Top Ten Horror Films of 2015 by Christopher Stewart

Top Ten Horrors of 2015

cooties10: Cooties

It’s usually uncouth in horror films to kill a child, so when you get a film which takes the zombie sub-genre and makes it exclusively zombie children you know it’s a film that’s taking risks. Obviously this film is played for laughs, and they have a great cast for the job including Rainn Wilson (Super, The Office) and Elijah Wood (The Faculty, Maniac). However the actor who steals the show is Saw writer, Leigh Whannell, as the science teacher. Gruesome, gory and full of giggles.

itfollows9: It Follows

This one is going to be on most people’s top ten list this year, especially since it’s one of the better films that got a theatrical release this year. An oddball plot involving a vicious entity that will stalk indefinitely until it kills, a sexually transmitted curse, and non-stop paranoia, It Follows is definitely one of this year’s most original films.

wash18: We Are Still Here

While the haunted house film is still monopolising the cinema releases, We Are Still Here shows them how it’s done. The antithesis of the Paranormal Activity franchise, We Are Still Here gives us fantastic visual FX apparitions, buckets of gore, and original plot that keeps the audience gripped. Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator) leads a refreshing cast of older actors who prove that we don’t need a group of teenagers being haunted to make things interesting.

summercamp17: Summer Camp

One of my favourites from this year’s Film4 Fright Fest. The directorial debut of [REC] producer, Alberto Marini, shows his spin on infection horror. One part 28 Days Later style Rage Virus, One part comedy of errors, Summer Camp is a roller coaster ride through genre tropes and takes the audience to unexpected places. Definitely one I’m looking forward to re-watching when it comes out on DVD.

DeepDark_Art-with-Tagline6: Deep Dark

Deep Dark is one film that I had the fortune of seeing by reviewing for UK Horror Scene this year and probably would have missed out on otherwise. Thankfully I got to see this film in all it’s weird glory. A send up of the art world while taking a trip through a Cronenberg-esque fantasy. It’s like Videodrome for all the starving artists.

 

the visit5: The Visit

If you had told me six months ago that M. Night Shyamalan was going to make a found footage horror film and that it would actually be fun and creepy, I would not have believed you. It’s this surprise that puts The Visit at fifth place on my list. Old people are rarely the villains in anything, let alone horror films, but these pensioners are exceptionally creepy. Shyamalan’s use of humour manages to balance out the fear that keeps our kid protagonists in danger for the film. A good example of found footage done well.

eat4: Eat

I had never heard about Eat before I picked it up on DVD but as soon as I heard it was about auto-cannibalism I was immediately intrigued. Not only does it have pitch black humour and biting (pun intended) commentary on trying to make it in Hollywood, Eat is probably one of the few films to make me cringe this year. Not for those with a weak stomach.

 

clown3: Clown

I saw Clown for the first time when I was at Glasgow Fright Fest in February and this was my favourite of the festival. Killer clown films aren’t the most prevalent sub-genre but when they do rear their grease-painted head, it’s usually the same kind of film. Clown takes the sub-genre off the rails and takes it down a path filled with tragic folklore curses and body horror. Funny, dark and original.

sunchoke12: Sun Choke

Another of my Film4 Fright Fest faves, Sun Choke is probably the most cerebral of my picks of 2015. An insight into the cycles of abuse, Sun Choke is a nightmare following a girl with severe issues lashing out at the world. Barbara Crampton (She’s been busy this year) shows that she can be cruel and kind as Sun Choke’s main antagonist. I feel that this film will be the most polarising of my choices. If you liked film’s like Under The Skin, Sun Choke should be right up your street.

deathgasm1: Deathgasm

When it comes to horror comedies, New Zealand can do no wrong. With Peter Jackson’s early splatter films, and films like Housebound, and What We Do In The Shadows (both were considered for this list and are my unofficial #11 and #12 picks), New Zealand just has the golden touch. Deathgasm spoke directly to my inner sixteen year old, with it’s references to heavy metal, and Dungeons and Dragons. Throw in a bunch of over the top gore effects and insane eye-less demons and you’ve got a recipe for the ultimate heavy metal horror.

