LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS Interview with Kelly Greene, writer and director of Attack of the Bat Monsters
By James Whittington, Tuesday 27th February 2018
Making movies can be a tough business but to have to wait almost two decades to release your work takes true dedication. At Horror Channel FrightFest Glasgow this weekend Kelly Greene's Attack of the Bat Monsters is finally unleashed. Here he tells us the story behind this celebration of 1950s creature features.
HC: You were inspired to write Attack of the Bat Monsters when you were researching 50s movies, did it take long to write?
KG: It took quite a while because I was working 50 to 60 hours a week at a video production facility while raising a 2-year old and 8-year old, along with my wife, who was also working. I would write at night between 9 and 11pm, and maybe a little more on the weekends. I wrote in quotas, believe it or not. My goal was 2 pages a session. I didn't take a day off, so I was knocking out abut 15 pages a week. I had one mantra, "Don't get it right, get it written." I did NOT rewrite as I went along. The first draft took six weeks, and was pretty hideous.
HC: Did it change much during the writing process?
KG: Before I started, the initial outline went through radical revisions; for instance, originally the shooting of the three day film was the middle act of the script. The first act was about "recruiting the team"; and the third act consisted of the screening of the film months later, which was loosely based on the premiere of Eyes Without A Face where members of the audience became nauseated, passed out and/or walked out because Chuck had pushed the edges of gore and nudity with re-shoots. Once I tossed out that third act, the story took shape, and after that first draft, I mainly cleaned up dialogue and deleted scenes, and dropped two sections; one, where Chuck recruits a poster artist, and another involving the monster-maker building the bat monster so large that he can't get it out of his studio.
HC: Was it written with a cast in mind?
KG: The two main characters, Francis and Chuck, were always written for Marco Perella and Michael Dalmon, and I also had Ryan Wickerham in mind to play Jack Haroldson. We just couldn't fulfill even the ultra low budget requirements for SAG, so Marco bowed out. You can go online to the Attack Of The Bat Monsters Facebook page to watch a scene we shot on spec that I ended up cutting from the shooting script. Marco plays Francis in that scene.
HC: The film has plenty for film buffs to look out for but also has lots to offer casual fans too, was it hard to make sure the film had a broad appeal?
I didn't design it that way. I simply made a film that I, as a fan of the genre, would want to see. Even if films about film making are perceived as a niche market, I always assumed that the film would tap into the same audience That Ed Wood had been made for, or Matinee, or even Living In Oblivion. And since we produced Attack Of The Bat Monsters for a fraction of those films' costs, my hope was that a cagey distributor would see its value, pick it up and push it in that direction.
HC: It does look and feel like it was shot in the era its set, was that hard to achieve?
KG: Like the 1950s exploitation films themselves, the film's visual style was a direct reflection of its budget. I had initially assumed I would shoot in two radically different modes; the first, in colour, handheld, with long takes, like a documentary, that covered the actions of Chuck, Francis and the crew, which required a high shooting ratio. The second style, in black-and-white, would mimic the visual look and feel of the '50s exploitation film. The plan was to shoot Beta SP video and create a "film look" in post, but then Tom Hennig entered the project late in pre-production with his Aton Super 16MM camera. Suddenly half the budget was now going to film and processing! So we had to shoot the entire film conservatively, cover action minimally to keep our shooting ratio down - all the trademarks of a Corman quickie.
HC: Is it true it was to be part of a proposed trilogy?
KG: Only if the first film had been successful. I never wrote the scripts, just jotted down the outlines. The second installment took place in 1965 in a small town in Mexico where the lone movie house there shows Attack Of The Bat Monsters over and over again and the eponymous Bat Monster has become a local sensation. A lucha libre masked wrestler hatches a plot to shoot a crossover film in which he fights the Bat Monster, along the lines of Santo Versus The Vampire Women. Naturally Chuck and Francis get involved. Believe it or not, two of my influences for that were Spirit Of The Beehive and Dassin's Night And The City! The final film in the trilogy takes place closer to home for me, in Austin, Texas in 1974 where Chuck is now a film instructor at the University of Texas and gets the idea for a horror film with a plot similar to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
HC: What was the initial shoot like?
