibal horror comedy, director Jesse O’Brien talks about the joys of cannibal karaoke, tackling immigration issues and filming in a haunted hotel.

How did Jordan Waller’s TWO HEADS CREEK script end up in your hands and did you see it as more a family comedy than a cannibal gore-fest?

Producer Judd Tilyard and I were developing one of my own scripts, Inherit the Earth, which we thought would take a while to finance - and during that process he asked if I’d like to take a look at another script, which was then called Flesh and Blood. I read it with a sense of hesitation. Did I want my second film to be a cannibal horror comedy set in the outback? But from page one, Jordan Waller’s writing really leaped off the page. I knew immediately it was a film with something to say - a hilarious parody of our greedy and violent attitudes towards immigration - but it was also filled with a lot of heart, all about a family finding each other.

Did Waller always want to play Norman, or was that budgetary casting?

Jordan wrote it with himself in mind but when I was presented with the project, I didn’t know him. Our producer Jayne Chard, who was so wonderful to work with, really believed in Jordan. His involvement as a very collaborative writer, as well as his vision for himself as a unique and charming leading man, was really a gift to this film. He and I clicked immediately, and he had a lot of trust in me when it came to interpreting his words.

Waller and Kathryn Wilder (playing Annabelle) are brilliant as the bickering siblings who immediately turn supportive of each other in the face of others criticizing them. Was their chemistry instant?

Casting Annabelle was a challenge, because we didn’t just need to find someone to play Jordan’s sister - we needed a twin sister. So looks were important. We saw a lot of audition tapes. The character is a bit stuffy and conceited, so we needed that, but we also needed her to evolve and be likeable underneath that facade. So finding both was a real challenge. When we presented Kathryn’s audition tape to Jordan, he was delighted, because they happened to have met and hung out before. After they got together and filmed some scenes to show us, we knew their believability as twins was hard to deny. Every time they were on screen together, I would smile because they just got the rhythm and the tone of it all. I couldn’t be happier that we found Kathryn

Was it always the intention to channel the old school Ozploitation gonzo attitude in TWO HEADS CREEK? WAKE IN FRIGHT, TURKEY SHOOT, LONG WEEKEND all come to mind in terms of setting and atmospheres? And the gore feels very early Peter Jackson?

Oh yes. As I said before I couldn’t have enjoyed this if it was pure Ozploitation. But when I knew we had a solid story, the more outlandish elements just became decoration. My creative angle was to lean fully into what makes Australia goofy and silly. To do it more sinister and realistic would have been inauthentic; and Wolf Creek already has that covered. So my brief from the start was to do a 70s throwback. Welcome to Woop Woop was the biggest influence. The absurdity of Australia that it’s always flaunting itself in the background, for better or worse. The immigration themes in this are not the point of the story, but they are an important piece of the puzzle.

Do you expect to provide a new fan base for the pop hits of Australian teen idol Normie Rowe whose fab songs pepper the soundtrack?

I sure hope so. It was a pleasure to bring this soundtrack together. It was my Dad, a walking rock n’ roll encyclopedia, who suggested Normie Rowe’s music, so the connection to Norman’s name was purely coincidental. As integral as Normie is, the real kicker for us was getting the rights to Skyhooks’ Horror Movie. That Cannibal Karaoke sequence was a big reason we were able to convince people to work on the film. It’s where the film becomes itself. Exploding into blood, guts, glamour and absurdity.

You filmed in a Queensland hotel supposedly haunted by ghosts?

We were warned before we arrived that our crew would be haunted, that gear would go missing, that we’d be cursed by the devil. And in preproduction, things had been going a small part of me dreaded being cursed. But once we arrived, the whole experience was a joy. The hotel was our safe haven after a hard day’s work. Our producer was serving tequila shots from the bar we’d been filming at. We all bonded and had an amazing time. The only thing haunting us was an onslaught of green tree frogs that refused to leave anybody’s toilets. Day one, I thought I could never sit down on that porcelain with an immovable frog staring up at me. By the end, the frogs were just part of the crew.

How did your background in visual effects help make TWO HEADS CREEK? 

