Monday, 17 December 2012

The Soska Sisters - Interview

The good folk at The Horror Channel are continuing their Director's Night series on Thursday 27th December with the very wonderful SOSKA SISTERS.  If you haven't heard of these ladies yet please do yourself an enormous favour and check out their second film AMERICAN MARY. You won't regret it.

Also however, check out their choices for Director's night on The Horror Channel on the 27th.  Until then here's an interview with the ladies themselves:

Jen and Sylvia Soska are the ‘terrible twins’ who are taking the film world by storm. Their second feature, AMERICAN MARY, is enjoying huge critical success ahead of its UK release in January 2013.

For their Director’s Night on Horror Channel, they have chosen ‘Hellraisers’,’Martyrs’ and ‘Pontypool’ and here they talk about their choices, why the UK is so special to them, the therapeutic nature of American Mary and  why they can’t wait to get started on ‘Bob’.

Q: Last year Horror Channel broadcast the world premiere of ‘Dead Hooker In A Trunk’. What did that mean to you?

SS: When we were in the UK for FrightFest this year, we met so many people that were introduced to our work through the Horror Channel screenings - that gives an independent an audience they could never reach otherwise on a global scale.

JS: The UK is very special to us. It's the first place the film showed at a festival and the first place it was released. It was only was fitting to have our television premiere where we've had such a stellar response. It was at the same time very surreal. We watched along via twitter with the fans and I think we crashed our twitter account half way through and had to carry on via Facebook, ha ha! And to have an intro from our horror girl crush, Emily Booth, was a dream come true.

Q: How did that film change your lives?

SS: That film and more specifically the support we received from the horror community has changed our lives. We have this amazing opportunity to create unique films and we have brilliant people standing by the work to make it possible. We're promoting our second film, American Mary, now; what's different is we're getting the chance to travel and meet the people who have made this possible and watch the film with them. I feel like we're the luckiest horror nerds on the planet.

JS: Dead Hooker In A Trunk was a massive success due to the outstanding support of the horror community. First and foremost, we're horror fans ourselves and there's nothing like the feeling of having our fellow horror lovers embrace what we're doing. It's never been more easy to make a film in the way that we have so much technology and that makes it on the flip side a great struggle to stand apart from all the others, particularly for first time filmmakers. DHIAT has made us known filmmakers and that is a huge honour. We are so grateful to the people who have believed in us from the very beginning. They're the reason we're able to keep making films.

Q: Your new movie American Mary, which opens in the UK in January, has made a huge impact across the globe and has critics clambering over themselves to heap praise upon it. Where did the idea come from?

SS: Thank you; it's a very personal story. We were fascinated about the body modification culture when stumbling upon it years ago and massively researching the subject matter. We were struggling after making DHIAT, this is before its release, poor as hell, starving, meeting monsters in the industry, and having all sorts of personal troubles. The script was very therapeutic - we put everything we were going through and ourselves into that story using mainstream medicine Vs body modification as analogies for mainstream film industry Vs the horror scene. We wanted to shift people's opinions on appearances on the surface as well as one person's struggles for success.

JS: We've always been outcasts and found friendship and acceptance with our fellow underdogs. That inability to accept people who are different comes largely from ignorance. The body modification community is largely misunderstood and seems to be the subject of modern day witch hunts. It makes no sense to me that cosmetic surgery is fully accepted whereas body modification is ridiculed. We wanted to educate people on body mod. It makes a perfect vessel for telling our story as well.

How different was it making American Mary compared to DHIAT?

SS: On DHIAT, we were every department. It was sink or swim and everyone having multiple jobs. On AM, we had experts in every department that killed themselves to make every aspect of the film excel. We had the experience from DHIAT to understand each department role and be involved, but a great full team and some money makes a world of difference, especially with an ambitious film like AM.

JS: Every project is a different experience. You learn from each, but they're all unique. The things that happened on DHIAT didn't happen on AM. DHIAT taught us how to roll with the punches which is an invaluable skill for a filmmaker at any level. Every film does come with its individual challenges. They're never the things you prepare for. You just need to be able to trouble shoot and keep going no matter what is standing in your way.

Q: Do you think you’ve grown in confidence as writers and directors?

SS: Yes. This job toughens you up significantly. I wanted to please everyone earlier on and you just can't do that. You have to stick to your guns, get your shots, and make your day. You have to be worthy of the leadership and visionary position that you have. I love collaborating with other team members to create a beautiful project, but I don't put up with shit from people who derail the process. Life's too short to deal with assholes.

