A Life in Blood – Tales of a Horror Queen #10 Shooting Herschell Gordon Lewis’ Bloodmania

rsz_1bm1Shooting Herschell Gordon Lewis’ Bloodmania in Calgary, Canada

Herschell Gordon Lewis may be gone, but he will never be forgotten. Thankfully he left horror fans with a parting gift: Herschell Gordon Lewis’ Bloodmania! Lewis is truly a horror legend and his films will be remembered. In fact, he was recently remembered on Turner Classic Network for those we lost in 2016.

When I came out to Calgary, Canada to shoot Herschell Gordon Lewis’ Bloodmania I thought this was the beginning of Lewis return to film, but sadly this ended up being his final film. It was a realization of a dream to be in Bloodmania; I was a big fan of Lewis and it was amazing to be leaving New York City to shoot in Canada. I am truly honored to have a celebrity cameo in his final epic film.

rsz_bm2I want to say what an honor it is to be included in a film by such a legendary film director of the horror genre! Lewis’ has made huge contributions to film! My favorites include Blood Feast, Two Thousand Maniacs, and Wizard of Gore so give them a watch next time your in the mood for some classic gore!

I arrived in December and was lucky enough to attend a special Meet and Great put together by James Saito, Vice-president of Development and Production at Diabolique Films and President at HGB Entertainment Ltd. I got to meet some of the brightest people in the Calgary independent film scene. It was wonderful to finally meet James Saito after speaking to him for such a long time about are mutual loves of horror, and filmmaking. I am very thankful for the opportunity to come out to Canada and get covered in blood!

rsz_bm3Then I had a very bloody photo shoot with the very talented photographer, Kenneth Locke. Angela White, Sara-Joy Goode, Donovan Cerminara, and I were part of an amazing promo photo shoot. I arrived, had my hair and makeup done by the skilled Ashley Godick, changed into something super sexy and then we were ready for some fun! It was a tantalizing blood orgy for the eyes! Horror fans can look forward to seeing Genoveva Rossi as you have never seen her before! It was a beautifully bloody mess of a shoot!

Next it was on to shoot my part for Herschell Gordon Lewis’ BloodMania! First I want to say what an honor it is to be included in a film by such a legendary film director of the horror genre! Lewis’ has made huge contributions to film! My favorites include Blood Feast, Two Thousand Maniacs, and Wizard of Gore so give them a watch next time your in the mood for some classic gore!

rsz_bm4One of the many of the high points of working on Herschell Gordon Lewis’ BloodMania was working with the amazing special effects expert David Trainor. Look for his work in the hit television show Fargo! It was amazing watching David in action! So much blood and gore for horror fans! It was also a pleasure to work closely with the multitalented James Saito.

When I learned of Lewis’ passing I cried. Perhaps we just all thought he was immortal. Certainly Lewis never planned on dying; he was simply too busy living. I am inspired that this was a man that lived creatively and fully up to the end and to the age of 86. He was a gentleman and a visionary who will never be forgotten. This horror queen is truly honored to be in his final film.

rsz_bm5Yours in screams, Genoveva Rossi
Check out my website: http://www.genovevarossi.com

Also follow me on Facebook: Genovevarossi810
Twitter: GenovevaRossi1
Instagram: Genoveva_Rossi
IMDb: http://www.imdb.me/genovevarossi

News from the official press release!

rsz_bm6Herschell Gordon Lewis’ final film to be distributed by Monarch Films Inc.

Diabolique Films, and HGB Entertainment Ltd, are pleased to announce the signing of an exclusive worldwide distribution deal with Monarch Films Inc. for their horror anthology, “Herschell Gordon Lewis’ BloodMania.”

“Herschell Gordon Lewis’ BloodMania” is the final film by legendary horror director Lewis, affectionately known as the “Godfather of Gore”, who passed away in late 2016, after a career in film spanning over fifty years.

“I am very excited to add Mr. Lewis’ final film to the quality package of new films we will be premiering at MIP 2017. We have already heard from many of our key TV and DVD buyers worldwide expressing their interest in licensing “BloodMania” for their territories. We will be making “BloodMania” available to horror fans worldwide via Amazon Prime and dozens of additional streaming platforms later this spring”. Art Skopinsky President,  Monarch Films

Diabolique Films and HGB Entertainment Vice President and Producer James Saito says, “It is extremely gratifying to work with Monarch Films to bring Herschell’s final film to his loyal international fan base, and to introduce his work to a whole new generation of horror fans.”

rsz_bm7The horror anthology film consists of four tales – each representing a different genre of classic horror cinema. Lewis himself described the film as, “… a perfect combination of horror and comedy”.

Mr. Lewis wrote and directed two segments. The other two were directed by Melanie Reinboldt and Kevin Littlelight. The anthology stars Roger LeBlanc, Stuart Bentley, Sonia Deleo and Caroline Buzanko.

A release date for “Herschell Gordon Lewis’ BloodMania” will be announced shortly.

“All of my movies can be traced back to the work of H.G. Lewis”. Eli Roth (Director of “Cabin Fever”, “Hostel”, “”)

“A new film from Herschell Gordon Lewis is a treat for all horror fans!” Tom Holland (Director of “Fright Night”, “Child’s Play”)

Relevant Links:

Official Website: www.bloodmania.ca

IMDb:

Facebook:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BloodMania

Monarch Films: http://www.mfilms.com/

Diabolique Films: http://www.diaboliquefilms.com

HGB Entertainment Ltd: http://www.hgbfilms.ca

Yours in screams, Genoveva Rossi
Check out my website: http://www.genovevarossi.com

Also follow me on Facebook: Genovevarossi810
Twitter: GenovevaRossi1
Instagram: Genoveva_Rossi
IMDb: http://www.imdb.me/genovevarossi

Steven Hickey’s Essential Guide To Creepypasta – Part 40: Laughing Jack

creepypastaSTEVEN HICKEY’S ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO CREEPYPASTA — PART 40: LAUGHING JACK

Pennywise. 100 Tears’ Gurdy. Killjoy. American Horror Story’s Twisty. The Killer Klowns From Outer Space. Long before scary clowns started terrifying members of the public on both sides of the Atlantic, the grease paint-wearing circus ‘funny men’ have enjoyed a nightmarish relationship with horror fans. The term Coulrophobia, while not a strictly recognised specific phobia, has been coined to describe a fear of clowns. Whether this is an officially recognised phobia or not, it is one of the most common fears. You almost certainly know somebody who will use the term ‘creepy’ to describe clowns. So it will come as no surprise to any of you to hear that Creepypastas have their very own diabolical clown.

The story of Laughing Jack was first posted on DeviantArtist Snuffbomb’s page back on 3 March 2013. You can read it here: http://snuffbomb.deviantart.com/art/Creepypasta-Laughing-Jack-357523173 It’s a haunting story about a single mother caring for her five-year-old son, James, who starts to talk to her about his imaginary friend. Dismissing the talk as merely childish exuberance, the boy’s mother laughs it off. However, that night her dreams are haunted by wounded, malevolent childish figures and the old nursery rhyme, Pop Goes The Weasel. From here James’s behaviour takes a bizarre turn, and a series of strange events around the house causes our narrator to start to worry. Each time she asks James about the source of these disturbances she receives the same ominous response: ‘Laughing Jack did it.’ Finally, one dark night, after witnessing a terrible atrocity, the poor mother discovers that Laughing Jack has one last trick in store for her and James…

The reasons Laughing Jack works are plentiful. Of course, there’s the obvious elements — the uncanny valley aspect of clown visages that causes discomfort in onlookers. Clown face paint offers a unique juxtaposition in that it presents an exaggerated expression, yet also hides the true face of the wearer. It is both overwhelmingly open and a mask all at once. It is a look certain to cause a degree of confusion due to its self-contradictory nature.mThe evil clown trope (and the Laughing Jack story in particular) also utilise that Creepypasta staple of subverting and warping childhood innocence to unsettle and unnerve the audience. I’ve covered this phenomenon at length here during the course of this series, so I shan’t go into too much depth once again. Suffice to say the imagery of Laughing Jack (the toys; the hard candies; and the nightmarish theme park) plus the recurring Pop Goes The Weasel motif, all use this storytelling device to fantastic effect.

rsz_ask_laughing_jack_by_felishaus-db030qtHowever, it’s not just the obvious elements in Snuffbomb’s tale that instill fear. It also touches on the very real fear we all nurse deep inside of losing touch with reality and sanity. The protagonist finds herself unable to trust her own senses, forced to accept the impossible situation in which she finds herself as true, and even at the end unsure as to which, if any, of the story’s events are real. We all rely on our senses, to comprehend the world and to keep ourselves safe from harm. But what happens if our senses and our minds lie? In that situation, the world becomes a very, very dangerous place indeed. The story also makes very clever use of the fear that all parents feel towards protecting their child, plus the general fear of protecting those closest to you. This fear is one used in plenty of horror movies in which adults struggle to protect their children (The Babadook and The Monster are recent high profile examples of this), and in this case (SPOILERS FOLLOW) the horror is worsened with the final reveal that not only does the mother fail to protect her child from harm, she’s actually the one to inflict it.

Whatever the reason, Laughing Jack has proved to be a VERY popular pasta. So much so, in fact, that Snuffbomb returned to his story to create an origin story, which you can read here: http://snuffbomb.deviantart.com/art/The-Origin-of-Laughing-Jack-419616829

It’s an interesting tale, one that starts back on the cobblestoned streets of Victorian London and introduces an abused young boy, Isaac Grossman, Laughing Jack’s first playmate. Originally an innocent and fun figure, Laughing Jack becomes corrupted by his conduct with the boy, who in turn was corrupted by the horrors of his own upbringing. As the young and naive Isaac becomes the worst kind of monster, Laughing Jack looks on, learning, until the day he once again faces his ‘old friend’…

This story is certainly more intense than the previous one, and includes some truly sickening sadistic moments, but then that’s entirely the point of their inclusion. It’s also startlingly original. So many ‘origin’ stories feature the monster as an all-too-human moping teen. They lose so much of their mystique (see Michael Myers in Rob Zombie’s Halloween), and it can often come across as a little bit ‘Mary Sue’-ish. This is certainly not the case with Laughing Jack who remains a mystical and decidedly monstrous otherworldly entity. In short, it’s a clever, well-written expansion to the mythos that enhances the story, rather than detracts from it in any way.

