Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Interview with GoreZone Magazine Editor Bryn Hammond
I’ve been a fan of the UK-based GoreZone Magazine for quite some time now and always delight in flipping through its glossy, well-informed pages. So, I was tickled blood-red when the opportunity arose to interview their mastermind and editor-in-chief, Bryn Hammond.
Bryn Hammond has been entrenched in the horror genre for quite some time now and he’s loved the genre for so long he can’t remember exactly how he fell head over heels for it. Before becoming editor-in-chief to one of the best horror mags around, he was a screenwriter, filmmaker and actor in the genre, endeavors he still actively pursues. He is currently acting in the remake of The Driller Killer as well as Monitor and hosting a TV show.
Check out our interview with the engaging Mr. Hammond below.
Fatally Yours: When and how did you first become interested in the horror genre?
Bryn Hammond: WOW. I have loved horror since forever. I can’t recall how I got into the genre but I’ve always preferred a scare fest to a romcom any day. Horror is the king of all genres and always will be.
Fatally Yours: What is the one horror film or book that most profoundly affected you?
Bryn Hammond: There have been so many. I recall my mom buying me The Lost Boys for Christmas one year and scaring the shit out of me by telling me that at the end of the movie there’s this huge monster that sucks everyone out of their beds. I was totally freaked! Of course that didn’t happen, but what did was, I became addicted to the genre even more. I’d spend every waking hour in our only video shop, a 20 minute walk away from my home, looking at the old VHS covers and renting all of them. I still love the old VHS cases; they’ve given me fond memories. My nan used to take us to car boots and I would rummage through all the old VHS tapes to find horror flicks I had yet to see. It was at one of these car boots I discovered Critters 4, which I didn’t know had been made.
I also recall the day Child’s Play 3 got released in the UK. I pulled a sickie from school as I had pre-ordered the movie to rent! I was obsessed; I really wanted a Chucky doll. That same day my mom was working late and we had a babysitter looking after us. My dad, who used to beat up on my mom, climbed the garden fence and tried to break into the house. It was terrifying and left a stamp on my brain. Now, if I watch that movie I get the jitters; I seem to get beamed back to that moment, seeing my dad in a mask climbing the fence. A horrifying situation to be in as a child. Now I think about it, maybe the need to be scared was to make me feel human. I had seen an awful lot of violence as a young child and pretty much became desensitized by it, and the only way to feel fear was to watch a horror movie. I’m sure a doc would have a field day with me!
Fatally Yours: How did you first become involved in the horror industry and how did your film, The Summer of the Massacre, come about?
Bryn Hammond: Well, I started out as a model at a young age, and was always writing stories and scripts growing up. I’d contact the names on the backs of VHS tapes, asking them if they would read my material. While most kids of 9 and 10 were out playing knock-a-door-run, I was in my room with my typewriter, creating comic books.
As I grew older my need to be involved in the industry grew. I ended up writing and producing my own TV show on a Sky channel, which lead to me having my own radio show on a station called Bridge FM.
This went on for years until I got into a really bad relationship, which kind of kicked me from pillow to post. I lost interest in everything I was doing and my passion died, which is generally the consequence of unhealthy relationships. I was working at a very well-known TV station at the time but my mental state was all over the place and I ended up homeless. I became soulless for a period, but eventually found light at the end of the tunnel by reading. If it wasn’t for turning on the TV one Saturday afternoon and watching Marilyn Monroe in How to Marry a Millionaire, I don’t know how my life would have turned out… I watched all her movies and surrounded myself with books about her. I just loved her get-up-and-go attitude; even through trials in life, she climbed that steep hill to reach her goals.
At this point I left my whole life behind and moved forward. I met my soulmate, got myself back on track, and my life became complete within six months. I was offered a record deal, but my self-esteem was shattered so nerves took over during the audition, and I stuffed it up by sing-talking the words. But as one door closes, another opens—this is when I revisited the Summer of the Massacre script.
