ARTICLES

LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH BRAD SYKES, HORROR WRITER, DIRECTOR, PRODUCER AND ACTOR
By James Whittington, Thursday 10th May 2007
Brad Sykes is a multi talented kind of guy who seems to be at home performing most tasks for his movies whether it be directing, writing, producing or even acting. We tracked down this busy and in demand all rounder to discover his influences and his plans for future projects. By the way, if you like what you read check out his movies Goth and Death Factory which are showing to great acclaim here on Zone Horror.

ZH: Have you always been interested in the movie industry?

BRAD SYKES: Well, when I was growing up, my parents took to me to see a lot of films – mostly sci-fi, fantasy, and adventure. One of the first films that left a big impression on me as a kid was Clash of the Titans – I can still remember that movie scene-for-scene. Around age ten or eleven, I started buying magazines like Fangoria and Cinefantastique, learning about filmmakers and discovering all kinds of obscure movies. A few years later, I bought John Russo’s “Making Movies, which was probably the first technical book about filmmaking I ever read and really got me thinking about filmmaking as a possible profession. Of course I wasn’t thinking of movies as an “industry” back then, it wasn’t till years later, when I moved to L.A. and began working that I started to see it that way.

ZH: Did you have any cinematic heroes when you were younger?

BRAD SYKES: George Romero was a big one; I still consider Dawn of the Dead to be one of the top ten films ever made. His incredibly personal filmmaking style and the way he made his films independently had a huge impact on me. Sam Raimi and his first two Evil Dead movies were also very inspirational. John Carpenter and Wes Craven were also big influences, especially their early work. Dario Argento came a little bit later but opened me up to the “nightmare logic” of Italian horror. And there were a few non-horror idols, too: Paul Verhoeven, Walter Hill, Michael Mann…I’m still a fan of all these guys today.

ZH: Have you always been a horror fan?

BRAD SYKES: Like I said, a lot of the films I saw as a child, whether it was Clash of the Titans or Metalstorm or The Dark Crystal, tended to be fantasy-oriented, as were a lot of the books I was reading; “Beowulf” is still one of my favourite pieces of literature. I guess my interest in fantasy took a darker turn as I got into my teens, and I started watching movies like Re-Animator and Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Suspiria – and they just blew me away, really opened my mind to what kinds of stories you could tell, and showed imaginative new ways of using the camera, sound, everything. I really believe that at its best, horror is the most cinematic genre.

ZH: How did you get started in your line of work?

BRAD SYKES: Between my third and fourth year of college at Boston University, I spent the summer in Los Angeles doing two internships. One was a production assistant job on a Paramount film, Kiss The Girls. The other was a reader job at Ridley and Tony Scott’s “Scott Free Productions” I really enjoyed both but in the end, I preferred working on set to being in an office, and so I pursued more production work after moving permanently to L.A. in May 1997. I was extremely fortunate that director Jeff Burr (Leatherface, Straight Into Darkness) took me under his wing around that time and really helped me start my career. I worked as Jeff’s assistant on several films, one of which was shot in Romania, where I met my future wife Josephina, so I guess I owe Jeff more than just my career, but my marriage too!

ZH: Tell us about the movies you made before you attended University.

BRAD SYKES: I got my first video camera at age fourteen, and immediately started making shorts with my friends with titles like “Shock Night” and “Demonville”. Then at age seventeen, we got more ambitious and decided to make a feature, a vampire epic titled “Bad Blood”. I sent it to Film Threat Video Guide, a great little magazine that reviewed indie/amateur films back then. They reviewed it, gave it a two out of ten or something like that, but we were encouraged enough to try again. We did a few more features over the next few years, the last of which, “The Pact” was made when I was twenty. I think we did eight features in total. They were shot mostly on weekends when I was in high school. After I started college, we would shoot during summer or winter breaks. It was just a few dedicated friends, a Hi 8 camera, shooting in all kinds of crazy conditions and me. We got kicked out of plenty of places around town, even got arrested a few times. These movies were made purely for the love of filmmaking; none of us intended to use them as “calling cards”. Although I did get my first paid directing job after showing “The Pact” to a producer I had done some work for.

