LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS Interview with journalist and documentary maker Calum Waddell
By James Whittington, Saturday 2nd February 2019
Calum Waddell has been involved in writing, reviewing, making documentaries and teaching about movies for over a fifteen years. His knowledge on cult movies has been used by such labels as Arrow Video and 88 Films as well as appearing in magazines such as Total Film, Fangoria and DarkSide.
We managed to talk to Calum about the ups and downs of his career and his plans for the future.
HC: When did you decide that you wanted to become a journalist?
CW: I am not sure I ever was a journalist [laughs]. Maybe just a for-hire film writer more than anything else! But my biggest inspiration about cinema was and still is Kim Newman, whose work I discovered at a very young age, and also Mark Kermode. From there, I came across Maitland McDonough, whose work on Dario Argento was just mind-blowing, and these are the three names that probably made me think about how much I would like to do this the most. I should also shout out to John Martin, Michael Gingold and Tony Timpone - who inspired a lot of us that went on to write about horror cinema, in particular. I was really eager to get that first article in Fangoria, which I always hoped I could do whilst I was in high school and then university. Then I recall one day Tony Timpone emailed me and said the next issue of Fango would be 'the Calum Waddell issue' as it had three of my feature articles in there. It was a real moment of 'wow'. So, I definitely knew I wanted to write about, in particular, horror movies from when I was about 13 or 14 years old.
HC: Can you recall how you felt when you first saw your name in print?
CW: It was in an issue of The DarkSide and an interview with Robin Hardy, which ironically came from doing my MA at Bournemouth University - one of the guest lecturers mentioned he knew Robin and asked if anyone knew who he was. I obviously lept off my seat and then after the talk, I asked if he had his contact details as I wanted to interview him for The DarkSide. I actually did not have a foot in the door of The DarkSide, but it obviously sounded like I did and next thing I knew I had an interview with Robin Hardy and that was my first piece. Also, my first cheque! And it effectively got me in the door of Fangoria and Shivers too, because I was then 'published'. But that first article was surreal - mainly because they did not spell my name incorrectly, which I half expected!
HC: You've written for many of today's best-selling magazines, which feature are you most proud of?
CW: There's a few. Maybe the top one is when I did a huge piece on Joss Whedon for Total Film - it is quite a long story, but his PR rep was quite awkward, as you can imagine, as it was whilst he was doing the second Avengers film. The interview got cancelled, then approved, then cancelled and I was like a yo-yo in this. I finally got to him in Glasgow, thanks to the absolutely dedicated efforts of my editor at the time Rosie Fletcher, and it was a real battle to be there and to be one-on-one with who was then one of the biggest directors in the world. He had only agreed to speak to three people, if I recall, and I had the pressure of having to fill four pages and a front cover exclusive - with just 20 minutes to talk to him. But the outcome was great, and it was a really good interview. Also loved my first piece with SFX, which was with the late Christopher Lee, and doing a huge Mark Hamill interview for them in Cannes - that was amazing. There are moments that were really great even if the film was pitiful - I was one of four people that got access to Terminator Salvation, out of the entire world press, at Cannes 2008 for SFX and I am so proud of how that coverage came out, which was a real exclusive at the time. I've done some eight page 'Complete Guides' for Sci-Fi Now I am really fond of - maybe the Amityville Horror one would be my favourite.
HC: How did you become involved in making extra features for DVD releases and which one was the hardest to complete?
CW: It was all thanks to Alex Agran at Arrow Films and Video. He took a chance on Naomi Holwill, who edits and produces all these things, and I ten years ago - so I owe it all to Alex. From there I was fortunate enough to have been able to get in the door of lots of other labels. The hardest documentary we ever did however was 'Images of Apartheid: Filmmaking on the Fringe in the Old South Africa' - which was shot all around South Africa, with a two person crew, in summer 2016. It is more of an academic piece to be honest, but it was very tough to put together. Otherwise, maybe it would be Category III: The Untold Story of Hong Kong Exploitation Cinema. Koch Media in Germany came to me and Naomi and asked if we had any ideas for their Blu-Ray of Hong Kong horror classic 'The Untold Story' and I said I'd like to do a Category III documentary. I was in China at the time so, with scant budget and no contacts in the Hong Kong industry at all, we filmed this in just a few days and delivered it to a demanding deadline. It is not the last word on Category III by any means, but we worked very hard to get it done.
HC: How did you start working with 88 Films and how do you choose which titles to help them acquire?