I hunted for a director for ages, but they all complained that there was no budget. My partner had a camcorder in the shed and, as the story goes, I asked where the ‘on’ button was and began to film! I pulled together the cast from a website called UKSCREEN, purchased some software I found online and, well, the rest is history. I made the movie and it got picked up.
Fatally Yours: What made you want to pursue publishing GoreZone Magazine and how did you go about it?
Bryn Hammond: Well, when I was really young I did a church magazine. It got banned as it had horoscopes in it. It was a gossip horror mag, and the first issue had Freddy on the cover as it was a Halloween special. I also did a lot of comics as a child; I just loved the whole picture selection process. I would read magazines for hours, whether it be in my room, on the bus or in the bath. When I stayed at my nan’s she would take me shopping and I’d spend hours in WHSmith and the local newsagent, who had shelves high of magazines.
Skip to age 24, I started working for a local paper and got the buzz back. I toyed with loads of names, and GoreZone Magazine stuck. We registered the name and own 100 per cent copyright so ignore what certain bloggers are saying… I can’t waste my energy on negative people; life’s too short. The rest is history.
When I held the first issue in my hands back in 2005, it was the most exciting feeling I have ever had. I make sure the mag covers everything I want to read, how I want to read it. I hate ass-licking column inches; I want a blunt read that tells me what’s happening behind the scenes and what the likes of Eli Roth do when the cameras stop rolling. Does he go home and chill with a bottle of wine, or does he go out clubbing and have midnight orgies with the girls from the Playboy mansion? I love gossip and I love horror even more. I think we balance that well in our magazine.
Fatally Yours: Can you run us through a typical day of being Bryn Hammond and exactly what running GoreZone Magazine entails?
Bryn Hammond: Okay, today has been a slow day as we went to print last night. So I got up and made myself a herbal tea. I’ll jump in the shower with R&B blasting in the background, get ready, open the mail and then head to the office. I normally have another tea and chinwag with Dean, who deals with marketing, to go over what we’ve done the night before. Following that, I go into the design studio and speak with the design team, then I head to speak with sales before I finally make it to my office to go over emails and open my mail. I look at up-and-coming movies, go into meetings and the day has gone before I know it. I head home at about six o’clock, have tea, check my two adopted kids are cool and go over their homework with them and play with my two adorable cats, Mimi and Beanie. Then I hit my home office to work on anything I have outstanding in the States. GoreZone being worldwide, my day doesn’t stop at 6pm UK time.
Fatally Yours: What sets GoreZone Magazine apart from other horror genre magazines?
Bryn Hammond: Well, I’d like to think we have a lot more passion. Everyone who works for GoreZone Magazine really wants to be here. If we have any loose screws, we fix them. My sidekick is Naila, our chief subeditor. She’s a talented, strong female and brutally honest.
I like to think we have a great balance of articles and we are slick, sexy and well-rounded. Our readers really get it that you don’t have to have a monster ripping a head off on the cover to sell copies, because the name tells them what the product is. We don’t dumb down like other mags and we are polished but we are not perfect there’s always room for improvement. I believe we are only as good as our last issue, so always work hard to make sure we get better and better and better.
I also adore the readers. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be doing the job I love. GoreZone Magazine readers are amazing and I love hanging out with them at our film festival. You can ask any of the readers; they are my extended family. I have some of them on my cell phone and call them now and then to say hi and ask what they think of the mag. If they say it stinks, I’ll find out why and make sure I make them happy in the following issue.
I also always reply to their emails. It may take a while, but I will reply—as I said above, if it wasn’t for the readers, I wouldn’t be doing the job I love. If they’re happy, I’m happy. I think that’s what makes us as a company stand out from other magazines. Not naming any names, but I remember as a child writing to one magazine and getting a nice reply, saying hey don’t give up your day job.
Fatally Yours: As editor-in-chief, how do you ensure that GoreZone remains successful?
Bryn Hammond: Well, I am very ambitious and will make sure we are always a success by keeping on looking ahead. I avoid looking back and just keep running; I don’t see the point in stopping. I will keep pushing boundaries with the magazine and keep getting better and better…
Fatally Yours: Besides GoreZone, what other magazines, websites, etc. do you enjoy?
