Monday 26 October 2020

Interview with Michael McCarty by David Kempf

When did you first become interested in writing?

I’ve been writing for a very long, long time. 

I started writing for the school newspaper The Jaguar News in sixth grade. My first pro sale was in 1983 for a regional music magazine, The Prairie Sun I did a record review of Pink Floyd’s “The Final Cut.” My first national sale was in 1993 to Starlog magazine. And my first book was in 2003. I’ve written hundreds of articles and interviews in newspapers and have over 45 published books.

How did you get involved in fantasy/horror?

When I was a kid, I use to watch a local horror show called Acri Creature Feature that showed all the classic horror movies and I really loved them. I started reading the books, which the movies were based on sometime in Junior High School, Dracula by Bram Stoker and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. After that I was hooked.

Tell us about your first publisher.

I spent close to a decade writing and trying to get my first book, the vampire novel LIQUID DIET published. I tried everywhere. At that the time the suits said, “Vampire books are dead. Everyone loves a serial killer story. Can you change your vampire into a serial killer instead?”Vampire books have been popular since Bram Stoker wrote DRACULA over a century ago.” This was long before TWILIGHT or TRUE BLOOD.

One day I was talking to Bentley Little and he gave me some excellent advice. He said it was time to put my vampire novel in the trunk and begin another. A lot of writers never get their first books published, including Mr. Little. I started working on another horror novel, called MONSTER BEHIND THE WHEEL, but figured that might take a lot of time to get published. In the meantime, I needed a new game plan. I was talking with my friend Mark McLaughlin about this and he suggested I do a “best of your genre interviews” type book.

I sent a query to a small publisher who specializes in collectible books. The editor wanted to publish the book, but in the end, I decided my book wasn’t right for this house. Next, I sent it to a publisher in Spain. The editor also wanted to publish the book, but ultimately, it didn’t work out there either. During the World Horror Convention in Chicago, I talked to William F. Nolan about the book project; he was enthusiastic, saying if two publishers liked it, a third was probably around the corner very soon. And he was kind of correct about that. About ten minutes after meeting with Nolan, I talked with Neil Gaiman about the book. He suggested that publisher John Betancourt at Wildside Press might like it. So I sent a query and three chapters about my new book idea called GIANTS OF THE GENRE to Mr. Betancourt. He read the three chapters and outline and politely rejected it.

A couple of weeks later, on the fourth of July weekend, 2002, I was thinking about Betancourt’s rejection. He said a lot of nice things in the rejection. So that Monday, I wrote back to the publisher saying something like, “Hey John, you’ve been in the publishing business for awhile, who would you recommended I send my book to.”

John wrote “You know, funny thing is — I’ve been bugged by GIANTS since I turned it down. This usually means I’m convinced on some level that I’ve made a mistake. If you are still interested in having me publish it, I’ll do it next year.” And that is how I got my first book published. Mark McLaughlin wrote the introduction.

Since that time, I have had other books published with Wildside Press including MORE GIANTS OF THE GENRE, A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FIENDS and DRACULA TRANSFORMED & OTHER BLOODTHIRSTY TALES (co-written with Mark McLaughlin).

How would you classify the genre you write?

I call myself a Gumbo Genre Writer, because I write in so many genres and styles. I do nonfiction, horror fiction, science fiction, vampire fiction, vampire comedy fiction, short stories, novels, novella, YA books, kid’s books.

Maybe that is the reason I have had over 45 books published. Here is a link to a listing to all my books:

What is your favorite kind of monster in dark fiction?

I’m going to cheat and name two: vampires and Frankenstein’s monster. Big fan of both of and wrote two books about them as well. FRANKENSTEIN’S MISTRESS: TALES OF LOVE & MONSTERS published by Grinning Skull Press and DRACULA TRANSFORMED & OTHER BLOODTHIRSTY TALES by Mark McLaughlin & Michael McCarty published by Wildside Press.

Other vampire novels I’ve written or co-written: LIQUID DIET & MIDNIGHT SNACK published by Simon & Schuster, the BLOODLESS series co-written with Jody LaGreca: BLOODLESS, BLOODLUST and BLOODLINE also on Simon & Schuster. And another short story collections as well.

The reason I think people like vampires over other monsters is they seduce their prey. And Frankenstein’s monster is so popular because he is an outcast of society and only wants to be loved and how can’t relate to that?

Tell us about your collaborations.

A collaboration is like a marriage; if it is good - it is a good marriage; if it is bad - it is a bad marriage. Writing wise, I’ve had good and bad marriages.

I wrote a great article about this very topic in ESOTERIA-LAND and the ebook is only .99 cents. Check it out.

Tell us about your Stoker experiences especially the poetry book.

Scott Edelman once gave me a big pin that says, “5-Time Stoker Award Loser.” That pretty much sums it up.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment as an author?

Getting 45 books published is a major accomplishment. Actually starting and finish a book is major accomplishment these days.

The writing business is a rough roller coaster ride of highs and lows. You have to hold on for dear life and pray for the best sometimes.

Other accomplishments, having Jimmy Fallon hold a copy of my book CONVERSATIONS WITH KRESKIN on his show.

And of course, having the fans, they are the bright rays of sunshine in this dark fiction profession.

Do you have any advice for new writers?

My advice is this: writing what I call a “blindside” book. Which means, you hit the reader and they don’t see it coming. They spin around and say, “Where did that come from? I wasn’t prepared for that.”

My best advice and I hate to do self-promotion here – is to read MODERN MYTHMAKERS: 35 INTERVIEWS WITH HORROR & SCIENCE FICTION WRITERS AND FILMMAKERS by Michael McCarty, available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and at your favorite bookstore or library (if they don’t have it, have them order it).

The reason I wrote MODERN MYTHMAKERS in the first place was to talk with the likes of Ray Bradbury, Dean Koontz, Richard Matheson, John Saul, Whitley Strieber, Neil Gaiman and other 29 others – about the craft and art of writing.