PoltergeistDud of the year: Poltergeist

I found it a little difficult to decide on what was my least favourite of the year. Not that 2015 has been a bad year, especially if you’ve had the fortune to visit any festivals this year. However we have had some stinkers like Paranormal Activity: Ghost Dimension, sad disappointments like Crimson Peak, and snooze-fests like Hangman. When it comes to the film that really upset me this year, it goes to the Poltergeist remake. We didn’t need a remake to Poltergeist and seeing it against my better judgement was one of the biggest mistakes I made this year. Going in with the lowest expectations possible and this film still had me raging. It took all the charm out of the original, filled it with a bunch of CGI knock-offs of the original scares and added stupid gimmicks like a shoplifted drone so we could get some unimpressive shots of the dead world. Just an offensively bad film.

Stu Smith’s FILMS OF 2014

Stu Smith’s FILMS OF 2014

2014 has been a bit of a mixed year for horror. Slow to start and producing some absolute howlers along the way, the genre has taken a bit of a battering both critically and at the box office this year. However, as the year went on some genuine gems started to emerge from all corners of the globe proving once more that the genre is alive and kicking.

As is so often the case, life can get in the way of it all sometimes and as such there are still plenty of films such as the highly regarded ‘The Babadook’ that I have yet to see, but for now this is my list of films that I feel were more than worth the time in 2014.

tusk (1)TUSK
Dir: Kevin Smith
A late entry to the list, Tusk proved to be a thought provoking and memorable film from Kevin Smith. Whilst it isn’t entirely successful in its attempts to gel the serious horror aspects to more recognisable comedy beats it is a very unique film that pushes its unusual concept to its limit. The story of an internet blogger (Justin Long) who becomes the unwitting victim of a crazed old man (Michael Parks) determined to turn him into a Walrus it’s a divisive oddity and, Like Smith’s previous foray into horror, Red State (2011) it has been greeted with some scepticism and trepidation with not everyone convinced. There are also those who will say that Smith may be biting the hand that feeds with his extremely acidic critiquing of the internet age and the blogging community in particular. However, despite the sub plots not quite meshing, a sterling performance from Parks and a bold one from Long add credibility to the films bizarre central idea and the film is never less than compelling. Johnny Depp even manages to show up in an extended cameo as a crazy Canadian cop. It may not be Kevin Smith’s masterpiece, but it suggests that he is on the verge of creating something truly crazy and special.

wk2WOLF CREEK 2
Dir: Greg McLean
This belated follow up to 2005’s unnerving and rather brilliant Wolf Creek proved to be just as good as its predecessor, even if it trod a tonally different path. Placing John Jarett’s sneering Mick Taylor at the centre of proceedings from the very start, Wolf Creek 2 jettisons the originals slow burning sense of dread in favour of some dirty, adrenalin infused thrills. Where- as Wolf Creek was a sun burned outback Texas Chainsaw, number 2 takes its cue from The Hitcher and plays a bit like a serial killer’s vision of Mad Max. The first half is more action film than horror featuring big car chases and daring escape attempts as Mick stalks his prey on the open road. Once the film arrives at Taylor’s lair however, things become darker and far more sinister as the true extent of his depravity begins to unfold. Fun and utterly fucked up this deserved far more than a quiet small screen release. Warning: Kangaroo lovers may want to avoid this one as it doesn’t end well for Skippy!

boderTHE BORDERLANDS
Dir: Elliot Goldner
Found footage doesn’t have the greatest of reputations. Thanks largely to the fact that ever since The Blair Witch Project proved you could turn an easy profit with minimal outlay every hack trying to push their foot in the door has used it as a cheap gimmick. However, when it’s done right it can be a truly unnerving and affecting experience, and The Borderlands nails it. The story of a Vatican investigation into a potential miracle at a small British church it is a slow burning tale of religious uncertainty mixed with devilish overtones. The Borderlands is a creepy experience that favours character depth and genuine dread over cheap scares. Its unnerving atmosphere and violent undercurrents build to a genuinely surprising conclusion that will divide opinion, but this is top drawer stuff and shows that you can make this format a success if you understand what drama and horror is all about.

rose1WANDERING ROSE
Dir: Corrie Greenop
This low budget, Scotland set chiller was a real surprise. A carefully, and lovingly made little film it follows the crumbling relationship of a young couple as they visit the Highlands to patch up their relationship. Surreal, unnerving and beautiful it captures the strangely evocative and supernatural atmosphere that Scotland seems to possess, and makes its wide open spaces feel strangely claustrophobic as the characters begin to put together the distressing truth. Brilliant performances and a well -constructed economic script make this far more than the sum of its parts. It is sometimes a little reliant on its scenery to pad out the running time, and it won’t appeal to those looking for quick, visceral thrills but this is a promising debut from Greenop and suggests that he may be a talent to watch.

