ARTICLES

LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS

Exclusive Interview With Shaun Hutson Author Of X The Unknown
By James Whittington, Tuesday 17th July 2012

X The UnknownShaun Hutson is one of the very finest and most creative authors around. He has written over 50 best selling books (some under pseudonyms) touching on many genres but he'l always be associated with horror thanks to books such as Slugs, Relics and Deathday.

Here he chats about his second Hammer tie-in book, X The Unknown.

To try and win a copy of X The Unknown along with Hands Of The Ripper by Guy Adams click here.

HC: Can you recall the first Hammer movie you saw?

SH: I can certainly recall the first Hammer film I ever saw it was a double bill (anyone else remember those?) of The Phantom Of The Opera and Night Creatures. I was about six and my mum took me (no she wasn't a weirdo, I pestered her to see it and she buckled...) and it frightened the sh*t out of me. I had my first ever nightmare that night. So I’ll always have Hammer to thank for that. How could you not love a film company that gave you sleepless nights at such an early age?

HC: What was it about them that grabbed your attention?

SH: I was struck at the time by the imagery (the skeleton riders on skeletal horses in Night Creatures) but as I got older I was so impressed by the acting, the direction, the set design and everything about them to be honest. They were always done so elegantly and with complete sincerity by the cast. I grew up with Hammer films and I think they probably shaped my writing more than I ever realised. First and foremost though they were great entertainment. The fact that they were done on small budgets just makes them more impressive. I certainly think the plethora of horror films these days could learn something from Hammer as they had a style which modern horror films certainly don't have. That gothic feel that Hammer had was unique to them. I know other studios at the time like Amicus and Tigon tried it but no one could come close to Hammer.

HC: Do you have a favourite Hammer film?

SH: It's difficult to pick out one single Hammer film as a favourite. Obviously the first of the Dracula films with Christopher Lee was superb. I love Brides Of Dracula for all the reasons I've given before. Plague Of The Zombies is still tremendous and I recently saw Quatermass And The Pit on a big screen for the first time and was amazed how well the dialogue and plot had held up considering it was released in 1967. It's probably not one of their best but I also love Taste The Blood Of Dracula which has one of the best opening sequences in any Hammer film along with Kiss Of The Vampire. If you push me I'd have to say Brides Of Dracula. I saw it on an old black and white TV one Friday night when I was about ten and it made an indelible impression on me and my underwear! Some great set pieces and brilliant performances from Peter Cushing and David Peel.

HC: How did you approach your book, X The Unknown?

SH: The first thing with X The Unknown was deciding whether or not to leave it where it was originally set which was the 50s. I decided against that and tried to make it more relevant to a modern audience by moving it to modern day. I didn't do this because I thought I was improving on the original, I'd never be that presumptuous, but the fear of nuclear weapons and radiation which was very prevalent in the 50s isn't so strong now so I thought I'd better find a more contemporary menace. Some of the dialogue had to be changed too (to update it) and new characters were added just as they are in any novelisation (well, any that I do!). Other than that I stuck to the structure of the film because it worked fine as it was. The only other major change was shifting the location from Scotland to Buckinghamshire but that was never going to damage the story. With any novelisation I think the main consideration is the source material and you shouldn’t mess around with that if it’s fine to begin with. There was nothing wrong with X The Unknown so I didn't tamper with it!

HC: Why did you change certain elements (without giving too much away)?

SH: The parts I changed were changed for the reasons I've given earlier. Also, despite the fact that it's first and foremost a novelisation I suppose pure ego made me want to try and put my own stamp on it in some way shape or form. While always staying within the structure of the original I tried to put in what have, over the years, become the trademarks of my own writing. Some of my regular readers will probably be surprised that it isn't as violent as some of my own novels but I didn't feel the need to go over the top with the violence (which some will be mumbling makes a change...). Don’t get me wrong it's still pleasingly revolting in places (I hope) but it doesn't have the charnel house touch that some of my own books have because it wasn't necessary.

HC: Did you work through many drafts of the book?

SH: I've only ever done one draft of any novel. If there are things wrong and an editor points them out then I'll change those at a later date but I'm not the kind of writer who does one draft then goes through it all again picking bits out here and there. I work fast and hopefully this is reflected in the finished book and I certainly don't go over stuff time and again because it breaks my flow (sorry to sound pretentious there!). I do and always have done, one draft which is then changed accordingly (never major surgery unless I've really screwed things up) and that's it. Once one book is finished I hate going back to it. I never read anything I've written once it's past the proof stage. If I did I’d always find fault, find things I could have said differently or better and you have to let the bloody thing go eventually so why dwell on it? If I can't get it right the first time around then that's tough, that's one of the reasons I used to use such detailed notes and outlines. Once I started writing I knew everything that was going to happen and to whom and at what time so there was no need to deviate from that original story.

