Monday, 19 March 2012

The Plague (Hobo With a Shotgun) - The Total Bastard Database

The TBDB is the Net's biggest, best and most downright demented guide to horror cinema's worst villains, madmen, monsters, maniacs, cannibals, creeps, killers, beasts and, well... bastards.
Nick Bateman, Peter Simas

Were bastards in…

Hobo With a Shotgun (2011)

So who the hell are they?

Despite the fact that one of them has a face like a children's television puppet sidekick, The Plague are the most deadly and feared team of assassins in the span of human history. A bit like Croup and Vandemar (from Neil Gaiman's NEVERWHERE) but dressed in head to toe plate armour and driving big motorbikes.

Exactly what they are is (thankfully) never properly explained but they seem to have some sort of supernatural element to them.  They have been around for an awfully long time, they live in a strange castle and live with some sort of giant tentacled beast which they have to battle.  Seems fairly conclusive really though if that doesn't sway you, Jason Eisener himself (the writer/director of Hobo With a Shotgun)  has referred to them as demons.

That’s not a knife…

Rip does seem fond of his machete and uses it for killing now and then but mostly just does that twirly thing that people who can handle great big blades with ease do to show how good they are at handling great big blades with ease.  Their favourite method of dispatch is clearly their peculiarly inefficient practice of using modified grapple-gun things to hang people from ceilings.  It may be awkward and unwieldy but it certainly sends a message.  What that message is however I'm really not sure.

Why, for the love of God why?!!?!

The bizarre duo are bounty hunters of some description though what and how they are paid is another mystery.  They're pretty good at it though so the price is probably fairly high.  I'm not sure what two psychopathic armoured demons would spend their money on however - giant octopus repellent maybe?

So what’s the damage?

If their wall of honour is anything to go by - fuckin' loads.  Their previous hits seem to include Abraham Lincoln, Joan of Arc and erm...Jesus.  That bit didn't make it into the bible though if I remember my RE lessons properly (which I almost certainly don't).  The Plague don't seem to be picky about who else they murder, maim and hang however as the hospital full of doctors and nurses would surely attest to if they weren't, you know, hanging from the ceiling by their necks with bloody great knife wounds.

It’s a million to one chance but it might just work…

Despite their badass-ness, demonic nature and head to toe plate armour it turns out that all you need to kill them is a lawn mower.  Mind you that probably works for quite a lot of other things too.  Be warned though - kill one of The Plague and you apparently have to join them.  Quite how this is enforced is sadly never seen however - maybe if that spin off movie ever happens, we'll find out...

Words of wisdom

Not much.  They spend most of their time hanging folk from ceilings.

Reg Traviss - Interview

The Horror Channel is currently running its rather fantastic Heritage of Horror season.  The season ends at the end of the month with Reg Traviss' PSYCHOSIS.  What better time to catch up with Mr Traviss and have a little chat?

Hi Reg, thanks for taking the time to chat to us. You’re welcome, thanks for your interest in the film.

Psychosis is premiering on The Horror Channel at the end of the month.  It was your first foray into the world of horror film making – what prompted that decision?  It had always been my intention to make a horror, or rather a creepy Tales of the Unexpected / Hammer-esque Thriller, as I am a big fan of those sub-genres of the 1970s and early 80s. After my first film was released, which was a World War II action-drama, I thought it was a good time to do a different genre.

You’ve spoken before of your affection for 70’s horror and Hammer films in particular. What is it about that particular era that appeals to you personally? I think it’s the atmosphere of the period I like, but mainly I really love the way in which those films kind of mix and merge sub-genres within one film. So you could have a ‘Werewolf’ story which is also part relationship drama and part supernatural thriller, like Children Of The Full Moon. Or Twins Of Evil which is a Vampire story; a witch hunter story; a relationship romance; a supernatural occult thriller; and sexual erotica all rolled into one film!

What do you think of the state of contemporary horror film making? I think it’s all good, I mean there are a lot of productions being made worldwide, and a multitude of genres, sub-genres and even new genres emerging, all under the horror banner. So there are low-budget slashers, and big budget slashers like the Saw films, then on the other hand there is comedy horror like Shaun of the Dead  and Cockneys Vs Zombies, then there are the high-brow horrors like The Devil Inside, or edgy neo-realism like Paranormal Activity. I think all of this points to the fact that the state of contemporary horror filmmaking is very good right now. There is variety across the genres and across the budget spectrum. Productions are being made all round the world too, which means the audience is global. There are fantastic traditions in contemporary horror filmmaking being carved now in Japan, Korea, as well as in parts of Europe like Spain, whereas in the past I suppose it was mainly only Britain and America who flew the flag for horror. In addition there are all of the US remakes of classics like The Hills Have Eyes, Friday The Thirteenth, Texas Chainsaw and I Spit On Your Grave, which I think further points to the fact that the audience for horror is very big and I suppose it’s only big because the films being made are good.