With this in mind it will come as no surprise to hear that the story has struck a chord with literally thousands of fans. The growing fandom has produced numerous works of art, many of which are excellent, while the demand for more of the character — from unofficial spin-offs and crossover stories with other popular pasta icons (some of which are surprisingly entertaining, others… ahem… less so), and the ubiquitous YouTube readings. It’s a testament to the popularity of the story that there are over…. Laughing Jack videos there, with readings by all the biggest names on the scene such as Mr Creepypasta, who has covered the first story (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZSvPU8HzY8) and the origin tale (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=54XPnDaCtwo)

That’s not to say that all the additional Laughing Jack material is unofficial fan fiction — far from it, as the hands-on and hard-working Snuffbomb has continuously reimagined his creation in multiple formats. One of these was the popular Youtube web-comic, Creeps, which he created with deviantartist SabrinaNightmaren. Jack himself plays a major role in the comic, and displays a more playful side to his personality, complete with dark quips and decidedly off-colour jokes. You can find the first part of the comic here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cItO2pQ3kQs

It was in the pages of Creeps that a strange offshoot of the LJ mythos was introduced — Laughing Jill. With an eye-catching visual design, the chainsaw-wielding dark clown can almost be viewed as the Jane the Killer to Jack’s Jeff. While not ‘officially’ regarded as canon, Jill has captured the imagination of a segment of the fan base, and a host of (often contradictory) origin stories have cropped up online, such as this one: https://www.quotev.com/story/4647633/Creepypasta-Origins/14 , this: https://www.quotev.com/story/5633756/The-origin-of-laughing-Jill/1 and this: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10738044/1/The-Story-of-Laughing-Jill

Unlike the antagonistic relationship between Jeff and Jane, Jill is often romantically linked to Laughing Jack, and regularly portrayed as his spouse!
Laughing Jill does seem to have caused some conflict in the fandom, with some fans (often teens) using the character to romanticise a character that many fans prefer to keep as an inhuman monster. For the most part the fans tolerate each other, but sometimes heated arguments have been known to break out between the two camps, those who are Pro-Jill and those who Anti-Jill.

Either way, it’s pretty obvious that plenty of fans are very passionate about the Laughing Jack character and the mythos surrounding him.

rsz_b61aaf161063aea425eaf5d36eaa77bbHowever, this popularity has also been linked to tragedy. On 23 July 2015, in Indiana, a 12-year-old girl fatally stabbed her stepmother, Maria Torres, then set fire to her family’s home. Later, during questioning, she claimed that she had committed these terrible crimes because Laughing Jack told her too. Media reports have likened this incident to the infamous Slenderman stabbing, in which two teenage girls brutally attacked a classmate, the crime at the heart of the acclaimed HBO documentary Beware the Slenderman.

Of course the perpetrator of the crime is a deeply disturbed individual and her actions in no way reflect those of the huge majority of the Creepypasta community who are a creative, welcoming and passionate group, many of whom have been of tremendous assistance to me in the writing of these features.

One such individual is the imaginative, outspoken and very personable Snuffbomb himself, who was kind enough to speak with UK Horror Scene about Laughing Jack, Creepypastas and his exciting future projects.

Our interview follows below.

UK HORROR SCENE: Hi Snuffbomb, please allow me to extend my gratitude for agreeing to speak with me.

SNUFFBOMB: Thanks so much for this interview! I’ve never been interviewed before.

UKHS: The most obvious first — In your own words, tell us a little about Laughing Jack?

SB: Laughing Jack is what you get when you cherry-pick all the things kids like such as clowns, toys, laughter, fun, etc. then twist and pervert them into all the things that kids fear, such as clowns, creepy dolls, darkness, jagged crooked teeth, exaggerated features and so on. He is the bump in the night in your child’s bedroom sending them into a panicked dash to your room for comfort. The thing that tells your child to hurt the cat or to break mommy’s expensive china. At the end of the day however, I think Laughing Jack is simply what he is. A clown. He wants to make the world laugh, whether they are willing to or not. He sees human life like a joke and humans as props in his routine. He is much like a child himself in a way, mirroring the same (if not somewhat distorted) views of the world where most of what he sees is new to him.

UKHS: What served as your inspiration for the character and the story?

SB: I came across Creepypasta in early to mid 2011, back when Slenderman was but a haunting whisper on forums and blogs. This was a huge inspiration, the “grit” and overall obscurity added a great deal to the creep factor in those days. The most inspiring story for me was The Rake. In fact for a week or so Laughing Jack’s “in development” name actually was The Rake, almost as tribute of sorts. I liked how visceral the character was in leaving behind mostly entrails and broken families like sick reminders of loss and terror.

On a more visual level Laughing Jack was inspired by a little known marionette stage play called The Fortune Teller. One character in particular in fact. I think anyone who looks it up will know exactly which one I’m talking about as the two bear slight similarities in appearance. As for personality and even voice, I always pictured a cross between Beetlejuice and the Crypt Keeper with a dash of Freddy Krueger for good measure. Finally, as for his powers and abilities I just like to think of him as a homicidal genie. Once released from his box all hell breaks loose, a bit like Stephen King’s IT, but less spider-monster and more circus clown.

UKHS: Which idea came to you first, the image or the story?

SB: The image certainly came first, actually about a year prior to the story being written. I originally did a rough sketch of him on a piece of notebook paper, and although I was proud of it at the time, he honestly looked like the lost member of KISS and I knew this wasn’t what I was going for. He went through several design changes before he became the clown he is today and his design is still being tweaked and tinkered with, like a painting I just can’t leave be.

UKHS: Are you a fan of Creepypasta? If so, what is your favourite Creepypasta by a creator other than yourself?

SB: When it comes to my taste in Creepypasta I definitely prefer the classics, such as The Rake and Russian Sleep Experiment. The Tall Man was one that always stood out due to its bleak, dark ending which explains that the most horrific things can still happen to the most innocent and undeserving of people. I have a few guilty pleasure pastas though as well, like Happy Appy and NES Godzilla. With Creepypasta I feel it’s less about how much it scares me, and rather more about how much I enjoyed reading it.

UKHS: Why do you think Creepypastas in general, and especially Laughing Jack, have been so popular with the fans?

SB: The stories themselves have always been the heart of Creepypasta, but I believe that it’s the visuals that really pull people in. I think most people see a picture of Slenderman, Jeff the Killer, Laughing Jack and so on first then become intrigued, which leads them to the stories and other content. I think a lot of core creepypasta fans (those who write and read the stories) dislike this.

They want their stories to stick out on their own, rather than live in the shadow of Slenderman or Jeff the Killer. Honestly, I think more people are drawn to Laughing Jack because of his personality and character rather than the two semi-average stories I wrote about him. Laughing Jack himself has grown exponentially more popular than his stories, which is why I believe the stories are often called “overrated”. I agree in a sense. Laughing Jack evolved, almost growing up in a way. He went from being this pure simple horror character to a horror-comedy icon. No longer does he make fans afraid to sleep with their lights off, but rather makes them laugh at disgusting humor and grotesque acts, all of what dark comedy has to offer. This transformation is much like the ones of horror-comedy icons you see on the big screen, like Freddy Krueger and Chucky. Horror and comedy go hand in handy really, something jumps out at you, you scream, you realise you’re not in any danger and just shrieked like a banshee in front of all your friends, and everyone laughs about it. People wouldn’t like horror if it didn’t make them feel good in some way, and that mindset is one I keep when I’m making my content.

rsz_laughing_jack_by_shadowkisses91-d5yfa02UKHS: Which writers, horror or otherwise, do you consider yourself a fan of?

SB: This may sound cliche as all hell, but I really love the writing in the old Tim Burton movies. Most films and stories focus on a normal person going on a journey of some type. The old Burton movies focused on someone odd and eccentric trying to find some sort of normality in their life — Beetlejuice, Batman, Nightmare Before Christmas, Edward Scissorhands. If anyone reading this gets a chance, look up “Tim Burton Hansel and Gretel”. That short film was incredibly inspirational for me and my work.

UKHS: What work of your own are you most proud of?

SB: Obviously I’m most proud of creating Laughing Jack, I often joke that he’s like my child. Honestly though, I don’t think I could point to any work I’ve done and say: “I’m proud of that!”. I see everything I do as an improvement of what came before it. I always look at my work as a critic and figure out what I did well and what could have been improved, then I revise it all and use what I’m left with to do a better job next time. If I had to pick however, I’d choose The Origin of Laughing Jack. I think It succeeds the first story in just about every way, though it is still far from perfect.

UKHS: The fans are very passionate about the character. Are there any examples of fan art, such as images, films or readings, in particular that have impressed you?

SB: This is a hard one to answer because I think just about everything the fans do is pretty incredible. It was really amazing to see my stories translated and narrated into so many different languages, and seeing PinkStylist do his take on the Laughing Jack makeup (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dv3E8dqi3RE) was very flattering as well. I absolutely love what Mr. Betty Krueger does with Laughing Jack in his audio dramas, I think it’s hands down one of the best interpretations of the character (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0EzTotOGhE&feature=youtu.be). As for traditional art, I could fill a book naming all those who do absolutely stunning and even horrifying illustrations of Laughing Jack. To know that my character inspired thousands and thousands of illustrations from so many talented artists across every website on the internet is really indescribable.

UKHS: While looking at your DeviantArt page I noticed a comment from you in which you voiced displeasure at a segment of the fandom that seem to have twisted your creation into a friendly (and, in some cases, sexy) pin-up. This is something that other Pasta creators, such as sesseur and Jason the Toy Maker’s Kristantyl, have bemoaned in interviews with me. Would you care to elaborate on this point here, to give the comment a little more context?

SB: This is a strange area for me. On one hand, I don’t tell anyone they can’t use my character for whatever they want, but on the other hand the weird fetish stuff makes me kind of uncomfortable. Canonically Laughing Jack is like a ragdoll and has no internal organs or genitals, so you might as well try to have sex with Woody from Toy Story. Honestly though, I just try to ignore it and let people do what they want. I don’t think the smut is shoved in other people’s faces or anything, so it’s really not a big deal.

UKHS: Sadly, this next question is a little uncomfortable, but I’d be a terrible journalist if I didn’t at least ask you about it. I was deeply shocked and saddened when I read about the Maria Torres stabbing in Indiana, especially when I read that the alleged perpetrator supposedly committed the crime ‘for Laughing Jack’. Obviously no creator should ever be held accountable for the actions of a seriously disturbed individual, so I don’t believe you have any duty to address the situation, but I just wondered if you would care to comment?

SB: It’s very unfortunate what happened to Maria Torres, and extremely unfortunate what happened to her step daughter. This case is often compared to the 2014 Slenderman Stabbing, however they couldn’t be more different.

The Slenderman incident was perpetrated by two misguided teens who knew full well the horrible crime they were committing, and the Torres incident was committed by a very mentally sick little girl who, according to the reports, begged for help days before the incident. This girl is the real victim, she was failed by everyone even after pleading to her parents and school for help. Her illness was reaching a destructive boiling point and that was going to happen whether or not Laughing Jack was a part of it. I’m very upset with the slant the media put on this incident with articles titled “Indiana girl killed stepmom to please Laughing Jack”. This is a story about a sick girl who was failed by the world and needs serious help, not one about a devoted fanatic who sacrificed her stepmother at the request of an evil internet clown. My heart goes out to all those involved in this incident.

UKHS: Can I get your thoughts on Laughing Jill?