I was pretty hands off with the visual effects this time. Empire Post managed our entire postproduction pipeline, and they hired a team of VFX artists to do our 90+ shots. I suppose my knowledge in effects helped me communicate what I wanted to see - and the effects were only there to help strengthen or improve what we captured in camera. There’s a shot where a head flies up towards the camera right after its cut off; that idea only came about because I knew the exact elements we’d need to put it together. But it was other artists who did the hard work and made it shine.

The contrast between the British and the outbackers is stark and funny, was it difficult to get the tonal balance of light and dark right?

Jordan did the heavy lifting with that, because so much of the wit is in the script. I worked with him a little bit to add some more authentic Aussie spice and some extra slang. But I’d say the other important factor though is casting. I made sure we found actors who already understood the tone and could just inherently have a good time with what Jordan had written. It’s incredibly important to not settle when casting, and to cast for the right reasons. It was great to work with actors who understood the tone and were part of the gang.

Why has Australia so lagged behind in the contemporary genre stakes, considering they led the field back in the 1970s/80s? Are you trying to give Ozploitation a higher international profile with TWO HEADS CREEK?

I didn’t have a mission to bring Ozploitation to the world, it was just a choice that grew organically out of this material. The style was the perfect fit for the lunacy Jordan wrote. I think the real glue that gave me confidence here was the music. Too much violence can put some viewers off, so one response could have been to tone it down. But I went the other way with it - really leaning into it - because when people are singing, dancing and laughing, I think you can get away with the gorier moments. In truth, if people don’t love the film overall but they walk away appreciating that Cannibal Karaoke sequence, I’ll be satisfied!

Finally, what’s next for you?

I’m planning a few things. Next on the slate should be Holy Water, a gothic horror that I wrote, which is set in 17th century Scotland. We have some great cast attached and we’re hoping to shoot once current restrictions allow. It’s deadly serious in tone and not at all like Two Heads Creek. But my own scripts tend be more serious, like my first film Arrowhead (Alien Arrival) was. Judd and I would still love to get my other project off the ground, Inherit the Earth. That’s basically Lord of the Flies with hellish lava monsters. Everything I do starts with strong images because I don’t want to settle for realism or everyday life...I want to be taken somewhere else when I’m on set, because if I’m excited about going inside the world of the movie, then maybe the audience will be too.

TWO HEADS CREEK is showing online on Sunday 30 August, 4pm, in the Horror Channel Screen, as part of the Arrow Video FrightFest August Digital event.

FrightFest Presents and Signature Entertainment are releasing TWO HEAD CREEK on Digital HD from September 7th.

Tuesday 11 August 2020

Interview with Alastair Orr

Ahead of the UK premiere of TRIGGERED, his cat-and-mouse slasher, Alastair Orr talks about being inspired by old console games and why he loves working in South Africa.

We last saw you at FrightFest with FROM A HOUSE ON WILLLOW STREET, how’s life been treating you since that time?

It’s been great. I got married, had a kid, got into massive amounts of debt with Bitcoin - I’ve made a lot of great life decisions since FrightFest 2016.

How did David D. Jones’ TRIGGERED script end up in your capable hands?

I was working on a bigger film with David that we couldn’t raise the money for. So he pitched something way cheaper that we could do. It’s eleven characters in the woods, so it seemed super easy on the page, but was quite a nightmare to shoot,

Was the script really inspired by retro video games from the 1990s?

Yes, it’s definitely inspired by the old console games where you get to steal time from your opponent, there were a couple out there back in the day. Then to some extant even your Street Fighter and Mortal Combat games had the element where you have to kill your opponent before your time runs out. Things have come full circle now with Battle Royale games like Fortnite, but we wanted to make something with old-school graphics and sound effects and music, so we feel our film is definitely a throwback to our childhoods as opposed to the new wave of these type of games.

What do you think you brought to the project or was everything very much in place in the final draft?

David did an awesome job getting it over the finish line and shoot ready. It was only on set when things bombed out that I was able to step in and make decisions on the set. If he was down in South Africa I’m sure he would’ve been right there next to me making those decisions. Script-wise…his original idea was to have you get rewarded with time by doing certain activities like helping your friends out, or getting closer to solving the murder mystery that runs throughout the film. We decided to simplify the gamification a lot once we got closer to shooting.

