Category Archives: Special Features

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Interview: Linnea Quigley

There probably isn’t a horror fan alive that hasn’t heard the name Linnea Quigley: star of over 80 cult classics, and one of the most widely recognized scream queens in horror movie history. That’s why it is our immense pleasure to bring you our very own interview, with none other than Linnea Quigley.

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BLOOD THEATRE (BT) : As always, I’m curious to know: how did you get into the horror genre to begin with?

LINNEA QUIGLEY (LQ) : I got into horror, and movies by accident. Moving to LA everyone was talking acting and all, so I gave it a try. I hated working for hardly any money, and measuring people that the tape measure wouldn’t go around.

BT : I have to ask you – of all the movies that you’ve starred in during your career (which certainly is an extraordinary amount!), which has been your favourite, and which have you enjoyed the least?

LQ : I loved and hated RotLD. And the least one, oh well, some of the early cheap ones. I don’t even want to say. Ahhhhhhh.

BT : You worked alongside Linda Blair in the movie “Savage Streets”. To begin with, what was it like working on the set of this well known exploitation movie, and second of all, what was it like to work with Linda Blair?

LQ : I was terrified working with Linda being a fan and all. And it was last minute they cast her, and I was older and all than her, and looked different, so I thought I’d get fired. But wow, it was sooooo cool. She is great!

BT : You have also starred with Brinke Stevens and Michelle Bauer. Could you tell us what it was like working with them?

LQ : Wow working on films with the three of us was so great. It was like family, and that is no more. I miss it. It was so amazing and all.

BT : Which of your previous costars did you enjoy collaborating with the most? And who, if you had the choice, would you like to work with in the future?

LQ : Oh what a hard question. I don’t know… Don Calfa is great. I love him, Andras Jones… oh yeah he was great, and of course Michelle is so cool. I also love Karen Russell and Liz Kaiten, and on and on

BT : Could you tell us a little bit about your band, The Skirts? How did it come to be formed, and are you still together today?

LQ : Yes we are starting as of two weeks ago again, rehearsing, writing, and all.

And it just happened the bass player Haydee and I clicked, and so she got in her car, and then van 18 rescue cats and 8 dogs AND came here to work on our stuff. Please someone record us — and book us!

We will sell records or CDs now that there is a thing on the website called The Skirts Undercover. It’s us a year ago having fun and playing around. Haydee is soooo cool.

BT : To change the topic a little bit – what are your thoughts on being a Scream Queen? Was that what you set out to be? And now that you are a recognized scream queen, do you feel limited or confined by the term?

LQ : Well I never set out to be anything, but having the title… I love it, cuz some cool people love the title and the movies and, “oh well” to the ones who don’t. I’m not a snob and so it doesn’t matter. I just wanna have fun and not take life all serious.

BT : At this point in your career, looking back, are you satisfied by what you’ve accomplished?

LQ : I want more. I wanna do documentaries.

BT : Do you feel that you’ve gotten to a point in your career when your scream queen days are beginning to wind down? That is, what do you see yourself doing in the future?

LQ : I hope music. I did some for a movie I was in this year.

And well, of course my characters that I played are being played by younger ones, and it’s weird. Very weird. Full circle… huh.

BT : Besides acting, what does Linnea Quigley spend her time doing? That is, what is important in your life at the moment, and what would you like to have the opportunity to do in the future, besides film.

LQ : I want to get married and I want to just do things to help animals and lead a fun, happy life, have time to do things I think are important; and fun and music, and documentries are part of it. Kinda like the Decline of Western Civilization. I have a lot of ideas .

BT : I know you’re very involved and dedicated to animal rights. Is there anything you wish to say on this topic to any of our readers?

LQ : I am most happy that I’ve had people say, “I tried to become a vegan and I did it, and look, I lost 60 pounds.” I feel more confident and I help animals I love. It’s the best, really, I could feel, helping the animals.

BT : Could you tell us anything about some of your recent or upcoming projects?

LQ : Well I did Doris Wishman’s last movie, and I finished Corpses are Forever here in Miami. Both are almost done. And then I did film and music in Kansas on Notorious Collonel Steele and had a great time. Chris the director, was great to work with and do the music with since I was rusty, but I wrote and played it thanks to him and I have a documentary planned, and all, too. And a movie this guy who was going to marry me, is doing, and I helped get the deal together. Boo Hoo…

BT : And, as we always ask, is there anything else you would like to say to our readers at The Blood Theatre?

LQ : Sink your teeth into this site! I love ya all!

Love and Screams,

Linnea (and don’t hurt animals!)

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Once again, Linnea, it was a great honour for us to have you to take time out of your extremely busy schedule to answer these questions!

If you wish to follow Linnea’s career more closely, be sure to check out her website at: linneaquigleycircle.com

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Blood, Babes, and Boogeymen: Stalking the First Slasher Film

“I like women, especially beautiful ones. If they have a good face and figure, I would much prefer to watch them being murdered than an ugly girl or a man.”
– Dario Argento

“The police are always off track with this shit! If they’d watch Prom Night, they’d save time! There’s a formula to it. A very simple formula!”
– Randy (Scream)

“Who’s there?”
– Almost every victim in a slasher film


A Brief Note to the Reader

Although I have made every effort as to not deliberately spoil the films discussed, it was still unavoidable in some cases. The vast majority of films referenced are those which reside in the realm of “popular” horror – that is, those films which almost every horror fan has undoubtedly seen. However, if you are a newcomer to the genre and looking to avoid any plot reveals, I urge you to tread lightly.

That said, I hope you enjoy. The original intention of this article was simply to collect my thoughts and answer a much-debated question. To my surprise, what I imagined to be a brief, 500-word article quickly unraveled into what you see before you.

I hope that I was able to provide a clear and logical presentation of my thoughts on the matter, and as always, I welcome your thoughts and input.


Stalking the First Slasher Film

As any horror fan knows, there are certain topics which are, simply put, irreconcilable. One only has to propose a question like “what is the scariest horror film ever made?” to see a group of passionate horror connoisseurs lock horns in an endless debate. Of course, questions like this are, at their essence, a simple matter of taste and personal preference. It’s why the horror genre is so

A shocking still from BLACK CHRISTMAS; often regarded as the first slasher ever made.

