PrintE-mail Written by Jon Towlson

In his introduction to this terrific book of interviews with directors and actors of sci-fi, horror and fantasy (or to use the book’s catch-all term the ‘fantastique’), author Tony Earnshaw provides some very good advice to wannabe film journalists. “Be professional, polite, punctual, and, above all else, prepared.” The interviews in this book show that Earnshaw is all of these things and more; he’s an interviewer who knows exactly what questions to ask, and, for twenty-five years (as a film critic for the Yorkshire Post), has been asking them of some of the biggest names in the film industry.

John Carpenter, George A. Romero, Tim Burton, William Friedkin, Quentin Tarantino, George Lucas, Peter Jackson, Neil Jordan, Wes Craven, and Terry Gilliam are just some of the luminaries included in Fantastique, a collection of thirty interviews conducted by Earnshaw between 1994 and 2015. Harking back to the days of round table interviewing and press conferences, Earnshaw catches many of these older directors during key moments in their careers: Friedkin, interviewed in 1998, gives his thoughts on the reissue of his horror masterpiece, The Exorcist; Gilliam, in 1995, talks animatedly about Twelve Monkeys in 1995; and Lucas, interviewed in 1999, chats openly about The Phantom Menace (revealing reasons behind his twenty-one year directorial hiatus along the way).

Rubbing shoulders with these giants in the book are the younger generation of filmmakers, and it’s equally interesting to hear the stories given by these - at the time of interview - relative newbies. A pre-Hostel Eli Roth talks about his struggles to get Cabin Fever up and running, Frank Khalfoun discusses his 2012 Maniac remake, James Watkins, Susan Hill, and Jane Goldman do a round table on The Woman in Black, Neil Marshall talks Dog Soldiers and The Descent, Ben Wheatley gives his views on Kill List, Alejandro Amenábar discusses The Others, and Edgar Wright (with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost) chat happily about making Hot Fuzz. There is the occasional banter and disagreement thrown into the mix (Neil Jordan takes Earnshaw to task for potentially misquoting him at one point), and it all makes for a read that’s informative and never less than wholly enjoyable.

Some of the interviews are more in-depth than others: Carpenter’s 2008 look back at The Thing is disappointingly brief; on the other hand, Craven and Neve Campbell (On Scream 3), Christopher Nolan & Christian Bale (on Batman Begins), Danny Boyle (on 28 Days Later), M. Night Shyamalan and Bryce Dallas Howard (on The Village) and many others go into considerable, often fascinating, depth. And it’s always good to see unsung filmmakers, like as Paul W.S. Anderson and Roland Emmerich given the chance to talk about their films with an intelligent interviewer.

Throughout its 405 pages, then, Fantastique is packed with nuggets a-plenty for the cult film fan. And with a number of interviews previously unpublished, and all interviews unabridged, Fantastique makes for a collection of the very best from one of the top journalists in the field.



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