Give an insight into how you assembled the cast: what qualities were you mainly looking for?

We were looking for actors that just wanted to be there and didn’t bring a plethora of demands and attitude. We knew it was going to be a tough shoot so we looked for kids that had a great attitude and were up for anything. We also tried to cast the actors as close to the characters as possible so that we could improves if necessary.

Just like with your past four movies you edited the movie yourself. Do you direct knowing in your mind how exactly you want to cut it together, or is it a more organic process than that?

I edit my movies because there isn’t money to hire an editor, so it’s definitely not a control thing.  The editing on Triggered was harder because we had less footage. While we were shooting at night, I would do a rough cut of scenes during the day, so there wasn’t a lot of sleep going on. The pros of editing your own film are that you get to do things your way, but a serious con that worked against me on this one was that some insecurities that festered with me on set made their way in to the edit suite. I had to constantly get reassurances from the producers that this was the right way to go - where as if I had an editor, he/she probably would’ve convinced me straight away that things weren’t as dire as I thought.

And just like your past four movies TRIGGERED is once more in the horror thriller fantasy arena. Why is it you gravitate towards the genre?

These are just the kind of films Ariye (my producing partner) and I want to make. We’re just not drawn to stories that don’t have some kind of genre spin on them

What was the hardest aspect of making TRIGGERED?

I know every filmmaker says time and money, but we really were in short supply on both on this. We got so tired of waiting for investors and finding distributors to invest in us that we decided to fund it ourselves. We (Ariye Mahdeb and I) just had to make a film. We shot for fifteen days, four of which were probably completely lost to rain, but the crew and cast never once dropped the ball. Our vests were pretty problematic also, we had to keep bringing our buddies with electrical engineering degrees onto set to keep wiring them and programming them. You really get a sense of who your real friends are when you ask them to come out and help you at midnight on your indie film.

How is working in South Africa and what do you see as the future for genre filmmakers in the country?

Working in South Africa is the best. People are so willing to help out and jump on board that you really do get to play with awesome tools even if you don’t have the budget your overseas contemporaries are playing with, and the government really helped us with some funding on this one also. South Africa is really exploding with Genre films now. When I started with my first film in 2010 it really was a lonely club, but now South African genre films are popping up at festivals around the world and guys are making some really awesome stuff. It’s really exciting and a lot of the directors who would usually only make drama films are now seeing how commercial Genre fair is and what an appetite the rest of the world has for it.

Finally, what’s next?

We’re busy with a big action movie that was scheduled to shoot this year, but with Covid hitting that doesn’t look likely. It’s a way bigger budget to what I’m used to and I’m loving the freedom a bit of extra money allows. I’m also really digging the way my horror background can tie in with the action scenes and how the two can play nicely together.

TRIGGERED is showing online on Friday 28 August, 9.30pm in the Horror Channel screen, as part of the Arrow Video FrightFest August Digital event.

Thursday 6 August 2020

Arrow Video FrightFest announces August 2020 Short Film Programme

Available to watch on demand from 6pm Thursday 27th to 9pm Monday 31st August

The films may be short, but there is no shortage of scares as Arrow Video FrightFest 2020 showcases the best new short films from the UK and around the world, with six countries representing three continents. From under-the-bed monsters to monsters in front of your eyes, from the sinister and the creepy to the wickedly human and the not-so-human, this year’s selection shines a spotlight on upcoming filmmakers.

The UK is represented with a record eleven entries. There are world premiere screenings for WEREWOLF, where game night just got dangerous, A BIT OF FUN, where a girls’ night in brings out the dead and THE BEHOLDER, in which you’d be wise to beware the eyes of strangers…

Homeland talent is further highlighted with FLESH Control, which will surely bug you and in THE AFTERLIFE BUREAU who says there is no paperwork when you’re dead? Staying indoors has its drawbacks in THE GIFT and domestic issues take on a whole new, monstrous meaning in KEITH. Keeping your eyes shut won’t keep him out in GUEST and your senses can possibly drive you mad in FUEL. You might want to be careful when you get your camera phone out in OUZO AND THE BLACKCURRANT and revenge takes on a twisted form in THE MOTORIST.

