INTERVIEWS

LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS

Interview With John Penney Writer Of Return Of The Living Dead 3
By James Whittington, Saturday 2nd November 2013

John PenneyTonight at 10.40pm catch the channel premiere of the cult classic Return Of The Living Dead 3, the superb shocker written by the multi-talented John Penney. Here John chats about this movie and the plans he has lined up including a new project with director Brian Yuzna.

HC: You started off as a film editor, what was the first film you worked on?

JP: The first feature film I worked on as an assistant editor was The Dorm That Dripped Blood. After that I did a number of editing jobs, including the original Return Of The Living Dead. Shortly after that I had my first screenplay produced, The Kindred, on which I also served as an editor. After The Kindred I stopped editing and became a full time screenwriter and producer and eventually a director.

HC: Where did the idea for Return Of The Living Dead 3 come from?

JP: Having worked on the original Return as an assistant editor, I was very familiar with the mythology that Dan O’Banon had created. The thing that struck me most was the scene where the half corpse spoke and described the feeling of being dead. It was really the first time I had seen a zombie speak and reveal emotions. I loved it. There was also a scene where James Karen was slowly becoming a zombie and the paramedics told him that rigor mortis was setting in. You could really feel the agony of what it would be like to become a zombie. When my agent called me and told me to go in and pitch an idea for part 3, I immediately went to the uniqueness of those scenes. To tell the story in which a zombie was a protagonist. At the time my father had recently passed away and I was dealing with that loss. Plugging that emotion into a zombie world just fit. The core of the idea for me was dealing with loss. The inability of Curt to let go of Julie. I went in and pitched the basic “Romeo and Juliet” approach and luckily Brian was also thinking along the same lines.

HC: Did the script take long to put together?

JP: It seemed to move rather quickly for me. I’m a big believer in outlines and treatments. I would go off and do an outline, bring it to Brian, and then we’d carefully go through it. Brian would tweak, and challenge the beats and come up with great ideas. I’d go off, do another draft and then bring it back again. It went like that for a month or so, then I wrote the first draft. The script process was the same as the treatment process only with more detail.

HC: Did the story change during production at all?

JP: Once production started, there were really no script changes. Brian and I had worked closely and we both seemed to be on the same page. He was very generous in including me in the entire process. It was one of the best experiences I’ve had working on a film. The only scene we never shot that was in the script was a final tag ending in which we followed Curt and Julie’s ashes up from the incinerator and into the sky. It was a kind of homage to the original Return. Ultimately, it didn’t really add much. The movie was over when the flames climbed up around them as they kissed.

HC: Were you on set during the shoot?

JP: I was there every day. It was a lot of fun. Eventually I got a chance to have a cameo as the Sergeant who tells Curt’s Father where Julie and Curt were. It was a plot point so I was sure I wouldn’t get cut out. I also come back again in the end and get eaten by the rampaging zombies. It was a blast.

HC: Why do you think the film has built up such a loyal following?

JP: I’ve been approached by a number of people through the years who tell me how much they like the film. Most of them identify strongly with the love story. It’s very gratifying because that was always the intention behind the film for me. Brian, of course did a fantastic job on all fronts and Mindy and Trevor really committed to the characters.

HC: What’s your favourite moment in the movie?

JP: I always loved what Mindy did when she first “woke up.” She really played the moment well. I also thought Brian did a fantastic job with the ending action.

HC: Have you ever been tempted to make a direct follow up or even re-write it?

JP: I always felt that the movie had a closed ending. I did want to make a follow up to the franchise. We even talked about doing more with the zombie soldiers but that never came together.

HC: What state do you think the horror movie industry is in at the moment?

JP: I think the horror genre is in one of the best places it’s ever been. From the supernatural stories like The Conjuring to the zombie stories like The Walking Dead the genre has never been better.

HC: You’re a multi talented person but are you happiest directing, producing or writing?

JP: I just like telling stories on film. To me, that’s what it’s all about. Obviously directing gets you closer to your vision in some respects, but I have had a wonderful time writing and producing as well. It all depends on the story and the people.

HC: So what projects are you working on at the moment?

