The making of… “Day of the Clones”!

Time for another update about our independent filmmaking exploits. Did I say I must update this blog more? I really must update this blog more. 

Our horror movie based on my on screenplay wrapped at the end of April.  “Day of the Clones” is a post-apocalyptic sci-fi horror movie made during the pandemic lockdown in Manchester, England. 

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The experience was incredible, frustrating, exhilarating, exhausting, hilarious, and brought me to the end of my tether on more than one occasion. We had lots of things go wrong , including a horse that died, a real car crash, loss of locations, terrible weather, and of course the pandemic itself. But we managed to complete our picture and hopefully the results will be unlike anything you’ve seen before. 

We’re editing the picture now after 32 days of filming. This will likely be a looong process as we have special effects to put in. This a much bigger film than our last one,. Just converting the digital camera files into a type that we could actually see on the computer took 2 weeks!

The kind folks at Stage 32 wrote a blog about it here: https://www.stage32.com/blog/How-Not-to-Make-an-Epic-Sci-Fi-Feature-Film

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Stay tuned as we have much more news coming very soon about our first feature… the British vampire film “Boy #5”!

A New British Horror Feature Film!

Well, I probably should have been updating this blog a lot more. Sheesh! But we’ve been busy. Oh, yes. Our little hands have been actively making a new feature film!

“DAY OF THE CLONES” is a brand new British made sci-fi horror feature film. And what is more, we’ve been making it all through lockdown! Our new production company based in Manchester, England has been hard at work circumnavigating the Covid lockdown regulations to bring you a brand new horror movie.

We are now more than 20 days into filming ! But this is not your average small scale, contained horror film about a cabin in the woods. Would we ever do anything that simple? No sir! Nothing that simple for us. This is a post apocalyptic sci-fi horror feature that is big in scope and takes place in the middle of Manchester.

We have worked long and hard to turn one of the biggest cities in the UK into a post-apocalyptic, urban desert. Our film contains special effects, sfx makeup, prosthetics, soldiers, robots… and of course, clones!

The plot is being kept under wraps for now, but we have some terrific actors, several action set-pieces and a script by yours truly. I can tell you that this is the biggest, most ambitious film that we’ve ever attempted on a minimal budget. It’s been a challenging movie in more ways than one, not least because we have been braving the freezing weather to bring you some extraordinary shots, but we hope it has been worth it.

I’ll be bringing you more updates very shortly. But for now check out our Facebook page here.

Speak to you soon!

Review of the Year… Part 1 Books

 

Hi all. I’m not one of these people who likes to rate things based on a single year. The task is impossible and there are many diamonds out there hidden in the coal that will take years to resurface. But for those of you who are looking for a good book recommendation, or just an honest review of an old classic, here is my list of books I have read this year along with a simple summary. Enjoy!

“Live Long And…” by William Shatner.

Frankness is never something Bill Shatner has had trouble with. But I guess with age comes… experience? This biographical book is Bill’s musings on his long life and what he has learned… or not, as the case may be. With chapters as diverse as Health, Money, Death and more, Bill says it the way it is. Or has been for him. A superb storyteller, he kept me enraptured with his voice as he recounted hilarious and sad exploits and encounters that have shaped his life. I felt like I got a rare insight into what makes the man tick. Some of it was surprising, as when he reveals he has been very lonely all his life, some of it sad as he recounts the deaths of loved ones, and some of it bizarre, such as his brief flirtation with magic mushrooms. In all, a highly entertaining account from someone who has tons of life experience.

“Bulldog Drummond” by Sapper

Before James Bond there was Bulldog Drummond. Recently demobbed from the army after WWI and bored with civilian life, Bulldog (called due to his less than handsome looks) advertises his services as troubleshooter. He soon gets embroiled in a scheme to conquer Britain. I enjoyed this ripping yarn despite a surprisingly gory ending.

“Night Ride” by Charles Beaumont

A selection of stories by the man who wrote many Twilight Zone classics before his untimely death. These tales of (mainly) horror were superbly atmospheric and all contained a twist in the tale.

“Ivanhoe” by Walter Scott

I wanted to enjoy this book. I really did. But it was very, very long, and a bit melodramatic for my taste. The eponymous hero is onscreen for about 5 minutes. Most of the book is taken up with secondary characters. The bad guys were not really bad enough. I did like the Jewish characters, but everyone else, even Robin Hood and his Merry Men, felt flat and lifeless. Interesting though.

