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 INTERVIEWS 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 Interview with Jules Vincent, co-writer and producer of Alive
Posted on Thursday 4th October 2018
Grimmfest 2018 is well underway and delivering some memorable movie moments, and one of the best is showing on Sunday, Alive. This cracking film sees the return of Grimmfest favourite Rob Grant as director and has been co-written and co-produced by Chuck McCue and Jules Vincent. Here Jules tells all about this brilliant piece.
HC: Where did the idea for Alive come from?
JV: We'd talked about writing a horror screenplay for a number of years before we finally came up with the right idea. We're both big fans of classic horror and we love the works of Hitchcock, Carpenter, Friedkin, and Cronenberg so in a way we had a very specific style and feel in mind before we even had the story. A...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Olivier Afonso director of Girls With Balls
Posted on Wednesday 3rd October 2018
Grimmfest 2018 kicks off tomorrow and one of the many highlights of the four day event is the blood-splattered shocker Girls With Balls. We chatted to it's director Olivier Afonso about this fab film and his career as an SFX artists.
HC: What inspired you to write Girls With Balls?
OA: My co-writer and I we wanted to write a trash comedy to entertain an audience because we love festivals: the atmosphere, people screaming, laughing... Personally, I'm inspired by the eighties and nineties movies such as of Sam Raimi, Peter Jackson, Alex de la Iglesia. We wanted to make a survival movie but with strong women, a girl ...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Ezequiel Endelman and Leandro Montejano, the creative forces behind Crystal Eyes
Posted on Saturday 15th September 2018
FrightFest 2018 exposed attendees to horror from all over the world and one that made an incredibly stylish and retro impact was the superb giallo inspired shocker, Crystal Eyes. Here the co-writers and co-directors Ezequiel Endelman and Leandro Montejano tell us all about this affectionate love letter to the classics of the 80s.
Where did the idea for Crystal Eyes come from?
Crystal Eyes was supposed to be the third episode of our web-series called No Podras Dormir Esta Noche (You Won't Sleep Tonight) which paid homage to different horror sub genres in each episode, and eventually it turned into a feature film. We love Giallo si...SHARE: READ MORE Exclusive interview with Adam Green, director of Hatchet.
Posted on Thursday 13th September 2018
Ahead of Horror Channel's UK TV Premiere of Hatchet on Friday 14th Sept, director Adam Green gives an exclusive interview about his beloved franchise and what the future holds for Victor Crowley...
Hatchet is finally getting its first showing on UK TV, courtesy of Horror Channel. We're excited, are you?
I couldn't be more excited! I've always said that even though Hatchet may have world premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in NYC, it was at FrightFest in London where "Victor Crowley" was truly born. FrightFest was "the screening heard around the world" and the UK audience was so enthusiastic over Hatchet that every genre festival on t...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Tom de Ville, director of Corvidae
Posted on Wednesday 5th September 2018
HC: This is your first short as a director, what inspired you to write this script?
TdV: I read a really interesting article about how smart crows are, in particular how they can hold grudges. Apparently a group of scientists had gone out and harassed a murder of crows whilst wearing masks. If they went back wearing the masks, the crows would remember them and fight back. If they didn't wear the masks, the crows would leave them alone. This made me start thinking about what would happen if someone tried to save a crow from a bunch of kids who were trying to kill it. Would the other crows from its murder remember this? And what would they do to help her?...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Stewart Sparke, director of Book of Monsters
Posted on Wednesday 5th September 2018
HC: Your last movie, The Creature Below was two years ago, what's life been back since then?
SS: Since The Creature Below premiered at Frightfest in 2016 things haven't really stopped for myself and my collaborator Paul Butler. We were lucky enough to have the film released on DVD and VOD in over eight countries under various names. I think my favourite has to be Japan's Leviathan X: From the Deep! The film even had a theatrical release in Taiwan which was quite surreal as it was playing opposite Thor Ragnarok over there so overall, we've been completely blown away by everything that's happened. Paul and I are always coming up wit...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Ferdinando D'Urbano actor, writer, producer of The Laplace's Demon
Posted on Tuesday 28th August 2018
A stand-out movie from FrightFest 2018 tested the brain power of those who saw it. The Laplace's Demon is an incredibly powerful piece so we chatted to one of the creatives behind it, Ferdinando D'Urbano.
HC: I'd never heard of Laplace's Demon theory before, can you give us a quick explanation of what it is?
FDU: The Laplace's Demon is a philosophical theory of the early 1800s. Pierre Simon Laplace was a French mathematician who in his work "Essai philosophique sur les probabilites" (A philosophical essay on probabilities), theorized that if there were an intellect capable of knowing al...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Andre Gower director of Wolfman's Got Nards
Posted on Monday 27th August 2018
HC: You had already starred in a lot of stuff before The Monster Squad came along, did you think that this was just "another" acting job?
AG: At the time, it was just that. The next audition, the next project. However, once on set and seeing what you were a part of, we realized quickly that this was something bigger and more unique than anything we had done before or may even get to do in the future.
HC: Were you a fan of the Universal monsters at that time?
AG: I always had an appreciation for the classics even as a kid. As you mature, you keep that appreciation and learn more about it and how it affects the present and realize these were very important...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with John Rocco and Abiel Bruhn the writers and directors of The Night Sitter
Posted on Sunday 26th August 2018
HC: Where did the idea for The Night Sitter come from?
JR: From the beginning of this story, I had my childhood home in Nashville in mind as the perfect location. After several months of convincing, my parents allowed us to film in their house. It's a pretty amazing feeling to have grown up in the same location that we'd eventually film our first feature in! We were able to incorporate all the parts of my house that used to scare me as a child and weave them into a story about witches, which was extremely fun and nostalgic at times. While developing the story, I tried to recall the scary thoughts I had when I was Kevin's age.
AB: Finding an inspiring location (the house has this stran...SHARE: READ MORE Interviews Archive: 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 PICK OF THE WEEK
Saturday 1st December
Friday 23rd November
Wednesday 28th November