hboundHOUSEBOUND
Dir: Gerard Johnstone
Housebound is the first of two films from New Zealand on this list and proves that Peter Jackson isn’t the only one with a good eye for mixing up horror and comedy. A witty mix of family comedy and horror hi-jinks it turns the haunted house movie on its head and has a lot of fun with its story managing to be unpredictable, suspenseful and laugh out loud funny at times. It follows Kylie, a teen delinquent who is placed under house arrest with her mother and stepfather. Unamused at being forced back to the family home she soon comes to question her sanity as things begin to go bump in the night. The films wonderfully sarcastic sense of humour along with some brilliant twists and turns make this a fantastic fun- house of a movie. It plays with convention and delights in pulling the rug from under the audience just as you think you have it all worked out.

purgeTHE PURGE: ANARCHY
Dir: James Demonaco
The first Purge movie met with mixed opinion but made a lot of money meaning that this sequel was inevitable. I for one thought the original was okay. No masterpiece certainly, and it rather criminally failed to capitalise on its unique concept, but it worked reasonably well as a home invasion thriller and had some genuinely creepy villains. The Purge: Anarchy moves the action outside and follows a group of people stranded outdoors during the annual purge. Delving deeper into the social implications and the adding a neat sub plot about an anti-purge movement this is more action packed, more interesting and much more fun than the first Purge. Taking its inspiration from Walter Hill’s The Warriors (1979) and John Carpenter’s Escape From New York (1980) this is a solid B-movie action flick with just enough to say to raise it above the average. It still isn’t quite the ultimate Purge film people seem to be waiting for, but is an exciting and brutal popcorn thriller that I am more than happy to recommend.

GODZGODZILLA
Dir: Gareth Edwards
Gareth Edwards Godzilla met with a lot of disappointment on its release, and there is no escaping that Godzilla is a supporting player in his own movie. But whilst its plotting was sometimes weak, and its ‘human’ stories lacking the film possessed a poetic visual edge and some fantastic set pieces that set it miles apart from most blockbusters. He may not have the screen time we were all hoping for, but whenever this Godzilla is on screen its presence is electric. Like Edwards firs movie, the brilliant Monsters (2010), this one deals with humanities xenophobic nature and its dangerous reliance on things it cannot control. The film doesn’t always successfully balance this with the pressures of playing to a multiplex audience, and is hindered by rather flat human characterisation. But Godzilla and the gigantic MUTO’s make for strangely graceful creatures and whenever they are on screen the film rises up and stands monstrously proud, and Edwards has still created a unique summer movie with a visual verve missing from so many.

ed1 (1)THE EDITOR
Dir: Adam Brooks and Matthew Kennedy
This homage to classic Giallo thrillers of the 1970’s and 1980’s took me by surprise. The opening film at Sheffield’s Celluloid Screams festival it turned out to be a deranged, riotous yet lovingly crafted film that captured the essence of its influences whilst gleefully sending them all up. The story of Rey (Adam Brooks) a film Editor put in the frame for murder it plays havoc with its own conventions and pokes fun at its own absurdities with a demented relish. Using deliberate technical tricks like bad dubbing, it is likely to confuse those uninitiated in the ways of the giallo’ but for those who know and love the films of Bava, Argento, and Fulci this is full of smart references and homages. It may work for everyone but The Editor is wholly unafraid to go to some very crazy places and is a match for almost any horror comedy released in the last few years.

guestTHE GUEST
Dir: Adam Wingard
Following up You’re Next was never going to be easy, but Wingard and his writer Simon Barrett meet the challenge head on here. The Guest is a tension packed horror/action hybrid that is more than a match for their previous film and stands as one of the very best of the year. When Dan Steven’s Afghanistan veteran turns up at the Peterson home claiming to be a friend of their deceased son, he is welcomed in and seems to be an antidote to the family’s grief. But people soon begin to turn up dead and the sinister guest begins to reveal himself as something far more than meets the eye. Tense, funny and at times ruthlessly violent The Guest is a throwback to paranoid post war thrillers and has a strange 80’s style edge, but mixes it up with a modern sensibility and a visceral eye. Like You’re Next did before it, it takes conventions and turns them around making the film fun and unpredictable. It also proves that Adam Wingard is as deft at delivering high octane action as he is at delivering scares and chills.

