Now that THE DEAD has been around on DVD and BLU-RAY and with a behind the scenes book head your way very soon (watch out for the review of the book in the coming months) I have decided to repost my interview from 2010 with Jon and Howard Ford the directors of THE DEAD.
1) First off well done on such a fantastic film. How did you feel the world premiere went at frightfest?
HOWARD: Thanks a lot! It was amazing seeing the film on that 55ft screen and the reaction after was amazing. It was so gratifying to hear that so many people had understood what we were trying to do with the film and also felt the emotion we were going for. We are very grateful for the generous reactions we’ve been seeing emerge online. Someone alerted me to one comment about someone being so tense in some parts they were squeezing their partners hands harder than when they gave birth!. Ha. It’s an amazing thing to feel support from the true fans of the genre as Jon & I are fans too and that’s who we made the film for! It was also really weird being banded around in the press afterwards having cameras shoved in our faces and doing autographs etc. Bizzare!!
JON: Thank you very much! I felt the premier went really well! I was watching the audiences reactions and was very happy to see they jumped in the right places and seemed to be really involved in the story. Many people came up to me afterwards to say how surprised that they had became so emotionally involved in a Zombie movie! They just weren't expecting that!
2) When the creators of the Best Selling Computer game Resident Evil 5 decided to set the game in Africa they were barraged with complaints, Did you get any Criticism for also setting THE DEAD in Africa?
HOWARD: Great question and it’s a sad reality that even a small number of people might try and twist the sentiment of the movie like this. We have a great many friends in Africa, some were also involved in this project and in fact I recently mentioned the small amount of reaction we had had in this respect to them and they found it ridiculous and actually had a hard time believing that people could misunderstand the movie in this way. Luckily, everyone who has seen the film so far can see that we actually portray the African characters in the film as strong characters with high morals – more so even than our American lead who is more of a flawed character and learns good lessons from the African people he encounters.
JON: There are always going to be a small minority who complain and try to take the moral high ground about this sort of thing. The fact is pretty much everyone who has seen the film knows nothing could be further from the truth. The underlying theme of the film is about how people from different cultures can forget their differences and unite together for the good of all.The locals in Africa are proud people who were so pleased to be making a film that is purely about entertainment and doesn’t patronise them with the usual "look at the poor starving Africans" routine. They actually told me this on many occasions. They wanted the opportunity to show the world that they too could be part of a movie which can work internationally, and then maybe pave the way for more to be made over there, which would really help the local economy. HOWARD: Also, I must add that 2 of the most famous zombie films of all time – ‘Night of the living dead’ ‘Dawn of the Dead’ – set in the US of course – the lead male is Black and he happens to have to battle with lots of zombies, most of whom happen to be white. Of course there is absolutely nothing controversial in this unless you are someone who looks for that sort of thing – you can find negativity in anything if you are inherently negative. ‘The Dead’ happens to be set in Africa – it is set in Africa as we wanted a beautiful landscape in which to set our film – a place that was very open (traditional huts that are vulnerable and not with big cities where a situation like this can be contained) and an environment that is harsh, hot, dry and not so easy to survive unless you have a lot of supplies. It also makes dramatic sense that the main character is as ‘foreign’ as he can be to this land so it is unfamiliar to him in every way. Africa was the perfect place, and naturally Africa happens to contain many Africans and I hope that your readers agree that it would have been morally wrong for us to portray the African locals as anything other than black!
3) You seem to have gone back to the basic style of slow zombies, why did you decide to use slower zombies apposed to the more modern faster Zombie?
Jon: It's funny i always saw the modern running Zombie as the more basic one, because when the Zombies run it always becomes an action scene at the cost of suspense and ultimately horror. When the Zombies are creeping up on you there is a much greater scope for the tension to be really cranked up, Don't get me wrong i also like some of the running zombie movies but in my book the slow ones are much more scary. Besides if we all decided that vampires were now able to operate in the light and they no longer needed to be staked in the heart etc it would ruin the fun a bit by destroying the myth! In effect they would no longer be vampires at all. Howard: Also, we wanted ‘The Dead’ to be a journey movie that is also as reflective and poignant as it is horrific . Its party about loneliness and death stripping away all of the things that life has to offer us and the fact death is creeping up on all of us no matter how far away we think it might be and stylistically running zombies would have killed the mood to say the least! I remember having dreams as a child that must have been set off by hearing my heart beating whilst lying in bed – I would hear the sound as footsteps creeping up on me. I would imagine that I was far away from this ‘creature’ and be slightly comforted that it was at least moving slowly so I had some time but I also felt that if I slept for too long no matter how slow this thing was it would eventually catch up with me and it was a horribly terrifying thought!
