Interview with Liam O'Donnell director of SKYLIN3S
By James Whittington, Sunday 25th October 2020

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 and thought "How could we come up with a story with this view in a compelling way?", a sort of one location movie. We knew the whole building; we knew the different places we could create fresh locations within that compound. That was really reverse engineering, we had the location now let's build the movie around it.

HC: We're now onto the third movie, have you always planned for this to be a trilogy?

LD: No, and I think that's why it was such a different process from the second film it was obviously no longer reverse engineering it was limited to your imagination of what you can make within your budget. There were so many lessons I learned from making Beyond Skyline that were then synthesized into SKYLIN3S how to really make things on set and in stages and how to avoid green screen as much as possible. How to reuse sets, as my original plan for Beyond Skyline was like, I was going to build the subway tunnel and then redress the subway tunnel into the ship tunnel then I was going to redress the ship tunnel into the bunker tunnel. But no one will ever believe me that would work but it's kind of is what we did in SKYLIN3S. It's all the same, low budget ethos that's been driving through all these movies to get as much as we can out of the opportunity.

HC: It looks anything but low budget, it looks incredible and the effects are superb. How long did they take?

LD: Fairly short compared to scope and how much work they are and its big credit mainly to LypSync in the UK who was our main vendor who did everything with our space battles, a lot of our tentacles, they created the "Shadows" which are our new creatures. Then we had some other companies that filled in the blanks but that was all driven by them. We sort of locked the cut in February and we just finished in October, the effects didn't really start until March. So, the whole pandemic has been VFX, VFX, VFX and unsurmountable at it seemed at times I'm really proud of how it all came out.

HC: Did the fight scenes take long to rehearse?

LD: Yeah, but compared to a big budget movie not long at all, we had 35 Main Unit days and we had nine Action Unit days and because Lindsey Morgan who plays Rose is in every single scene so on Main Unit we'd shoot her side of the fight then the Action Unit would come and shoot over her stunt double onto the alien creature onto her side of the fight. That's the sort of tricky stuff you have to plan out to make sure it all comes together and works smoothly. When I hear how long fights take on bigger budget movies, I get jealous. We're still two or three times bigger than some of the action movies that get made in this space, so I definitely don't take that for granted. But its still key as we have so many moving parts, we have so many creatures its just a higher degree if difficulty and so you kind of just have to high a higher caliber of actors such as Lindsey, obviously Daniel Bernhardt who plays Owens, is an experienced Martial Artist and action actor. We had roughly a month of prep with them whereas normally with these movies you have a three month build up. We had a really good stunt team, really good action designers and a really talented cast.

HC: When people make a low budget science fiction movie usually, they set it on Earth, you've done the opposite, were you deliberately challenging yourself?

LD: I did, you know I'm a masochist (laughs) I always try and bite off more than I can chew and somehow not manage to choke. I did feel like we had a really good plan and we had an amazing team on this one, a really great team of collaborators and its like each movie takes on different personalities, this one was a very European, we shot it in Lithuania, we had Belgian production designers, French DP, it was incredible. I think a lot of things that people are reacting to when they say the movie looks great its because how well we shot it and how rich the colour pallet is. It was such a convergence of styles. They all took it seriously; I find it hard to take myself too seriously, so I was always looking around at these people making this alien ship and they're really trying hard and I'd laugh and pinch myself because I can't believe this is actually happening.

HC: The creature designs are really cool, how the eyes react are amazing, how was that achieved?

LD: One of the great things about being a sequel is you have that basis, and you have the things that have worked and that you've tried before so our Tanker alien, it's still the same sort of Tanker alien we've given him a new paint job, we've given him a glow up, its still the same thing. I'm really glad you've pointed out the eyes, I basically had one artist do every single eye shot in this movie. He's a really talented visual effects artist and a talented film maker in his own right named Justin Martinez so he worked in my company and worked on every single eye shot. I had worked with him on a little movie I made about a year ago named Portals and he kind of was like a great visual effects artist and we watched Beyond Skyline and I was like this is the sort of general look but I want a little more heart a little bit more character.

HC: The film is tightly written but was it written with a cast in mind?

JD: Not particularly. It always helps when your lead is cast. I wrote Beyond Skyline with Frank Grillo in mind and luckily got Frank Grillo and one of the reasons why Lindsey was in the second one was because she was like the spiritual daughter to Frank Grillo. They have a very similar authenticity and graininess to them that I thought was perfect. It was like this woman can do everything; she was perfect. She's a sort of James Cameron composite heroine; she's a little bit Linda Hamilton, she's a little but Sigourney Weaver and she's obviously bringing her own experiences and her own personality to it so to me, once you have that so much of the writing becomes easier because you know what their strengths are and you want to design the story around putting them in a corner and see her fighting her way out and discover her inner strength in the most compelling way possible. The rest of the cast, I'd say now I was really surprised at the caliber of actors that we were able to get in some of these roles. I mean, James Cosmo! Are you kidding me?! That was just great. We have James Cosmo doing a "Lord of the Rings" narration, I had always wanted to do an opening narration like that. He did it on set, in front of the fire the night we were filming his first scene and then we did another pass of him in post, you can just read anything to him, he'll take a second and read out loud and it's like the most compelling thing you've ever heard in your life. Then you have Alexander Siddig as General Radford, that is one of the roles that could have gone in so many ways and he seemed an unexpected choice for it but he is so over qualified and brings so much to it and ends up having so much fun with it.

