ARTICLES

LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS

Exclusive Interview with Johannes Roberts, rising young director of Forest Of The Damned and When Evil Calls
By James Whittington, Friday 1st December 2006

ZH: How young were you when you decided you wanted to become a movie director? Was there one specific movie that you saw which inspired you?

JR: I was actually about to head off to university to study history when my godmother asked me what I would really enjoy doing. I said I like watching films and she persuaded me to do a film degree – talk about close your eyes and jump. Platoon was the first film that really made an impact on my life but it was actually watching Cujo, the old Stephen King movie about a rabid dog, that made me want to become a director. The way Lewis Teague, the director, moves the camera is amazing. He ended up directing the Dukes of Hazard TV reunion – oh well! I’m a massive King fan and it’s through a love of telling stories that I do what I do…oh no wait…it’s to get the girls. Doesn’t work though.

ZH: Your first movie, Sanitarium, came out in 2001. Was it a happy experience and are you pleased with the end result?

JR: Sanitarium was awesome. I spent two weeks sleeping in a padded cell living off crisps. The film is flawed no doubt but I’m really proud of it. There’s blood and sweat in that movie. And working with Uri Geller was one of the most surreal experiences of my life. He was a lot of fun. I used to love it when he’d phone people he didn’t know. He’d say his name and they’d never believe it – very funny.

ZH: Zone Horror is currently showing your 2005 movie Forest of the Damned. Did you have more creative control on that movie compared to your first?

JR: Sanitarium I co wrote and directed so I guess in a sense I had more freedom on Forest but by the time I got to Forest I was much more worried about the commercial aspect so that really controls you all by itself. When I did Sanitarium or Hellbreeder I didn’t think for a moment about the selling of it. Just went out and shot what I wanted to shoot.

ZH: So how did When Evil Calls come about?

JR: Ben Grass, the producer, had just left Sony to form a company, Pure Grass, to make mobile entertainment. He was looking for a horror director and approached my agents at ICM and they suggested me. Ben and Zone Horror pretty much let me do my own thing totally. I really respect that Zone put such a lot of faith (and money) into something that was really a massive risk. Ben’s a real pioneer. If he could just learn to be punctual he could take over the world.

ZH: Where did the idea for the story come from?

JR: The basis of the story is based on the old story Monkey’s Paw: you make a wish and it comes true in a horrible way. I just honed it with my writing partner Chris Leonard into something that was contemporary and didn’t involve evil mobile phone masts – seriously, the mobile companies were big on that one.

ZH: How different is it directing a movie that’s being made for mobile phones rather than a normal cinema movie?

JR: I had to paint in quite broad strokes. I took a decision early on to go for a gross out style of horror, as opposed to psychological, as I figured that would work better on the small screen. The characters are quite broad as well but shot wise I lensed it in a similar way to how I would a feature film.

ZH: Horror writer Shaun Hutson appears in Episode 12, “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner”. Seeing as though he has a cameo in Forest of the Damned was this your idea?

JR: Yeah man, I love Shaun! He’s crazy. God knows how many pills he has to take every morning to stop him turning into Jack Nicholson at the end of The Shining but he’s a great laugh. I didn’t get to spend too much time with him on this one but I have no doubt we’ll work together again soon. It’s my ambition to turn him into the next Marlon Brando… it may take some time.

ZH: Did you insist that it should be gory and not be watered down just because it was for the WAP format?

JR: I really tried to push right from the beginning to make sure that we spent a lot of money on effects. I really shot balls out without thinking about any ratings issues. We’ve had a few interesting moments where it looked like no one was going to take it because of the gore content but in the end they all have! Some of the episodes are really quite full on to say the least!

ZH: Was it a difficult shoot then? What was the atmosphere on set like?

JR: The film was a blast. Zone were behind us all the way and Ben, the producer, just took all the s**t so I just got on with playing with monsters! I have a crew of people around me at Gatlin Pictures, my production company, and we’d just come off two back-to-back feature films so we were all quite battle hardened and slick. There were a lot of problems: it was a massive cast and quite a big operation for the money but hey, I had fun. I think you might have to ask the production crew for the real picture! But I just get to set each day and be like: “what is it today? Naked volleyball or killer clowns and lesbian cannibalism?” What a job man! Not sure it’s quite what dad had in mind when he was paying my school fees!

ZH: Do you find clowns creepy in real life?

JR: No, not really. I’m just a massive fan of Stephen King’s IT. Oscar was awesome as the clown; he really bought it to life!

ZH: Can you see this form of entertainment taking off?

JR: Actually, yes. I watched the episodes on a phone and they really work. Obviously that’s because I’m an amazing director but I think the technology really supports it – the episodes do look great.

