LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS Interview with Stewart Sparke, director of Book of Monsters
By James W, 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 with ideas for films and as soon as The Creature Below was finished we were eager to start cooking up our next monster movie!
HC: How did the project for Book of Monsters come to you?
SS: Paul and I really wanted to do something completely different in tone to The Creature Below which was quite a serious and slow-paced movie. We've always had a thing for the fun, popcorn creature features of the 80s and 90s like Gremlins, Tremors and Deep Rising so we wanted to do something that paid homage to that era. Book of Monsters started life as a short film idea with a young girl having to fight off a monster at her eighteenth birthday party and was just a fun opportunity for us to play with creatures again and have some fun gags in there about coming of age stories. It wasn't until after our first film that we looked at the concept again and realised that it would make a great feature length movie with even more monsters in!
HC: Was the idea of using practical effects there from the start?
SS: We knew as soon as we settled on the idea for Book of Monsters that we had to realise the creatures entirely with practical effects. The film is drenched in so much 80s nostalgia that it was important we brought the monsters to life in the same way our favourite films to the era did and this gives the whole thing a true retro feel. I grew up watching Aliens and Braindead so I wanted to recapture the excitement of seeing those real, tangible monsters on screen, actually interacting with the actors.
HC: What was the hardest sequence to shoot and do you have a favourite moment?
SS: The toughest sequence to shoot was the initial monster attack which you can see part of in the trailer. Not only do we have a big, lumbering creature causing havoc, we also had six big practical effects driven deaths to contend with. All of these we're quite complex and required extensive planning to execute correctly. With most gore filled special effects you only get one chance to pull it off and we had to make sure that all the guts, blood and viscera flew in all the right directions! We also had about twenty actors on set at the time either running, screaming or dying so it was quite a challenge to overcome but I'm pleased to say that it went down a treat with the FrightFest audience who all laughed and cheered at the right moments!
HC: Who designed the creatures?
SS: The creatures were designed by the super talented artist Abigail J. Harding who created all these amazing monster concepts for us during pre-production. It was DDFX Studio (Paul & Mark Wilkins) who brought the monsters to life in the creature shop for the film and I couldn't be happier with the result. Their team went above and beyond to bring them to life on set and we not only had performers in costume but also puppeteers operating some of the smaller creatures so that our actors could interact with them.
HC: The score is a mix of synth and orchestra, can we expect a release of this as at all?
SS: Kyoto Dragon did an absolutely amazing job on the score for the film, not to mention the amazing 80s theme song (Ft. Villainest and Tommy Lazer) that plays over the end credits which had people cheering at the FrightFest premiere! Now that the film will be getting a release with Dread Central Presents I'm very hopeful that people are going to be able to pick up the soundtrack in the future.
HC: The poster for Book of Monsters was used to help promote FrightFest, you must be pleased with that?
SS: Yes that was quite a surprise and a huge honour! Paul Mcavoy called me a few days before it was unveiled and asked if it would be OK if they used the image of our three leads (Lyndsey Craine, Michaela Longden and Lizzie Stanton) as a central image in a montage of the films and of course I said it was OK! Little did I know they would be so front and centre with Lyndsey wielding the chainsaw dripping with blood! I have to give huge thanks to Ria Fend who designed the poster for putting our stars out there for everyone to see. Needless to say there were many photos of the cast and crew taken with the poster hanging outside of the Prince Charles Cinema at the festival!
HC: Having Hellraiser legend Nicholas Vince as part of the cast is pretty cool, how did you approach him for the part of Jonas?
SS: We first met Nicholas via the web on his show, Chattering with Nicholas Vince where he interviews a different horror filmmaker every week live via YouTube. Paul and myself were lucky enough to be invited on the show in the run up to The Creature Below's premiere at FrightFest. We had such a great time chatting to him and invited Nicholas along to the premiere and following FrightFest we told him about our idea for Book of Monsters and how we were very interested in having him play a character that is a far cry from the Chatterer. Nick plays Jonas, Sophie's dad in Book of Monsters and he is a key player in the emotional heart of the movie. He has some incredibly emotional scenes with Lyndsey Craine (Sophie) that required a lot of subtlety to pull off and I'm very pleased to say that he did an amazing job. I can't wait for people to see Nick's performance in the film and I think they will find it unlike anything he has done in a horror film before!
HC: What was your 18th birthday like?
SS: It was no where near as bloody as Sophie's, or at least I think so! A bunch of us went to Amsterdam on the ferry for the weekend. I can't say I remember much of it so it must have been good!
HC: So, what are you working on at the moment?
SS: Paul and I are busy working on several feature films, all of which involve monsters of some kind or another and buckets of gore. Our motto at Dark Rift Films is "We make monster movies" so you can expect lots more practical effects driven creatures to come!
HC: Stewart Sparke, thank you very much.
MORE INTERVIEWS 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 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 Interview with Joanne Mitchell, director of Sybil
Posted on Sunday 26th August 2018
One of the best things about FrightFest is the Showcases of Shorts which is the way to catch undiscovered talent and unique ideas. Joanne Mitchell has been in the entertainment industry for a few years but has just directed her first piece, Sybil which is showing at FrightFest today.
We decided to chat to her about this amazing and disturbing piece as well as he plans for feature films.
HC: Have you wanted to direct for a while?
JM: To be honest I hadn't really thought of directing until Tracey (Sheals) sent me an email with her idea for Sybil. And I really liked the story and thought this would make a great short film and possibly a feature in the fut...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Michael Mort creator and director of Chuck Steel Night of the Trampires
Posted on Saturday 25th August 2018
HC: Where did the character of Chuck Steel come from?
MM: I came up with the character of Chuck Steel in 1985 when still at school. I used to doodle this square jawed action hero in my English book when I should have been concentrating on the lesson. Over the years he developed a bit as I drew him in various adventure scenarios, usually involving monsters of some kind. I made a Super8 short film with the character when I was experimenting with animation and I also made a college film featuring Chuck a few years later. These were basically just Chuck fighting monsters for 10 minutes or so but I was learning about how to construct scenes and action as I went. Later in my animati...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Sam Ashurst director of Frankenstein's Creature
Posted on Saturday 25th August 2018
HC: Why did you choose to film James Swanton's acclaimed play, Frankenstein's Creature?
SA: I made a music video for Channel 4, and they gave me a small budget to shoot it in a day. The budget was small enough to raise independently, and I looked around me and realised I had all the crew I needed to shoot an actual feature film, not just a music video - if only I could shoot a film in a day! Then my friend Dan Martin, who did the effects for films like Human Centipede II and Freefire, said that he'd been given advice that if you want to shoot a film in a short space of time, you should option a play. I'd worked with James on another, much smaller thing, and was blown away by his talent....SHARE: READ MORE Interviews Archive: 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 PICK OF THE WEEK
Tuesday 30th October
Sunday 28th October
Thursday 25th October