Interview with Kapel Furman, co-director and SFX master on Skull: The Mask
By James Whittington, Sunday 30th August 2020
Kapel Furman Image 1

FrightFest always tries to show the very best from around the globe and one of the stand out titles for 2020 is Skull: The Mask from directors Armando Fonseca and Kapel Furman. Here, Kapel chats about the movie and his stunning SFX work.

HC: Is there a strong horror movie following in Brazil?

KF: Brazilian cinema, in general, comes and goes every ten years or so. Because our so called "film industry" is directly dependent on economic and political situations. So, we have to relearn how to be able to get a film done each and every time, and that applies to horror movies as well. Of course, in the past we had Jose Mojica Marins, our Coffin Joe, who did extremely important films, especially during the 60's and 70's. Now we have a lot of very creative filmmakers working with the horror genre here in Brazil, and that is because the technology to make movies became more accessible, allowing independent filmmakers to craft their movies without depending on big budgets. As for viewers, there is a lot of Brazilians who are horror fans, especially young ones, but we can say that "Brazilian horror films" are still a new thing for them.

HC: Where did the idea for Skull: The Mask come from?

KF: Initially I created the character in 2012 to be used in the TV show that we host (Armando, Raphael Borghi and I) on SyFy channel called Cinelab, it is basically a reality show where we make a horror/action short-film in each episode. Initially, Skull was just a crazy serial-killer, he was played by Raphael Borghi, that loves wrestling as much as I do, so his acting was close to that. I really liked the visual of the character, but at first it didn't have any background story. So, I decided to do an amalgam of pre-Columbian mythology. We have a vast number of legends and tales here in South America that are amazing, so, why not mix them? So, I studied not only history and mythology, but specially the aesthetics of art expressions from these cultures in order to properly redesign the mask. The idea was that the mask itself would be the main character, it would represent an entity called T'Uxlu who serves a god named Tahawantinsupay - The Entrails Collector of the Four Worlds, a pre-Columbian god. This entity is present in several Andean Pre-Columbian mythologies assimilated by the Inca Empire in the 15th century. Its name "T'uxlu" means Skull and it was mistakenly called Anhanga by the Brazilians Jesuits (who thought that any native thing was basically a demon, by Catholic standards). This mystical entity rests in the artifact that looks like a mask. The Mask has appendices like sharp-nailed fingers on top of its head - used for locomotion and to rip off three hearts and eat them before it can assume a host. (Spoiler alert: that is why it doesn't work in the first ritual). When the Mask possesses a human being, the host personality disappears, and the entity takes its place. The host turns into a supernatural serial killer and begins to perform visceral sacrifices, absorbing their guts and seeking to become the incarnation of its god, initiating a bloodbath filled with gore offerings. But maybe it is all an excuse for me to create a wrestling Heel mixed with comic books and 90's videogames.

HC: Was it based on any actual sort of myth or legend?

KF: It was based on that mix of myths and on the misconception of the Jesuits regarding what they assume that Anhanga meant. They thought that it was the Tupi version of a Death's Demon. They were very wrong, but it was quite a good legend to be inspired by. The real name of the entity is T'Uxlu, but no one can pronounce that, so I called it Skull. The Priest with the sword is based on real Jesuit priests that were together with the Conquistadors in the XVI and XVII centuries.

HC: How do you and co-director Armando Fonseca, work together? Do you each direct separate sequences, for example?

KF: I am not really good as a people person, I am not rude, I try to be as polite as possible, but I do recognize that I lack some social skills. So, Armando is great to balance that, especially dealing with the actors. Also, aesthetics and visual narrative is very important for me, and sometimes I can get too much inside my own world in the film, which is a very useful tool to create weirdness and SFX, but a film can't be all weird (well... I think it can, and that is my problem). So, everything is a matter of balance. To craft a film is a collective work of the whole crew. So, to me, a film is the result of everybody that works on it.

Kapel Furman Image 2

HC: You use some stunning natural locations, was it difficult to get permissions to shoot in such places?

KF: The difficult is not the permissions themselves but Sao Paulo is a huge city, and people don't care about the shooting of your film. The city will not stop for you to make your scene, unless you have enough money to close that location for the film and disturb the life of everyone, which was clearly not our case. For the permissions we have a film commission here called SPcine, and together with our line producer Thiago Freire, they were very helpful with that.