Internationally, there is plenty of madness and mayhem on offer, whether it be the savagery of Canadian entry BARK, the ferocious hunger of Australian offering BREAKFAST or the passionate zombie love tiff in LOVE BITE from the States. Spain brings us an unwanted sexual hologram in the surreal POLOVOTRON 500, whilst Sweden brings us unnerving family tension in WASH. There are four further deathly premieres from the US – JEFF DRIVES YOU, where death is in the driving seat, SUBJECT 3, where death always seems to be just around the corner, DEATH WALKS ON NITRATE, in which a photographer experiences a giallo-esque nightmare and finally, the world premiere of TARRARE, which is based on the terrifyingly true story of a man afflicted with unceasing hunger.

Programmer Shelagh Rowan-Legg said today: “With a 30% increase in submissions for the 2020 season, it’s been a joy to find the gems to screen for our audience. As some press articles have noted, fans of horror and science fiction films seem to have a better time coping with our current global crisis, both through our community connections, and our familiarity with all the things that can go to a state or horror or strangeness. There’s no limits to the creativity of our filmmakers, or the dark corners they are willing to explore.”

The full line-up:


Bark (European Premiere)
Director: Ryan Irving. Cast: Ryan Irving, Alexia Lavigne, Anna Barker. Canada 2019. 6 min.

It’s a beautiful day in the park, one that our hero usually enjoys. And he could, except for the terrible event he will have to witness, helpless to intervene.

A Bit of Fun (World Premiere)
Director: Florence Kosky. Cast: Elizabeth McCafferty, Roxana Chakrabarti, Tess Annan, Tallulah Bond. UK 2020. 9 min.

It’s just another fun girls’ night in, to talk about school, sex, and raising the dead. You know, the usual.

Breakfast (European)
Directors: Paul Beattie, Melanie Rios. Cast: Rebecca Smee, Brendan Donoghue, Jaxson Dimitrov. Australia 2019. 11 min.

After being bedridden for months, Katherine is finally awake. And she’s hungry. And not just for bacon and eggs.

FLESH Control (European Premiere)
Director: Christopher McSherry. Cast: Clark Chambers, Joseph O'Hagan. UK 2019. 9 min.

It’s a typical day of fumigation for these two exterminators. But who is being exterminated and what is doing the job?

Subject 3 (International Premiere)
Director: Teresa Decher. Cast: Teresa Decher, Steven Cox, Paul Greene. USA 2019. 12 min.

A young woman needs to say her last goodbye to an old friend, as she traverses a world in the midst of a pandemic.

Jeff Drives You (UK Premiere)
Director: Aidan Brezonick. Cast: Addison Heimann, Tanner Rittenhouse. USA 2019. 17 min.

David thinks he just got lucky when he gets to take a fancy driverless car to a wedding. But the AI has more to offer than just a smooth ride.

Ouzo and Blackcurrant (UK Premiere)
Director: Nat Luurtsema. Cast: Cherelle Skeete, Sara Huxley. UK 2020. 7 min.

Esta and Jeanie just want to reminisce about the good old days; but they weren’t all good, as something wants them to remember.

Tarrare (World Premiere)
Director: Brian Gillespie. Cast: Ian Lassiter. USA 2020. 6 min.

Based on the terrifyingly true story of a man afflicted with unceasing hunger...

Guest (European Premiere)
Director: Finn Callan. Cast: Melania Crisan, Jessica Munna, Anna Fraser. UK 2020. 12 min.

Something just won’t leave Mary alone, no matter how long she keeps her eyes closed. Drastic measures must be taken.

The Beholder (World Premiere)
Director: Shaun Clark. Cast: Melvyn Ternan. UK 2020. 1 min.

The eye is the window to the soul. That is why it terrifies us.


Werewolf (World Premiere)
Director: Markus Meedt. Cast: Will Seaward, Katie Redford. UK 2020. 10 min.

It’s game night for a group of friends, and while the rivalry is light, the dangers are increasing.

