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 FRIGHTFEST
Interview with Adrian Langley, director of Butchers.
Posted on Tuesday 27th October 2020
FrightFest-Halloween-2020

Butchers is a superb piece of horror cinema from Adrian Langley. Here he chats about this grim and gruesome piece and his plans for the future.

HC: Where did the idea for Butchers come from?

AL: Butchers came from two of Daniel Weissenberger's old screenplays - he writes a lot - and I remixed them with some ideas that had been kicking around in my head after having read those scripts a long time ago.

HC: Did it take long to write?

AL: Not at all. Because Dan's scripts were so full already, the initial working draft only took about two weeks to put together and then I did a lot of rewriting during the prep process to streamline it to what...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Andrew Thomas Hunt, director of Spare Parts.
Posted on Tuesday 27th October 2020
Spare Parts

FrightFest is all about the diversity of movies, none more so than Spare Parts from director Andrew Thomas Hunt. This superb mash-up of gladiator-style fighting and a scorching soundtrack is desitined to become a cult classic so we chatted to Andrew about this movie.

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

AH: I did - from the age of 16. I was a huge fan of David Cronenberg's films, and when I discovered that he was not only from Toronto, but made his films here, it made me realize you didn't have to be from Hollywood to make movies.

HC: How did you become attached to this wild project?

AH: It was pitched to me at TIFF (Toronto Int'l ...

SHARE: READ MORE
And the winner is... Benny Loves You!
Posted on Monday 26th October 2020

The winner of the FrightFest Horror Channel First Blood Award 2020 is... Benny Loves You!

Here, Channel Manager Stewart Bridle chats to its very talented director, Karl Holt.

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Liam O'Donnell director of SKYLIN3S
Posted on Sunday 25th October 2020
skylin3s-poster

FrightFest Digital Edition 2 concludes tonight with an out-of-this-world premiere, SKYLIN3S. Here its writer and director Liam O'Donnell talks about this and the other entries in this sci-fi series.

HC: You've been involved with the Skyline series of movies from the start, where did the initial idea come from?

LD: Initially the idea just came from, we were sort of do it ourselves film makers and I had been living in the building we ended up shooting in. We had already been illegally shooting on the rooftop helipad for a pitch that we were developing and when Greg's (Greg Strause, director of Skyline) unit on the top floor and he walked in and saw this big, expansive view of LA...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Paul Tanter director and co-writer of The Nights Before Christmas
Posted on Sunday 25th October 2020
The Nights Before Christmas-poster

Prolific creative Paul Tanter has delivered a real treat for FrightFest pass holders today, the blood-splattered shocker, The Nights Before Christmas. Here he chats about this cracker of a movie.

HC: Have you always been a fan of the horror genre?

PT: Absolutely. One of my first cinema memories is my dad taking me to see Fright Night in 1985 and there being a promotional pack of vampire teeth on every seat. I was five at the time so I'm not sure how he snuck me in there, considering it's rated 18. I grew up watching The Omen films, in parts enthralled and terrified by them. I still can't pass that church in Fulham without keeping an eye on ...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Simon Phillips, star and co-writer of The Nights Before Christmas
Posted on Sunday 25th October 2020
The Nights Before Christmas-poster

Seasonal slashers are once again coming into vogue but none as brutal as The Nights Before Christmas. Here, its star and co-writer Simon Phillips tells all about this movie.

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

SP: I don't know if I ever was sure I was going to be in the film industry but as a child I sure liked talking a lot and my teacher once shouted at me "They'd better pay you to talk when you grow up, because you sure like the sound of your own voice"... So perhaps it was always on the cards!

HC: Are you a fan of horror movies?

SP: To be honest they terrify me... not the o...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Elza Kephart, director and co-writer of Slaxx
Posted on Sunday 25th October 2020
SLAXX_Elza_(C)photoB-Calmeau_0125FrightFest is all about originality and new talent and 2020 has been a belter of a year for such things. Slaxx from Elza Kephart is a prime example of the new and exciting creative talent that's out there at the moment. We chatted to Elza about this superb shocker.

HC: Are you a big horror movie fan?