KG: I was fighting a cold and I got badly sunburned shooting long days at the quarry. I handled stress as best I could. It was a bit of a blur. You may have heard of Goleman's Six Leadership Styles - Visionary, Coaching, Affiliative, Democratic, Pace setting, and Commanding? I was none of those! But we kept on budget and on schedule. The cast and crew stayed in good spirits. Mark Rance and I want to have a private screening in Austin and get as many of them back together as possible.
HC: How did it feel to have a movie ready to be distributed but no one would pick it up?
KG: How did it feel? Pretty much like those stages of grief - denial, anger, bargaining and depression; I don't think I've ever gotten to acceptance mode, because Attack Of The Bat Monsters is an "evergreen" movie. Nothing really dates it. Now that Watchmaker is repping the film, I think it will be available through a variety of formats - 2K and 4KDCPs, streaming, DVD, Blu-ray, etc.
HC: It's been almost two decades since you shot Attack of the Bat Monsters, how does it feel to have it finally unleashed properly?
KG: I'll quote Eddie Felsen from The Hustler - "Tight but good." I've only seen it projected in standard definition, or as a rough 1920x1080 file; never as a 2K DCP. To call this screening a restoration is a bit of a misnomer: the more accurate term is upgraded, since Bat Monsters has never looked as good as it will in Glasgow on Friday! So I'm exhilarated, and also grateful to FrightFest for their inclusion of my little movie in their incredible line-up.
HC: The title sequence is just wonderful, you must be happy how that turned out?
KG: I am. I think the title sequence, which is heavily indebted to Saul Bass' work for Anatomy Of A Murder, signals several things to the audience. It clues them to the time period, to the pastiche-like nature of the film they're about to see, and most of all it alerts them that the movie they are about to see pays homage, that it aims to pay tribute. I originally created the sequence in standard definition using the crude rudiments of Avid DVE and it always looked horrible in festival screenings blown up in projection because of the frame size and pixilation and interlacing aliasing. Yuck! Now my daughter, Matty, has rebuilt it in After Effects in progressive video and adjustable rastering and it looks great! Plus, Matty was able to approximate some of Bass' 2D effects much better than I was, so it looks even more like a sequence generated from an animation stand. And in true Corman fashion it didn't cost me a dime. Nothing like exploiting your kid's talents.
HC: How has the industry changed since you made Attack of the Bat Monsters?
KG: Two big differences are that, even with inflation, I could make Attack of the Bat Monsters today with less money and it would look, technically, comparable and arguably better. That's because of the relatively low cost of 4K cameras with CMOS sensors, versus the cost of film and processing and negative cutting and print striking and all those steps which have been rendered obsolete by digital technology. The other change, of course, involves the rise of different kinds of distribution paths. When Bat Monsters was shot, there was Theatrical, TV and VHS. End of story. Today, video-on-demand means a film can reside on multiple platforms and devices, with the net result that demand for original content has skyrocketed.
HC: This is your first piece, did the experience put you off the film industry so much that you walked away?
KG: I returned to corporate video production in 2002. I had given it my best shot at that point, and we were dead broke. Our two girls would both need help financially to get through college in just a few years. Today, as of just a few weeks ago, we're empty nesters and I'm looking at this new cinematic landscape and licking my chops!
HC: So, what are you working on at the moment?
KG: I'm really excited about a script called American Monsters, first in a series loosely based on the Lovecraftian model of dimensions parallel to our own chock-full of loathsome entities, and people in this world determined to open the floodgates to let them in - never a good idea! That project requires some real low-budget financing. I'm just as hopeful that I can do another micro-budget project on my own, in particular one designed around the Christmas season, because I have a story to tell in that genre. I'm also currently brainstorming with another writer-director, Jeff Stohland, and Bat Monsters' cinematographer Tom Hennig, on a low-budget genre bender.
HC: Kelly Greene, thank you very much.
Related show tags: ATTACK OF THE BAT MONSTERS, FRIGHTFEST, KELLY GREENE MORE ARTICLES Would you open the Book of Monsters?
Posted in News, Monday 19th August 2019
Dark Rift Films and Blue Finch Film Releasing have announced the release of the award winning, horror comedy Book of Monsters in the UK and Ireland. Full of practical effects driven monsters and intense, gory action, the movie is a dark horror comedy in the vein of The Evil Dead II and Shaun of the Dead.