HC: Did it take long to get the design of the skull right?

KF: In this case, we were lucky because I had the opportunity to test the design several times in those short films. But as soon as I defined the background story and the mythology, I knew that I had to follow these rules, specially respecting (in terms of influence) aesthetic and materials from 600 years ago.

Kapel Furman Image 3

HC: The special effects are superb, which sequence was the hardest to get right and how much fake blood did you use?!

KF: Thank you very much! I am really glad that you liked. Luckily with the effects I worked together with Michelle Rodrigues, Israel Massei, Victor Daga and Jessica Monge doing the makeup and Konstantino Koutsoliotas doing the VFX, all of that with the production design of Lize Borba and the cinematography of Andre Sigwalt. The whole crew and the cast were great doing the FXs scenes, also we had the help of fighters from BWF (Brazilian Wrestling Federation) and the stunts from NoLimits. So things worked very well, especially because our biggest enemy was the time restraints. Things are easier when you have enough time and, unfortunately, we didn't have it. I really didn't count how much blood I had to make, but if you count the pool of blood, I would guess something like 1,000 litres. Don't forget that, by the end, Skull is covered in blood.

HC: It has some amazing set-pieces such as the sword fight in front of the stained glass, where did that sort of artistic idea come from?

KF: Thank you again! Most ideas were planned even during the screenplay development. Armando and I talked with Raphael Borghi, who did the post-production, and planned together what was possible and how to write and shoot that in order to have the right material for the post-production. Some ideas, though, came in the moment. For instance, since the floor of the church was flooded, the light was creating these reflections of the stained glass in the water. We saw that and thought that it would be a good way to shoot this scene. But, unconsciously, I think it is a mixture of influences like Highlander and the opening credits of Cowboy Bebop. And, I guess that applies to everything, it is the result of the amount of influences and references that we collected in life, sometimes it is more explicit and sometimes it is subtext. For instance, Francis Bacon, Simon Bisley and Sam Kieth, have a huge influence on how Skull is designed, but that would be under a first glimpse. I try to put different levels of subtext and interpretation in everything - which doesn't mean that everybody will get it, since it depends on each particular viewer. There are things that nobody notices, like the machete that is a reference for a macuahuitl, that is why it has those dents in the blade. Another peculiarity: every character has a Judas Priest song as an inspiration.

HC: Will you be nervous when the film has its UK premiere at FrightFest?

KF: Yes! Sure, of course! We did the film trying to be as honest and sincere as possible with what we like, and we can only hope to find others that will like it as much as we do. It takes so much time and effort to make a movie that there is no way that we can't be nervous.

HC: Do you think historical artifacts can contain such paranormal powers?

KF: No, but yes.

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

KF: A lot of new projects, but 2020 showed to be a little box of mysteries that is teaching us not to plan too much and to plan too much at the same time. So, I rather keep my projects in suspense until they happen. Nonetheless, I would love to turn Skull: The Mask into a metroidvania style videogame.

HC: Thank you!

Interview with the legendary actress Lin Shaye about being part of The Horror Crowd
Posted on Wednesday 9th September 2020
Lin Shaye and Ruben PlaLin Shaye is an actress that need no introduction. Her screen work over the last few decades has seen her appear in countless movies such as Nightmare on Elm Street, Critters or more recently the Insidious series of movies. Here she chats about her career and her why she appeared in Ruben Pla's superb doc, The Horror Crowd.

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

LS: No, I never had the dream. Ever. I had the need to tell stories and from a very young age and my dad, when he tucked me in a night we would tell what we would call "Candyland Stories" and they were stories about a little girl named Linda, and they would start when she was just falling to sleep...

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Posted on Thursday 3rd September 2020
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HC: Can you recall the first time you saw an Evil Dead movie and what it was that grabbed your attention?

SV: I guess I was 13. I actually saw Army of Darkness first on television. Years later, spot the cover of Evil Dead 2 in a video store. Then, rent Evil Dead one without knowing it was the first film because here in Quebec, The Evil Dead is ca...
Interview with our very own Emily Booth who stars in UK TV premiere of Shed of the Dead this Friday on Horror
Posted on Wednesday 2nd September 2020

The UK TV premiere of outlandish Brit Zom Com Shed of the Dead takes place Friday 4th September at 9pm. The movie stars Ewen MacIntosh, Lauren Socha, Kane Hodder, Bill Moseley, Michael Berryman, Brian Blessed and our very own Emily Booth. Here, Emily chats about this movie and what it was like to work with the legendary Michael Berryman.

