LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS Interview with Stewart Sparke, director of Book of Monsters
By James Whittington, Wednesday 5th September 2018
HC: Your last movie, The Creature Below was two years ago, what's life been back since then?
SS: Since The Creature Below premiered at Frightfest in 2016 things haven't really stopped for myself and my collaborator Paul Butler. We were lucky enough to have the film released on DVD and VOD in over eight countries under various names. I think my favourite has to be Japan's Leviathan X: From the Deep! The film even had a theatrical release in Taiwan which was quite surreal as it was playing opposite Thor Ragnarok over there so overall, we've been completely blown away by everything that's happened. Paul and I are always coming up with ideas for films and as soon as The Creature Below was finished we were eager to start cooking up our next monster movie!
HC: How did the project for Book of Monsters come to you?
SS: Paul and I really wanted to do something completely different in tone to The Creature Below which was quite a serious and slow-paced movie. We've always had a thing for the fun, popcorn creature features of the 80s and 90s like Gremlins, Tremors and Deep Rising so we wanted to do something that paid homage to that era. Book of Monsters started life as a short film idea with a young girl having to fight off a monster at her eighteenth birthday party and was just a fun opportunity for us to play with creatures again and have some fun gags in there about coming of age stories. It wasn't until after our first film that we looked at the concept again and realised that it would make a great feature length movie with even more monsters in!
HC: Was the idea of using practical effects there from the start?
SS: We knew as soon as we settled on the idea for Book of Monsters that we had to realise the creatures entirely with practical effects. The film is drenched in so much 80s nostalgia that it was important we brought the monsters to life in the same way our favourite films to the era did and this gives the whole thing a true retro feel. I grew up watching Aliens and Braindead so I wanted to recapture the excitement of seeing those real, tangible monsters on screen, actually interacting with the actors.
HC: What was the hardest sequence to shoot and do you have a favourite moment?
SS: The toughest sequence to shoot was the initial monster attack which you can see part of in the trailer. Not only do we have a big, lumbering creature causing havoc, we also had six big practical effects driven deaths to contend with. All of these we're quite complex and required extensive planning to execute correctly. With most gore filled special effects you only get one chance to pull it off and we had to make sure that all the guts, blood and viscera flew in all the right directions! We also had about twenty actors on set at the time either running, screaming or dying so it was quite a challenge to overcome but I'm pleased to say that it went down a treat with the FrightFest audience who all laughed and cheered at the right moments!
HC: Who designed the creatures?
SS: The creatures were designed by the super talented artist Abigail J. Harding who created all these amazing monster concepts for us during pre-production. It was DDFX Studio (Paul & Mark Wilkins) who brought the monsters to life in the creature shop for the film and I couldn't be happier with the result. Their team went above and beyond to bring them to life on set and we not only had performers in costume but also puppeteers operating some of the smaller creatures so that our actors could interact with them.
HC: The score is a mix of synth and orchestra, can we expect a release of this as at all?
SS: Kyoto Dragon did an absolutely amazing job on the score for the film, not to mention the amazing 80s theme song (Ft. Villainest and Tommy Lazer) that plays over the end credits which had people cheering at the FrightFest premiere! Now that the film will be getting a release with Dread Central Presents I'm very hopeful that people are going to be able to pick up the soundtrack in the future.
HC: The poster for Book of Monsters was used to help promote FrightFest, you must be pleased with that?
SS: Yes that was quite a surprise and a huge honour! Paul Mcavoy called me a few days before it was unveiled and asked if it would be OK if they used the image of our three leads (Lyndsey Craine, Michaela Longden and Lizzie Stanton) as a central image in a montage of the films and of course I said it was OK! Little did I know they would be so front and centre with Lyndsey wielding the chainsaw dripping with blood! I have to give huge thanks to Ria Fend who designed the poster for putting our stars out there for everyone to see. Needless to say there were many photos of the cast and crew taken with the poster hanging outside of the Prince Charles Cinema at the festival!
HC: Having Hellraiser legend Nicholas Vince as part of the cast is pretty cool, how did you approach him for the part of Jonas?
SS: We first met Nicholas via the web on his show, Chattering with Nicholas Vince where he interviews a different horror filmmaker every week live via YouTube. Paul and myself were lucky enough to be invited on the show in the run up to The Creature Below's premiere at FrightFest. We had such a great time chatting to him and invited Nicholas along to the premiere and following FrightFest we told him about our idea for Book of Monsters and how we were very interested in having him play a character that is a far cry from the Chatterer. Nick plays Jonas, Sophie's dad in Book of Monsters and he is a key player in the emotional heart of the movie. He has some incredibly emotional scenes with Lyndsey Craine (Sophie) that required a lot of subtlety to pull off and I'm very pleased to say that he did an amazing job. I can't wait for people to see Nick's performance in the film and I think they will find it unlike anything he has done in a horror film before!
HC: What was your 18th birthday like?
SS: It was no where near as bloody as Sophie's, or at least I think so! A bunch of us went to Amsterdam on the ferry for the weekend. I can't say I remember much of it so it must have been good!
HC: So, what are you working on at the moment?
SS: Paul and I are busy working on several feature films, all of which involve monsters of some kind or another and buckets of gore. Our motto at Dark Rift Films is "We make monster movies" so you can expect lots more practical effects driven creatures to come!
HC: Stewart Sparke, thank you very much.
MORE INTERVIEWS Interview with Airell Hayles writer and co-director of They're Outside
Posted on Saturday 1st August 2020
FrightFest is once again on the horizon but this time, due to global events the event has become a virtual experience with all films being accessed online. Horror is once again sponsoring the First Blood strand of the event. Here we chat to Airell Hayles whose movie They're Outside mixes found footage and pagan horror genres to great effect.
HC: Where did the idea for They're Outside come from?
AH: This idea for They're Outside came from a couple of things. I remember as a kid hearing that my uncle suffered mild agoraphobia, and when I learned what it was, I was fascinated by this idea of some people being kind of scared to leave their homes. Of course, the recent Covid-19 events h...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Fionn and Toby Watts, directors of Playhouse
Posted on Saturday 1st August 2020
FrightFest is once again on the horizon but this time, due to global events the event has become a virtual experience with all films being accessed online. Horror is once again sponsoring the First Blood strand of the event. Here we chat to talented brothers Fionn and Toby Watts who have delivered a gothic, creepy piece named Playhouse.
HC: Was there one film or person who influenced or inspired you to become film makers?
FW: As a young boy I remember being absolutely blown away by the image of The Terminator's exo-skeleton rising from the flames. Around the same time I saw Candyman at a sleepover (rented by my friend's 'older' brother...) and it was such an i...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Tony and Ryan Smith co-writers of Volition.
Posted on Tuesday 7th July 2020
FrightFest 2019 delivered some amazing movies and one of the best was Volition from the talented brothers Tony and Ryan Smith. Now that the movie has been unleashed onto Apple TV, Prime Video and other Digital Platforms we chatted to them about this acclaimed movie and their plans for the future.
HC: You both hail from South Africa, what's the movie industry like in that country at the moment?
TDS: I believe the South African film industry is very healthy and it's a place Ryan and I would love to revisit and make a movie about. I have a number of filmmaker friends who film there and absolutely love the people, the scenery and the incredible crews.
HC: Did you know from an...SHARE: READ MORE 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 Interviews Archive: 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 PICK OF THE WEEK
Sunday 9th August
Saturday 8th August
Thursday 13th August