Holiday horror is becoming more and more common, and filmmakers in this subgenre are quickly branching out to holidays other than Halloween. Movies like You're Next and Holidays are combining horror with the holidays that we wouldn't usually think of having a horror side. This is a pretty exciting development for those horror nerds who used to sift through all kinds of lists to find these films. KillDozer was definitely one of these holiday horror hunters.
Christmas is easily the most opposite holiday to Halloween, but even it has collected an impressive list of horror, and is even becoming a favored subgenre to horror fans. Before Killer POV went off the air, they had several episodes entirely about holiday horror, one of them recorded with special guest AJ Bowen, whose favorite genre is Christmas horror. (You can listen to it here) A new submission to this surprisingly long list is Good Tidings, which was filmed in the UK and is about to start its film festival circulation. KillDozer got the chance to talk to producer/writer/actor of the film, Stuart Jopia.
Stuart Jopia: Well my company Two-Headed Snake Entertainment produced the movie, myself and my two partners wrote, produced and starred in our movie. So we all started this from the ground upwards and made it a reality.
KillDozer: You are credited with both writing and acting in this film. Did you write a character specifically for yourself? How close are you to the character of Curly that you play?
Stuart: Not specifically but to be honest once I came up with the idea for our three Santas I knew exactly which character I'd like to play. I wrote Curly and the rest of the Santas to be nothing like me or the other actors so once I get into my character's headspace it's totally like being someone else. That's the exciting thing about acting for me. Character acting is so much fun; you get to play out your evil desires on screen. Especially when it's a twisted but sweet soul like Curly.
KillDozer: Why place your film during the Christmas season?
Stuart: I fucking love Christmas!!!! And I've always wanted to write and produce a holiday movie. So we found a location, grabbed a bunch of our friends, and headed down the path of X-mas horror film making.
KillDozer: Christmas Horror/thriller used to be a niche market that horror nerds had to really seek out to find. Now it seems as though everyone is in on the fun. Where do you think the focus on holiday horror is coming from?
Stuart: Over the last few years holiday horror has exploded in a big way and not just Halloween and Xmas. Many movies exploring the different holidays like Easter, St. Patrick's Day and New Years Day. All getting their own twisted tales. The big thing with holiday horror is that we as fans come back to those titles again and again. Ever year without fail so more people are making the movies they love and we horror fans love holiday horror.
KillDozer: Will the film be using practical effects? If so why and who was used to create them?
Stuart: We have a 80/20 mix, mostly practical with some VFX support. Our head of special fx is a good friend of mine called Andy Savage from Savage SFX. He did a great job creating all our kills. He's such a perfectionist and always brought his gory A game to the table. We had so much bloody fun. That's why we call upon him again and again.
KillDozer: What is filming like in the UK? Did the "brexit" affect you at all? What is funding like?
Stuart: Filming in the UK is awesome, we had a wonderful location in a little seaside town called Southport in North Lancashire. We shot Good Tidings last September, so Brexit wasn't an issue back then but the outrageous vote to leave the EU will leave all us indie filmmakers and any creative like-minded people shitting bricks, as funding from the EU was so damned important. It's going to be tough times for the UK over the next 5 years. So we'll have to do our best to keep bringing horror features to the hungry fans out there.
KillDozer: Have you been screening the film at festivals? What has the response been?
Stuart: We're just about to hit a load of festivals with submissions going out on August 1st, we're just in time to be honest as we've just completed post production. So hopefully we get selected to play a few and I can inform you about the response later in the year when the movie gains an audience.
KillDozer: When might we hope to see this film in the US?
Stuart: We want to get a festival buzz, so hopefully this October at a festival in the U.S. near you.
KillDozer: Is there a message in Good Tidings or is it all out slasher/thriller fun?
Stuart: We do have a serious message running through the movie, "Christmas can be killer" is the tag line and kind of the message. On holidays we take it for granted that most people have happy times but sadly that's not how it plays in our society. The less fortunate can have it worse, making it hard for them to enjoy these special times. Especially the poor and the homeless. So our slasher does have an important message that we all should remember but also it is a bit of slashery/thrillery fun too. Hahahaha. Sorry was getting deep on you then, but it strikes a cord with me and that's why I wanted to portray how the poor and less fortunate can be treated on these so called happy holidays. The Santas almost being a metaphor for the pain and sorrow they feel.
KillDozer: The poster artwork I have seen is amazing! Do you know how these images were chosen? Was any other promotional gear made for the film?
Stuart: We did a photo shoot way before principal photography to see how the Santas looked on camera and we ended up using a load of these for promotional material. We came across a really great artist who makes mock posters for films that haven't been made or haven't even had a poster created yet. His company is called Mancat Design. We left all the material in his capable hands and he came back with 3 posters for us. They all blew us away. We have made a few things that are gonna be in our DVD and Bluray limited edition packages like mini Santa figures, personalized Xmas Cards, stickers, and a set of exclusive character top trump cards. So we do have some fun stuff for people to own.
KillDozer: Okay here are a few fun quick questions: What is your favorite holiday horror film and why?
Stuart: It has to be Halloween. I grew up with John Carpenter movies and it still gives me shivers when I watch it; it's like the first time I've seen it every time I watch it. Which can only, I stress ONLY be watched on Halloween. I'm totally anal that way about holiday movies. Hahahaha. That movie is probably the biggest influence on a lot of my work and will always be.
KillDozer: Who would your dream cast be in your next film, if you could have any actor or actress you wanted?
Stuart: Can they be resurrected from the dead? If so I'd want Christopher Lee, Max Schreck, Claude Rains and Betty Davis in a movie. How insane would that be? If I have to settle for the living I'd love to work with Eva Green, she's a fabulous actress. The sheer talent oozes out of that lady in bucket loads. Her performance in Penny Dreadful just blew me away. Emily Blunt would be great too. Sicario was just fantastic and her acting was astonishing. For male actors I'd love to work with Josh Brolin. He's one hell of an actor!!!!
KillDozer: How did you find out there was no Santa Clause?
Stuart: There's no Santa Clause?????!!!!! ☹️☹️☹️
KillDozer: What is your favorite UK horror film?
Stuart: That's a tough one, it's always hard to give my favorite, damn you and your interview ways, haha. I'm a lover of old movies, so for me I'd say it was either The Wicker Man (1973) or The Haunting (1963). You can't make pick one, I won't allow it. Hahahaha. Both tremendous achievements in cinema history.
KillDozer: What is your favorite piece of movie memorabilia that you own?
Stuart: I own a set of 3D glasses from A Nightmare on Elm Street 6. They were given out in the audience to wear when the awesome end sequence goes all 3D. They're my pride and joy.
You guys can stay in the loop with Good Tidings by liking them on Facebook and following them on Twitter.