Get ready, anthology fans! The time has come for all the details you need regarding Paul Davis’ (Beware the Moon) upcoming collection of terror tales, Habeus Corpus, including the teaser trailer!
Habeus Corpus is an upcoming portmanteau horror feature bringing together some new and exciting names in the genre. Directors Paul Davis (Beware The Moon) and Simon Aitken (Blood + Roses) are collaborating with award-winning short film writers/directors Clive Ashenden and Rob Wickings (Code Grey, Snatching Time), writer Ben Woodiwiss (Blood + Roses), and effects artist Brendan Lonergan (John Carter of Mars, Clash of the Titans, Gladiator, Alien 3) on the film: an anthology themed around the exploitation of the dead.
A graveyard caretaker makes a deal with a flesh-eating zombie. While the log-fire in his cottage burns, he will have an attentive audience for his macabre stories. But when the fire dies… so will he.
“What first attracted me to “The Caretaker and The Corpse”, was the Caretaker himself. Even in writer Ben Woodiwiss’ first draft, here was a character with a sly sense of humour, coupled with a compelling mystery: Who was this storyteller regaling us with his tales of the dead? He seemed to be a kindly old gentleman, but who was he really?
Once I had the answer to that question, an entirely new (and much darker and more ironic) ending presented itself. Happily, when I pitched my new take on the script to Ben, he embraced it immediately and we were able to work together on the subsequent drafts of the script.
I also loved the idea of working on the story that linked all the others together. All my favourite portmanteau horror movies, from “Dead of Night” onwards, had a strong spine; a story which not only bookended the movie, but provided its connective tissue and had a real sting in the tail.
Perhaps because ‘The Caretaker’ feels like a Peter Cushing type of role to me, the look and feel I’m going for is Hammer Horror meets Amicus. I want that sickly Eastman colour look you get in Terence Fisher movies like “Dracula” (aka. “The Horror of Dracula”) and “The Hound of the Baskervilles”. To modern audiences some of the British horror movies from that time can seem almost quaint in comparison to the likes of “Saw”, “Hostel” and “Martyrs”. But I think this will work in favour of our story. Like a real wolf hidden inside a fairy tale wolf’s costume, when it finally turns nasty and tears its way out of that cosy shell, it’s even more shocking than if we just started straight in with the mutilation and killing.
Ultimately, if people want to get an idea of how the balance of humour and horror will work in “The Caretaker and the Corpse”, they can look at the teaser trailer I wrote and directed. This will be a horror laced with comedy, not a comedy laced with horror.”
Trevor is a recovering alcoholic, who has filled the aching gap that booze used to fill by visiting prostitutes. He hears about an exclusive place where the girls touch you so sweetly that it’s barely like being touched at all. It’s called The Veil. The host of the place, an androgynous creature called Shrike, soon hooks Trevor in, and demands a price that will destroy both the addict and his wife.
Shrike has a secret, and the girls of The Veil are older than they look…
“Livedeadgirls takes a lot of the themes and imagery that have popped up in my writing over the years and gives them a more overtly horror-heavy kick. I’ve always been interested in self-destructive behaviour, and the justifications that people give when they embark something that’s obviously a bad idea. I tend to write about powerful women. Women who have abilities beyond the mundane. Most obviously, I write about magic and mystery leaking into the world, and how it affects those that it touches. The trigger for the piece was seeing a sign for a strip bar in Walker’s Court, Soho, that said simply “Live Girls.” The simple question that popped into my mind at that moment “Well, what ELSE would they be?” sparked off the first draft of the film.
I’ve got clear ideas for the look and feel of Livedeadgirls. I’m a film geek. My day job is at one of the few surviving motion picture film labs in the UK as a film archivist, and I shoot Super 8 as a hobby. I’ve had my head turned by the bleak yet rich feel of TV dramas of the 70’s, and want to get some of the atmosphere of ITC’s output into my film. It suits the material, and can be successfully updated without doing the obvious shorthand tricks. I’m not interested in destauration, colour washes or fake film splices and dirt. Livedeadgirls will look contemporary, but feel timeless.”
The Tourist is about a young man, Stuart O’Brien, who discovers he has the ability to absorb energy from a person when they die. The rush he gets from it is like a drug. He volunteers at a local hospice, where he feeds off the dying. Alas he is not the only one with this gift. He finds someone more experienced and more dangerous than he could imagine.
“The Tourist was the last story written for Habeas Corpus. We had come up with the concept that the film is about of the exploitation of the dead. I was struggling to find my story. I didn’t want to copy the other guys. I hit upon the idea when I was talking to a friend about the death of an actor I had worked with. His name was Matt Stokes. I had directed him in a TV pilot, called ‘Moving Forward”. He died in hospital from a brain tumour. I hadn’t gone to visit him and my friend wondered why I hadn’t gone? I told him I didn’t want to be a tourist. That’s when the lightbulb went off. Where I got the idea of a person who actively seeks out the dying.
The hospice, that is going to be in the film, is based on research I did. But I also took inspiration from the hospital in The Exorcist 3. I want the place to be creepy, but to function as a real hospice. The look I am going for is a realistic look, though the camerawork is going to be very stylistic.”
Edward J Goldsmith, lonely, middle aged bachelor, is the unwitting victim of a confused, undead works unit by the name of Charlie, who thoroughly believes that Goldsmiths house once belonged to him. While on an assignment, it/he has escaped from an underground facility run by government men, plotting to do away with troublesome workforces, Trade unions, armies etc and ultimately create a cost effective undead workforce which doesn’t ask questions, answer back or take days off. After being kidnapped by the loathsome creature Charlie, Mr Goldsmith is embroiled deep into a world of utilitarian walking corpses, and evil little men in Bowler hats plotting to change the face of 1950’s Britain … possibly the world.
A female art student is in danger of failing a critical school project, not only resulting in her dropping out of school, but being deported from Britain back to the United States. While struggling to find inspiration for her project on S.C.U.M. (the Society for Cutting Up Men), she stumbles upon a method of expressing her art in a way that embodies the very core of the subject matter. Art isn’t dead. Dead is art.
My involvement in S.C.U.M. has actually come about very late in the project. As far as a I know this movie as a collective has been silently in the works for about two-years and I came on board in May. I really liked the script (written by Ben Woodiwiss) when it was sent to me. As I was reading it I was getting a million flashes through my head regarding the style and tone. There was a sense of humour already there but I felt it could be exploited further, because the very idea of mass murder being turned into art is just ridiculous, so I wanted to really magnify the absurdity of it, while at the same time have it play out deadly straight. That said, I knocked out a 4th draft of the script, which has worked out as the shooting script, and changed a few things around. Now the central character is very much just in it for the art or for the grade, with those around her really advocating the lengths in which she goes to to get results.
As for how I’m approaching it, I can only really describe it in the form of a joke… What would you get if Andy Warhol raped Brian De Palma? S.C.U.M. I’ve been watching a lot of De Palma and giallo to really nail an over the top pop-arty look, mainly for all the gore scenes. For the rest of the movie, I’ve been watching some John Hughes stuff, Clueless, Mean Girls… really bright, hip, rock n roll teen movies. I want it to be a juxtaposition of ‘OMG and Oh My God!’ Two worlds colliding, both super exaggerated. It’s going to be a lot of fun, and I’ve already nailed a couple of cameos such as Emily Booth (Doghouse, Evil Aliens) and Jake West (director of Evil Aliens and Doghouse). It’s going to be a lot of fun to shoot and I can assure that the big payoff – my ‘prom scene’ if you will – will definitely be something special.
Habeas Corpus – Teaser Trailer
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