Thursday, May 2, 2013

BH: An Interview With Chris Alexander And HELLRAISER II’s Barbie Wilde On BLUE EYES!

Yet another article rescued from the gaping hole that was once

“Deeper than love. Darker than death.”
This is the mantra of BLUE EYES, the upcoming horror film from executive producers Chris Alexander (BLOOD FOR IRINA, QUEEN OF BLOOD) and Barbie Wilde, actress (HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER II, DEATH WISH 3) and author (THE VENUS COMPLEX, VOICES OF THE DAMNED). They co-wrote the script based on a short story by Wilde.
We had a chance to sit down with the pair to discuss their upcoming project! You can check out the interview below, but first here’s the official synopsis of BLUE EYES:
Gazza Hunt is a man living on the edge, a man whose life has been battered down by bum luck and bad decisions and who has simply given up. Homeless, hopeless and wracked by addiction, Gazza’s desperate existence is interrupted one night when, wandering in the woods, he follows a glowing blue light to a freshly dug hole in the earth where he finds an ethereal, nude sleeping beauty, perfect in every way. But, as Gazza soon learns, this woman isn’t asleep. She’s dead. And yet somehow Gazza is still uncontrollably drawn to her…this blue girl…with those blue eyes…
Blumhouse: What first got you into the horror genre?
Chris Alexander: Well, that’s pretty easy. I can trace it very clearly to a handful of influences. One was seeing the album LOVE GUN by the band KISS at the library when I was 3. It was filed under the kids’ records, and I couldn’t read it, but I could see the image. It was very erotic, before I knew what erotic was, but it was also really weird. Gene Simmons was in chain mail and he had fangs and bat wings. I didn’t know what I was looking at. I was very frightened. I had nightmares that KISS was coming through the ceiling vent into my home. It was really traumatic. I started trying to draw KISS. I had to come to terms with what I was seeing.
The second thing was my uncle. He was mentally challenged, but he was a savant when it came to making models and puzzles. He collected comic books, and he had tons and tons of Marvel horror comics as well as the Aurora model kits. I was really frightened and fascinated by these things. I would touch them, study them, and again, try to draw them.
The last thing was in Niagara Falls. On the Canadian side we had a thing called Clifton Hill. It was like a mini Las Vegas, and there was this wax museum with a House of Frankenstein. It’s still there. My grandmother took me through that when I was four. I was so frightened, but they wouldn’t let me leave. Once you were in you had to go all the way through. I was screaming and trying to hide my face. I got out at the end of it and it exited into a gift shop. It was all pretty and nice and Muzak was playing, and I couldn’t come to terms with that dichotomy of literally stepping through a door between absolute horror and something benign and innocuous.
Those are the three things I think that proved to be the foundation of all this stupid stuff I love.
Barbie Wilde: My father was a voracious consumer of sci-fi and Fantasy, as well as being a big fan of classic TV series like the original TWILIGHT ZONE, OUTER LIMITS, and NIGHT GALLERY, so I was sitting in front of the TV with square eyes at a very early age. My big brother loved the Saturday afternoon Creature Features, so again, I watched films like THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD (1951), THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (1951), INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1956), and INVADERS FROM MARS (1953) when I was probably far too young. These films engendered a rather alarming (for me anyway) paranoia about aliens taking over the minds of my parents, which luckily I was able to shake off at a later date. (My short story, “Botophobia” [a fear of basements], from my illustrated short horror story collection, VOICES OF THE DAMNED, was based on those early fears.)
I also saw a lot of Hitchcock films when I was a kid, along with spooky classics like THE INNOCENTS (1961) and THE HAUNTING (1963). All these films made a huge impression on me and piqued my interest not only in supernatural horror, but real life horror as well.
BH: How did you two first team together?
CA: I met Barbie before she even knew I existed, by watching her [as the Female Cenobite] in 1988 when I would rent HELLRAISER II all the time. I saw HELLRAISER as a kid in the 80’s. It was this thing that was in your face, bringing in a European sensibility that wasn’t really anything that I had seen before. That really spoke to me. It was mixture of sex, weirdness, and S&M. It felt dangerous, and HELLRAISER II I liked even more.
Flash forward many years, when I was writing Fangoria. I heard Barbie, who was also in DEATH WISH 3, was starting to become something of a writer.
BW: I approached Chris when my debut serial killer novel, THE VENUS COMPLEX, came out in 2012, in the hopes of getting a review from Fangoria. He asked to read my other short horror stories that had appeared in various anthologies as well. Chris interviewed me for a featurette called “Bad Barbie” in Fangoria about my writing and acting career, and since then he has been incredibly supportive of my work.
CA: I’ve always been fascinated by people who are multi-hyphenates, who start in one medium and end up parlaying into another successfully. And I found that really interesting, so I contacted her and said “I’d like to read your stuff,” and she sent me a box. I was blown away by it.
