Recently, I had the pleasure of watching HERE COMES HELL at Screamfest’s annual film festival in Hollywood, California. One of the great things about Screamfest, and really any horror film festival, is the access to new and mesmerizing content in the genre. Fresh voices are able to give us new stories that are outrageous and filled with fear and have the ability to creep up and grab us by the throat.
HERE COMES HELL was some of the best types of horror I’ve seen. It’s a love letter to previous films such as The Evil Dead and Night of the Demons. HERE COMES HELL is loving and is hilariously brought to life with an amazing cast as well as beautiful lighting against its black and white backdrop.
Director Jack McHenry did a lovely job with HERE COMES HELL, which takes place during a 1930s dinner party, that we would all want to attend, located in a beautifully spooky and dilapidated old mansion in the countryside. An eclectic and intimate array of guests have been assembled including reluctant lovers soon to be engaged, an over the top Texan, a man blowing through his inheritance and a medium ready to bring them all uncomfortably close to the spirit world. Honestly, why am I not invited to more parties like this? I clearly need more English friends who dabble in the occult. Actor Charlie Robb, who hilariously plays the character of Victor, was at the screening and after it premiered we were able to speak with him a little more in-depth about the movie.
First and foremost, I loved the movie. It had some wonderful callbacks to The Evil Dead and a few other films. What aspect of the movie excited you and made you say “I have to be a part of this film”?
Charlie Robb: Thank you, I’m really happy you liked it! I’m with you there – I love this film too! I loved the marriage of my two favorite horror subgenres: the crackly, black and white Vince Price Hammer horrors, with a rubbery, fun, 80’s gorefest. I hadn’t seen a film that tried to bring those two eras and styles together, so I thought it was a very exciting angle!
You play the character of Victor, can you tell us a little bit more about him?
Charlie Robb: My character is Victor Hall, a complete idiot with a very short attention span (casting was clearly no issue here). He leaps from every cheap thrill to the next, the latest being his purchase of a vast, run-down mansion, where the movie is set. He tries to pervade an image of suave sophistication with his cravat and being never without an aggressive alcoholic beverage. But in truth, he is capricious, loveably useless, and totally shit-scared. It was a great comic character to play and the nod to Vincent Prince in his costume was a real tickle.
What are your thoughts on the paranormal? Are you a believer in ghosts? Have you had any ghostly experiences?
Charlie Robb: I’m afraid I don’t believe in the supernatural, which just sucks for me. Despite this, everyone can become the midnight agnostic. I tutor English to help pay the bills and I once lived with a family for a few weeks in their large house in Buckinghamshire. There was an old church and a graveyard on their land, which was fairly ominous. The mother claimed that a medium had frequently visited the house as many people had died on the grounds during the house’s long history, and a lot of inexplicable phenomena kept occurring. I was assured that any spirits in the house were not malevolent. That being said, I discovered a hidden corridor to a secret wing of the house behind my wardrobe, the door to which would appear open each morning. Despite my disbelief in the paranormal, this all really did rattle me!
Can you talk about the shooting location? The manor definitely has a House on Haunted Hill vibe to it.
Charlie Robb: The house is another fantastic addition to the cast, I believe. It’s an actual dilapidated mansion in Lincolnshire. It is very beautiful and completely falling apart. You could stare up through vast holes in the ceilings and floors and see the open sky. It was also a stronghold for RAF pilots during WWII, so seeing the wartime graffiti was quite eerie. We weren’t allowed to go to many places [inside the mansion]. We thought it was because of the structural danger but maybe something darker was lurking in the shadows…
What was your feeling sitting in the audience with the Screamfest crowd watching them take in the film?
Charlie Robb: Immense pride! It is a very surreal experience to see the product of low-budget fun (and hard work) in rural East Anglia with your mates make its way to a Hollywood screen. It also speaks volumes about the film’s inclusivity that the style and humor have gone down well across all festivals, particularly in the U.S. I’m glad the crowd enjoyed it.
The practical effects in the film were so much fun! How was it getting to watch and be a part of all that gore?
Charlie Robb: It was always such a thrill to see the director, Jack McHenry, crack out the big tub of fake blood as we got ready for a blood splash! The fun of practical effects is just as exciting to see and do on set as it is to see on the screen! And practical effects are all part of the 80’s DIY spirit of filmmaking, which the second half of the movie pays homage to.
There are many intimate moments and shots in the film. How was it working with Jack McHenry? Did he give you a lot of direction or were you able to play and improvise?
Charlie Robb: Jack McHenry is an incredibly talented guy with the added bonus of being very chill and up for collaboration. He gave the actors a long enough leash, which was fun for us and took the pressure off. And his direction of those intimate scenes didn’t change too much either: he gave us plenty of freedom but wasn’t afraid to give us some notes if we went AWOL.
Lastly, what should an unknowing audience expect when walking into this film?
Charlie Robb: It’s in black and white! Some people have been pleasantly surprised by this. It’s very much a horror-comedy so it is a laugh. But it also cares about its characters. Above all, the movie was made with a lot of love by a great team of passionate filmmakers and any audience should get ready for a damned good romp!
Charlie was an absolute gem to speak with. He is currently co-writing and co-directing his first feature horror-comedy based on The Thing which is planned for release next year. Jack McHenry is working on his second film in the HERE COMES HELL world as well. So there are a lot of exciting things over the hill. Charlie, along with Director Jack McHenry and the rest of the cast and crew, created something really special that was one of my highlights at the festival. You’ll definitely want to check out HERE COMES HELL which is now available to stream online!