EK: Yes, huge! I started my horror adventure when I was a pre-teen, reading Agatha Christie, R.L. Stine, Christopher Pike, Anne Rice. If there wasn't a death I wasn't interested. From that, I migrated to horror films; when I was about ten, I watched Aliens, the Fearless Vampire Hunters, Exorcist 2. I might have been a little too young, I remember being re...

SHARE: READ MORE
Hair scares, killer jeans, Santa slays and an invasion from above. Day 5 of FrightFest Digital Edition 2
Posted on Sunday 25th October 2020
slaxx-poster

We reach the final day of FrightFest but what awaits us will ensure that the event ends not with a bang but with an alien invasion!

It's always exciting when new creatives release work and The Stylist from Jill Gervargizian is no exception. Everyone dreams of being someone else... but for Claire that dream goes from an obsession to a living nightmare. Her job as a hairstylist allows her to move through other people's worlds, but when the right target sits in her chair, she does more than observe the client's life - she ends it, and keeps a permanent souvenir. Her lonely life, meticulous method and shocking secrets are suddenly thrown into turmoil when her regular client, Olivia, asks her to s...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Adam Leader and Richard Oakes, co-directors of Hosts
Posted on Saturday 24th October 2020
hosts-poster

Hosts is a dark, brooding and sinister movie from two very talented creatives, Adam Leader and Richard Oakes. Here they chat about this outstanding movie.

HC: Have you always been fans of this genre?

AL: Yes, the first film I ever watched was the original Nightmare on Elm Street when I was eight years old. That turned me on to the horror genre, and since then I became absolutely horror obsessed. Every weekend, my dad would take me to the video store, and I'd choose the most messed up movie I could find for him to rent for me.

RO: Yes, coming from a family with a sister 7 years older than me, I was always fascinated by the films her and her friends used to watch. I walked in...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Barry Keating, writer of Embryo
Posted on Saturday 24th October 2020
Barry Keating at NIGHTWORLD on 25/08/2017Barry Keating is a scriptwriter who has had quite a number of movies at FrightFest over the years. He's back with another shocker for 2020, this time the truth might be out there in Embryo. We chatted to him about this sci-fi chiller.

HC: We show another of your movies on Horror, Nightworld, what's it like writing a script, which has horror legend Robert Englund in it?

BK: When I found out they'd cast Robert in the role that was a very surreal day. At first I didn't quite believe it, but when the producer forwarded a message from Robert to me saying that he really dug the script I completely geeked out. I'm a hug...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Patricio Valladares, director of Embryo
Posted on Saturday 24th October 2020
Embryo image 1

Chilean director Patricio Valladares is back at FrightFest and this time he's taking us into the science fiction zone with Embryo. Here he chats about working with Robert Englund on Nightworld and this sci-fi shocker.

HC: Have you always been a fan of horror and sci-fi movies?

PV: Yes, from my childhood, my old brother watched Jason Voorhees and A Nightmare on Elm Street film series at home with a couple friends in the 80s. So, I always went from the bathroom to the living room at night to watch from behind the sofa with them. I Loved it! I liked the ultraviolence and gore from Robocop. When I was 14 or 15 I was a metalhead, so I had lots of tapes of death metal and a lot of low ...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Lucy Harvey and Danielle Kummer, directors of Alien on Stage
Posted on Saturday 24th October 2020
alien-on-stage-poster

FrightFest always has a fine selection of documentaries showing, but none have touched hearts like Alien on Stage. This warm and loving look at an amateur stage production of the classic movie Alien has been placed in the running for the Horror Channel sponsored First Blood award so we chatted to directors Lucy Harvey and Danielle Kummer about this wonderful project.

HC: How long have you worked together and are you fans of the film, Alien?

We met working on a no budget British indie film in 2006 (I think) both working for free. Danielle was a camera trainee, I was the costume stylist. It was like going through a war together, it cemented our friendship and Danille...

SHARE: READ MORE
Frightfest Archive: 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007
PICK OF THE WEEK
Battlestar Galactica
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA
Monday 10th May
8.00 PM
Skinwalkers
SKINWALKERS
Friday 14th May
9.00 PM
Tales From The Darkside
TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE
Sunday 16th May
8.30 PM