Getting all set for the first live date of 2015; my new show ‘How Not To Make a Horror Movie’.

This takes place on Saturday 24th February at the Horror-on-Sea festival in Southend – my favourite film festival of the year. This year’s line-up has got some amazing movies, including the latest from my old mate MJ Dixon “The Legacy of Thorn”, which is playing on Sunday 25th at 8pm. Click through below to check out the Mycho site.

Legacy of Thorn

The online ticket sales for Horror-on-Sea have now closed, but all remaining tickets and Festival passes will now be on sale from the Festival desk at the Horror-on-Sea Film Festival from 10am on Friday Morning and throughout the Festival. Please call this number if you require any further information – 07981 824283.

Horror-on-Sea

‘How Not To Make as Horror Movie’ contains video contributions from several UK filmmakers, along with the usual hour or so of me rambling on about everything from cables getting broken through to using sausages and offal instead of plastic guts (tip: it’s not a good idea). I’m really looking forward to it.

My Horror-on-Sea show from a couple of years ago, “Werewolves, Cheerleaders & Chainsaws” is still available in full below, which probably means I should find some new anecdotes. Look forward to seeing a bunch of you there.

Retro Novelisation Covers!

Posted: January 21, 2015 in artwork, Memories
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Here at Jinx, we deeply love imagery that harks back to the horror that influenced us growing up. The final chapter of Nazi Zombie Death Tales is pretty much my love letter to rubber puppet horror movies like Ghoulies and Gremlins, and the office is covered in framed uk quad posters of genre movies of decades past.

The pulp horror novels and anthologies of the 70s and 80s hold a special place in my heart. They represent not only my own awakening to the genre, in many ways, (as an adolescent, I was permitted to read Herbert and King long before I was aloud to watch films with forbidden ratings) but also a family connection. My late uncle Tim Stout was a contributor to the Pan Book of Horror and author of a novel called The Raging; although he didn’t care for the pulpy cover the novel was given, I flat-out loved it as a kid.

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With these influences in mind, I am absolutely delighted to present a series of novelisation covers for three of our movies, designed by the brilliant Random Elements. Please go and visit their Facebook page for even more brilliant artwork. Without further ado, here they are.

Oh, who am I kidding? You already scrolled down and peeked, didn’t you?

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I’m aware that many of you guys have been waiting patiently for the Director’s Cut DVD of The Devil’s Music, which has been listed on Amazon for several months but seems to have been subject to a bit of a floating release date.

All I can do is apologise for this one. There have been some issues outside of our control which have resulted in the release date getting bumped a couple of times. This isn’t our fault, or that of our brilliant distributors Cine du Monde, it’s an outside issue which has knocked the schedule over a bit.

I keep waiting for confirmation of a new date, which I very much hope will be sooner rather than later. As you’re hopefully aware, the flick enjoyed a real resurgence of interest last year when the Director’s Cut was reviewed extremely favourably on AintItCool News and was later listed as ‘Worth Noting’ in their countdown of the best horror movies of 2014. Alongside new interviews with Pat about the movie and some other great reviews, it was a good year for the movie.

As soon as we have a concrete new release date, we’ll let you know. Once again, sorry.

In the meantime, here’s the new introduction to the film from the DVD, just to whet your appetite.

The Seed of an Idea

Posted: January 5, 2015 in TrashHouse, Writing
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There’s a cliche that every creative in any industry will be constantly asked where they get their ideas from. I’ve heard a bunch of great responses, from specific store names to outright abuse, but I guess the reason that the question keeps getting asked is because the answer is never fully satisfying.

Anywhere.

Everywhere.

I had the idea for TrashHouse (or, at least, the idea of a chainsaw-weilding heroine who happened to be styled like a 50s soda-pop girl), whilst wandering around an outdoor museum in the States. They had a recreation of a 50s living room which I walked into whilst absent-mindedly pondering zombies and, boom, Lucy Sweet was born somewhere in my brain. Why, yes, of course you can watch her in action. Here’s our short from last year.