The Motorist (London Premiere)
Director: Ciaran Lyons. Cast: Douglas Russell, John Cooke. UK 2019. 10 min.

After a man accidently hits someone on a lonely country road, a group forms to exact an odd form of justice.

Love Bite (UK Premiere)
Director: Charles de Lauzirika. Cast: Carlee Baker, Cuyle Carvin, Bella. USA 2019. 16 min.

A weary couple bickers over how to survive the zombie apocalypse. Not everyone is surviving the night.

The Gift (UK Premiere)
Director: Laura-Beth Cowley. Cast: Rowan Carmichael. UK 2019. 3 min.

Monthly cycles may be a literal and metaphorical pain, but through that comes power.

Wash (UK Premiere)
Director: Kristofer Kiggs Carlsson. Cast: Amelia Clay, Ida Lungqvist. Sweden 2019. 7 min.

It’s laundry day for this single mother. But this might be a far more dangerous activity than she fully realizes.

Fuel (International Premiere)
Director: Hermione Sylvester. Cast: Olivia Vinall, Angus Wright. UK 2019. 9 min.

The lines between art and reality are blurred as a woman copes with an uninvited man from her past, and dangerous strangers in the present.

Polvotron 500 (London Premiere)
Director: Silvia Conesa. Cast: Nuria Deulofeu, Gerard Matarí. Spain 2019. 11 min.

Charly just wants a quiet night’s sleep. Maybe he shouldn’t have chosen a holographic booth that provides intimate services.

Keith (International Premiere)
Director: Alex Baro-Cayetano. Cast: Bear Winter-Perreau, Mia Hemerling. UK 2019. 3 min.

A little girl is about to discover more than she dreamed about the monster under her bed.

Death Walks on Nitrate (European Premiere)
Director: Kevin Fermini. Cast: Katie Carpenter, Sasha Friedman, Anna Bishop. USA 2020. 8 min.

A photographer is about to enter a giallo-esque world where nothing is as it seems.

The Afterlife Bureau (London Premiere)
Director: Dimiter Dimiroff. Cast: Sue Appleby, Gordon Peaston, Richard Cunningham. UK 20219. 13 min.

No one appreciates how hard it is to be a civil servant. Especially on the other side.


To access tickets:

Monday 3 August 2020

Interview with Brea Grant Ahead of the FrightFest UK premiere of 12 HOUR SHIFT

Ahead of the FrightFest UK premiere of 12 HOUR SHIFT, director Brea Grant talks about her ‘Valentine to East Texas’, the heroism of nurses and being a child of the 90s.

You’ve said 12 HOUR SHIFT is a valentine to East Texas and the hospital staff who looked after your elderly father, could you elaborate?

I grew up in East Texas and most people will say that in spite of not living there since I was 18, I have a lot of very small town Texan qualities. My hometown is full of no-nonsense, hard-working people, so I took these characters and combined them with something that was very much on my mind when I first started writing the film - nurses in hospitals. There has been this sudden worldwide awareness of the importance essential workers since the start of COVID-19 but anyone like me with an elderly parent, sick loved one or health issues of their own can attest to how much we rely on nurses and hospital staff.

These nurses are superheroes. My dad had had a fall when I started writing this and we went through hospital, rehabilitation, and extended care all while he is battling Alzheimer’s. The hospital workers take care of everybody through what is the most stressful time of all our lives. They have to deal with life or death situations. It’s just an incredible person who goes into that profession. 12 HOUR SHIFT is funny and silly but at its core, I wanted to show the stress of being in a line of work where there is no downtime and you have people’s lives on your hands.

Why the 1999 New Year Y2K setting?

I’m a child of the 90s so my brain still lives in the pre-Y2K era whether I like it or not. Y2K was what I now think of a global urban legend. We were all convinced the world was going to suddenly turn into an apocalyptic landscape at the stroke of midnight. I have always been fascinated by urban legends and 12 HOUR SHIFT’s jumping off point is the urban legend about the person waking up without a kidney in a bathtub full of ice.

Brea Grant on the set of 12 HOUR SHIFT

Did you always have Angela Bettis, star of the extraordinary MAY, in mind for the lead role?