CW: Well I was acquiring titles for them for years. I still assist where I can - and they are both very supportive. I got involved with 88 Films simply by contacting them when they launched and asking if they might want some help with extra features. We all met in London and just really hit it off. I went to the Berlin Film Market with them in 2015 and it was really good - we have a rapport together although our WhatsApp group is rather chaotic [laughs]. But I tend to veer towards getting them the sort of thing that I really love - it has been such a pleasure, for instance, bringing some of the Shaw Brothers horror movies to the UK, restored and remastered, and also some really obscure and underrated horror movies I never thought would get a Blu-ray release in Britain. I loved getting Nail Gun Massacre, for example, X-Ray, Bloodsucking Pharaohs in Pittsburgh, Splatter University, Hide and go Shriek, Just Before Dawn, Happy Hell Night, Scalps, Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers - all of these were dug out by myself. I really appreciated organising their contracts for The Boogeyman and Nightmares in a Damaged Brain too. Lots more than that, but these are the ones that jump out and which I was grateful to see put out on Blu-Ray.
HC: Tell us about your documentary, Searching for Cannibal Holocaust and why did you choose such a controversial movie?
CW: I have always wanted to do a trilogy. So, I had this idea for a trilogy of cannibal film documentaries back in 2015, when I finished work on Eaten Alive! The Rise and Fall of the Italian Cannibal Film. That went down really well, I got a personal email from Eli Roth telling me how he loved it, how he showed it to Tarantino who also appreciated it, Bob Murawski loved it and I got a lot of acclaim for it. It is just a talking head documentary, of course, but it was the first-time people heard from Me Me Lai and it did a pretty solid job of filming all the main players. So I decided that I would use the Italian cannibal cycle to explore my own evolution as a filmmaker - and we did that a little with the second one, Me Me Lai Bites Back, which was my own reflexive documentary, of sorts, on discovering Me Me Lai's whereabouts during the making of Eaten Alive and bringing her back to the public eye. Eli Roth even got involved in that documentary, which was such an honour. Then I thought that for the third and final installment I would like to get the native people who appeared in Cannibal Holocaust to talk about their own perspective on the film and juxtapose that with the American leading man, Carl Yorke. That seemed like something that would never happen because of expense and because of the unlikelihood of finding the native actors. But we succeeded on both counts because a Tokyo label bought some of our extras last year and we funded the trip on that. It is also my own exploration of cyber-bullying, the impact that Cannibal Holocaust has had on me, and more. It turns into a very real exploration of Amazonas tourism too. This documentary is not is Deodato's story and was not intended to be. Of course, I am not forcing anyone to watch it - but if I never made this, the native story would have gone untold. Only two of the native actors, and one of the native crew, could be traced and found alive.
HC: What is your opinion on censorship in this day and age?
CW: It is largely redundant because of the internet - but having lived three years in China, I saw what a good, effective state machine could operate like. In terms of film, I don't think censorship should exist unless someone is clearly and evidently breaking the laws of the land in what they are filming. That is obviously a grey area in terms of something such as Cannibal Holocaust, given that the director slaughtered real animals for the camera - and I suppose I am open-minded to that and accept it, although I would argue that a 40-year-old piece of cinema perhaps does not have to meet modern animal welfare laws in that respect and if one eats meat, one probably has no right to demand cuts. That is, however, an extreme example.
HC: Are there any movies on your wish list?
CW: I would like to work on a special edition of a few films - definitely a new 4K of Cannibal Holocaust if it were to happen, and it should, and I would be thrilled to do a documentary on the Mitchell Brothers and their theatre - I have speaking to Naomi about that and we both think that is something that would be a great project were anyone to ever do, Behind the Green Door. I would really like to tackle a new edition of The New York Ripper, but the new USA release is in the far better hands of the great David Gregory, so I'm excited for that. I wish I could have done something new on Zombie Flesh Eaters - Bill Lustig asked me, but I was coming back from China at the time and tied-up with a lot of things. Same with Synapse and Suspiria - if I had not been in China, that would have been one of our projects. I would adore doing Faceless, the Franco movie, and Tombs of the Blind Dead - there are definitely a few. On the other hand, I feel I got to do a lot of my 'wish list' movies - The Untold Story, Cannibal Holocaust, Zombie Flesh-Eaters, the Arrow Video edition, Man from Deep River, Cannibal Ferox, Pieces, Tenebrae, Mark of the Devil, Toolbox Murders, Lifeforce - these were all movies I once dreamed about working on extra features for and never predicted that one day I would.
HC: So, what are you up to at the moment?