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I had the acorn that would eventually grow into the idea for Strippers vs Werewolves after labelling a Sky Movies VHS recording (which probably contained Kandyland and Stripped to Kill, or at very least two movies that were so similar to them as to require DNA testing to tell whether they were actually those films or not) as ‘Strippers vs Nutters’, which then became a running joke for years (as I detailed in this blog entry over on the Huffington Post)

Strippers vs Nutters

Ideas can come from anywhere. And, of course, sometimes they don’t come at all. What can you do? What can you do if you need an idea, and nothing is forthcoming? Well, there are a bunch of things that I can recommend if you are trying to get your poor, long-suffering brain to crap out that acorn of potential.

There are several great idea generation exercises in Blake Snyder’s brilliant Save The Cat (which is still flat-out best book on screenwriting I’ve ever read) and some of them can be found at this link over here.

I also recommend grabbing yourself a nice bunch of random words, writing them down and playing with them in any way you see fit. Sometimes just jogging your creative instincts out of their usual patterns can be really productive, and throwing in something random can be a great way of doing that.

Here’s something a bit more unusual. Try drawing a schematic map of a building that you’ve visited in real life (overhead view, nothing fancy, don’t worry if you can’t draw because no bugger is ever going to see it but you). Once you’ve finished, take a look at the layout and see what genre and plots the location would be most suited to.

Just to try an example, here’s my off-the-top-of-my-head sketch of a flat I lived in around 2001.

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There are a number of things that immediately come to mind looking at this image. The first one is that my own rule about not worrying how awful the drawing is because no bugger will ever see it has clearly led me into a false sense of security in this case, particularly as some bugger (specifically YOU, you bugger) is now looking at it. Try and put this, and my lack of any drawing ability, from your mind.

I’d forgotten a lot of details until I drew this image. The blind on the front window only covers the middle pane of glass, thus allowing a partial view into the lounge from the street. This immediately gives me ideas for plot and incident, most of which would be best suited to a thriller. The guy who worked in the shop opposite used to watch the going on in our flat with interest, and relay my life back to me with an alarming amount of detail whenever I popped in for cigarettes. Maybe he could be a witness to something?

Back to the flat. Next up; the only way to the toilet is through the main bedroom. There’s some vague idea here for either a scatological comedy (perhaps of the unwanted houseguest subgenre) or, again, a thriller. Probably dependent if the character was trying to get into the toilet or out of it.The whole place could be a fucking nightmare in a case of fire, or course. So many places to get trapped. Or to hide.

Yeah, I reckon a domestic thriller would be the way to go with this location. If I had the little map sitting next to me while I wrote, I’d have so many ideas for little bits of business which simply wouldn’t cross my mind (in terms of how characters could get from room to room, or what they could or couldn’t do) without a strong sense of the layout of the location. If you know of a location that you might be able to use for an indie shoot, why not try the exercise with that?

Once the idea is in place, of course, the real fun begins..

The House on Development Hell

Posted: January 3, 2015 in Uncategorized

There’s a movie in my head called House on the Witchpit.

Actually, scratch that. It’s not true.

There are about half a dozen movies in my head called House on the Witchpit.

We’ve had the title in development for a decade now, and the seed of the idea came to me a few years before that. At the very beginning of the naughties, I lived with Pippa in a flat above a shop in Leigh on Sea. I was working for an internet service provider, running occasional stand-up comedy nights and dreaming of ideas for movies.

Down the road from our flat, there was an area of wasteland which hadn’t been built on for as long as I could remember (despite being pretty well positioned real-estate). Pub rumour suggested that the land was waterlogged, and was the site upon which (hundreds of years previously) local women had been accused of witchcraft and drowned. Pub rumour (which was far too fascinating to warrant investigation into factual veracity, although it appears that there was more than a grain of truth to it – check out Syd Moore’s great novel The Drowning Pool for more) went on to suggest that the waterlogging was permanent; that this ground with the awful past was spoiled, somehow.

Tainted.

When they announced plans to build flats on the ground, that was the kicker. After all:

“Who’d want to live in a house on the Witchpit?”

The first draft was simply ‘WitchPit’. A straightforward comedy-horror with a focus on sexy witches seeking vengeance and a structure almost entirely ripped off from Warlock, it wasn’t my finest writing but had something about it that I liked. Probably the sexy witches. Nonetheless, they were the first things to go when the script acquired the ‘House on the…’ prefix, and along the way got a much, much darker tone.