SB: Laughing Jill was created as a spoof genderbend of Laughing Jack. She was created by me and the original artist of my old Creepypasta comic, Creeps. She was meant to be a joke, parodying the uncreative trend of making a romantic interest or sibling for a character simply by switching their gender. Laughing Jill was never meant to be anything more than a single drawing, however some of the fangirls felt differently. The original artist of Creeps wanted to develop Jill into her own character, however I strongly disagreed as I did not want Laughing Jack to have to share his spotlight with a cheap imitation.

rsz_laughing_jack_by_snuffbomb-d5wsy9wUKHS: Your artwork is incredible. Where did you learn to create such evocative images? How do you get inspiration for the creative process?

SB: First of all I would not describe my art as “incredible” but I’m glad someone out there would! In all seriousness though, I have always been a very artistic person. Art classes in middle school, creative writing and theatre in high school, film major in college, I’ve had my hand in art all throughout my life. One thing I always disagreed with all my teachers and professors about is that art has a set of rules — it has suggestions but not rules. The day that people say this one way is how all art/film needs to be made, is the day that the creative process dies. Where most desire to be a “professional artist” I desire to be an “unprofessional artist.”

I often do the opposite thing professional artists tell you to do. “Don’t write creepypastas in 3rd person” — I wrote Origin of Laughing Jack. “Use only the best makeup and materials” — I used hot glue and acrylic paint. “Make a clean convincing set and use good lighting” — I hold my set up with duct tape and use cheap $10 lights I got from Walmart. Art is about challenging rules, not coloring within the lines.

UKHS: Will you ever return to the story of LJ in the future? What else can your fans look forward to from you in the days ahead? And finally, are there any sites or projects that you’d like me to send my readers to for more of your work?

SB: I think the future is going to be bright for Laughing Jack. I want to drive him in a whole new direction and remove him from the Creepypasta scene to stand on his own as a horror-comedy icon alongside a cast of new characters I think my fans are going to love. I’ve completed production on the first episode of my new series, The Snuff Zone (You can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1VDdersmGE ). It’s a comedy series starring a heavily distorted caricature of myself (Snuff Bomb) and his insanely lovably hateable, not-so-imaginary friend Laughing Jack, along with an assortment of colorful original characters.

It’s a buddy comedy series about a sociopath and a psychopath who seek fame online but can’t seem to stay out of trouble. It also features the talent of Mr. Betty Krueger as “The Producer” and BaptismOnFire as the clinically depressed and suicidal teddy bear “Spencer”. So far the first episode has puke, pee, satanic rituals, AIDS, an actual decapitated deer head, and enough subliminal messages to turn Mr. Rodgers into Charles Manson. This and a slew of new content including the controversial SnuffCast is coming real soon. I greatly encourage everyone to subscribe to me on my youtube, SnuffBomb (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClLWpLHAP-Hv-TRCgiKeEBQ) and follow me on twitter at @TheSnuffBomb to see all this great new content.

UKHS: Since the Snuffzone has going live and it seems to have found a very appreciative audience. What has the feedback been like? How does it feel to see your work finding new fans in a different medium?

SB: Well my favorite genre of horror is retro horror-comedy. The cheesy and often comedic practical effects and over the top monsters from the 80’s horror movies really inspired me in making The Snuff Zone and shaping the personality of everyone’s favorite killer clown. I’ve often said “Scaring people is fun, but making them laugh is a lot more satisfying. So why not do both?” Once The Snuff Zone went live, the fan reaction was immediate. Fans are finally seeing the Laughing Jack that they’ve been wanting to see since they first read the stories. One that can creep them out one minute, then make them smile the next.

With a refreshingly down-to-earth attitude and some very original ideas on how to build on his character’s success, SnuffBomb is ensuring that Laughing Jack will go down as one of the classic Creepypasta stories.

Be sure to check back next time when I’ll be covering another classic story — and one of the most acclaimed of all time.

An Interview with Emma Dark by Gary Hindley

rsz_ed5Hi there, I’m Gary Hindley, Writer for UK Horror Scene.

Thank you very much for agreeing to speak with me, I hope all is well with you.

I want say congratulations on your success, with the award winning ‘Seize the Night’. It’s a fantastic piece of film, and thoroughly enjoyed. The writing and directing of film, is something you look to be thriving in, and each project you take on shows more ambition and your drive to try new, exciting things.

Q: What were the influences that got you interested in the horror genre?

I’ve always liked horror, from a very early age. My Dad was a butcher, and as a small child I used to go into his walk in fridge in the butchers shop to see the animals. Not in a particularly grim way, I wanted to see if any of the animals still had heads on and stroke them. Thankfully I actually didn’t turn out to be a serial killer, in fact I’m not even a big fan of slasher movies to be honest. The first horror film I saw was Albert Pyun’s “The Sword and the Sorcerer”. Strictly speaking it’s probably classed as a dark fantasy, but the horror elements are very strong, even as an adult viewer it’s pretty horrific in places. As a BBFC 18 rated film, I don’t know how I managed to convince my Dad it was a kids movie in a video store in the 80’s but somehow I did!

rsz_ed2Q: You’re a celebrated alternative model, and multi award winning director, writer, actress and producer. After being so successful with your modelling career, what was it that attracted you to film making?

With the modelling, the end results are great, frankly who wouldn’t want fantastic photos of themselves, however it’s not your art, not really, it’s the photographers. I’m not saying I don’t like modelling, I still do it from time to time, but I certainly wouldn’t devote all of my free time to it again the way I do with the filmmaking, although of course I’m very grateful for the amazing portfolio I’ve built up over the years.

Filmmaking gives you full creative control over telling a story. I guess I could have written a book or started doing more of my own photography (it would have been significantly cheaper), but I love film, I love using my mind to problem solve, and I love a challenge. Producing/Directing (and in my case also editing, marketing and all the rest) presents me with many challenges.

As far as the acting goes I’d really like to be offered a few more interesting serious parts. I do get offered roles fairly frequently but I have the problem of generally being earmarked what I’d call more of the ‘bimbo’ style of Scream Queen roles (being a model looking type I guess), which surprises me really as the character I play in my own film “Seize the Night” is so very far removed from this. I’ve just had the pleasure of acting in Comedy/Horror short film “Frankula” (available on Amazon Prime), co-starring with Hammer’s Caroline Munro and Judy Matheson, TV’s David Barry, “Carry On Screaming” star Fenella Fielding, and newcomer Martin Rudman, so interesting roles are out there. Many thanks to Stuart Morriss of Misty Moon and Jason Read of Robo Films for casting me in that. I’d actually really like to play a serious, smart, take no BS kind of heroine role in a high production value film, think Ripley in “Alien”. Wouldn’t we all, but if it’s out there that’s the ideal kind role for me in all honesty.

rsz_ed1Q: Seize the Night, saw you gain critical acclaim internationally, from some of the biggest horror magazines, and television channels. What has life been like since its release?

It did! It’s been a pretty amazing journey. It’s been covered at various stages of production by the likes of the Horror Channel, Dread Central, Starburst, Digital FilmMaker Magazine etc. It’s had some great reviews, including one from UK Horror Scene (which I actually quoted on the DVD cover). I can’t say I’ve suddenly been propelled into superstardom from one short film (who would be), but I am being taken more seriously as a mind and not just as a face now, I hope. I have signed as an official guest at lots of horror and sci-fi conventions across the UK, including MCM, which I think is pretty unheard of for an indie filmmaker/actor so I must be doing something right! The film’s also just been nominated for a prestigious iHorror award, so we’ll have to see what happens with that. Of course you have to take the good with the bad and the success does garner a certain level of negativity at times, especially (rather frustratingly) from industry peers I’m sad to say. I did let that bother me at one point but there are so many lovely genuine people out there who are extremely supportive that the others aren’t really worth worrying about in the grand scheme of things.

Q: Your next short film is ‘Salient Minus Ten’, is currently in post production. What can you tell us about your new venture?

It is, I’m finishing the edit now as we speak actually. I can tell you it looks absolutely amazing! I was lucky enough to have world renowned Director of Photography and DSLR guru Philip Bloom join my ‘Salient Minus Ten’ team as DoP. Philip is extremely talented and passionate about what he does, and like me is a bit of a perfectionist, so as you can imagine the shots looks amazing. The fact that Philip was requested to work on George Lucas’ feature film “Red Tails” should tell you everything you need to know about his beautiful cinematography style.

rsz_ed3Then there’s the star of my film, the amazing Alan Austen. Alan is perhaps best known for playing one of the Stormtroopers responsible for placing Han Solo in the carbon-freezing chamber in “Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back”, although his acting career actually spans almost 40 years and he’s had a variety of film and television parts. I’d originally cast another actor in the role (although I won’t go into that here, details are public on my Indiegogo campaign for those who need to know), when it came to recasting and I auditioned Alan I knew that he was the one to play the lead character of Adam Harper. Alan’s performance really blew me away, he’s absolutely fantastic, he really is, and I hope he goes on to win an award for his acting in my film.

I was also very lucky to have onboard named Special Effects artist Mike Peel of Rogue Creations. Mike has worked on a number of high profile films including “The Zombie Diaries”, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”, “V for Vendetta” and Jake West’s “Evil Aliens”.

The next stage in the post production process is to now finalise the edit and record the ADR for the film with my Sound Recordist and Designer Chris Collier of 24 Foot Square. I really want the sound design to be very creative and present, as beautiful as the cinematography really, so Chris has a very prominent role on the film.

You can find out more about the rest of my cast and crew (many of whom are ‘Seize the Night’ alumni) on the film’s IMDb page.

As far as the story goes I guess I’ve kept that fairly secretive. It’s a short film after all so I don’t really want to give away the entire plot. My brief storyline reads “Adam Harper is an average man. And on an average day he suddenly finds himself catapulted into the strangest, reality changing game… A game of time and chance, where the stakes are a matter of life and death.” I’ve written a very dark Sci-Fi essentially with horror elements. It’s cerebral, classy and somewhat abstract. I don’t really believe short films have to be any less than features in terms of quality of content, so expect something beautiful with depth.

Q: When can we expect to see the release of ‘Salient Minus Ten’?

A public release won’t be for some time. First it has to do the festival run, which gives it the greatest chance of being seen by those in the industry, and hopefully it will pick up a few well deserved awards along the way. I do hope fans can make it along to festival screenings.

rsz_ed4Q: You are an advocate of ‘Women In Horror’. Were you involved in WiHm 2017?

Yes absolutely, I sat on Jonathan Hughes ‘Women in Horror’ panel at his London based ‘United in Blood’ event talking about a range of film and industry related subjects, and how they affect/what they mean for women in film. You can find video coverage of the panel here http://bit.ly/2mjKwdG. Also MorbidlyBeautiful.com interviewed me as part of Women in Horror Month here http://morbidlybeautiful.com/inspiration-women-horror-3/.

In Autumn last year I wrote a seven page article on ‘Women in Film’ published in issue 39 of Digital FilmMaker Magazine, which talks about my own perspective and the experiences of other prominent UK based female filmmakers. It’s well worth checking out, as an issue of great importance it made the headline article with a dedicated front cover.