I can give all kinds of advice. But wouldn’t you like to hear advice from Bradbury or Koontz instead?
Plus the ebook is only .99 cents.

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

The majority of my books, 40 or so have been by book publishers. Half a dozen or so, I’ve done myself. I am a writer. I like to write. I don’t like to do layout and design. I really don’t like to edit, especially edit my own work (it is a necessary evil, like voting).

I like just to write and let others worry the other crazy stuff in the publishing business. That’s show business. 

What are your current projects?

I just finished up FRANKENSTEIN’S MISTRESS: TALES OF LOVE & MONSTERS which was recently published by Grinning Skull Press (the same publisher who put out LOST GIRL OF THE LAKE by Joe McKinney & Michael McCarty, a few years ago).

I am currently writing a sequel to GHOSTS OF THE QUAD CITIES by Michael McCarty & Mark McLaughlin and published by Haunted America (Arcadia Publishing / The History Press). Which was an Amazon bestseller. Here is a little about the first book:

Divided by state lines and the Mississippi River, the Quad Cities share a common haunted heritage. If anything, the seam that runs through the region is especially rife with spirits, from the Black Angel of Moline's Riverside Cemetery to the spectral Confederate POWs of Arsenal Island. Of course, the city centers have their own illustrious supernatural residents – the Hanging Ghost occupies Davenport's City Hall, while the Phantom Washwoman wanders Bettendorf's Central Avenue. At Igor's Bistro in Rock Island, every day is Halloween. Michael McCarty and Mark McLaughlin hunt down the haunted lore of this vibrant Midwestern community.

For the sequel, I am collaborating with John Brassard Jr. this time (whom I interviewed a lot in the first book). It is going to be a little different than the first book, but also a lot bigger and more photos and it should be out Fall of 2021. For the most updated news, please check: Facebook website:

Please in your own words, write a paragraph about yourself & your work. 
I have been a professional writer since 1983 and the author of over forty-five books of fiction and nonfiction, including FRANKENSTEIN’S MISTRESS: TALES OF LOVE & MONSTERS, ESOTERIA-LAND, DARK CITIES: DARK TALES, A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FIENDS, DRACULA TRANSFORMED AND OTHER BLOODTHIRSTY TALES (with Mark McLaughlin), LOST GIRL OF THE LAKE (with Joe McKinney) and GHOSTS OF THE QUAD CITIES (also with Mark McLaughlin).

My mega book of interviews MODERN MYTHMAKERS: 35 INTERVIEWS WITH HORROR AND SCIENCE FICTION WRITERS AND FILMMAKERS which features interviews with Ray Bradbury, Dean Koontz, John Carpenter, Richard Matheson, Elvria, Linnea Quigley, John Saul, Joe McKinney, the cast and crew of “Night of the Living Dead” and many more.

I live in Rock Island, Illinois with his wife Cindy and pet rabbit Latte. 

I’m on Twitter as michaelmccarty6
My blog site is at:
Facebook! Like me on official page:

Or snail mail me at:
Michael McCarty
Fan Mail
P.O. Box 4441
Rock Island, IL 61204-4441

Tuesday 20 October 2020

Interview with Najarra Townsend, star of FrightFest's THE STYLIST

Ahead of the UK premiere of Jill Gevarguzian’s THE STYLIST, lead actress Najarra Townsend talks about being drawn to dark characters, loving film festivals and swapping LA for the English countryside

In THE STYLIST, you play Claire, a murderous hairstylist who doesn’t just cut hair! It’s a very restrained yet chillingly emotive performance. What research did you do in order to understand the mind of someone who is, essentially, a serial killer?

The majority of my research for Claire was actually building her backstory. I started with our Writer/Director Jill Gervargizian’s backstory notes on the character and then filled in all the blanks. I always approach a role by creating a life history for them. Memories are vital for me to have for every character. Jill also suggested I read “House of Psychotic Women” by Kier-La Janisse, which is about the exploration of female neurosis in horror and exploitation films.

I actually did only a small bit of research on real female serial killers. I looked a few up, read about them and their lives, including the psychology behind why people think they did what they did, but in the end I felt the most valuable research for me was creating a full life for Claire and understanding why she does what she does.

The film is based on director Jill Gevaragizian’s short feature, which played at FrightFest in 2016. How different was your approach to playing Claire then?

Originally I had given Claire a few select memories from her life as well as fleshing out her closest relationships (like with her mom). When it came to making the feature I was able to look back on my notes and take things I thought still applied whilst elaborating on the rest of her life, which really made her a much fuller character. It’s a dream come true as an actor to be able to take this person that I found so fascinating from the short and be able to really sink my teeth into her for the feature.

You became first known to horror fans, and the FrightFest audience, for playing Samantha in the compelling zombie body horror CONTRACTED. The film garnered some notoriety for its sexual slant on the victimology of rape. What was it like playing such a demanding role?

Contracted was an extremely fun experience. It was my first time working with such intense practical effects. I would be in the makeup chair for hours before our shoot day started, having veins painted on my whole body, prosthetics applied and contacts lenses put in. It was demanding emotionally but also physically and really helped me grow as an actor. I trusted myself and my choices a lot more after that role.

Another challenging character you took on was the title role in the dark road movie WOLF MOTHER (2016), which has been described as the ‘bloodied non-horror film ever made’. Would you say you’re drawn to playing complex and dark characters?

Absolutely, I’ve always been attracted to characters that have a lot of emotional baggage and have gone through life events unlike my own. It’s always enjoyable researching things about a character’s life that makes you view things in new ways. The main goal with any character I play is to not judge their actions but try to understand and justify them - which can be tricky when playing a character that has done things that you would never do and think are wrong.