A shocking still from BLACK CHRISTMAS; often regarded as the first slasher ever made.

expansive and plays host to so many subgenres: zombies, creature features, demonic possession, hauntings, etc. Therein lies the challenge of the horror storyteller: to find the common elements that terrify all of us; that which resonates deep within our psyche and creates an unshakeable feeling of pure horror.

There are questions pertaining to the horror genre that have been raised which, by all accounts, should be answerable, but still find themselves shrouded in the veil of debate. It is one such question that I have chosen to tackle as the topic of this article:

What is the first slasher film ever made?

The slasher film is near and dear to my heart, and this topic is one that I’ve been meaning to address for a long time now. I too am guilty of debating it with other genre buffs, and though I enjoy hearing other theories, I thought it was time to lay down my own thoughts in writing. Before we begin, know that I make no pretense; admittedly there are people who are far greater experts in the slasher film subgenre. And if they have not been able to determine with absolute certainty which film bears the rightful honour of being the first, what hope do I have? Still, bear with me as I travel through the annals of horror history in hopes of unearthing the answer to an age-old question.

The horror film, like everything else, is the product of evolution. I think we can all agree that the slasher film did not simply arrive, but came into being after a slow process of development. Herein lies the problem: where do we draw the finish line of the development process and say “This is where the slasher film emerged in its pure form”? Of course, in order to do this we must know what we’re looking for. A definition of the slasher film is unarguably essential.

What is a slasher? What separates it from the other brands of horror film? We know it to see it, so it shouldn’t be beyond us to properly label it. Let’s begin then by stating some of the accepted characteristics of the slasher movie:

The slasher film adheres to (with only slight variation) a formula:

1. The killer is male (though very rarely exceptions can occur).
1a. Their motive for killing generally stems from a childhood trauma or incident.
1b. They are often indestructible (especially when masked) and inescapable.
1c. Their weapons are typically sharp tools and objects, such as knives, axes, chainsaws, and scythes. This is perhaps one of the most important criteria for a slasher film. Any other method of death must be the exception to the rule, and not the norm.
1d. The killer often takes the role of the anti-hero, punishing the promiscuous and morally lax, or in many cases, returning to wreak vengeance on those who unjustly wronged them.
1e. Although we never see it, the killer takes great pains to carefully hide the bodies of his victims, often orchestrating elaborate reveals.
1f. The killer is always the voyeur, spending the majority of the film watching and stalking.
1g. The killer possesses the ability to further isolate the victims through sabotage, be it by cutting the phone line, puncturing their car tires, etc.
1h. At the end of the film the killer, thought to be defeated, proves himself to be alive, thus preparing the way for a follow-up film.
2. The protagonist (henceforth called the “Final Girl”) is primarily female (though notable exceptions can occur, such as in NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2, et al.)
2a. The Final Girl is generally aware of the situation, and acts with a common sense lacked by the supporting characters.
2b. She/he is a virgin (although later deviations occurred, the essence of the Final Girl is intended to be pure).
2c. At the climax of the film, the Final Girl discovers the bodies of all her friends (thus earning her name) and is forced to directly confront the monster.
3. The victims are often attractive young-adults, typically in either high-school or college.
3a. There is always at least one promiscuous couple who engage in sexual activities. After the act is complete, the couple typically separates (the most common situation involving the woman leaving to shower) thereby giving the killer a way to destroy them individually.
3b. Often the attitude of the character determines whether they will live. A bully is likely to die, regardless of any additionally immoral behaviour. This also solidifies the monster as the anti-hero, standing up for the weak – albeit unintentionally.
4. There is often an “expert” on the killer who spends the duration of the film hunting them, or providing advice on how to stop them (ex: Sam Loomis in HALLOWEEN, Sister Mary Helena in NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS). When needed, they are able to shed light on the monster’s origin and expand the character’s mythology.
5. There are scenes of excessive nudity.
5a. Breasts and blood are two staples of the slasher film. The most common is to feature a woman showering/changing – that is, to show her concerned with her aesthetic presentation, exposed and vulnerable, under the assumption that she is alone.
5b. It should be noted that, as an exception to the rule, nudity does not equal death: the Final Girl herself can be shown naked (ex: Nancy bathing in A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET)
6. The use of illegal drugs is punishable by death.
7. The setting/location plays a vital role.
7a. The killer often strikes only on a particular day, be it a recognized calendar event (HALLOWEEN, FRIDAY THE 13th, CHRISTMAS, APRIL FOOL’S DAY, VALENTINE’S DAY, etc) or a day/anniversary that is personal to the killer (ex: the traumatic day responsible for creating him).
7b. Favourite locations for slasher films include: campgrounds, schools (including dorms, college campuses, and highschools), friendly all-American neighbourhoods/towns, and isolated farmhouses.
8. The audience is frequently put in the killer’s point of view, often times also incorporating the heavy sound of the killer’s breathing.

There are, of course, exceptions to the formula (the formula just defined could be expanded further to address the role of law officials, parents, etc), often intentionally altered for the purpose of adding an element of unpredictability to the mix. However, the exceptions to the rule are not important to this article. For them to be deliberate exceptions inherently means that they follow the first slasher film, and are thereby not worthy of our consideration at this time.

In HER BODY, HIMSELF: GENDER IN THE SLASHER FILM, Carol J. Clover opens the first chapter with the statement:

“At the bottom of the horror heap lies the slasher (or splatter or shocker or stalker) film: the immensely generative story of a psychokiller who slashes to death a string of mostly female victims, one by one, until he is subdued or killed, usually by the one girl who has survived.”

While she has no doubt hit the nail on the head in generalizing the plot of the slasher, my problem falls in her undiscerning amalgamation of the slasher and the splatter film, which I feel are two very separate beasts.