Not entirely part of Women in Horror Month but the MMBF Trust have also just opened submissions for the Emma Dark Horror Award. It’s the second year running after a successful 2016 and aims to support all aspiring filmmakers.

Q: What projects do you have planned after ‘Salient Minus Ten’? What are your plans for the future?

I do have another self Produced/Directed short film planned for later this year which has a famous name attached, but if I told you about that I might have to kill you!

Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us!

IMDB – http://www.imdb.com/name/nm5889089
Website – http://www.emmadark.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/EmmaDarkOfficial
Twitter – https://twitter.com/EmDarkOfficial
YouTube – http://bit.ly/1O5w3aV

UK Horror Scene Frightsight – Hanging With… MJ & Anna Dixon

rsz_mychoUK Horror Scene Frightsight – Hanging With… MJ & Anna Dixon

Welcome to a series of video interviews as UKHS writer Tony Sands and his crew hang with talented British folk from across the horror spectrum. They will be bringing a number of interviews across 2016 that will hopefully give you an insight into the UK indie horror scene and you will hear just what it takes to get a project to fruition.

Here the UKHS Crew Hang With MJ and Anna Dixon the team behind Mychos, an independent film label, where they have crafted a horror universe spanning over half a dozen movies already.

MYCHO Entertainment Group are producers of Horror features and Music Videos for distribution into the Televisual, Online and International Markets.

Awarding Winning Filmmakers whose Shorts like ‘EyeSpy’ and ‘Thorn’ have taken away prestigious prizes from Some of the biggest names in the Horror Community. Mycho produced Acclaimed Indie Feature Slasher House and its follow up Legacy Of Thorn as well as several brand new features for the world wide market. Mycho also offer production services including Promotion Videos, Graphic and Web Design, Photography, Music Production and Original Online Content.

Mj Dixon and Anna Dixon

Twitter: @MychoPictures
https://twitter.com/MychoPictures?s=09

IMDb
Mj Dixon
http://imdb.com/rg/an_share/name/name…

Website:
http://mycho.weebly.com

lnstagram:
Mj Dixon
https://www.instagram.com/mychoeg/

Slasher house 2
https://youtu.be/f4o26ULJyXg

YouTube channel:
Mj Dixon
https://youtu.be/-ckQ5sFrb-U

……………………………………………………………….

TONY SANDS (host/producer)
Twitter:
https://twitter.com/TonyRDB?s=09

TONY SANDS
Official website:
https://tonysandsofficial.com

……………………………………………………………….

DAVID CHAUDOIR (titles) twitter: @TheChaudoir http://www.badacidfilm.com

ANDY DEEN (associate producer)
Twitter: @AndyDeen666

IVAN TROOPA (sound/producer)

Twitter:
IvanTroopa https://twitter.com/IvanTroopa?s=09

lnstagram:
IvanTroopa
https://www.instagram.com/p/4mOfSIPLu5/

YouTube:
IvanTroopa
https://youtu.be/gL2lHRqnwCE

ANTOINE LASSALLE (camera/ producer) http://www.Flickr.com/antoinelphotos/sets

lnstagram:
ANTOINE LASSALLE
https://www.instagram.com/antoinelpho…

SARAH D’CRUZ (make up) http://www.sarahdcruz.com

lnstagram:
SARAH D’CRUZ
https://www.instagram.com/sarahdcruzmua/

OLIVER TURNER-LEES (composer) http://www.olivertlmusic.com

UKHS:
http://www.ukhorrorscene.com

Twitter: @UKHorrorScene
https://twitter.com/UKHorrorScene?s=09

……………………………………………………………….

Everyman Cinema
Location: Fortis Green Rd, Muswell Hill, London N10 3HP
https://www.everymancinema.com

A Life in Blood – Tales of a Horror Queen #9 – March 2017

genrossibannerA Life in Blood – Tales of a Horror Queen #9 – March 2017

rsz_gen1This horror queen had the recent unexpected honor of winning best actor Gold award at LA Shorts Awards film festivals for The Abducted. I found out about the win when director Larry Rosen posted it on Facebook. I met Larry Rosen in 2012 working on a project called Midnight Show. We exchanged contact info then years later Larry reached out when he had the perfect role for me.

Working with Genoveva Rossi is fun. She can identify the direction we are trying to take the [horror] film and brings in her brand of creepy horror to the role.”

The day we filmed The Abducted I awoke in New Jersey to the sound of screaming near my bedroom window. A while late there was a knock on my apartment door. In my normally peaceful neighborhood a man had been shot in front of my apartment and staggered over to the alley under my window where he died.

rsz_gen3Very upsetting news and my mind was scared and confused as I tried to get ready for my film shoot. I got outside and my car was parked in a crime scene. I called the director to let him know I would be a few minutes late because I had awoken to a murder and now the cops had to let me know when I could remove my car from a crime scene! A man shot probably a couple yards from my parked car. Unbelievable.

I got to the set of The Abducted already in a pretty intense, fearful mental state and perhaps that only helped be to focus for my performance as an abducted and abused woman who tries to fight back. I remember Larry Rosen saying on set that this was a pretty interesting filming story; art imitating life.

The Abducted has won 14 awards at film festivals so far including best short, actor, and director. It will also be part of Larry Rosen’s upcoming anthology feature Death At A Barbecue and Cries and Pleads.

rsz_gen7Genoveva has a good idea of what works in horror and how to implement it.” –Larry Rosen

Later Larry and I worked on You Can’t Predict Fate, which is a short going to film festivals. . I am the lead in this film and my character pays homage to Kathy Bates in Misery. I jumped at the chance to play such a disturbing character. I am a huge fan of Misery; I have read the book and seen the movie. Kathy Bates is so perfect in the role and an amazing actress in everything she does. It was great fun to get inside this role and let out my dark side. As an actress, I love playing unconventional female roles and I was honored that director Larry Rosen offered me the part..

As an actress in horror I want to see myself playing roles that express the darkness in the souls of women. Women capable of perhaps great love, but also great evil.” –Genoveva Rossi

rsz_gen2DEATH AT A BARBECUE (2017)
A group of friends get together for a barbecue. They decide to start telling horror stories around the fire. Although not everyone at the barbecue will make it home alive. As they tell stories, a killer begins to kill them off, one at a time. The feature acts as a wrap-around for an anthology of short films. The short films featured, have won combined, over 23 awards on the festival circuit.

Lloyd Kaufman and I also shot a cameo in Rosen’s upcoming feature Into The Outbreak. It’s a dramatic horror feature with zombies. The characters are really well developed and alive. It was fun acting in this with Hamza Zaman.

rsz_gen5INTO THE OUTBREAK (2017)
Macy and John are nearing the end of their relationship. Mandy and Steve just had a one night stand. Then an infectious outbreak starts turning people into cannibals. Now each of these survivors must deal with their issues as they attempt to survive the outbreak. Low on food, no law enforcement, infected cannibals eating people in the streets, fear grows of what is outside and what might come through the door next. Film is on the festival circuit and anticipating a dvd/vod release late Fall 2017.

The film business is all about building creative relationships and bringing the best out of each other. Films are a team effort and it’s always a pleasure to be part of director Larry Rosen’s team! Thanks for reading this month’s A Life In Blood: Tales of a Horror Queen! See you ghouls next month for more tales of horror.

rsz_gen6Yours in screams, Genoveva Rossi
Check out my website www.genovevarossi.com
Also follow me on Facebook: Genovevarossi810
Twitter: GenovevaRossi1
Instagram: Genoveva_Rossi
IMDb: http://www.imdb.me/genovevarossi

Dark Web: Steven Hickey’s Essential Guide To Creepypasta – Part 39: Sally (Play With Me)!

creepypastaDARK WEB: STEVEN HICKEY’S ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO CREEPYPASTA – PART 39: SALLY (PLAY WITH ME)

As I’ve written here before in my coverage of 1999 and Where Bad Kids Go, there are few evils in the world as monstrous as those sick individuals who prey on children. It is the acts of the likes of the Moors Murderers, Fred and Rose West, and Ian Huntley that are the real world’s most disturbing horror stories. This week’s Dark Web feature is about a Pasta that combines elements of these true-life horrors with a traditional vengeful ghost story to chilling effect. This is the story of Sally, Play With Me.

The story of Sally first appeared online at author and DeviantArtist, La-Mishi-Mish’s (formerly Kiki-Hyuga) page on 29 February 2012. You can read it at: http://la-mishi-mish.deviantart.com/art/CreepyPasta-Play-with-me-287823665
It recounts the story of young Sally, a sweet eight-year-old girl who is full of the innocence of youth. However, she finds herself plunged into a nightmare when her abusive and manipulative uncle Johnny comes to visit. After a horrifying ordeal (which, thankfully, is implied rather than graphically described), she looks to tell her parents about what she went through. Unable to process what they’re being told, the girl’s mother and father enter a state of denial. Later, Johnny overhears the two discussing their concerns – and decides to punish the girl for breaking her silence. However, Sally’s story does not end there…

The writing gets a tiny bit rough at times – which is only to be expected when you take the author’s relative inexperience into account – however, the story is strong and shocking, and (like some of the very finest horror stories) there is a real sense of pathos to Play With Me. Even as she becomes something terrifying, one can never forget that Sally is a victim herself. In her own story, Sally is far from the worst monster.

rsz_past_by_isaacostaIn a lot of ways she is reminiscent of Ring’s Sadako (or Samara for those only familiar with the remake), a sympathetic innocent who becomes corrupted by the horrors inflicted upon her. However, lets us not forget that here in the West, children are regularly used to invoke fear. We have an ageing population, one that has every reason to fear the next, younger generation. After all, ultimately, they are going to replace each of us.

What’s more, young children are far less rational or controlled than grown-ups. Their emotions are volatile, their brains just alien enough to make them unpredictable, and their different view of the world makes children pretty unfathomable to a large section of adult society. Of course, corruption of youth and innocence is a huge part of the Creepypasta movement – it’s the reason why there are hundreds and hundreds of ‘lost episode’ pastas relating to children’s programmes, such as Squidward’s Suicide or Suicide Mouse, and (as far as I’m aware) not a single one related to adult programming such as The Sopranos, 24 or Breaking Bad. There’s something inherently unsettling about taking childhood, the time in which you were meant to be most carefree, most safe, and reawakening those deep dark fears that came with the times.

The official term for a fear of children is paedophobia, and the reasons for which somebody might be afflicted with it are many, but it’s clearly common enough for Hollywood to have taken notice. Spooky kids are bread and butter in horror movies, and Sally definitely falls into the spooky category. She’s also a character that has seen a predominantly warm welcome from the Creepypasta community. There are plenty of pictures of the character on DeviantArt, plus an unofficial spin-off story, Will You Play With Me?, which was posted over at Creepypasta.com by user D.S. Ozolnieks (http://www.creepypasta.com/will-you-play-with-me/). Will You Play With Me? tells the story of an unfortunate individual who happens to cross paths with Sally.

