Tuesday 21 December 2021

Interview with Goh Ming Siu and Scott C. Hillyard - Directors of REPOSSESSION

From directors Goh Ming Siu and Scott C.Hillyard, the provocative horror-thriller fixes on 50-year-old Jim who has constructed a perfect life in the world’s most expensive city. When he is unexpectedly laid off, he desperately clings onto the symbols of his success, while wrestling with resurfacing demons from his past.  

Where are we speaking to you from today?

Scott: We both live and work in Singapore.

And was the pandemic as punishing on you, as a filmmaker, as it was most others in the game?

Ming Siu: Work-for-hire pretty much dried up, and I didn’t have income for over half a year. Then writing trickled back in slowly as production started up again with safety measures.

Scott: The entire industry was put on pause for awhile. But when restrictions began to lift, everything started pouring in. We were actually in the middle of our festival run when the pandemic hit. And it’s kind of funny because we were in a lot more festivals once everything went virtual.

Ming Siu: That meant we could actually “attend” most of the festivals and do online Q&As, which we wouldn’t have been able to do if they were physical events, given the high costs of international travel. Scott: During the pandemic, we also saw many short films that were made under lockdown conditions appear online, like the horror shorts David F. Sandberg made. So we decided to give it a go as well. Problem was, we had to do everything remotely, including write, direct, edit, and score, since all of the team were living separately.

Ming Siu: That was a bit of a nightmare, because we would have several devices lined up in a row, so that the actors could shoot themselves on their phones, while showing the phone screens to the camera of a laptop on which we were having a video call.

Scott: The short turned out quite well. It’s called “The Shape of You” and has also played in several festivals around the world.

Are you back at it even more so now?

Scott: Right now I would say that things are returning to normal? Just with new rules.

How different is it, with all these covid protocols and changes?

Ming Siu: In Singapore it was challenging for a while, because the regulations were actually changing every few weeks, depending on the situation, and productions had to adapt very quickly. And it’s great that people view safety as a priority, but sometimes that makes it hard to create a bond on set when everyone eats alone, for example.

Scott: Yeah, there was a period of time when the social distancing protocol made it really hard to block actors in a natural way, because we weren’t allowed to position actors close together. Now at least that rule’s gone. But we’re still not allowed to have more than a certain number of people in a frame together. I actually still don’t quite understand that one.

How did you come up with the idea of “Repossession”?

Scott: We wanted to make a relatable film, so we began by asking ourselves, “What scares you the most?” And we realised that our answers weren’t necessarily the supernatural, ghosts, spirits, and so on. It was real life, where the stakes can be tremendously high. Then it became clear to us that Repossession had to be grounded in reality, even the horror needed to be. For our exorcism scene, we actually consulted someone who’d done that work before, for authenticity.

Ming Siu: We also took some inspiration from actual events that happened in Singapore. For example, around the time we conceptualized the story, there were some massive layoffs at prominent companies that took place almost exactly like how we depicted it. When you ground the film like that, then tether otherworldly encounters to characters who are three-dimensional and real to the audience, the stakes become that much higher, and juxtaposition of the two worlds creates a very interesting tension. And we’ve found out from audiences that the groundedness makes our film very relatable – painfully so at times.

Scott: With Repossession, ambiguity was also important to us. It’s quite a unique situation where on the one hand, we’re adamant on grounding everything, including the horror, in reality. But at the same time, we’re also trying to say that not everything that happens needs to have a reason. 

Ming Siu: Because life isn’t so neat and tidy. It’s innately human to desire answers, but there’s often no clear answer to be found in life. Sometimes it seems that people go overboard in demanding answers, with articles and videos explaining What Really Happened in Pan’s Labyrinth or Does the Spinning Top Fall in Inception. Perhaps it’s a symptom of consuming only a certain kind of media diet? Scott: We prefer to lay out evidence for the audience, nudge them towards making the connections, and leave the rest of the interpretation up to them, instead of spoonfeeding them. And some people love that sort of thing, while others get angry…

Did you sit down and watch some similar films? Heck, I can’t even think of what we’d call.. similar?

Scott: Not “similar” per se… We wanted to draw inspiration from the films we liked, but not copy them slavishly in any way. So the watching of films was done earlier on in the creative process, so that by pre-production, we were already very clear on our vision for the film. What we were aiming for was something that got under your skin and stuck with you for a long time, because we wanted to challenge ourselves. Besides, we couldn’t afford to splash tons of money on flashy VFX.

Ming Siu: We were inspired by different aspects of various films. For example, the handheld cinematography of European arthouse films, the social realism of Ken Loach, the mood and tone of Kiyoshi Kurosawa, the compositions of Edward Yang and Wong Kar-Wai, where the framing of the shot enhances the thematic elements.

Scott: We also love the oppressive mood of The Blackcoat’s Daughter by Oz Perkins, and the way the supernatural is handled in that film. And of course, the bold structure of Audition, with its abrupt midpoint tonal shift. That was a key inspiration for our structure.

Ming Siu: So as you can see, our inspirations were very broad, not just from within genre film, and they’re from different eras too. Although all art builds on what came before, so I’m sure many of these filmmakers have firm foundations in the classics as well.

Are any of the characters based on anyone you know? 

Scott: Well, in the film, Jim is laid off and desperately seeks work because of his mounting bills, since Singapore is the world’s most expensive city. But he’s “overqualified” for everything, which is a nice way of saying that he’s too old. The same thing happened to my father. As for basing characters on people we know, it’s not necessarily a one-to-one thing, but more of an amalgamation. Putting traits of people we know, or what we observe about people of a certain generation, into the characters.

Ming Siu: And we certainly have things to say about individuals and the systems that they’re trapped in – which we ourselves are living in, so it hits close to home. We were also heavily invested in authenticity in the depiction of different aspects of Singapore life – the languages, social strata, details of realism, and so on, not just the glossy Hollywood version like what you see in Crazy Rich Asians.

