INTERVIEWS

LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS

Interview with journalist and documentary maker Calum Waddell
By James Whittington, Saturday 2nd February 2019
Callum Wadell

Calum Waddell has been involved in writing, reviewing, making documentaries and teaching about movies for over a fifteen years. His knowledge on cult movies has been used by such labels as Arrow Video and 88 Films as well as appearing in magazines such as Total Film, Fangoria and DarkSide.

We managed to talk to Calum about the ups and downs of his career and his plans for the future.

HC: When did you decide that you wanted to become a journalist?

CW: I am not sure I ever was a journalist [laughs]. Maybe just a for-hire film writer more than anything else! But my biggest inspiration about cinema was and still is Kim Newman, whose work I discovered at a very young age, and also Mark Kermode. From there, I came across Maitland McDonough, whose work on Dario Argento was just mind-blowing, and these are the three names that probably made me think about how much I would like to do this the most. I should also shout out to John Martin, Michael Gingold and Tony Timpone - who inspired a lot of us that went on to write about horror cinema, in particular. I was really eager to get that first article in Fangoria, which I always hoped I could do whilst I was in high school and then university. Then I recall one day Tony Timpone emailed me and said the next issue of Fango would be 'the Calum Waddell issue' as it had three of my feature articles in there. It was a real moment of 'wow'. So, I definitely knew I wanted to write about, in particular, horror movies from when I was about 13 or 14 years old.

HC: Can you recall how you felt when you first saw your name in print?

CW: It was in an issue of The DarkSide and an interview with Robin Hardy, which ironically came from doing my MA at Bournemouth University - one of the guest lecturers mentioned he knew Robin and asked if anyone knew who he was. I obviously lept off my seat and then after the talk, I asked if he had his contact details as I wanted to interview him for The DarkSide. I actually did not have a foot in the door of The DarkSide, but it obviously sounded like I did and next thing I knew I had an interview with Robin Hardy and that was my first piece. Also, my first cheque! And it effectively got me in the door of Fangoria and Shivers too, because I was then 'published'. But that first article was surreal - mainly because they did not spell my name incorrectly, which I half expected!

HC: You've written for many of today's best-selling magazines, which feature are you most proud of?

CW: There's a few. Maybe the top one is when I did a huge piece on Joss Whedon for Total Film - it is quite a long story, but his PR rep was quite awkward, as you can imagine, as it was whilst he was doing the second Avengers film. The interview got cancelled, then approved, then cancelled and I was like a yo-yo in this. I finally got to him in Glasgow, thanks to the absolutely dedicated efforts of my editor at the time Rosie Fletcher, and it was a real battle to be there and to be one-on-one with who was then one of the biggest directors in the world. He had only agreed to speak to three people, if I recall, and I had the pressure of having to fill four pages and a front cover exclusive - with just 20 minutes to talk to him. But the outcome was great, and it was a really good interview. Also loved my first piece with SFX, which was with the late Christopher Lee, and doing a huge Mark Hamill interview for them in Cannes - that was amazing. There are moments that were really great even if the film was pitiful - I was one of four people that got access to Terminator Salvation, out of the entire world press, at Cannes 2008 for SFX and I am so proud of how that coverage came out, which was a real exclusive at the time. I've done some eight page 'Complete Guides' for Sci-Fi Now I am really fond of - maybe the Amityville Horror one would be my favourite.

HC: How did you become involved in making extra features for DVD releases and which one was the hardest to complete?

CW: It was all thanks to Alex Agran at Arrow Films and Video. He took a chance on Naomi Holwill, who edits and produces all these things, and I ten years ago - so I owe it all to Alex. From there I was fortunate enough to have been able to get in the door of lots of other labels. The hardest documentary we ever did however was 'Images of Apartheid: Filmmaking on the Fringe in the Old South Africa' - which was shot all around South Africa, with a two person crew, in summer 2016. It is more of an academic piece to be honest, but it was very tough to put together. Otherwise, maybe it would be Category III: The Untold Story of Hong Kong Exploitation Cinema. Koch Media in Germany came to me and Naomi and asked if we had any ideas for their Blu-Ray of Hong Kong horror classic 'The Untold Story' and I said I'd like to do a Category III documentary. I was in China at the time so, with scant budget and no contacts in the Hong Kong industry at all, we filmed this in just a few days and delivered it to a demanding deadline. It is not the last word on Category III by any means, but we worked very hard to get it done.

