LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS Interview with journalist and documentary maker Calum Waddell
By James Whittington, Saturday 2nd February 2019
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 Adam Green, director of Victor Crowley
Posted on Wednesday 13th May 2020
Ahead of Horror Channel's UK TV premiere of Adam Green's Victor Crowley, the great director shares his personal tragedies, George Romero's inspirational words, the importance of genre comedy and hints that the Bayou Butcher may rise again...
HC: Adam, you're back on Horror Channel with your latest Hatchet instalment, Victor Crowley. Excited?
AG: I'm always thrilled to hear that another one of my films will be playing on the UK's Horror Channel! It's crazy to think that the US hasn't had a horror specific television channel in 6 years now, only horror themed subscription platforms like Shudder. Then again - look at the real life horror we're dealing with here as far as our current President goes...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Lukas Feigelfeld, director of Hagazussa
Posted on Friday 17th April 2020
The themes of witchcraft and the occult are making a bit of a come back at the moment. Movies such as The Witch and Midsommer have brought the genre back into focus and now Hagazussa from writer/director Lukas Feigelfeld takes the genre to another, even darker level. Here he chats about this incredibly atmospheric movie which is being released on May 11th thanks to Arrow Video.
HC: Where did the idea for Hagazussa come from and how long did it take to write?
LF: I had been living with the idea of doing something witch and folklore related for many years. Part of my family originates from this particular area in the Austrian Alps, and from a young age on I was greatly fascin...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with actor Nicholas Vince star of Hellraiser and Hellbound: Hellraiser II
Posted on Monday 30th March 2020
Fridays in April on Horror will deliver to you three of the most viscous and acclaimed horror movies ever made, Hellraiser, Hellraiser II: Hellbound and Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth. One of the stars of the first two movies was Nicholas Vince who brought so much to the character of "Chatterer".
Here he, err, chats to Horror about how he become involved in such memorable movies and his plans for the future.
(Photo credit Dawson James Photography)
HC: When did you first meet Clive Barker?
NV: I met him at a party in May 1984. We got on well and he invited me to model for him; for his painted covers of the first UK hardback editions of his Books of Blood.
HC: What...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Jen and Sylvia Soska, directors of Vendetta
Posted on Thursday 19th March 2020 Vengeance Season on Horror contains the UK TV premiere of Vendetta, the superb all-male maelstrom of mayhem from Jen and Sylvia Soska. We chatted to these incredible talented creatives about this action-packed thriller and what they have planned for the future.
HC: Have you always been wrestling fans and if so, when growing up, who were your faves?
Sylvia: We got introduced to wrestling during the epic Kane brother storyline during the Undertaker and Heartbreak Kid feud that led to the first ever Hell in a Cell. I mean after that kind of an introduction; how doesn't the magic of wrestling have your heart for the rest of your life? If it isn't obvious, I'm a Shawn Michaels fan.
Jen: Und...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Julien Seri, director of Anderson Falls
Posted on Tuesday 18th February 2020
Ahead of the UK premiere of serial killer thriller Anderson Falls at Arrow Video FrightFest Glasgow 2020, director Julien Seri reflects on this, his first 'American' experience, challenging fight scenes and the importance of personal vision.
It has been five years since we premiered Night Fare at FrightFest London, what have you been up to since then?
JS: I worked on two, very singular, projects as a producer and/or director. I signed for both with Wild Bunch, but we've failed to produce them yet. So I keep fighting. And I did a lot of commercials, TV series and music videos.
When did you first hear about the Anderson Falls script and why did you think it was perfect for yo...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Adam Stovall, director of A Ghost Waits
Posted on Sunday 9th February 2020
Ahead of the World premiere of A Ghost Waits at Arrow Video FrightFest Glasgow 2020, director Adam Stovall reflects on getting through depression, creating paranormal romance and the influence of Tom Waits...
You have an interesting CV - from comedy theatre and film journalism to writing for The Hollywood Reporter and second assistant directing. Was all this a game plan to becoming a fully-fledged director?
AS: I've known since I was a little kid sitting in the basement watching the network TV premiere of Back To The Future while holding my Back To The Future storybook and waiting for them to premiere the first footage from Back To The Future 2 during a commercial br...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Simeon Halligan, director of Habit
Posted on Sunday 9th February 2020
Simeon Halligan is one of the busiest people working in the industry today. Writer, director, producer, director of celebrated film festival Grimmfest, in fact the list goes on.
His latest film is the neon tinged, blood-splattered masterpiece Habit which is showing on Horror February 14th so we thought we should get the story on how he brought this shocker to the big screen.
HC: When did you first become aware of the book by Stephen McGeagh to which Habit is based?
SH: I read the book a couple of years back and really liked it. A combination of gritty realism and dark fantasy; set within a very recognisable Manchester. There's a juxtaposition in the book; from a kind of soc...SHARE: READ MORE 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 Interviews Archive: 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 PICK OF THE WEEK
Thursday 4th June
Wednesday 3rd June
Tuesday 9th June