INTERVIEWS

LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS

Exclusive Interview With Kevin Lehane Writer Of Grabbers
By James Whittington, Monday 3rd September 2012

kevin_lehaneOne of the stand-out pieces at FrightFest 2012, personally speaking was Grabbers.

This superb creature feature was written by the very talented Kevin Lehane (picture left). We had a quick chat to him about this inventive crowd pleaser and what future plans he has.

HC: Are you a fan of the creature feature genre?

KL: Yeah, absolutely. What I love about Creature Features is the creativity involved in making them. At their best they're intelligent, character driven stories about survival and societal ills. Alien, Tremors, Jaws, Predator, An American Werewolf In London, Attack The Block, they're all fantastic films and great examples of 'elevated genre', and I'd argue they are as important as any Oscar-bait film. You can also view a lot of Creature Feature's monsters as metaphors for something more profound. Dawn Of The Dead and Gremlins are nightmarish tales about consumerism and how its warped society, or in Gremlins case, eroded the concept of Christmas. The Thing is a tale of paranoia and how quickly we as a society can destroy ourselves when we cannot identify the threat. Ginger Snaps is as much a horror story about puberty as it is about werewolves. District 9 is about apartheid. There's a lot more going on in a good monster movie than just characters fighting for their lives.

In Grabbers case, our story is about two self-destructive, dysfunctional heroes whilst also a social commentary for rampant drink culture and peer pressure to conform-the film being set at the weekend for this reason. Our monsters (that kill sober people) are as much about the metaphorical demons associated with alcoholism as they are great, big f**k-off amphibious spider-squids from outer space. I like that you can tell multilayered stories with horror films, and other than the western, I don't know of another genre that's as focused on subtext as it is on entertaining the shit out of its audience.

HC: Where did the idea for Grabbers come from?

KL: I was backpacking in the South Pacific and being bitten by mosquitoes. I kept being told to eat lots of Marmite as the vitamin B would act as a deterrent. It's a myth but I thought it was fascinating that you could conceivably eat something that would make you inedible, and it struck me while I was having a few beers and slapping mosquitoes left, right and centre that it'd be a lot more fun if they were allergic to alcohol. I woke the next morning with a hangover and a load of new bites and wrote in my travel journal: get drunk to survive. After that, I couldn't wait to get back home and write the script, and I spent the rest of my travels praying no one else would beat me to it.

HC: How long did the script take to come together?

KL: It took about six weeks to write, and it was that draft that we took all the way to pre-production. Once I had the story, and the characters, the rest just became about doing the premise justice and writing the kind of (Irish) film I really wanted to see.

I remember, too, writing the "Weapons, what have we got?" scene first and realising that if I could build a film around that moment then I could have a lot of fun with the script, and I did.

HC: Were you involved in the casting at all as it really is perfect?

KL: We had a brilliant casting agency in VHJ Casting, who are ubiquitous in the industry at the moment. They were the ones who found all of our actors, and really populated the film. I did get to see all the tapes and chime in with my thoughts but it was obvious to all of us who the right actors were for each part. I remember Lalor Roddy (who plays Paddy) was the first person we cast and once we had Paddy cast it really became about making the rest of the cast fit into Paddy's universe. A lot of it came down to chemistry, too, especially with Ruth and Richard. They just clicked, and were a lot of fun to watch in their audition, so we knew they were the perfect Lisa and O'Shea. You can tell watching the film that the cast are having a ball on screen, which is infectious, I think.

HC: It's an effects heavy movie with many stand-out pieces but were there any scenes that had to be cut due to budget?

KL: Yeah, there are a few, but that's inevitable really. The good thing is you don't really miss them, I hope, but it's fair to say we had a lot more on the page than what we could afford to do. My two favourite scenes from the script got cut on the day of shooting due to scheduling issues, which was a shame, but then when you're shooting through blizzards and gale force storms and bitter rain, you have to do what's best for the film as a whole. The scenes I miss most of all tend to be focused around the pub in the third act. We had a lot more drunken anarchy that never made it off the page but it still works, I think.

HC: Would you like to revisit the creatures and create a sequel?

KL: I have an outline for a sequel that doesn't go the route some might expect, but that's only because I don’t like that many sequels, especially as too many tend to undo all the work of the original just so they can tell the same story again. If Grabbers 2 ever did happen, I'd hope it would up the stakes even higher and show another side of the creatures. A lot of it would be set out at sea, figuring out what exactly sunk at sea and following what the coastguard were up to while we were on the island. That being said, it'd take something incredibly special to bring all of us back and do Grabbers 2. We're too proud of our film to do anything that could sully it.

HC: Were you nervous before it was shown at FrightFest?

KL: A little, but I've been lucky enough now to see the film with audiences all over the world, at different festivals and whatnot, and I've enjoyed every screening, so I tend to just enjoy sharing the film with audiences. Grabbers is a very different film to the kind that's more commonly made nowadays, and it's fun to watch it with a crowd. We're not a brooding, cynical or nihilistic horror film, we're more of a heart-warming, irreverent and fun ride. An old-school date movie.

HC: Do you think the humour in the movie will be translate well in other countries?

