Interview With Suri Krishnamma Director Of The Dark Tourist
By James Whittington, Sunday 25th August 2013

Dark Tourist ImageThe Dark Tourist (pictured) is a challenging, bleak and emotionally charged film that is getting a special preview today at FrightFest. It boasts an incredible script, bold performances and superb direction from Suri Krishnamma. Here Suri chats about this incredible movie.

HC: What attracted you to The Dark Tourist?

SK: What attracted me? When I read the script I ‘saw’ the film – it literally leapt of the page as if a hologram were attached. It’s hard to analyse why that happens sometimes - it just does. It also scared me a little as the layers of the obsessive central character peeled away revealing the horrifying truth of his character. Something in the writing was honest, too – the darkness clearly came from a real place. But ultimately what attracted me to it was the mind of the writer, Frank John Hughes. I spent 3 hours talking to him the morning after I read it – 3 intense and inspiring hours during which I understood his desire to make a film about intimacy (or a man’s search for and lack of) and about a kind of extended voyeurism. In the script, Jim Tahna (Michael Cudlitz) conjures the image of a dead serial killer who had once taken revenge on those who abused him in childhood. I was hesitant talking to Frank at first. I wanted to be absolutely sure that I wasn’t about to jump on board a gratuitous, ‘slasher’ movie – but that feeling evaporated quickly. For Frank, the film is about Intimacy (or lack of) and holding up a mirror to a sensationalist, morally bankrupt society. It took balls to write this movie. I knew Frank had had to look into some pretty dark places and I wanted to be part of it.

HC: Was it a difficult movie to get backing for?

SK: The film was fully funded when I came on board, so from my point of view the answer is ‘no’. But that doesn’t tell the whole story. All films are difficult to get finance for – and for a film of this kind that’s even harder. But even after I became attached the funding road was not a smooth one due to financial shenanigans where so-called ‘partners’ to the main investor stole money and walked away. The film would have collapsed entirely if it hadn’t been for the rock-solid support of our financier.

HC: How did you go about casting the movie?

SK: The script was written by Frank John Hughes specifically for Michael Cudlitz so he was already on board when the project came to me. He and Frank were good friends, having acted in Band Of Brothers together. After doing due diligence on Michael’s ability as an actor I was confident and comfortable with the casting – but it was only after sitting down face to face that I began to really understand why Frank had written this for him and what the possibilities were. But because of the history I also made it clear to Michael that he was a ‘blank page’ as far as I was concerned and that he should try to forget about any pre-existing conversations about his character – something that seemed to liberate him. When Melanie Griffith’s name was put into the frame for Betsy I knew this would be perfect, perfect casting. Her involvement followed her reading of the script which we’d managed to get to her quickly through friends of Frank’s. Frank and I then spent several hours with her discussing the role. This was a brave choice for Melanie – playing a woman carrying deep pain but who remained optimistic. This was not a glamorous role in any sense of the word – playing a character that Jim Tahna needs to be both attracted and repelled by. I think she needed to know that she’d be in good hands – that we were serious in our desire to make an intelligent but disturbing film that seriously looked at the issues of voyeurism and of what can become of disturbed people who are neglected by society.

HC: The film has a stunning central performance from Michael Cudlitz, did he stay in character between takes?
SK: You mean did he beat up the crew over lunch? No, but he did put his heart and soul into the performance which is palpable when you watch the film. As for ‘staying in character’ that’s a tough question to answer and only Michael can really share his method with you (something an actor often keeps private). Having said that I’d say it’s hard, if not impossible, to simply switch in and out of character when playing someone who has such deep, deep anger and, ultimately, is unrestrained in his capacity for violence. Quiet moments alone, before and after the most demanding scenes, were probably necessary. But I always felt that I was able to speak to Michael and not his character if that answers the question – even when his character begins to lose his grip on reality and, more shockingly, succumbs to the demons that inhabit the sewers of his mind.

HC: What was the atmosphere like during the shoot?

SK: Shooting a film on such a tight schedule is a challenge and everyone needs to be on their game. Our crew gave 100% and were good natured and extremely well focussed. There was simply no room for error – no opportunity to go back and limited scope to shuffle the schedule even in extreme circumstances – such as when Michael Cudlitz broke his hand in a scene where one of his punches went astray and caught the wooden base of a bed. With a swollen, broken hand he continued through the night, punching and acting - just bearing the pain. This kind of commitment rubbed off on the crew and I remember little grumbling. And of course they were incredibly respectful during the more intimate scenes when the cast were required to bare all in front of them.

HC: Did the script change at all during the shoot?