“The Unsettled Dust” by Robert Aickman

A superb collection of weird, surreal short stories by British horror writer Robert Aickman. These stories feel both very modern and timeless. Recommended.

“Summer Morning, Summer Night” by Ray Bradbury 

This collection of legendary scifi and fantasy writer Ray Bradbury’s Green Town stories has no magic in it. And yet it is full of magic. There is beautiful prose, incredible descriptions of everyday things, and very moving and poignant snapshots of small town life. I loved it. 

“The Black Dahlia” by James Ellroy

This book was looooog. But I kind of enjoyed it, even though there wasn’t much to really enjoy. A noir tale based on the notorious Los Angeles murder of a prostitute in the 1940s. Ellroy invents his own milieu and “solves” the case as we see two mismatched cops involved in a (kind of) love triangle with a damaged woman.  Ellroy tries much too hard to make this a “dark” tale. Every person has a dirty secret, a selfish motive, a dark turn. Did I mention it was dark? Thankfully real life is not like this or the human race would have annihilated itself by now. I never really cared about the characters, mostly because they were all such horrible people. The hero is himself simply unaware of what is going on most of the time. If this is what life in L.A. is like, you can keep it.

“The Name Of The Rose” by Umbeto Eco

It was only after starting this book that I saw they had made a TV show out of it. After reading it, I tried the show and found it nowhere near as good. Why an Italian American was cast as an English Benedictine monk is beyond me. The Sean Connery version was much better. This whodunnit in a Medieval monastery is astonishingly detailed, although I soon forget most of what I had learned. It was very believable and convincing. I enjoyed it. Not a life changer, but a good read.

“Nancy Wake” by Peter Fitzsimons

Somebody recommend I read this book about true life French Resistance fighter Nancy Wake. And boy what a great read. Nancy is a nobody from New Zealand who relocates to Europe, uses her amazing good looks to land a rich French husband… then the Nazis invade. After witnessing their brutal atrocities she becomes an agent for Britain and takes part in incredible and daring escapades in occupied France. Moving, entertaining and astonishing, it’s a brilliant account of “The White Mouse” as she was nicknamed by Berlin for her ability to escape traps!

“The Cricket on the Hearth” by Charles Dickens

Every Christmastime I read some Dickens. It’s good for the soul. And for the writer. This rather melodramatic Victorian tale has surprisingly little Christmas magic in it except for a cricket, which doesn’t really do anything. Still, it was enjoyable enough and written by the master of English prose, so what more could you want?

So there you have it. A short list this year because I am in the middle of three books I have started at the same time, and because one book (not listed here) I ended up adapting for a prize-winning screenplay. Since then I’ve been working almost constantly, writing a new film that I have been directing. More of that soon!

So until next year….have a great New Year’s Eve. See you in 2021!

A spooky tale free for Halloween 2020!

 

It’s my favourite time of the year! The time when spooks and witches run wild. Also the time when horror writers love to tell ghost stories. So here for you is a free story – a macabre tale of a haunted truck that causes havoc for a married couple. Note: This story would probably have a PG-13 rating.

I call this sixteen-wheel terror, “The Minotaur!”

Enjoy!

The Minotaur by Eric Ian Steele

Best Public Domain Horror Movies for Halloween

This Halloween why not treat yourself to one of the many public domain horror movies out there? While I cannot check each and every one of these, they are all listed by the Internet Archive as being public domain, which means nobody owns the anymore and they are free to watch! Mostly this is because are simply so old the copyright has expired. But sometimes, as with Gorge A Romero’s classic Night of the Living Dead, there was an error in the copyright registration which means they were never in copyright in the first place!

So if you want a classic horror movie to add a little old school charm and terror to your Halloween, check out this list of awesome movies below!

Nosferatu (1922)

The most famous silent movie ever breached copyright when it was made. Bram Stoker’s widow sued the filmmakers over this one. Instead of Count Dracula we have Graf Orlock played by the hideously made up Max Schrek (whose name means “fear” in German). Still has the power to unnerve!

The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920)

A hypnotist uses a sleepwalking zombie to commit murders. This film is noteworthy for its incredible set design, which looks like an Expressionistic nightmare. One of the most influential horror movies ever!