4) You told the fans at Frightfest that during filming of THE DEAD you were faced by many dangers. What kind of dangers did you face? and how did this effect filming?
JON: The problems severely effected the filming! We all became ill especially the lead Rob Freeman who contracted full blown malaria. I myself was diagnosed with malaria, we were robbed by the local police on many occasions! Howard was mugged a knife point right at the start. The shipping company at Tilbury Failed to ship our equipment so we had next to nothing with which to make the film for the first five weeks! The set got hit by a tornado which destroyed one of our 35mm movie cameras! Then things rapidly got worse from there! Lol
HOWARD: Outside of the local African people we encountered in the villages who were such open and honest people, its hard to get into words how horrific it was trying to get ‘The Dead’ in the can. I also felt so personally responsible as Producer/Director and many times I felt the additional wrath of anger from a frustrated cast and crew who were so far out of their comfort zone it was unreal. After Rob Freeman got out of hospital, I even offered him a way out – he could fly home and we would re write the script so he died early on but he simply would not quit! He’s got to be admired for that! Everyone became ill at some point, including the African members of our cast and crew and they were as fearful and frustrated as we were when we were held up by police for money. Some people call what we faced corruption, some might say its people using their position to do what it takes to get food on their families table. I don’t know the answer but I can tell you that its incredibly inconvenient when you’re just trying to stay on schedule! Some of the things that happened have caused us to seriously consider that the production has been cursed and there was so much horror in making ‘The Dead’ that i am writing a book about it, documenting every single painful incident that happened. This will hopefully be released with the film.
5) How did you create such a harrowing zombie tale? and what films inspired you?
JON: Thank you! There are so many films that inspired us which include the more obvious ones ie Dawn of the dead, Fulci's movies, And a great almost unknown film from the mid seventies called Lost in the desert. There are many more but it'll be fun to see how many people spot the references.
6) What are you both working on next?
HOWARD There are a couple of other projects bubbling away nicely but to quote a cliché, we can’t tell you much more at this stage. Finally getting our zombie movie on screen has certainly been the realization of a dream but I believe we’ve got a lot more to offer the film world besides ‘The Dead’. Of course, it’s all hinging on how this one goes but our aim is to make films that are first and foremost, entertaining, but also can be enjoyed by an audience who like to explore subject matters with a deeper meaning than what appears to be on the surface. There is also talk of a follow up to The Dead and if the fans support this by viewing it on anything other than a pirate copy then firstly we thank them for their support but they should also know that this will pave the way for us to be able to deliver more and whilst we’re already overflowing with ideas on it, we’ll be looking out for feedback on what true fans of the genre would like to see! Thanks for talking to us.
Nathan's review of WOLF HUNT proved yet again that Jeff Strand is one of the best around at the moment so what better way of leading up to our review of his latest novella FAINT OF HEART then to re post an old interview we did back in 2010 with the man himself.Firstly I wanted to give you tons of praise for THE SINISTER MR CORPSE, what inspired the storyline?
The mental gestation period on that book was so long that I can't pinpoint any specific inspiration, but one day I started writing a screenplay where scientists were bringing a corpse back from the dead while a camera crew filmed them and reporters watched. One of the scientists had his fingers in the corpse's mouth, and I kept stretching out the gag where you KNEW the body was going to come back to life and bite his fingers off. It was about a page of prodding around in there before the inevitable happened.
I abandoned that script after only a few pages, but later I took that concept and changed it to live television. From there, of course, our zombie had to become a national celebrity, and I thought it would be funny to write a novel about a zombie who starts out as a complete jerk but learns to become a better person. The feel-good zombie novel of the year!Speaking to you previously I can tell you have a great sense of humour, have you passed some of your traits into the main character, Stanley’s persona?
I'd like to think that I'm nowhere near as obnoxious as Stanley. There's not much that he says in the book that I can imagine myself saying in real life. I tend to have a pretty dry sense of humour in person, and though I guess he has some of my sarcasm, Stanley's sense of humour is very much about covering for some big-time insecurity. I have spoken to many writers over the years about various writing styles, What kind of writer are you? i.e do you plot your work or go with the flow?
It varies a lot from project to project. With THE SINISTER MR. CORPSE, for example, I knew how things were going to work out in the last two chapters, and I had ideas for a couple of key scenes along the way, but most of it was just made up as I went along. DWELLER, on the other hand, had a detailed chapter-by-chapter outline. PRESSURE is divided into four parts; I knew where each part began and ended, but not much beyond that. WOLF HUNT had a full synopsis before I started writing. THE SEVERED NOSE was a 100% "go with the flow" book--I don't think I could have told you what was going to happen more than a page ahead. Generally, though, I like to have a vague idea of where things are headed and then leave myself open to all of the ideas that occur to me while I'm writing a book.I can’t interview without mentioning DWELLER (which without a shadow of a doubt was my favourite book of 2010). The relationship between the boy and his monster is a sad tale an unbreakable friendship but also the loneliness one person can feel inside himself, was the story based on some inner feelings or just a brilliant story that popped into you head?