ZH: What was it like working on Witchcraft XII? A franchise that was more than well established, was it a daunting prospect?

BRAD SYKES: I had seen a few of the Witchcraft films when I was asked to write and direct Witchcraft XII. The only thing I had to do screenplay-wise was keep the character of Will Spanner, who had been a continuing character in the last few films. Otherwise, I was free to invent an entirely new story. I thought the idea of a Manson-like female “snake cult” would be cool, and also added a stronger police/mystery angle to the story. It was a fun but challenging shoot and everyone seemed pretty happy with the finished movie. For a long time I thought mine would be the last until recently I found out someone went and did a part XIII!

ZH: Death Factory is showing here on Zone Horror, how did that movie come about?

BRAD SYKES: When the producer called me, all they had was a title and a one-paragraph description. I started writing the script around a location we thought we had access to, which later fell through. Luckily, our associate producer found us a local haunted attraction that was closed till the Halloween season. This location was even better than the original one and I then rewrote the script around its many rooms and hallways. Even though it wasn’t a “factory” per se, it was certainly spooky and atmospheric, with real spiders and rats to boot! An interesting shoot to say the least…

ZH: Did you have much of a budget?

BRAD SYKES: Not as much as we needed. The conditions were ridiculous on that movie…barely any crew, no bathrooms, no running water…and yet it came together pretty well in the end. It was my first film to be released in Blockbuster!

ZH: Do you always prefer to direct movies that you’ve also written?

BRAD SYKES: Of course - there’s nothing more rewarding than seeing the scenes you wrote come to life. That said it’s much easier to direct another writer’s work. I try to find a style that fits the material, but don’t obsess as much over everything having a certain “look” and “feel” the way I do when directing my own scripts.

ZH: Do you ever censor yourself?

BRAD SYKES: Not usually. I think there’s enough watered-down horror out there, and I want my films to deliver the goods. Usually the “censoring”, if any, takes place on set, when you have to cut or compromise a scene or an effect, or in the editing, after a distributor or exec producer requests cuts for whatever reason. My film Demon’s Kiss, for example, had a few of the gorier scenes cut out of the release version after the distributor decided he wanted the film to be more of an erotic thriller than horror – in his words, less “demon”, more “kiss”!

ZH: Another of your movies that we’re showing is Goth, what was your inspiration for this one?

BRAD SYKES: For me, most scripts start with an image. For Goth, it was the image of a disturbed “Goth girl” who takes her own identification with Goth subculture to an extreme: she has literally named herself “Goth” and has the word tattooed into her chest. Then I wondered what would happen if “Goth” met up with two naïve kids and took them on a hellish “night ride” that they would never forget. After that, the script practically wrote itself. One thing I have to say about Goth is that I never intended the film to be a blanket statement about the Goth subculture, or to paint all Goths in a wholly negative light. If anything, I wanted to use the three main characters to show how different individuals deal with being part of a larger group. Some people completely lose their individuality and become a “different person”, as the character of Crissy does in the film. Others twist its philosophies to their own ends, as when “Goth” starts torturing and killing people. Others, like the third character, Boone, are able to find a balance between the two. This is what Goth is all about, and while it might sound like a lot for a low-budget horror movie to take on, why not challenge the audience a bit? There’s already enough dumbed-down horror out there.

ZH: Are you happy with the way in which it turned out?

BRAD SYKES: Very much so. We took a lot of chances on Goth; it was more character and dialogue-driven than your average horror movie, and the entire movie was shot handheld, almost documentary-style, capturing events as they “happen”. It doesn’t cater to the usual exploitation tastes; the violence is more psychological than physical, even the sex in the film is unpleasant and hard to watch. And right from the title, we were essentially opening the door to criticism from the Goth community. But everyone involved – especially the three leads – gave a hundred percent and never shied away from anything that I asked for. Goth has gotten out there and reached a fair number of people, even if it continues to divide and even piss off audiences. I’m glad that it’s playing on Zone Horror, so at least more horror fans can check it out and decide for themselves what they think about the film.