KL: Foreign audiences won't get everything, but I don't think they should. There are a few lines that land with Irish audiences that don't anywhere else, and that's intentional. I wanted the characters to speak like real, everyday Irish folk, rather than fictional characters constructed to deliver punch-lines for the masses. I also felt that for Grabbers to work, it needed to subvert its stereotypes rather than perpetuate them. The Irish sense of humour is more laidback, flippant and mercurial than most, too, a cross between whimsy and cynicism, and that's quite different to the American style of quips and snark, or the British style of irony and socially awkward situational comedy.

HC: It’s been in many people’s top 5 from the event, you must be proud of that?

KL: Absolutely. The FrightFest and the Edinburgh Film Festival audiences have been fantastic to us. Hopefully the good word of mouth will spread from them and folks will seek Grabbers out and take it to their hearts. It comes out on a limited release in the UK on December 28th and follows in the US not longer after that.

HC: So what are you working on at the moment?

KL: I'm always working on a few things at once and right now those are a high-concept action-thriller, an epic adventure set in mythological Ireland, an action-comedy TV pilot, and a Sam Raimi-esque horror-comedy that's very different to Grabbers but equally as fun, I think. Just keeping busy, really.

HC: Kevin Lehane, thank you very much.


MORE INTERVIEWS
Interview with Stewart Sparke, director of Book of Monsters
Posted on Friday 29th April 2022
Director Stewart Sparke watches a scene

A birthday bash becomes a bloodbath when monsters escape from a supernatural storybook, leaving a group of teenagers to fight for their lives and shut the party down in the UK TV premiere of Book of Monsters on May 16th on Horror. We chatted to its director, Stewart Sparke about this fun, retro-filled fright-fest.

HC: Did you know from a young age that you wanted to be a film director?

SS: I remember first realising that I wanted to make films during one of many viewings of The Mummy (1999) on VHS in my bedroom on an old 15" TV. I became quite obsessed with the film and tried to make all my friends come over to watch it ...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Paul Hyett, director of Peripheral
Posted on Wednesday 16th February 2022
Paul Hyett

Paul Hyett is a multi-disciplined creative whose work is as inventive as it is imaginative. His latest movie is a dark sci-fi chiller named Peripheral and it will have its UK TV premiere on Horror, Friday 25th February at 11.05pm.

Here he chats about this incredible movie and his plans for the future.

HC: How did you become attached to Peripheral?

PH: The producer Craig Touhy and I had been friends for a while and had nearly done another movie together and he'd liked the claustrophobia and tension of The Seasoning House so we met up to discuss Peripheral. When he pitched it to me, very much a low budget, contained movie, in one apartment. I must say I was a little hesitant. I...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Abigail Blackmore, writer and director of Tales From The Lodge
Posted on Tuesday 14th December 2021
Abigail Blackmore 1

Ahead of Horror Channel's Xmas Day broadcast of her horror comedy feature Tales From The Lodge, director Abigail Blackmore recalls the brutal weather conditions, the challenges of casting and the joy of playing at FrightFest.

HC: Thanks to Horror Channel, Tales From The Lodge finally gets its UK TV premiere on British TV. Excited or what?

AB: So excited! I know a huge amount of people watch the Horror Channel so I'm hoping it opens TFTL up to a whole new audience.

HC: Looking back to its showcase screening at FrightFest in 2019, what are your abiding memories?

AB: It was a wonderful experience! FrightFest has long been one of the highlights of my ...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Barbara Crampton, star of chilling horror Sacrifice
Posted on Wednesday 8th December 2021
Sacrifice Image 1

Barbara Crampton is a Horror Channel favourite. This much loved and much admired creative is starring in the UK TV premiere of Sacrifice, which is showing December 12th at 9pm on Horror so we chatted to her about this movie and her plans for the future.

Note that there are some spoilers for Sacrifice in the interview.

HC: Can you recall how you felt the first time you stepped onto a TV or film set?

BC: Yes, I remember the first time I was ever on a television set, it was for the soap opera, Days of Our Lives, and it was my very first job, and I had one line, "Hi. I'm your cousin Trista from Colorado". It was to the character Marlena Evans and subsequently I had w...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Michael Mayer and Guy Ayal from the acclaimed movie Happy Times
Posted on Saturday 16th October 2021
thumbnail_HT_set_Marie Alyse Rodriguez

Happy Times, which is showing at Grimmfest Online, is a movie that takes the home invasion genre and turns it inside out! Directed by Michael Mayer and co-written with composer Guy Ayal, the movie is a bombastic, bloody and hilarious piece of cinema. I chatted to them both about this dinner party from hell.

HC: Where did the idea for Happy Times come from?

MM: The idea for the movie started forming when I was invited to a Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year's) dinner in Los Angeles. It was the first year of Trump's presidency and wherever you went all people wanted to talk about was politics. One thing to know about the Israeli expat com...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with D.M. Cunningham, writer and director of The Spore
Posted on Saturday 16th October 2021
DMC_SetPic copy

If you like your horror with a huge lashing of gruesome effects and a strong story then The Spore is for. Showing at Grimmfest Online, the movie from D.M. Cunningham is a smart take on the body horror genre. Here he chats about this movie which is guaranteed to get under your skin.