As a director, I imagine you get most of the say in casting? Anyone you especially fought for? 

Scott: Producers often have more power than directors, but we’re also the producers, so we had all of the say. We’ve been working in the industry in Singapore for a long time, and know many actors personally. As we were writing, we already began to see certain actors in specific roles. Our leads Gerald Chew and Amy J Cheng, we asked them very early on, and they actually read early drafts and offered feedback to help mold their characters.

Ming Siu: Almost every actor that has a speaking role in the film is an established stage or screen actor in Singapore; we went through our contact lists and asked for their help directly. And we’re so grateful that almost everyone said yes right away. For example, we were at a play when we ran into Lim Kay Siu, who’s playing Gyatso in the upcoming Avatar: The Last Airbender series from Netflix (Scott: We’re super excited btw). I’ve known him and his wife Neo Swee Lin for years, so we just flat-out asked them to be in our movie, even when we didn’t know what roles they’d play yet. Kay Siu ended up being Gerald’s new boss, and Swee Lin played Sister Agnes at the nursing home.

Do you do a Hitchcock and cameo in the film?

Scott: Both of us do. I play a promoter who tries to get Gerald’s character to become a driver, and Ming Siu plays his concerned colleague early in the film. It saved us a couple of bucks since we didn’t have to pay ourselves.

Ming Siu: Besides, Scott is an actor, and I was a theatre nerd in high school, so it wasn’t like we didn’t know how to act.

Can you envision this turning into a franchise?

Scott: Not really. It’s going to be challenging to even make the first one profitable. From audience reactions, we learned that we’d made a polarizing, divisive film, even if we didn’t set out to do so. We had walkouts, but we also had Q&As with intelligent, incisive questions that showed that those who had connected with the film had thought deeply about it. That was very gratifying.

Ming Siu: The thing is, we don’t handhold, and audiences have to infer and read between the lines. Some of the context isn’t explained, and is conveyed more through mood and character behavior. In an Asian society, people react and behave differently; there’s a lot less free expression of emotions and a lot more self-repression. Our main character, being of an older generation, only knows how to operate in that particular mode. One of the comments we’ve gotten from audiences is that he isn’t an active protagonist, but that definition of “active” is from a conventional Hollywood perspective. From an Asian perspective, he’s tremendously active, trying and trying his best, but his problem is that he can’t escape the invisible restraints in his mind.

Scott: And some people love the restrained, subtle acting, while others call it “wooden”. We’ve won awards at prominent festivals for our writing and direction, but conversely, others have slammed the exact same things. So the response really depends on the individual viewer and how open they are to different filmic experiences. Many of our strongest supporters are in the US, so we hope that there are many like-minded individuals out there who will give our film a chance.

Ming Siu: The one thing nobody seems to have a problem with is music. So props to our composer Teo Wei Yong! He’s won the Chinese cinema equivalent of an Oscar, a Golden Horse Award, for the 2018 film A Land Imagined.

Scott: Maybe some sharp-eyed viewers will catch some faces they recognize too. Amy J Cheng, our female lead, was in Crazy Rich Asians. And Lim Kay Siu who appears in a few scenes in our film is playing Gyatso in the upcoming Avatar: The Last Airbender series from Netflix.

REPOSSESION is now available on digital from Kamikaze Dogfight and Gravitas Ventures

Horror Channel ushers in New Year with zombie invasions

January weekends on Horror Channel are invaded by the undead with the UK TV premiere of Lin Oeding’s newly-flavoured zombie horror-comedy OFFICE UPRISING, and the two highly acclaimed Zombie apocalypse road movies – STAKE LAND, receiving its Channel premiere, and the sequel THE STAKELANDER, enjoying a UK TV premiere.

Plus, there are channel premieres for the bone-chilling THE WRETCHED, directed by The Pierce Brothers, Sam Raimi’s classic EVIL DEAD 2, once again starring the demon battling Brue Campbell and the original Dolph Lundgrem / Jean-Claude Van Damme futuristic thriller UNIVERSAL SOLDIER.

Full film details in transmission order:

Saturday 8 January @ 22:25 – UNIVERSAL SOLDIER (1992) *Channel Premiere

Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren play embattled Vietnam soldiers who killed each other in combat and are revived 25 years later as semi-android "UniSols" in a high-tech army of the near future. This popular science fiction thriller, directed by master of disaster Roland Emerich, hits home with energetic action sequences and explosive tough guy performances from its two powerhouse leads.

Sunday 9 January @ 21:00 – OFFICE UPRISING (2018) *UK TV Premiere

Desmond, an underachiever working at a major weapons manufacturing firm finds that his co-workers have been “weaponized” by Zolt, a new energy drink designed for the military. He must then set off to rescue his one true love from an office building full of psychotic zombie co-workers armed with tomorrow’s deadliest tech

Saturday 15 January @ 21:00 – STAKE LAND (2010) *Channel Premiere

America has fallen. A vampiric scourge sweeps the nation, turning brother on brother and parent on child as the blood-hungry beasts take deeper and deeper hold upon the land. It’s hard for the survivors to know whether to be more afraid of the creatures themselves or the violent religious groups that have sprung up in response, but there is clearly only one choice: fight or die. This is where we find Martin (Connor Paolo), a young man traveling with only his taciturn mentor – a hardened fighter known simply as Mister – as protection against this blasted earth in search of the rumoured safe haven of New Eden.

Saturday 22 January @ 21:00 – THE STAKELANDER (2016) *UK TV Premiere

When his home in New Eden is destroyed by a revitalized Brotherhood and its new Vampire leader, Martin finds himself alone in the badlands of America. Roaming the wilderness of a steadily decaying country, Martin searches for the one man who can help him exact revenge - his mentor, the legendary vampire hunter Mister. Once reunited, they prepare to confront the ravenous Brotherhood and its monstrous overlord. But it’ll take more than the two of them to battle this terrifying new threat, and with the future of humanity hanging in the balance, the stakes are higher than ever before.