ZH: Would you ever do sequels to your movies?

BRAD SYKES: I have done a few sequels to Camp Blood, a slasher film I directed in 1999. The last sequel, Within the Woods, came out in 2005. I don’t think there’ll be any more. I’d rather focus on making originals at this point anyway.

ZH: What’s your honest opinion of Hollywood today?

BRAD SYKES: Well, there are different levels to what people call “Hollywood”. Most people associate the term with studio filmmaking, although studios are increasingly going to Canada or overseas to make their big films. A lot of the filmmaking in “Hollywood”, or Los Angeles in general, is being done by small companies or independent producers. The problem is that there is a dearth of originality on both the studio and independent level out here. We all know about the endless cycle of sequels and remakes, which I won’t bother commenting on except to say that since the Dawn of the Dead remake, I have put a permanent ban on watching any of them. But even most of the “original” horror films being made nowadays are knockoffs of indie hits like Saw or Hostel. Studio horror seems to be petering out a bit lately; I don’t think there’s been one bona fide hit so far this year. So the genre might be reaching saturation point again, like it did in the eighties. I think the time is right for some fresh concepts, with more emphasis on good scripts and characterization. The best gore and CGI effects in the world don’t matter if you don’t give a damn about the people on screen.

ZH: What have you got in development at the moment?

BRAD SYKES: Right now, I’m in the middle of editing Plaguers, a sci-fi/horror film we shot last year. My wife Josephina produced and I wrote and directed for our Nightfall Pictures banner. It’s about an alien virus that infects the crew of a spaceship, turning them into bloodthirsty mutants. I describe it as 28 Days Later meets Alien, but it’s also kind of a throwback to those fun eighties’ sci-fi/horror hybrids like Forbidden World, Galaxy of Terror, Creature, etc. I’m very excited about this one, as it’s my biggest budget ever, has great special effects by Monster FX (Tamara, 2001 Maniacs) and stars Steve Railsback (Lifeforce, Ed Gein, Devil’s Rejects), who was awesome to work with. It’s coming together well, and we should have it finished over the next few months. We also have a website going up – check www.plaguers.com for updates. Who knows – maybe it’ll end up playing on Zone Horror someday. I’ll keep you guys posted!

ZH: Brad Sykes, thank you very much

MORE ARTICLES
Interview with Andy Nyman about his role in the classic TV version of The Woman in Black
Posted in Interviews, Sunday 9th August 2020
The Woman in Black Network packshot

Andy Nyman is one of the most popular and hardworking actors working today. From thrillers to chillers, from comedy to drama, Andy can turn his hand to any genre. Thanks to Network Releasing we are able to appreciate his first ever TV appearance as they release a remastered version of the acclaimed television adaptation of The Woman in Black. We chatted to Andy about his role in this legendary piece.

HC: Let's chat about this TV version of The Woman in Black, was it one of your first ever roles very first TV role?

AN: That was my very first TV role, I was 23, the same age my son is now. It is a shock, isn't it? I was like, when I saw it ...

SHARE: READ MORE
Dracula's Child by J.S. Barnes - The Unofficial Sequel to Bram Stoker's 'Dracula'
Posted in News, Saturday 8th August 2020
Draculas Child Book Cover

J.S. Barnes dives straight to the dark heart of Bram Stoker's legendary creation, capturing the voice, tone, style and characters of the original, whilst exploring pressing themes of modern life in this age of false facts and fake news in Dracula's Child. The book offers a wonderful and wholly original expansion to the story of the world's most famous vampire. After all, evil never truly dies.