ZH: What does it feel like to be part of something very unique? Were you aware that such a series had never been made for mobile phones?

JR: I’m really proud of the whole venture. As I say hats off to Zone for taking the risk and to Ben for dreaming it up!

ZH: Do you have a favourite episode?

JR: Hmm… the one where Hilary gets her arm chopped off in the garbage disposal is great but I think they’re all pretty good.

ZH: Would you another series for mobile phones?

JR: No. How much money? Oh alright then. No seriously I’d have no problems with doing it again. It was a blast and man what a cast to work with!

ZH: Johannes Roberts, thank you very much.

MORE INTERVIEWS
Interview with Julien Seri, director of Anderson Falls
Posted on Tuesday 18th February 2020

Ahead of the UK premiere of serial killer thriller Anderson Falls at Arrow Video FrightFest Glasgow 2020, director Julien Seri reflects on this, his first 'American' experience, challenging fight scenes and the importance of personal vision.

It has been five years since we premiered Night Fare at FrightFest London, what have you been up to since then?

JS: I worked on two, very singular, projects as a producer and/or director. I signed for both with Wild Bunch, but we've failed to produce them yet. So I keep fighting. And I did a lot of commercials, TV series and music videos.

When did you first hear about the Anderson Falls script and why did you think it was perfect for yo...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Adam Stovall, director of A Ghost Waits
Posted on Sunday 9th February 2020

Ahead of the World premiere of A Ghost Waits at Arrow Video FrightFest Glasgow 2020, director Adam Stovall reflects on getting through depression, creating paranormal romance and the influence of Tom Waits...

You have an interesting CV - from comedy theatre and film journalism to writing for The Hollywood Reporter and second assistant directing. Was all this a game plan to becoming a fully-fledged director?

AS: I've known since I was a little kid sitting in the basement watching the network TV premiere of Back To The Future while holding my Back To The Future storybook and waiting for them to premiere the first footage from Back To The Future 2 during a commercial br...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Simeon Halligan, director of Habit
Posted on Sunday 9th February 2020

Simeon Halligan is one of the busiest people working in the industry today. Writer, director, producer, director of celebrated film festival Grimmfest, in fact the list goes on.

His latest film is the neon tinged, blood-splattered masterpiece Habit which is showing on Horror February 14th so we thought we should get the story on how he brought this shocker to the big screen.

HC: When did you first become aware of the book by Stephen McGeagh to which Habit is based?

SH: I read the book a couple of years back and really liked it. A combination of gritty realism and dark fantasy; set within a very recognisable Manchester. There's a juxtaposition in the book; from a kind of soc...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Jackson Stewart, director of Beyond The Gates
Posted on Wednesday 22nd January 2020

Jack Stewart's sublime retro horror Beyond the Gates was recently shown on Horror. Jackson is one of the strongest creatives around at the moment but he took time out of his busy schedule to talk to us about this contemporary classic and his future movie plans.

HC: Was there one film that you saw growing up which gave you the idea that you wanted to work in the film industry?

JS: There were definitely a number of them; I think the ones that stick out strongest in my memory were Temple Of Doom, Batman '89, Nightmare On Elm Street 4, Raising Arizona, Back To The Future, Marnie, Army Of Darkness, The Frighteners and Dirty Harry. All of them had a big emotional impact on me. Dirty Har...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with acclaimed author Shaun Hutson
Posted on Friday 20th December 2019

The British horror legend Shaun Hutson is back with Testament, a new novel featuring one of his fans most loved characters, Sean Doyle so we decided to catch up with this talented chap about his acclaimed work.

HC: Was there one author who inspired you to become a writer?

SH: My inspirations were always and still are cinematic if I'm honest. Even when I first started writing my influences and inspirations came from things like Hammer films, from TV series like The Avengers (with Diana Rigg and Patrick Macnee) and from old Universal horror films. I read the Pan Books of Horror Stories when I was a kid and I think they were probably the first "literary" influences I ever had. I also read lo...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Tyler MacIntyre, director of Patchwork
Posted on Thursday 12th December 2019
On the eve of Horror Channel's UK TV premiere of Patchwork on December 14th, director Tyler MacIntyre reflects on body image issues. twisting audience expectations and his admiration for current female genre directors.

HC: Patchwork finally gets its UK TV premiere on Horror Channel. Excited or what?

TM: Relieved actually. It's been a long time coming. The third screening of the film ever happened at FrightFest in Glasgow and since then I've had people asking me when it was going to come out. The UK genre fans are among the most diehard in the world, so I'm very excited to finally have it available for them.