There are also plenty of those ever-present readings online, including one by the heavyweight champion of the Creepypasta Reading scene, Mr Creepypasta, (which you can listen to here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PKJb4hU-4qc) and the equally impressive Creeps McPasta here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3K6X2yXL44.

This is a character who has touched, and terrified, thousands of people, and as such has taken on iconic status with some sections of the fandom.

I was lucky enough to speak with the character’s creator, La-Mishi-Mish, and she gave me some frank, brave answers to my questions, answers which some readers may find upsetting.
Our interview follows below.

UK HORROR SCENE: In your own words, tell us a little about Sally/Play With Me?

LA-MISHI-MISH: Play With Me is based on an eight year old girl named Sally. It takes place during a summer in the Sixties, and unfortunately, it will be her last summer to experience any true happiness or freedom as a child. I won’t go into full detail into the story for those who are possibly interested in reading it, but it let’s just say it does not have a happy ending. Sally, however, is your typical ‘good daughter’ who wants to make her parents happy and proud of her. And people like her never deserve what she does go through.

rsz_sally_1_by_la_mishi_mishUKHS: What served as your inspiration for the character?

LMM: Sally is 100% based and inspired off of my mother. I, again, won’t go into too much detail of her past, but my mother is a survivor of incest and many, many other things. She honestly should not be here alive after what she has been through, but I’m supremely grateful that she is. I honestly don’t know what I would do if she wasn’t here today. But despite everything my mother has gone through, she still lives every day to the fullest no matter what may come crashing down on her, and I wanted to incorporate that into Sally’s character, before and after her events in the story.

UKHS: Which idea came to you first, the image or the story?

LMM: The image came first. It wouldn’t surprise me if no one believes what I’ll say next but, my family and I are, ‘different’. Different as in we are able to see or feel spirits or anything paranormal. When I was little, I had two ‘imaginary friends’. One named Sally, the other Sarah. Sally wore pink, Sarah wore purple. Sally was a brunette while Sarah was blonde. Of course when I told my mother this, she never wrote it off as them being ‘imaginary’, but simply accepted that I, like her, could see spirits/ghosts. I don’t see them as much now, but I like to think they’re still here watching over us. Anything I do happen to see is out of the corner of my eye, my mother and brother Logan however, can see them clearly, as if they are real people.

But after I came up with my initial idea of who my protagonist would look like in my story, it was then I decided to base one of the many things my mother had gone through herself as a child, as the story itself. Albeit a far ‘tamer’ version. But my mother always wanted to ‘be’ a cartoon character in some way, so I created Sally and Play With Me in her honor.

UKHS: Are you a fan of Creepypasta? If so, what is your favourite Creepypasta by a creator other than yourself?

LMM: I’m a fan of SOME Creepypasta, but not all. If I may be honest, I haven’t been up to date with any recently popular CP’s. But if I was to choose a handful of my personal it would be these: My very first Creepypasta story I ever read, was BEN: Haunted Majora’s Mask. It’s quite a read, but definitely worth every minute you spend on it. Creeped me out to no end. Then there’s the unforgettable Jeff the Killer, Mr. Widemouth, Clifton Bunny Man, Huntsville Camping Trip, The Thing That Stalks The Fields, Eyeless Jack, Smile.Dog, Squidward’s Suicide, Cupcakes, The Willow Men, Julia Legare, Tourist Trap, LSD: Dream Emulator, Bubby the Clown, Herobrine, Disneyland 1999, Lavender Town, Russian Sleep Experiment, just to name a few. They’re all great in my opinion.

UKHS: Why do you think Creepypastas in general, and especially Sally/Play With Me, have been so popular with the fans?

LMM: I think Creepypasta itself is online scary stories that can be shared and told countless of times. People love scary stories, no matter how scary or even silly it may be. Seeing how you can use the internet for almost anything, creating and sharing something like stories would be easy to do.
I’m not sure how my story got so popular, but in a way I’m kinda honored, if not flattered it did. I’m not too confident in my written work as I am in my drawings, but it gives me some feeling of accomplishment.

rsz_sally_profile_sheet_by_la_mishi_mishUKHS: Which writers, horror or otherwise, do you consider yourself a fan of?

LMM: I don’t read much literature (I’m more into manga), but from what I remember, one of my favorite authors was Laurie Faria Stolarz and her book series, Blue is for Nightmares. I unfortunately only got up to a certain point in the series because I couldn’t find the rest of the books, but from what I remember it’s a wonderful series. I highly recommend it to anyone who is into mystery novels.

UKHS: What work of your own are you most proud of?

LMM: That’s a tough question, I’m very hard on myself at times with my artwork, whether it be drawn or written. But right now I am pretty proud of my Play With Me story. I never expected a silly little story I made in honor of my mom would get popular in any form. Art wise? That’s a little tough because, there’s tons of pieces that I personally feel proud of, but too many to list on here.

UKHS: The fans are very passionate about the character. Are there any examples of fan art, such as images, films or readings, in particular that have impressed you?

LMM: Yes actually, I do have a few favourites that I’d be happy to show you.
http://mio-m3.deviantart.com/art/Sally-638350582
http://a-b-b-a.deviantart.com/art/sleeping-beauty-640341677
http://isaacosta.deviantart.com/art/Past-601597215
http://tokami-fuko.deviantart.com/art/PLAY-WITH-ME-569240024
http://delucat.deviantart.com/art/Cosplay-Creepypasta-Jeff-The-Killer-with-Sally-556864766
http://havenrelis.deviantart.com/art/Sally-progress-pics-546588727
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3K6X2yXL44

UKHS: Your artwork is incredible. Where did you learn to create such evocative images? How do you get inspiration for the creative process?

LMM: Awah, thank you so much haha, I’m flattered to hear that. I first started drawing when I was five. I always loved watching my aunt Cheyenne draw little comics and characters, so when I turned eight I wanted her to teach me how to draw. She taught me the basics, but after that I’ve been self taught. I wish it was easier to ‘print’ out the images one can visualise in one’s head, but when my art does come close to it, it’s a great accomplishment. My inspiration almost always stems from my emotions to my music that I listen to. A simple song can easily spark up many upon many ideas for pictures.

UKHS: Will you ever return to the story of Sally in the future? And what else can your fans look forward to from you in the days ahead?

LMM: I’m actually in the process of giving my Play With Me story a sort of ‘reboot’. Not to replace the previous story, mind you, just to have a little fun to add more to it and see if the public will like it. I will admit that I could have done lots more to my story, but regardless of what anyone says about it, I am happy with how the story turned out. I don’t know if you’ve read my fan story Origin of Eyeless Jack (http://la-mishi-mish.deviantart.com/art/Origin-of-Eyeless-Jack-363990065), but I also plan on creating one for BEN: Haunted Majoras Mask. They have nothing to do with the original, of course, but they too are also for fun. And in the future, I just hope people enjoy what I continue to post up in my gallery, whether it be literature or artwork.

rsz_sally2UKHS: And finally, are there any sites or projects that you’d like me to send my readers to for more of your work?

LMM: Well, there’s obviously my deviantART page: La-Mishi-Mish.deviantart.com, that’s where I post most if not all my work. Then there’s my artblog over on Tumblr, http://artofakiki.tumblr.com. And finally, if one is even interested, my YouTube channel. I have tons of old videos of my first years on YouTube itself, but now has small voice acting tidbits of the Five Nights at Freddy’s animatronics and other shenanigans. Just search up ‘La Mishi Mish’ and you should be able to find me with no problem (UKHS: the channel is here: https://www.youtube.com/user/HyuugaKiki100). With my current living conditions, I am unable to upload constant videos on my channel, but hopefully one day that will change.

UKHS: Thank you for speaking with me.

Sally is one of those Creepypasta characters who has become an integral part of the scene for several fans. Join me next time when I’ll be speaking with the creator of another iconic web-horror character…

An Interview with Director Steven Kastrissios ahead of World Prem of BLOODLANDS at FrightFest Glasgow!

rsz_bloodlands-steven_kastrissiosAn Interview with Director Steven Kastrissios ahead of World Prem of BLOODLANDS at FrightFest Glasgow!

Ahead of the World Premiere of his latest film BLOODLANDS at Horror Channel FrightFest Glasgow, Steven Kastrissios discusses the challenges of making the world’s first Albanian / Australian horror film.

So what have you been doing in the eight years since making your amazing debut with THE HORSEMAN ?

Writing. I was just 24 when I shot ‘The Horseman’ and it was only my second feature script, so I wanted to expand my horizons and I wrote many scripts in completely different genres and styles. I developed other little projects and came close to doing other features with other people’s scripts but for various reasons they fell through, usually over the script. I also stumbled into music and that bled into my film work too.

How did BLOODLANDS come about as the first Australian/Albanian collaboration?

Coffee with my Albanian-Australian friend, Dritan Arbana. He told me about the blood-feuds and I instantly saw an idea for a story and also importantly, how to make it a viable production with limited means. Dritan is an actor with no experience or desire to be a film producer, but I trusted him and anointed him as my producing-partner and two or three months after that coffee, we were in Albania prepping the shoot.

Why have the Albanians shied away from the genre up to now? Because their own history is so frightening?

I’m not Albanian, so I can’t answer this exactly, but from what the crew told me, they had a solid industry decades ago with the USSR influenced propaganda films, but their local industry has had limited opportunities since. They tend to like local comedies more and deal with the issue of blood-feuds as straight dramas, which there has been plenty. There were no stunt-coordinators, armourers, special-effects make-up artists we could find there, so limitations like that would make it difficult for any budding local genre filmmakers. I have a post-production background so I had the advantage of knowing how to design shots where we only had to do certain minimal things on-set, like very simple make-up, and the rest would be completed in post. We could do things safely too, like have real guns but no ammunition on set. Not even dummy cartridges. No explosive squibs too. All this stuff would be done through a subtle use of VFX.

When did you come across the legend of the Shtriga?

During my initial research. There’s various types of witches in the Albanian and Balkan cultures. There’s even a witch that will maim you if you waste bread, so they have a witch for everything there! And fortunately the Shtriga myth fitted perfectly with the backstory I had in mind for my witch.

Directing the movie in a foreign language? Much more difficult surely because you need to understand the performance shadings?

This was just another hurdle we had to jump through collectively, but people learn fast and adapt so it wasn’t a big problem and most of the cast/crew spoke English, so I had a team of translators around me at all times for when someone needed help understanding me and vice versa. Whilst I don’t have an ear for Albanian, I did have the advantage of being the writer and the fact that I’d based the main characters on my own family, meant that I knew these characters inside and out.

rsz_bloodlands-web1How did you go about tackling the portrayal of Albanian people and their culture, which to outsiders still carries a lot of negative clichés?

I was not aware of the clichés so much, coming from Australia. Dritan filled me in on countless tales of Albania, but what we were exploring was at the end of the day, a horror story with fantasy elements. So we weren’t necessarily tied down to absolute reality all the time and the film is lens in a way that embraces the ominous horror elements, wherever we found them. And the story is set in the mountains of a rural village, so we weren’t exploring modern city life with local crime figures, which may be the clichés people speak of.

