The Curse of Halloween Jack

The Art Scene with Mark Rees

This month Mark interviews Swansea filmmaker ANDREW JONES about his latest feature film

As the nights draw in and an autumn chill fills the air, October is very much the time of year for watching scary movies with the lights turned low. Many of us will be looking for something suitably spooky to watch with Halloween looming, and one Swansea filmmaker might have just the answer.

The Curse of Halloween Jack is the latest offering from Andrew Jones, a prolific producer, director and writer, who recently shot his latest feature film in and around Swansea Bay.

The front cover alone is enough to send a chill down your spine, and with the DVD hitting the shelves ahead of All Hallows’ Eve, I caught up with him to find out all about it.

Can you give us a summary of the film?

The Curse of Halloween Jack is a sequel to an independent horror film we made called The Legend of Halloween Jack, which was released in October 2018.  The film was very successful on DVD in the USA and the UK where it opened at Number 21 in the national DVD charts and was the third highest selling independent film of that week. The original film focused on a man called Jack Cain who dabbles in the occult. He’s killed by the town mayor and a local detective after being acquitted of a double murder then uses the occult powers he’s acquired to return from the dead to seek revenge. In the sequel Jack is brought back by a cult called The Lords of Samhain to wreak havoc on the town leaders who have banned Halloween after the events of the first film. This is our second property which has become a series, we also have the Robert the Doll franchise which has produced five feature films since 2015.

Pic of Andrew Jones: Derek Nelson New Vintage Photography

Can you tell us a bit about the filming locations?

We filmed in Swansea and Laugharne in February 2019.  We wanted a rural, small-town feel for the story so areas of Gower and Laugharne were perfect for that. We produce four feature films per year and we make sure that we shoot them all in Swansea and other parts of Wales, employing a lot of up-and-coming Welsh talent. A lot of people believe you need to go to London or Los Angeles to make a living from filmmaking but that’s not the case. My company North Bank Entertainment, which I run with my wonderful wife Sharron, has collaborated with Rob and Beccy Graham of Ogmore based Independent Moving Pictures on 28 feature films since 2012. All the films have been commercially released in numerous countries around the world. Hopefully that proves to local creatives that you can stay in Wales and still be successful in your chosen field.

Are there any shocking moments in the film you can tell us about? Without spoilers!

I think the villain Halloween Jack is pretty scary looking with his scarecrow outfit and mask, his image on the DVD cover is what I think attracted people to the first film. Derek Nelson plays Jack in the sequel and he gives a very memorable villainous performance. The film certainly has moments of suspense and horror as Jack stalks and kills his victims, but I also think when you’re playing in the B-movie arena you shouldn’t take things too seriously, so we have a lot of fun with the concept as well. The humour goes hand in hand with the horror, such as one scene which involves Jack killing a selfie obsessed teenager by ramming a mobile phone down their throat!

Are there any challenges to making a film in Wales?

When producing a film, the challenges are always about time and money, at the independent level you rarely have enough of either! What’s great about shooting in Wales is our cost of living isn’t as high as places like London, so the film budgets go further here. But the best thing about Wales is that the vast majority of people are so helpful and accommodating to our productions. We’ve had a lot of support from so many wonderful people who provide locations and services for our films. That support makes filming a lot less challenging.

What’s coming up next?

We have three other films coming out on UK DVD and digital platforms in the first half of 2020. A true crime home invasion film The Utah Cabin Murders, The Jonestown Haunting which is a supernatural drama based on the real life Jonestown Massacre of 1978, and a thriller called A Killer Next Door about a young girl who suspects her neighbour on a suburban street is a murderer. In November this year we’ll be shooting The Haunting of Margam Castle, which focuses on a group of American parapsychologists who come to Wales to investigate supernatural sightings at the Castle. Filming at such an historical venue is a very exciting prospect.

How will you be celebrating Halloween?

I’ve always seen Halloween as a great opportunity to have a horror movie marathon! I love watching the Halloween film series on the 31st, I’ve been doing that since I first discovered horror films when I was a child. My wife and I usually carve up a couple of pumpkins too of course! I enjoy the Halloween season because people who aren’t usually interested in horror movies seem more inclined to watch them at that time of year. I think the genre is very under-appreciated so anything that gets people more interested in it is great by me.

How can we see the film?

The Curse of Halloween Jack will be released on Monday, October 14, in the UK by 4Digital Media. The DVD will be available to buy at all the major supermarkets as well as HMV. It’s now available to pre-order on Amazon UK. The film will also be available on digital platforms such as iTunes, Google Play and Amazon Video.

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