HC: You were in attendance when Patchwork, your directorial feature debut, rece...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with James Moran, writer of Tower Block
Posted on Monday 25th November 2019

Writer James Moran is about to do what few other writers have done in the past, the Horror Channel Triple! He is one of the few creatives who has had three of his movies play on the channel; Cockneys Vs Zombies, Severance and now Tower Block which is playing on November 29th. So, we decided to chat to this talented chap about this superior thriller and the rest of his career.

HC: Your first movie, Severance is a huge favourite with Horror Channel viewers, were you ever tempted to pen a sequel?

JM: Thank you, I'm really glad that people can still discover it with every new screening. Everybody wanted to do a sequel, we actually had several meetings about it. Nothing came of it, they carried on with...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Gary Dauberman, writer and director of Annabelle Comes Home
Posted on Saturday 23rd November 2019

Gary Dauberman has been the scriptwriter for some of the most successful horror movies of the last few years including IT: Parts 1 and 2, Annabelle and The Nun. His latest movie, Annabelle Comes Home which is also his directorial debut, has just been released onto DVD and Blu-ray. We caught up with this talented chap about his career to date.

HC: What was it about the horror genre that grabbed your imagination and made you want to become a writer?

GD: The earliest movie going experience I can remember was my parents taking me to Raiders of the Lost Ark and I was 4 or 5 or something and I had to sleep with them for a week, you know the opening up of The Ark and the face melting, a rea...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Cameron Macgowan, director of Red Letter Day
Posted on Friday 1st November 2019

FrightFest 2019 exposed a lot of new talent in the movie industry and one of the stand-out pieces was Red Letter Day from Cameron Macgowan.

HC: Where did the idea for Red Letter Day come from and did it take long to write?

CM: I have long been a fan of the 'Humans Hunting Humans' subgenre of film (Battle Royale, The Running Man, Hard Target, etc.) and was inspired to set one of these films in what many people consider the 'safe' location of the suburbs. Suburban communities feel like the perfect setting for a horror film as you can walk for miles without seeing a single soul all while knowing that you are surrounded by many people. This mixed with a desire to satirise the current socio-political climate ...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Carlo Mirabella-Davis, director of Swallow
Posted on Wednesday 30th October 2019

Ahead of the UK premiere of Swallow at Arrow Video FrightFest Halloween, director Carlo Mirabella-Davis reflects on the personal inspiration behind his feature debut, healing psychological wounds and his empathy for the genre.

HC: Swallow is your directorial debut. How difficult was it to get the project off the ground?

CMD: Getting a film made is a fascinating process. My late, great teacher at NYU, Bill Reilly, would always say "script is coin of the realm". The early stages involved perfecting the screenplay as much as I could, writing and rewriting until I felt confident sending it out. The sacred bond between the producer and the director is the catalyst that brings a film into being. I ...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Paul Davis, director of Uncanny Annie
Posted on Wednesday 16th October 2019

Ahead of the International premiere of Uncanny Annie at Arrow Video FrightFest Halloween 2019, director Paul Davis reflects on working for Blumhouse, bemoans attitudes to British genre film funding and reveals the movies that inspire him the most...

HC: Tell us how Uncanny Annie came about?

PD: Uncanny Annie is my second movie for Blumhouse as part of Hulu's Into The Dark movie series. I had the opportunity to actually kick off last October with a feature adaptation of my short film The Body (which had its world premiere at FF in 2013). The concept was to release a movie a month, for twelve months, with each revolving around a holiday or particular day for the month of its released. With The Bod...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Lars Klevberg, director of Child's Play (2019)
Posted on Thursday 10th October 2019
CHILDS_PLAY_Universal_2D_BD_Pakcshot_UKIt was the remake everyone was against! The interweb was ablaze with negativity but director Lars Klevberg and his team managed to pull off one of the best horror movies of 2019. Here he chats about the smart shocker, Child's Play.

HC: How nervous were you taking on a re-imagining of such a beloved concept and franchise?

LK: I was in fact very nervous the minute I signed on to do the movie. Before that, I worked relentlessly for weeks to get the job, but immediately after getting it my body had a very stressful reaction. I was fully aware of the legacy I was about to re-open so, I didn't sleep one minute that night.

HC: W...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interviews Archive: 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006
PICK OF THE WEEK
The Disappearance Of Alice Creed
THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ALICE CREED
Monday 2nd March
10.50 PM
Quarantine 2: Terminal
QUARANTINE 2: TERMINAL
Sunday 1st March
10.55 PM
The 7 Adventures of Sinbad
THE 7 ADVENTURES OF SINBAD
Saturday 29th February
6.35 PM