LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS Exclusive Interview With Shaun Hutson Author Of X The Unknown
By James Whittington, Tuesday 17th July 2012
Shaun 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 INTERVIEWS 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 It 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 Interview with Chris Bavota, co-director of Dead Dicks
Posted on Sunday 6th October 2019
Horror is the perfect genre for getting across very serious issues. Dead Dicks, which is showing at Grimmfest today does exactly that by looking at the sensitive subject of mental health. Here co-director Chris Bavota talks about this intriguing movie.
HC: How did you and co-writer and co-director Lee Paula Springer first meet?
CB: In case people don't know, Lee and I have been married for almost 10 years and we have 2 young daughters. Making movies somehow came as a natural evolution of that but wasn't really a part of our lives until about three or four years ago. We originally met back around 2004 through a mutual friend and honestly, we didn't really ge...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Robi Michael, writer and director of Every Time I Die
Posted on Saturday 5th October 2019
Grimmfest 2019 is well underway and one of the stand out movies so far has been Every Time I Die from director Robi Michael. Here he chats about this gripping movie.
HC: Was there one person or movie that you saw that made you want to be a director?
RM: Hard to think of one person or movie, because as long as I remember, it was clear to me that all I want to do is make movies - I was in love with films and decided to pursue it from a very early age. I was too young to realized what it takes to make movies or what is the job of a director. I can say that an early big influence in story telling is the legendary graphic novel writer, Alan Moore. Books like "Watchmen" and "V for...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Tom Botchii, director of Artik
Posted on Wednesday 2nd October 2019
Grimmfest 2019 begins tomorrow and Horror will be there bringing you news of all that happens as well as three Facebook Live events on the 4th, 5th and 6th of October.
One of the movies showing is Artik from director Tom Botchii so we chatted to him about this superb, brutal shocker.
HC: Where did the idea for Artik come from?
TB: The idea of Artik came from two things - 1) Getting my car broken into and seeing the initials A-T-K tagged on the wall behind it. When discussing with police they said that stands for a local gang member named ARTIK and when he spray paints ATK it means that you're marked and he or one of the other gang members is coming back to brea...SHARE: READ MORE Interviews Archive: 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 PICK OF THE WEEK
Saturday 25th January
Sunday 2nd February
Monday 27th January