JP: Derek Gibson (who used to run Hemdale with John Daly) is putting together a couple projects for me to direct. Both are based on novels that I wrote. One is Truck Stop and the other is Killing Time. They are supernatural thrillers that are in the same wheelhouse as Hellgate, the film I wrote and directed in 2011 with William Hurt and Cary Elwes. (The film was originally titled Shadows and won the Bram Stoker International Film Festival in Whitby in the UK) I am also working with Brian Yuzna on producing a few new projects. One is with Carles Torrens directing and another with Tinieblas Gonzales as director. We also have a multi-platform project that Brian and I wrote together and Brian will direct called The Pope. The first comic book will be out in January with the novel and film following afterward.

HC: John Penney, thank you very much.


MORE INTERVIEWS
Interview with Alexis Kendra, the writer and producer of The Cleaning Lady
Posted on Tuesday 15th June 2021
Alexis Kendra-4

Ahead of Horror Channel's premiere of The Cleaning Lady on June 26, the film's star, writer and producer Alexis Kendra talks about playing a 'Goddess', coping with lockdown and why she can't watch horror films on her own.

HC: The Cleaning Lady is having its channel premiere on Horror Channel. Excited?

AK: I love you guys. Always have, always will. I'm honoured.

HC: It's a very disturbing film, dealing with abuse, addiction and hidden rage, yet the characters are sympathetic and have real depth. It's horror with a twisted heart. As a co-writer, alongside your director Jon Knautz, what were the main challenges in getting the balance right between acting and writing? <...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Jen and Sylvia Soska, directors of Rabid
Posted on Tuesday 1st June 2021
Soska sisiters-WEB-1

Ahead of Horror Channel's premiere of Rabid on June 12, Jen and Sylvia Soska reflect on the challenges of re-imagining Cronenberg's body horror classic, meeting the great man and their new monster movie, Bob.

HC: Rabid is having its channel premiere on Horror Channel. Excited?

SS: The Horror Channel has supported us and our work since the beginning, so it's a special treat to have the newest film premiere there!

Js: We are so excited. Having Rabid on Horror Channel feels like coming home. They've been very kind to us. We are happy to have so many of our films on there.

HC: We all, of course, remember that Rabid was one of David Cronenberg's earli...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Mickey Fisher, creator of sci-fi series Extant
Posted on Thursday 6th May 2021
Mickey Fisher 1

Horror Channel will be continuing its commitment to bringing cult and classic sci-fi to its audience with Seasons 1 and 2 of the CBS Studios/Amblin Television production of Extant, starring Halle Berry as astronaut Molly Woods, who returns home to her family, inexplicably pregnant after 13 months in outer space on a solo mission.

The series begins on Horror May 11th so, we decided to chat to its creator, Mickey Fisher about how the series came to be produced and what it was like working with Hollywood royalty.

HC: Did you know from a young age that you wanted to be a writer?

MF: From the time I was maybe five or six years old I wanted to be an actor. Going to see Star...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Gary J. Tunnicliffe, writer and director of Hellraiser: Judgement
Posted on Saturday 20th February 2021
Gary J. Tunnicliffe doing SFX make-up on the set of Hellraiser Judgement

Director and long-time Hellraiser franchise SFX artist Gary John Tunnicliffe has a new entry into the Hellraiser series for us all to enjoy, Hellraiser: Judgement. Here he chats about this gritty horror.

HC: Was there one person or film which inspired you to want to be in the effects industry?

GJT: I can't remember one film that directly inspired me to be in the effects industry, it would definitely have been around 1982 (when I was 14) when The Thing AND American Werewolf in London came out (as well as a mass of FX laden movies) but more than anything it was when s...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Chee Keong Cheung, director of Redcon-1
Posted on Wednesday 17th February 2021
Director Chee Keong Cheung

Fast-paced British zombie thriller, Redcon-1 will be having its UK TV premiere on Horror on Saturday 20th February so we decided to chat with its writer and director Chee Keong Cheung about this acclaimed movie.

HC: Where did the idea for Redcon-1 come from and are you a fan of zombie movies?

CKC: I'm a huge fan of the zombie genre and in particular, Danny Boyle's '28 Days Later', Zak Snyder's 'Dawn of the Dead' and of course George Romero's original works which helped to pave the way for the genre and was a real inspiration for me growing up. I remember watching 'Saving Private Ryan' and 'Black Hawk Down' on TV and had always been drawn to the men on a m...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Scott Reiniger star of the original Dawn of the Dead
Posted on Sunday 15th November 2020
DAWN_OF_THE_DEAD_3D_BD_SLIPCASE_PACK_ (1)

On the eve of a stunning new 4K box set of George A Romero's Dawn of the Dead from Second Sight Films, we chat to one of its stars, Scott Reiniger about this incredible film.