You first came to public attention playing sassy teenager Rebecca in the award-winning ME AND YOU AND EVERYONE YOU KNOW. The LA Weekly named your portrayal of Rebecca as one of the ‘Top 10 Great Small Performances’. Looking back, how do you think that film shaped your career?

I will always be so grateful I got to be a part of that film as I really loved the movie. It opened up the indie world to me. I was really too young to understand the success the film had and what that could have meant for my career - I was just happy to be working! - but it definitely did open some doors for me. I also think it may have put me down more of an indie film road. “Me and You…” gave me my first taste of film festivals because I went to Sundance with the film. The electricity in the air and all the movie lovers in one place discussing films was fantastic to me. I was hooked.

You made your first appearance in a horror movie at 10 years old, co-starring in Amir Mann’s MENACE. Did this spark an interest in the genre?

It definitely did. Seeing special effects brought to life really changed how I viewed horror movies. I was a bit scared of them before that but after seeing behind the curtain and experiencing the intensity that comes with shooting a horror film, I had a new appreciation and fascination for them.

Can we look forward to seeing you in any genre movies in the future?

Definitely! I have three feature films currently in post-production, all of which are in the horror genre. It’s usually the characters I’m drawn to which makes me choose the films I want to do. I find that good genre films so often have the most intense complicated characters that are the most fun to take on. Plus the horror community is so much fun to be a part of. I will always try to find roles in the genre.

You were born and raised in California but now reside in the UK. What drew you away from your roots?

Yes, I’ve lived in Los Angeles most of my life but have always loved traveling. I shot a TV show in Qatar for five months in 2017 and met my now husband on the show! He’s British and after I fell in love with him I visited England and fell in love with the country as well. So it was an easy decision for me when we decided to get married and move to the UK. I now live in the English countryside and it feels like a fairytale all the time. I adore it here.

How have you been dealing with life under COVID?

I have to say for me personally the first few months of lockdown I found very enjoyable and I know that makes me extremely lucky. I adore where I live and getting the chance to just enjoy my home every day and spend extra time with my husband was a dream. It also felt like a very creative time because I used a lot of my time to read and create music and relax. Of course, the longer it’s gone on the more antsy I am about getting back to work but overall I’ve been very thankful for my experience this year.

Finally, what’s next?

Times are still so uncertain. I’m attached to various projects but am not sure when or if they’ll still be happening. Plus due to the current travel restrictions I’ve been focusing more on things I can do from home, mainly dedicating my time to my band, ARCHWAY, and developing a few projects to produce. I’m enjoying this slower paced year but really looking forward to what next year brings.

THE STYLIST is showing online on Sunday 25 October, 11.45am in the Horror Channel screen, as part of the Arrow Video FrightFest October Digital event. 

Thursday 15 October 2020

Demons, devils and the occult…Horror Channel gets possessed in November

Saturday nights in November belong to the vice-like grip of POSSESSED SEASON on Horror Channel, with Channel premieres for EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING, the prequel to The Exorcist, starring Stellan Skarsgård as Father Merrin, the demon-beleaguered priest, and THE EXORCIST III, written and directed by William Peter Blatty. There is also a UK TV premiere for Chad Archibald's chilling occult fantasy THE HERETICS, and Scott Derrickson's supernatural chiller DELIVER US FROM EVIL completes the devilish line-up.

Full film details in transmission order:

Saturday 7 November @ 21:00 – EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING (2004) *Channel Premiere

Having abandoned his faith, Father Merrin joins an archaeological excavation in Kenya, where an ancient church has been unearthed - and beneath it, something much older waits to be awoken. As madness descends upon the villagers, he watches helplessly as the blood of innocents flows. But, the horror has only just begun and in the place where Evil was born, Merrin will finally see its true face.

Saturday 14 November @ 21:00 – EXORCIST III (1990) *Channel Premiere

Police Lt. Kinderman (George C. Scott) notices similarities between his current murder investigation and the methods used by the "Gemini" killer (Brad Dourif) - who was executed 15 years before. He soon discovers a hospitalized mental patient (Jason Miller) claiming to be the dead serial killer, but who looks uncannily like a priest Kinderman knew who died during an exorcism. As more bodies are found, Kinderman looks for connections between the two supposedly dead men.

Saturday 21 November @ 21:00 – THE HERETICS (2017) *UK TV Premiere

Five years ago Gloria survived a terrifying ritual at the hands of a demonic cult. Tied to an altar she awoke in the morning caked in blood, surrounded by corpses but seemingly unharmed. Putting the traumatic events behind her she tried to move on with her life. But what happened that night was just the beginning. There is one who has been waiting for the right time to return and complete what was started. Gloria will be taken again…

Saturday 28 November @ 21:00 – DELIVER US FROM EVIL (2014)

New York police officer Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana), who is struggling with personal issues, begins investigating a series of disturbing and inexplicable crimes.  He joins forces with an unconventional priest (Edgar Ramírez), schooled in the rituals of exorcism, to combat the frightening and demonic possessions that are terrorising their city.

Tuesday 13 October 2020

Interview with Marc Price

DUNE DRIFTER is a big departure from your other films. Have you always wanted to make a sci-fi actioner?

I've always loved sci-fi and have the best time working on action sequences. Putting those things together has been a lifelong ambition. For a long time I've felt that it's important to walk through the doors that open for you. The opportunity cropped up to do a sci-fi with a modest budget; I thought we could make something fun and personal. So we dove in!

Who / what are the film's heaviest influences?

I'm probably quite mainstream with my tastes. I definitely borrow a lot from Star Wars. The number 47 pops up as a little nod to Star Trek and we also called the Terran command ship "Valiant" as a little nod to what the Defiant from DS9 was nearly called. But the biggest influences are definitely Roger Corman and Charles Band. I grew up watching their films and at the time I couldn't distinguish the difference in quality between Star Wars or Battle Beyond the Stars. I just saw fun adventure movies with lasers!