It has been some years since Jonathan and Mina Harker survived their ordeal in Transylvania and, vanquishing Count Dracula, returned to England to try and live ordinary lives.

But shadows linger long in this world of blood feud and superstition - and, the older their s...

SHARE: READ MORE
I Spit on Your Grave franchise to get box-set treatment
Posted in News, Saturday 8th August 2020
I Spit on Your Grave Box SetKaleidoscope Home Entertainment has announced I Spit on Your Grave: The Complete Collection - the shocking, controversial and ground-breaking film series, presented on Blu-ray and DVD for the very first time, arriving 5th October.

When the original 1978 film was banned in the UK upon release, this notorious revenge movie helped launch the "video nasty" craze of the 1980's and inspired a generation of genre directors through its provocative, no-holds-barred filmmaking. 32 years later, a bold and shocking remake reignited the franchise and spawned a series of sequels which pushed the envelope even further.

Available in the UK as a complete set for the first time, t...

SHARE: READ MORE
Arrow Video FrightFest announces August 2020 Short Film Programme
Posted in Frightfest, Saturday 8th August 2020
FrightFest August Short Film -logo2

The films may be short, but there is no shortage of scares as Arrow Video FrightFest 2020 showcases the best new short films from the UK and around the world, with six countries representing three continents. From under-the-bed monsters to monsters in front of your eyes, from the sinister and the creepy to the wickedly human and the not-so-human, this year's selection shines a spotlight on upcoming filmmakers.

The UK is represented with a record eleven entries. There are world premiere screenings for Werewolf, where game night just got dangerous, A Bit Of Fun, where a girls' night in brings out the dead and The Beholder, in which you'd be wise to ...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Airell Hayles writer and co-director of They're Outside
Posted in Frightfest, Interviews, Saturday 1st August 2020
Airell Hayles

FrightFest is once again on the horizon but this time, due to global events the event has become a virtual experience with all films being accessed online. Horror is once again sponsoring the First Blood strand of the event. Here we chat to Airell Hayles whose movie They're Outside mixes found footage and pagan horror genres to great effect.

HC: Where did the idea for They're Outside come from?

AH: This idea for They're Outside came from a couple of things. I remember as a kid hearing that my uncle suffered mild agoraphobia, and when I learned what it was, I was fascinated by this idea of some people being kind of scared to leave their homes. Of course, the recent Covid-19 events h...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Fionn and Toby Watts, directors of Playhouse
Posted in Frightfest, Interviews, Saturday 1st August 2020
Toby and Fionn Clapper 1

FrightFest is once again on the horizon but this time, due to global events the event has become a virtual experience with all films being accessed online. Horror is once again sponsoring the First Blood strand of the event. Here we chat to talented brothers Fionn and Toby Watts who have delivered a gothic, creepy piece named Playhouse.

HC: Was there one film or person who influenced or inspired you to become film makers?

FW: As a young boy I remember being absolutely blown away by the image of The Terminator's exo-skeleton rising from the flames. Around the same time I saw Candyman at a sleepover (rented by my friend's 'older' brother...) and it was such an i...

SHARE: READ MORE
Shatner Vs The Devil! Who wouldn't want to see that?
Posted in News, Thursday 30th July 2020
45507_1_DEVILS_REVENGE_KEY_ART_V0g

All hell is about to break loose as Shatner takes on Satan, when 4Digital unleashes The Tomb: Devil's Revenge, on digital platforms from 14th September.

The Descent meets The Exorcist, with a dash of Raiders of the Lost Ark thrown in for good measure, in what promises to be a suspenseful thrill-ride starring iconic Star Trek legend William Shatner, Jeri Ryan (Star Trek: Voyager), Jason Brooks (Star Trek, 2009), Jackie Dallas (Stranger Things) and Michael Yahn (Daredevil).

John Brock is a down-on-his-luck archaeologist who returns from an expedition to the caves of rural Kentucky, after unsuccessfully trying to locate a mysterious relic that hi...