Sunday 23 January @ 21:00 – THE WRETCHED (2019) * Channel Premiere

A defiant teenage boy, struggling with his parent's imminent divorce, faces off with a thousand year-old witch, who is living beneath the skin of and posing as the woman next door. Directed by The Pierce Brothers (Deadheads, the film enjoyed a run of five consecutive weeks at the top of the US box office,

Saturday 29 January @ 21:00 – EVIL DEAD 11 (1997) *Channel Premiere

In this sequel of the original cult classic, Bruce Campbell again stars as brawny wise guy Ash, as he and a group of people are trapped in a cabin while ancient evil lurks outside and threatens a fate worse than death. Can Ash save the day, or will his dead girlfriend come back to cause more trouble? Director Sam Raimi once more gleefully stomps on the entrails of good taste with his unique blend of black humour and horror.

Monday 20 December 2021

Interview with Alistair Cross - By David Kempf

When did you first become interested in writing?

I seem to have been born with a burning need to write -- not just recreationally, but professionally, as well. I felt it in my gut at an early age and I still feel it now. I was born to do this -- I’ve never been more certain of anything in my life. At the time I decided to get serious about writing, I figured I couldn't be any unhappier than I already was, so I might as well take the leap.

It’s the best decision I’ve ever made. It’s never felt like work for me, even though it is -- it’s very hard work. I’m always learning and looking for new, stronger ways to tell the story I’m working on.

How did you get involved in fantasy/horror?

While I’ve always been a fan of the genre, I never set out to be part of it. I just wrote the stories that wanted to be written and let the publishers, readers, and bookstores decide what to call it.

Tell us about your first publisher.

Like so many others, my first publisher is now out of business -- a fact that I didn’t even know for nearly a year after they’d closed their doors. If that’s any indication of the nature of this business, you can see why so many authors choose alternative routes to publishing. For me, it was a learning experience. My first publishing experience taught me the importance of taking my career into my own hands. I was lucky to realize early on that no one was ever going to care about my work and my career as much as I do, so I’d better be involved in every part of it. Knowing this and living by it has probably helped my career more than anything else.

How would you classify the genre you write?

I try not to think in terms of genre, but I guess the best description would be dark fiction. When you say “horror,” most people think of slashers and torture porn, and that’s not what I do. If you say suspense or thrillers, people think of crime fiction and characters racing against a ticking clock. That’s not exactly what I do, either -- so I don’t think about what genre I’m writing in. I just want to write the stories I need to tell. I want to entertain, of course, but I want it to mean something, too. I want it to be good, I want it to matter -- how it’s classified and categorized isn’t important to me.

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

I can’t speak for fantasy, but as for horror, I think it remains popular for a lot of reasons -- mainly, though, I think it’s because horror is a safe way for readers and viewers to give expression to their own anxieties. I also suspect there’s a voyeuristic part of us that just wants to see how other human beings respond in life-and-death situations and how much they can endure. Finally, I think horror will never go out of style because it asks the hard questions about life and death and right and wrong -- questions that humans have been seeking answers to since the beginning. Horror requires its audience to ponder human nature, morality, and often, spirituality. Not many other genres do that.

What inspires your stories?

As for plot ideas, they’re literally everywhere. People. Places. Music. Books. Television. Dreams. Everything’s a story to me. I can’t walk into a room without running into an idea and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I always say I’ve never met an idea I didn’t like because there’s always a way to put an interesting spin on even the dumbest one out there.

If you’re asking what really inspires me to write and to keep writing, it’s the process itself as well as the outcome. Writing is my therapy and my characters are my friends. I don’t write for money -- I never did -- and I feel grateful that I’ve done as well as I have, but I do it because I love it, and nothing makes me happier than a finished product that I know is good.

How did you begin your collaboration with Tamara Thorne?

After reading some of my previously published work and getting to know me a little, she just came out and asked me if I’d like to write something with her. I was speechless, but at some point I must have said yes, because that was nearly 10 years (and just as many Thorne & Cross novels) ago. I grew up reading Tamara’s work and aspiring to be like her, so it was a real dream-come-true for me. I’m sure of myself as a writer -- I’m sure of my talent, but no matter who you are, when your hero asks if you’d like to work with them, it’s pretty intense. I was starstruck.

And I’m still starstruck. Not only because of her talent but because you could search the world over, and you’ll never find someone who doesn’t love her. She’s warm and open, talented and smart, and one of the most genuinely kind, decent people I’ve had the honor of knowing. We’re very close, and she is, in many ways, my best friend. I’m a better person for knowing her.

It helps, too, that the creative and business end really works. You never know if that magic is going to be there until you dive in, but from the moment we sat down together, the chemistry was absolute and immediate. Originally, we’d planned to try a short story, just to test the waters, but a greater power seemed to step in and make it into much, much more. That short story quickly became a full-length novel, and the moment we finished it, we started working on the next one -- and the next one after that.

I think that kind of personal, professional, and creative synergy is absolutely vital to the success of any group project, and I’m very lucky to be working with Tamara. What we have is incredibly rare. She and I share the same goals, our creative styles merge together seamlessly, and our egos are such that we can create something mutually without rivalry or possessiveness. I’ve always thought of our work together as a perfect two-part harmony. If we were singing instead of writing, we’d be the Righteous Brothers, Simon and Garfunkel, Sonny & Cher, the Mamas and the Papas. Well, the Mama and the Papa, anyway. You get the idea.

What are your favorite horror books?

Rebecca, Dracula, and Violin -- what I refer to as the Unholy Trinity. These are the books I love -- and have learned from -- the most. Du Maurier’s Rebecca has all the quiet creeping horror I love about the Gothic genre, Anne Rice’s Violin has ghosts, and Dracula, of course, has vampires. Squish them all together and that’s basically where I was born.

I love reading for the sake of reading and devour just about anything I can get my hands on, inside and outside of horror. Reading is what inspires me to write -- it’s what keeps me going -- and I use my Instagram page and my blog to pay my respects to the works that have influenced me with (almost) daily book reviews.

