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FrightFest Interview: Stewart Sparke for HOW TO KILL MONSTERS

Updated: Feb 4

H.P. source

Having directed various shorts and features — including 2016’s The Creature Below and 2018’s Book of Monsters — filmmaker Stewart Sparke has carved himself a monstrous little corner. As a co-founder of Dark Rift Horror — a multimedia studio that creates relentlessly entertaining, immersive horror experiences — his experience in interactive storytelling has even led to a video game tie-in for his latest feature How to Kill Monsters that sees its world premiere at this year’s FrightFest.

Sparke (as he goes on to reveal) wears his influences on his sleeve; his latest horror movie channelling a mix of Shaun of the Dead and Aliens. The film sees Jamie, the sole survivor of a bloody massacre at a remote cabin in the woods who is arrested for the murder of her friends. When the police station is overrun by monsters, the suspect’s innocence becomes immediately clear; a realization that comes too late as they are all thrown into a nightmarish dimension of Lovecraftian monsters hungry for human flesh. To survive her hellish night, Jamie must team up with rookie cops and lawbreakers as they slash their way through an army of monsters and find a way to get back home.

Who have been the main influences on you as a filmmaker?

Sam Rami, Edgar Wright, and James Cameron just to name a few. Each brings such a different style to the table in their storytelling and execution, but they all make relentlessly entertaining movies. Sam Rami’s Evil Dead movies showed me just how much fun you could have with horror while Wright’s Shaun of the Dead is a prime example of how humour can be expressed through sharply edited sound and visuals. Cameron is just the master of pure entertainment and every time I watch Aliens and Terminator 2: Judgment Day it just makes me want to make movies! You’ll see the influence of all three directors in How to Kill Monsters.

What do you love about monsters?

Monsters are just cool! In the same way that I was obsessed with dinosaurs and cars as a kid, monsters are the grown-up toys I get to play with in the movies I make. My co-writer Paul Butler and I have an absolute blast coming up with the craziest monsters we can imagine and pitting them against a cast of characters who must fight them… or are eaten by them. We really are just big kids playing with action figures in that regard. You can blame my parents for letting me watch Alien when I was about 10 years old.

What would be your weapon of choice in a monstrous pub fight?

If you’ve seen my films, then you know it’s got to be the chainsaw! You’re probably thinking, but that’s not something you would find in a pub. Well, this pub is called the ‘Rusty Chainsaw’ and one is conveniently mounted over the bar just in case monsters break their way in. In classic horror movie fashion, it takes several pulls on the starter for it to chug to life, just in time to save the day.

What’s on the jukebox?

“Kickstart My Heart” by Motley Crue is probably the best track to have on when fighting off some monsters. It pairs nicely with the sound of roaring chainsaws slicing through monster flesh! I’ve always wanted to use it in one of my movies — maybe one day I’ll be able to afford the licence! Since we can’t afford it, S Club 7’s “Don’t Stop Moving” is playing in HTKM… and works surprisingly well as a monster-slaying beat.

Do you save the girl or the pint?

Always the girl, especially if it’s our final girl Lyndsey Craine who stars as Jamie. She knows a thing or two about killing monsters and so she’ll be grabbing the chainsaw… while I hide behind the bar finishing my pint!

How to Kill Monsters has its world premiere at FrightFest on Friday 25th August. Book your tickets now.


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