Sophie's 18th birthday party becomes a bloodbath when six terrifying monsters descend upon her house, intent on devouring the party guests and killing anyone who tries to leave. As her school friends are torn apart and consumed, Sophie must rally a band of misfits and take up arms to send their party crashers back to hell. In order to survive the night, Sophie will face her destiny...SHARE: READ MORE Horror Channel Manager Stewart Bridle rounds up some of the genre gems to catch at FrightFest 2019.
Posted in Features, Frightfest, Monday 19th August 2019
It's the most terrifying time of year, one filled with fear, torture and overwhelming dread. I'm not talking about being strapped to some SAW-type trap but rather having to decide watch to watch from FrightFest's annual line-up. And in their 20th year things are even harder than before with a record-breaking 78 movies to choose from. But if making a decision is slowly killing you then let us help with some of the movies we recommend scaring yourself with...CRAWL Alexander Aja, the director behind such horror hits as Switchblade Romance, the 2006 version of The Hills Have Eyes and Piranha 3D, returns with another gory genre piece that will do for the reputation of alligators what he previously did for... SHARE: READ MORE The Ford brothers chat about The Dead 2: India and Offensive which are both showing in our FrightFest Season.
Posted in Features, Frightfest, Wednesday 14th August 2019
Ahead of the UK TV premieres of The Dead 2 and Offensive, (part of the FrightFest season), brothers Howard and Jon Ford discuss the trials and tribulations of filmmaking, healing wounds and why The Dead 3 won't be happening any time soon...
HC: We will be launching our massive 13-night FrightFest Double-Bill Season with the UK TV premiere of The Dead 2. Excited?
HF: Well it's a surprise, but a lovely one! Until I was asked to do this interview, I had no clue The Dead 2 had even been picked up by Horror Channel! But yes, I'm very excited.
JF: I hope the viewers enjoy the film. We went through much pain and effort to make this film, in tough parts of India. We were on a very m...SHARE: READ MORE Arrow Video FrightFest announces 2019 Short Film Programme
Posted in Frightfest, News, Friday 9th August 2019
From unseen forces to dangerous desires, from the remorseful living to the remorseless dead, from under the earth to creepy closed doors, Arrow Video FrightFest 2019 continues the festival's fine tradition of showcasing the best in global genre short filmmaking.
This year's five continent selection unleashes the newest creations from both upcoming and established filmmakers and embraces a record fifteen UK films, seven spotlighted selections from Canada and a breakthrough entry from The United Arab Emirates.
Homegrown talent continues to energise the UK film industry, as reflected in this year's entries. There's Folk Horror (Wither, Marianne) and Body Horror (This Little ...SHARE: READ MORE Toby Jones 'glows' in Kaleidoscope
Posted in News, Thursday 25th July 2019
Acclaimed on its theatrical release, Toby Jones is the the lead in Kaleidoscope, a bleak, nightmarish psychological thriller written and directed by brother Rupert Jones in his feature film debut.
This intense thriller is set to arrive on UK digital platforms on 12 August 2019, followed by its DVD release on 23 September 2019. The cast includes Sinead Matthews (Jellyfish), Cecilia Noble (Danny and the Human Zoo) and a stand out turn from national treasure Anna Reid, MBE (Last Tango in Halifax).
A sparse, drab flat, on a housing estate in London, loud frantic knocking and a dog barking. We meet Carl Woods (Jones), an ex-prisoner with dreams of starting a gardening business, as he's ...SHARE: READ MORE Jen and Sylvia Soska are back with their next nightmare - the bloody, brutal and deranged Rabid!
Posted in Frightfest, News, Thursday 25th July 2019
Acclaimed horror directors and Sylvia Soska aka The Twisted Twins (Dead Hooker in a Trunk, American Mary) are back with their next nightmare - the bloody, brutal and deranged Rabid!
After aspiring fashion designer Rose (Laura Vandervoort) suffers a disfiguring traffic accident she undergoes a radical and untested stem-cell treatment. The experimental transformation is a miraculous success, transforming her into a ravishing beauty. But she soon develops an uncontrollable sexual appetite, resulting in several torrid encounters, which sees her lovers become rabid carriers of death and disease. As the illness mutates and the contagion spreads out of control, all hell breaks loose as the infected r...SHARE: READ MORE Hex Studios will unleash a legion of demons at FrightFest
Posted in Frightfest, News, Wednesday 24th July 2019
The latest offering from the Scottish studio is a demon-themed anthology featuring 13 shorts produced especially for the project by up-and-coming directors from around the world. For We Are Many is the first of several anthology features in the works at Hex, and seeks to showcase the best of new and emerging talent in the genre.
