Interview: Director Neil Marshall talks TALES OF HALLOWEEN

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British horror and fantasy filmmaker Neil Marshall talks to SHOCK about TALES OF HALLOWEEN.

Neil Marshall needs no elaborate introduction to SHOCK readers, seeing as his dark visions have birthed such contemporary horror masterpieces as DOG SOLDIERS and THE DESCENT as well as go-for-broke action scrappers like DOOMSDAY and CENTURION, not to mention his efforts quickening pulses on GAME OF THRONES and…

Whoops. We just preached to the chorus, anyway. Sorry for wasting space.

Let’s push past his storied past and move into Marshall’s present to discuss his work in the much-buzzed about horror omnibus TALES OF HALLOWEEN, a multi-chapter salute to Samhain that also sports the works of directors Andrew Kasch, John Skipp, Mike Mendez, Axelle Carolyn and many, many others.

Marshall’s contribution to this seasonal creeper comes in the form of a mini-film called “BAD SEED”, a dark police procedural-cum-murder mystery that also happens to be about a killer pumpkin uprising…

In anticipation of the theatrical and VOD release of TALES OF HALLOWEEN this Friday, SHOCK locked Marshall down to shake his candy sack for more info…

SHOCK: You’re British, I’m Canadian. Culturally, we like Halloween…but we don’t LOVE Halloween like the U.S. does. Was it a shock when you moved to LA and discovered just how wild Americans are for Halloween?

MARSHALL: Yes, it was a shock. But it was a pleasant shock. Finally, I found other people who loved Halloween like I had always wanted to. Understand that I had always wanted to celebrate Halloween, but we really just don’t do that in the UK. They’re trying to get there now, though. I mean, people dress up now. But trick or treating was frowned upon where I grew up.  It was just not something that was thought of as decent. We also didn’t eat enough pumpkins in the UK, so we had to use turnips instead…

SHOCK: You did not.

MARSHALL: Oh, Yeah. We did.

SHOCK: Why do you think Halloween is so big here?

MARSHALL: Well, it’s probably because people figured out they could make enough money with it. I think that’s what it is. It’s really no different than Christmas. Once it became commercialized, it got really, really big.

SHOCK: So, with your segment, you’ve made your killer pumpkin movie, which is a ludicrous concept…

MARSHALL: Of course it is!

SHOCK: And yet you play it absolutely straight…

MARSHALL: That’s something I picked up from British comedies; the more outrageous your situation, you HAVE to play it straight. If I had played this for obvious laughs, it would just be goofy. That said, it is tongue-in-cheek, for sure. No matter how you cut it, killer pumpkins are not scary. Maybe for little kids they are, but for adults, no. So it was necessary that everyone acted deadly serious and that’s what makes it funny.

SHOCK: The movie has a loose vibe. It feels like a bunch of friends just hanging out and making a movie. I can imagine it was a no-pressure gig…

MARSHALL: On the contrary! It was unbelievable pressure to shoot it in time. The most stressful shoot I’ve ever done, in fact. We had no time and no budget to compensate. It was simply, we get it in 2 days or else we forget it. Which is not to say it wasn’t fun, because all my friends were involved in it and that was great. By the same token, the Police station scene, which was the first thing we shot, all the directors of the other segments are in there: Mike Mendez, John Skipp…everyone was there! And they were just checking me out; it felt like they were watching my moves, which was nerve-wracking. But on the whole, when I sat back and considered everything, I was making a killer pumpkin movie and I had Joe Dante and John Savage in it and that was just wild.

SHOCK: How did you manage to convince Savage to get on board?

MARSHALL: Our casting director just called his agent and he said, well, John isn’t doing anything on Monday so he might as well work! Trust me, nobody did it for the money. There was none! Everyone who worked their guts out did it because they loved it, loved the idea of it and saw what it could be. That and we all just love horror movies…