The Albania I saw, mainly when we were location scouting, knocking on doors and seeing into people’s home lives, gave me confidence to know that the story I’d written in Sydney felt authentic to Albania. Anything that didn’t fit we re-wrote with either the actors or with Dritan’s consultation beforehand, who translated the script for me. I’m half Greek and Albania and Greece share a border, so there was that familiarity for me as well. Although the two countries certainly have significant cultural differences, there is still a Mediterranean through-line that is similar.

What will Albanian audiences make of it do you think? When will it be released there? Will the film kickstart a genre industry in Albania do you think? Or hope?

I have no idea. I made the film for a global audience. The Albanian sensibilities in the arts is unique to itself, so it could go either way. There was certainly a lot of interest in the project when we were there shooting, so I would imagine there would be a natural curiosity about the country’s first horror film.

Are the Albanian cast stars in their own right, or did you discover them? 

They are all stars in my eyes. Gëzim Rudi who plays the father is one the most recognisable actors in Albania. Ilire Vinca who plays the Shtriga was in The Forgiveness of Blood and Suela Bako, playing the mother, has had a lot of experience too and is a filmmaker herself. But it’s the feature debut for most of the cast I believe.

Bearing in mind how difficult it is to get indie genre films released, was it a conscious decision to not make the film in the English language?

Certainly having non-English language does hurt sales internationally, but what’s the alternative? Having Albanians speak English instead? People have suggested that, but I think that’s a terrible decision long-term that would seriously compromise this project. Albanian is an ancient language rarely heard outside of the region and it’s one of the few that has no root in other languages, so we should preserve it. Global audiences obviously do find foreign cultures of interest so we have that on our side and people so far do seem to be genuinely intrigued in a horror film about an Albanian witch!

And finally, what next?

I’m developing another little project while I make my first serious attempts to go to USA with a script I’ve been developing. In the past I only sent one script out to a handful of people in USA, and I wasn’t even there to do the pitch meetings, as I was based in Sydney and focusing on Australian projects mainly, with no desire to move. But after the fun I had in Albania and the speed of which it came together, I’m all for working internationally.

BLOODLANDS is showing at the Glasgow Film Theatre on Sat 25 Feb, 2.20pm as part of Horror Channel FrightFest Glasgow 2017.

Dark Web: Steven Hickey’s Essential Guide To Creepypasta – Part 38: The Puppeteer

creepypastaDARK WEB: STEVEN HICKEY’S ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO CREEPYPASTA PART 38: THE PUPPETEER

A few weeks ago I wrote about the popular DeviantArt original character (or OC, to use the parlance of Creepypasta creators), Jason the Toymaker.
Jason is a perfect example of the nature of DeviantArt OCs. He is a terrifying, visually striking character who has drawn more than his fair-share of (sometimes unwanted) fan adoration. This week I’m returning to DeviantArt for another such character, one that is was actually heralded by Jason’s creator, Kristantyl, as her favourite Creepypasta. This is the story of The Puppeteer.

The story of The Puppeteer was first posted on DeviantArt in July 2013 by his creator, BleedingHeartworks. You can read the story here: http://bleedingheartworks.deviantart.com/art/Creepy-Pasta-The-Puppeteer-387722714

In the story an unnamed narrator talks about experiencing an overwhelming feeling of loneliness and then paranoia upon going to college. Finally, after the narrator has succeeded in withdrawing from any all contact, a chance encounter on a stairwell leads to a heart-rending, frightening conclusion. The story is a good one, and I can imagine that lots of Creepypasta readers are of the same age as BleedingHeartworks’ protagonist, which will help the reader to relate to the character’s plight.

What’s striking is the fact that, despite being the title character, The Puppeteer is used sparingly in the story. This is a very intelligent storytelling device, as few things frighten as much as the unknown. We are given a description of the villain, a hint as to his motives, but the character never wears out his welcome, is never overexposed. This smart storytelling drew a lot of attention to the character, prompting the author to pen a sequel, The Puppeteer II: Motherly Love, which appeared over at DeviantArt on 5 December 2013. You can read that story here: http://bleedingheartworks.deviantart.com/art/The-Puppeteer-II-Motherly-Love-418003926

It’s the story of a young boy (later revealed to be named Zachary) and the struggles he faces growing up with an abusive alcoholic for a mother. To escape the misery of his day to day existence, the boy conjures up a host of imaginary friends to play with. But as he gets older and outgrows these childhood fantasies, one of these friends refuses to fade away. A familiar golden eyed entity… I think an argument can be made that this story is actually a sequel that surpasses the original tale. There is clear growth evident in BleedingHeartworks’ writing style and the story itself is more substantial.

rsz_puppeteer__character_sheet_by_bleedingheartworks-d6urhndOnce again, The Puppeteer is kept shrouded in mystery, which — when combined with the number of visually striking images of the character that BleedingHeartworks was producing — saw the character’s steadily growing hordes of fans clamouring for some more information. In response to this demand, BleedingHeartworks created character sheets, a document detailing the Puppeteer’s relationships, and, in October last year, a proper origin story. You can read it here: http://bleedingheartworks.deviantart.com/art/ORIGIN-STORY-The-Puppeteer-639586140

It’s always risky revealing an OCs origin, as it comes with a chance of souring the mystique surrounding the character. However, as origin stories go, The Puppeteer’s is a pretty good one. It is revealed that the character was born Jonathan Blake in 1974, a normal boy with a normal family. As he grew he became interested in the Arts, especially theatre, but these dreams were placed on hold as his parents often worked long hours and he was forced to watch his younger siblings. Finally, however, he was able to attend High School, where he joined the drama club. It was here that he met pretty budding ballet dancer Emra, with whom romance soon blossomed.

Emra was Jonathan’s rock during his frequent bouts of depression, while he lent her the moral support and strength to stand up to her overbearing parents. However, as graduation drew near, it was these same parents that would drive a wedge between the young lovers. They gave Emra an ultimatum: either she would break up with Jonathan or they would refuse to subsidise her dream to become a dancer. Forced to choose between her love and her dreams, Emra chose her dreams and ended the relationship. Needless to say, Jonathan did not take this well…

These sequels are more than just continuations of the Puppeteer’s story, they are genuine expansions, each adding characters who would go on to become a huge part of the Puppeteer’s lore. Both Zachary and Emra now serve their puppet-master in his plots to ensnare future victims. It’s a rich story that has been developing and evolving, plus it comes with dozens of high-quality and quite fantastic pieces of art, all of which can be found in BleedingHeartworks’ Puppeteer gallery over at DeviantArt here: http://bleedingheartworks.deviantart.com/gallery/46973406/T-H-E-P-U-P-P-E-T-E-E-R
It can come as no surprise that the fans have embraced the character and the story. This has created an established audience for artists and other creative types, who have produced a wealth of fanart (including some great readings by Creepypasta’s biggest name narrators, such MrCreepypasta: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZUc03enccs)

It’s hard to ascertain what exactly makes the Puppeteer such a frightening character. Obviously the graphic descriptions of broken bones caused by his spiteful actions are the most attention grabbing, but it is MO of stalking and taking advantage of the lonely and the depressed that is his most frightening characteristic. Manipulative and cunning, the Puppeteer is a character that will take advantage and target an individual when they are their lowest ebb. As all people will experience a time when they feel outcast or alone, this is a truly scary proposition.

I was lucky enough to be able to speak with the mind that created this monster, BleedingHeartworks. Our interview follows below.

UK HORROR SCENE: Hi BleedingHeartworks, thanks for agreeing to speak with me. First, in your own words, tell us a little about The Puppeteer?

BLEEDINGHEARTWORKS: The Puppeteer as a character is a vengeful spirit with the intention to feed off the energy of human beings. In order to do that, he forces his victims through emotional turmoil, causing them to slowly slip into madness and eventually suicide. The Puppeteer is very manipulative, often presenting himself as a friend to others. He’s very self-absorbed and will only do things in order to gain things for himself. Despite that, he’s a very calm and peaceful ghost, but when provoked can end your life at an instant. He can produce golden-glowing strings in order to keep his victims at bay during the kill.
The Puppeteer does not always work on his own however, as he’s gained the help of two puppets of his, Emra (Created by Highwind-Valor) and Zachary. They work in a similar way as the proxies work for Slenderman.

UKHS: What served as your inspiration for the character?

BH: During the time of the creation of the character, I was heavy influenced by two indie-horror games; The Cat Lady and The Crooked Man. Both of these games spoke about suicide and depression, something that I wanted to translate a story about as well.

rsz_1rsz_cp_couple_canon__puppeteer_and_emra_by_aiuta31-d91vhu4UKHS: Which idea came to you first, the image or the story?

BH: For me, when creating characters the visuals usually comes first. I always have some kind of theme or a specific item or look I want to create a character around. With Puppeteer, I didn’t draw him until a few weeks into the progress. I kind of lingered around his purpose and characteristics for so long, the visuals managed to come alive of it’s own inside my head. The first drawing I did of him was together with Sally (Play With Me), since Kiki-Hyuga was helping me out with the story during the first weeks of the progress. After that drawing, I started up the story. And it just kinda escalated from there.

UKHS: Are you a fan of Creepypasta? If so, what is your favourite Creepypasta by a creator other than yourself?

BH: Absolutely! Even though I’ve been going in and out of the fandom for a few years, I’ve always come back somehow. It’s as if I’m unable to really let it go, and it’s even harder when so many people like what I do. My favorite creepy pasta creator is Emthesmall, another author who’s created Starvation of Angels, one of my favorite creepy pastas up to date. She’s also a very dear friend of mine and we can spend hours talking about horror and creepypasta, creating stories and characters together.

UKHS: Why do you think Creepypastas in general, and especially The Puppeteer, have been so popular with the fans. For the Creepypasta genre, I think a lot of comes with that a lot of readers can find themselves in the stories and relate to the characters. For The Puppeteer, I think (and hope) it’s about the same.

BH: I know there’s been a lot of followers saying that they can relate to both the main characters and the Puppeteer, which I think matters to a lot of people. For me, the fascination for the genre comes from knowing that all of the content comes from the ordinary people, the single person and creators as a whole. Nothing has gone through company-eyes and everything comes from the single heart of creation. It’s the mainly the only reason why I got so attached to Creepypasta in the first place. I love the people and the passion that comes through into creating.

UKHS: Which writers, horror or otherwise, do you consider yourself a fan of?

BH: I’ve always been a huge fan of Stephen King and Gaston Leroux. Despite not always coming back to specific writers, I usually always end up reading up on time period horror stories, sort of the victorian-era gothic stories.

UKHS: What work of your own are you most proud of?

BH: Besides Creepypasta and The Puppeteer, I have a few other things I work around and one of them being my own universe and world for my own Dungeon World campaign. Even though I haven’t let a lot of people in on this project, I’ve spent roughly two years in creating my own fantasy setting for role-play purposes. I’ve done everything from creating stories to characters, to nature to lore. Maybe one day, I’ll wrap it all up together and post more of what I have done during these two last years. Maybe.