HC: How different is it writing a tie-in to an original piece? Which is harder?
SH: It's much harder writing an original story than it is a novelisation in my humble opinion. After all, with the novelisation all the characters, the plot and the story are there in front of you, you just have to make sure you bring it to life in a way that honours the original. I hate authors who try to be too clever with novelisations. Just follow the plot because fans of the film will have certain expectations and no one's got any right to mess around with those expectations. If I was asked to do the novelisation of Titanic I wouldn't feel the need to set it on a bloody spaceship! People who have seen X The Unknown will have certain ideas about what it should be like. People who like Hammer films will have ideas on how the book should be to reflect Hammer's very distinctive style. However, newcomers to the story will find that there is plenty there to surprise them too. It’s a fine line to tread but I hope I’ve done it without overbalancing too often.

HC: Would you consider writing a film script for the new Hammer?

SH: Would I consider writing a film script for the new Hammer? Where do I sign? I would love to do that. Considering how much their films meant to me when I was growing up I don't think it would be too much to say that to script a film for Hammer would be about as good as it got for me.

HC: What classic Hammer movie would you like to novelise next?

SH: To be honest, I'd love to have a crack at Frankenstein Created Woman. There is so much material there, especially in the character of Christina. I watched it again (on the Horror Channel strangely enough!) the other day and even then I was thinking how I'd do it. Plague Of The Zombies or Kiss Of The Vampire would be good to do as well. I think one of the first things I look for with a novelisation is how I can expand it and those all offer scope for that. I suppose the most logical one for me however would be Brides Of Dracula as it's my favourite Hammer film. Now that really would be fun.

HC: So what other projects are you working on?

SH: Next I'm doing the novelisation of The Revenge Of Frankenstein, in my opinion the best of the Hammer Frankenstein series. As with Twins Of Evil and X The Unknown I'll stick to the original structure of the films and it's then just a matter of finding some different angles and expanding the existing material here and there.

HC: Shaun Hutson, thank you very much.

SH: No problem.

To try and win a copy of X The Unknown and Hands Of The Ripper click here.


MORE ARTICLES
Is home where the heart is? Not in smart sci-fi shocker, Vivarium
Posted in News, Tuesday 18th February 2020

Following rave reviews at the BFI London Film Festival (2019), sci-fi thriller Vivarium will be released in UK and Irish cinemas and on digital on 27th March 2020 courtesy of Vertigo Releasing and Wildcard Distribution. It will also open the Virgin Media International Dublin Film Festival on the 26th February, and will be shown at the Glasgow Film Festival on the 27th and 28th February. The film stars The Social Network's Jesse Eisenberg and Green Room's Imogen Poots, and is from the producers of cult hits Mandy and The Void.

The movie won the Gan Foundation Award at Cannes Film Festival (2019), and Imogen Poots was awarded Best Actress at Sitges International Film Festival ...

SHARE: READ MORE
New anthology that will enchant and thrill!
Posted in News, Tuesday 18th February 2020

"It's the prick of blood, the bite of an apple, the evil eye, a wedding ring or a pair of red shoes. Curses come in all shapes and sizes, and when you least expect them..."

Editors Marie O'Regan and Paul Kane present Cursed, an anthology of unique twists on the fairy tale conceit of the curse from an exciting line-up of bestselling and award-winning authors. From the traditional to the modern, this collection gives us brand new mythologies as well as new approaches to well-loved fables from a carefully cultivated selection of brand-new stories, folk-horror poetry and modern classic tales.

Some might shock you, some might make you laugh, and they will all impress you with their origina...

SHARE: READ MORE
Ravers! A movie we'll drink to!
Posted in News, Tuesday 18th February 2020

Party like there's no tomorrow with Ravers, the blissfully violent and drug-addled horror set in the shady underground of illegal raves!

A group of clubbers descend on an abandoned warehouse for a night of twisted techno and hedonistic drug-taking, but the illegal rave takes a blood-stained turn for the worse when the whacked-out partygoers discover a case of energy drink 'Renergize'.

Little do they know, the experimental drink caused a factory worker to butcher his colleagues months earlier and soon the party descends into violent carnage. Caught in the middle of the slaughter is Becky (Georgia Hirst), a germaphobic journalist who must overcome her crippling-fea...

SHARE: READ MORE
The hunt for Vlad the Impaler will begin in March.
Posted in News, Tuesday 18th February 2020

Game of Thrones meets Vikings - with a Dracula origin story - in this thunderous tale of seven fierce warriors in 15th Century Turkey, tasked with hunting down the vicious warlord Vlad the Impaler, to put an end to his cruel reign of terror.

Think of The Magnificent Seven crossed with Conan, as the unstoppable wing-backed warriors close in on their foe - with and a superbly sinister performance from Turkish star Erkan Petekkaya as the villainous Vlad Dracula, the 'heir of the devil', and the inspiration for vampire mythology.

