Frightfest interview with Barbara Crampton 

Ahead of her eagerly awaited presence at Horror Channel FrightFest 2017, genre icon, actress & producer BARBARA CRAMPTON talks exclusively about her latest film Replace, battling chronic fatigue syndrome and her passion for supporting new talent.

Q: REPLACE raises questions about beauty, body image and growing older, issues that many feel plague the Hollywood movie industry. What is your view on this subject?

The best movies reflect our inner world, our hopes, our good intentions, trials and our demons. Growing old and the fear of death is endemic to all, not just the movie industry. Just when you begin to figure it out your back aches, your skin starts to wrinkle and you gain weight just by LOOKING at your food. Let’s be frank: Aging sucks! But it also gives you a calendar to get things done. If we had an abundance of time we might be sloths putting off everything and accomplishing nothing. To me the best thing you can do is to live in each moment as successfully as possible. That translates to all areas of your life, personal, career and lifestyle choices. 

I am not immune however to feeling the anxiety of it all and I do believe most of us lack a grace about allowing nature and gravity to happen. We are collectively obsessed with youth and beauty that’s a problem.

Q: Co-writer/director Norbert Keil says he got the idea for Replace after going to hospital for a back operation. Was that something you could empathise with – the feelings of mortality raised when in such a medical environment?

It wasn’t a medical environment that did it for me but rather a chronic illness. I developed chronic fatigue syndrome 12 years ago after a parasite I had went undiagnosed for 9 months. I was literally in bed for 2 years. The worst time of my life. I was confronted with the fear of the termination of my long term health. Some people live with CFS and never recover. The medical community is still baffled by the syndrome. For me it was quite possibly that my immune system was acting in overdrive, first to rid itself of the parasite and then not being able to turn itself off when the parasite was eradicated. One doctor saved me. Per his instructions I had to become a model patient and test every part of my being: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. I worked on every system to lubricate every aspect. I actually healed things I didn’t realize needed work. Finally my body calmed down and recovered. At one point though, when I was at my lowest, I thought, “Is this it? I haven’t done enough yet!” After I was better, that’s when I started working harder on everything, including my appreciation for being here.


Q: Doctor Rafaela Crober was a part originally written for a man, so what if anything changed in the script to accommodate your feminine side?  

Not too much. A few pieces of dialogue here and there. Science is not male or female and the quest for longevity, which is really what Dr. Crober is interested in, transcends gender.

Q: You’ve said you wanted to play Doctor Crober as someone in full control, can you elaborate?

Crober is playing with science too, albeit for different reasons than Kira, her patient. She has to be so sure of herself and where she thinks the journey will take mankind to pursue such lofty goals. Saying more would give too much away if you haven’t seen the film.


Q: Richard Stanley was a co-writer on Replace. Were you familiar with his work and reputation and did he attend the shooting?

Of course, his reputation is legendary. Richard is a fascinating visionary, an artist. He got a very raw deal on The Island of Dr. Moreau. Fortunately people in the industry realize this and he has some great opportunities coming up. Long overdue. 

Q: Replace is such a visually stunning movie with a very precise look. How does seeing that magic happening around you colour your performance? 

To be honest I did not visualize the movie as it was (in the finished film) while on set. I had a picture in my mind when I read the script that was very subjective to my character. The visuals blew me away when I saw the final finished film. It makes sense though I think, that the visuals are so beautiful and striking, as the movie is from the mind of protagonist Kira. She’s looking for beauty to support the needs of her soul.


Q: The film has an early David Cronenberg feel, did director Norbert Keil discuss any body horror influences or inspirations with you? 

Cronenberg was a very direct influence. And I think the themes of Richard’s work on The Island of Dr. Moreau.

Q: You have now been a guest at many of the world’s fantasy festivals. And this is your second time at FrightFest. Why are these events so important and what makes FrightFest stand out?

