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
A stalker finds himself the prey in Eye Without a Face
Posted in News, Friday 23rd July 2021
Eye without a face cover

Do you know who's watching this very moment? Brand new horror feature Eye Without a Face from director Ramin Niami (Paris, Shirin In Love) combines chills, thrills and bloody murder to bring the voyeur genre bang up to date.

This edgy movie creeps on to digital 23 August for its UK Premiere from Miracle M.

Holed up in his LA apartment agoraphobic Henry (Dakota Shapiro) spends his days hacking into the webcams of unsuspecting local young women, seeing himself as their protector and guardian angel, rather than what he really is... a stalker. But his creepy peeks take a sinister turn as he starts to suspect one of his 'friends', Laura (Vladka Verevko), is a kil...

SHARE: READ MORE
See how music can kill in Sound of Violence
Posted in Frightfest, News, Friday 23rd July 2021
Sound of Violence Cover

In thrilling new horror Sound of Violence, a young girl recovers her hearing and gains synthetic abilities during the brutal murder of her family. Finding solace in the sounds of bodily harm, as an adult she pursues a career in music composing her masterpieces through gruesome murders.

From the mind of talented new writer-director Alex Noyer and featuring a stunning lead performance from Jasmin Savoy Brown (2022's Scream, The Leftovers), Sound of Violence is being billed as one of the most original and shocking horrors of the year.

After its UK premiere at Arrow Frightfest, Sound of Violence on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital from 30th August than...

SHARE: READ MORE
Exploitation movie that will bring out the Devil in you!
Posted in News, Friday 23rd July 2021
TheNunandtheDevil-DELUXECOLLECTOR_SEDITION3D

Directed by Domenico Paolella (The Prey/The Story of a Cloistered Nun), The Nun and the Devil AKA Le Monache di Sant'Arcangelo is a headily erotic tale of seduction and persecution detailing the sinful practices which spill out of a 16th century convent.

When the psychotically ambitious Sister Julia (Anna Heywood) vies to take the place of a dying Mother Superior by any means possible, other inmates start to lose their way. But things take a nasty turn when the nuns are subjected to a violent inquisition and their existence becomes one of torture and degradation.

Made just two years after Ken Russell's notorious Th...

SHARE: READ MORE
Arrow Video FrightFest 2021 announces second wave of films for August Cineworld event
Posted in Features, Frightfest, Thursday 22nd July 2021
Bloodthirsty-WEB3

It's full scream ahead as Arrow Video FrightFest 2021 announces its second wave of hugely anticipated Discovery Screen and First Blood titles - a summer collection of provocative, edgy and transgressive entertainment to die for. There are fourteen World and ten European/International premieres amongst the thirty-four films on offer.

Eleven countries are represented, with titles ranging from Canadian entries Bloodthirsty, Amelia Moses' simmering LGBQT+ werewolf movie and sinister isolation thriller Motherly to Francesco Erba's As In Heaven, So On Earth, a stunning Italian blend of live action and Gothic puppet animation. Then there's Peter Bergendy's sumptuous Post Mortem, an epic Hu...

SHARE: READ MORE
V for Vendetta: Behind the Mask now at The Cartoon Museum
Posted in News, Thursday 22nd July 2021
V for Vendetta poster

The Cartoon Museum has re-opened (no advance booking required) with an exciting new exhibition which celebrates the cultural impact of V for Vendetta from the classic graphic novel to the cult film classic. Tickets are available now and the exhibition is open and will be running until 31st October 2021.

V for Vendetta: Behind the Mask will chart the rise from graphic novel, to hit film and now global phenomenon as a symbol of protest. Securing rare loans from the art department of Warner Bros, The Cartoon Museum will present a history of this modern classic with original artwork and covers, as well as costumes and designs that have never been seen in the UK before.

T...

SHARE: READ MORE
Horror Channel raises hell in August!
Posted in Features, Tuesday 20th July 2021
Horror Channel - Aug tweet banner

August is a wicked month on Horror Channel, as the UK's number 1 destination for genre films revives some horror, sci-fi and fantasy classics - including Clive Barker's Hellraiser trilogy, which has one of the most stylish and ferociously original horror fantasy franchises ever and Night Of The Living Dead (1990), Tom Savini's colour remake of George Romero's original Night Of The Living Dead, which transcended the world of horror movies to become a film classic .

Other highlights include Re-Animator, the late Stuart Gordon's darkly comic classic, that has been acknowledged as one of the most celebrated, outrageous and original horror films of all ti...