What are some of your favorite horror movies?

I grew up in the big horror boom of the 80s and 90s, so I teethed on slasher franchises like Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street. The first horror movie I truly fell in love with, however, was Carrie, when I was ten years old. It wasn’t all about blood and guts, and I liked that. It had a plot, and a damned interesting one -- not to mention, fascinating characters.

From there, my love of horror bloomed but I found myself more attracted to the subtler offerings of the genre. It isn’t that violence ever bothered me -- I just like movies that tell a good story. Some of my all-time favorites are Rear Window, The Omen, Misery, Rosemary’s Baby, Don’t Breathe, 100 Feet, The Silence of the Lambs, Psycho, Wait Until Dark, The Others, and, of course, Carrie. I still can’t get enough of that one.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment as an author?

That I did it. If I died tomorrow, I’d be able to say that I got to see my dreams come true, and at the end of the day, that’s all I ever really wanted.

Do you have any advice for new writers?

You don’t need to live in chaos to be creative -- in fact, if anything, the opposite is true. Try to live a calm, quiet life and save the drama for the page. Let yourself feel everything to the core -- the good, the bad, and the ugly -- and channel it into your work, but live a calm life.

Also, know your worth. There’s value in what you’re doing and money to be made. Take your writing as seriously as you would any job. That starts by surrounding yourself with people who believe in your dreams. If the people around you don’t support you or believe in what you’re doing, get rid of them and start over with people who do.

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

I think it can work in many authors’ favors, provided that they’re writing quality material and have a solid marketing plan. I also think it’s a necessary movement for the world of publishing. It’s no secret that the publishing industry is painfully out-of-date, and the advent of independent publishers and self-publishers has given them the choice to either go extinct or step up their game. As evidenced by recent events, many have opted to go out of business -- but thanks to all the other options that are now available to authors, that’s fine.

What are your current projects?

I’m always working on three books at a time -- a solo novel, and two Thorne & Cross collaborations. Right now, Tamara Thorne and I are working on a haunted house novel called Spite House which, after some hiccups, is coming along nicely. This has been, by far, the most difficult book we’ve done -- mainly, because there have been so many new ideas and possibilities along the way. We’ve had to really whittle it down and get to the core of the story we want to tell. But Spite House is nearing completion and will be released in 2022.

Our second collaboration is the next book in The Ravencrest Saga, our ongoing gothic horror series. Book four, Shadowland, came out in September of 2021, and we immediately launched into book 5. In this installment, we’re exploring more of the ghostly lore of Ravencrest Manor while our young governess, Belinda Moorland, continues bringing her supernatural talents into focus.

Also, I’m working on my next solo novel, which is the 4th book in the The Vampires of Crimson Cove series. Book three, The Black Wasp, was released in June of 2021 and I went straight into the next one from there. For now, I refer to it as “TMR,” and in it, my protagonist, Cade Colter, and his mentor, Father Vincent Scarlotti, are on the trail of a rogue vampire with a taste for human hearts. I’m having a lot of fun with this one because so much of it takes place in Santa Cruz, California -- one of my favorite places.

“TMR” is nearing the midway point and I’m hopeful for a 2022 release.

Aside from that, Tamara and I are continuing our podcast, Thorne & Cross: Carnival Macabre, where we talk about everything from ghosts and hauntings to serial killers and crime. If it deals in darkness, you can find it there.

Finally, we’ve updated our monthly newsletter, which we call the Purple Probe. This free newspaper-style periodical now includes character interviews, behind-the-scenes tell-alls, a gossip column that sheds light on the darkest monsters in the Thorne & Cross Universe, and much, much more. You can sign up at: http://eepurl.com/ckaBrr or by visiting our websites at tamarathorne.com or alistaircross.com.

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

I’m just a boy, sitting in front of an empty page, asking it to love me …

Sunday 19 December 2021

COMPETITION: Win The Krays - Code of Silence on DVD

The Krays - Code of Silence DVD - Released from 27th December

And to celebrate we have a great competition for you and 2 copies on DVD to give away.

Britain’s most notorious gangsters The Krays have gained legendary status with their brutal reign over 1960s London, which continues to fascinate and shock to this day – but who was the man who brought down the infamous gangsters? Now a brand-new, hard-hitting British feature Krays: Code of Silence, from director Ben Mole, produced by Lucinda Rhodes Thakrar and Jeet Thakrar of Picture Perfect, sees Hollywood star Stephen Moyer take on the role of the driven and determined Detective Nipper Read, the person who took on the seemingly impossible and dangerous mission of bringing down Ronnie and Reggie Kray (Ronan Summers). But the operation came with a price...

The sixties, London: hemlines are up, and so is the crime rate, the highest level on record. As the Beatles rule the airwaves, heading for world domination – The Krays are on the rise too… using their inimitable violent ways to gain power over the city. Extortion, robbery and murder are rife throughout the capital. Everyone knows the criminals responsible, but will anyone risk it all and speak out against them? One man, the fearless Detective Nipper Read, is sent in to tackle the unenviable task… bringing the city back under the rule of law and taking on the country’s most feared mobsters in the process.

As he faces bent coppers, political backstabbing, and terrified witnesses, Nipper becomes increasingly obsessed, putting everything and everyone he knows at risk.

Pre-Order from Amazon at https://amzn.to/3yGIWoI

For your chance to win just answer the question below.


Quick Terms and conditions - For full T&C click here
1. Closing date 03-01-22
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.
5. Entries that come directly from other websites will not be accepted.

Tuesday 14 December 2021

Interview with Abigail Blackmore - Director of Tales from the Lodge

Thanks to Horror Channel, TALES FROM THE LODGE recently had its UK TV premiere on British TV. How did that make you feel?

So excited! I know a huge amount of people watch the Horror Channel so I’m hoping it opens TFTL up to a whole new audience.

