LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS

Interview with Kelly Greene, writer and director of Attack of the Bat Monsters
By James Whittington, Tuesday 27th February 2018

Making movies can be a tough business but to have to wait almost two decades to release your work takes true dedication. At Horror Channel FrightFest Glasgow this weekend Kelly Greene's Attack of the Bat Monsters is finally unleashed. Here he tells us the story behind this celebration of 1950s creature features.

HC: You were inspired to write Attack of the Bat Monsters when you were researching 50s movies, did it take long to write?

KG: It took quite a while because I was working 50 to 60 hours a week at a video production facility while raising a 2-year old and 8-year old, along with my wife, who was also working. I would write at night between 9 and 11pm, and maybe a little more on the weekends. I wrote in quotas, believe it or not. My goal was 2 pages a session. I didn't take a day off, so I was knocking out abut 15 pages a week. I had one mantra, "Don't get it right, get it written." I did NOT rewrite as I went along. The first draft took six weeks, and was pretty hideous.

HC: Did it change much during the writing process?

KG: Before I started, the initial outline went through radical revisions; for instance, originally the shooting of the three day film was the middle act of the script. The first act was about "recruiting the team"; and the third act consisted of the screening of the film months later, which was loosely based on the premiere of Eyes Without A Face where members of the audience became nauseated, passed out and/or walked out because Chuck had pushed the edges of gore and nudity with re-shoots. Once I tossed out that third act, the story took shape, and after that first draft, I mainly cleaned up dialogue and deleted scenes, and dropped two sections; one, where Chuck recruits a poster artist, and another involving the monster-maker building the bat monster so large that he can't get it out of his studio.

HC: Was it written with a cast in mind?

KG: The two main characters, Francis and Chuck, were always written for Marco Perella and Michael Dalmon, and I also had Ryan Wickerham in mind to play Jack Haroldson. We just couldn't fulfill even the ultra low budget requirements for SAG, so Marco bowed out. You can go online to the Attack Of The Bat Monsters Facebook page to watch a scene we shot on spec that I ended up cutting from the shooting script. Marco plays Francis in that scene.

HC: The film has plenty for film buffs to look out for but also has lots to offer casual fans too, was it hard to make sure the film had a broad appeal?

I didn't design it that way. I simply made a film that I, as a fan of the genre, would want to see. Even if films about film making are perceived as a niche market, I always assumed that the film would tap into the same audience That Ed Wood had been made for, or Matinee, or even Living In Oblivion. And since we produced Attack Of The Bat Monsters for a fraction of those films' costs, my hope was that a cagey distributor would see its value, pick it up and push it in that direction.

HC: It does look and feel like it was shot in the era its set, was that hard to achieve?

KG: Like the 1950s exploitation films themselves, the film's visual style was a direct reflection of its budget. I had initially assumed I would shoot in two radically different modes; the first, in colour, handheld, with long takes, like a documentary, that covered the actions of Chuck, Francis and the crew, which required a high shooting ratio. The second style, in black-and-white, would mimic the visual look and feel of the '50s exploitation film. The plan was to shoot Beta SP video and create a "film look" in post, but then Tom Hennig entered the project late in pre-production with his Aton Super 16MM camera. Suddenly half the budget was now going to film and processing! So we had to shoot the entire film conservatively, cover action minimally to keep our shooting ratio down - all the trademarks of a Corman quickie.

HC: Is it true it was to be part of a proposed trilogy?

KG: Only if the first film had been successful. I never wrote the scripts, just jotted down the outlines. The second installment took place in 1965 in a small town in Mexico where the lone movie house there shows Attack Of The Bat Monsters over and over again and the eponymous Bat Monster has become a local sensation. A lucha libre masked wrestler hatches a plot to shoot a crossover film in which he fights the Bat Monster, along the lines of Santo Versus The Vampire Women. Naturally Chuck and Francis get involved. Believe it or not, two of my influences for that were Spirit Of The Beehive and Dassin's Night And The City! The final film in the trilogy takes place closer to home for me, in Austin, Texas in 1974 where Chuck is now a film instructor at the University of Texas and gets the idea for a horror film with a plot similar to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

HC: What was the initial shoot like?

KG: I was fighting a cold and I got badly sunburned shooting long days at the quarry. I handled stress as best I could. It was a bit of a blur. You may have heard of Goleman's Six Leadership Styles - Visionary, Coaching, Affiliative, Democratic, Pace setting, and Commanding? I was none of those! But we kept on budget and on schedule. The cast and crew stayed in good spirits. Mark Rance and I want to have a private screening in Austin and get as many of them back together as possible.

HC: How did it feel to have a movie ready to be distributed but no one would pick it up?

KG: How did it feel? Pretty much like those stages of grief - denial, anger, bargaining and depression; I don't think I've ever gotten to acceptance mode, because Attack Of The Bat Monsters is an "evergreen" movie. Nothing really dates it. Now that Watchmaker is repping the film, I think it will be available through a variety of formats - 2K and 4KDCPs, streaming, DVD, Blu-ray, etc.

HC: It's been almost two decades since you shot Attack of the Bat Monsters, how does it feel to have it finally unleashed properly?

KG: I'll quote Eddie Felsen from The Hustler - "Tight but good." I've only seen it projected in standard definition, or as a rough 1920x1080 file; never as a 2K DCP. To call this screening a restoration is a bit of a misnomer: the more accurate term is upgraded, since Bat Monsters has never looked as good as it will in Glasgow on Friday! So I'm exhilarated, and also grateful to FrightFest for their inclusion of my little movie in their incredible line-up.

HC: The title sequence is just wonderful, you must be happy how that turned out?