Would you ever consider a remake or sequel?  If so, which one? Yes, I’d love to remake Twins Of Evil or The Witchfinder General

Psychosis received something of a mixed reaction.  What is your attitude to negative critical response? Well, generally I’m easy towards it and most of the time find it interesting, sometimes even find it funny and have a laugh about what some critic has written. But I only appreciate negative responses if the writers have genuinely watched the film and understood it and if what they say has validity. The problem a lot of filmmakers have found is that with so many bloggers and amateur critics operating, quite often films have not been watched – but they get written about anyway, usually hobnailed together from other reviews. And this is really annoying especially when you can tell by reading a review that the writer has not watched the film or just quite simply hasn’t understood it as they’ve probably watched half-a-dozen films in one night to then write about. It was interesting that Psychosis got a mixed response – people either really liked it or really didn’t.  I think that was down to one simple thing; it is an unusual genre-piece and if you don’t already know the Hammer TV series, Straw Dogs, or that whole 1970s sub-genre where eroticism, supernatural, psychological-drama and slasher-like horror all meet under one roof, then it’s really 50/50 that you’ll like the film. I always felt that the majority of the audience who were drawn to the film were probably expecting something else, and from I’ve read I guess that some of them didn’t understand the film or the final twist and got stuck on one of the red-herrings in the middle. On the other hand Gorezone Magazine gave the film four-stars and judging by their review they clearly understood the genre, story and knew what to expect.

Charisma Carpenter is a bit of a genre heroine to myself and many other horror fans, how was she cast?  Were you a Buffy and Angel fan yourself? I did used to watch Buffy and later Angel if it was on the television when I was in. And although I wouldn’t say I was an out-and-out fan of the shows, I did like them and appreciated the genre. At that time I felt there wasn’t anything else which combined horror with teen-drama on television (there was the Teen-Wolf thing  a few years earlier, but Buffy was far superior) and Buffy was a bit like a TV friendly progression on The Lost Boys, so for me I liked that it was Vampires and Rock and Metal combined.

Your latest film is a prison thriller called Screwed.  What’s on the agenda now? Yes, Screwed came out last year and now I’m working on a couple of new projects which I’ve been offered. They’re at different stage of development which means I can shoot them back to back if all works out.

Do you have any plans to revisit the horror genre? No plans as such, but yes I do certainly want to make another horror in the future.

What’s the greatest thing you have learnt working in the industry so far? Equal measures of diplomacy and staunch opinion

Final question - What would be your dream project if budget and property rights were no object? With regards to the horror genre, it would be both Witchfinder General and Twins of Evil and I’d make an epic combining the two stories.

Thanks again Reg Traviss – good luck with your future projects! Thanks mate!

 PSYCHOSIS will screen on The Horror Channel on March 30th.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Jonathan Glendening - Interview

Jonathan Glendening's new film, STRIPPERS VS WEREWOLVES hits screens next months whilst his previous film, 13 Hrs is playing this month on the Horror Channel as part of their Heritage of Horror season.  We thought this would be a good time to catch up with the writer/director and have a little chat...

Hi there Jonathan, thanks for taking the time out to talk to us,

You're most welcome.

Perhaps we could start by talking about your last film, 13 Hrs (premiering on The Horror Channel this month). It was in our opinion a rather critically underrated film, what did you make of the response it got?

It got a very mixed reaction really.  It seemed that people who knew in advance it was a werewolf story seemed to maybe pre-judge it or it let down their expectation whereas if you didn't know it had a werewolf as the 'twist' or revelation that's when people seemed to really buy into it.  I was reading some of the forums about it on some of the various horror sites and that seemed to be the way it was - people who didn't know loved it and people who did know dissed it.

I saw the movie at Frightfest and knew very little about it in advance.  I found not knowing what exactly was going on to be a very fun aspect of it.  The American release has changed the name to Night Wolf which despite perhaps saying more about the genre of the movie kind of gives the game away doesn’t it?

