Archive for September, 2012

“Violence, Found Footage and Censorship”- An Interview with James Cullen Bressack

Posted in Uncategorized on September 22, 2012 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

A little while ago I reviewed a hard-hitting found footage/home invasion movie titled HATE CRIME. Now, director James Cullen Bressack discusses his ideas behind the film, working with a talented cast, issues of censorship, as well as future projects and Leprechauns!!

1. What inspired you to write HATE CRIME?

My co-writer Jarret Cohen and I began writing Hate Crime soon after our own encounter with racial prejudice.  We were in a bar in Texas when confronted about being Jewish.  We were shaken by the experience and began talking more about racial hatred that exists that we have been shielded from.  We soon found in our research that this kind of hatred not only exists, but has been on the rise in recent years.  It’s a story we felt needed to be told.

2.  Has the hard-hitting subject matter always been something you’ve felt strongly about?

I have always felt strongly about discrimination of any kind.  Despite Hate Crime dealing specifically with anti-Semitic themes, it’s lessons apply to the failings of all hate groups.

3.  The found footage sub-genre is very popular at the moment, what do you think defines HATE CRIME from other films?

Hate Crime is shot to look as one continuous shot, without music or other extraneous effects.  I think it adds to the realism of the film.  And ultimately, it’s that realism that was needed to make a film with real impact.

4.  The film showcases a very talented cast, who give very convincing performances, how did they all come on board?

It was real important to have realistic performances to make this film work.  I got really lucky in casting with an amazing group of actors.  Their dedication to their roles was more than I could have asked.  I had worked with Jody Barton on Unmimely Demise and knew I wanted to cast him as One.  Ian Roberts (Three) was also cast early and the two of them helped work the scenes with the other actors during auditions.  The rest came in and killed their auditions.  It was a pleasure working with them.

5.  Did you face any challenges as a director when filming disturbing scenes?

The challenge was not feeling bad for what I put the actors through.  It wasn’t until the filming was complete that I realized how much my actors had to experience.  We all became close on set and we had to handle the intense scenes with care.  While still accurately portraying the brutality.  The trust built with the cast/crew on set was crucial to create the realistic atmosphere we needed.

6.  How have audiences received the film so far in the US?

So far our audience has been mostly reviewers, most of which has been extremely positive.  In mid October we will have a screening in Long Beach, CA at the Late Night Horror film festival, in Las Vegas, NV at Pollygrind film festival, and Grimmfest in Manchester UK.  We are looking forward to audience response.

7.  Congratulations on getting HATE CRIME selected to play at Grimmfest in the UK this October, what are you hoping the UK audiences will take away from it?

I hope they take away the fact that they actually got watch the film.

8.  Are you nervous about the BBFC’s reaction to HATE CRIME and what are your general thoughts on them?

We hope we’re not banned.  Despite its extreme brutality, much of Hate Crime’s violence takes place off screen.  Plus, its message is strong and important.  Particularly in Europe where anti-Semitism is growing.  We hope everyone who wants to see it gets to.

9.  How did you start up your production company Psykik Junky Pictures?

Deep within the earth’s core a child was born.  The child was born of flames originating from the first fire on earth.  One night after a heavy night of hallucinogenics, James Cullen Bressack was dared to look into the fire.  What he saw frightened him at first.  Then he saw destiny.  Psykik Junky Pictures was born.

10.  You’ve also filmed a short for the anthology film THEATRE OF THE DERANGED II, what can you tell us about the project?

It’s an anthology film with some really talented people involved.  And they also let me direct something even though the anthology was all my idea.  It’s going to be kick ass.  You’re gonna look back on that shit man, and be like fuck, why didn’t I watch that a million times.  Then you’ll have it on DVD and be like, fuck, now I own it, I can watch it a million times.  And your life will be complete.

11.  Your first feature MY PURE JOY allows the audience an insight into the mental state of a killer, what inspired your ideas behind the film?

The insight into my own mental state as a killer.  I only made it so I didn’t have to kill people myself.  I better make another one quick.