HC: Will there be a part 4?

LD: If people like it and they want it I'll be back! Its all about the audience, it's in the audience's hands but I have started working on a treatment and talking to my producer partner about. If people want it I would love to make it.

HC: Liam O'Donnell, thank you very much.

Related show tags: SKYLINE
From Jennifer Kent comes The Nightingale
Posted in News, Saturday 23rd January 2021
The Nightingale

Powerful Australian Western horror The Nightingale, the second feature from lauded director Jennifer Kent (The Babadook), premiered at Venice International Film Festival in 2018 and screened at Cannes Film Festival, provoking a strong reaction from critics and audiences alike. The Nightingale now arrives as a Limited-Edition Blu-ray box set from Second Sight Films on 8 February.

1825, the penal colony of Van Diemen's Land, or present-day Tasmania. Irish convict Clare Carroll (Aisling Franciosi) works as a servant for the British Colonial force detatchment led by Colonel Hawkins (Sam Claflin), but when unwanted advances result in a brutal, humiliating attack, Clare is dead set on revenge....

Will you try the new Wrong Turn?
Posted in News, Saturday 23rd January 2021

A chaotic fight for survival befalls a group of friends on the Appalachian trail in this iconic franchise reboot from original Wrong Turn creator Alan B. McElroy.

When a dream trip turns into a nightmare, one group of friends finds themselves at the mercy of an urban legend - The Foundation. As a freak accident drives the group deeper into the mountains, they find themselves succumbing one by one to hunting traps large enough to take out anyone that dares venture off the beaten path.

The group soon realises they are not alone and what happens next escalates into a gruesome game of survival, as those who called the mountain home respond to this ...

Doctor Who is back on Target
Posted in News, Saturday 23rd January 2021

BBC Books has announced seven new titles in the Doctor Who Target range, all publishing on March 11th each with new cover art by Anthony Dry.

For Doctor Who fans the range the range of novelisations published in the 1970s and 1980s hold a very special place. There was a novel published for almost every Doctor Who serial between 1963 and 1989 with very few, (five, actually) notable exceptions.

Since 2012 BBC Books have been successfully reissuing these classic paperbacks and expanding the Target range to include all new novelisations of of modern-era Doctor Who episodes.

These latest novelisations, almost by all of the writers of the TV episodes, will help Target fans finally complete th...

Lionsgate UK to released Hellraiser: Judgment and Hellraiser: Revelations
Posted in News, Saturday 23rd January 2021
Hellraiser Judgment Blu-ray 2D

From the depths of hell, horror icon Pinhead returns in the latest chilling chapters of the bloodcurdling Hellraiser franchise, created by horror master Clive Barker. With long-time series SFX artist Gary John Tunnicliffe at the helm, get ready for gore-soaked set-pieces and nightmare visuals that will tear your soul apart!

Hellraiser: Judgment finds two tough detectives, brothers Sean and David Carter, on the hunt for a gruesome serial killer terrorising their city with a series of murders based on the Ten Commandments. Joining forces with detective Christine Egerton, the trio dig deeper into a spiralling maze of horror that draws them into Hell to confront...

Horror Channel February premieres feature zombie action, bloodsucking comedy and Jet-Li heroics
Posted in Features, Tuesday 19th January 2021
Horror Channel - Feb highlights-banner

Horror Channel has three thrilling primetime Saturday night channel premieres in February including the UK TV premiere of Chee Keong Cheung's REDCON-1, a British zombie action epic, starring Mark Strange as a Special Forces operative battling a virus outbreak, Plus, there are Channel premieres for Eat Locals in which actor Jason Flemying makes his directorial debut with a bloodsucking comedy chiller featuring Mackenzie Crook, Dexter Fletcher and Annette Crosbie, and The One, James Wong's flashy superhero martial arts drama, starring Jet Li and Jason Stratham.

Other highlights for February include the John Carpenter remake of Village Of The Da...

Possessor is coming to HE
Posted in News, Monday 18th January 2021

From the visionary mind of writer director Brandon Cronenberg (Antiviral), Possessor is a game-changing sci-fi thriller about elite, corporate assassin Tasya Vos (Andrea Riseborough, Mandy).