Looking back to its showcase screening at FrightFest in 2019, what are your abiding memories?

It was a wonderful experience! FrightFest has long been one of the highlights of my year. It was thrilling enough to have my short film Vintage Blood play there in 2015 so to have my debut feature accepted (for the main screen, no less) was massive!

Horror comedy is notoriously difficult to get right. What were the biggest challenges for you as writer & director?

It really is a fine balance but my biggest challenge was in making the moments of horror convincing, even when they’re ridiculous. I didn’t want the audience to think it was lame! I have to give the actors credit too. They knew what genres they were playing in and they knocked it out of the park.

Yes, the cast is amazing – so many gifted actor-comedians. Did you have to overcome many obstacles to get who you wanted?

The worst thing about casting is it takes a loooong time. You have to be really patient.

This was a particularly challenging film to cast because we needed six funny people who are brilliant actors and could be convincing as old friends. They needed to be roughly the same age, available for the shoot dates and willing to do it for the money we were offering. Impossible? Almost!

We also asked the cast to direct their own character’s short ‘tale’ in the film and I think for one or two of them that was the deal-maker.

The film was shot in Northumberland during the winter months. That must have been a bit challenging!

The weather was brutal! It was sunny until the first day of shooting then all hell broke loose. First torrential rain, which turned the entire location into a mud bath - our production designer Mike McCloughlin had an impossible task keeping the cabin floor mud-free - then snow, epic hailstorms and freezing winds that blew in off the lake. I’m eternally grateful to the actors for their unbreakable good humour and (frozen) stiff-upper-lipness!

You won the 2019 FrightFest Screen International Genre Rising Star. How has that accolade influenced your career?

That was the icing on the cake! I’m very, very proud of that award. I don’t know if it’s influenced my career but I’ll always mention it if I think it’ll impress someone.

You both starred in and directed your wonderful short VINTAGE BLOOD. How did you find combining both roles?

That shoot was fun. Five days working with friends in a great location close to my home. (Note: do that again!)

I think I was just so excited to be working with the incredible cast and crew and directing from my own script that I didn’t think about whether I could pull it off or not! You’ve just got to get on with it.

I’ve directed myself before so I knew I could work with me. Also I’m cheap.

Ed Barratt has been credited as producing both VINTAGE BLOOD and TALES FROM THE LODGE. Is Ed someone you plan to collaborate with again in the future?

Definitely! I love Ed. Half-man-half-lager. Not your average producer. He’s laid back and incredibly kind, but he’s no pushover either. We have a similar sense of humour and we generally like the same movies and stuff. I respect him. Man, he’s going to hate me saying all this…Good.

Tales from the Lodge is available now on DVD at - https://amzn.to/3yrluvK

Thursday 9 December 2021

Interview with Barbara Crampton

On the eve of the UK TV premiere of SACRIFICE, actress Barbara Crampton reflects on the early days of her career, tackling a Norwegian accent and the rise of pagan horror.

Can you recall how you felt the first time you stepped onto a TV or film set?

BC: Yes, it was for the soap opera, ‘Days of Our Lives’, and it was my very first job, and I had one line, “Hi. I’m your cousin Trista from Colorado”. It was to the character Marlena Evans and subsequently I had whole storylines that lasted for about a year.

I had extensive experience on stage but the first time I was on a television set it frightened me to death and I didn’t know if I was going to be able to get through that first line out of my mouth and I thought I was going to forget it, that I was going to screw it up. Then the spell was broken, and I was able to go on and start my career on screen.

Days of Our Lives had been going for so long was it surreal to be on that set?

No, because as an actor you usually watch the show to get to know the characters. I knew about a month before that I was going to be on ‘The Young and the Restless’, so I was watching it almost every day, getting to know the characters and the actors to get the flavour of that show for about a month to get to know the characters.

Can you remember the first time someone asked you for your autograph?

BC: I think I was probably on a plane; I can’t remember exactly. In the very early days of my career, I worked on a number of soap operas, and they were very big 35 years ago, and I think something like 15 million people a week used to turn into soap operas. So if you were on a soap opera you were quite famous, and I do remember being on different planes and everybody would recognise me. The Stewardesses would be very fond of soap operas for whatever reason, maybe to do with their schedules of overnights, and between flights and things, so I always got bumped up to First Class if there was an extra seat. Perks of the job

Your career has lasted far longer than some, and apart from being such a fine actress, why do you think it has lasted so long?

BC: Well, I think careers wax and wane, as they always do in a business that is always freelance. You’re always looking for your next job and I think the trick is just to stick with it Many times, in my career I’ve thought, “Oh well, that’s it”. I never said to myself that I was going to give up though. When I was in my early 20s I worked a lot up until I was 30, and then maybe the roles weren’t coming as much between 30 and 40, but then after that I started to get more roles and now, in my 60s I’m getting roles more than I ever have!


Let’s talk about Sacrifice, how did you become attached to this movie?

I got an email from Sean Knoop who was one of the producers and he and I had worked on a movie called ‘Replace’, and he said that he was putting together this film called ‘Sacrifice’ and it feels a little Lovecraftian although it’s not based on any particular story and that they were thinking of a role for me and would I like to read it. So, he sent it to me and I read and I thought it was great, I loved it. They were shooting it in Norway and they told me who else was going to be in it and I thought that it sounded like a nice adventure and I said yes.

It was quite exciting to be in Norway where I’d never been to before and that’s one of the perks of the job too as you get to go to places you wouldn’t normally get to and experience it almost like a local. I was also really enamoured of all the actors I worked with on set; especially Sophie Stevens, because the weight of the picture really rests on her and she has such a wealth of humanity and heart to her performance.

Did it take you long to prepare to play the character of Renate Nygardand and work on the accent?