CW: Naomi and I are producing a new documentary on Spanish zombie cinema for the great guys at Synapse, and a confidential but essential upcoming release and 4K remaster, a documentary on the Nazisploitation cycle for Severin, and another confidential but essential upcoming Blu-ray from them, and we are doing a huge documentary on the legacy of The Last House on the Left, for a yet-to-be-announced new remaster of something awesome and much more. Right now we have about ten Blu-rays to produce and our 'Searching for Cannibal Holocaust' on the back-burner. I am also writing my new book, Images of Apartheid: Filmmaking on the Fringe in the Old South Africa, I have a journal article upcoming on Brutes and Savages and its placement within the mondo legacy and I just recently finished a documentary with Naomi for Cannibal Terror from 88 Films. I'm really excited to currently be writing a retrospective of the Ring franchise for Sci-Fi Now magazine right at this moment too. And anyone interested can see my documentary 'Category III: The Untold Story of Hong Kong Exploitation Cinema' at the upcoming Starburst Film Festival in Manchester, March 15th/16th.
HC: Calum Waddell, thank you very much.
Related show tags: 88 FILMS MORE INTERVIEWS Interview with exploitation legend David McGillivray
Posted on Wednesday 24th April 2019 Ahead of Horror Channel's premiere of Pete Walker's Schizo on April 27th, horror and sexploitation movie writer/director David McGillivray reflects on disastrous scripts, his volatile relationship with Walker and writing smut for Julian Clary.
Q: Schizo is unusual in your body of work with director Pete Walker because the concept and narrative were not of your choosing. How much of a problem was that for you?
DM: Huge. I thought the script that we re-worked was terribly old-fashioned and this led to big arguments with Walker that ended our relationship.
Q: You often play a cameo in the movies you've written - you're 'Man at Seance' in Schizo. Any particular reason?
DM:...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Abner Pastoll, director of Road Games
Posted on Thursday 21st March 2019
Horror Channel loves to promote new talent in the industry and one of the most exciting new directors around is Abner Pastoll. His first feature, Road Games, is an adrenaline packed killer of a thriller which is showing on the channel on March 22nd at 9pm. We decided to chat to Abner about this tense movie and his plans for the future.
HC: Did you know from a young age that you wanted to work in the film industry?
AP: Yes. I remember being as young as 4 or 5 and just knowing with such clarity that I needed to make films. My family had a cinema, drive-in and video store, all of which certainly enhanced my obsession with movies of all shapes and sizes.
HC: Was there one film t...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Zach Lipovsky, director of Leprechaun: Origins.
Posted on Thursday 28th February 2019
On March 1st, Horror is bringing you the UK TV premiere of a real corker of a shocker, Leprechaun: Origins. The movie follows two couples backpacking through the Irish countryside who end up spending the night in an old cabin, and learn the terrible truth about Ireland's most famous legend. So begins a living nightmare... The movie is a smart entry into the franchise so we decided to chat to its director, Zach Lipovsky.
HC: Did you know from an early age that you wanted to work in this industry?
ZL: Yes, I grew up as a child actor. Mostly as an excuse to be on set and not at school. I was quickly more interested in making movies than acting and from the age of 10 started shooting silly pro...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Tom Paton, director of Redwood
Posted on Monday 4th February 2019
Ahead of Horror Channel's UK TV premiere of Redwood, director Tom Paton reveals the secrets of his prolific work-rate, talks about tackling the subject of fake news and the twists and turns of his new film Stairs.
HC: Redwood gets its UK TV premiere on Friday 8 February, courtesy of Horror Channel. Excited or what?
TP: Honestly, I'm so proud that Redwood has made its way onto Horror Channel. I've been a huge fan since the channel launched and over the past decade I've discovered so many horror gems on there from classic through to films I'd never heard of but now love. It feels incredible to know that someone might discover Redwood in the exact same way.
HC: Is it true y...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Iain Ross-McNamee director of Crucible of the Vampire
Posted on Sunday 27th January 2019
Making its World Premiere at Cannes Film Festival and garnering rave reviews at other major festivals, Iain Ross-McNamee's gothic chiller Crucible of the Vampire is set to arrive in UK cinemas on 1 February.
This will be followed by its home entertainment release on 4 February on dual format DVD and Blu-ray and on digital platforms courtesy of Screenbound Entertainment.
Here he chats about this retro-feeling piece of cinema.
HC: What inspired you to write Crucible of the Vampire?
IRM: I chose the location first and wrote the story around it with my two co-writers, John Wolskel and Darren Lake. The idea of people ...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Corin Hardy, director of The Nun
Posted on Sunday 20th January 2019
The Conjuring universe expanded recently with the box-office chill-filled thriller, The Nun. It's just been released onto Blu-ray and DVD so we had a quick chat with the very talented director of this gothic entry, Corin Hardy.
HC: How did you become attached to the project?