Bryn Hammond: I love Esquire, it’s amazing. I actually bought the latest issue yesterday when on my way back from my personal doctor—Doctor Brunt, who makes me look youthful. DiCaprio is on the cover. I was disappointed that he was holding a cancer stick in his hand, as it doesn’t set a very good example to people who look up to him. I also love FHM and NME.
In terms of online, I love your website, it’s really cool. I always enjoy reading Michael Varrati material, and I really like the gossip sites as well, such as Perez Hilton and Mr Paparazzi. I have a load of love for Bloody-Disgusting, as do I for the Sun’s website. I don’t have time to pick up the paper on a daily basis, so I like to just get a quick celebrity gossip catch up during my lunch break.
I’m a pretty normal guy when it comes to the Internet. I have a healthy relationship with my computer. I don’t often go online, but when I do I go to sites that I know will be fun and not just print unhealthy, negative, self-loathing opinions. I spoke with director Jeff Broadstreet about certain unhealthy websites and we both agree on many topics. He’s an awesome guy, and I think people shouldn’t be so judgmental. Go rent Night of the Living Dead 3D—it’s a cool beer movie.
Fatally Yours: In addition to being the editor of GoreZone, you are also an actor and filmmaker, set to star in the upcoming remake of The Driller Killer among other projects. Tell us about your past roles, your filmmaking work, and any upcoming films you are working on!
Bryn Hammond: You know what, I’ve always loved acting. I think acting gives people a release and an escape from their own world.
Remember when you were a kid and you played movies? That’s what I think acting is. When I was at school, all my friends were playing Thundercats. Not me—I was playing Return of the Living Dead 2!
One thing I do hate about acting though, is that the girls always get all the best roles. I loved Mindy Clark’s role in Return of the Living Dead 3. I wanted that role! I loved Suzanne Snyder’s awesome death scene in Return of the Living Dead 2, and I absolutely loved Beverly Randolph’s role in Return of the Living Dead. When I was a kid I’d learn their lines and practice their facial expressions in front of the mirror.
I love strong female roles. Actually, talking of strong female roles, my horror icon is not Jason, Freddy or Leatherface. It’s Amelia Kinkade from Night of the Demons. Angela is the most kick-ass villain ever.
Anyway, back to me acting. I play a tramp in the Driller Killer remake and a mental patient in Monitor. This Monday I’m filming a show for Sky TV. It’s in the vein of the best 100 horror flicks, which I’m very excited about. That’s why I saw Doctor Brunt, for a botox top-up to decrease the lines!
Fatally Yours: Horror films, though popular, are mostly viewed as subversive movies that, according to some, are only a step above pornography. For horror fans, it’s sometimes hard to convince others that the genre is much more than just blood & boobs. How would you convince someone that the genre has much more depth?
Bryn Hammond: I wouldn’t. If they can’t see beyond the fresh-faced, tight-topped talent, then they are very narrow-minded and are clearly watching The Texas Dildo Massacre.
I think horror is one of the most diverse genres of all. It has comedy, thrills and chills. Horror also crosses over to all genres. Just look at Tim Burton’s work.
I know there is a lot of snobbery that goes on and people bitch slap horror, but it’s a genre that handles various topics with care. For example, look at A Nightmare on Elm Street’s homoerotic theme, or take a look at Single White Female’s subtext, with the character of Hedy who suffers borderline personality disorder.
People who say horror is only one up from porn clearly haven’t watched many movies, or if they have, they are picking them off the wrong top shelf. Porn of the Dead wasn’t directed by George Romero, I’m sad to inform them.
Fatally Yours: What are your thoughts on the modern horror climate?
Bryn Hammond: I’m loving the horror climate. I think horror remakes are getting a little OTT but I am looking forward to seeing the new Nightmare on Elm Street. The trailer looks really cool.