HC: How did you start working with 88 Films and how do you choose which titles to help them acquire?

CW: Well I was acquiring titles for them for years. I still assist where I can - and they are both very supportive. I got involved with 88 Films simply by contacting them when they launched and asking if they might want some help with extra features. We all met in London and just really hit it off. I went to the Berlin Film Market with them in 2015 and it was really good - we have a rapport together although our WhatsApp group is rather chaotic [laughs]. But I tend to veer towards getting them the sort of thing that I really love - it has been such a pleasure, for instance, bringing some of the Shaw Brothers horror movies to the UK, restored and remastered, and also some really obscure and underrated horror movies I never thought would get a Blu-ray release in Britain. I loved getting Nail Gun Massacre, for example, X-Ray, Bloodsucking Pharaohs in Pittsburgh, Splatter University, Hide and go Shriek, Just Before Dawn, Happy Hell Night, Scalps, Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers - all of these were dug out by myself. I really appreciated organising their contracts for The Boogeyman and Nightmares in a Damaged Brain too. Lots more than that, but these are the ones that jump out and which I was grateful to see put out on Blu-Ray.

HC: Tell us about your documentary, Searching for Cannibal Holocaust and why did you choose such a controversial movie?

CW: I have always wanted to do a trilogy. So, I had this idea for a trilogy of cannibal film documentaries back in 2015, when I finished work on Eaten Alive! The Rise and Fall of the Italian Cannibal Film. That went down really well, I got a personal email from Eli Roth telling me how he loved it, how he showed it to Tarantino who also appreciated it, Bob Murawski loved it and I got a lot of acclaim for it. It is just a talking head documentary, of course, but it was the first-time people heard from Me Me Lai and it did a pretty solid job of filming all the main players. So I decided that I would use the Italian cannibal cycle to explore my own evolution as a filmmaker - and we did that a little with the second one, Me Me Lai Bites Back, which was my own reflexive documentary, of sorts, on discovering Me Me Lai's whereabouts during the making of Eaten Alive and bringing her back to the public eye. Eli Roth even got involved in that documentary, which was such an honour. Then I thought that for the third and final installment I would like to get the native people who appeared in Cannibal Holocaust to talk about their own perspective on the film and juxtapose that with the American leading man, Carl Yorke. That seemed like something that would never happen because of expense and because of the unlikelihood of finding the native actors. But we succeeded on both counts because a Tokyo label bought some of our extras last year and we funded the trip on that. It is also my own exploration of cyber-bullying, the impact that Cannibal Holocaust has had on me, and more. It turns into a very real exploration of Amazonas tourism too. This documentary is not is Deodato's story and was not intended to be. Of course, I am not forcing anyone to watch it - but if I never made this, the native story would have gone untold. Only two of the native actors, and one of the native crew, could be traced and found alive.

HC: What is your opinion on censorship in this day and age?

CW: It is largely redundant because of the internet - but having lived three years in China, I saw what a good, effective state machine could operate like. In terms of film, I don't think censorship should exist unless someone is clearly and evidently breaking the laws of the land in what they are filming. That is obviously a grey area in terms of something such as Cannibal Holocaust, given that the director slaughtered real animals for the camera - and I suppose I am open-minded to that and accept it, although I would argue that a 40-year-old piece of cinema perhaps does not have to meet modern animal welfare laws in that respect and if one eats meat, one probably has no right to demand cuts. That is, however, an extreme example.

HC: Are there any movies on your wish list?