JS: Absolutely. You become more sure of yourself and confident with your vision. I'm proud of DHIAT, but that film was very reflective of where we were when we made it. AM is where we've evolved to and our next film will be reflective of where we evolve to next. As a Canadian and as a woman, society trains you to tread so lightly and avoid confrontation and that's a load of bullsh*t you need to train yourself out of. You need to stick to your guns and trust your instincts. I'm very comfortable with that now. We don't compromise with our artistic vision. When you try to please everyone you end up pleasing no one, especially yourself.

Q: Does it make you nervous for your next movie?

SS: I'm dying to get back to work. I love travelling and promoting a film, but I only truly feel like myself when I'm working on creating a film - I long to get back to that. And the next one is completely different; I can't wait to get it out to people.

JS: Quite the opposite. I can't wait to be shooting and prepping and cutting the new one. It's been a life changing experience to be able to travel with American Mary and have the opportunity to connect with the fans, but I feel the most like who I am when I'm working on a film. It's invigorating and exciting and there's no feeling in the world like it. I can't wait to create a new, original nightmare for the horror community.

Q: American Mary will be released in the UK in January. For the DVD; can you give us any hint of what extras we can expect?

SS: I like bringing people into the world of how the film is created. We've got some great behind the scenes goodies, a making of mini-documentary, and some other good stuff. Plus, it's our first film out on Blu-ray - we shot on the Red and it makes a big picture difference.

JS: Yup, everything Sylvie said. The behind the scenes is my favourite feature. You get to see us and the full cast and crew in the thrall of it all.

Q: You’ve chosen Pontypool, Martyrs and Hellraiser for your Director’s Night, can you explain why you picked these three movies?

SS: They are some of my favourite horror films. I don't like predictable, paint by numbers horror - these films are genuinely unique and memorable, Martyrs might actually scar your mind. I like that kind of feeling, films that make you feel something.

JS: Pontypool is one of the most original takes on a classic horror genre and it's one of those hidden little horror gems. We wanted to get it out there and share it. It's a film that too few people know about. Hellraiser is just an outstanding work of art. We saw it when we were 12 and needless to say it was quite impactful. We adore body horror and Clive Barker. It's one of those films that’s just as damn good every time you see it.

Q: So what’s next for you two?

SS: Bob is next. There's a monster in all of us, sometimes it gets out. Be prepared for something wild that you haven't seen before.

JS: I'm very excited to get going on Bob. It's a very original take on a genre that's been plagued with a lot of crap as of late. We have the remedy for that.

Jen and Sylvia Soska, thank you very much.

SS: Thank you so very much!!

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Help Bubbling Under!

The Nefarious Films Production, BUBBLING UNDER written and directed by myself and starring Axelle Carolyn, Mark Duncan and Annette Bette Kellow is in the running for Film of the Month over on Shooting People.

Please help us get into the top five by voting for it here.  You need to be a Shooting People member to vote but even if you're not, just watching it can help so please do our little independent short a massive boost and vote us up!

It'd really go a long way to helping so thank you from the bottom of my weird little dark heart in advance.  You're all bloody beautiful.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Frightfest All-Nighter

The traditional Halloween all night-er from the Frightfest crew looks set to impress once again this year with another selection of curios from the world of horror.  This year we have Pascal Laugier's (MARTYRS) THE TALL MAN.  Laugier says, "Showing Martyrs at FrightFest in 2008 remains one of my best memories. I was insulted by bikers and other big guys covered with horror tattoos just because my movie had shocked them. Wow!!! I'm so proud of that!!! The Tall Man won't provoke these extreme reactions, I'm sure. It's a much less radical film, but still a very special and personal one though. So I'm totally excited to be coming back to Leicester Square - thanks to my dear friends at FrightFest”.  Laugier will be in attendance at the London event for a Q and A.
There will also be a screening of the rather interesting looking GALLOWWALKER - a sort of zombie western starring Wesley Snipes and Kevin Hoawrth. There will also be an extract from the intriguing ABC'S OF DEATH.  The extract in question is from British director Simon Rumley (RED, WHITE AND BLUE) and is called P IS FOR PRESSURE.  Rumley will be there to introduce his film.
Also, as is the custom at FrightFest events, there will be surprise guests, sneak clip reveals and plenty of give-a-ways..
Tickets for the London event cost £50 and to book call 08712 240 240 or go online
For details of the FrightFest Halloween regional screenings, which take place on Saturday 3rd November, please visit
Note that the regional venues will not be playing all of the titles screening at the Londonevent so please check local listings.