HC: How did you first become involved with Dawn of the Dead?

SR: Well, I was in New York, I was a stage actor in New York and I went to college with Christine Forrest, who later became George's wife and she asked me if I wanted to audition for this film called Dawn of the Dead, she wanted to know if I knew who George Romero was and I said, "Yeah, he was the guy who directed Night of the Living Dead". So, they sent the script over and I read it and it was pr...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Steve Speirs, star of Concrete Plans
Posted on Sunday 1st November 2020
Concrete Plans poster

Welsh, Scottish and Ukranian dialects clash in Concrete Plans, a stand-out movie from Will Jewell which has just been released by FrightFest Presents via Signature. Its a super and very dark thriller with an outstanding cast headed up by Steve Speirs. Here he chats about this amazing piece.

Be warned this interview contains some spoilers about the movie. If in doubt watch the movie before reading. You have been warned!

HC: Was there one actor of one film you saw when you were younger that made you want to be an actor?

SS: Oh, I've never been asked that actually. When I started to get into watching films, I'd always wanted to be an actor for as long as I can ...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Shayne Ward, star of The Ascent
Posted on Thursday 22nd October 2020
SHAYNE WARD NEW PROMO HEADSHOT 2020-6

A special ops team on a mission in a war-torn country find themselves trapped on a never-ending staircase that they must climb - or they die! This is the premise for Tom Paton's superb, action-packed horror The Ascent which is having its UK TV premiere at 9pm on October 23rd. Here its star, Shayne Ward tells all about his career to date and how he became involved in this sci-fi shocker.

HC: How much did the X-Factor change your life?

SW: Oh, like anyone can say who has been on it, who has done well on the show, it does change your life because it catapults you into the limelight, into the public eye. One day you are relatively unknown...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Ryan Kruger, writer and director of Fried Barry
Posted on Sunday 11th October 2020
Fried Barry

Anyone who as been to Grimmfest will know that the team behind the event try their very best to bring to their audience films that challenge and push as many envelopes as possible. Fried Barry from director Ryan Kruger is such a movie. Packed with mind-bending imagery and and emotional punch, this polarizing movie has to be seen just for its creativity and strong storytelling. Here, Ryan chats about this incredible movie.

HC: Where did Fried Barry come from?

RK: Fried Barry was born out of total frustration where I was in my career. I am known in South Africa as a music video director for doing narrative story telling within music vids and sharp visuals. Although I al...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Deiondre Teagle, star of Death Ranch
Posted on Sunday 11th October 2020
thumbnail_Brandon Blood

Grimmfest 2020 is packed with new talent and one actor that stands out is Deiondre Teagle who styars in Charlie Steeds' grindhouse homage, Death Ranch. Here Deiondre explains his role and what it was like being part of such a bold movie.

HC: Did you know from a young age that you wanted to be an actor?

DT: I've definitely known my whole life I've wanted to be an actor. One of my favourite movies of all time is the original Men In Black. When I was little (about 3 or 4 years old), I would re-watch my VHS copy of that movie over and over and over again. I would re-enact every scene. Since then, my love for acting and film has just grown. I have such a love for the...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Faith Monique, star of Death Ranch
Posted on Sunday 11th October 2020
FAITH MONIQUE INTERVIEW PHOTO

Grimmfest 2020 is packed with world premieres and none so bold as Charlie Steed's Death Ranch. We chatted to one of its main stars, Faith Monique about her role in this brutal and brilliant movie.

HC: Was there one person you saw at a young age who inspired you to want to become an actress?

FM: Funny fact, I grew up without a TV! So, at a young age, I never had an actor that inspired me and to this day I still don't. Acting did not become a dream of mine until 2016 and for inspiration, I like to dig deep into my own soul to find truth to bring into each character.

HC: Are you a big fan of horror movies and were you aware of grindhouse and e...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Charlie Steeds, writer and director of Death Ranch
Posted on Saturday 10th October 2020
CHARLIE STEEDS EDITED-23

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 conce...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interviews Archive: 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006
PICK OF THE WEEK
John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars
JOHN CARPENTER'S GHOSTS OF MARS
Sunday 25th July
9.00 PM
Rollerball
ROLLERBALL
Sunday 1st August
9.00 PM
First Wave
FIRST WAVE
Wednesday 4th August
8.00 PM