The splatter film, whose lineage can be traced back to the early days of the French Grand Guignol theatre, concerns itself more with the ability to shock; mutilation, torture, and the graphic dissection

A graphic cover to H. G. Lewis' exploitative splatter classic: THE GORE GORE GIRLS.

A graphic cover to H. G. Lewis’ exploitative splatter classic: THE GORE GORE GIRLS.

of the human body are presented throughout its blood-soaked celluloid. Though it may contain elements of the slasher – point of view shots, a final girl, etc – these are incidental. The true slasher is less savage in nature; the kills can be gruesome, but it is the buildup – the methodical stalking – that sets it apart. The killer of a slasher film is fully within his element as the voyeur, watching in the shadows and choosing how much of his presence to reveal to his victim. Indeed, the slasher movie killer is a master of suspense, playing a lethal game of cat and mouse before delivering the final cut.

The same as only the most discerning wine-tasters can differentiate blindly between vintages, the average horror viewer will most likely not see a difference between some slashers and splatters. Take, for example, Herschell Gordon Lewis’ 1972 bloodfest THE GORE GORE GIRLS. The film features ample nudity, killer’s point of view perspectives, a strong female lead, and even a detective sworn to hunt the killer. Yet it should by no means be considered a slasher. What it lacks is almost as abundant as what it shares: there is no build-up to the murders; the killings are savage and exploitative, often featuring additional, excessive post-mortem mutilation; the victims are not the traditional young people associated with the slasher subgenre, but are instead middle-aged and often unattractive; the kills are prolonged, beyond repulsive, and are not performed with knives, axes, or sharp tools; and the list goes on. Additionally, at the time of its release in 1972 the slasher formula was not yet defined (but more on that later).

Some may argue that a careful consideration of foreign horror must factor into our search. It has been well established that Mario Bava’s 1971 picture A BAY OF BLOOD (also released as TWITCH OF THE DEATH NERVE) was perhaps more than simply a source of inspiration for the later 1981 American slasher FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2; some of its death scenes were recreated shot-for-shot.

The Italian giallo, a movement which encompassed both literature as well as film, began as early as 1929. The term – which is Italian for yellow – referred to the trademark cover colour of the crime/mystery themed paperback novels. These books served as the precursors for the films which evolved to have their own unique style and subject matter; as we will see, the Italian gialli proved to be a very strong influence for the slasher.

The first recognized giallo film, THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH, emerged in 1963 and was directed by Mario Bava. Though it lacked the elements generally associated with the genre, his follow up film, BLOOD AND BLACK LACE (1964) featured the popular black-gloved killer archetype.

For Europeans, the term giallo can be used to describe any number of films belonging to the horror/thriller genre. However, we would be making a categorical error were we to simply dismiss

A terrorizing still from Dario Argento's TENEBRE.

A terrorizing still from Dario Argento’s TENEBRE.

all slashers as gialli. The giallo has itself developed to include a set of defining characteristics, which include a permeating theme of madness, obsession, or murder; a black-gloved killer who conceals his identity well; the frequent use of the red herring as a plot device; highly stylized visuals which utilize brilliant primary colours; and elaborate, often sadistic murder sequences.

It is clear that the slasher paradigm responsible for the “golden era” of slashers (approximately 1978-1984) stemmed from both North American as well as European influences. On one side low-budget American filmmakers (influenced by the French Grand Guinol and spearheaded by filmmakers like H. G. Lewis ) were producing exploitative guts-and-gore pictures; on the other hand, Mario Bava and his protégé Dario Argento were pushing the boundaries of violent cinema in the Italian giallo.

It was necessary to first establish where the slasher film originated from, in order to distinguish it from what came before. But where does this leave us in our search to discover the first true slasher? Truthfully, we are close to pinpointing it.

In 1974, a young Canadian filmmaker followed up his zombie-themed cult-hit CHILDREN SHOULDN’T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS (1973) with a low-budget picture about a psychopath who terrorizes a group of young sorority women during their holiday break. At the time of its release, audiences were shocked by the obscenity and raw violence that permeated from each terrifying frame; featuring Margot Kidder and Olivia Hussey, the film was none other than BLACK CHRISTMAS.

BLACK CHRISTMAS is of vital importance because it is widely regarded to be the first true slasher film ever created. At first glance, it seems valid enough; the age group, the location, the point of view shots, the cat-and-mouse stalking… but is it enough? Are we able to draw the definitive line and declare it to be the official starting point of the slasher subgenre?

Let’s first examine the killer and see if he remains consistent with our earlier list of “monster” characteristics. The identity of the killer in BLACK CHRISTMAS is never revealed – the audience is granted a single scene which displays only his eye, peering through a crack in the door. There is no explanation for his homicidal spree and no backstory given to his character; even his name remains debatable. At the beginning of the film he simply infiltrates the sorority and begins to prey on the young women. We are led to believe there is nothing especially supernatural about him, although none of the girls have the chance to fight him and prove otherwise. They are subject to his sporadic and lethal attacks; he reveals himself only through the profane prank calls he makes, leaving the viewer to imagine what his physical appearance looks like.

His first victim is a shy, morally righteous girl on the verge of leaving the sorority for the holiday break. In claiming her life at the onset of the film, it is shown that the killer acts indiscriminately, destroying the just and unjust alike. Additionally, his method of murdering victims does not utilize the characteristic “sharp object” as demonstrated by the typical slasher film; of the seven deaths in BLACK CHRISTMAS, only one involves a knife.

The Final Girl of the film (Olivia Hussey) is also a slasher-film oddity. Although in no way promiscuous on-screen (there is in fact, no nudity to speak of in the film) she is most definitely not the virginal character one expects from a Final Girl – she is not only pregnant, but seeking an abortion.

Although BLACK CHRISTMAS demonstrates several of the characteristics found in the American slasher film, it is also lacking a great deal of them. BLACK CHRISTMAS is not the first full-fledged slasher, but sits just at the cusp. It is very accurate to say that had BLACK CHRISTMAS never come into existence, the first true slasher would also not exist in the way we know it, and therefore we owe a great deal of gratitude to Bob Clark and his terrifying holiday nightmare.

