It’s a Horror to Know You: Chris Trebilcock Writer/Director of The Dark Stranger!
What is the first film that scared you?
I started watching horror movies at a young age – Jaws and Halloween were early favorites – but before I really got into them, one traumatic early viewing experience was the Disney cartoon of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1949. The final ten minutes, with Ichabod Crane riding his horse home through a dark forest, waiting for The Headless Horseman to appear, was unbearably scary. Even today, it’s still a masterful sequence of suspense, done all with visuals and sound effects.
What is the last film that scared you?
Don’t judge, but a few years ago I finally got round to watching the remake of When a Stranger Calls (2006). I watched it alone in my parents house… and it really scared me. I thought the remake wisely decided to base the whole film on the first twenty minutes of the original from 1979 and jettison the police procedural middle section. I thought the remake made great John Carpenter-esque visual use of the huge house where all the action took place, as well as playing on the fact that we the audience already know the killer is inside; we’re on edge right away, waiting for him to come out.
Name three horror films that you feel are underrated…
Tough one. Let’s start with Tightrope (1984). Not exactly a straight ahead horror movie. Tightrope is a highly atmospheric Clint Eastwood murder-mystery that plays like an American Giallo. Eastwood gives one of his most vulnerable edgy performances as a cop wrestling with his dark side as hunts for a serial killer in New Orleans. There are many scary/disturbing moments, like Clint coming home and finding his house keeper crammed into the laundry machine.
Someone is Watching me (1978) Next to Brian De Palma and David Cronenberg, John Carpenter is a huge cinematic influence for me. I love most of his films. This made for TV movie, which he wrote and directed, is not as well known as his other films. Carpenter made it right before he made Halloween and has said that the style of Someone Is Watching me was a training ground for what he did in Halloween. The story is about a woman in a high rise apartment building who is being stalked by someone in the facing building. Nice camera work helps to create a sense of menace and dread.
Psycho III (1986) Anthony Perkins is both director and star of this entry. It’s too bad that Perkins didn’t direct more because Psycho III is surprisingly stylish and confidently made for a first time director. Darker in tone than the previous two Psycho movies, this film does the impossible by explicitly showing Norman’s madness and brutal acts of violence, yet makes us still care for him and root for him to get free from his “Mother” side.
Name three horror films that you enjoy against your better judgment…
Terror at London Bridge AKA Bridge Across Time (1985) David Hasselhoff stars as a cop with a troubled past who deduces that Jack The Ripper is alive and well and stalking victims on his beat. I first saw this when it aired in the mid 80’s and it stayed with me. Re-watching it recently, I found the film has its share of cheesy elements but it moves along, has some creepy moments and an overall nutty charm to it.
Out of The Dark (1988). Phone sex workers being stalked by a clown masked killer known as Bobo. The wonderful eclectic cast includes Karen Black, Tracey Walter, Bud Court and Divine. Stylish, darkly funny, suspenseful, some nice twists, yet it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Imagine Dario Argento and John Waters teamed up to make a Giallo set in LA.
Swamp Thing (1982). Wes Craven‘s adaptation of the Berni Wrightson/Len Wein comic. Man, I loved this movie when I was a kid. But looking at it later on, I could recognize some things that were campy, even silly at times as well as FX that have not aged well. But the film has heart and it has Adrienne Barbeau and a nice score by Harry Manfredini.
Chris Trebilcock is the writer-director of The Dark Stranger, starring Katie Findlay, Stephen McHattie, and Enrico Colantoni. The film is available on DVD and VOD in Canada through Raven Banner, and will be released in the US in October by Terror Films. You can also get info about The Dark Stranger at it’s Facebook page HERE. Check out the trailer for THE DARK STRANGER below!