When I got old enough to spot a difference, the kit bashed aesthetic and cobbled together charm of Corman and Band's sci-fi sets left a strong impression. That style of film making fit kinda perfectly with our film, because budget-wise it's exactly what we had to do.
It wasn't only films from my childhood. Modern film makers were a huge influence. I pitched the 7 day shoot in Iceland as a venture similar to what Gareth Edwards did for Monsters. Finding great locations and taking advantage of them with an adaptable script that we could tweak and mould to maximise our use of what was available.

Were you concerned about the budget, given the ambition and scale of the movie?

Our route to getting this film made was a bit unorthodox. Michelle Parkyn (Producer of Dune Drifter and Nightshooters) had locked in the budget before I'd written anything. So I was able to write based on what I felt we could realistically achieve. As usual I pushed it a bit further. But with people like David Ross working on the space battle, George Davies on sound design with Ben Baird mixing and a stunning score from Adam Langston. I was confident our post would be in safe hands.

We could only afford a small crew, which made the brief Icelandic shoot a bit tricky to get through comfortably. But they adopted an inspiring attitude of "If we can do this, every other film will feel easy as fuck!"  How can that not be inspiring? From costume to sets to practical effects, we stretched the budget as far as we could. The starfighter set was constructed in my living room and stayed there for 6 months.

The action and fight sequences are very tense and entertaining. How important was the editing process?

The action sequences are usually my favourite scenes to shoot and I got a kick out of the variety of action the film allowed for. I'd send our miniature guru (David Ross) previsualised sequences that I'd cobble together in front of a green reflector using an A-Wing for the starfighters and a Cylon Raider for the Drekk Cruisers. Then I'd sit with Dave over a few drinks and work out the shots more specifically on his laptop.

The fights on the planet were choreographed by Marcus Shakesheff who designed the action for Wonder Woman and Krypton. Whilst he was working on Season 2 of Hanna, he invited me to this room filled with boxes and built on the sequences from there.

Did COVID get in the way of the production process?

It did force our hand in a few areas. We had to make the film in a way that would minimise the number of post-production VFX shots. We printed a backdrop of Iceland for any shots we needed to get around my flat, used rear projection for everything in the flying sequences. The monitors and holograms in the film were all shot practically or using a sort of "Pepper's Ghost" technique. It definitely helped. We ended up with only two green screen shots. The knock on effect, particularly with projection is that we need the VFX seen outside the window of a starfighter to be done before we shoot the actors. So those were left till last. And that's when the UK went into lockdown!

We had to rethink a few critical moments, but the post-production team also found themselves with enough time to help things along. Phil Wray and Ollie Pajtra were able to spend more time on their shots, George Davies had time to create even more interesting sound effects for engines or laser blasts.

You first came to everyone's attention (including Martin Scorsese) with your shoe-string budget zombie horror COLIN. Did its success take you by surprise and what was the effect it had on your career?

It was a complete surprise. The press attention was confusing, because from my side of things I hadn't done anything different to other filmmakers. I just looked at what I had available and made the most interesting film with what I had.  Career wise, Colin always helps. Michelle is grateful for the Scorsese quote! It's slathered all over our pitch decks and enough people remember Colin to pay a little more attention to our ideas.

We had a budget this time, but Dune Drifter was made in much the same way as Colin. We had to build a starfighter set in my living room. By the time Covid restrictions were in place we were deep in post, which meant everything was done in my bedroom again. It was nostalgic and also a bit frightening to look inward and say "I'm in the same spot as I was 10 years ago!"

You have a very strong historical connection to FrightFest. Does that mean a lot to you?

Absolutely! Frightfest had seen Colin before a lick of press cropped up about the film's budget. Ian (Rattray) said right away that they would be happy to screen it that summer. I couldn't understand why! It was just a small bedroom-movie, so that support was a huge surprise.

Was it at FrightFest that you met Dominic Brunt, who went on to produce your film MAGPIE?

I met Dom at his own Horror Festival in Leeds. He was screening COLIN and invited me to introduce the film and wrap up with a quick Q&A with beers in between. It was an absolute blast. I got along with Dom and Mark Charnock. I got to meet Jo Mitchell and we bonded over a love for film.

I was waiting on finance for another project. Dom and Jo offered to throw something into that pot and I knew any money would get swallowed up without any guarantee we'd have a film at the end of it. So I suggested using it to make MAGPIE and their response was lovely It's a rare generosity that you just don't encounter in film.

I remember now that Dom asked if I'd direct Before Dawn. But I could see how excited he was for the film so I suggested that he think about directing. I'm not sure I had any influence though. I'd love to think I did, but the reality is that you could see that spark in Dom's eye whenever he talked about it. That clarity of vision. There's no alternate dimension where Dom DIDN'T direct it. And he's been far more successful at pulling projects together than I have.

How have you been dealing with life under COVID?

It's mainly been juggling post for Dune Drifter or more recently pulling pitch decks together for new projects. I spent a week writing a script after an exciting opportunity dropped in our laps after Michelle's diligent producing, but it's been guided by work. Only in the last month or so have I found myself sitting at home and twiddling my thumbs.

What's been your favourite horror film of the year so far?

I'm friends with Rob Savage, so I'm potentially biased when I say Host. But enough people love it to know that I was right about that one! Another film I've watched a few times on Netflix was Hole In the Ground which was made by another friend of FrightFest, Lee Cronin. I highly recommend that film! It's fantastic and tense and compelling. Lee's making the new Evil Dead movie and Hole in the Ground is a strong indicator that we're in for something special!

Finally, what's next?

Excitingly, I've put that question to Michelle! We have a few projects financed and ready to go. All I need to do is write them. I'm excited about all of them and whichever one is best to get started will be our movie. We have two action movies and a drama. After the logistical acrobats of making a sci-fi in my flat during a pandemic, they all feel like significantly easier projects!