The film stars a host of horror icons including Eileen Dietz (The Exorcist), Nicholas Vince (Hellraiser), and Laurence R. Harvey (The Human Centipede II). Each segment tells the terrifying story of a particular demonic entity, from a devastatingly sensual succubus, to a Native-American demon that drives its victims to cannibalism, and many more, ra...SHARE: READ MORE Horror Channel celebrates FrightFest 2019 with bumper season
Posted in Features, Frightfest, Tuesday 23rd July 2019
To celebrate FrightFest 2019, taking place in London during the August Bank Holiday, Horror Channel is dedicating thirteen nights to past festival hits. Amongst the twenty-six fearsome favourites, the channel will kick off the season with the UK TV premiere of Howard J. Ford and Jonathan Ford's India-based zombie road movie The Dead 2, the follow-up to their hugely popular African zombie adventure The Dead. There is also a UK TV premiere for Jonathan Ford's Offensive. Produced by brother Howard, this is a dark, violent tale of generational rage and revenge set in rural France.
There are also channel premieres for Julian Gilbey's harrowing British survival shocker, A Lonel...SHARE: READ MORE Spawn reaches issue #300
Posted in News, Monday 22nd July 2019
Image Comics has revealed the highly anticipated J. Scott Campbell cover for the upcoming milestone Spawn #300 issue by Todd McFarlane, President at Image Comics and creator of Spawn. This is just the first of many exciting cover reveals to come on the #Roadto300!
The buzz surrounding the classic antihero series continues to build leading into historic Spawn #300 and record-breaking Spawn #301 when it becomes the longest running creator-owned comic in the world.
This stunning cover by fan-favorite, best-selling artist J. Scott Campbell showcases Todd McFarlane's dark hero in a stunning, heroic pose in front of an ornate stained glass window featuring various allies and villains...SHARE: READ MORE How far down the rabbit hole will you dare to go?
Posted in News, Monday 22nd July 2019
Anticipated upcoming anthology Wonderland, edited by Marie O'Regan and Paul Kane, will be released on 17th September.
Join Alice as she is thrown into the whirlwind of Wonderland, in an anthology that bends the traditional notions of Lewis Carroll's classic novel, featuring ghosts, medieval quests, demons and cyborgs.
Tread carefully as you visit the brilliant and bizarre world of Wonderland once again, for these original and fantastically horrifying tales capture a Wonderland that you'll never have experienced before...
Contributors include the bestselling M.R. Carey, Genevieve Cogman, Catriona Ward, Rio Youers and L.L. McKinney.... SHARE: READ MORE Soundtrack to Lars Von Trier's controversial film Antichrist arriving soon
Posted in News, Monday 22nd July 2019
Cold Spring have announced the official release of the soundtrack to Lars Von Trier's controversial film Antichrist, available on physical format for the first time.
Ten years after the film's initial release, the extreme, provocative performances from Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg in Antichrist still have the power to shock, repulse and divide audiences. The sound design by Kristian Eidnes Andersen with Lars Von Trier, was composed using only natural sounds and samples (including internal body recordings). Each element was recorded specifically for the film and overseen by Von Trier, including a brand new, sombre performance of Handel's 'Lasci...SHARE: READ MORE More Who to hit vinyl in August
Posted in News, Monday 22nd July 2019
Following the sell-out success of Big Finish Productions limited edition Doctor Who stories on vinyl, the audio company has announced another exclusive release. Sainsbury's will launch Doctor Who: Wave of Destruction starring Tom Baker, Lalla Ward and John Leeson on 2nd August 2019. It will be released as a Limited Edition run of 1500 copies on 'ocean swirl' vinyl - only available in the UK.
A modulated frequency wave cancellation signal isn't something that the Doctor and Romana expect to detect in 1960s London. But then they don't expect to find Professor Lanchester, the man who invented it, lying unconscious. Or MI5 investigating. With the help of ...SHARE: READ MORE Articles Archive: 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 PICK OF THE WEEK
Thursday 29th August
Friday 23rd August
Saturday 31st August