Yeah.  As you can imagine, I'm not too happy about that! I think the film is definitely more effective when you don't know and it's part of the twist or revelation so just saying it's 'Night Wolf' - it's a wolf and it set at night just seems to be a bit...unhelpful to me.  Then again, I'm not Lionsgate and trying to sell the movie in America and that's what they think it needs to help it sell.  I can't argue with them really but I saw their artwork and that doesn't really reflect the film either seeing as it's not from my film!  Maybe I've ventured into areas I'm supposed to stay away from though!

Your next movie, Strippers Vs Werewolves looks like a lot of fun, what drew you to the project?

Well, I hope it is a lot of fun and I hope that people react to it in that way because it's certainly not supposed to be serious.  But how did I get attached to the project?  I was approached while I was doing 13 HOURS and asked if I'd make a film for the company and the project touted was STRIPPERS VS WEREWOLVES.  It had a great script by Pat Higgins which was very irreverent and a lot of fun and very dialogue based and it just seemed like a really enjoyable project to do straight away after the last film and very different to the tense claustrophobic horror of 13 Hours.

Your last two films have involved werewolves  - is this coincidence or do you just really like werewolves?

Laughs... No, no, it's no particular love of werewolves and also the werewolves are very different to each other.  In 13 Hours we tried to do something very original and new, it was less a werewolf and more a manifestation of a disease within a family.  That's why it was white and furless - it was supposed to be this painful disease which though it was a werewolf was something that comes from within.  That was our hopefully fresh take on it whereas Strippers Vs Werewolves was very much a fun angle - a bit Carry on Screaming so to speak with the werewolves with sideboards.  Of course it has some great prosthetics by Kristyan Mallett who did the special make up effects but it was much more fun.  But as to whether the two films came about because of each other?  Possibly -it wasn't the first film I was offered but it seemed like 'this will be silly fun - why not?'  And of course, when you get the opportunity to work with people like Robert Englund or Stephen Berkoff you don't say no!

You have the brilliant Alan Ford in the film who also is in the similarly titled Cockneys Vs Zombies, is there any other link between the two films?

Umm, I think we might have had the same 1st assistant director!  I think...  But the unfortunate thing with all these versus films is that when I signed up for this one I have to say that I obviously didn't do my research because at the time I wasn't aware of any other versus films going on and had never really heard of it as a concept really.  So, I'm a bit annoyed at myself now because where I thought we were going to be the first one, now we're just one of the many!

You worked with an impressive cast on Strippers Vs Werewolves (Robert Englund, Stephen Berkoff, Sarah Douglas), how did you find the experience?

Robert Englund was terrific - there was just a huge buzz of excitement when he came to set and he really did indulge the crew as fans of the Freddy series.  He even had his photo taken with all the art girls which he loved and just very much lived up to your expectations of celebrity.  But then as a professional actor he really was totally professional - word perfect, very polite and he can just chew the dialogue and with a glint of his eye he can add menace.  He was just terrific.  And Stephen Berkoff obviously was really a lot of fun to have on set because he can chew dialogue up as well.  I have to say that one of my favourite moments was on set on the last day saying, "Mr Berkoff sir do you mind if I squirt blood up your nose?" and him going, "oh yes - go on then".

What’s next for you?

Well, I'm going to stay away from werewolves and possibly strippers too.  The writer of 13 Hours has a new script which I'm attached to direct and we were looking at sound stages at Pinewood last week which is exciting but we're in the very early stages of starting that one up.

Is it a genre film?

Yeah, but it's a psychological horror.  it's still got plenty of gore come to think of it but it's more based on the terrors of the mind.  That's early days yet however.  I've also got 3 screenplays I've been developing myself, 2 of which are real life dramas so I am moving away from just doing genre films now and am more into drama. I do also have a Sci-Fi script that I'd love to do but that one's a bit pricey so I'd say I'm a few films away from doing that one yet.

Final question- what would be your all time dream project if money and property rights were no object?

It'd have to be the Sci-Fi script - that's called ARK and it's the sort of film they'd give to Chris Nolan at the moment but not to me!  I've got to bide my time to get there.  It's a sci-fi adventure and I don't really want to say too much about it but it's an original script and it's very special to me and it's just very exciting.  A friend of mine who read it said that it's like all your favourite films in one!

Thank you for taking the time to talk Jonathan, good luck with STRIPPERS VS WEREWOLVES.

Thank you!

Strippers Vs Werewolves  is released theatrically on April 27th and May 7th on DVD.