DUNE DRIFTER is showing online on Saturday 24 October, 4.45pm in the Zavvi screen, as part of the Arrow Video FrightFest October Digital event.

Thursday 8 October 2020

Interview with Dacre Stoker By David Kempf

When did you first become interested in horror?

I guess it was when I was 14 years old and watched the film "The Fearless Vampire Hunters", which was not exactly a serious horror film, but it did ease me into the genre. I really became interested when I learned about my family's relationship to Bram Stoker; his youngest brother Dr George Stoker is my great grandfather, making Bram my great grand uncle. I became most interested when I was in University and did a research paper and read the book "In Search of Dracula" by R. McNally and R. Florescu.

At what age did you know you were related to Bram Stoker?

It was at the age of 12 during Halloween time, I would be the object of jokes by my friends about coming to my home for trick or treat, when the question was raised if I would take their blood or give them candy. I asked my father what they were joking about and he sat me down and told me about our famous relative.

How do you think that vampire fans are different from other readers?

Many vampire fans are very serious and faithful to the "worlds" created by their favorite authors, and some are also very faithful to movies, TV shows, or streaming series. There are many different vampire fans these days, ranging from true horror to paranormal romance, and everything in between, which is really wonderful. This diversity demonstrates the enormity of the fan base that spreads over, fiction and non-fiction novels, to movies, TV shows and streaming series, RPG games, video games, lifestyle, stage plays, opera, ballet, music… the list goes on and on.

What inspired you to write?

I was contacted back in 2005 by Ian Holt who asked me to collaborate with him on adapting his screenplay into a novel, and to include Bram Stoker as a character, after a few years this became Dracula the Undead (Dutton, 2009)  He was interested in having a member of the Stoker family involved and one that could provide a significant amount of information about Bram and his writing of Dracula. I really did not know much about writing a novel, but I was interested, and the timing was right for me as I had recently moved on from a teaching job. I used my free time to delve into my family's history and of course fully I immersed myself into Bram's life and his research and writing of Dracula. Having the challenge of collaborating on a novel was stimulus for me to take it very seriously. This put me on the fast track to read all the biographies, attend conferences, visit the museums and libraries that had Bram's notes and letters etc. After reading all of these and having access to Bram's personal journal I was hooked; I needed to help tell his story, I chose to do it in a variety of ways, thru writing fiction, non-fiction and giving presentations.

Why are people still so obsessed with Dracula after all this time?

First of all, the novel Dracula published in 1897 is very complex, I have found it has meaning to so many people on so many levels. It is not a straightforward novel, people read it over and over again and keep getting something different out of it every time they read it. It is a novel open to interpretation on many different levels, it just does not get old, even after 123 years.

What are some of your favorite horror books?

I enjoyed reading Salem's Lot by Stephen King, it made a huge impression on me, the presence of a  vampire in a small town in Maine really hit home as I visited Maine a lot in the summer times. It had a very real vibe to it, much like I understand Dracula had to readers living in London when it was published in 1897. I also enjoyed Interview with a Vampire as Anne Rice introduced vampires with more human like personalities, one who struggled with the concept of killing and feeding off humans. I liked the graphic novel 30 Days of Night by Steve Niles, having been to Alaska a few times to fly fish, I thought it was a perfect place for a vampire story.

What are some of your favorite horror movies?

Here is a wide range of my favorite vampire movies, starting with the Dracula, (1931)  with Bela Lugosi,  Nosferatu,  (1922) with Max Schreck,   The Horror of Dracula,  (1958)  with Christopher  Lee,  Bram Stoker's Dracula, (1992) with Gary Oldman,  and Let the Right One In, (2008) the Swedish version.  

Who are your favorite vampire characters besides Dracula?

Here are a few of them: Jonathan Frid, played Barnabus Collins in Dark Shadows, Stephen Moyer, played Bill Compton in True Blood, Kate Beckinsale played Selene in Underworld, and the lovely  Salma Hayek in From Dusk till Dawn.

What are your current projects?

I recently finished an Annotated Dracula with scholar Robert Eighteen-Bisang, it should be out in 2012. I am embarking on an exciting project to adapt some of Bram's short stories into Graphic novels with Chris McAuley and artist Jessica Martin with the UK based Andrews Publishing. I have a few short stories written with Leverett Butts coming out in the next few months, one in Weird Tales magazine, and another in a Sherlock Holmes Anthology. I continue to do my Stoker on Stoker presentations about the mysteries behind the research and writing of Dracula, mostly on Zoom until this darned pandemic is over!   I am also producing replica sets of Bram Stoker's rare papers with Vic Nadata of Gemini Artifacts, these are reproductions of Bram's Dracula notes, his letters, personal papers, postcards, and rare documents; it is sort of like bringing the museum to you. This is a Kickstarter project entitled "Unearthed: The Bram Stoker Rare Papers".

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

I live in Aiken South Carolina, I am active in my community in conservation of natural resources, I love to fly fish and ride my mountain bike, when I am not at my desk writing. I am serious in my endeavor to find out as much as I can about my family's interesting history. In addition to my uncle Bram, there are famous doctors in the family who are interesting, and my namesake was a famous WW 1 submarine commander, so I have plenty to keep me busy.

I really enjoy bringing family stories and history back to life thru my writing and doing live Stoker on Stoker presentations, which I do all over the world. I am presently working on a film documentary about my search for the location of Bram Stoker's fictional castle Dracula in north eastern Transylvania. I also lead interested fans on tours to Dublin, Ireland to see sites associated with Bram's early life, and to Cruden Bay, Scotland where Bram wrote most of Dracula, as well as two other novels, and to Transylvania to visit sites associated with the real Vlad Dracula and Bram's Count Dracula.  