Using brain-implant technology, Vos takes control of other people's bodies to execute high profile targets. As she sinks deeper into her latest assignment Vos becomes trapped inside a mind that threatens to obliterate her.

Critically acclaimed, the movie was a huge hit last year across the virtual film festival circuit and created a huge buzz of excitement wherever it was programmed to show. Possessor features a stellar cast including Christopher Abbott (It Comes at Night...

Darkroom - Blu-ray review
Posted in Reviews, Monday 18th January 2021
Darkroom CoverDarkroom
88 Films
Certificate 15

88 Films continues to search out for forgotten shockers for their Slasher Collection and this time has unearthed a truly cheesy piece from 1989, Darkroom. Being produced by Nico Mastorakis, the guy who gave the world the censor bothering shocker Island of Death you'd expect it to be a wild and unflinching slasher. Instead, we get an above average slice and dice flick with plenty of set-ups but more considerate on the bloodletting.

The film begins with a brutal double axe slaying by an unknown murderer but who could this mad killer be? Why does he photograph his victims as they die? Most of all, what drives them to kill?


Blind Date - Blu-ray review
Posted in Reviews, Monday 18th January 2021
88 Films
Certificate 18

This tale of obsession and sight loss is a prime example of 80s arty horror. Directed by Nico Mastorakis, the man behind the controversial shocker Island of Death, this is a sci-fi infused giallo style slasher that's been off the shelves for far too long.

Ad Exec Jon Ratcliff is obsessed and riddled with guilt over his lost girlfriend but then is convinced he spots her at a photo shoot. Trying to track her down he's involved in an incident and loses his sight, but medics can't understand how it's happened as his eyes have suffered no damage. Luckily, he's soon equipped with state-of-the-art technology (a zipped-up Walkman!) which par...

Arrow Video FrightFest announces Glasgow Film Festival 2021 virtual line-up
Posted in , Thursday 14th January 2021
FrightFest Glasgow 2021 - logo-3

The movies for the 16th edition of Arrow Video FrightFest Glasgow, which, despite continuing COVID-19 restrictions, is back to present a virtual six-pack of tasty titles; an extravaganza of the dark arts that will leave you stirred, shaken and shocked.

There will be six online presentations, including the UK premiere of Kyle Rankin's controversial high school siege drama Run Hide Fight, starring Isabel May as a fiercely independent student taking on a quartet of invading shooters, and the UK premiere of Out Of This World (Hors Du Monde), a disturbing, compelling study of obsession from brilliant new French director Marc Fouchard. It boasts a stunning p...

New music from John Carpenter - Alive After Death
Posted in News, Saturday 9th January 2021

Ahead of the release of his first album of non-soundtrack music in nearly five years, John Carpenter has shared a final pre-release single and accompanying video.

Following the stomping "Weeping Ghost" and dancefloor-ready "The Dead Walk," new single "Alive After Death" is a brooding, suspense-filled track, perfectly embodying the exhilarating, spine-chilling, story-telling soundtracks that Carpenter is famous for. The song is accompanied by an equally unsettling visual by legendary illustrator Boneface - a bold collaboration between two unique creative minds.

Lost Themes III: Alive After Death is set for release on February 5th via Sacred Bones...

His Dark Materials Series 2 OST dropping soon
Posted in News, Saturday 19th December 2020
His Dark Materials Season 2

On 20th December Silva Screen Records will digitally release Lorne Balfe's soundtrack for the much anticipated second series of His Dark Materials.

Starring Dafne Keen and Amir Wilson as Lyra and Will, two children on a quest across multiple realities, the new episodes follow on from a successful first season in 2019. As season one was based on the first novel in Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, season two will be based on the second instalment The Subtle Knife.

Lord Asriel (James McAvoy) has opened a bridge to a new world, and, distraught over the death of her best friend, Lyra (Dafne Keen) follows Asriel into the unknown. In a strange and...

Sniff out The Bloodhound in March
Posted in News, Saturday 19th December 2020
The Bloodhound Blurray cover

First-time feature director Patrick Picard brings a fresh take to one of the best-known stories from the master of mystery and the macabre, Edgar Allan Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher, in his new slow-burner horror-thriller The Bloodhound, a hauntingly atmospheric tale described by The Hollywood News as "an impressively stylish and intellectual debut". Arrow Video will release this on Blu-ray on 22nd March.

Francis (Liam Aiken, A Series of Unfortunate Events), a dispossessed young man, is summoned to the secluded home of his wealthy childhood friend, JP Luret (Joe Adler, The Maze Runner), who is suffering from a mysterious affliction. Upon his arrival, Fra...

Articles Archive: 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006
Curse Of The Talisman
Saturday 30th January
6.40 PM
Tales From The Darkside
Sunday 31st January
8.30 PM
From A House On Willow Street
Thursday 28th January
9.00 PM