It was Barker-esque to some degree, but there was something a little bit scrappier. Barbie comes from new wave and rock and roll. There’s something more urgent and feminine about her writing. I can’t quite articulate what that energy is, but there was just something really incredibly hypersexual and dangerous and dark, yet somehow seductive and feminine about it.
She’s the sweetest, most bubbly no-bullshit person you’ll ever meet, and yet her writing is some of the blackest, nastiest, most macabre shit you’ll ever read.
I became a fan of the writing, I wrote a huge piece on her, and we became friends. In fact, I wrote the foreword to her hardcover collection of short stories.
BW: We finally met in 2014 at Texas Frightmare Weekend and instantly hit it off.
CA: We’ve met in the flesh a handful of times, but I consider her one of my greatest friends.
BW: We’ve been talking about doing a film project together for a long time, and BLUE EYES is the inevitable result.
BH: Barbie, this script is based on one of your short stories. Out of all the projects that you’ve written, what drew you to adapt this particular one?
BW: I’d just finished the “Blue Eyes” short story for a recent anthology submission and I sent it off to Chris, because I somehow felt that it would appeal to his sensibilities as a filmmaker. I love his movies for their fearlessness, their erotic, fever dream atmosphere and their concentration on the feminine perspective. Chris is also is an incredibly talented soundtrack composer, so it seemed like a perfect fit.
BH: Chris, what was your initial reaction to the idea?
CA: Barbie came to me and said, “Look I wrote this story. It’s really kind of out there. I can’t imagine anyone else adapting it except you. Why don’t we do a little short movie?” I read it and I was like, “Oh my god!”
I always deal with eroticism to some degree, but I don’t deal with the sex.  I think sex it’s quite boring sometimes, unless it makes sense in the context of the horror psychodrama. This story that Barbie wrote was virtually pornographic, but it was by intent. It had to be. I said, “Everything is here that I love about cinema.”
It’s about this downtrodden homeless guy. Life has dealt him a raw deal and he’s completely now on the fringe of the world, just scraping by and he ends up finding this girl in a grave in the middle of the woods who’s glowing blue and, long story short, he becomes fixated on her. It was almost like if Clive Barker made LIFEFORCE by way of NEKROMANTIK. It’s really fascinating. It’s got a science fiction undercurrent to it, but it’s really a slice of a larger story.
I can see it coming to life, but it’s incredibly hard-core. It’s an interesting experiment, to really go a little bit left field with this thing. So I said, “Let’s do it.”
BH: Did you make any major changes when adapting it?
BW: I think that it’s inevitable that changes will occur when one is adapting a short story into a feature film. Short stories are the ideal basis for films when you think about it, because it allows the filmmakers a lot of scope to expand the narrative arc of the characters, as well as adding inciting incidences and background.
CA: One of my favorite movies is Barbet Schroeder’s BARFLY, based on the writer Charles Bukowski and starring Mickey Rourke. I said, “What if we meld this to a kind of Barfly-esque, neorealistic vibe and follow this guy on his adventures through the streets, really getting to know him by the environments he’s in? We can really expand this into a feature and by the time we get to the dead girl and the sex, that happens after we’ve already gotten to know this guy so much.” It almost becomes a different movie entirely. We’ll begin by grounding it in reality, but it’ll start slipping into an opium dream as it progresses.
We have most of the cast. We still haven’t found the girl. It all hangs on her and how uninhibited she’ll be. This thing has to be pretty far past the norm. It all depends on who we find who will really take our hands and trust us and really go there.
This is probably the most ambitious thing I’ve done, and the first time I’ve really worked with anyone else’s ideas. That’s what I’m most excited about. I’m taking Barbie’s words, thoughts, and worlds that she’s built and I’m interpreting them, which is a really interesting thing to me. And if it works, which I think it will, it’s gonna be a very deep, dark, dangerous little movie.
BH: Barbie, will you be appearing onscreen in BLUE EYES?
BW: There are no plans for me to appear in the film, however, I will be appearing soon for the first time in many years in a short horror film by Gary Smart and Chris Griffiths called THE OFFER, which also features fellow HELLRAISER alumni Ken Cranham, Simon Bamford, Oliver Smith and Nicholas Vince.
BH: And Chris, you’ve composed the music for all your previous films. Will you be doing the same for BLUE EYES?
CA: I’m definitely doing the score. With all four films that I’ve made to date (I’m doing a fifth one now and then BLUE EYES) I’ve written the music first. Already with BLUE EYES I’ve already written a bunch of the music and recorded it based on how I feel about the story. So when I get to camera and especially in the edit, it’s almost the approach of a rock video in some respect. In that I start kind of forming the visual language based on what’s on the soundtrack.
[We’re very happy to be able to share with you a snippet of the music Chris composed for BLUE EYES. Click below to listen!]
BH: Once funding is complete, what production date are you aiming for?
CA: We’re gonna be shooting it, whether we Kickstart it or find a different investor.