Check out Dacre Stoker's Website at

Tuesday 6 October 2020

Interview with Neil Marshall - Director of The Reckoning

Ahead of the UK premiere of his latest film THE RECKONING, Neil Marshall talks about the desire for creative freedom, putting leading lady Charlotte Kirk through hell, his love for FrightFest and his urge to make something outrageously violent and bloodthirsty again.

THE RECKONING sees you returning to the horror genre. Was this an important factor in choosing to make the film?

Absolutely. After the nightmare of Hellboy, which was a deeply dissatisfying creative experience on so many levels - I'd originally been hired to bring a horror angle to Hellboy and was never allowed to do that - so I had an itch that needed scratching. I'd been wanting to do another horror movie for a while, and for various reasons, one of which was so I could bring something back to FrightFest, because I love this festival so much. It feels like coming home again. The whole festival scene is a buzz, getting to meet the horror fans and watch amazing movies you might otherwise not see, and I've really missed that. So I wanted to be a part of that again, but at the same time I wanted to do something different, creatively.  If Hellboy had been a lot of money and no control, then this was totally the opposite; all the control I could want, but no money.  But that felt like a decent compromise to me. This is the first true Neil Marshall movie since Centurion, or at least my segment of Tales of Halloween.  And it's both similar to what I've done before and very different. I wanted to stretch my legs a little as a filmmaker, try something more dramatic, maybe a little more artsy, and just have fun within the genre.

Was the subject of the Great Plague in 17th Century England something you've always been interested in?

I can't say I've been hankering to do a 17th century plague movie all my life. The plague itself really just forms a backdrop to this story. Of course, when I was writing it I had no idea just how relevant the plague aspect was going to become!

The more research I did, the more interconnected the stories became. I uncovered some fascinating details, like how people were so convinced the plague was the Devils work, and that witches were the Devil's disciples, and cats were the witches familiars, so they started killing cats in their thousands, and this of course led to the further spread of rats which carried the plague.  I love finding out stuff like that!

What also interested me was the witch hunt aspect to it, and how that was still very relevant to today. Witch hunts still exist, they've just taken on a different form.

From very early on, you collaborated closely with your partner Charlotte Kirk, who is magnificent in the leading role.  Tell us how the collaborative process worked.

When we were first approached by my friend Ed Swindell (dir Dark Signal) with the bare bones of an idea about doing a witch movie, Charlotte and I had just finished writing our first script together, a gangster movie, and so we'd figured out our collaborative process pretty much by then, and it was a good one.  I think Charlotte, coming from a very non-horror background, brings ideas to the table that I might not think of. For instance, it was Charlotte who first suggested the idea that there would be no witches in this witch movie, kind of approaching the idea from completely the opposite direction, and I loved that idea, but at the same time I like to keep certain things ambiguous, so between us we kind of met in the middle.

Also, for Charlotte, she was writing a role that she was going to play, and I think beyond the broad strokes she was happy to let me focus on the trials and tribulations of that character, knowing I wasn't going to make it easy for her. She wanted to be challenged as an actor, so I made sure to put the character through hell! Overall, the entire process from writing to being on set together was a blast.

Her role as Evelyn is incredibly demanding, both physically and emotionally, and in a sense she emerges as a modern day heroine. Was it important to connect her story to a younger audience?

Women's rights are at the forefront of people's minds now, especially with the #metoo movement bringing such a spotlight on the abuse that woman are still facing today.

Those poor women who were persecuted in the 17th century were fundamentally no different.  Over 500,000 of them were arrested and tortured for a crime that doesn't really exist!  It's insane. It's just men exerting their power, and that's still what's happening today.  And, just like today, it's born of fear. Certain men are afraid of women and they seek to control their fear by punishing and persecuting them.

Creating roles for strong and three-dimensional woman is a narrative weaving through most of your films. Do you think the horror genre naturally lends itself to your female story-telling instincts?

I think that the horror and sci-fi genres have always led the way in pushing new ideas and breaking through social boundaries.  A lot of horror movies deal with the notion of survival, and over the years they took the old concept of the damsel in distress and turned it on its head.  Women are incredibly tough and resilient.  They have babies! So their pain threshold is, in a lot of cases, much higher than the average man.  For this story and this character not only was I inspired by the women in the 17th century who underwent these appalling trials and tortures, most of them dying in the process. But also those brave women of the resistance in WWII who were captured and tortured by the Gestapo, and they resisted to the bitter end. So Charlotte and I set to out make Grace Haverstock as stubborn and resilient and fierce as she could possibly be, without ever making her fantastical. She's not a super hero, she bleeds and she suffers in so many ways, both physically and psychologically, but she just keeps pushing on.  So yea, I think the horror genre absolutely lends itself to explorations of female characters being pushed to the extreme. It allows us to take these characters to some pretty dark places!

Sean Pertwee is brilliantly chilling as Witchfinder Moorcroft. Was he always foremost in your mind when casting?

I think I always had Sean in my head for Moorcroft.  The thing is, in reality Sean is such a kind, gentle, generous human soul, so the character of Moorcroft couldn't be much further removed.  I think that, like me exploring dark aspects of the human character through my movies, the same thing applies to actors like Sean. Playing Moorcroft allowed him to explore a very different and darker personality.  What I really enjoyed exploring in The Reckoning was the very different ideologies of the villains.  If Pendleton (Steve Waddington) is just an out-and-out sadist, then Moorcroft is a fanatic, driven by a fundamental belief that he's doing righteous work.  Even while he's torturing Grace he sympathises with her. He sees her as a victim of evil, a vessel of the Devil. When she enduring the Pear of Anguish, which is kind of like childbirth in reverse, absolutely horrific, but Moorcroft is there, almost like a husband, weeping and holding her hand, as if sharing her pain. I love that he's not just some one-dimensional moustache twirling villain.  Although he does have a cracking moustache!

You have a very strong historical connection to FrightFest. Does that mean a lot to you?