Yes. I hired somebody who was a Norwegian speaker, she taught Norwegian at the Scandinavian School in San Francisco so she came over to my house and I worked on my accent with her and I said I really wanted a heavy accent, really want her to feel like she’s really embedded in this town, and she’s really from this place and she’s more of an old world Norwegian person so a lot of my accent was probably heavier than some of the others. I said if I’m the head of this cult I really need to be steeped in the history and lore of this town, and the place we’re from and the mythical island that we lived on. I prepared for it heavily for about two months.

Did you and the cast have much time to rehearse together?

You never have enough time. I remember on ‘Re-Animator’, one of my first movies, we had a three-week rehearsal period, and we worked every day, 5 days a week so we had 15 days of rehearsal 3 to 4 hours at each time. In my early career I thought that was the norm but that’s never happened to me since. So usually you show up on a set, maybe 2 to 3 days before you start filming, do wardrobe fittings meet the director and get to know that cast a little, and if you’re lucky you’ll get an hour here or there to run the scene with the other actors and hopefully the director. Most of the time you just need to grab the other actor or actors when you can and talk about the upcoming scenes, and work with them and run the dialogue so you’re really rehearsing as you’re filming. That’s normaly how it works.

I have to ask, how cold was the water?

It was really cold! We had wet suits on underneath our robes that we wore, those ceremonial robes, it was freezing. Thankfully there are only a few scenes in the movie where we have to be fully submerged, and the wet suits were really welcome. I don’t think we could have done it without them because its many hours of being in the water (laughs) for three minutes of film and so we were in that water for many hours for a few days.

What’s it like shooting a film entirely on location?

It’s fantastic. I don’t think I work in LA that much anymore, I don’t think a lot of people do.

There are a lot of folk/Pagan style horror movies at the moment, why do you think everyone seems to be looking towards nature and the environment for their horror kicks?

The world has gone topsy-turvy and crazy and we all seem to be in our different camps trying to understand the nature of humanity and we all have our own feelings and thoughts on life and what it means, and ideologies are split more than they ever have before, or maybe they always have been and we’ve not noticed before. I don’t know. I think people sometimes look to religion and some deeper meaning and where does it come from and I think Pagan horror is at the top right now and there’s been so many movies of late that have come out, and ‘The Wicker Man’ is one of my favourite movies and this harks back to those types of films. We are all looking for our place in the world and where we fit in, and I think movies like ‘Sacrifice’ ask those questions and allow you to kind of look deep in yourself and find what’s important to you.

‘Sacrifice’ is having it UK TV premiere on Horror Channel on the 12th December, how would you describe the film to our audience?

I think it’s a film about a couple who are trying to find their roots, especially for Ludovic’s character and finding where he came from and understanding who he is as a person, and then finding out that what you think about your life is not really what it was at all. It’s a shocking film, it’s a dangerous film and it’s also a fun a human film.

What are you up to at the moment?

Well, I’ve moved into producing over the past couple of years. I produced ‘Beyond the Gates’ with Jackson Stewart, and, most recently I produced ‘Jakob’s Wife’. I’m working with a film company now, Amp Films, to develop some other projects and we’ve just finished filming a movie which hasn’t been announced yet and that will be exciting news when it comes out. Also, I have two movies coming out next year, one is called ‘King Knight’ where I play Matthew Gray Gubler’s mother and the other film is ‘Alone With’, where I play somebody else’s mother (laughs). Those are coming out in the first quarter of next year, so you’ll be hearing about those pretty soon. I’m also n development on another couple of films I may be in, or I might just help produce.

SACRIFICE is broadcast on Horror Channel on Sunday Dec 12, 9pm.

Monday 6 December 2021


NOS4A2 - Season 1 and 2 Boxset is out now

And to celebrate we have a great competition for you and a copy of the boxset to give away.

Star Trek’s Zachary Quinto stars as the evil Charlie Manx in NOS4A2, a different kind of vampire story based on the New York Times best-selling novel of the same name by Joe Hill, acclaimed novelist and son of horror maestro Stephen King. This grippingly dark series follows a woman determined to track down a string of missing children whose disappearance may be more sinister than anyone would believe.

Buy From Amazon at

For your chance to win just answer the question below.


Quick Terms and conditions - For full T&C click here
1. Closing date 20-12-21
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.
5. Entries that come directly from other websites will not be accepted.

Thursday 2 December 2021

New horror short film Stay Pretty, No Pity - 2021


If a ghost shows herself to you in the mirror and asks: "Do you want to stay pretty?" What would your answer be?

Stay Pretty, No Pity is a short film that tells the story of Lucy (Maria Ozawa) who fled an abusive relationship and took refuge with her new roommate. Things take a turn for the worst when a ghost appears and shows her seemingly random images. Lucy has three days to decipher the clues of these visions and discover the ghost's intentions.

Stay Pretty, No Pity is a spooky extension of the ancient Japanese folklore tale of Oiwa Yotsuya (Yotsuya Kaidan). The original tale followed a samurai who after murdering his wife after she became deformed was haunted by her spirit until he became insane and killed himself.

Now hundreds of years later, Yotsuya is back! She is punishing ugly characters by recruiting the pretty, starting with Lucy.

Wednesday 1 December 2021

Interview with Natasha Sinclair By David Kempf

When did you first become interested in writing?

As soon as I was able to write, I was hooked. Even before my comprehension developed of the written word, I always loved the feel of putting pen to paper as a youngster, so I enjoyed exploring and practising calligraphy from primary (elementary) age upwards. My parents got me a calligraphy set with my first fountain pen, and I was intent on mastering the styles in the accompanying books and coming up with my own. I always found the ink flow from the nib as a mesmerising dance to get lost in. The act of writing can be very ritualistic. As a child, I spent weekends at my gran’s house; when I was a little older, though still of the primary age, she gifted me a typewriter (I am almost certain there was a not entirely legal story attached to its acquisition). I adored it nonetheless. It felt like such a thoughtful gift, and I remember watching Misery with her while tapping away at my own childish stories.