UKHS: The fans are very passionate about the character. Are there any examples of fan art, such as images, films or readings, in particular that have impressed you?

BH: I’ve had a few fan fictions and pieces of art that has completely blown my mind. I’ve always said that The Puppeteer is what the fandom makes him, as many people adapts their own ideas and thoughts to his character and that’s what I feel makes him special. I love it when people come up with their own headcanons for him, as well as relationships and stories and I love it even more when they want to share it with the rest of my followers. I’ve always made sure to let people know when I appreciate their creations, especially since I know they will let me know that they appreciate mine.

One thing that I will always come back to and love so much, is the song ”Golden Strings” created by my friend, Youtube Madame Macabre which is a fan-song created for Puppeteer (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLWcNPhHFBE). To have an actual original song dedicated to your character is the coolest things to happen to a creator, especially for me since I always let music have a big part of my inspiration.

UKHS: When I interviewed Kristantyl about Jason the Toy maker, she named the Puppeteer as her favourite Creepypasta. How does it feel to get that sort of recognition from fellow creators?

BH: That’s amazing! Just as every other artist out there, I worry a lot about what others think about my art and pieces. I think between creators, we can understand the pressure that comes along with having something of yours become popular among a fandom. And when you hear such words coming from someone else you equally admire, it’s one of the best feelings ever.

UKHS: Your artwork is incredible. Where did you learn to create such evocative images? How do you get inspiration for the creative process?

BH: Thank you! Art has always come natural for me and it’s always been there for me as a way to express myself when words isn’t enough. From an early age, I was always the kid who would rather stay inside and draw by myself than be out and socialize with others. My autism made it difficult for me to interpret what others said and harder for me to tell people what I actually meant. The simplicity of art is what kept me to it and always had. So art became a very personal, emotional thing for me. I endlessly pushed in personal things into my art, it didn’t really mattered if it was a ’mindless’ fantasy piece or something more of a personal nature. Things that will always inspire me ranges all over the place, from video games to series, to the simple nature to everyday things such as music. I can get inspiration from conversations, when I’m out with friends, alone. My mind just won’t stop bugging me about it.

rsz_the_puppeteer__new_character_sheet__by_bleedingheartworks-d8jdu61UKHS: Will you ever return to the story of The Puppeteer in the future? And what else can your fans look forward to from you in the days ahead?

BH: I probably will. I always find myself coming back to him and keep coming up with new stories to work out. The possibilities are endless. As of now, the projects I have in mind are a few other stories, one short-film, a comic and a music video for a friend that involves The Puppeteer and his two helpers.

UKHS: And finally, are there any sites or projects that you’d like me to send my readers to for more of your work?

BH: Nothing more than just my DA, really. http://bleedingheartworks.deviantart.com

As BleedingHeartworks explained, the tattered puppet follower Emra was actually created by fellow DeviantArtist Highwind-Valor. Now an established part of the Puppeteer’s story, the creepy marionette-like character is just as creepy and visually striking as her former lover.

I’m really happy to be able to say that I was also able to dig a little deeper into the character as Highwind-Valor was kind enough to speak with me. You can read our interview below.

UKHS: The most obvious first — in your own words, tell us a little about Emra and her role in the story of The Puppeteer?

HIGHWIND-VALOR: Emra is Puppeteer’s first true creation, she is his muse, his masterpiece. At first she plays the role of his proxy, going out to find new lonely victims to turn into puppets. When Puppeteer realizes how fragile she is (she not a very well made, she falls apart/scratches very easily), he leaves her in an abandoned theatre. The place that she now calls home. She stays there by herself for the most part, playing mother to Puppeteer’s proxy Zachary. That’s the short synopsis I can give without making this a long answer haha.

UKHS: What served as your inspiration for the character?

HV: The character herself was inspired by my love for the theatre. I feel that this is shown through her design, and through most of her story.
Some of the other aspects of her character was inspired by my ex-girlfriend and her terrible parents. I would use a word worse than terrible, but even that would be putting it mildly. They were so controlling, and that is what Emra never gets throughout most of her story, control. She doesn’t get control of her own life, and assumes that she can’t even make her own decisions. Any control she does try to take ends with some sort of hard consequence.

UKHS: Why did you choose to contribute to the story of The Puppeteer?

HV: When Bleedingheartworks and I started talking, it wasn’t too long after Puppeteer was created. She asked if I wanted to make a character to role play with her online, and here we are. I didn’t think I would get so invested into her character, I also never thought she would ever gain traction in popularity.
Emra was actually the first character I had made and fleshed out since early high school, and I made Emra in my junior year of college.

UKHS: Which idea came to you first, the image or the story?

HV: A mix of both. Bleedingheartworks and I talked about what could potentially happen if I made a character. We talked about what could happen if I made a male character, which I was originally going to do. Then we talked about the potential of a female character, and then it just sort of snowballed from there.

rsz_pupandemra2_by_ivydarkrose-d9c6shtUKHS: Are you a fan of Creepypasta? If so, what is your favourite Creepypasta by a creator other than yourself?

HV: It depends, there’s always a good side, and a bad side to every fandom, and Creepypasta is no different. Creepypasta has been known especially for the bad fandom, fortunately for me, most of my experiences within the community have been good. My good experience stems from being interested in horror, mainly Eighties horror, followed by the classics such as Frankenstein or the Werewolf. There wasn’t a huge following for that when I first started roaming the internet way back when; maybe I wasn’t looking in the right place? Who knows.

Creepypasta served as a gateway for me to make friends whose interests were not limited to creepypasta, but the horror genre as a whole. That’s why I am a fan, because I could make friends who I could geek out about horror with, and in turn we could make our own horror stories to share. There are a lot of creations that I love within the community, but you have to sift through a lot to find those well thought out/put together creations. Just like you have to sift through a lot of people before you will find your true friends.

My favorite creepypasta right now is one that actually hasn’t been published anywhere, yet. My best friend, Max, whom I met in high school, decided to try their hand at making a creepypasta. After seeing how much fun BleedingHeartworks and I were having creating the story that surrounds Puppeteer and Emra, Max told me about their new character named John, during a car ride over to Seattle.

I was enthralled the whole ride, asking questions to learn about the story behind this twisted character, who I hope will be introduced into the community soon.
The thing about John is he legitimately scares me. He is a very religious man, but he is one of those that takes it too far. There are people in this world so crazed by the power of religion that it makes his story legitimately scary, to me at least, to see how far a man would go in the name of god. Either way, as far as I know he is still a work in progress. Max has been working on him and his story for a good two years now. BleedingHeartworks and I are constantly trying to encourage her to keep working and post it for people to see and enjoy.

The other piece of content I am still a fan of is Marble Hornets. I remember how scared I was when I first started watching it. I believe they were around tape 30 or 40 when I came crossed it, and I binged it. At first it was the fear that excited me with it, then what it ultimately boiled down to was the story. The story of a couple friends just trying to make a movie, and everything going wrong in a way that would ruin their mental state forever. I was such a big fan of it that I actually helped Madame Macabre (https://www.youtube.com/user/xMadameMacabrex) make full music video for her fan made song for Marble Hornets titled To The Ark, producing all of the visuals to try and emulate the series the best I could.

UKHS: Why do you think Creepypastas in general, and especially The Puppeteer, have been so popular with the fans?

HV: I honestly think it originated with the mystery. In terms of Puppeteer, not a lot more than his story/design was put out there when he was first released. After a year or so, Bleedingheartworks released his origin story. It was a gradual thing which is good, because: 1] It keeps the fans interested in the mystery, and 2] It gives the creator time to sort out details. To this day Bleedingheartworks and I continue to develop our characters together. Figuring out various plot lines that may or may not have happened.

UKHS: Which writers, horror or otherwise, do you consider yourself a fan of?

HV: I’ve been a fan of Wes Craven, and Stephen King ever since I first got into horror. Freddy Vs. Jason is the first horror movie I watched without being completely terrified of it, and that got me into watching the ANOES/Friday the 13th movies. Which, in turn, got me into looking up more and more.

UKHS: What work of your own are you most proud of?

HV: That’s actually a pretty hard question. I pretty proud of Emra, both story and design I have put a lot of effort into over the years. I just need to make more content for her now haha. It’s hard looking at your own work

UKHS: The fans are very passionate about the character. Are there any examples of fan art, such as images, films or readings, in particular that have impressed you?

HV: I have received a couple of pieces of fan art, and it gets me excited when people get excited about Emra. From traditional to digital illustrations, an MMD model, I even received a beautiful doll that a friend made of her. (The Emra doll actually stays on my desk which is pretty neat!)
Really, the talent is endless and I am so glad that people share their art with me! It truly means a lot.
http://aiuta31.deviantart.com/art/CP-COUPLE-CANON-Puppeteer-and-Emra-547344652
http://ivydarkrose.deviantart.com/art/MMD-The-Puppeteer-and-Emra-564667841
http://kingdomwielders.deviantart.com/art/Upcycled-Art-Doll-Emra-615545932
http://thebleedingtears.deviantart.com/art/Emra-632247701

UKHS: When I interviewed BleedingHeartworks about The Puppeteer, she spoke very highly of you and your work with Emra. How does it feel to get that sort of recognition from fellow creators?

HV: It feels odd, for a lack of a better word. I’ve never gotten so much attention for something I’ve created, I’m so used to just being in my own corner creating things that people don’t really look at haha.

UKHS: What else can your fans look forward to from you in the days ahead?

HV:In terms of Emra, I am slowly but surely working out a concept for a video explaining her origins. Outside of that, I have delved into the art of making movie reviews. In each review I portray of a character of mine, Leviana, who commentates on the movies. And these movies tend to be bad b-level movies, so it makes for some pretty entertaining content.

UKHS: And finally, are there any sites or projects that you’d like me to send my readers to for more of your work?

HV: Honestly, I always have work going on. Whether it’s my own projects, or a project I’ve been asked to be apart of. Granted, it takes me forever to get content posted but you can always keep an eye out on my pages.

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/UmbrellaBoatStudioTV
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Highwind_Valor
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/UmbrellaBoatStudio/

In the story of The Puppeteer and Emra we see a positive example of the collaborative nature of Creepypasta. It is a project by two talented and imaginative artists who were able to further inspire each other to greater things. It is this type of relationship that makes Creepypasta such a unique and exciting form of horror storytelling, one that is fluid, ever-shifting and evolving not just with the creators, but also with the audience.