As I said earlier, FrightFest feels like home to me. The four musketeers - Alan, Paul, Greg and Ian - have long been such strong supporters of my work and I'm eternally grateful for that. And I love that they are still completely hands-on with the running of the festival, this is their baby, and their passion for horror is always infectious. Of course, Covid has thrown us all a curveball this year and  screwed up the live event, but the festival continues regardless, and fingers crossed, next year it will be back with a vengeance!

How have you been dealing with life under COVID?

You know, the thing I've missed more than anything is coming to the cinema. And where we live in LA few still can't go, so we've been a bit jealous hearing about people in London getting to see Tenet on Imax!   I've been waiting for that movie all year, and I still can't see it, or anything else for that matter. So that's a drag. Otherwise we've been using the time to get creative. Developing TV shows and trying to set movies to make once the crisis subsides. I've also just finished a new horror script that really takes me back to my roots - an action horror movie very much in the spirit of Dog Soldiers and The Descent.  I feel the urge to make something outrageously violent and bloodthirsty again. It's been too long!

Finally, what's next?

Well, at the moment it's looking like I could be doing either the new project or another horror project I've been developing for some time.  I think I'm definitely back in the world of lower budget genre movies and I like being here, just so long as I can keep getting my movies made and keep the fans happy!  It's never been easy, but hopefully things will change for the better.

THE RECKONING is showing online on Friday 23 October, 9.00pm in the Arrow Video screen, as part of the Arrow Video FrightFest October Digital event.

Monday 5 October 2020


A gem of classic 60s horror, CIRCUS OF HORRORS stars Anton Diffring as a manipulative plastic surgeon who, following a botched operation, flees the country with his assistants. Landing in France he meets the owner of a rundown circus (Donald Pleasence). The circus becomes the ideal front for him to continue his work, but his surgical exploits become increasingly deranged and experimental. Erika Remberg and Yvonne Monlaur star as two of the young women, disfigured in accidents, and lured in by ‘Dr Schuler’s’ promises to make them beautiful again. 

Restored from the original camera negative CIRCUS OF HORRORS depicts all the scares and thrills of the circus in sensational and horrifying style. This new release from STUDIOCANAL’s Vintage Classics Collection includes brand new interviews with Kim Newman and Stuart Maconie.

CIRCUS OF HORRORS will be released on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital on 12th October 2020 and is available to buy HERE

To be in with a chance to win a copy on DVD simply answer the following question


Terms and conditions
1. Closing date 19-10-20
2. No alternative prize is available
3. When the competition ends as indicated on this page, any and all entries received after this point will not count and emails blacklisted due to not checking this page first.
4. Winners will be chosen randomly and will be informed via email.

Thursday 1 October 2020

Festival news: Arrow Video FrightFest announces bumper line-up for its October 2020 Digital edition

Arrow Video FrightFest will go virtual for the second time in 2020, having taken the decision to cancel its planned physical event at the Cineworld, Leicester Square, due to continuing COVID restrictions. The forty-five feature film line-up will merge the in-cinema selection with brand new titles to provide an online festival experience from Oct 21-Oct 25.

As with the August Digital event, the programme will be split between The Arrow and Horror Channel Screens, with the addition of a third, the Zavvi Discovery Screen. Pass holders will be able to choose what to watch across all three screens with the additional bonus of the Wednesday night features. All films, including the two Short Film Showcases, will be streamed as live, and only once. All films are geo-locked and can only be viewed in the UK.

Passes and Tickets go on sale today at 6pm. For detailed information on the line-up, ticketing details & event guidelines:

The monstrous menu kicks off on Wednesday night with the World Premiere of HELD, described as "Parasite and Get Out meets The Stepford Wives", from The Gallows franchise directors Chris Lofing and Travis Cluff. It's followed by the UK Premiere of Courtney Paige's THE SINNERS, a gripping occult take on the Seven Deadly Sins,

On Thursday be prepared for vengeful spirits, evil awakenings, ghost cops and disappearing synchronised swimmers as four UK Premieres are presented, including Chris Smith's pre-World War  II horror THE BANISHING, Hayden J. Weal's hilariously ghoulish murder mystery DEAD, the terrifying cosmic chiller SACRIFICE, starring Barbara Crampton, the trippy and the Lynchian fantasy thriller STRANGER.  There is also a European Premiere for THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN'T DIE, a pitch-perfect recreation of the 1962 cult classic and a World Premiere for DANGEROUS TO KNOW, David Simpson's mesmerising three-hour journey into a dark psychological labyrinth of murder, madness and revenge.

Crazy cultists, wicked witch hunters and brutal home invaders are on show in Friday's action-packed line-up, headed by the UK premieres of Neil Marshall's plague-driven tour-de-force THE RECKONING and Julius Berg's THE OWNERS, in which the seventh 'Doctor Who' Sylvester McCoy and Swinging Sixties icon Rita Tushingham take on Maisie Williams and her invading gang. Also taking on some nasty home invaders is feisty babysitter in the World Premiere of Kohl Glass' nerve-shattering BABYSITTER MUST DIE.

Then there are UK premieres for Andrew Thomas Hurt's crazy action body horror SPARE PARTS, Aaron B Koontz's bloodthirsty hybrid Western horror THE PALE DOOR, Takeshi Kushida's captivating and visually mesmerizing WOMAN OF THE PHOTOGRAPHS, Lodewijk Crijins' TAILGATE, a Dutch Duel with a ferocious bite, Adrian Langley's brutally served dish BUTCHERS, Jens Dahl's sinister biohacking thriller BREEDER and the Argentina powerhouse writer/director Laura Casabé is back with THE RETURNED, her most shocking film to date. There is also a European Premiere for Jeffrey Reddick's DON'T LOOK BACK, a new take on supernatural karma and its horrific consequences, and a World Premiere for Will Jewell's CONCRETE PLANS, in which class war tips five builders into bloody warfare.