Writing itself is a craft that developed with those tactile elements that drew me in. I’ve always written in verse, not with any intended purpose. It was always just something that I had to do. For me, it’s a habit —like breathing— for a long time, I didn’t think about what or how I was writing. I just wrote, as a cleansing ritual, a purging perhaps.

Like breathing, writing now sometimes requires conscious and considered practice, particularly now that I write with more purpose of sharing pieces with an audience. It’s something that has a never-ending path of learning and evolution, and the lack of predictability is exciting to me.

How did you get involved in fantasy/horror?

As a fan, I can’t think of a time I didn’t enjoy horror and fantasy — from literature, music, tv, film and even true horror accounts. It’s just always interested me. As a kid, I watched a lot of horror movies with my gran — I appreciated that she didn’t set boundaries on that kind of content. I’ve always written with a dark, distinctly adult slant. I guess experiences and observations have fuelled the threads that have become poems and dark fiction stories. Horror wasn’t a conscious decision; I’m not big on categorising art.

The appeal of those genres is that there are far fewer boundaries to rub up against than within other literary categories. Horror and Fantasy fiction are rich, diverse and multi-faceted. They can take a reader on a journey that may be infused with uncomfortable truths, taboos and nuances of the human condition. Matters that we may otherwise be resistant to giving our attention to in an entertaining and palatable (all be it haunting or gore-filled) way.

Tell us about your first publisher.

I submitted my first piece for consideration for print in 2019 after coming across a post in a great horror book group on Facebook — ‘Books of Horror’. The open-call sought short stories to feature in the group’s inaugural anthology showcasing writers (new and seasoned) in the community. Up to that point, I had never considered submitting anywhere, and I figured, why not — all they can say is ‘n’, right?

My story was accepted by the group’s founder, who was spearheading the project, RJ Roles. Since then, the ‘Books of Horror’ imprint has put out three (four taking into account the third has to be compiled into two books) volumes of horror, which have been received well by readers and reviewers. RJ Roles and Jason Myers have since started ‘Crimson Pinnacle Press’, and I was invited to contribute to their first two anthologies, ‘Fairy Tale Horrorshow’ and ‘Twisted Legends’, released in 2021.

It’s been a very inspiring and humbling experience. Whenever I submit anything, I expect rejection, so being accepted (and receiving invitationals) by a publisher is always a pleasant and encouraging surprise.

How would you classify the genre you write?

I am very much of the mindset that it’s not my place to classify that. I’ve never much cared for labels. I realise to some writers (and readers) this will seem utterly absurd, maybe even unprofessional. Since so many (understandably) plough work into market research of specific genres before penning work with a field target in mind. Doing that, for me, kills the passion for writing. There is so much subjectivity to it. I find horror, for one, likes to bedhop around genres mixing with bizarro, erotica, gothic, speculative, fantasy, and the list goes on. When it comes to art that I appreciate or have a hand in creating, I am a literary bed-hopper. I don’t want to restrain what I write to a single genre.

My first published book was a memoir from my experience as a parent with a child in neonatal intensive care. Following that, my published work has been predominantly fiction, mainly under the (mammoth) umbrella of adult horror, often with psychological and sexual elements.

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

Pure and simple escapism. Horror and fantasy are safe places from the true horrors of real life. These genres can also facilitate a safe place to explore otherwise out-of-bounds subject matter mutually for both readers and writers.

What inspires your stories?

Anything can be a seed of inspiration. From a dream, the way seeds scatter in the wind, a passing thought, patterns of bird migrations, something my kid says, a line or riff in a piece of music or poetry. It can be a dismissible moment that just plants itself into my mind and roots there and spirals into something that I must write.

As an example, the closing story in my collection, ‘Murmur’, released in June 2021, is one of my favourites. Several things inspired it; When out for a woodland walk with my kids, my daughter stumbled upon a grave with a makeshift marker with ‘Cinnamon’ etched into the wood. The surrounding area became the setting for my story ‘Moonshine Cinnamon’. I couldn’t resist — there was a huge tree slung with a tattered blue rope over a fast-flowing burn among other borrowed elements, right down to a stray pair of red lace knickers hung on a fir tree when we had walked through the same area on a previous occasion. Musically, the story was heavily influenced by listening to a lot of The Ramones. In fact, it was originally written for an open call looking for stories inspired by their music.

Like many writers and other creative types, music has always been of significant influence. Every piece I write has its own soundtrack.

What do you think the difference between American horror and U.K. horror is?

It’s not something I’ve ever really considered.

Since I’m on the spot, it’s a genuinely tricky one. As we are as similar as we are different, nations divided by language that should be united in many ways. Then again, I feel that way globally — we are one world with a patchwork of interconnecting culture that should be embraced for each of our unique perspectives.

When I consider historically and answer this with unavoidable gross sweeping generalisations — British writers tend to have strength in slow-burn, eerie, creepy and gothic styles and have been able to modernise these ideas; playing on fears that come from an ancient landscape, persecution, society, mysticism, folktales and cultural shifts and divisions. Comparably I’ve found more wham-bam-in-your-face narratives and scares in American horror. These comparisons can be switched just as easily. We ‘borrow’ from one another often, which helps enrich and create some great stories with a wide appeal.

Any differences, other than American English Vs British English and local dialects and colloquialisms in language, are very muddied.

What are your favorite horror books?

I read a lot and don’t stick exclusively to horror; it’s hard for me to pinpoint favourites from that specific category. I’m a nightmare at picking favourites of anything; perspectives and tastes change over time. I hated being asked these questions as a kid; What’s your favourite colour? Why can I only pick one! I love them all! I still can’t pick.

Again, being on the spot, one of the first horror writers I fell in love with was reading Poppy Z. Brite as a teen. I still love his vivid settings, complex characterisations and alternative perspectives in his narrative. His characters aren’t ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Some may commit despicable acts of horror, but they are still very human and written so skilfully that they may canvas sympathy of sorts from a reader. Those early novels of ‘Exquisite Corpse’ and ‘Lost Souls’ particularly stuck with me.