The Evil Dead - Screening

What with the release of the trailer for the remake of THE EVIL DEAD, there couldn't be a better time to remind yourself of just how damn good the original was/still is.  Fortunately enough, there's an opportunity to do just that on the big screen this Saturday at the Duke of York's Cinema in Brighton.  Not only is this a great chance to see a bonafide horror classic as it was designed to be seen but there's also a panel discussion 'on the rise of the video nasty' with Jonathan Glendenning (13 HOURS, STRIPPERS VS WEREWOLVES), BBFC senior examiner Craig Lapper, Empire magazine's Chris Hewitt and director of KILL LIST - Ben Wheatley. 

It all takes place on Saturday October 29th at 1PM and costs £9 a ticket so get yourself down to Brighton.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Cockneys Vs Zombies Review

 Cockneys Vs Zombies

Director: Matthias Hoene
Writer: James Moran, Lucas Roche
Starring:  Alan Ford, Richard Briers, Honor Blackman, Michelle Ryan, Rasmus Hardiker, Jack Doolan, Ashley Bashy Thomas

Proving that not all films ever made with 'Vs' in the title have to be a load of old pony (pony and trap = crap), COCKNEYS VS ZOMBIES has turned out to be a really fun and brash rattle-through the conventions of both zombie and British gangster cinema.

It doesn't hurt that the cast that have been assembled are brilliant with a good half of them being British acting legends.  Chief amongst these is Alan 'Bricktop' Ford (SNATCH) who plays another of the sweary, non-nonsense East End old timers he has made his stock in trade.  Here he plays a slightly more heroic version as the owner of a retirement home on the verge of being bought up and shut down.  The residents of said home include such luminaries as Honor Blackman and Richard Briers so he is clearly in good company.  The story concerns Ford's characters grandsons (Rasmus Hardiker and Harry Treadaway, both giving tremendously energetic and charismatic performances) as they rob a bank in a desperate attempt to save the family business.  Joining them are their sexy and somewhat brighter cousin (Michelle Ryan) and the considerably less bright and sexy local nutcase, Mental Mickey (Ashley Thomas).  Of course, things do not go quite to plan and before long a local building site has unearthed a mysterious old plague crypt and let loose the usual zombie plague.

It's a perfectly workable set-up but the story is secondary here to the main gimmick of seeing what a bunch of cockney wide-boys would do if confronted with hordes of the shambling undead. The answer , it seems to be, is swear at them.  A lot.  The language used is of course terrible but it is used with such inventive wit that it's hard to see how any but the most up-tight and conservative could really take any offense.  The foul-mouthed screenwriter, James Moran (SEVERANCE, TOWER BLOCK) is responsible for this and as much credit should go to him as to any of the talent on screen.  His humour is a huge part of the charm of this film and he is a strong presence within it.  There are countless small moments throughout the film which will have you chuckling for days as you recall them.  A personal favourite is Mental Mickey finally losing patience during the bank robbery and ripping off his disguise fake moustache only to reveal an identical real moustache below it.  Another beautiful moment is the flashback to Alan Ford's character during the second world war, storming a German bunker whilst screaming phrases like, "'ave that ya nazi cunt" at them.  Beautiful.

Whilst all this shouting and silliness is good fun, there are points after about halfway through the film where it does to start to flag a little bit.  Thankfully it usually picks up again with some great moments such as the genius visual gag of an elderly man fleeing the shuffling zombies very slowly on his walking frame. The real problem however is the lack of danger or empathy we feel for the characters.  I hesitate to use the obvious SHAUN OF THE DEAD reference because well, it's a boring thing to do and also this film is a completely different animal.  In that film however it was key that we felt something for the characters and that there were consequences when they messed up.  Here it never feels real and the zombies never instill much dread or horror.  The characters themselves are more disgusted by them than scared and we as the audience can't help but feel that the situation is well in hand.  There is never that sense of hopelessness and fighting against impossible odds that truly effective zombie films capture.  This is largely in part to the vast array of weaponry available to all the characters.  They have machine guns, samurai swords, shotguns, handguns, grenades and seemingly limitless ammunition.  Anybody who has ever played a survival horror game knows how boring it is when you finish the game and get to go through it all again but this time with infinite ammo.

This isn't by any means a crippling blow to the film but it does stop it from being a truly great zombie film.  In fairness however it does lead to the wonderful scene of the old folks tooling up against the zombie legions.  Anything which includes a nifty uzi/walking frame combination can't be all bad in my books.  That's the thing about Cockneys Vs Zombies, it's in no way a perfect film but it is a hell of a lot of fun.  It seems a bit mean-spirited to criticise it for perceived transgresssions against an admittedly tired set of genre conventions when it is making you laugh more than most full on comedies mange to.  It doesn't take itself too seriously and nor should you. or I.  Independent and deeply eccentric films like this need the support of the genre otherwise we'll just end up with a whole new swathe of shiny re-makes.  Look, just go and see it you muppet.