In 1978 a budding young filmmaker named John Carpenter was approached to direct a movie, having previously had a good deal of success with an offbeat, controversial action film titled

A rare behind-the-scenes shot on the set of John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN.

A rare behind-the-scenes shot on the set of John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN.

ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13. Irwyn Yablans, the producer, explained the intention of the film: to portray evil incarnate as it maliciously sought out and destroyed young-woman babysitters. Set on the most sinister night of the year, the film was, of course, HALLOWEEN.

Once again I must stress, to the average moviegoer there probably isn’t a great deal of difference between HALLOWEEN, BLACK CHRISTMAS, or even THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE for that matter. Yet as horror fans we possess the ability to discern such differences, thereby categorizing films properly. All one has to do is re-read our earlier list of slasher film characteristics and you will see that HALLOWEEN meets all criteria.

It is all the more relevant in that it was the first film to portray a character like Michael Myers – physically impressive, masked, and unstoppable. Although characters like Leatherface from THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE had been created prior, their character treatment was still as mortal men capable of being stopped, and not pseudo-supernatural entities. The unrelenting (and unsettling) force of Michael Myers hearkened back to WESTWORLD (1973), a sci-fi picture in which a murder-bent machine was seemingly undefeatable.

Before HALLOWEEN, all of the pieces were there… they just had yet to be assembled in the right order. John Carpenter was able to gather up the fragments and, for the first time, create a fully finished masterpiece. HALLOWEEN not only popularized the slasher genre thus paving the way for countless sequels and imitators, but it also cemented the formula that the golden era of slashers would be built upon.


Today’s horror films have become an indistinguishable pastiche. They are the culmination of everything that has come before; the borders of subgenres have been broken down, making it occasionally impossible to accurately label a film. However, more often than not, mainstream horror films still operate according to the basic formula laid out in HALLOWEEN. The bad men will always die, the floozies will always die (often naked), and 99.9% of the time the Final Girl will resist temptation and vanquish the evil before the end credits role.

HALLOWEEN is, in every way, responsible for inspiring an era of horror. Its influence is still – and will forever – be felt in horror cinema.

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Interview w: The Corridor Cast Members

I had the opportunity to speak with actor Glen Matthews who portrays Jim or “Huggs” in the film. He is currently in Toronto acting in THE NUNS VACATION, a new play from Tom Walmsley. He is appearing alongside his CORRIDOR co-star Stephen Chambers (Tyler) and actress Sandy Duarte (THE CORRIDOR’s biggest fan – she was the one with all the facebook updates). While busy with rehearsals and their big opening this past weekend, both Glen and Stephen were still able to take the time to answer a few questions for me about their experience on THE CORRIDOR which I am extremely grateful for.

BT: There are some very interesting make-up effects in this film, one in particular involving you Glen, can you tell me a bit about shooting these scenes?

GM:  Most of the film was done using practical effects, including the scene you’re referring to, and I really love that, as a viewer, and as an actor. Practical effects just can’t be beat.

The first take we did, I knew that the blade was dulled and safe, but my brain was still sending me danger signals. It was such a weird sensation. Every impulse in my body was telling me to scream “Cut!” and start weeping, haha.

Tyler Crawley (Chambers) in The Corridor

Tyler Crawley (Chambers) in The Corridor

SC: Luckily, I didn’t have to undergo any of the make-up stuff aside from a tiny scar they gave me under my eye. My big deal was simply reacting to these effects. I liked that the majority of effects on THE CORRIDOR were practical and not CGI which meant I didn’t have to react to nothing but rather something I could actually look at. The day they did Glen’s big effect, I refused to see how any of it was applied. I didn’t want to know the technical stuff behind it. I wanted to see it “live” while they shot and have a genuine reaction to something that actually looked quite real. Glen’s effect (and others) truly did affect me and what you see on camera is pretty legit. The effects were really happening and so were the reactions to it. I recall being pretty damned shocked when I saw the scene involving Glen. I can’t remember but they probably did it like 3 times which involved quite a clean up each time.

BT: What was your most enjoyable scene to shoot?

GM: I honestly can’t single one scene out. The cast was so wonderfully stacked with likeminded performers; every day was an absolute pleasure.

SC: Most enjoyable scene to shoot…depends. I always got the most amped up any time I got to charge through on the snow mobile. I suppose anything to do with that thing was my favorite as I’d never ridden one before and got pretty good at it.

On another level though, I think the first day of shooting was my favorite. The first day we had a blizzard and were almost shut down. We shot pretty much in sequence and I was really keyed up on day 1. I remember just doing a bunch of walking through this beautiful canvas of snow that was so surreal. We were shooting all the stuff of Tyler’s arrival back at the cabin and it simply entailed me just trudging through the white snow. That was purely magical for me; probably my favorite moment of shooting the film.

BT: The film centers around male bonding, having a predominantly male cast did you find that bonding occurring off-screen as well?

"Huggs" (Matthews) in The Corridor

“Huggs” (Matthews) in The Corridor

GM: We all knew that the chemistry was going to be a big part of this film going into it, so I think there was a bit of a concerted effort to “bond” in the first week of rehearsals, but after that, it didn’t need to be forced, whatsoever. All of them are great performers who I hope to work with again someday (well, me and Stephen are doing a play together now, actually).

SC: I’ve said this before and it still remains true to me. Whether it was art imitating life or vice versa, I found myself quite separate from the other fellows. I got along fine with all of them but preferred to sort of do my own thing in a separate place. Maybe being the only Torontonian in a group of Haligonians had something to do with it. I felt that I bonded just the way Tyler would have. I loved them all but also felt quite alienated and that truly made my job on screen that much easier. Hell, it wasn’t till like a year later that I actually stopped being afraid of these guys….especially Glen! I’m working with Glen and he still scares me!

BT: From auditions to festival appearances what has been your fondest memory of this project?

GM: Receiving the call from my agent, telling me that I had been cast in the film was unbelievable. In this case, I read the script, and really fell in love with it. If I hadn’t been cast in the film, it still would haunt me to this day, I know it, especially after seeing what Evan (Kelly, the director) was able to accomplish. I’m incredibly proud of this film and feel so fortunate every time we get a chance to share it with an audience.