CH: I had made The Hallow and that had caught the attention of James (Wan) through his company Atomic Monster and he sent me The Nun script, I am obviously a die-hard horror fan, and I knew all of James' films and was particularly a fan of The Conjuring movies so I was quite intrigued as to what this story would be as I am always on the lookout. I have my own films I want to develop and make and I'm ...SHARE: READ MORE Ahead of Horror Channel's premiere of zom-rom-com Ibiza Undead, we ask actress and producer Marcia Do Vales 10 scary questions.
Posted on Tuesday 8th January 2019
Ahead of Horror Channel's premiere of zombie rom-com Ibiza Undead, we ask actress and producer Marcia Do Vales 10 scary questions.
HC: When did your interest in horror films begin?
MDV: About the age of 11 or 12, I started enjoying watching horror films, after my parents had gone to bed. I remember watching Child's Play with the volume turned off, sitting directly in front of the TV so I could quickly turn it off if my parents came in.
HC: Tell us about your first horror film role.
MDV: In my first film role, I played The Girl in The Reverend I found myself working alongside the legendary Rutger Hauer who was cast as the Devil. He had his own private room...SHARE: READ MORE A chat with Dominic Brunt and Joanne Mitchell ahead of Horror Channel's UK TV premiere of Attack of the Adult Babies
Posted on Wednesday 2nd January 2019
Ahead of the Horror Channel's UK TV premiere of Attack of the Adult Babies, on January 5 at 9pm, director Dominic Brunt and actor/producer partner Joanne Mitchell unpin the nappies...
HC: Attack of the Adult Babies will receive its UK TV premiere on Horror Channel. Are you both excited?
DB: I'm over the moon. As a fan of horror, I'm also a fan of the Horror Channel. It's an honour to have our work premiered with one of our favourite channels. The Horror Channel (along with FrightFest and Metrodome) took Before Dawn under its wing when that was released as our debut feature film. It marked our transition from horror fen geeks to horror film makers and we were well looked after indeed.
JM: We're delighted and incred...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Leprechaun Returns director Steven Kostanski
Posted on Monday 17th December 2018
Horror's smallest terror is back to reclaim the treasure that's been lost for 25 years in Leprechaun Returns which has just been released across all streaming platforms. We spoke to its director, Steven Kostanski about this movie the challenges of carrying on a much loved franchise.
HC: How were you approached to direct Leprechaun Returns?
SK: The producers contacted my manager and he sent me the script. I had a few conversations with them over the phone discussing the direction they wanted go, and once I saw that they were looking to get away from the seriousness of Leprechaun Origins I knew I wanted to do the project.
HC: What did you think of Suzanne Keilly's script when y...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Bill Watterson director of Dave Made a Maze
Posted on Sunday 4th November 2018
At Grimmfest 2017 we had the chance to view one of the most original pieces of cinema we'd seen in a long time, Dave Made a Maze. Directed by Bill Watterson it's an intelligent, thought-provoking film that deserves to reach a global audience and will be released here early 2019. We chatted to Bill about this incredible movie.
HC: Where did this concept come from?
WW: Three places: Steven was underway on a script called 'Operation: Death Maze,' or something cool like that. Portions of it were re-purposed after he jibed with a story I told about my mom coming home and seeing an incredible fort that I'd build in my bedroom, and concluding that I'd gotten lost within it when I d...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Paul Hyett director of Peripheral
Posted on Friday 2nd November 2018 Paul Hyett is a firm FrightFest favourite. His work jumps from genre you genre with ease but still retains that "Hyett" feeling in each piece. His latest work, Peripheral is having its UK Premiere at the FrightFest Halloween 2018 event so we decided to chat to Paul about this and his view on technology.
HC: How did the project of Peripheral come together?
PH: Peripheral was bought to me by the original producer, he thought I'd be a good fit. Originally he had pitched me a one woman in a room, contained location about bad technology theme. It didn't feel appealing as after Howl, which was a big film in terms of cast, VFX, stunts etc and I was looking for a more challenging film logisticall...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Julian Richards, director of Reborn
Posted on Wednesday 17th October 2018
Ahead of the World premiere screening of Reborn at FrightFest Halloween, Julian Richards discusses the torturous challenges of Daddy's Girl, why he wishes every actress was like Barbara Crampton and future plans, including directing the English language remake of Rabies.
HC: After six years away from directing, you have two films, Reborn and Daddy's Girl poised for distribution. Why these two very different films now?
JR: My previous film Shiver was completed in 2012 and it took longer for me to get back into the directing saddle because of commitments I had to my sales company Jinga Films. The company was growing quickly and needed more of my time and energy. We had grown from handling th...SHARE: READ MORE Interviews Archive: 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 PICK OF THE WEEK
Saturday 27th April
Monday 29th April
Saturday 27th April