KG: I am. I think the title sequence, which is heavily indebted to Saul Bass' work for Anatomy Of A Murder, signals several things to the audience. It clues them to the time period, to the pastiche-like nature of the film they're about to see, and most of all it alerts them that the movie they are about to see pays homage, that it aims to pay tribute. I originally created the sequence in standard definition using the crude rudiments of Avid DVE and it always looked horrible in festival screenings blown up in projection because of the frame size and pixilation and interlacing aliasing. Yuck! Now my daughter, Matty, has rebuilt it in After Effects in progressive video and adjustable rastering and it looks great! Plus, Matty was able to approximate some of Bass' 2D effects much better than I was, so it looks even more like a sequence generated from an animation stand. And in true Corman fashion it didn't cost me a dime. Nothing like exploiting your kid's talents.

HC: How has the industry changed since you made Attack of the Bat Monsters?

KG: Two big differences are that, even with inflation, I could make Attack of the Bat Monsters today with less money and it would look, technically, comparable and arguably better. That's because of the relatively low cost of 4K cameras with CMOS sensors, versus the cost of film and processing and negative cutting and print striking and all those steps which have been rendered obsolete by digital technology. The other change, of course, involves the rise of different kinds of distribution paths. When Bat Monsters was shot, there was Theatrical, TV and VHS. End of story. Today, video-on-demand means a film can reside on multiple platforms and devices, with the net result that demand for original content has skyrocketed.

HC: This is your first piece, did the experience put you off the film industry so much that you walked away?

KG: I returned to corporate video production in 2002. I had given it my best shot at that point, and we were dead broke. Our two girls would both need help financially to get through college in just a few years. Today, as of just a few weeks ago, we're empty nesters and I'm looking at this new cinematic landscape and licking my chops!

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

KG: I'm really excited about a script called American Monsters, first in a series loosely based on the Lovecraftian model of dimensions parallel to our own chock-full of loathsome entities, and people in this world determined to open the floodgates to let them in - never a good idea! That project requires some real low-budget financing. I'm just as hopeful that I can do another micro-budget project on my own, in particular one designed around the Christmas season, because I have a story to tell in that genre. I'm also currently brainstorming with another writer-director, Jeff Stohland, and Bat Monsters' cinematographer Tom Hennig, on a low-budget genre bender.

HC: Kelly Greene, thank you very much.


Related show tags: ATTACK OF THE BAT MONSTERS, FRIGHTFEST, KELLY GREENE
MORE FRIGHTFEST
Interview with Adrian Langley, director of Butchers.
Posted on Tuesday 27th October 2020
FrightFest-Halloween-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...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Andrew Thomas Hunt, director of Spare Parts.
Posted on 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 ...

SHARE: READ MORE
And the winner is... Benny Loves You!
Posted on 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.

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Liam O'Donnell director of SKYLIN3S
Posted on Sunday 25th October 2020
skylin3s-poster

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...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Paul Tanter director and co-writer of The Nights Before Christmas
Posted on 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 ...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Simon Phillips, star and co-writer of The Nights Before Christmas
Posted on 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...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Elza Kephart, director and co-writer of Slaxx
Posted on 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...

SHARE: READ MORE
Hair scares, killer jeans, Santa slays and an invasion from above. Day 5 of FrightFest Digital Edition 2
Posted on Sunday 25th October 2020
slaxx-poster

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...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Adam Leader and Richard Oakes, co-directors of Hosts
Posted on Saturday 24th October 2020
hosts-poster

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...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Barry Keating, writer of Embryo
Posted on Saturday 24th October 2020
Barry Keating at NIGHTWORLD on 25/08/2017Barry Keating is a scriptwriter who has had quite a number of movies at FrightFest over the years. He's back with another shocker for 2020, this time the truth might be out there in Embryo. We chatted to him about this sci-fi chiller.

HC: We show another of your movies on Horror, Nightworld, what's it like writing a script, which has horror legend Robert Englund in it?

BK: When I found out they'd cast Robert in the role that was a very surreal day. At first I didn't quite believe it, but when the producer forwarded a message from Robert to me saying that he really dug the script I completely geeked out. I'm a hug...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Patricio Valladares, director of Embryo
Posted on Saturday 24th October 2020
Embryo image 1

Chilean director Patricio Valladares is back at FrightFest and this time he's taking us into the science fiction zone with Embryo. Here he chats about working with Robert Englund on Nightworld and this sci-fi shocker.

HC: Have you always been a fan of horror and sci-fi movies?

PV: Yes, from my childhood, my old brother watched Jason Voorhees and A Nightmare on Elm Street film series at home with a couple friends in the 80s. So, I always went from the bathroom to the living room at night to watch from behind the sofa with them. I Loved it! I liked the ultraviolence and gore from Robocop. When I was 14 or 15 I was a metalhead, so I had lots of tapes of death metal and a lot of low ...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Lucy Harvey and Danielle Kummer, directors of Alien on Stage
Posted on Saturday 24th October 2020
alien-on-stage-poster

FrightFest always has a fine selection of documentaries showing, but none have touched hearts like Alien on Stage. This warm and loving look at an amateur stage production of the classic movie Alien has been placed in the running for the Horror Channel sponsored First Blood award so we chatted to directors Lucy Harvey and Danielle Kummer about this wonderful project.

HC: How long have you worked together and are you fans of the film, Alien?

We met working on a no budget British indie film in 2006 (I think) both working for free. Danielle was a camera trainee, I was the costume stylist. It was like going through a war together, it cemented our friendship and Danille...

SHARE: READ MORE
Frightfest Archive: 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007
PICK OF THE WEEK
Star Trek: Enterprise
STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE
Monday 17th May
7.00 PM
The Dead 2
THE DEAD 2
Saturday 15th May
10.45 PM
Sinister
SINISTER
Monday 17th May
9.00 PM