HC: Did you know from a young age that you wanted to be a director?

DM: I started out wanting to be a makeup effects artist. After seeing Night of the Living Dead and discovering Fangoria magazine I was hooked. Tom Savini was a huge influence on my trajectory toward becoming a filmmaker. It wasn't until later that I discovered that you could boss the monsters around on set being the director. That's...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Ben Charles Edwards, co-writer and director of Father of Flies
Posted on Saturday 16th October 2021
Father of Flies director

A vulnerable young boy finds his mother pushed out of the family home by a strange new woman in Father of Flies, and he must confront the terrifying supernatural forces that seem to move in with her. This intense and chilling movie is showing at Grimmfest Online Edition so we chatted to director and co-writer Ben Charles Edwards about this movie.

HC: Where did the idea for Father of Flies come from?

BE: It came from my childhood experiences. When my good friend and journalist Dominic Wells was talking to me about my next project, he told me to draw on real life experiences. So, I did. My own experiences were neither as heightened nor as traumatic as they may...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Marcel Sarmiento co-writer and director of Faceless
Posted on Friday 15th October 2021
Faceless Director

Showing at Grimmfest Online Edition is the incredibly inventive horror/sci-fi hybrid Faceless. Here, co-writer and director Marcel Sarmiento speaks about this superb movie.

HC: Have you always been a big horror movie fan?

MS: Definitely as a kid. My first movies made with my Betamax were all about scaring one other and how gross we could push makeup effects. We mostly strangled, stabbed, and threw each other off buildings. I think as I got older, I appreciated what you could do with horror more than horror for horror's sake. I love that you can make characters do things that in any other genre you couldn't make them do and still come out the other end liking them and routi...

SHARE: READ MORE
Tom Paton, director of G-LOC chats about his passion for survival stories and being compared to Roger Corman
Posted on Tuesday 14th September 2021
Tom Paton on the set of G-Loc-3-1

Ahead of the Horror Channel premiere of his sci-fi action thriller G-LOC, director Tom Paton reflects on why making movies is like solving a puzzle, his passion for survival stories and being compared to Roger Corman.

Horror Channel will be broadcasting the UK TV premiere of your Sci-fi adventure G-LOC. Excited or what?

It's honesty so strange to me every time Horror Channel debuts one of my movies. The channel has been such a big part of my life growing up and informing my taste in films, that it's always a "pinch myself moment" when I see something that I've made appear on their TV listing. G-LOC is much more of a SCI-FI adventure than any ...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Alexis Kendra, the writer and producer of The Cleaning Lady
Posted on Tuesday 15th June 2021
Alexis Kendra-4

Ahead of Horror Channel's premiere of The Cleaning Lady on June 26, the film's star, writer and producer Alexis Kendra talks about playing a 'Goddess', coping with lockdown and why she can't watch horror films on her own.

HC: The Cleaning Lady is having its channel premiere on Horror Channel. Excited?

AK: I love you guys. Always have, always will. I'm honoured.

HC: It's a very disturbing film, dealing with abuse, addiction and hidden rage, yet the characters are sympathetic and have real depth. It's horror with a twisted heart. As a co-writer, alongside your director Jon Knautz, what were the main challenges in getting the balance right between acting and writing? <...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Jen and Sylvia Soska, directors of Rabid
Posted on Tuesday 1st June 2021
Soska sisiters-WEB-1

Ahead of Horror Channel's premiere of Rabid on June 12, Jen and Sylvia Soska reflect on the challenges of re-imagining Cronenberg's body horror classic, meeting the great man and their new monster movie, Bob.

HC: Rabid is having its channel premiere on Horror Channel. Excited?

SS: The Horror Channel has supported us and our work since the beginning, so it's a special treat to have the newest film premiere there!

Js: We are so excited. Having Rabid on Horror Channel feels like coming home. They've been very kind to us. We are happy to have so many of our films on there.

HC: We all, of course, remember that Rabid was one of David Cronenberg's earli...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Mickey Fisher, creator of sci-fi series Extant
Posted on Thursday 6th May 2021
Mickey Fisher 1

Horror Channel will be continuing its commitment to bringing cult and classic sci-fi to its audience with Seasons 1 and 2 of the CBS Studios/Amblin Television production of Extant, starring Halle Berry as astronaut Molly Woods, who returns home to her family, inexplicably pregnant after 13 months in outer space on a solo mission.

The series begins on Horror May 11th so, we decided to chat to its creator, Mickey Fisher about how the series came to be produced and what it was like working with Hollywood royalty.

HC: Did you know from a young age that you wanted to be a writer?

MF: From the time I was maybe five or six years old I wanted to be an actor. Going to see Star...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interviews Archive: 2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006
PICK OF THE WEEK
Gallowwalkers
GALLOWWALKERS
Wednesday 29th June
10.50 PM
Space: 1999
SPACE: 1999
Wednesday 29th June
7.00 PM
She Never Died
SHE NEVER DIED
Wednesday 29th June
9.00 PM