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By Emily Booth, Friday 25th March 2016
Yes, this coming Saturday (26th March) Horror Channel’s superb Laugh Or Die season is back with splat-stick king Jake West’s Doghouse getting its network premiere and I couldn’t be more proud for I take on the role of ‘The Snipper…’
But I’m not going to just give you the low down on what the movie’s about – you can get that anywhere online, I’m going to give you the inside story on what it was really like working on the most intense film project I’ve ever done; the real Danny Dyer, the stunts, what the Zombirds got up to behind the scenes and the incredibly creepy history behind the stunning derelict hospital where we stayed and shot the movie.
Briefly the film is a zombie-esque twist on the battle of the sexes; Six lads on a bonding trip head to nowheresville ‘Moodley’ only to discover the village is deserted and a hideous virus affecting the women has turned the female of the species into gruesome blood thirsty mutated zombies – or in this case; Zombirds.
Firstly it was amazing to get in touch with my inner monster. I was not required to learn dialogue or look remotely pretty, the opposite in fact. Jake West being a total fan boy took the zombie element of the film very seriously and signed all the actresses playing Zombirds up to ‘Zombie Boot Camp! We all did deep meditations to help us deal with the daily 3-4 hour routine of having full prosthetic make up applied, we had to train in ‘zombie movement’ but because we all had character back stories we had to make our physicality unique. For example I used to be the flirty local hairdresser (hence my name ‘The Snipper) so as a Zombird I made all her movements very slinky and a bit sexual, my long scissors becoming part of my physical DNA! So this in itself was such a great fun start to the movie and all the actresses bonded straight away. Then came the exciting day (finally after months of prep, costume fittings, face and body casts) when I drove up to a strange derelict hospital in Midhurst, Sussex called King Edward VII Hospital – a former Tuberculosis Sanatorium and half way through development into luxury flats. The place was huge and amazing – every urban explorers dream complete with underground tunnels where we shot the Zombird’s nest, abandoned chapel and morgue!
The deal was sealed for me when one of the Zombirds told me this creepy hospital was exactly where horror legend Boris Karloff died in 1969! The hospital and grounds became our home for a good 4 weeks. We stayed in the tiny patients rooms, complete with hospital bed and itchy sheets (I had to drive home to get my duvet) we hung out largely in the make up room where we spent hours getting our prosthetic masks, hands and skin applied, mainly by female SFX artists due to the intimate nature of having full body prosthetic applied so it really was a girl power kind of movie to work on!
As the film largely takes place over 1 night we had to film at night, every night! So that meant a call time of 3pm, make up application till about 6-7pm then dinner then it was shooting till 4–5am. Because these were very unsociable hours and we were in the middle of nowhere with a huge cast and crew – the producers had a bar made especially for us on site which opened at 5am and went on till lunchtime! Suffice to say this was the most unhealthy naughty and fun four weeks of my life! And the only reason we all got away with it is because the girls had masks over their faces anyway so it didn’t matter if we looked and sounded a little rough and jaded. It probably helped….
So what of the men in the movie?! Jake pulled together an incredibly strong male cast all of whom have gone on to star in major films and TV series. Danny Dyer is of course the household name here and yes he does pull off his EasterEnders geezer routine in Doghouse, but I was with him the whole time during his most difficult scene (even filming a behind the scenes doc) and I can wholeheartedly say, he took it very seriously, needing time alone to be able to bring on tears and fear.
Doghouse - Saturday 26th at 10.55pm on Horror.
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