In fact, for much of the mid-to-late naughties, the screenplay became my dumping ground for serious ideas and sick jokes just too bleak to fit into my other scripts. It acquired a young widow called Rachel Morely as its protagonist, and became a valuable creative outlet that I was no longer sure would ever become a coherent narrative again.

Some time around 2009, though, it did.

I stripped the bleakest and darkest stuff out and fashioned it back into an actual narrative. Somewhere along the line the screenplay had acquired a lot of material about technology and media representations of reality, and we got involved with some really exciting discussions with a cutting-edge video technology company about interesting things we could do with production. We agreed to a plan that was ridiculous and kind of awesome: we would multi-camera live-stream the entire shoot. There’s a video on YouTube somewhere of me just after that meeting. I loved the idea. Still do, as a matter of fact. I loved the idea that Jinx could make the entire filmmaking process transparent. If someone wanted to just sit and watch the production office all day, they could. If someone wanted to watch the cast having lunch, or the director sitting and crying, they could. We’d stream everything, and worry about it later. The money was in place, the technology was in place (and a far taller order in 2009 than it would be today) and the script was exciting. We were all good to go.

Then the video streaming company went under, and the entire project collapsed. Incidentally, I’d still be up for a streamed shoot (we have literally nothing to hide in terms of our productions), so if there’s a company out there interested in working something out feel free to get in touch.

There was a brief twitch of life during the whole Strippers vs Werewolves thing, around which time I grandly announced that Witchpit would finally go in front of the cameras that year. It didn’t. And then, all was silence.
Behind the scenes, the screenplay had also suffered a major amputation. I’d removed Rachel Morely, the bereaved protagonist, and dropped her into the screenplay for ‘Your Lying Eyes’.

Witchpit was left without a heart once more; my poor, long-suffering script was being raided for spares. I did a quick and dirty draft replacing my fully-rounded, interestingly fleshed-out lead character with a pale copycat called Anna – just different enough for Witchpit to still stand as a script in its own right whilst its lead character was off having adventures in a screenplay with better prospects and a less troubled past – but my heart wasn’t in it. Maybe the project was dead after all.

The House on the WitchPit has been sitting derelict for a while now. The screenplay for Your Lying Eyes had a VERY exciting 2014 (I’m sure it’ll only be a matter of time before I can tell you about some of that, but not yet) while the screenplay which donated that script its protagonist sat on the shelf.
This morning, I looked at that familiar but doomed building for the first time in a long time. I thought about its history, wondered about its future. I stared at the House on the Witchpit and thought about all those things and more.

And, as I did so, a chill went through me. In the upstairs bedroom, where all the worst things happened, a light came on.

The House isn’t dead. The House will never be dead. And I think the dark stuff just woke up again.

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How Not to Make a Horror Movie

Posted: January 2, 2015 in Uncategorized

Every year, I write a new live appearance/show/thing and try and get it up online if possible. The 2014 show ‘Fake Blood, Real Guts’ was great fun (although I’ve yet to sort out a decent edited version).

The 2015 show is called ‘How Not to Make a Horror Movie’ and focuses on all the dreadful shit that can go wrong on the way to creating cinematic gold.

Anyway, the first date is Southend’s Horror on Sea festival on Sat 24th Jan:
http://www.horror-on-sea.com/Festival_2015/Saturday_24th/saturday_24th.html

Here’s the blurb;

Pat Higgins (Death Tales, The Devil’s Music, Strippers vs Werewolves) has made a lot of horror movies. He’s also made a lot of mistakes. Join him for a fast-paced romp through all the horrible ways that your masterpiece can screw up. From power failures to casting nightmares, these are the terrifying true stories of how NOT to make a horror movie…

Hope to see you there.

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The 2007 theatrical cut of KillerKiller has been rereleased Stateside as part of an insanely good value box-set featuring a couple of Prom Nights, a Howling sequel and some really underrated other horrors. It’s a great way to catch up with the original version of the movie VERY cheaply.. Go and pick up up right now!

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