wwdits (1)WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS
Dir: Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi
When I first read the synopsis for this I nearly skipped it. Another vampire film, and a faux documentary to boot, I just wasn’t interested. Never have I been so wrong, and so glad that I took a chance on a film as I am with this absolutely wonderful piece of incisive horror comedy. From the very first few minutes this is a likeable, smart and side-splittingly funny film about what it is like to be a vampire in the modern world. The second film from New Zealand on the list it proves again that the Kiwis seem to have an incredible wit and humour that isn’t confined to the work of Peter Jackson. Following a group of flat sharing Vampires as they deal with the difficulties and dilemmas of being hundreds of years old in an ever changing world, it captures the fish out of water weirdness of the situation whilst making it all seem strangely normal. Filled with lots of smart observations about Vampire mythology and its place in popular culture, What We Do In The Shadows is an absolute treat for genre fans and I have absolutely no hesitation in declaring it my favourite film of 2014. Its limited theatrical release in the UK means that many people have yet to enjoy this brilliant little flick, but I guarantee that once it lands on disc and VOD it will gather momentum and quickly develop the cult following it deserves.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS
The year produced a handful of other films worth a look, and a couple of reissues that stood out for various reasons. The Mirror proved to be another successful found footage film managing to be both frightening and compelling; it missed out on the final list by the smallest of margins. Spanish Exorcism chiller was not quite The Exorcist (what is?) but had enough going for it to warrant a mention. Well- paced and well -acted it was a classy little film with a neat sting in its tale, revelling in its demonic themes and undercurrents. Claire (originally titled Kuru) is a very effective micro budget Brit-chiller that drew favourable comparisons with the work of David Lynch. Both creepily unnerving and emotionally affecting it was also a strong contender for the main list. Away from horror the blockbuster season threw up the unexpectedly good Guardians of The Galaxy and the intelligent yet exciting sequel Dawn of The Planet of The Apes. Along with Godzilla these both proved that blockbusters don’t have to be stupid to be entertaining and effective.

Clive Barker also had a good year as his Nightbreed: The Director’s Cut finally made it onto Blu-ray, and his underrated and under seen Lord of Illusions also took its high definition bow. The director’s cut of Nightbreed has been almost 25 years in the making and didn’t come without a little controversy. European fans were irked that the release was region A locked, but frankly people should be grateful that this has seen the light of day at all. America’s Scream factory have done a sterling job and the film looks great. As for the cut itself it differs from the Cabal Cut that did the festival run and is Barker’s definitive vision for the film. Adding depth to the central relationships, and returning to the original notion that Midian’s monsters are the heroes it is the film fans have been waiting so long to see. After a poor UK Blu-ray release from 101 films earlier in the year Barker’s final directorial effort was given a proper release once again from Scream Factory. Another brilliant release it offers a chance to rediscover a film that deserves more credit than it has received. Capturing the dark whimsical feeling of Barker’s books and stories and featuring his recurring character Harry D’Amour it is an underrated and intelligent work from one of dark fiction’s most unique voices.

QUIETTHE NOT SO GOOD
2014 produced a few howlers that failed for various reasons to make the grade. Scott Derrickson’s Deliver Us From Evil was an absolute bore that failed to capitalise on a brilliant central idea. Dull and plodding, it goes nowhere slowly. Johnny Depp popped up in Wally Pfister’s directorial debut Transcendence, a visually slick but painfully uninteresting film that basically replayed the plot of Brett Leonard’s Lawnmower Man with added pretension. The ABC’s of Death 2 should hopefully be the nail in the coffin for these odd and uneven short film showcases. With very little of interest in its 2 hour run time this is one for die-hard fans of the first film only. I Frankenstein was until very recently the worst of the year. A big budget and confused waste of time, it doesn’t even muster the camp entertainment value of the equally maligned Van Helsing. It takes itself unforgivably seriously and manages to feel incredibly long despite a relatively lean 90 minute run time. But as much as I disliked I Frankenstein it was pipped at the post by Hammer films utterly depressing The Quiet Ones. With The Woman In Black (2012) the new Hammer seemed to have finally rediscovered its stride and was on track for a return to former glories. However, with The Quiet Ones a dramatic step backwards is taken. Mixing found footage with standard third person story telling the film is uneven, unexciting, and at times downright frustrating. It is not often that films annoy me as much as this one did, but it genuinely felt like time I would never get back. So here’s hoping that The Woman In Black 2 gets the studio back on the right track as we enter 2015.