I am so grateful to back in the film community and to be fortunate enough to travel to Fests where audiences support and love genre cinema. We are in a transitional period though I believe and festivals for film are one of the only things keeping us alive, supporting new film makers. Film fests are sometimes your only theatrical release so it is of great importance to have your film shown at one that audiences will hopefully love and a distribution company will hopefully buy. FrightFest has a very saavy audience and a very vocal one. You want people to cheer for you and have journalists write a nice review to get distribution companies to make you an offer! 


Q: You’re more prolific in the genre than ever. You had four movies showing at FrightFest in 2015 and you have another four in post-production. You are clearly enjoying it more this time around? 

I’m having a ball really while enjoying the work in a way I never did before. I’m much more relaxed about my place in the business and I enjoy helping others realize the same dreams I had at a young age. I am invested in each project I work on even if I’m not involved in a producer capacity. I want to help others create the best film they possibly can.

Q: You’ve chosen to be a mentor for FrightFest & MPI Media’s NEW BLOOD Initiative. Is supporting new genre writers an important mission for you?

I am passionate about having the best script possible to begin the journey to creating a film. I do think that too many times the script isn’t as good as it could be and “people” forgive themselves too soon about that and forge ahead with submitting a script or filming without being completely ready. The script is your foundation, spend lots of time on it. I love writers. They have the capacity for insight and understanding of human nature, of people’s vulnerabilities, strengths and desires. When I read a great script with characters I care about, I fall in love with the writer a little bit.

I feel I can help a lot with the development process of a screenplay. Character is story and story is character. The journey that an actor will take in the story is something I am very familiar with and have worked on a lot. The script is the very first thing you begin with, so let’s get that right first. Then we can discuss the importance of making a great first impression with your freshman effort if you want to direct it as well. It used to be that you made a film and people in charge would see “promise” in you and you’d be able to move on to your next movie. That’s becoming harder and harder for a lot of reasons. Make the best damn first film you can.

My friend, esteemed journalist and film critic, Steve Prokopy said to me recently, “20% of all movies are truly great or really awful. The rest exist in a grey zone of average, above average or below average.”  What kind of movie do you want people to say you’ve made? Impressions are important on a first date and a first movie.


Q: You’re increasingly becoming involved in films as a producer. Do you feel this is a natural progression in your career?

At this point in my life and career it depends on the project. If I really love something I’ll want to work on it. For me a story needs a strong narrative with an emotional core. That’s what my sensibilities are attracted to. I really love acting and I do enjoy helping others realize their dream.

Q: Finally, what’s next?

I have two projects that I’m actively working on to produce. One, I may have an acting part in as well. There are also a few movies which I shot in the last two years or so as an actor only and they are still in various stages of post-production. Hopefully I’ll be seeing you next year on the fest circuit with one of those!

 

REPLACE receives its UK Premiere on Sunday 27 Aug, 3.30pm at The Prince Charles Cinema, Leicester Square, as part of Horror Channel FrightFest 2017. Barbara is also a mentor for the FrightFest / MPI Media UK script writing talent search NEW BLOOD.

 

 

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Modus (TV Series) (2015)

The Scandinavians do it again. Seriously. Very rarely have I watched  a programme from Sweden or Denmark where I have been bored or found the story uninteresting. Detective Ingvar Nyman is sent to Uppsala to investigate the grisly murder or a bishop. Teaming up with a psychologist, they seek to uncover just why people are turning up dead in some very strange circumstances. 

There are gruesome scenes which may not be for the squeamish, but this series is never gratuitous. It’s superbly acted and the story is gripping. It’s mostly subtitled, but there is quite a bit of English speaking in it too for those that have an allergic reaction to reading subtitles. Seriously folks, you’re missing out on some gems if you refuse to watch movies or programmes with subtitles. 

The cast do a very good job in keeping you engaged, and play their parts to perfection. I really hope that there is more of this to come. MODUS  is released on Blu-ray & DVD on Monday 19th December by Nordic Noir & Beyond.

Modus is definitely a series that you need to give your time to. Very impressed. 

