Your new movie Red
Christmas - in a few words, what is it about?
A Christmas with the family goes horribly wrong when a hooded stranger
reveals a horrible family secret.
did the project fall together in the first place, and how did you get
genre legend Dee Wallace not only to star in it but also produce it?
approached Dee through the writer Lee Gambin who was working on a
fantastic book all about Cujo. She read my script and loved it. After one
Skype call with Dee, we both wanted to work on the project together and I
decided to make Dee a producer because of the amazing cinematic knowledge
she was bringing to the table.
were your sources of inspiration when writing Red
I love the 1974 proto-slasher Black
Christmas and wanted to write a film that spoke to that film and explored
the ‘final girl’ at the other end of her life. It’s also one of the
only horrors that deals with abortion, which is a big part of my film.
Regarding that issue, I was also excited by Tony Kaye’s documentary Lake
of Fire, which looks at the abortion discussion from many angles of entry.
Your personal worst Christmas
experiences, and your thoughts about the holidays as such?
my father brought a stranger from church home for Christmas Day. He was a
bizarre belligerent misogynist who made the entire Christmas lunch
unbearable. As a ‘good Christian’ family, nobody asked him to leave,
but in my movie, the family kicks him out and it leads to their inevitable
through your filmography, you've mostly done comedy prior to Red
Christmas - so what made you try your hands on horror with this
one, and is this a genre especially dear to you?
horror immensely and grew up as a ‘horror kid’. Growing up in
Australia there were many more opportunities to make comedy, which I also
loved, so I ended up doing comedy. But then I got tired of it and decided
I wanted to do what I love.
talk about your movie's approach to horror for a bit?
think humor is a great lubricant for storytelling. I love tragi-comedies
because they allow the audience to laugh at horrible ideas. When I came to
making this horror I applied the same philosophy. Using humor to slowly
introduce horrible ideas and at a certain point it becomes impossible to
keep laughing at them and the true ‘horror’ kicks in. I also love
horror films that deal with social issues and aren’t as interested in
‘titillating’ their audience with scares and atmosphere.
Christmas sure has its moments of quite creative bloody violence.
So do talk about the gory bits in your movie for a bit, and how were they
I had made a comedy show called Double The Fist, which was full of spfx
and comical violence. I learnt on that show that the build-up was more
important then the actual impact/kill moment. So in Red
Christmas I worked
the deaths like a clown show, focusing on the build up and reactions of
other characters to the deaths, rather than on the deaths themselves.
Fortunately some of the deaths are quite gruesome so people remember them
as gory, but there really is nothing nearly as gory as a modern day
‘torture porn’ film.
What can you tell us about your directorial
approach to your story at hand?
I often thought of it as a
Greek tragedy where there was a misunderstanding that led to tragedy - as
opposed to a good person and a bad person pitted against each other.
That’s also the stance I take on the abortion debate. I think it’s
ludicrous to deny women access to health care, but I also think that
abortions are a deeply personal issue with no wrong or right answer.
Christmas was shot in mostly one location - so do talk about your
location for a bit, and how limiting or in fact liberating was that for
you as a filmmaker?
One location is a dream. Everything is
contained to a house so it made the days shorter and the budget cheaper.
Literally that’s it. I have no wanky director philosophy behind it.
Do talk about your key cast, and why
exactly these people?
Besides Dee, most of the cast were
comic actors from Australia. I love working with comic actors, because
they are never thrown off by change, they are great at improvising and
aren’t offended by out-landish ideas - which makes them perfect for
horror on a budget.
A few words about the shoot as
such, and the on-set atmosphere?
Being a guy who works on
comedy, it was a fun set to be on with a real family atmosphere –
literally (my family was catering and being production managers). It was a
fantastic journey and the whole making of was captured by ABC Australia
who are later this year premiering a series about the making of (Horror
Movie: A Low Budget Nightmare).
Anything you can tell
us about audience and critical reception of Red
The film has been received well, some of the big guns liked it (Variety,
LA Times, Scream Magazine) and others didn’t like it at all and claim that
it’s not doing what horror is supposed to do. I find this conversation
fascinating, because I think loads of horror fails because it panders to
teenagers - like a theme park ride.
Any future projects you'd like to share?
working on a sequel to this film set I college and it's all about MRAs,
feminism and misogyny on campus. I’ve also written a very pandering
“loud-bang-fest” based on the Korean urban myth of The Elevator
got you into making movies in the first place, and did you receive any
formal education on the subject?
I studied theatre at
college and fell into filmmaking through hands-on experiences.
What can you tell us
about your filmwork prior to Red
In Australia the industry is small that
specializing isn’t as common as learning how to do lots of different
roles on set. So I’ve worked as an actor, first-AD, producer, editor and
all manner of other roles that I think helped to educate me to the entire
How would you describe yourself as a
A comedian who works in the medium of film is a
good way to put it.
Filmmakers who inspire you?
are way too many too list, but for Red
Christmas: Nora Ephron, Nancy
Myers, Wes Craven, Dario Argento, Peter Jackson, Tony Kaye, Jill Soloway,
Mario Bava [Mario Bava bio -
Again this is a very fluid list, but
movies I was loving when I came to make this film: Black
Christmas, Lake of Fire, The Family Stone, The
Elephant Man, Hausu, Prom Night 2 - Hello Mary Lou, Suspiria,
Funny Games, Mickey Mouse: Pluto’s Christmas Tree.
... and of course, films you really
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Every time I see a horror film where a woman is
killed and it’s considered “hardcore” or “taboo” I cringe. I
can’t think of anything more mainstream than killing a woman and it’s
the most common act of violence on the planet. The ‘dark male psyche’
needs to move on, and start exploring other themes in horror. If you’re
looking for taboo subjects to deal with, why not race, incest, abortion,
misogyny, pedophilia, xenophobia, entitlement?
Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever
I have 11,000 VHS tapes and I post images of the covers on
I occasionally watch rare VHS and post my throughts and screengrabs on
Anything else you're dying to mention and I have
merely forgotten to ask?
Thanks for the interview!