SC: Fondest memory? First week in Halifax, no doubt. I got the role while doing a play in Toronto. Finished the play and was flown out to Halifax, a city I’d been to about 10 years before and always loved. Week one entailed a breezy rehearsal schedule, so for me, I just got to wander the city most of the time and do my own thing and take in the fact that I was about to embark in a pretty big deal of a film. I just felt weird that whole time but in a good way. Just being in a new town on a new project was a Twilight Zone-ish feeling that I enjoyed. Same with the first day up in Wolfville where we stayed at the Old Orchard Inn. It was like THE SHINING. A big ol’ empty hotel in the middle of the desolate snow. I loved the surreality of it all. Once the actual work started, it all went to hell. Kidding. Maybe.

BT: Other than THE CORRIDOR, what is your favorite scary movie?

SC: THE EXORCIST, hands down. Best film ever and not just for horror. Watch it, watch it again. There’s a lot of stuff happening in that film. It inspires everything I write in one way or another. I also have to say POLTERGEIST and ROSEMARY’S BABY. Best horror films and you can’t argue with that. I won’t let you. I swear, if Glen says something like Saw, I’ll scalp him.

GM: I really hate being scared. I sit through scary movies holding my breath. For me, I love THE THING, it’s the perfect mix of scares and strong characters. Oh, and gotta love those practical effects.

BT: Rock, Paper or Scissors?

SC: Paper, all the way.

GM: I’ll never divulge my secrets.


We would like to thank Stephen and Glen for a great interview and send a big thank you to their stage co-star Sandy Duarte for putting us all in touch. We wish you all the best with your current show!

Follow them on twitter!
Stephen Chambers: @dhrproductions
Glen Matthews:  @GlenJM
Sandy Duarte:  @SandyDuarte

Check out our official GUIDE TO GORE  review for the film!

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Interview w: Fatal Pictures

Fatal Pictures, based out of Toronto Ontario, have brought us several fantastic short films such as   CONSUMPTION (2008), WORM (2010) and most recently FAMILIAR. These films have screened internationally at a wide range of popular genre festivals including Dark Bridges Film Festival, Screamfest, Oklahoma Horror Film Fest and The Sydney Underground film festival.

Co-founders Zach Green and Richard Powell  are responsible for nearly every aspect of the filmmaking process from initial concept to marketing. Producer Zach also edits and is heavily involved in post, with hopes of writing and directing in the future. Writer/Director Richard also takes an active role in the editing room alongside his producing partner. Together they work to create original and challenging independent films of high quality and artistic value.

I’ve been corresponding with Zach about the upcoming festival screenings and he was able to put me touch with Richard who kindly answered a few questions for us.

BT: The two of you met during film school and went on to form Fatal Pictures almost 5 years later. What was it that drew you together?

RP: We met during final term when I needed an editor for my short film assignment. I posted an ad and only Zach replied. We bonded over the making of the film and really grew to respect each other as filmmakers and friends and eventually we decided to combine our abilities to a greater effect.

BT: Your body of work thus far has been predominantly genre films, do you plan to continue in this direction?

RP: Genre filmmaking is fun and has a freedom to it but I would never bind myself creatively to anything at the exclusion of all others. I love film and think in terms of story and character before genre and other kinds of classification.

BT: Considering your history together, and your continued working relationship with actor Robert Nolan, would you say that you enjoy working with a familiar team? No pun intended… okay maybe it was.

RP: I feel at an independent level it is a necessity, when you have enough money you could hire your worst enemy to work for you but guys at our level survive on favors and relationships. Personally I love knowing as many of my collaborators as possible and establishing relationships that span films. We have worked with the same Fx team the Butcher shop on all three shorts as well as our composer Bernie Greenspoon. I like having a team I can trust and grow with. I feel it adds something to the process that is missing in the more mercenary side of filmmaking.

BT: What is the tone usually like on the set of one of your films?

RP: Hectic but fun. We genuinely love making movies but there is an immense pressure to create great work. We have fun but take it very seriously. We also tend to schedule too much into our days which is a great recipe for stress. Hopefully with more success and resources we can make our days a little lighter and make time to appreciate the moment.

BT: The effects in this film are pretty fantastic, were they true to your original vision?

RP: Very much so, and all thanks to the butchershop run by Ryan Louagie and Carlos Henriques. I gave them my sketches and they realized them beautifully. They are great artists and I can’t wait to work with them again.

BT: What is the most difficult effect you’ve ever had to shoot?

RP: I feel the scene in Familiar where John discovers some very nasty things on his torso was the most difficult of all due to the mirror,  the confined space of the room and all the little tricks we had to employ to make the lumps move. It looks simple but special fx require so much prep, planning and choreography in order to be successful. I really had to be on my toes to make those scenes work. Fx are fun to use but can become a pain in the ass very quickly, that said I look forward to using them again and again and learning along the way.

BT: Being that you are both involved in each stage of production, what would you say is the most enjoyable part of the process for you?

RP: I personally love the writing stages as there is a freedom to create and destroy with out consequence or cost. Once a crew, budget and schedule becomes involved the cement begins to dry. That said I really enjoy all of the technical aspects of filmmaking but I feel most at home when writing.

BT: Looking back on this film what is one thing you were most proud of upon completion of the project?

RP: Just being able to pull the project together on little more than favors and good will is what I’m proud of most. We couldn’t have done this a few years back but being able to make it happen now means we have progressed and that’s always the objective.

BT: What is your favorite genre flick?

RP: The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Dawn of the Dead, Demons, Suspiria.

BT: What is your favorite thing about filmmaking?

RP: Creating characters and stories that haven’t existed before and sharing them with the world.

BT: Since this is Canadian Content, if you could work with anyone within the Canadian industry, who would it be?

RP: David Cronenberg by far, he’s made so many classics and continues to make daring and original films. He managed to make  genre films in Canada and reach a global audience in a way no other Canadian has.