Fractional (2011) Film Review

F1Fractional (2011)

Dir: Malcolm Deegan

Starring: Paul Byrne, Desmond Daly, Donna Bradley, Paula Gahan and Peter O’Toole

John Hatchett (Daly), wakes up gagged and tied to a chair in a seemingly abandoned warehouse. Next to him is a table full of knives and various deadly-looking implements. He soon discovers that he is being held captive by the eerie and mentally disturbed David Crowe (O’Toole). David claims to be a former patient of John’s, though John cannot remember his face. It soon becomes apparent that David’s goal is to expose a dark past that John has tried to keep hidden, by any means necessary…

With ‘Fractional’, director Malcolm Deegan is praying on the age old fear that I’m sure many of us have of one day suddenly waking up in unfamiliar surroundings and confronted with a table of objects that seem to have been bought en masse as part of a B&Q mega summer sale impulse buy. Yes on initial reaction, one can’t help but feel the sense of ‘seen it all before’ and the fear of a tired rehash of ‘torture porn’ standards is about to be revisited but fortunately, the film has more to it than a wannabe ‘Saw’ or ‘Hostel’. The film unnervingly is all about the slow burn complete psychological tearing down of one man’s sanity that man other films of its ilk would rush over in a bid to get to the ultra-slick violence. Here, however, this act of grim ‘revenge’ is portrayed in such surgical detail that you almost feel implicit in some kind of dark medical experiment in the limits of human endurance. The low-budget style works best to make the piece feel surprisingly ‘real’ and whilst ‘Kill List’ may have a patent on the most brutal use of a hammer, ‘Fractional’ is not far off the mark in the implement’s execution here.

F2The greatest element of the film by far is the brilliantly confined and claustrophobic directing style of Deegan. The majority of the time the camera is playing a twisted game of psychological tennis between captive and captor and rarely does it ever break away from boldly zooming in on the twisted features of its primary actors. The choice to harshly light just the immediate space around the unfortunate John is a complete masterstroke, intensifying the harshness of the punishment he endures as well as leaving the rest of the warehouse in a terrifyingly impenetrable darkness.

The only respite from this one fixed setting comes in the form of slightly ill-advised flashbacks. Whilst they do help to flesh out the plot, the oppressive directness of the psychological torture being inflicted on John is lost somewhat and the film has to work extra hard in the following scenes to make up for the sudden drops in its grip on the audience’s attention. Perhaps the film would have benefitted more from leaving the events discussed left to the audience’s imagination, such as arguably the film’s greatest scene where David describes his act of murder in a chillingly gleeful and descriptive tone with very little visual accompaniment.

There is a notable exception to this notion, however as one use of flashback is particularly grim and starkly shocking. It comes from out of nowhere, brilliantly deceiving the audience into thinking they have seen a horrendous act of violence by keeping it all heavily implied, making it that much more shocking.

F3 With only a very small cast, the responsibility of keeping the film ticking over falls heavily on the shoulders of its two leads. Fortunately, Daly and O’Toole have a superb chemistry and the battle of wits between them is very well carried off. The main problems that arise are that, at times, the dialogue between the two falls on the tired clichés of captor/captive report or an over-kill of foul language is troweled on in an attempt to make it more ‘edgy’, yet making it look silly in the process.  Unfortunately, the performance of O’Toole very often strays into the realms of the ridiculously over the top and becomes a near parrot performance of ‘Sherlock’s Moriarty (same accent to boot) and this takes away from the menace that had previously been well construed.

Much like its antagonist, the film is chemically imbalanced. The sudden swing in tone and mood from grotty torture sequences to psychological drama and then back again is a tad hard to comprehend. It is a very fine line between actually being incredibly clever and obtuse and just tying yourself up in various tangential narrative strands that go nowhere in particular. It twists and turns, getting a muddled turning in on itself but it’s still an intriguing if at times badly put together rubix cube of a mystery that you can’t help but want to see the conclusion to.