Saturday's programme brings fourteen more deadly choices, highlighted by the banner FrightFest Presents title RELIC, first time writer/director Natalie Erika's unforgettable new spin on the haunted-house movie – a theme that, laced with isolation and murderous desperation, runs through LET'S SCARE JULIE, which is cleverly filmed in one uninterrupted continuous take. Home invasion is taken to new gory heights in Canadian entry FOR THE SAKE OF VICIOUS, and family secrets trigger explosively violent consequences in BROIL, from the producer of It Follows, and BLOOD HARVEST - Thomas Robert Lee's dark, coming-of-age shocker (US Title: The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw),

Home-grown talent rises to the fore. Marc Price is back with the World Premiere of his space survival thriller DUNE DRIFTER and a home-grown survival thriller with a more pernicious intent is Adam Leader and Richard Oakes' possession pandemic debut feature HOSTS, which also enjoys a World Premiere. Two more Brit entries with powerful punchlines are HECKLE, which stars Steve Guttenberg, Toyah Wilcox, Nicholas Vince and Dani Dyer, and THE WORLD WE KNEW, where gangsters battle demons in a Neo Film Noir with a dark, existentialist twist. Then we have Patricio Valladares' EMBRYO, a deliriously twisted tale of alien insemination, cannibalism and true love, and the World Premiere of Tyler Russell's CYST, where a giant cyst monster goes on the rampage.

Plus we have three Horror Channel sponsored 'First Blood' entries: the World Premieres of Danielle Kummer and Lucy Harvey's wonderfully infectious ALIEN ON STAGE, David Ryan's blood-soaked REDWOOD MASSACRE: ANNIHILATION, starring Danielle Harris. And the UK Premiere of Karl Holt's BENNY LOVES YOU, where Chucky meets Fatal Attraction. Horror Channel's Manager, Stewart Bridle, will declare the winner of the inaugural FrightFest First Blood: Horror Channel Best Film Award 2020, via a filmed presentation. Also in the frame for the award are THEY'RE OUTSIDE and PLAYHOUSE, which played at the August Digital event.

On Sunday, FrightFest's global celebration of the genre comes to an action-packed conclusion with entries from three continents. From South America there are three gems: Luciana Garraza's SCAVENGER, a slice of cruel Argentinian sci-fi action horror, FUNERAL HOME, a harsh and heart-breaking Argentinian haunted house horror and ORIGIN UNKNOWN, an innovative dark action fantasy from Mexico's Rigoberto Castañeda.

From the USA and closing the festival, is the World Premiere of SKYLIN3S, the thrilling third entry in the epic sci-fi Skyline franchise. Once again written and directed by co-creator Liam O'Donnell, we see Captain Rose Corley on a nerve-shedding 72-hour mission to save humanity.

Continuing Stateside, we have UK Premieres for HONEYDEW, where a young couple seek refuge in a house belonging to an unforgettable new geriatric horror villain, and murder has a new cutting edge in Jill Gevargizian's stunning debut feature THE STYLIST, starring Brea Grant and Najarra Townsend, Another American female director continuing to make her mark is Imitation Girl helmer Natasha Kermani, back with LUCKY, a clever slasher satire; a disturbing potent metaphor for our troubling times. The ever prolific Brea Grant not only stars but also wrote the script.

Canada has come up with the on-trend couture horror comedy of the year, so get ready for the UK Premiere of Elza Kephart's SLAXX, the tightest fitting bloodbath in history as a pair of vengeful jeans goes on the rampage. Another Canadian selection is THE NIGHTS BEFORE CHRISTMAS, where an FBI agent is tasked to track down a psychotic couple posing as Santa and Mrs. Claus. There is also a great British debut from director Damian McCarthy with CAVEAT, a terrifying journey through madness and memory loss.

The Short Film Showcases are back as part of the programme, and the UK is represented by twelve chilling choices, including the world premieres of Dan Auty's detection thriller WATCH, William Allum's lock-down horror NIGHT FEED, Crystal Yu's waking nightmare ARE YOU SLEEPING, James Charalambides' journey into musical madness with MELOMANIAC and Daniel Rands' PEEKING, where sounds take on  an ominous meaning. There are also entries from USA, Cuba, South Korea, The Netherlands, Canada and Spain.

Programmer Shelagh Rowan said today: "We were thrilled with the reception of the shorts showcases in August, and we're delighted to bring you even more amazing shorts for October. With films from home and abroad, there's horror, sci-fi, animation, comedies and dramas with monsters and ghouls, all to frighten and amaze you."

Four extra shorts have been added to the programme: Italian director Federico Zampaglione's BIANCA: PHASE 1 and BIANCA: PHASE 2 – a double-bill of creepy family stories set in Rome under lockdown, which Zampaglione shot single-handedly on his iPhone, LITTLE WILLY, Andrew Bowser's dark comedy about a failed actor's distorted relationship with the puppet he found fame with and WHY WAKE A SLEEPING CHINCHILLA?, a supernatural horror oozing classic 70s vibes, with a pinch of J-horror.

Of course, FrightFest wouldn't be the same without some sneak previews and tantalising trailers. Plus they'll be plenty of guests popping up to introduce their films and the FrightFest directors will be there to preside over proceedings.

FrightFest co-director Alan Jones said: "The latest safety regulations and social distancing measures brought in to contain the spread of Covid-19 meant we had no other choice but to cancel our much-anticipated physical edition of FrightFest in October. So the only option open to Team FrightFest, despite all the hard work everyone has put in over the past months, was to take the new normal by its devil horns and reconfigure FrightFest 2020 once more to give everyone an important horror fantasy lifeline. Our virtual event in August was so well received that we knew we had to do it again - with even more picks of want-to-see new releases, hot previews, unusual options and first-rate titles. Enjoy".

For detailed information on the line-up, ticketing details & event guidelines