Flickering Myth chats with Await Further Instructions director Johnny Kevorkian about his biggest horror influences…
From acclaimed director Johnny Kevorkian (The Disappeared) and BAFTA-nominated producer Jack Tarling (God’s Own Country), British sci-fi horror Await Further Instructions has been a hit at film festivals around the world and highly praised as an original and inventive festive frightener.
It’s Christmas Day and the dysfunctional Milgram family wake to find a mysterious black substance surrounding their house. Something monumental is clearly happening right outside their door, but what exactly – an industrial accident, a terrorist attack, a nuclear war? All their limited information now comes from the television. But as the ominous gogglebox exerts an ever more sinister grip on their psyches, their terrified paranoia escalates into bloody carnage.
To celebrate the UK release on digital platforms, also arriving soon on Blu-ray and DVD, we hear from director Johnny Kevorkian on some of his biggest screen influences…
The Twilight Zone (1959-1964)
This landmark, highly influential cult TV series mixes fantasy and sci-fi, famously created and presented by Hollywood legend, Rod Serling. Each episode uniquely explores the depths of the unknown, with the immense cast showcasing many future stars, including Robert Duvall, Robert Redford, Burt Reynolds, Dennis Hopper and Julie Newmar.
Johnny Kevorkian says, “I always loved the mystery element. It wasn’t overtly horror, but it was still frightening. In each episode, there’s usually a political or social message in there, and it was so ahead of its time. A lot of people who’ve seen Await Further Instructions have referenced The Twilight Zone too, which I find very interesting. I love a lot of 1950’s sci-fi. The first time the text pops up on screen and we see the green light reflected on the characters’ faces, I wanted to capture that, a kind of homage.”
The Birds (1963)
In this classic Alfred Hitchcock horror, a woman pursues a lawyer to his Bodega Bay home after they meet in a bird shop. After delivering the gift of a lovebird to his young sister, she is attacked by a bird on her way back, with more random, vicious attacks suddenly escalating in the bay.
“I love all of Hitchcock’s work and The Birds, in particular, is a real favourite. In this story, we know its birds that are responsible for the attacks but we don’t know why they’re doing it and there’s a lot of suspense there, which I really like. There are also great moments when the characters are locked in the house, not knowing what’s happening outside but hearing terrifying noises, so I was definitely inspired by that.”
In the classic horror that launched a Hollywood franchise, the crew of spaceship Nostromo answers a distress signal from a desolate planet, only to discover a deadly life form that breeds within human hosts. Suddenly, the crew must fight for survival.
“Aside from being very scary, I love the practical effects and how they created the alien creature, with no CGI. It looked extremely believable and realistic, which also means the film doesn’t date too much. We used very minimal CGI in our film and also wanted that real-world, realistic look for the big finale.”
The Thing (1982)
In this much-loved John Carpenter horror, a research team in the snowy wilds of Antarctica find themselves besieged by a terrifying, shape-shifting creature which has found its way into their base, and which can take the form of any organism it chooses.
“What a great concept Carpenter chose by using the snow storm, trapping everyone inside with an unknown creature. It felt very claustrophobic and really builds a simmering tension between the characters, not knowing who has been affected. That unknown entity could have taken the form of absolutely anyone. That was hugely eye-opening for me and definitely influenced our film.”
Produced by Hollywood hero Steven Spielberg and directed by another favourite, Tobe Hooper, things start going bump in the night in a suburban American home, much to the terror of its resident family. When the youngest daughter gets sucked into the television screen, her parents call in a psychic as their final hope to bring her back.
“I really like the idea that ‘less is more’ here and the filmmakers allow you to feel the tension and mystery, especially as this paranormal threat escalates. You don’t see too much, and its very atmospheric, but it’s haunting and keeps you completely on the edge.”
The Fly (1986)
The Oscar-winning remake of a 1950’s classic, Jeff Goldblum’s scientist, experimenting with transmitting matter, uses himself as a guinea-pig, unaware that a fly has landed in the machinery. As he embarks on a relationship with Geena Davis’ journalist, he begins horrifically changing.
“It’s such a fantastic film and I love the sequences where the character metamorphoses into the fly and those incredible effects. It’s beautifully shot and beautifully made by David Cronenberg, and it stills looks good to this day. The score, the music, the lighting and every other element heavily contributed to a very unsettling film.”
Based on his own novella “The Hellbound Heart”, popular author and writer Clive Barker embarked on his directorial debut which became a fan favourite and introduced the world to the notorious character, “Pinhead”. In Hellraiser, a couple moves into a new home, unaware that something truly evil lurks beneath the floorboards of the dilapidated house.
“I watched this as a kid and absolutely loved it. It’s very violent and has lots of gore, again all created practically. I love the concept of body horror. Here, the evil Cenobite characters are a group, kind of centrally connected to their master and always summoned together, which I thought was a really interesting device and helped build anticipation for that arrival .”
Await Further Instructions is out now on digital download and available for pre-order on Blu-ray and DVD. For links, visit www.awaitfurtherinstructions.co.uk