5/5

JM

Beck: Vol. 2 (2016) (TV Series) 

The Scandinavians really do know how to make thrilling drama. With the likes of Trapped, The Killing, Borgen and many others, they have thrilled UK audiences. Beck is another jewel in that crown. 

Peter Haber plays the brilliant Martin Beck, a Swedish detective who hunts down all sorts of criminals. He is called back into action when a journalist is found beaten to death in his home. Various fingerprints are found which may allude to the killer’s identity, but the further Beck and his team dig, the more they realise that things may not be as straightforward as they seem. 

However that is only the first case in this series. This wonderful procedural weaves through different grisly cases, whilst simultaneously delving into each of the characters lives. It does a great job in really investing in the characters and making you care for them. The acting really is first class.

The stories are thoroughly gripping too. The writing is intelligent and there are various twists and turns keeping you on the edge of your seat. The supporting cast are fabulous, and you never get the feeling like any one character feels redundant in their role. 

If the Scandinavians can continue to produce awesome television such as this, then I think we will always have something decent to watch. Even more than once. BECK – THE SERIES VOLUME TWO is released on DVD on Monday 10th October by Nordic Noir & Beyond.

5/5

JM

Gomorrah: Season 2 (2016)

Don’t read if you haven’t seen the first season. 

*CAUTION SPOILERS AHEAD*

With Don Pietro sprung from his prison convoy and Gennaro clinging to life after being shot and left for dead by Ciro, a power vacuum has been created and Don Salvatore is manoeuvring to take complete control of the city. Continuing on from the blisteringly good first season, Gomorrah aims to capitalise on its gripping story on the fall and possible rise of the Savastano clan. 

Ciro has decided to make a power grab himself, though not for complete control, rather just to stay alive. Gennaro looks to reconnect with his father but it doesn’t go as he would’ve hoped. What Gomorrah does well is fully flesh out every character, even those that are sometimes relegated to the background. The first season did it too. There were episodes that contained just a handful of characters, and didn’t need to constantly remind you that others existed. Same for season 2. One episode is dedicated almost completely to Gennaro and Don Pietro. It’s a thrillingly told episode, that shows you how deep bonds are between father and son, and how damaging a mistake can be. 

The acting is second to none. Seriously. Everyone owns their respective roles and nobody feels like they’re not pulling their weight. Same goes for the script. The story never feels like it flags, and is constantly keeping you on the edge of your seat. I seriously cannot wait for season 3.

Gomorrah season 2 is available to order now on Blu Ray and DVD from all good stockists. 

5/5

JM

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)

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We can thank writer Seth Grahame-Smith for mashing up Jane Austen’s classic ‘Pride and Prejudice’ with the undead. It’s something that shouldn’t really work, as it’s two wildly different ideas being melded together. That said, it does work, and work quite well.

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The story really is just the standard tale of love between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, with hordes of the shuffling undead thrown in. Lily James is fantastic as Elizabeth, really getting into the fights, with the dashing Sam Riley playing Mr. Darcy, fighting by her side. Director Burr Steers said that most people couldn’t really figure out how to film the movie as they weren’t sure what direction to take it in. Burr Steers said he took the job because he was just going to film it like he would if it didn’t have zombies in it. Everyone plays it so straight and it makes it a very funny movie because of it.

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The gore is not bad, not as gory as I was expecting, considering we have flesh eating zombies on the prowl. The fight choreography is very well put together, and everybody seems to be throwing themselves into their roles. The supporting cast of Lena Headey, Charles Dance, Jack Huston and even Doctor Who actor Matt Smith are all cast brilliantly in their respective roles.

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The film does lag in the third act, which I was a little disappointed about, as that is exactly when it should be firing on all cylinders. The movie is released on Blu Ray and DVD on 27th June.

3/5

JM

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Manhattan Baby (1982)


When an archaeologist, Dr. George Hacker (Christopher Connelly) opens a tomb in Egypt, he unleashes an evil spirit which latches onto his young daughter. Upon the family’s arrival in New York, a series of grisly murders and strange occurrences begin to take place. 

