Interview with Charlie Steeds, writer and director of Death Ranch
By James Whittington, Saturday 10th October 2020

Horror movies and controversy always go hand in hand but when they tackle serious issues by using extreme violence to hammer home a point they can be very worthy. Death Ranch from Charlie Steeds is having its world premiere at Grimmfest so we chatted to him about this very strong movie.

HC: What inspired you to write Death Ranch?

CS: I'd always wanted to try making a movie with a 70s Grindhouse/Exploitation style and was watching old Grindhouse trailers for inspiration. I came across the movie Brotherhood of Death, where black characters fight back against the KKK for some of the film (the tagline is 'Watch these brothers stick it to the Klan!') and that concept seemed outrageous and brilliant to me. Like a lot of Exploitation, that movie doesn't fully deliver on its poster, so I took that concept and set out to develop my own movie that would deliver on the promise of seeing the KKK taken down by heroic black characters. It felt like something I wanted to see, as a movie fan, that's why I made it.

HC: Are you a fan of Grindhouse cinema?

CS: Absolutely, I'm a fan of certain Blaxploitation movies, Coffy and Foxy Brown, those type of movies are still as entertaining as they ever were, quite politically incorrect at times but the films don't care. Jack Hill is a director who's work and style I really love, such wild B-movie material but more genuinely entertaining than most of what comes out of Hollywood these days. I'm a big Italian Western fan too, I think you can see that influence (along with the blaxploitation influences) very clearly in Death Ranch. I'm a huge Quentin Tarantino fan, I grew up on Kill Bill, and his whole style is influenced by a lot of these Grindhouse movies. I remember being incredibly hyped for the Tarantino/Rodriguez Grindhouse double bill as a teenager, and that opened up this whole new world of exploitation cinema to me.

HC: Its very different to your other movies, was this a deliberate attempt to push your creativity?

CS: With each movie, I purposely try something new, a completely different sub-genre or style (with the exception of Cannibal Farm and The Barge People, those being two similar backwoods slashers). This was my first time shooting in America, that definitely gave the film a different feel. It's also perhaps less horror-focused than my other films, but equally gory. The theme of racism is so powerful, that gave a certain weight to the drama of this particular script, we're dealing with very real issues. But at the end of the day, I treat all my films as fun B-Movie entertainment, that's most important, and the positive anti-racist message that comes along the way is a part of that entertainment here.

HC: Was it hard to find the right actors for the roles?

CS: The casting was very easy. It had to be done over the internet, I was in London watching self-tapes from actors in the USA. There were a lot of great applicants but the cast I picked really stood out to me. Not only were their performances wonderful, but they had a real passion and understanding for this plot outline. Once we were all together in Tennessee, shooting, that passion remained incredibly strong, these actors seriously got behind this project, took my script and made it their own.

HC: The film contains some very controversial language, what did the actors feel about saying such provocative words?

CS: We had a lot of fun and laughter on set, everyone got on incredibly well, so by the time actors were having to perform lines of very racist dialogue, everyone was comfortable, relaxed and on the same page. It's make believe, so nobody had a need to be uncomfortable in the moment, and we all understood the anti-racist message of the film very clearly. When you're making a film about the KKK in 70s southern America you can't really avoid including some racist language. It's there to make us hate the racist characters, and fully enjoy our hero's revenge, ultimately.

HC: The score is fantastic, will it get a release?

CS: This is the 5th feature film soundtrack collaboration between me and Sam Benjafield, and as always he did a stunning job. We'll find some way to get the music out there! Many influences have gone into the score, lots of Ennio Morricone (both his Western music and Gialli music) who's long been my favourite composer, but you'll also hear the influence from films like The Devil's Rejects, Planet Terror and Pumpkinhead.

HC: Will you be nervous when Death Ranch has its world premiere at Grimmfest?