I didn’t, but I have always loved Angela’s work. I keep a running list of actors I’d love to work with and she has always been at the top. I named the lead of Lucky, another film I wrote, May as a nod to that movie. When I brought the idea of her as Mandy up to my producers, they were also huge fans and thought she had the right gravitas for the role. I sat down with her and begged her to be in the film. It’s a tough role because it’s an underplayed lead surrounded by all of these heightened characters all while dealing with a very intense drug addiction and she pulls it off beautifully.

You filmed in a working hospital, how difficult was that to navigate?

I thank my producers for that over at HCT Media. Two of them are from Arkansas and my producer, Tara’s dad (shout out to John Perry who also has a cameo in the movie!) knew of a hospital in their town that had an empty floor that hadn’t been updated since the 90s. They were about to redo it and my producers asked them if we could shoot in it first. Occasionally, we would have patients stumble in looking for directions but overall, it was a dream for an indie because we had the entire floor to ourselves.

The movie is one of constantly shifting tones, from stark realism to horror, from comedy to anxiety, did that evolve organically while you filmed or was it always part of the plan?

Most of that was in the script. I ended up hiring a lot of improvisors in the supporting roles so the movie ended up being more bizarre and funny that I imagined originally but I was happy with where it went. They took the characters I had written and ran with them in the best way. Overall, I gravitate towards projects that are tonally interesting. I like a comedy. I like movies that are fun and escapist. I wanted it to feel like a heightened world while still having this very dark center. I want to keep the audience constantly on the edge of their seats. They don’t know what’s going to happen next.

You have become such a fixture on the global fantasy festival circuit with your past genre work, how important is that in your estimation?

That’s really nice of you to say. I love the genre community. Early on in my career I was mostly working in television and got a little taste of what it was like to be in the indie genre world. The community was so nice and supportive and I realized it was something I wanted to pursue. We don’t make a lot of money making indie genre so it has to be something you are really passionate about. In my personal life, most of my friends don’t like horror, so having a festival community has been a really nice way to be able to talk about the things I love.

What did actress Brea bring to the director Brea table with respect to 12 HOUR SHIFT?

I try to see what actors need from me and make a comfortable place for them to play. As an actor, I love constant feedback but some actors don’t want that. I check in early and often to see if they are getting what they need. On film sets (it’s not as possible when I’m directing TV) I also make sure we always do an “actor take.” That’s a take where they can throw away the script, throw away my notes, and do it how they see it. I end up using these takes so much. At the end of the day, as pretentious as this will sound, I’m a storyteller no matter what role I’m in. I want to do what serves the story best. I think about that before every scene no matter what my job is that day.

Will you continue to work in both fields or do you prefer directing over acting?

I still like acting. I just acted in a movie earlier this year for director Jill Sixx called THE STYLIST. But if you made me choose, I would choose writing and directing. My heart is in it no matter what I’m working on. Filmmaking as a profession fits my personality and personal goals much more.

You represent a double whammy this year what with 12 HOUR SHIFT and staring in LUCKY, which you wrote. Do you share the same creative values and work ethic?

Definitely. Our work relationship came so easily it was almost scary. She is just as passionate about what she does as I am but I prefer to work with people who can balance passion with professionalism. Natasha always did that. She had faith in my script from the beginning and I had faith in her vision as a director. We had met before and had one call before I agreed she was right for it. I was a fan of IMITATION GIRL and knew she could elevate LUCKY in the same way. Once she was on board to direct, it was Natasha’s vision 100%. I wanted to do whatever I needed to do to help her achieve that as an actress and a writer. And I think we were able to come out with an incredible film.

Finally, what’s next?

Like I said, I did some acting this year in THE STYLIST across from Najarra Townsend, who is so amazing to work with. I believe it will hit fests next year. I have a graphic novel called MARY that is coming out in October. And I’m working a bit more in the television space. During quarantine, I got the opportunity to write on two different shows, one called UNCONVENTIONAL and the CW show, PANDORA. I am also headed out to direct more episodes of Pandora next month.

12 HOUR SHIFT is showing online on Friday 28 August, 8.45pm, in the Arrow Video Screen, as part of the Arrow Video FrightFest August Digital event.