It came from the concept of "A boy becomes friends with a monster, and the novel follows them throughout their entire lifetime, from childhood to old age." The whole "bullied kid has a murderous monster pal" has been done before, but I'd never seen that idea told in a way that covered a few decades. The book wasn't really based on any personal inner feelings; it was just about figuring out what kind of person WOULD form a lifetime bond with a big hairy clawed fanged creature in the woods. Toby, the main character, makes some pretty freaking awful decisions during the course of the novel, but my goal was to make sure the reader could understand his feelings, even if you're screaming "No! No! Don't do it!" at the page.What got you writing horror?
It's what I liked to read! I'd written horror as early as high school, but my first three published novels were all comedies. Then my novel GRAVEROBBERS WANTED (NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY) got me labelled as a "horror author," and I completely embraced that. With the closure of many book stores in both America and the UK how do you see the book trade going in the future?
Digital! I honestly think that a lot of the people who despise the idea of e-books would change their mind after five minutes with a Kindle. As much as I love browsing bookstores, there's something incredible about the fact that I can be sitting at home listening to a podcast, hear a recommendation for a book that sounds interesting, and have a free sample of it on my e-reader in 60 seconds. If I like the sample, I can have the full book in another 60 seconds.
I look back fondly at the several years I spent in the late 80's and early 90's desperately seeking a copy of Jack Ketchum's OFF SEASON. When I FINALLY found a copy in a used bookstore it was like a heavenly light shone down upon me while a choir sang. I loved the thrill of the hunt, and there's some nostalgia about the days of obsessively scouring bookstores for rare titles...but ultimately, I'd rather read the book than look for it.Are you more of a horror fiction or horror film fan?
I'd rather read a really good horror novel than watch a really good horror movie...but I'd rather watch a really bad horror movie than read a really bad horror novel.What is you favourite book and film?
My favourite book is BOY'S LIFE by Robert McCammon. My favourite film is SHAUN OF THE DEAD. WOLF HUNT has just been released can you tell our readers a little about the story?
George and Lou are a couple of thugs for hire who've been given a pretty simple job: to transport a man in a cage across the state of Florida. The man, they're told, is a werewolf. I wanted to call the novel THE MAN IN A CAGE WHO MAY OR MAY NOT BE A WEREWOLF BUT YOU'LL HAVE TO READ THE BOOK TO FIND OUT FOR SURE to avoid spoilers, but decided against it, so I'll reveal that yes, he is a werewolf. And he gets loose, leading George and Lou to go on a...WOLF HUNT!
After the bleak DWELLER, I was in the mood to write more of a "fun" book. I'm not sure I'd call it a full-on horror/comedy like THE SINISTER MR. CORPSE or BENJAMIN'S PARASITE...it's really more of an action/horror novel with lots of laughs and no lack of gore. What is next for Jeff Strand?
My next novel, FANGBOY, comes out in April from Delirium Books. It's a fairy tale and much more on the "comedy" side of the horror/comedy equation. Then I have a novella called FAINT OF HEART, which is much more on the "horror" side of the equation. It's a very dark suspense tale. That one isn't yet scheduled, but it'll be from Sideshow Press. Beyond that, I'm currently without a deadline at the moment, which means that I'm having fun working on lots of different projects at once. Even I don't know which one will be finished first!JEFF STRAND IS THE AUTHOR OF SOME BRILLIANT BOOKS. SOME OF THOSE BOOKS INCLUDE: DWELLER, THE SINISTER MR CORPSE AND PRESSUREFOR MORE INFO ON JEFF VISIT HIS WEBSITE: http://jeffstrand.wordpress.com/TO BUY A COPY OF JEFF'S NEW BOOK WOLF HUNT VISIT AMAZON: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wolf-Hunt/dp/B004RYVGQM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1300488935&sr=8-1
Hello and Welcome to Clare’s Crypt….I've just finished your short story 'the almighty penis god', found it absolutely fascinating, you call this genre 'bizarro', could you explain what this is? And more especially what this short means to you, because I get so many different layers and things going on in it?