SHARE: READ MORE
Arrow Video FrightFest announces August Digital Edition line-up and Horror Channel sponsors talent-seeking First Blood strand
Posted in Features, Frightfest, Tuesday 28th July 2020
FrightFest Online-Logo-3_NEW

The UK's most popular horror and fantasy film festival celebrates its 21st bloody year with a special Digital edition, showcasing twenty-five films, from Thursday 27th August to Monday 31st August, including seven world premieres and sixteen UK premieres. Ten countries are represented from four continents in a deadly, daring and diverse programme exclusively presented to UK audiences.

Passes and tickets will go on sale Saturday 1 August and details on how to access the event and choose which films to watch are on the FrightFest website. All film screenings will be geo-locked to UK audiences and only accessible from within the United Kingdom.

The men...

SHARE: READ MORE
Revisit James Cameron's first movie on Blu-ray in August
Posted in News, Friday 24th July 2020
Piranna II The Spawning exploded pack shot

It may seem like paradise, but just off shore, a new brand of terror has been unleashed in Piranha 2: The Spawning.

While investigating the mysterious death of a diver, scuba instructor Anne Kimbrough (Tricia O'Neil) makes a horrific discovery: mutated piranhas, with wings that enable them to fly, are responsible for the death.

As the body count rises, Anne desperately tries to convince the manager of the resort to call off the annual fish fry on the beach, but he's determined to give his guests the ultimate feeding frenzy.

This exciting sequel to Joe Dante's original Piranha also stars Lance Henriksen and is the...

SHARE: READ MORE
An all-star cast for an all-time sleazy shocker!
Posted in News, Friday 24th July 2020
Schizoid Cover

In the lurid shocker, Schizoid a newspaper advice columnist (Mariana Hill) starts receiving threats from a mysterious person. At the same time, the female members of her psychiatrist's (Klaus Kinski, Crawlspace) therapy group are being murdered one by one by a maniac wielding a large pair of scissors.

Could these incidents be linked?

Donna Wilkes, Craig Wasson, Flo Gerrish and Christopher Lloyd also star in this long forgotten sleazy slasher which is getting the usual top-notch release from 88Films.

...
SHARE: READ MORE
Dracula on red wax!
Posted in News, Friday 24th July 2020
Dracula OST Red Vinyl

From the team behind BBC's critically acclaimed Sherlock came Dracula, the reimagining of the iconic titular vampire for a 21st Century audience. Composers David Arnold and Michael Price reunited with writers and creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, to breathe musical life into another famous literary character from Victorian times.

For Dracula, Arnold and Price conceived an innovative and petrifying score, in which traditional instruments and musique concrete merge with contemporary use of samples and sound design.

Scoring Dracula presented its own challenges and the composers have augmented the sound of the orchestra players by creating a library...

SHARE: READ MORE
Will you hear the Echoes of Fear?
Posted in News, Tuesday 21st July 2020
ECHOS_OF_FEAR_DVD_3D_PACKSHOT

Creating waves on the US festival circuit and garnering best feature awards galore Echoes of Fear is set to scare the living daylights out of UK audiences as it arrives on digital and DVD this summer from Second Sight Films.

Turning the haunted house genre on its head, this chilling scare-fest, will have you clamouring for a cushion as the horror creeps up to a truly disturbing climax. The supernatural chiller from Brian and Laurence Avenet-Bradley, has garnered huge critical acclaim and arrives on digital formats on 20 July, followed by its DVD release on 3 August.

When her grandfather dies suddenly, Alisa (Trista Robinson) inherits his house and m...

SHARE: READ MORE
Articles Archive: 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006
PICK OF THE WEEK
Kill Command
KILL COMMAND
Saturday 15th August
10.45 PM
Fright Night
FRIGHT NIGHT
Monday 17th August
9.00 PM
The Unfolding
THE UNFOLDING
Thursday 13th August
10.50 PM