An amulet which is give to the young girl may hold the secret to the identity of the spirit and how the family can free themselves from its clutches. This is certainly a strange movie, and it looks very dated. The effects are certainly ropey in places, which I believe was down to the production company not getting all of the budget they requested. 


Lucio Fulci had a good few movies out during the 80’s and a lot of them are cult classics like The Beyond, The New York Ripper and Zombie Flesh Eaters to name but a few. Sadly this is not up there with his greatest hits. That’s not to say it isn’t entertaining, because it is, but it’s just not as memorable. It’s nice to see Lucio Fulci use proper locations to tell the story, rather than wooden sets, and the cast give 100% in every scene.   

There is some decent gore on offer, one place where Fulci has always delivered in my humble opinion. I did notice that it stars that annoying blonde kid from Fulci’s other great horror ‘The House by the Cemetery’, and he has an encounter with some scorpions which was hilarious to watch. There is a lot to like about these Italian horrors though. I love the dodgy dubbing over each actors original voice, and the hammy acting on display always makes things fun to watch. The effects are fun too, like the dodgy stuffed birds dangling on wires. 


Manhattan Baby is certainly worth a watch for fans of Lucio Fulci’s work, but it’s sure to divide those that love his other movies. Manhattan Baby is available now on DVD from the fine folks over at Shameless Screen Entertainment:

http://www.shameless-films.com/shop/Manhattan-Baby.html

3/5

JM

Rat Man (1988)

  
When a pretty model is found dead on an island, her body mutilated, an investigation begins in to just what happened. The deceased model’s sister arrives with a mystery novel writer (David Warbeck), to try and figure out what was the cause of her sisters murder. The duo discover that the explanation is far more bizarre than they ever could have realised. 

A scientist has created a rat/monkey hybrid, for reasons unknown, though he does mention a Nobel peace prize at one point. The hybrid played by Nelson de la Rosa (The Island of Dr. Moreau), has developed murderous tendencies and decides he doesn’t like being caged up anymore. 

  
This movie is straight up trash and I loved it. I’ve always had a soft spot for David Warbeck as he’s always given 100% no matter what the role or how strange the movie is. He kind of downplays it a tad here, but he’s still the sort of hero he played in The Beyond. The plot dithers about and feels patchy and incoherent in places, but I feel it adds to the charm. I mean when the tag line reads ‘He’s the critter from the shitter’ I think it’s safe to say you know what sort of movie you’re getting. 

  
Nelson de la Rosa seems to enjoy his role as the carnivorous Rat Man, particularly as he gets close to some scantily clad women, and if you’ve seen the documentary about the making of ‘The Island of Dr. Moreau’ then you know he’s quite fond of the ladies. 

    

The acting is atrocious in places, but if you’re a fan of trashy movies then that really won’t be an issue to you. These sort of horror movies have never really attempted to wow you with their acting, preferring to throw blood and naked women in your direction instead and hope that it keeps your attention. Fans of cheap Italian horror will find a lot to like here, and David Warbeck is always good value. The supporting cast are not the best, but they make do. 

  
Shameless Screen Entertainment have released the movie uncut for the first time ever in the U.K, and the film is presented in 16.9 anamorphic widescreen. The film is available to purchase now directly from the Shameless website via the following link:

http://www.shameless-films.com/shop/Ratman.html

I’d like to thank Shameless for providing me with the movie for review. 

3/5

JM

  

The House on the Edge of the Park (1980)

  
A woman is brutally raped and killed by psychotic Alex (David Hess) late one night. Afterwards he returns to work at a garage where his simple friend Ricky (Giovanni Radice) also works. When a young well to do couple come into the garage asking for help fixing their car and say that they’re going to a friends party, it kick starts a chain of events resulting in brutal murder and unparalleled mayhem. 