SK: Not significantly, no. In fact the only changes I remember us making were for logistical reasons. Frank John Hughes and I had a close working relationship and from an early stage we understood we were making the same movie. Frank was by my side throughout the shoot, so where dialogue changes occurred or other small tweaks were necessary he was fully supportive. Changes did occur in the cutting room – in fact the whole opening sequence was restructured and some cuts made to keep the story’s trajectory unambiguous.

HC: The film leaves the viewer with a sucker-punch ending; you must be pleased how the film faultlessly builds up to this?

SK: Thank you, I am. We intended the film to have a measured, unhurried beginning but once it takes you by the throat to not let you go. Too many films cop out when dealing with this kind of grotesque subject matter and we resolutely refused to do that.

HC: Are you nervous about the movie showing at FrightFest?

SK: I’m nervous/excited about every screening of every film I make – but anticipating seeing Dark Tourist in front of what I’m told will be more than a thousand people – and on the biggest cinema screen in the UK - somewhat enlarges that feeling! But I’m excited more than nervous. I love our movie…

HC: What do you think will be the next big thing in horror?

SK: Horror is not my area of expertise at all – but having now attended some of the terrific Frightfest Festival I’m learning!

HC: What are you working on at the moment?

SK: Developing a number of projects including an adaptation of Hamlet, a story set in the ‘60’s/’70’s on the Isle of Wight (the place of my birth), a conspiracy thriller set in the north of England and an urban gang-related story set against riots in London. I am also attached to direct a couple of other films – but as Woody Allen famously said – the best way to make god laugh is to tell him your plans for the future! I also teach at Norwich University of the Arts and am studying for a Science degree at the Open University, currently working on an Astronomy module.

HC: Suri Krishnamma, thank you very much.

Interview with Richard Elliot, Managing Director of 88 Films
Posted on Saturday 17th March 2018

Recently I've been lucky enough to review some rather tasty Blu-rays from 88 Films. This company has been behind amazing releases of titles such as A Cat in the Brain, Anthropophagous and Don't Go in the Woods...Alone. So I decided to chat to managing director Richard Elliot about 88 Films and how they survive in a cut-throat market.

HC: How did 88 Films start?

RE: 88 Films started after James and I met working for another label and it was the usual "we think we can do it better than the boss" scenario. So we slowly developed an idea of what we wanted to do after work down the pub and after lots of head scratching and pork scratchings and some setbacks BE Movies was born... which quickly became 88 Films...

Interview with Paul Urkijo, director of Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil
Posted on Thursday 1st March 2018

One thing that Horror Channel FrightFest prides itself in is by championing new talent. This year's Glasgow event is no different with a whole host of newbies bringing their first features. A real highlight is Paul Urkijo's Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil which is a sumptuous piece that Terry Gilliam would be proud of. Here he chats to us about this stunning movie.

HC: Where did the idea for Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil come from?

PU: I was inspired by the Basque story "Patxi Errementaria". He was registered by JM Barandiaran, an anthropologist priest who dedicated his life to recording stories and legends of the Basque Country. It is a legend about a blacksmith who was so ev...

Interview with Adam MacDonald, writer and director of Pyewacket.
Posted on Wednesday 28th February 2018

There have been a number of occult and demonic movies over the last few years but none have come close to the tension and terror of Adam MacDonald's Pyewacket. The superb piece of cinema is showing at Horror Channel FrightFest Glasgow this week so I had a quick chat with Adam about this superior shocker.

HC: Have you always been a horror fan?

AM: It really started when I was about 7 years old when my older brother showed me Evil Dead. I couldn't believe what I was watching, it truly rocked me. The card scene in the film did not leave my mind for days. That film is stained on my brain. I was terrified. But then I had a realisation that I loved that feeling. It was primal. Then I watched The Shinin...

Interview with Kelly Greene, writer and director of Attack of the Bat Monsters
Posted on 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 ...

Interview with Patrick Magee, writer and director of Primal Rage
Posted on Monday 26th February 2018

There's been a spate of "bigfoot-style, beast in the woods" types of movies recently but none have come anywhere near Primal Rage. This superior creature feature from Patrick Magee will be having its European Premiere at Horror Channel FrightFest Glasgow this Friday so I decided to have a chat with this very talented and creative person.

HC: Did you know from a young age you wanted to work in the film industry?

PM: Since a very young age I was always into, even obsessed, with movies. Specifically horror movies, monster movies really. As a hobby, I got really into special make-up effects and drawing. It got to the point where I was so obsessed with it, I decided when I was a teen that I ha...

Interview with Gabriela Amaral, writer and director of Friendly Beast
Posted on Sunday 25th February 2018

As we get ready for the trip to Scotland for this year's Horror Channel FrightFest Glasgow I've been lucky enough to chat to Gabriela Amaral about her powerful movie Friendly Beast which is getting its UK Premiere at the event.