I know a lot of my staff are gonna have a moan at me come Monday morning when they read this, but I really enjoyed the remakes of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Amityville. Amityville gave me night terrors. And Jennifer’s Body was amazing—I loved the whole Clueless meets Lost Boys feel to it.
I loved Paradise Lost. It really took me back to when I was on holiday in a small Turkish town—let me tell you, it will be the last time I go back there; it was terrifying. The villa was great, but the location was just like the setting for Paradise Lost. I just watched Tony last night and thought that was really gritty, Revolver did an amazing job on that movie. Also, Black Christmas was fun.
There’s always going to be bad movies out there, but if they’re awful I just avoid them. It’s no good to bitch about them and think to myself that I’ve wasted a couple of hours of my life. Best to press eject and never speak of it again!
Fatally Yours: Is there any kind of horror film you find difficult to watch or refuse to watch?
Bryn Hammond: I hate true-crime movies. I find them extremely upsetting and disturbing. I really enjoy documentaries, but can sometimes be freaked out by them. Recently, I settled down pretty late with a bottle of wine to watch the Amanda Knox murder case. It left me having to check the doors and windows. I woke up the next day and refused to take my head from under the bedsheets, as I was terrified what I’d find when I came from under! I know, it’s strange!
Fatally Yours: What people in horror do you look up to and admire?
Bryn Hammond: Gosh, well, I really admire people who get up and go and get what they want, and don’t let anyone stop them in their path. My personal idols are Hugh M. Hefner, Iona Willis and Anna Wintour. These people are really iconic editors to me and I hope to be able to achieve just half of what they have managed. I’m still young and I’m still learning, and I hope that one day I can sit at a table with them and discuss the politics of being an editor.
Fatally Yours: Who is one person you would love to feature in GoreZone Magazine and why?
Bryn Hammond: This is a hard one. One person I have my eye on is Traci Lords; I’d love to do a cover with her. She’s so pretty and so talented. I find talent a real turn-on—I love brains and ambition.
I’d also like to do covers with Susan Ward and Sarah Buxton. Gosh, there are so many people I’d love to work with. I’d really love to do a cover shoot with Kellan Lutz, Thomas Dekker and Traci Lords. Now that would be one hell of a sexy cover shoot—both men on dog leads and Traci doing her famous lip curl!
Fatally Yours: What are your favorite horror films of all time?
Bryn Hammond: I have so many. Return of the Living Dead 3, Pet Sematary 2 and Warlock 2 are particular favourites. I loved 90s horror, especially the period of 1992–94; there were so many amazing movies released. Okay, most were direct to DVD, but the quality of the output was just amazing. I loved Killer Tongue as well. What a crazy movie that was.
My all-time favourite horror movie is Night of the Demons though. But, depending on my mood, my top 10 list will change ever so often.
Fatally Yours: What can we look forward to in the coming year with GoreZone Magazine? What kind of goodies do you have planned for us, Bryn?
Bryn Hammond: Loads more freebies, for one. We are currently shooting episode five and six of our FREE DVD series, Emily Booth’s GoreZone Movie Massacre, copies of which come as a covermount with the mag. We’ll also be giving the mag some new looks, adding some new columns among various other things. There are some amazing covers in the pipeline, one of which we shot just a week ago. It’s stunning. I can’t say too much at this point, but fans of Freddy and Monroe are going to love it.
We’ll be holding an awards ceremony, at our third international film festival. The whole shebang will be hosted by Emily Booth and Christa Campbell on 2–3 October, at the Prince Charles Cinema. Tickets are on sale now from our online shop at www.gorezone.co.uk/shop. There is also our music festival on 9 April. We have the likes of Die So Fluid playing, which I’m excited for. I’m having a real horror themed costume designed, as it’s a zombie night. We’ll be decorating the Roadmender like the nightclub from Hellraiser 3.
It’s all go. I want to say a huge thank you to all our readers for making my dreams a reality. I am thankful for your support as well. You guys rock.
GoreZone Magazine is on sale monthly in all good newsagents including HMV, Barnes and Noble, Spar, FPI and Forbidden Planet.