CW: I would like to work on a special edition of a few films - definitely a new 4K of Cannibal Holocaust if it were to happen, and it should, and I would be thrilled to do a documentary on the Mitchell Brothers and their theatre - I have speaking to Naomi about that and we both think that is something that would be a great project were anyone to ever do, Behind the Green Door. I would really like to tackle a new edition of The New York Ripper, but the new USA release is in the far better hands of the great David Gregory, so I'm excited for that. I wish I could have done something new on Zombie Flesh Eaters - Bill Lustig asked me, but I was coming back from China at the time and tied-up with a lot of things. Same with Synapse and Suspiria - if I had not been in China, that would have been one of our projects. I would adore doing Faceless, the Franco movie, and Tombs of the Blind Dead - there are definitely a few. On the other hand, I feel I got to do a lot of my 'wish list' movies - The Untold Story, Cannibal Holocaust, Zombie Flesh-Eaters, the Arrow Video edition, Man from Deep River, Cannibal Ferox, Pieces, Tenebrae, Mark of the Devil, Toolbox Murders, Lifeforce - these were all movies I once dreamed about working on extra features for and never predicted that one day I would.

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

CW: Naomi and I are producing a new documentary on Spanish zombie cinema for the great guys at Synapse, and a confidential but essential upcoming release and 4K remaster, a documentary on the Nazisploitation cycle for Severin, and another confidential but essential upcoming Blu-ray from them, and we are doing a huge documentary on the legacy of The Last House on the Left, for a yet-to-be-announced new remaster of something awesome and much more. Right now we have about ten Blu-rays to produce and our 'Searching for Cannibal Holocaust' on the back-burner. I am also writing my new book, Images of Apartheid: Filmmaking on the Fringe in the Old South Africa, I have a journal article upcoming on Brutes and Savages and its placement within the mondo legacy and I just recently finished a documentary with Naomi for Cannibal Terror from 88 Films. I'm really excited to currently be writing a retrospective of the Ring franchise for Sci-Fi Now magazine right at this moment too. And anyone interested can see my documentary 'Category III: The Untold Story of Hong Kong Exploitation Cinema' at the upcoming Starburst Film Festival in Manchester, March 15th/16th.

HC: Calum Waddell, thank you very much.


Related show tags: 88 FILMS
MORE INTERVIEWS
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
Interview with Nicholas Santos, writer and director of It Cuts Deep
Posted on Saturday 10th October 2020
It Cuts Deep Image 2

At Grimmfest we're used to comedy horror but none as well written as It Cuts Deep from writer/director Nicholas Santos. Here he chats about this true dissection of a romance going terribly wrong.

HC: Have you always been a big horror fan?

NS: I've been a big horror fan since I was a little kid. Some of my favourite childhood memories are seeing Event Horizon with my dad when I was in second grade, being absolutely terrified by Chucky from Child's Play at every waking moment and watching Psycho for the first time on VHS when I was 7 years old.

HC: Where did the idea for It Cuts Deep come from and did it take long to write?

NS: It Cuts Deep is a hor...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Robert Woods, director of An Ideal Host
Posted on Saturday 10th October 2020
Robert Woods

Ever had the dinner party from Hell with people you don't really relate to and seem alien? Well this is the premise of the the hilarious horror comedy An Ideal Host from director Robert Woods. Here he tells Horror about this cracking movie.

HC: What did you think of the script when you first read it and what made you decide that this would be your first project as a director?

RW: Tyler and I had been writing theatre together for a decade, but movies are our first love and we wanted to give it a crack as well. Tyler came up with the initial idea but we worked on the story together and it evolved a great deal from the initial pitch. As it was my first time directing, I think we were j...

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
Viral
VIRAL
Wednesday 19th May
10.55 PM
Lord of the Elves
LORD OF THE ELVES
Saturday 15th May
6.40 PM
Resident Evil: Retribution
RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION
Tuesday 11th May
10.50 PM