  
Ruggero Deodato was really at the height of his fame when he made this brilliantly sleazy movie. Ricky is easily led by the brutal Alex, as he just isn’t that bright, but still has (very) small elements of good in him. Alex however is just pure evil, resorting to satisfying his wildest urges, no matter how depraved. The group having the party are really put through the ringer, and you wonder just what will happen next. 

  
David Hess just really recycles his role from ‘Last House on the Left’, and it’s not really a far cry from many of the roles he played during his career. The makers of this movie were so desperate to have him on board that they actually gave him half the rights to the film. Giovanni Radice plays the part of the simple Ricky very well. With limited intelligence you can see he doesn’t really understand at first the magnitude of his actions, and you feel that he’s mostly doing it to impress Alex. There is a lot of nudity, some full frontal, and the violence is quite brutal. If that’s not your thing then it’s best to avoid this movie. Then again if you’re reading reviews about this movie, it’s probably safe to say that it intrigues you somewhat, and if so then I would say you should give it a go. 

  
The film is over 35 years old, so it is very dated in parts, particularly the fashion, but the content on show still manages to pack a punch. The violence, a lot of it of a sexual nature, is very near the knuckle. The acting on show really is top quality, and really helps in keeping you gripped to the end. 

Thank you to Shameless Screen Entertainment for letting me review this movie. It’s available now from their site via the following link:

http://www.shameless-films.com/shop/House-On-The-Edge-Of-The-Park.html

4/5

JM

  

Trapped (TV Series) (2015)

  
Synopsis from the Arrow Films website:

“As a ferry carrying 300 passengers from Denmark pulls into an Icelandic town s small port, heavy snow begins to fall. The ferry can t leave until the storm passes and the main road into town is impassable. A mutilated and dismembered body washes on the shore, an unidentifiable man murdered only hours ago. The local police chief, Andri Ólafssun, whose personal life is in shatters, realises a killer has descended into his town. As word spreads, order disintegrates into chaos as the ferry’s passengers and the town’s residents realise they are all possible suspects and that a killer is trapped among them.”

That does a much better job of describing this stunning series than I ever could. When we meet Chief Ólafssun he is already someone you can wholly sympathise and identify with. He’s an everyday sort of person who finds himself up against a cunning killer when he is already himself at breaking point. With his trusty colleagues, they begin to piece together the events that lead to the grisly murder, but there are lots of surprises and red herrings along the way. Each episode leaves you wanting more, and you may find that you binge through episodes before deciding to take a break, it’s that good. 

 
Ólafur Darri Ólafassun who plays the put upon Chief Ólafassun really makes you warm to him. Eagle eyed viewers may remember him from ‘A Walk Among The Tombstones’ of which he had a brief but memorable role. Scandinavia has really been on a solid run with the thrilling dramas it has been releasing of late. The Killing, Borgen, The Bridge and Those Who Kill all show why audiences are so drawn to the sterling drama on offer. Each series that has come out of Scandinavia has hooked people because of the great writing, fully rounded characters and thrills that are on offer. 

 
The supporting cast all deliver and help in fleshing out a gripping piece of television. The scenery is breathtaking too, with the mountains and the unrelenting snow really making you feel glad to be warm indoors. I love watching TV series such as ‘Trapped’ which keep you gripped and don’t give too much away in each episode.

 
I’m really looking forward to seeing what is in store for a second series of ‘Trapped’ should they decide to make one. TRAPPED is released on Monday 11th April by Nordic Noir & Beyond, and is available to pre order now from the following link:

http://www.arrowfilms.co.uk/shop/index.php?route=product/product&keyword=trappe&product_id=710%22

It really is a top series and one I highly recommend. 

5/5

JM

  

I, The Jury (1982)

  
After his old war buddy is gunned down, private detective Mike Hammer (Armand Assante) seeks vengeance. However as Hammer investigates, he finds that this is more than a case of simple murder. 

  
As the investigation deepens, Mike and his gorgeous secretary Velda (the stunning Laurene Landon), find out that the government are involved and are using mind control to create assassins with the help of a sexual therapy clinic. It’s a bit crazy, but a lot of fun. 

  

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