12. What do you personally believe makes a good horror movie?

Leprechauns.  You need Leprechauns for good luck.

13.  Are you currently working on any other projects at the moment?

Yes.  Working on a film called Pernicious shooting in Thailand.  Productions starts in January.  Follow us on Facebook for more updates.  That’s all I’m allowed to say about it.  They monitor my emails and tap my phones.

14.   How do you go about marketing your films?

I cannot reveal my secrets.  But I use all my resources and put in a lot of time on promotion.  I love making movies but I also want people to see them.

15.   As a young filmmaker, what advice would you give for anyone who is contemplating making their own movie?

Just go make a movie if you have an idea.  No matter the budget, these days you can get a film for cheap.  Oh, and make sure there is enough money in the budget to cast Jody Barton. He’s the fucking best.  /signed/ Jody Barton.

Interviewer: Hayley Alice Roberts

Check out my review of HATE CRIME here:

For more info on James and Psykik Junky Pictures check out his Facebook pages:


“Let’s Do the Time Warp Again!!” A Closer look at what to expect from the Abertoir Horror Festival 2012!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on September 9, 2012 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Within 48 hours the Abertoir Horror Festival early-bird passes sold out faster than the body count rate from a 80’s slasher film, but fear not passes are still available at the Aberystwyth Arts Centre for the bargain price of £58 and will provide gore-hounds with six days of unstoppable horror and mayhem! Abertoir’s Seventh year promises to be its biggest and best yet featuring its usual mix of classic horror, brand new features and shorts as well as live music, comedy and theatre. Gaz Bailey and the team are currently working hard to secure the best recent genre films and a variety of special guests.

It has been announced that the festival will open on November 6th with the new BFI release of Stanley Kubrick’s classic The Shining, this new cut will provide an extra 24 minutes of never before seen footage for the first time in the UK, so get your axes at the ready cos Johnny will be HEEERE!!!

Professor Peter Hutchings, the horror academic who specialises in Hammer films will be presenting an introduction prior to the screening of Quatermass and the Pit and Gavin Baddeley is returning with another of his fangtastic talks, this year he will discuss what makes a horror film a horror film! What’s wonderful about Abertoir is it really gives its audience an insight into the depths of horror and teaches fans something about their beloved genre by including these guests.

Last year saw a heart-warming and emotional talk and presentation by Victoria Price on her father’s legacy and connection to Wales. Abertoir wouldn’t be Abertoir without a screening of a Vincent Price classic in celebration of the beloved actor’s contribution to the genre. This year will see a 3D screening of The Mad Magician from 1954 and Abertoir will be the first festival in the UK to screen the film in its 3D format.

This year’s festival has a sub-theme dedicated to Italian cinema and will be welcoming the guest of honour Catriona MacColl who will be in attendance for the screening of the classic Fulci film The Beyond. 

And now for the attraction I am looking forward to the most! Get your newspapers, confetti and suspenders at the ready and come and do the time warp again as Abertoir’s traditional party will be taking on the theme of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, guaranteed to leave the audience thrilled, chilled and fulfilled! The cult musical will be celebrated in all its Transylvanian glory as guests will be encouraged to dress up and sing along with the quirky musical numbers, it’s certainly a different set of jaws! The screening will be followed by live music from Doctor Caligari and DJ Dellamorte, I hope to see you all dancing the night away!

Another exciting feature this year is the re-mastered screening of Clive Barker’s Nightbreed titled The Cabal Cut. The film was originally released in 1990 with significant scenes lost into footage obscurity. It has since resurfaced as two separate work prints combined with scenes from the theatrical release, creating this never before seen re-mastered version! The film will be followed by a Q&A with the cast and crew. It would be hellish to miss it!  

If that’s not enough to get your blood boiling with excitement I don’t know what is! The organisers are in the final stages of gathering the line-up together and from what they have teased us with so far its going to be the most successful year yet with plenty to sink our teeth into! As its grown over the years Abertoir has become a community for fans and filmmakers to network, it has a very relaxed, welcoming and friendly atmosphere! We promise we don’t bite!