Haxan (1922)

This dreamlike masterpiece is a “documentary” about witchcraft but also features some amazing creature designs for the devils the witches summon.  A favourite at many midnight movie screenings.

Vampyr (1932)

Carl Theodore Dreyer’s surreal masterpiece tells the story of a young woman who is slowly becoming a vampire, while a young man imagines himself returning from death. Incredible cinematography and some astonishing imagery makes this an eerie classic. 

The Devil Bat (1940)

Bela Lugosi (Dracula) plays a scientist who sends a gigantic bat to kill his enemies. Accomplished B-movie fare that is a bit creaky but still a lot of fun.

I Bury The Living (1958)

A major influence on Stephen King, this shocker sees Richard Booone take over a cemetery only to discover that he can cause people’s deaths by switching the status of the graves from empty to occupied.

House on Haunted Hill (1959)

Vincent Price is terrific in this accomplished B-movie shocker from legendary director William Castle. A millionaire offers his guests $10,000 to stay overnight in his haunted mansion. But things are rarely what they seem!

A Bucket of Blood (1959)

A man is hailed as an artist when he covers up killing a cat by covering it with plaster. But his fame means he must go on creating ever more lifelike works… great film with Dick Miller of Gremlins fame!

The Killer Shrews (1959)

Yes, they are only dogs with fur coats on, but don’t let that put you off this nifty, atmospheric little B-movie. Proof that science, remote islands and hurricanes don’t mix!

The Bat (1959)

No actual bats this time but Vincent Price (again) who stars in this murder mystery about a psychopath called “The Bat”. Who knows when he will strike? Enjoyable hokum.

13 Ghosts (1960)

Another William Castle chiller yet again remade by Hollywood not so long ago. A family inhertis a haunted house, but gets to see the ghosts thanks to special spectacles. One of the first 3D movie sensations!

Carnival of Souls (1962)

Terrific and atmospheric supernatural thriller from Herk Harvey, a banker who decided to make films using his friends and family. This eerie masterpiece has some excellent set pieces and a famously spooky ending!

Dementia-13 (1963)

Francis Ford Coppola’s first movie is a twisty mystery that prefigures the slasher craze. A scheming widow plans to claim her husband’s inheritance, but an axe-wielding killer is on the loose!

The Last Man On Earth (1964)

Vincent Price (him again) stars in the first adaptation of Richard Matheson’s apocalyptic vampire story “I Am Legend”. Atmospheric zombie/vampire film that cannot make up its mind but is  a lot of fun to watch.

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

George A Romero’s most famous film sees the walking dead take over the Earth in this unsettling apocalyptic horror movie that spawned a million look-a-like zombie movies!

Horror Express (1972)

Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and Telly Savalas star in this terrific tale of a prehistoric ape man fossil that suddenly starts to come alive while being transported on a train through Siberia. As a result of an error in copyright registration it became public domain in the USA.

The Werewolf of Washington (1973)

A DC reporter is bitten by a werewolf… the inevitable happens. Enjoyable B-movie that has a darkly satirical bite. Stars Quantum Leap’s Dean Stockwell.

Snowbeast (1977)

Legendary made for TV movie about an angry yeti attacking a Colorado skiing resort. This is pretty typical 19700s television fare, and has more than a few similarities to Jaws. But it remains cracking good fun!

So there you have it! Enough horror treats to fill anyone’s Halloween. Happy viewing, and remember, don’t have nightmares!

More good news for our horror feature film “Boy #5!

 
We’re getting the first industry responses to the film… and so far it’s good news!
 
“A great film! Good acting, realistic script, great sound and music….just everything worked out very well indeed!”
 
We’re looking forward to having our cast and crew private screening soon and will be sharing some of the pictures of that.
 
For me personally this has been a year-long journey. We’ve had to cope with some bumps and events that nobody could have foreseen, but we’re finally getting there!
 
Next up is our search for distribution. Meanwhile, we’re keeping on making films. In fact, we have another short film in the works that I’m itching to show you.
 
Here are a few more stills from our production for “Boy #5”. Hope you enjoy them!
 

Horror News – Our independent horror feature film is finished!