F4Come the final few minutes, the chilling meaning behind the film’s title is revealed and a third party is introduced to the mix. What should be a superb set-up for a nail-biting finale sadly ends up as being a complete damp squib. Yet more further twists and turns are chucked into the narrative that resembles a bowl of messy pasta, added to which the denouement is hugely ho-hum, even the most casual of viewers already being one step ahead of the film in predicting it.

For all its faults, ‘Fractional’ was still an engaging watch. It was a tad all over the place in terms of both narrative and mood, the moments of extreme ultra-violence were greatly offset by the reflective psychological flashbacks. The film should be praised for attempting to balance two such opposing horror disciplines however, and when it worked, it made for very uncomfortable viewing. Well acted with gusto and incredibly tightly directed, Malcolm Deegan may well become a talent to blossom onto the scene in a big way in future.

Verdict: A decent stab at psycho-drama that is hindered by the odd silly moment and lack of decent pay off.  6/10

Interview with Christmas Slay director Steve Davis by Dean Sills

cs6Interview with Christmas Slay director Steve Davis by Dean Sills

Synopsis – Christmas Slay

The story of ‘Christmas Slay’ begins on a wintry Christmas Eve in the picturesque Kentish countryside, the horrific murder of a loving family, and the capture of a Santa Claus obsessed blood thirsty killer. As Christmas dawns closer the following year, a group of college girlfriends decide to get away from it all and relax and party over the Christmas holiday, they decide to escape to the idyllic Mistletoe Lodge nestled within the beautiful snowy mountains of the Scottish Highlands, but what starts off as the perfect festive getaway of fun in the snow and a glass of eggnog or two, suddenly descends into a gruesome blood bath of terror, and a fight for survival.

Now you all know a little about this new Christmas Horror movie please welcome the director of ‘Christmas Slay’ to UK Horror Scene. Welcome Steve and thank you for talking to UKHS about your new movie.

OK, let’s get started with the questions, Steve.

UKHS – How and when did you first become interested in making films and why horror?

SD – I have always been interested in film and TV, I was bullied throughout most of my time at school so all my spare time was spend sat up in my room watching everything from Carry On’s to A Nightmare on Elm Street, but it was my families yearly holiday’s to Yorkshire and my Dad’s love of ITV’s Emmerdale Farm that first got me interested in the film-making process, every year we would visit the small village of Esholt and watch the show being made, which as a child I found truly fascinating and a little bit magical but it wasn’t until many years later when I had the privilege of meeting AD Lane and I became involved in his horror ‘Invasion of the Not Quite Dead’ that I decided that this is something that I really want to do.

 

cs1UKHS – Before we chat about your new movie ‘Christmas Slay’ Can you tell us a little about your previous work as an actor, writer, director and producer?

SD – I am still very new to the industry and with the exception of playing the lead in every single school production ( just one of the reasons I was bullied ) and a little bit of acting in other peoples projects, I haven’t really had a great deal of experience of acting in the outside world, but the main reason for this is because all my attention has been on ‘Invasion of the Not Quite Dead’ which I am currently a producer on, and obviously ‘Christmas Slay’ which I am the writer and producer of and which is to be my first attempt at directing, I have been asked to help produce and direct other peoples films but ‘Christmas Slay’ is my number one priority at the moment, and a lot of hard work, on its completion I may venture out there a bit more but I really want to concentrate on writing my next feature and I will also be collaborating on films with a few friends.

 

UKHS – What is the inspiration behind ‘Christmas Slay’?

SD – There is so much inspiration behind ‘Christmas Slay’, I would say pretty much every horror from the 1980’s, but in particular films such as the early Friday 13th’s, Halloween, Black Christmas, Silent Night Deadly Night and A Nightmare on Elm Street, I do enjoy modern day horror’s but I just love the look and feel from the classic stalk and slash genre, there’s a slight wobble to the camera, there sexy, there cheesy, they use practical FX, and there’s no CGI blood and gore, and I know its just my opinion, but to me that is what a stalk and slash horror is all about. And even though we will be going into production with our HD cameras, steadicams and sliders, its still a look I really hope to achieve.

 

cs2UKHS – You have an amazing cast including the great character actor Frank Jakeman. How did Frank Jakeman get involved with your film and is he a fan of your work?