BT: What advice would you give to aspiring filmmakers?

RP: Quit and get a Business degree. You can make a nice life for yourself as mid level management with a salary and benefits.


Please follow Fatal Pictures on Twitter for all the latest news & content @FatalPictures

Check out the FULL LENGTH review!

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Interview: w/ Author Sean Munger (Zombies of Byzantium)

Sean Munger is a historian, teacher and author residing in Oregon. He is probably most well-known for the science fiction novels of “The Giamotti Trilogy,” which include Life Without Giamotti (2006), All Giamotti’s Children (2008) and Giamotti in Winter (2009). His other books include Romantic, Memoirs of a Great Liner (2005) and Beowulf is Boring (2009). His new book, Zombies of Byzantium, was published by Samhain Publishing in February 2013.Sean has also written for various heavy metal music publications, including Painkiller Magazine, the largest heavy music magazine in China.

UncannyDerek: I have to ask what the first thing is on everybody’s mind: where did the idea for zombies and the Byzantine Empire come up?

Sean Munger: It came mostly from my love of Byzantine history, and my frustration that this civilization has virtually no visibility in popular culture. I got hooked on Byzantium about eight years ago and one of its fascinations for me was that medieval Byzantium seemed a lot like a made-up world in a science fiction or fantasy story–like Middle Earth or the Mars of Edgar Rice Burroughs. Yet you’ve never seen Byzantium portrayed in a Hollywood movie, for instance, or a video game like Skyrim. After I did Beowulf is Boring I was interested in another writing project that played with medieval history with sort of modern sensibilities that today’s readers could relate to and enjoy. So, I hit on the zombie angle. Most zombie stories are essentially modern, often taking place in a big city where the urban setting both enhances the danger and the opportunities for the characters and their undead foes. I got to thinking, Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, was the most modern city in the world in the early Middle Ages. What if a zombie outbreak happened there?

UD: It’s obvious that a lot of work with history was put into the story. Where did you first get your knack for history, let alone the drive to write a fictional horror story based upon it?

SM: I’ve always loved history. For me a good history book is like a thrilling big-budget Hollywood movie: it’s got a cast of thousands, epic battles, world-shaking events, and everything you’d want in a gripping story, and it has the added virtue of having really happened. Since I was a little kid I loved those big epic historical movies they used to make in the 50s, 60s and 70s, like Quo Vadis and Ben-Hur. My desire to be a historian and a teacher of history was mainly a means to be able to “play” in this fantastic toy box as my profession. I love teaching history and introducing it to people, and I think fiction is one of the best ways to do that. I mean, if you give a 13-year-old boy a copy of Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, he’ll look at you like you’re crazy. But that same kid will go to see Gladiator and probably really enjoy it–and that, although not historically accurate, is at least part of the same story.

As for telling a horror story in a historical setting, I think it’s a way to tap into the possibilities of the genre in a way that fans won’t necessarily have thought of before. One of the reasons horror fascinates us is it plays on our fears. Zombies in particular symbolize our fear of our modern mass society turning us into an anonymous horde of unthinking drones. But our fears aren’t unique to our own time. People in the past had their own fears and anxieties, and even though they’re long in the past they still have the capacity to terrify us.

UD: How much of the story would you say is part of real history compared to the fictitious parts?

SM: Readers might be surprised at how much of the book is historically accurate. Except for the zombie outbreak, virtually all of it is accurate. The war between the Saracens and the Byzantine Empire depicted in the book did occur, and the Saracen siege of Constantinople in 717-18 was one of the most epic battles of the entire Middle Ages. Emperor Leo III was a real person, as was the Empress Maria, Maslama, Artabasdos and many other characters. The description of Constantinople is accurate–every building, street or landmark mentioned in the book was really there in 717. The weapons, clothing, military tactics, and those sorts of details are all accurate. A subplot of the book concerns a religious controversy about whether it was acceptable to depict Christ in visual form. That controversy, called Iconoclasm, was one of the major events of Byzantine history. People went around killing each other over Iconoclasm for over 100 years.

I took some liberties with the interplay of the characters, as most authors do with historical subjects. We don’t know much about the personality of Leo III, for instance, so the way he comes off in the story is my own invention. The final scene of the book–I won’t spoil it for anyone–is literal history and written from an eyewitness account. I thought the editors were going to make me take it out, but they let me get away with it!

UD: There’s an obvious religious take in the story – our main character and his friend are both monks. Why did you take that route rather than peasants, or knights, or kings?

SeanMungerauthorpic_zps21ea0424SM: I did it that way because Byzantium was an extraordinarily religious society, and religion defined people’s lives, from the Emperor down to the guy in the street. I made the main characters monks because monks were very prominent in Byzantine society. Taking one’s vows was a very popular “career choice” in Byzantium–one historian estimated that at one point, half the entire population of the Empire lived in monasteries or convents! I also thought it would be fun to have the main character a religious figure who challenges our perception of monks. You think of a monk as a quiet gentle guy with a bowl cut who never speaks and spends all day praying. But in the book Stephen, the main character, is a wisecracking gregarious kid, he fights with a sword in each hand, romances the Empress and swims through a pool of fire! I mean, you don’t see a lot of monks doing stuff like that!

Byzantium was also very different than other medieval societies. There were no “knights” as we think of them from Western Europe, and Byzantium also never developed feudalism the way other countries did. That’s why, although this is a medieval story, you don’t see a lot of the typical tropes–castles, knights in armor jousting, the obligatory banquet scene in the lord’s manor with wenches and minstrels, that sort of thing. It will be a fresh approach for most people, I think.

UD: Speaking of the story, I found the characters spoke relatively modern. What was your intention with having these historical characters speak like someone from more recent times?