HC: Was there a certain piece of work or person that inspired you to work in the industry?

GA: Yes, there was. I am a huge fan of Alfred Hitchcock and I decided to study cinema because of him. In the beginning, I didn't know what would I do with movies. Would I be an academic? A film critic? A director? I just knew I had to live doing something that had to do with movies. I graduated in Communication Studies in Brazil where I studied horror movies and literature (specific...

Interview with Ruth Platt, director of The Lesson
Posted on Wednesday 6th December 2017

On the eve of Horror Channel's network premiere screening of The Lesson, director Ruth Platt talks about the decision to quit RADA, why her film isn't 'torture porn' and what the future holds.

The Lesson received its World Premiere at FrightFest. How did you react when it was chosen? And what was the experience like?

RP: I was really excited when I found out we'd been picked - we got a call from the team, and they were passionate about the film, and they are such a knowledgable and experienced small team, Greg, Paul, Alan and Ian, and it meant so much. Especially when the making of it had been such an arduous and difficult process! I had no idea how people would react to the film - it was su...

Interview with John Shackleton director of Panic Button
Posted on Wednesday 15th November 2017

As social media horror feature Panic Button gets a remastered DVD and Download release, writer and producer John Shackleton reflects on the film's inspirational journey.

To start at the beginning, what was the genesis or the seed of the idea for Panic Button?

JS: The model of how to make a film actually came before the concept. I'd made a short film with a group of trainees using a bunch of self-imposed restrictions for practicalities sake, to make sure we completed and delivered within the three-week timeframe of the training scheme, who were my employers. The rules were quite simple - no more than five minutes' walk from the office (we couldn't afford a van), no dialogue (we did...

Interview with Damien Leone director of Terrifier
Posted on Saturday 28th October 2017

Ahead of the UK premiere of his latest film Terrifier at the Horror Channel Frightfest Halloween event today, director Damien Leone talks about the 'Art' of extreme clowning, his debt to Tom Savini and a terrifying Halloween experience...

Art, The Clown initially appeared in your 2008 short The 9th Circle, then the 2011 award-winning short Terrifier and in your first feature All Hallow's Eve. What made you decide to give him a fourth outing?

DL: Up until this point I never felt like I fully showcased Art's potential. I believe between the short films and All Hallows' Eve, there only exists about 20 minutes of Art the Clown screen time. For a character who's done so little, he seems to really resonate with horr...

Interview with Mathieu Turi director of Hostile
Posted on Wednesday 25th October 2017

Ahead of the UK premiere of his debut feature Hostile at the Horror Channel Frightfest Halloween event, director Mathieu Turi shares his admiration for Tarantino, describes the challenges of filming in three continents and reveals his 'magic hour'.

You were born in Cannes so you grew up with film all around? When did you know for sure you wanted to direct?

MT: I think it's always been there. As a child, I used to steal my dad's VHS camera to make mini-movies. They were basically all about my Jurassic Park toys eating my dog or invading the garden. Later, I did more elaborate short films with friends, instead of studying. Then, I remember watching Braveheart and the making of the ...

Interview with Marko Makilaakso director of It Came From The Desert
Posted on Tuesday 17th October 2017

Ahead of the UK premiere of his latest film It Came From The Desert at the Horror Channel Frightfest Halloween event, director Marko Makilaakso shares his admiration for Roger Corman, love of B-Movies, spoofing and overcoming homeland obstacles.

It Came From The Desert is inspired by Cinemaware's cult 1980s video game, which in turn was motivated by the giant creature feature craze infesting 1950s Hollywood. What was the main inspiration for you?

MM: There's so many movies and makers which inspired ICFTD, but the main inspiration was exactly that; creature feature infested 1950s Hollywood films, and the legendary Cinemaware Desert games and creature features and action comedies I grew up with in the 19...

Interview with Can Evrenol director of Housewife
Posted on Thursday 12th October 2017

Ahead of the UK premiere of his latest film Housewife at the Horror Channel Frightfest Halloween event, director Can Evrenol tells us why film is a 'pervert's art' shares his feelings for Fulci and reveals his contribution to Horror anthology, The Field Guide To Evil.

Was it important to make your follow-up film to Baskin in the English language?

CE: I wanted to make the film available for a wider audience and to test myself with a different language movie. I thought it was a fun thing to do.

How do you describe Housewife? What would be your perfect pitch line?

CE: Man, I had this crazy f****d-up dream last night! Do you want to see it?

Like Baskin, Housewife shares man...

Interviews Archive: 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006
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