SD- With the exception of the amazing James Payton we have so far only cast for our main shoot, but wow what a cast, for an indie film, I am honestly blessed to have such an amazing cast for ‘Christmas Slay’, there support and passion is just incredible, and its an absolute honour to have the extremely talented and beautiful Jessica Ann Bonner and Dani Thompson heading our line up with the legend that is Frank Jakeman.

I don’t really know what to say about Frank, apart from the fact that he really is a LEGEND, and even no you may not know the name, I can guarantee you would have seen him on TV or at the cinema at some point, I met Frank through AD Lane as he is the lead in his ‘Invasion of the Not Quite Dead’ and we hit it of straight away, he is just one of the nicest, most genuine people I have every had the privilege of meeting and its a honour to call him a friend, his acting talent is just unbelievable, and he has the ability to play any character with ease no matter how demanding the role, he will be playing the bad guy of ‘Christmas Slay’ and I know he will scare the shit out of a lot of people.

I had Frank in mind for the role of the bad guy before I even started on the script, and it was actually at AD Lane’s wedding in Wales that I first mentioned the concept of ‘Christmas Slay’ and Frank was in before I had even finished telling him about it, I honestly can’t say enough good words about him and his passion for the film, in fact he is so passionate he spent days drawing a very special piece of artwork for the project which we are offering in limited edition print through our website as one of our funding perks, I love the guy to bits.

I still haven’t decided how I am going to credit Frank in the end film credits yet though, Frank Jakeman or Frankie the Stripper, look it up on Youtube ( he will kill me for that later ).

 

UKHS – You will be filming in Bulgaria in February which will be quite a challenge. What can you tell us about the February shoot and how long will you be on location filming in Bulgaria?

SD – I have actually filmed in Bulgaria before, its a great place to shoot a movie, but the one thing I learned was not to rely on other people, we had so many wasted days due to waiting for props arriving, extras turning up etc… which is why this time round we are taking everything we need with us, ‘Christmas Slay’ is actually set in the Scottish Highlands but filming in Bulgaria has so many more advantages, the main one is cost as its a fraction of the price to film in Eastern Europe than it is to film here in the UK, the other reason is snow, which is a must for any Christmas based film, obviously you can’t guarantee snow but the village we are filming in is high up in the Balkans next to the biggest ski resort in Bulgaria, and February is usually there coldest month and when they have there greatest snow coverage so were fairly confident we will be filming in the white stuff.

We will be in Bulgaria for two weeks filming the main shoot with our main cast, and we are all very excited about getting over there and starting production.

 

 
cs4UKHS – If you could have Christmas dinner with three guests (living or dead), who would you choose and why?

SD – Ok that’s an interesting question, I will probable change my mind in a minute, but right now I would say Gordon Ramsey because he can cook the dinner and we both swear quite a bit ( him a LOT more than me), Vanessa Hudgens because she is serious eye candy and she can sing us festive songs while playing piano and Charles Dickens so he can recite A Christmas Carol, if I was lucky enough to be in a relationship that would change though and it would just be me and the missus ( if I had one ).

 

UKHS – Since it’s almost Christmas, do you have a favourite Christmas movie?

SD -I can’t say that I have a particular favourite Christmas movie, I pretty much love them all, but as long as I get to watch National Lampoons Christmas Vacation, Elf, Christmas with the Kranks, and the Santa Claus some time during December I am happy, with Christmas horror I have to watch Rare Exports and I will probably give Saint another watch too.

 

 
UKHS -Finally, when will we see the film get released?

SD – Well my aim is to have a complete ready to show film by the end of November 2014 in time to have a premiere around Christmas of that year, and as were fan funded it my priority that all the amazing people that have backed our film get to see ‘Christmas Slay’ first and before anyone else.

In terms of a general release its hard to give an indication of a date, and I am not 100% sure what route I want to take it, I will most certainly be doing everything I can to try and get some form of distribution overseas, especially in America, but I am very undecided about the UK, I am very tempted to self distribute here and take ‘Christmas Slay’ on a UK City tour through independent cinema and release the DVD through a website but I am not sure yet, it would be a dream come true to see Christmas Slay on a shelf next to the latest release in Tesco ( other stores are available) but I don’t no, I have a lot of thinking to do.

 

cs5UKHS – Thank you for your time Steve. Good luck with ‘Christmas Slay ‘ and the shoot in Bulgaria. Have a Merry Christmas and a successful 2014.

Image courtesy: Steve Davis

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