As an aside, I find it fascinating that BleedingHeartworks mentions with the creator of another Creepypasta icon, ‘Play With Me’s’ Sally, while The Puppeteer was first forming. I’ve a feeling we’ll be reading more about that story very, very soon…

A Life in Blood – Genoveva Rossi Interviews James Balsamo

rsz_gr6A Life in Blood – Genoveva Rossi Interviews James Balsamo

This horror queen recently filmed a few scenes on James Balsamo’s newest film, The Litch. I was on set two days playing a sexy fortuneteller in Acid Bath Productions newest horror comedy. We had a lot of fun shooting my scenes with the cast and crew. The Litch is a supernatural tale with chills and thrills. Dave Stein is “The Litch” makeup by James Balsamo, and teeth by Tom Fang

Then right after we shot my scenes I went to a resort in Mexico for some much needed sun and fun. Director James Balsamo moved to Los Angeles where he was able to secure a shoot with the great Tom Sizemore in record time! I am truly honored to be in The Litch with Sizemore. Also look for Acid Bath Productions film veteran and accomplished actor Robert Arensen (pictured) in The Litch with Tom Sizemore.

rsz_gr1While working on this article I reached out to Tom Sizemore and he asked that I mention that he is the ambassador for a film festival called Filmchella (filmcoachella.com), which will take place in California Sept 22-24. Sizemore is extremely passionate about this film festival so check out the website, submit your film, and attend.

Balsamo and I began our long horror relationship back in Oct 2011 when we had a scene together in a cornfield in Jennifer Valdes’ Jack ‘O’ Slasher. We became instant pals and in 2012 I acted in his now well known film I Spill Your Guts. That was a really challenging movie for me because it was my first big gore scene AND my first big romantic scene. But with our fearless director walking us through each scene with a sense of humor and calming disposition everything came together perfectly.

rsz_gr2Later we worked on Cool As Hell and when we shot my scenes my blood curdling screams brought two police cars to the scene. Balsamo called that a true testimony to my acting ability.

Next we shot Catch of the Day, which I play a hot tempered drug dealer in. Then it was Balsamo’s vampire flick Bite School that I play Suck-A-Rella in. My character was like a cross between Peg Bundy and a vampire. I had a super fun time shooting that one. Then I was a surfer in my red bikini and sunglasses for the recently released Killer Waves. Another fun day working with James Balsamo on another wacky and wild horror film. Working on one of his films is always an adventure!

Balsamo and I have also acted in a few films after Jack ‘O’ Slasher. In Sheriff Tom Versus the Zombies I play Jojo, the sex addicted séance leader and Balsamo was the hilarious Chad. In Manny Serano’s Blood Slaughter Massacre I play Angela Baker, a seasoned T.V. reporter and James is Ken my cameraman. We also pop up in Burn in Hell with Comic Book Men pal Ming Chen.

rsz_gr5A bunch of us genre actors have been working with James Balsamo for years and think of him as horror family: Bob Socci, Edward X. Young, Robert Arensen, Robert Youngren, and Jennifer Valdes. I think I speak for all of us when I say thanks for the screams, fake blood, and laughs. I hope to see James shortly in Los Angeles.

Actor and director James Balsamo and I discuss his life in horror:

1. What was it like working with Tom Sizemore on The Litch?

It was on honor working with Tom Sizemore! Tom was such a professional, and he gave me some amazing tips on some new blocking techniques. I guess you could say I’m a real block head now ha ha Ha!

rsz_gr32. What inspired you to become a horror director and actor? 

Tom Savini was my inspiration growing up. I read Tom’s “Grand Illusions” makeup books, and my love for Tom’s work and wanting to make creature features, and star in them really Spawned from that. I guess you could say Tom created one more monster by inspiring me. That’s why I was so honored when Tom Savini appeared in my film “Cool As Hell”, which we are currently filming a sequel to now!

3. What are some fun memories of working with me Genoveva Rossi?

Working with Genoveva is always a pleasure! We had a great time filming for “The Litch” in front of a waterfall that was featured in one of my favorite horror films “Alice, Sweet Alice”. Genoveva is always fun to have on set and always plays an amazing character in any of the films that she is in!

4. Where can fans find Killer Waves? And when can we expect The Litch? 

Killer waves my surf slasher masterpiece (I say masterpiece because it will leave you in pieces!) Is currently available at acidbathproductions.com! Look for my film “The Litch” featuring Dave Stein, Tom Sizemore, Genoveva Rossi, and yours truly James Balsamo coming out later this year!

rsz_gr45. How can fans keep up on your wild and exciting adventures?

Follow me on Twitter @acidBathproduct, or find me on Facebook! I am James Balsamo and I want to be your friend!
You can always see what conventions I’m gonna be at under appearances on acidbathproductions.com come see me in a town near you!

rsz_gr7Yours in screams, Genoveva Rossi
Check out my website http://www.genovevarossi.com
Also follow me on Facebook: Genovevarossi810
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(The great pics with green screen are by StrongtreeImages.)

Interview with Director Chris Smith ahead of the FrightFest Glasgow UK prem of DETOUR

Frsz_christopher_smith-1rightFest has premiered all your genre movies CREEP, SEVERANCE, TRIANGLE, BLACK DEATH, except GET SANTA obviously. Is this positioning an important part of the rollout process for you?

Firstly let me apologise for being away for so long and thank you for having me back. I wrote ‘Get Santa’ because I’d just had a son and was feeling like I wanted to do something that he could watch in the next 15 years. I expected the film to take a year to come together but it ended up taking four years. My son was by that time old enough to come to the premiere with a few of his class mates.

Back to the question, Frightfest is extremely important, not just to me personally, because it’s always an honour, but it’s important to the birth of the film. The Frightfest audiences are the first people to see it, the first to comment on it and it’s nice that they’re such committed fans. Putting a film out there, freeing it from the confines of the edit suite is exciting, but also scary. Frightfest, because of the audiences passion and knowledge of genre, make the process what it should be, fun.

What was the main inspiration for the DETOUR script? Many have commented on its multi-narrative SLIDING DOORS-style vibe. Complicated to write the two sides of one story?

‘Sliding Doors’ and ‘Run Lola Run’ both came out the same year.  I must admit I was never inclined to watch ‘Sliding Doors’, but I know that, like ‘Run Lola Run’, it deals with the concept of different destinies being forged by blind change. Though actually neither of these films were an inspiration for ‘Detour’, which came about by chance.

It was early 2007 and I had just finished writing ‘Triangle’ and was in LA trying to finance it. I’d liked the film ‘Disturbia’, which had been a big hit and so for about three months Hollywood was trying to make Hitchcockian thrillers. An exec came to me and said she’d like to cook up a modern version of ‘Stranger’s on a Train’. I think my brain was so wrapped up structurally from writing ‘Triangle’, that instead of two characters deciding to murder each other’s wives, I cooked up one character, seemingly facing two destinies, based on one moral choice: To kill or not to kill?

Was it complicated to write? Certainly not in comparison to ‘Triangle’ but it offered different challenges. I was really keen for the characters to shine through more than I’d achieved in Triangle, and this is tricky because you’re asking the audience to question the narrative, rather than simply immersing them in a classical structure, and then you’re also hoping they feel empathy for the characters. That is the main challenge for any film that makes you aware of the film making process.

DETOUR is full of film noir references, from the HARPER poster on the wall to the clip from the 1945 B movie classic DETOUR by Edgar G. Ulmer. What is it about the film noir idiom you like?

I’ve always loved Film Noir. I think it is, or rather was, the cornerstone of indie cinema. These are films often made often on the cheap and yet always brimming with colourful characters, taut story lines, and scenarios where a happy ending feels impossible, instead of inevitable. The film that has always had the biggest effect on me is Fritz Langs’ ‘The Woman In The Window’. My film ‘Detour’ is arguably more influenced by that, than the Ulmer movie that we reference in the film and borrow the title from. That said, both films contain a character who crosses a line and finds that the forces that drove him there, and the company he now keeps, will never let him free again.

rsz_detour-bel_powley-webA great cast of new and up-and-coming stars – Tye Sheridan, Bel Powley, Emory Cohen. You certainly know how to pick them, Eddie Redmayne in BLACK DEATH for example. Is it a knack?

Liam Hemsworth got his first role in ‘Triangle’ also. Is it a knack? I don’t know. To me if you can’t see that those actors are talented you’re in the wrong job. When I got the audition tape from Liam Hemsworth I literally walked it around the office with my jaw dropped showing people. It was so glaringly obvious this boy was a movie star. It was the same with Eddie and all three of the leads in ‘Detour’.

Tye Sheridan’s performances in ‘Joe and Mud’ were electric. Emory Cohen lit up every scene he did in ‘The Place Beyond The Pine’s’. With Bel Powley it was a little different because I met her having seen nothing. The rumour mill was reporting that she was fantastic in the film ‘The Diary of a Teenage Girl’ but none of us had seen it The casting director loved Bel and the financier was happy to cast her on what he had heard, so I met her blind. We got on immediately; I thought she was so cool, funny and smart that I basically cast her on the spot.

Great chemistry between the three leads – was it there from the beginning, or did it evolve gradually?

It was there from the beginning I think but the little choices we made in prep helped it along. We scheduled well so that we did all of the scenes in the house first; just me and Tye and Stephen Moyer. That gave us a real foundation so that when Emory and Bel joined the film, at the end of the first week, we were already working like a well-oiled machine. This gave me more time to concentrate on them, but their instincts were so good that there was very little in the way of notes.

Great solid anchors by Stephen Moyer and John Lynch too, whose maturity contrasts with the young cast on purpose?

Absolutely. They’re the grown-ups but they still have their own problems and in some way are more immature than the younger characters. I think they’re both great in the film.

DETOUR was shot in South Africa. How was filming there?

It was shot mainly in South Africa but we also spent a week shooting in LA and Las Vegas. I love South Africa, it’s a wonderful country, with great crews and so it was a no brainer to shoot it there to help with the budget. It also looks just like California.

rsz_ffgYou’ve said the lighting owes a lot to Edward Hopper’s paintings? Can you elaborate?

Me and my designer joke that all feature films are either Edward Hopper or Carravagio. Film-makers use either artist as their inspiration, either consciously or unconsciously. With Hopper the emphasis is on framing and production design. With Carravagio the emphasis is on using practical lighting and contrast. This film is a Hopper.

It’s a film you want to watch again the moment its finished to see if you can catch all the clues and mis-directs you didn’t see the first time? Do you consciously like to manipulate your audience?

I’m a huge fan of Kiarostami. I’m drawn to film-makers that make you question the film-making process. Lars Von Trier is another I greatly admire.  Everything about film-making is fake and the film-makers’ job is to make you forget this, but there’s pleasure in being reminded too because it makes you engage in an entirely different way.

I can’t watch reality TV. It’s ridiculous. The one thing it’s not is reality. You see survival programs where someone is walking across the Sahara desert. Is he going to make or die of thirst? Give me a break! Behind the camera there’s 20 camels packed full of water for him, the camera crew, the sound man, the medic, the fixer, the camel shepherd and the camels. There’s probably a helicopter standing by.

I like stories where we acknowledge this deceit and try to make a feature. If you still feel tension when you are simultaneously acknowledging the artifice of the process, then I think you’re doing something good.

And finally, what’s next for you?

I’m working on a horror movie about a serial killer called The Judas Goat and a thriller called ‘The Undertaker’. Hoping to shoot either of them by the end of the year.

DETOUR is showing at the Glasgow Film Theatre on Sat 25 Feb, 4.30pm as part of Horror Channel FrightFest Glasgow 2017.