SM: It’s funny that you mention this, as this was a big issue with the test readers I tried the book out on, and it’s already been mentioned in some of the reviews. I made a conscious choice to have the speech of the characters seem very modern, even though it’s an anachronism. First of all, it would have been impossible to try to replicate in English the way people speaking Greek in the Middle Ages would have talked. The best I could do would be to make the speech sound artificially archaic with a lot of “thee” and “thou” and lofty-sounding wording that evokes Shakespeare or Chaucer. But people in medieval Byzantium didn’t talk like that either, so what would be the point? I also wanted to emphasize to the readers that these characters were real people with everyday lives. Their speech sounded as normal and casual to them as ours does to us. It just brings the reader into something more familiar.

UD: That being said, how much of todays culture impacted your story and how it was written?

SM: Well, I had to write a story that was intelligible and interesting to modern audiences. The story is constructed kind of like a Hollywood action picture. There’s a small skirmish at the beginning, enough “wow” to draw you in–like the pre-credits sequence of a James Bond movie–then the story builds, the characters develop, there are more battles and increasing tension, and finally there’s the huge set-piece climax with a cast of thousands and a final epic battle that’s totally over the top. The zombie battles themselves, the way I wrote and blocked them out, are deliberately evocative of video games. I grew up on games like Wolfenstein 3-D and Doom, but it’s the same today–some of the battles you have in a modern game like Fallout or Skyrim, which themselves are heavily influenced by movies, emphasize a very frenetic pace, close quarters with enemies coming at you from all sides. But I also wanted to sort of go beyond this. The battle with the zombies that occurs in the little church, for example, is very much like a video game battle, except it happens in the dark–something you couldn’t do in a movie or a video game. 

UD: I’ve always found “ghoul” gives you the ambiguity of what the creatures are, but “zombies” are what most are familiar with. In your book, you use the term “ghoul” to describe the un-dead quite a bit. What’s your take on the choices you made in defining these monsters?

SM: I was hoping someone would notice that, with the exception of the title, the word “zombie” never appears once in the entire book! The word “zombie,” which I believe is a loanword from Creole or another Caribbean tongue, did not appear in our language until 1891. Certainly there is no medieval Greek word that even approximates what “zombie” means to us, so the Byzantines would have struggled to define what these things should be called. Interestingly, the Saracens refer to the monsters as “alksala,” which I had to check with a native Arabic speaker. It roughly means “zombie” in Arabic, but it’s not precisely the same. I thought portraying the characters’ confusion at not knowing exactly what to call these creatures would demonstrate how alien they would be if they appeared in this medieval world, especially one where most ideas and language were defined either by classical (ancient Greek and Roman) influences or by religious texts. 

UD: What drew you to zombies? Why not ‘Vampires of the Byzantium?’ Isn’t that what all the popular folks are doing now?

SM: I think vampires have been overdone, frankly. I know the Twilight books/movies have been very popular, but I think the genre of vampire fiction will need a couple of decades to recover from the pretty-boy-who-sparkles image it’s gotten lately. Zombies were more pertinent to the kind of story I wanted to tell, which was the response by a group of characters to a large-scale, catastrophic threat that has the potential to wipe their entire civilization off the map. Vampires are much better suited to stories where the tension and threat is on a much smaller scale. A gloomy castle with a hungry vampire can be a great set-up for a story–Nosferatu, for example, one of my favorite horror movies, is like that–but it wasn’t really suited for what I wanted to do.

UD: What is it about the horror genre is it that makes you want to get involved with it in such an intimate way?

SM: Well, strangely, I had virtually no experience in the horror genre before I wrote Zombies of Byzantium. All my previous writing projects have been science fiction or historical. In a way I’m sort of coming into horror as an outsider, which I think provides an interesting perspective. It’s maybe a subtle difference. I came at the project thinking “I want to write about Byzantium, and I think I’ll put zombies in it” rather than, “I want to write about zombies, and I think I’ll put them in Byzantium.” That said, I have come to appreciate the depth and richness of the genre far more than I ever did before, and that’s been one of the great rewards of doing this book.

UD: What are some of the “quintessential” horror books or movies do you think people should be aware of? Also, what are you favourite horror films and horror books, and how much did they impact your story telling?

SM: The classics. Always go back to the classics. They’re classics for a reason. In horror literature, the original Dracula is one of the best exemplars of the form. It’s still a riveting novel today, and the character of Dracula (as well as his imitators) resonate in our culture like few others have. I also love the original Frankenstein, another absolute starting point in the horror genre. Lovecraft, of course, is justifiably a staple. I think it’s still too soon to judge whether more modern horror fiction is as durable as these old classics, but time will tell.

As for movies, I already mentioned Nosferatu, the original 1922 silent version by F.W. Murnau. I watch it every Halloween and it still scares the hell out of me. My answer on the “quintessential” zombie movie might surprise people. The zombie film I admire most is I Walked With a Zombie, which was made in 1943 and directed by Jacques Tourneur (he also did the original Cat People). It’s a masterpiece of minimalist filmmaking, very scary and atmospheric, and I think more modern zombie films owe more to its style than people realize. Pre-1968, that is, before Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, zombie movies focused on Haitian-style voodoo zombies as opposed to undead flesh-eaters, but that doesn’t mean there’s no continuity between today’s zombie films and the pre-1968 ones. Again, always go back to the classics and you’ll never go wrong.

UD: What’s next on the writing block for you?

SM: More zombies! Samhain Publishing, the publisher that’s putting out Zombies of Byzantium, has bought my second horror book, which will be called The Zombie Rebellion. It will be out sometime in 2014. I’m really excited about it and my editor is too. It takes place in backwoods Pennsylvania shortly after the American Revolution, against the backdrop of a little-known event called the Whiskey Rebellion. So in addition to lots of zombie battles we’ve got Indian uprisings, volleys of musket fire, tomahawks whizzing all over the place, and bootleggers swilling homemade moonshine. Oh, and George Washington. I think anyone who likes Zombies of Byzantium is going to love The Zombie Rebellion. I’m also collecting some ideas for a third zombie book.

In addition to that I have a few other projects. I’m working very slowly on a more serious piece of science fiction called The Valley of Forever which has been on the drawing board since 2010. I’ve also thought of trying my hand at some serial fiction, which is coming back in a big way, but there’s nothing definite there yet. Suffice it to say I plan to be very busy!