SHARE: READ MORE
Fulci's The Psychic getting a Shameless release
Posted in News, Saturday 17th July 2021
The Psychic Bluray cover

Shameless is prud to present Lucio 'The Godfather of Gore' Fulci's The Psychic (aka Murder To the Tune of the Seven Black Notes) like never seen before, extensively restored from new 2K-scanned materials on August 9th.

Jennifer O'Neill, fresh from Luchino Visconti's The Innocent, plays Virginia, a woman who has had psychic powers since childhood when she sensed her mother's suicide... Now newly married, Virginia becomes plagued by waking visions of bloody deaths and meaningless torment. With the aid of her parapsychologist friend (Marc Porel), she tries to uncover the meaning of the unwanted visions only to discover they are premonitions of future deaths...

...

SHARE: READ MORE
Original Vs Remake: Which one do you prefer?
Posted in Features, Thursday 15th July 2021
RABID POSTER

Horror Channel has always celebrated the classics as well as the more recent chillers around. Inevitably we come across some remakes which have either caused celebration or contention among viewers.

But are all remakes bad? Here's five of the finest which are showing at the moment on Horror.

Night of the Living Dead (1990)
SFX maestro Tom Savini was given the job of bringing George A Romero's all-time classic back to the big screen, and in doing so gave the classic a colourful retelling. Set during an unexplained event, namely the dead rising from their graves, strangers stranded in a house battle the undead as well as themselves. Tony Todd, Patricia Tallman, and Tom Towles ta...

SHARE: READ MORE
FrightFest resurrects its New Blood quest for new writers
Posted in Frightfest, Tuesday 13th July 2021
New Blood 2021 - logo

As Arrow Video FrightFest stalks the dark recesses of the big screen again, the search resumes for new writers in the horror genre through its New Blood initiative. New Blood reunites FrightFest with Giles Edwards of Queensbury Pictures with its mission to find emerging UK-based writers dedicated to the genre and nurture their projects from script to screen. Queensbury is ultimately interested in buying the finished script rather than the idea, and so, this year all successful final candidates if selected should be able to send even a rough draft of the first ten pages of their script through with their acceptance.

Already the scheme has delivered two new projects: Broadcast ...

SHARE: READ MORE
Arrow Video FrightFest unveils first wave of twenty-five films for August 2021 Cineworld event
Posted in Frightfest, Thursday 8th July 2021
FrightFest 2021 - Poster art-1

Arrow Video FrightFest, the UK's biggest horror and fantasy film festival, is back at the Cineworld Leicester Square from Thursday August 26 - Monday 30 August for five days of the very best of global genre cinema.

The internationally renowned event leads the way in attesting to the versatility of the genre and, despite the interruptions caused by the pandemic, this year is no exception as the twenty-five films to be presented in the main screens are revealed. They include four world premieres and eight International/European premieres.

Global events over the past eighteen months have not only altered most people's lives but have had a profoundly i...

SHARE: READ MORE
Halloween Kills - New poster and trailer
Posted in News, Sunday 4th July 2021
Halloween Kills Poster

Universal Pictures has unleashed the official trailer for Halloween Kills, coming to UK cinemas October 15.

In 2018, David Gordon Green's Halloween, starring icon Jamie Lee Curtis, killed at the box office, earning more than $250 million worldwide, becoming the highest-grossing chapter in the four-decade franchise and setting a new record for the biggest opening weekend in history for a horror film starring a woman.

And the Halloween night when Michael Myers returned isn't over yet.

Minutes after Laurie Strode (Curtis), her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) left masked monster Michael Myers caged and burning in La...

SHARE: READ MORE
Space: 1999 - Soundtracks to get the vinyl treatment
Posted in News, Sunday 4th July 2021
Space 1999 Year 1

The latest Silva Screen release in their series exploring the musical worlds of Gerry Anderson is the most extensive yet and incorporates two separate Double LP releases.

Space: 1999 (showing weekdays at 6pm on Horror) ran for two series from 1976 to 1977 and depicted the occupants of Moonbase Alpha and their struggle for survival when, after the explosion of a nuclear waste dump, the Moon is hurtled into space.

The series was the most expensive produced for British television at that time and the most musically diverse of all the shows made by Anderson for ITC. Gerry Anderson's long-time musical partner in all the previous adventures was Barry Gray and Space: 1999 proved t...

SHARE: READ MORE
Articles Archive: 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006
PICK OF THE WEEK
Knuckleball
KNUCKLEBALL
Monday 2nd August
10.55 PM
100 Bloody Acres
100 BLOODY ACRES
Sunday 1st August
10.55 PM
First Wave
FIRST WAVE
Friday 6th August
8.00 PM