In the middle of the 15th Century, in the depths of Turkey during the Ottoman Empire, the land is torn apart by horrendous atrocities and bloody murder...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Julien Seri, director of Anderson Falls
Posted in Frightfest, Interviews, 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
Chilling modern folk horror coming from T. Kingfisher
Posted in News, Friday 14th February 2020

The Twisted Ones is the celebrated debut from T. Kingfisher. Published last year in the US, The Twisted Ones was shortlisted in the Goodreads Reader's Choice for horror and received rave reviews, now Titan will be bringing it to the UK market for the first time on 17th March.

When Mouse's dad asks her to clean out her dead grandmother's house, she says yes. After all, how bad could it be? Answer: pretty bad. Grandma was a hoarder, and her house is stuffed with useless rubbish. Mouse stumbles across her step-grandfather;s journal, which seems like nonsense until Mouse encounters some of the terrifying things he described. Alone in the woods with her dog, Mouse finds herself face to face...

SHARE: READ MORE
The Breach - brand new fiction from M.T. Hill
Posted in News, Monday 10th February 2020

Award-winning author M.T. Hill returns with a new science fiction novel that blurs the lines between reality and fiction in a gripping exploration of the dangerous underground world of urban exploration. With hints of the claustrophobic terror of Sarah Lotz's The White Road blended with Philip K. Dick-esque imaginings, The Breach is genre-bending, pageturning read that aptly demonstrates why Hill is one of today's most exciting new voices in weird fiction.

Freya Medlock, a reporter at her local paper, is down on her luck and chasing a break. When she's assigned to cover the death of a young climber named Stephen, she might just have the story she needs. Digging into Stephen's life, Frey...

SHARE: READ MORE
A chance to see The Man With the X-Ray Eyes in HD!
Posted in News, Monday 10th February 2020

Get ready for a visual treat as Second Sight announces the first ever UK Blu-ray release of Roger Corman's seminal horror sci-fi classic The Man With the X-Ray Eyes on 20th April.

This 1960s cult favourite will be a sight to behold with a newly restored Limited Edition Box Set release, featuring stacks of brand new special features, including a new interview with director Roger Corman (The Little Shop of Horrors), commentaries and much more, please see details in full below. The set arrives on 20 April 2020 complete with new artwork, designed by Graham Humphreys, a reversible poster and a soft cover book with writing by Jon Towlson and Allan Bryce.

Obsessed with expand...

SHARE: READ MORE
His Dark Materials to get a stunning release on vinyl.
Posted in News, Monday 10th February 2020

Philip Pullman's bestselling trilogy of books has sold more than 19 million copies worldwide and formed the basis of the major HBO/BBC TV series His Dark Materials. Now, this stunning 9LP box set presents BBC Radio's full-cast dramatisations of all three novels thanks to Demon Records.

Follow the adventures of Lyra belacqua and Willy Parry, two children catapulted into a life-or-death struggle to save the future of the cosmos. In Northern lights 11-year-old Lyra discovers dark forces at work, involving kidnapped children and a mysterious substance called 'dust'. In the subtle Knife will finds an opening into a haunted world, where daemon-destroying Spectrobes roam. In the Amber spygla...

SHARE: READ MORE
What you can't see can hurt you! New trailer for The Invisible Man
Posted in News, Monday 10th February 2020

What you can't see can hurt you. Emmy winner Elisabeth Moss stars in The Invisible Man, a terrifying modern tale of obsession inspired by Universal's classic monster character.

Trapped in a violent, controlling relationship with a wealthy and brilliant scientist, Cecilia Kass (Moss) escapes in the dead of night and disappears into hiding, aided by her sister (Harriet Dyer), their childhood friend (Aldis Hodge) and his teenage daughter (Storm Reid).

But when Cecilia's abusive ex (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) commits suicide and leaves her a generous portion of his vast fortune, Cecilia suspects his death was a hoax. As a series of eerie coincidences turns lethal, threaten...

SHARE: READ MORE
Medieval carnage descends in Aliens: Phalanx!
Posted in News, Sunday 9th February 2020

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of Infected and Alive delivers medieval carnage, as a pre-industrial society fights extinction at the hands of a massive infestation of Xenomorphs. Aliens: Phalanx is a wholly self-contained novel that expertly mixes horror and adventure, and adds an exciting new chapter to the canon of the Alien universe.

Penned by fan-favourite author Sigler (whose short story 'Dangerous Prey' in the Aliens: Bug Hunt anthology was incredibly well received), this is the eighth original novel in Titan's successful, ongoing Alien publishing program, and promises to be a must-read for fans of the franchise!

Ataegina was an isolated world of medieval castles, va...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Adam Stovall, director of A Ghost Waits
Posted in Frightfest, Interviews, 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
Articles Archive: 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006
PICK OF THE WEEK
Independence Day-Saster
INDEPENDENCE DAY-SASTER
Sunday 1st March
6.40 PM
The Bay
THE BAY
Tuesday 25th February
10.50 PM
An American Haunting
AN AMERICAN HAUNTING
Monday 2nd March
9.00 PM