There are tonnes of books that I love; I couldn’t begin to list them.

What are some of your favorite horror movies?

Again, with the favourites! What are you doing to me, David? It really depends on my mood.

I enjoy all kinds of horror in movies, from bizarre, psychological, gothic, haunting, slow-burn horror right through to the utterly ridiculous, in your face and comedy horror.

From early on, I have to acknowledge those that hold so much nostalgia and created a huge impression — Nightmare on Elm Street, The Birds, Omen, Evil Dead, Hellraiser, House, The Lost Boys, Gremlins, Poltergeist — a typical product of the ‘80s! I’m a sucker for werewolf and vampire movies — Gingersnaps, Dog Soldiers and Bram Stoker’s Dracula being among the longtime favourites. Right now, I’m in the mood for psychological and fantasy horror such as Splice, The Shape of Water, anything by Guillermo del Torro. Next week it might be comedy-horror tickling it fancy. There’s a sub-genre for every mood and season.              

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment as an author?

Honestly, just taking the plunge and putting work out into the public domain without anonymity is a huge personal step for me. I can’t say that I’m looking for any significant recognition or ‘status’ from my creative endeavours. I’m more focused on setting an example for my kids. And publishing and submitting writing took a lot of courage for me as I’m a pretty private person, even creatively. I’m keen to lead by example and show a bit of fearlessness in pursuing something that I’ve always loved. Regardless of insecurities and fears, we can rise against our own demons.

Do you have any advice for new writers?

Just write. Don’t overthink it, don’t concern yourself with what other people may think (that’s their business, NOT yours) and write. Write because you have to, write because you want to, just do it.

Do your research and continuously learn. Stay humble — no one is perfect, no one has all the answers no matter how it may appear or how much experience one has gained; we live in an ever-changing world.

When dealing with other people in the industry, be professional and realistic always. Don’t overpromise, and don’t underestimate yourself either. Trust your gut instincts — if something feels wrong or seems too good to be true, in most cases, you’re probably right. Find a community that supports you, whether in person at the local library or book group. Even if you’re an introvert like myself who shies away from that, the internet can be a great resource to have those needs met and find some camaraderie while managing that sense of overwhelm and the drain that socialising can have.

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

Is it still considered new?

I think it’s double-edged really.

It’s fantastic that the tools are there and accessible to more writers than ever, stripping out the headache of finding and enlisting a literary agent and the tumultuous and long process of trying to strike up a deal with a traditional publisher. There’s something increasingly elitist about mass market that has never personally appealed. In fact, when I was writing with the aim to publish, it never crossed my mind to do anything other than self-publish. It was only after that that I began to entertain the notion of submitting publishers and have since stuck to small independent press’.

I don’t imagine ever being interested in having a middle-person — that’s one of the benefits of self-publishing; the writer is entirely in control of their voice, story and how the entire writing and publishing process is managed. And who they involve in that process. There’s complete control over editors enlisted, cover design, formatting, marketing etc. There’s no big-wig trying to dilute or change a writer’s voice for general palatability or mainstream mass appeal. Unless, of course, that’s what a writer wants but that’s their choice. With self-publishing, there are also many potential pitfalls to consider —as the writer holds full responsibility and accountability for the material that goes out to market. Although the channel has opened doors to a more diverse and creative market — there’s a lot of poor quality material out there too. This means for many that it can be an uphill battle to establish credibility and a solid dedicated readership in a very saturated and polluted pond. This applies to self-publishing writers as much as it does to independent press’ and freelance editors and artists in the industry.

What are your current projects?

I’m finishing a couple of short stories, one is based on an old Glaswegian Urban Legend, and I have a couple of co-written shorts on the table to finish with fellow writer David Owain Hughes.

I recently purchased some stunning artwork for the novel I’m working on — the novel is a heavily psychological piece with elements of abuse, family secrets, and revenge. A large part of the story takes place in and around an Asylum (classic or cliché – I’ll leave that to readers to decide). I had hoped to finish that this year but my editing workload with Word Refinery clients took priority. Again, a benefit of self-publishing – deadlines are created by the writer.

Going into 2022, I am focusing on finishing my novel in progress and polishing and refining that to take to publication. I’ll also be working on two collaborative novels with two very different and fantastic writers.

One project with Ruthann Jagge – she is a wonderful writer and woman who is a real force of creative and passionate energy. A truly dedicated and inspiring individual. Jagge has such spirit and drive I know we’re going to create something magical and wicked together! We’ve appeared in numerous anthologies together and her debut novella ‘New Girls’ Patient’ releases in January — get that on your reading list! The second planned co-authored project is with one of the U.K’s most prominent anthologists of recent years. Kevin J. Kennedy. I’ve been Kennedy’s editor throughout 2021 – putting out books 9, 10 and 11 of the very popular ‘The Horror Collection’ anthologies which are known for bringing together a mixtape of quality indie horror to a global readership. I also edited and wrote the foreword for Kennedy’s debut solo novella ‘Halloween Land’ released earlier this year, and we’ve just launched ‘The Best of Indie Horror: Christmas Edition’. So we each have familiarity with the way the other works — it seems a natural progression to bring our very different writing styles together to concoct something interesting, which I am confident we will!

There are a few more irons in the fire but, I’m prioritising the aforementioned before pulling anything else out and burning my fingers!

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

From the heart of Scotland, I find inspiration to write in just about everything — from the maddeningly mundane to the utterly horrific.

My writing is often woven with horror, sex and psychological elements. I'm opposed to the almost incessant human desire to label and box off art. Art is unrestrained freedom.

I am a member of The Horror Writers Association.

I have independently published work, compiled and edited anthologies, and contributed to a plethora of publications. I support other creatives by proofreading, editing, and creating promotional material via Word Refinery services, linked on my website.

Out-with writing and editing, I'm an avid gig-goer, reader, vegan, home educating, nature-loving, adopter of wonky animals.

Website: https://clanwitch.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/clan_witch/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NatashaSinclair/