When Gav Chuckie Steel started writing Instrumental hip hop and producing bands and artists, his love of hip hop and horror films was apparent in his music – this brought on the idea of scoring for films, which ultimately brought on the idea of writing his own film (The Shadow of Death) to use as an example of his scoring and music writing.
When was the first time you watched a horror film, and how did it affect you?
I have two memories from my childhood when it comes to horror films. I’m not sure what the first would have been, but the two I remember are The Omen films and Hammer Horror films. My parents got me to watch The Omen when I was pretty small: not sure why they let me watch it, but they did. Same as all the Hammer films, they were shown late on British TV on a Friday night, and my parents were cool enough to let me stay up watching them. When I first watched Taste The Blood Of Dracula, I quite vividly remember feeling really sick at the point someone was strung up and bled, but even though I felt ill I can still remember always stating I wanted to be a special effects artist for horror, [which is]something I never managed.
What was it that first attracted you to horror?
I’m not quite sure. I have always had a huge passion for the dark side and anything a bit strange. I think as a child the thrill of being scared was too good to miss, so I presume this thrill or wanting (hoping) to be scared when I watch a film has stayed with me all my life.
What achievement are you most proud of?
I’m happy to have gone through with an idea to make a film and actually made it. It took a while to get to the right place in my head before I felt I could make it. Bringing all the cast and crew together and keeping a happy medium is something I am proud of doing. Other than the film, my other main achievement in life is my great family.
What are you working on now?
Dan Bone (who plays Craven) and I have recently finished scripting a zombie comedy, which is quite fun. It’s a Goonies-style film with zombies, but that is quite a big project and I feel we should do something a little smaller before tackling that one. What I would like Deadbolt films to make now is a new script we are currently working on, a kind of Assault on Precinct 13 and Clerks type of film, with two paranoid security guards and what happens to them one night at work. That’s it for the moment. We have other scripts we are planning to write this year, and then by next year we could potentially choose a project to do if not the security guard one.
Who do you admire in the horror world?
John Carpenter, Bruce Campbell, early Peter Jackson, Jeffrey Combs, Bill Mosley, Kane Hodder (one of the nicest guys I have had the pleasure to meet); there are tons really. Being a fan of horror most of my life, I have fond memories of a lot of people. I don’t tend to read many horror books; more real-life stuff, but I do enjoy James Herbert and Stephen King, of course.
Do you prefer gore or psychological horror?
Both. It depends what mood I am in. Sometimes just a real tense and understated film is great, but then sometimes I just want some fucked-up film to knock me off my seat. They’re both good in equal measures.
How important is it to unsettle a viewer?
Very. I think you really need to throw the viewer into the realm of the film, so you can take them on a journey, and then once you have them, you can really start to unsettle and screw with them, but you never want to push it to far that they don’t ever want to come back again.
How do you evoke fear?
I think, like I was saying, being able to tap in to the wide diverse audience and gather them all together so they almost feel comfortable in their surroundings and almost forget that they are watching a horror film; that’s the time that you can do what you want, build up the tension or just go straight for the jugular.
What scares you?
Spiders, and being stabbed in the belly-button. Not sure why, but I freak out a bit at spiders and anything going into my stomach is a big no-no, it was fingers over eyes watching the French film Inside; that film really got at me. I do not have other scares. I understand we will all die, so there is no fear of that, but of course I have the fear of not being able to provide for my family or of one of my children being hurt.
Well with The Shadow of Death being my only film so far, I would say if you want to watch something that maybe you grew up with, Friday the 13th or some other backwoods flick, then you should like The Shadow of Death. If you just want a horror comedy to watch, then I don’t think you would be disappointed. I think most the films we do as Deadbolt Films will be all in the same sort of vein, fairly loose and fun but with an undercurrent of the dark side, so if you’re into any of this please keep an eye out for us in the future.
How far is too far when it comes to horror cinema?
A Serbian Film was pretty full on but this is a debate you could have all day long. I liked the film, and thought it was well-produced, but some parts were pretty full on, especially being a dad and viewing it, but at the same time it’s the film they wanted to show and you have to respect that. Another way of looking at what’s too far, I think remaking a lot of our beloved classic horror films has at times gone a little far, but if people go watch them then they are going to keep being made. I have to admit I am quite a fan of the Dawn of the Dead remake, and don’t mind The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake, but then you have things like The Fog remake and that is just a kick in the balls, gone way too far.
How do you think horror cinema will evolve in the next ten years?
Technology will keep advancing. I don’t think we have seen the end of remakes for a long time. I did read the other day that some cinema may, in the future, be able to do a thing where you could go to the cinema and choose what you want to see from a big list of films on a computer database. This [is] a way for independent films to be able to get in the door, where before they could not: now this would be great. I’m sure I read it somewhere: if not, then I want copyright on the idea. Other than that, I think horror will never die and with 3D and moving seats in cinema, as well as Dolby Atoms, you could take a viewer on a pretty good horror trip, and this would be the ultimate experience for horror viewing pleasure.
Recommend a film.