HC: Are you a big zombie movie fan?

EB: If I'm completely honest it's not my favourite sub-genre within horror only because the genre has been so massively mined for all it's worth and I've never been particularly scared of them! However, there are certain stand out zombie films or even certain scenes that make me lo...

Interview with Guillaume Lubrano, director of Dark Stories
Posted on Monday 31st August 2020
Guillaume Lubrano image 1

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HC: Have you always been a fan of horror movies?

GL: I'd say I've always been a fan of genre titles, being it horror, science fiction, fantasy, every subgenre that plays with the ability to push our imagination forward always fascinated me. And this was born mostly with the 80s I think and the birth of modern era special effects... those comforted writers and directors in the fact that they could try to tell stuff about anything... and well that's what they did: anything... and among all this...
Interview with Michael Lee Joplin, star of Blinders
Posted on Monday 31st August 2020

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HC: Was there one person who inspired you to become an actor?

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Interview with Vincent Van Horn, star of Blinders
Posted on Monday 31st August 2020

The tense psychological movie Blinders is showing on the Horror Channel Screen at FrightFest today so we chatted to one of its stars, Vincent Van Horn about the movie and his character, Andy.

HC: Was there one person who inspired you to become an actor?

VH: I can't say there was one person in particular but more of a love for movies in general as a kid. Charlie Chaplin and Peter Sellers were definitely early influences with their physical comedy.

HC: When did you get your acting break?

VH: Hmm have I gotten it already? Ha ha. This is by far the biggest role I've had to date so maybe this is it? But as far as my first time acting in anything at all was when I was asked t...

Interview with Tyler Savage, director and co-writer of Blinders
Posted on Monday 31st August 2020

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HC: Where did the idea for the movie come from?

TS: The original idea for the movie came from an unsettling rideshare ride I took. Something about the driver made me uncomfortable, and I hated the fact that he now knew where I lived. From here, Dash and I started talking about the many ways in which technology makes us all incredibly vulnerable. There's a dark flipside to the convenience technology brings into our lives, and we wanted to highlight that idea in a way that was ...

Interview with Adam Stovall, director of A Ghost Waits
Posted on Sunday 30th August 2020

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HC: Where did the idea for A Ghost Waits come from?

AS: The two main inspirations were a video game and a web comic. "P.T." was a first-person haunted house puzzle game designed by Guillermo Del Toro and Hideo Kojima. My friends Brian and Jenn wanted me to play it because it had scared the bejesus out of them, and when I did I had them cracking up laughing. When Jenn started filming me with her phone, I thought there might be a movie in someone like me having to deal with a haunted ...

Interview with Justin McConnell, director of Clapboard Jungle
Posted on Sunday 30th August 2020

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HC: What was it you saw or read about that made you want to have a career in the industry?

JM: Maybe it's a thread of insanity of some kind? I honestly can't remember the exact "ah ha" moment, more of a generally growing love of film when I w...

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Posted on Saturday 29th August 2020

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Interview with Phillip G. Carroll Jr. writer and director of The Honeymoon Phase
Posted on Saturday 29th August 2020
Honeymoon Phase-poster

More new talent comes to FrightFest 2020, this time its a husband and wife team Phillip G. Carroll Jr and Chloe Carroll. Here, Phillip describes how this intense and emotional, psychological movie came about.

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Interview with Alastair Orr, director of Triggered
Posted on Friday 28th August 2020
Alastair Orr

One of our favourite movies showing on Horror at the moment is Alastair Orr's superb shocker From a House on Willow Street. For FrightFest 2020 he has a new film for us all to enjoy, Triggered. Here he chats about both movies.

HC: Did you know from a young age that you wanted to work in the film industry?

AO: I always loved films but it wasn't until my teens when I realised I could actually do it as a job. Growing up in a small town in South Africa, filmmaking was always seen as something that Americans do as a job - not us. We were very sheltered under the apartheid government in the late 80s so content was limited, if not censored. The video store was basically a Holy Grail where...

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