Call the Arts Centre Box Office on 01970 623232 and grab yourselves a pass and I’ll see you in November (6th-11th).

Keep updated with:

Tweet: @AbertoirFest

Hayley Alice Roberts.

For a taster of what to expect from Abertoir check out the promo from last year which I was fortunate enough to be involved in making:

Abertoir Horror Festival Promo 2011

Hayley Alice Roberts

“The Zombie Apocalypse is coming…” An Interview with Dave Jeffery and the Crew of “Ascension”.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 8, 2012 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Writer Dave Jeffrey composed a short story that was published in Alt-Zombie (Hersham Horror Books) focusing on an impending zombie apocalypse and how a group of people deal in a fight for survival. His short story is titled Ascension and is soon going to be made into a film by Independent film company Venomous Little Man Productions. In this in-depth interview Dave along with director James Hart and special effects company N2FX talk to me about bringing the story’s concept to life, their hopes and expectations with the film, their ideal visions in terms of casting and direction and their love for the horror genre. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dave, James and their crew for taking their time out to speak with me and providing an interesting interview and an intriguing perspective on the Zombie sub-genre. Now grab your shotguns at the ready and enjoy…!

1. Tell us about your up and coming project Ascension?

A. 1. The project is based on my short story of the same name published in ALT-ZOMBIE (Hersham Horror Books). I have to be vague about giving the details other than to say the world has gone to hell and it is how people deal with the consequences.  DJ

2. What inspired you to write the story?

A.2. The answer to this is it really did come from a nightmare I had late last year. The essence of the story is how far someone would go to protect those they love. I think we all have the idea that we would do anything for our family but when it really comes down to it are there limits? And once we step beyond those limits do we lose something of ourselves in the process? DJ

3. How does your Zombie story differ from others that have come out the sub-genre in the past and recently?

A. 3. I have canvassed opinion and it would appear that there is something unique about the angle from which Ascension comes when exploring the zombie genre. Yes, it has a band of survivors trying to cope with what has happened to them and their families in the aftermath of a zombie holocaust. However, the lynch pin for the tale is that of loyalty and the adherence to what is, in effect, the New World Order; humanity reshaped and civilisation re-defined. DJ
4. It must be a very exciting prospect bringing your short story to life; do you have any particular visual styles in mind for the look of the film?

I can clearly remember the first time I read the short story Ascension? And how it made me feel. I could see these people and I liked how the story refused to back away from a very difficult question, what would you do for the people you love more than life itself? For a mini movie this has a large scope in the sense of emotional context and that’s what we want at the core of the film. After discussion with our cinematographer, Gary Rogers  I also want to incorporate shots that aren’t normally used in this genre, that will hopefully enhance the viewing experience. JH

5. Are there going to be any major differences between certain aspects of the written story when translating it to film?

A: The Film will be true to the core of the written story but we have changed some aspects. The most notable change made will be to the end of the story. It was quite an organic development to be honest. Myself and Dave were talking about the project and I think I made a suggestion about how we could enhance the emotion of the film, then Dave added something and this went back and forth, before we knew it, we had, what we hope will be, this quite shocking and unsettling finale. There are other more subtle changes but they are mostly because I’ve got a little carried away! JH

6. James Hart is directing, how did he come on board the film?

A: I love film and Dave loves film. We both love horror! I told Dave that it was a dream of mine to make a film but that I was struggling with a workable script. Dave is a really generous guy and offered to let me use one of his stories, once he had obtained agreement from his publisher, Hersham Horror Books. A week later we had a workable screen play. JH

7. You’re in the early stages of the casting process, who would you ideally like to see in the main roles?

A: Oh this is such a hard question. I could see Clive Owen or Damian Lewis as the main male protagonist, maybe Tom Wilkinson or Jimi Mistry as ‘Tom’. Irdis Alba would make a great Eddy and I could really see Jewel Staite as Annie, now I come to think of it, if you let me have the whole cast of Serenity I think I could make a pretty good film. In the real world though, we are talking to some really exciting actors that will fill the roles and that the audience will really connect with. JH