UD: Do have any words of wisdom for aspiring horror writers out there?

SM: Yes, two things: keep writing, and write what you love. The one factor that is most important in carrying you through, and getting you into print, is perseverance. The other is passion. Taking a long view of history, you can make an argument that this is the best time in the last 500 years to be a writer. E-books, small presses like Samhain and self-publishing have opened up a brave new world for writers. But you have to get down into the trenches and do it. Don’t write for the market. Write the kind of story that you, as a horror fan, would want to read. There’s so much fun stuff out there. Everybody loves a good scare. If you write for long enough and take the time and effort to perfect your craft, you will make it. It’s not easy, but nothing worth doing is ever easy. That’s the most sincere advice I can give to any aspiring writer.

Official Website: http://seanmunger.com
Twitter: @Sean_Munger
Facebook
Buy Zombies of Byzantium

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MANBORG: The Saga Continues…In Print!

That’s right! Not only is Manborg starring in his own sweet ass comic book, but The Blood Theatre editor, Matthew T., was the illustrator for issue #1! Read the official press release below!

MANBORG_ISSUE1Cult filmmaker Steven Kostanski is excited to announce that the characters he created with Jeremy Gillespie for the ASTRON-6 produced film MANBORG will be continuing their exploits in between the stapled newsprint pages of a full-colour illustrated comic-book adventure due for release at the Toronto FanExpo this August.

Based on the cult hit film MANBORG, which hit DVD and VOD last Spring with Anchorbay
Entertainment in Canada and Dark Sky Films in the USA, the first issue kicks off a two-part story arch in the tradition of newsprint movie comics of the late 1970s and early 1980s. The story picks up during the events of the feature film, expanding the scope of the original film and introducing fans to brand new characters and mythologies, including the true fate Manborg’s brother!

While the story was conceived by MANBORG creator Steven Kostanski, who is also overseeing every aspect of the development of the comic, this time around MANBORG producer Peter Kuplowsky and indie filmmaker Justin Decloux are penning the antics of Justice, Mina, #1 Man and titular Manborg as they continue to battle Count Draculon and his army of Killborgs.

As for the art, Kostanski’s memorable and iconic sci-fi/horror universe will be reproduced panel by Manborgpanel by illustrator and graphic designer Matthew Therrien (http://mctherrien.com), with colours provided by Shira Haberman (http://www.shiradraws.com). Matthew Therrien’s work might be familiar to MANBORG fans, as he is responsible for a fantastic illustrated poster tribute to the film. 

In an effort to more faithfully parody and emulate newsprint pulp comics, the issue will also include a one page faux-comic- advertisement (in the tradition of Marvel’s one-page Hostess comic- ads) based on Steven Kostanksi’s award-winning short-film BIO-COP, as well as a letters column where fans will receive relationship advice from Manborg’s love-struck antagonist: The Baron. Fans can email their queries to megadeathcitybaron@gmail.com and have a chance to appear in future installments of the column.

Teaser Image from MANBORG: No Manborg Left Behind

Teaser Image from MANBORG: No Manborg Left Behind

Issue #1 of MANBORG, entitled NO MANBORG LEFT BEHIND, will first become available for fans at the Toronto Fan Expo (Aug. 22nd – 25th) at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival, Raven Banner
Entertainment, Rue Morgue and Anchorbay Entertainment booths, each one a proud supporter and sponsor of the comic. A digital release of the comic is also planned to follow the initial print run, and details will be announced via MANBORG’s Facebook Fan page and Twitter account
(@ManborgMovie).

Check out Matthew’s Fan Page and follow him on Twitter!

Also Check out Bearly Tails, a series of offbeat comics from Shira Haberman.

 

 

 

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Evil Dead: The Musical

October 29th; a cold, dark evening just hours away from Devil’s Night. We are standing in downtown Toronto in front of the Randolph Theatre on Bathurst, eagerly awaiting the opening night performance of Evil Dead: The Musical. As theatre buffs and horror connoisseurs alike rush to find their seats (the most daring sit in the infamous splatter zone) the lights dim and the crowd erupts in applause. One thing is clear: Ash and his ever-resilient flock of Deadites have returned to the Toronto stage, and it’s about to get messy.

A rousing ensemble number kicks off the production (appropriately titled “Cabin in the Woods”) as Ash and his companions drive to the middle of nowhere for a spring-break they won’t soon forget! The tongue-in-cheek set design perfectly captures the essence of the films; a blend between camp, silliness, and when required, atmospheric horror. Fans of the film already know the characters in-and-out, but for those first-timers the characters’ roles are defined and developed quickly and thoroughly before the end of the first song. It’s this type of fast-paced energy and clever writing that sets the tone for the entire musical.

It’s easy to lose yourself in the zany, colourful, and off-the-wall story; the brief intermission at the one-hour mark arrives before you know it. But for the ravenous gorehounds that find themselves asking: where was all the splatter?, worry not! The second act will leave you satisfied and drenched in the red stuff.

Evil Dead: The Musical works so well because it was clearly written by a fan of the films and remains faithful to the spirit of the original movie. Its self-aware moments (which lovingly poke fun at creator Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell, and the inconsistencies in the movie that we horror fans love to discuss) are reassuring reminders that this is a production from a true horror enthusiast who is well acquainted with the source material. (And for those not familiar with Christopher Bond’s work, his more recent Night of the Living Dead: Live was equally as successful and thoroughly enjoyed).

Ryan Ward shone in his portrayal of Ash, displaying a keen sense of Bruce Campbell’s mannerisms and speech pattern, while at the same time bringing his own dramatic flair to the role. The cast is equally talented, delivering pitch-perfect performances while tackling some truly well-choreographed and satisfying routines. Also, special care was taken to ensure that iconic scenes and lines of dialogue from the Evil Dead series was recreated — each time being met with rousing applause from the audience. One thing is certain: you won’t leave disappointed.

Evil Dead: The Musical is a bloody good time that can’t be missed! For more information and to purchase tickets, visit their website: http://evildeadthemusical.com/toronto/tickets/

Groovy.