Yes, we made a movie! This very overdue post is to tell everyone that our new British vampire feature film, “Boy #5” has been completed and edited. We are now ready to unleash it upon the world! But what is it about, I hear you cry?

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Our first film poster!

“Boy #5” tells the story of a burned-out social worker who tries to help a boy who has been found on the streets – shy, withdrawn Nathan. But as she gets closer to him, she learns that Nathan has a very peculiar type of mutation, with a thirst for human blood!

The film features special effects and some gruesome make-up that was so believable we even fooled some of the locals! The entire movie was self-funded by ourselves. All the special effects are practical, not CGI, and the actors are all from the Manchester area. We also had some stellar crew who kept on working long after dusk. Just as well, really.

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The “Doctor’s office” scene, where things don’t go too well for our main character.

Yes, we hit a few bumps along the road what with a worldwide pandemic and all, but we’ve finally finished editing and all that jazz. Now we’re going to be moving forward and trying to get it out there so you can all see it!

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Filming the “vampire night club scene”, involving a cast of thousands (not literally).

If you like indie horror, low budget cinema, and original storytelling in horror, you’re going to like this. It’s been a long, arduous road, but we think it was worth it. And we have a brand new production company, Vamoose Productions Ltd. Remind me to tell you the story behind that name some time. 

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Our first-time screen actor Lennon plays a rather unusual boy named Nathan.

 

We shot the film entirely on location in Manchester, England. Making it was a story in itself, and you can read all about it over at the Stage32.com blog here.

And don’t forget to take a look at our Facebook page.

We are now going to be searching for distributors and entering festivals. More pictures and details will be coming very soon. So stay tuned!

A Poem for Lockdown

 

Well, it’s been quite a month, hasn’t it? But while most of us are stuck at home, this has not stopped postproduction on our British horror movie. We have lots to share with you. But first, I thought you might like this, a little poem that I have often found very comforting to get you through lockdown. The original is in Scots, so I have taken the liberty of translating it into modern English. Enjoy!

 

Making the horror movie

Sorry if my posts have been a little scarce recently. The reason, however, can now be revealed…

We’re making a horror movie!

Yes, that’s right. I’ve gone from the ceaseless self-torture of writing movies to the even worse self-torture of writing and directing movies!

The film will be the first made by our brand new production company, Vamoose Film Productions Ltd. This is a UK-based production company, making films in Britain!

Our first film started out as a “small” project and quickly exploded into a full-on feature film as everyone I told the story to wanted to hear more. “But there is no more” I would say. “Well, then go and write some more!” they said. So I did. The result is… well, I’ll save the exact title for later for now. 😉

Best of all, this will be a new British horror film. And it’s on a subject very close to my heart. To say any more would be telling, but those who know me well should be able to guess by now!

We have all been working like demons to get the shots done on time, and it’s not been without its trials and tribulations. But we’re about 85% of the film done now. It’s involved special effects makeup and even wild  animals. But we’ve saved some of the most ambitious elements for last.

Meanwhile here’s a behind-the-scenes shot from the set to whet your appetite! But who is that handsome guy in the glasses?

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Rave reviews for Nightscape!

Today I wanted to share with you some of the reviews coming in for my short story anthology, “Nightscape”, published by Parallel Universe Publications. It’s been a long haul, but people are saying how much they enjoy this book.

Here is the most recent review:

“A great collection of short stories ranging from horror to science fiction, surely not to disappoint fans of any genre. Psychotic animals, mystic horrors and Hollywood vampires are just some of the creatures to stalk its pages, I highly recommend it.”

Other readers have compared it to “The Twilight Zone”, with its blend of sci-fi and horror stories.

“Sure to be one of the greats some day!”

“A horror anthology well worth your attention.”

“Mr. Steele will not fail to delight.”

Here is a sample of the stories to be found within:

“Black Annis” – a troubled married couple inherits a cottage once owned by a legendary witch.

“The Groaner in the Glen” – a Roman legion encounters a supernatural menace deep in ancient Scotland. 

“Indian Summer” – a young woman paralyzed in a car accident hires a gardener with magical “green” fingers. But is he all he appears?

“Charlie” – a beloved pet develops disturbing new appetites when the family’s controlling patriarch dies.

And more!

You can read a FREE sample of “Nightscape” here: http://a-fwd.com/asin-uk=0957453523

Thanks for looking!