Whoever puts money behind this, creative control is a must. Right now that’s kind of the unknown.
But no matter what, whoever is behind it, it is shooting this summer, and it our goal is to be festival ready by October. I have it ready to rock. I don’t mess around. The lead is a good friend of mine, and I’m shooting it here in Toronto, so I know my terrain. It’s such a simple film. Nobody goes into outer space. There’s no gigantic special effects. It’s a very earthy, arty film, and I think it’ll be a breeze and a joy to pull off.
BH: Can you tell us a little bit about the lead actor, Nivek Ogre?
CA: Ogre is the Mick Jagger of gothic industrial rock. I think he’s one of the greatest physical presences I’ve ever seen. He used to be like my famous monster when I was a teenager. No one really knew what he looked like, except what his persona was like onstage, so there was no tangible humanity to the guy. He was this alien thing that was spitting blood and ripping himself to pieces and blowing his brains out and dressed as this stilt-wearing monster. He iscinema, and I don’t think anyone’s really captured that energy in him. He’s almost like a silent film actor. He acts with his body; he doesn’t have to open his mouth.
It’s also a very different side of Ogre that were gonna see. With this one, we’re really my plan is to really go deep and collaborate with him, and get him to a deep dark space. Ogre is in his 50’s now so he has that kind of broken, fading rock star beauty to him. Life has kind of crunched his physical features a little bit. I think that lends itself to the character. We’re gonna go to a place where people have never seen Ogre go. It’s gonna be interesting.
BH: And one question I like to ask everybody I interview: What’s your favorite scary movie?
BW: I love the first HELLRAISER film, because in my opinion it broke a lot of boundaries, not only with the overt eroticism of Frank and Julia’s relationship, but with showing the point of view of the Cenobites. And with the Cenobites, Clive created an extraordinary new kind of monster that can proudly compete with vampires, werewolves, etc.
CA: To me, my favorite horror movie of all time is also one of my favorite movies period. George Romero’s DAWN OF THE DEAD. No doubt about that. I think DAWN is a great war movie. I think it’s a great character study. It’s like a French New Wave movie. It’s an experimental film, it’s an apocalyptic drama, it’s a comedy. And a groundbreaking splatter movie. I watch it like once a month and I never tire of that. It’s inexorably linked to my DNA.
BH: And one more for Barbie, just for fun…
There are so many fascinating aspects to your career, but one that really draws me in is the fact that you are a classically trained robotic mime, and the first mime to appear in a Bollywood movie. How does one get into mime in the modern era?
BW: Well, let’s just say it seemed like a good idea at the time! Seriously though, all the various disciplines of movement and acting tend to be taken at face value. For most people, when you mention mime, you conjure up a white-faced, black leotard-clad, skinny geezer who spends most of his time irritating the hell out of folks standing in line for the cinema. However, what we did in my group Shock and my other mime groups had very little to do with those preconceptions.
When I first arrived as an acting student in London, I was studying all forms of drama and movement. A friend recommended The Dance Centre in Covent Garden as a fun place to go where you could pick and choose various classes to attend. I went along one evening, took a mime class and was hooked. I met my boyfriend of the time, Tim Dry, at the same class and through him was asked to join the largest mime company in the UK, Desmond Jones’ SILENTS. After Tim and I left SILENTS a couple years later, we decided to develop our own mime show called Drawing in Space. Robotic mime was very trendy at the time and we used it in our show.
We soon joined another group called Shock and were performing in some of the top nightclubs in London. Shock was eventually signed by RCA Records, and we recorded and released a couple of singles. Our live shows encompassed singing, mime, dance and outrageous scenarios, all done to the latest 1980s New Romantic or electronica hits of the day, as well as our own music. We had a residency in a top nightspot in Bangkok, Thailand, for a couple of weeks, toured all over the UK and in Holland, and then did a residency at the legendary Ritz Club in Manhattan for a week. We also supported Gary Numan, Adam and the Ants, and Depeche Mode.
Sadly, Shock finally broke up after four years, but I was able to continue using my mime skills as a robotic drummer in an electronica band in the so-called “Holy Grail of unfinished, unreleased horror” GRIZZLY II: THE CONCERT (which featured such future stars in the Hollywood firmament as George Clooney, Charlie Sheen and Laura Dern as “Red Shirts”, AKA grizzly bait), as well as in the Bollywood blockbuster, JANBAZZ.
My adventures in mime finally (and thankfully) faded into the sunset when I became a TV presenter-host for seven different TV shows in the late 80s and early 90s, as well as continuing to act in films like DEATH WISH 3 and HELLRAISER II. My biggest claim to “mime fame” was teaching a little hand puppet called Sooty (a famous UK children’s TV star) how to do robotic mime.  I probably got more recognition on the street in the 1980s doing THE SOOTY SHOW than from anything else I did during that time. Ah, the sweet irony!

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