CS: Death Ranch is particularly special to me, its my own original idea, and it was made entirely independently (no sales/distribution people to answer to) which makes the project stand out to me. I hope people enjoy it, of course, but if they don't then that's just something that comes with the territory of filmmaking, you can't please everyone. You finish a movie and you just let it go, move onto the next (I have shot, edited and released 2 more films since I shot Death Ranch) so I can't be nervous. However, I'm very eager to see the response to this particular film, good or bad.

HC: As a director, how do you feel after the recent news that some cinemas are reducing days open and some closing altogether?

CS: The most important thing we can do is support our favourite smaller cinemas that remain open, so long as you're safe, sensible and not at high risk from this virus. I'll be visiting the Prince Charles Cinema in London as frequently as I can, we can't lose unique venues like that. The big chains showing the Hollywood muck will somehow recover, there'll always be a demand for the big screen. DVD/VOD films are now in demand more than ever, so while mainstream movies suffer this slump, maybe some independent filmmakers will use this to their advantage.

HC: So, what are you up to at the moment?

CS: I have a lot in the pipeline and I'm currently writing those projects, which is my favourite part of the whole process. Very soon, I'll be back into production on some really exciting projects.

HC: Charlie Steeds, thank you very much.

John Carpenter's Lost Themes III: Alive After Death
Posted in News, Friday 30th October 2020
John Carpenter Lost Themes III cover

Renowned composer and director John Carpenter has announced his first album of non-soundtrack music in nearly five years, Lost Themes III: Alive After Death, which is set for a February 5th release on Sacred Bones.

John famously called the first Lost Themes album "a soundtrack for the movies in your mind.". On Alive After Death those movies are even more vivid, with song titles among his most evocative as well. Lead single Weeping Ghost thrillingly conjures its title figure in a wash of synthesiser making the listener's neck hairs stand on end as the aural spectre stalks the halls of a dilapidated mansion.

Underpinning Carpenter's ...

A movie to cast a Spell on you
Posted in News, Friday 30th October 2020
Spell Key Art 1000 x 1440

Omari Hardwick (Sorry to Bother You), Loretta Devine (Crash) and John Beasley (The Sum of All Fears) star in the terrifying thriller Spell which is being unleashed just in time for you to treat yourself this Halloween.

You're able to Devour this spine-tingling chiller on Download & Keep or rental formats from today thanks to Paramount Home Entertainment.

While flying to his father's funeral in rural Appalachia, an intense storm causes Marquis (Omari Hardwick) to lose control of the plane carrying him and his family. He awakens wounded, alone and trapped in Ms. Eloise's (Loretta Devine) attic, who claims she can nurse him back to health with the Boogity, a Ho...

Interview with Adrian Langley, director of Butchers.
Posted in Frightfest, Tuesday 27th October 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...

Horror Channel is now on Freeview channel 68
Posted in Features, News, Tuesday 27th October 2020
Freeview logo

Horror Channel has moved to Freeview Channel 68 so you may need to re-tune to ensure you don't miss out on our super scary Halloween line-up plus much more.

Any issues with retuning check the Freeview website.

Interview with Andrew Thomas Hunt, director of Spare Parts.
Posted in Frightfest, 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 ...

And the winner is... Benny Loves You!
Posted in Frightfest, 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.

Interview with Liam O'Donnell director of SKYLIN3S
Posted in Frightfest, Sunday 25th October 2020

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...

Interview with Paul Tanter director and co-writer of The Nights Before Christmas
Posted in Frightfest, 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 ...

Interview with Simon Phillips, star and co-writer of The Nights Before Christmas
Posted in Frightfest, 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...

Interview with Elza Kephart, director and co-writer of Slaxx
Posted in Frightfest, 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...

Hair scares, killer jeans, Santa slays and an invasion from above. Day 5 of FrightFest Digital Edition 2
Posted in Frightfest, Sunday 25th October 2020

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...

Interview with Adam Leader and Richard Oakes, co-directors of Hosts
Posted in Frightfest, Saturday 24th October 2020

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...

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