I would classify my style as more weird than Bizarro. However, I do tend to utilize the genre at times to establish backgrounds and develop particular situations. There are some very great Bizarro authors out there and I pale in comparison. When people ask, I just say Bizarro because it’s easier to explain. Bizarro utilizes elements of absurdism and satire to create odd and fascinating worlds that are as weird as they are entertaining. It stems from a type of speculative fiction that embraces the avant-garde and surrealism. Really though, in my opinion, Eraserhead Press is the very root of Bizarro, creating a forum for authors to explore, create and evolve the genre.
Basically, for us thickos, explain what you are trying to say?
As for your second question, when I was writing The Almighty Penis God, I wanted to reflect humanities preoccupation with greed, sex, sexual orientation, religion, and happiness. But, above all else, I was just trying to create a story that readers would enjoy if they could just let go of the mundane and let their imaginations take them away. Stories should be fun and entertaining above all else, in my opinion.
Life is funny if you look at how absurd it really is. Nations are constantly in conflict. Religion fuels the flames of social unrest. To me, satire is the only way to go. Maybe if people realized how silly they were acting, they would take a step back; just take a moment and laugh at it all. How ridiculous is it when people judge one another by their sexual preference, religious views, or political affiliation? It’s downright absurd. And, to me, that’s where Bizarro fits in. It laughs at convention and bitch slaps the mundane. It’s the perfect medium. You've written some pretty ace titles 'A Goat by any other name is still a Fucking Goat' is a pretty good one, where do you get your inspiration, or for a less boring question, what makes you tick ?
Usually, my stories start on a whim. I think of something that is completely out of the norm and run with it. Also, I’m an avid reader, so by immersing myself in other people’s work, I get ideas and jot notes down as I read. Other than that, I like anything that questions convention: music, literature, art. Having grown up on a steady diet of punk and metal in the 80’s, I learned to extend my most primal finger to what society deems as the ‘norm’. As I’ve gotten older, I tend to laugh at most of what happens in life. Generally, it’s just not worth the energy I had expended in my youth. Now, if I have a problem with something in society, I’ll write it down, twist the hell out of it, and hope other people share in my disillusionment.
Who are your favourite authors? What scares you? What thrills you?
My favorite authors? Damn, that’s a hard one. I started reading the beat authors when I was a youngster after a small stint in college. I became absolutely fascinated with Burroughs, Ginsberg and Kerouac, inhaling everything I could find. I had a mentor back then that introduced me to all of these amazing writers and I went from there. More recently, about in 2008, I found Z. A, Recht’s Plague of the Dead, and discovered Permuted Press and all of the great titles they have released.
What scares me? The government scares the f*ck right out of me. Real life is always scarier than anything we could ever try to produce, and those that are in power are the scariest ones of all.
What thrills me? Uninhibited sex… and cotton candy. I f*cking love
cotton candy! What do you have in pipeline in the future, what are you working on?
I actually just finished a novella which I’m trying to expand into a novel that is set in the ‘Goat by any other name’ universe. It involves dimensional travel, drugs and self exploration. Currently, it is in the hands of some very impressive proof readers. Once I get it back and expand on it a bit, I’ll be doing the hunt for a publisher thing that so many writers dread. I have a second book to that universe underway and plan on expanding the concept into a series. Beyond that, I’m still adding to my set of Zombie short stories that are on Amazon for Kindle. Waiting to die is just something I do on a whim from time to time when the feeling grabs me. And, when the mood strikes, I throw up some weird short stories on Amazon for 99 cents to see if anyone’s paying attention. What do you think of the current dearth of zombie literature, is it dying out now? What next for the horror genre, say fuck off to me if you don't have your crystal ball out?
I love Zombies, but the recent rash of stories that have been blown out (which I’m a part of) over the last few years is a bit much. That’s not to say there isn’t a load of great stories out there, quite to the contrary. But it seems that there are the heavy hitters like Iain McKinnon, Joe McKinney, David Moody, Max Brooks and J. L. Bourne that are still pounding out that good, good zombie lovin’ which so many of us crave. Another new name which everyone should be looking out for is, Matthew Darst. That guy can f*cking write! Check out Dead Things, boys and girls, you won’t be disappointed.
Werewolves seem to be making a bit of a comeback. Vampires have been hit pretty hard by the whole Twilight thing, but there are some pretty damn good books out there that prove the fad wrong. In my opinion, the entire Horror genre is over saturated to the point where I’ll only read new stuff from the tried and true authors that have made me smile from their depravity in the past. Thank you to the wonderfully accommodating Mr Cochran, whose works can be found at :- http://www.amazon.co.uk/Richard-Cochran/e/B005BBNNW0/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1http://authorrmcochran.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/this-is-just-quick-update.html?spref=fb I am always looking for “victims” who dare to enter my Crypt, I cannot promise you will get out alive but you will die happy ……. firstname.lastname@example.org