8. N2FX will be providing the make up effects; will they be taking a really gory approach to the zombies and the kills?

A:1 I’ve spoken to the Neil Stevens and the guys and they are going to get to do some really exciting things, things we didn’t think would be possible until the guys came on board. One of the kills is going to be really special and I think the fans of core are going to appreciate it. Our mini movie will hopefully tick the boxes for zombie fans who like their kills messy. JH

A2 It will have gore where it’s required but it won’t be over the top for the sake of it. We’re looking forward to creating some great effects for Ascension – NS from N2FX

9.Would you say Ascension makes a statement on today’s society? And do you think it’s one of the more important aspects of horror films when a message is evoked about the state of the society we live in through a metaphor?

A.9. Ascension exists because of the societal message it tries to portray. It is about extreme circumstance and what the reasonable will do in order to maintain some semblance of normality. The title Ascension conveys what the characters feel they have achieved by adapting to their new understanding of civilisation and the perpetuation of humanity. Horror has propensity to challenge convention on a number of levels, from the bold statements of Dawn of the Dead and Battle Royale to the subtle humorous approaches of Shaun of the Dead and Inbred.

10.What’s the biggest attraction for you when it comes to the Zombie Sub-genre?

A.10. I am attracted to the zombie genre because from start to finish, from hero to villain, it is a story about people; be it their tale of survival or their tragic demise. There is such scope in exploring the interactions between those who are placed in desperate circumstances and how they cope with it that constantly appeals to me as a storyteller.

11.Are you currently writing or working on any other genre-related ideas?

A.11. I have just finished a zombie short story called STILL LIFE for a new anthology by Nightwatch Press and I am now in the final stages of completing NECROMANCER, the sequel to my zombie novel NECROPOLIS RISING for Dark Continents Publishing, Inc. There are two more horror related projects on the horizon but I’ll be in a better place to discuss those once they are confirmed. Both promise to be exciting projects to be involved with.


12. What have you enjoyed most about writing the screenplay?

12. It was good to collaborate on the project with James as it gave fresh perspective and allowed for the existing story to change organically. Some changes were based on better ways to transfer the emotional integrity of the piece to a visual medium. Others have come down to budgetary constraints. Overall the process was rewarding and has, in my opinion, created a sharper story than the original.

13. Did you encounter any major differences from writing a screenplay in comparison to a short story?

A 13 In writing the screenplay I have made several adaptations to the dialogue and James has adapted the settings and well as incorporating many visual shots not seen in the short story. One of the things I found out relatively quickly is that in a written story you can convey thoughts and feelings with description. This does not translate as well on screen and has to be put across with dialogue and performance rather than words. This was difficult to shut off in the early stages but I got there eventually!

After discussions with James, it was also felt that the ending in the short story would not create the kind of emotion that we want audiences to experience at the end of the film. As such, the original ending remains as the first shock but James and I worked out a final moment when audiences will be unsettled rather than horrified. We think it works well enough to the point that I wish it was now part of the original short story. DJ

14.What’s the best part about working in horror films?

Oh I’m in dream land, believe me when I say, this has already gone past my expectations. I’ve always loved movies and can remember watching my dad’s copy of An American Werewolf in London when they were out, I think I was 9 or 10. That stayed with me! That film scared me! For me Horror should invoke emotion in its audience, if our film can do that then that will be the best part for me. So far though, the best part is working with people who are passionate about film, working with these people is inspiring. JH

15. What advice would you give to any aspiring writers or filmmakers?

Go for it! Give it a go! Ask people to help, if you don’t ask you don’t get. There are so many people out there willing to help, tap into that! JH

16. Finally, will we be seeing any teasers for Ascension soon?

Hopefully very soon. Almost from day one we wanted to use what we are calling the ‘news reels’, that will form part of the start of the film, as teasers. We have it all planned, people are in place, we are just waiting for the last few element and they will be done. We are talking weeks hopefully! JH

Interviewer: Hayley Alice Roberts

Check out Ascension on Facebook: