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Interview

Peter Normanton p4

Peter Normanton, author of The Mammoth Book of Slasher Movies, talks about character development in slasher movies, with slashers who are also tragic characters...

READERSVOICE.COM: How does distribution of slasher movies and others work? Why do film makers need distributors? Do certain cinema chains sign exclusively with a distributor, so you need to go through them? Or are they like an agent for cinema owners who recommends good films? How does it work?

PETER NORMANTON: My lack of knowledge is once again exposed, simply because I never looked to becoming involved with film making. I suppose it’s a little like publishing, if you don’t have a recognised distributor, you can’t get your work out to those who would find it of interest. These people, if they do their job the way they should, are invaluable. From the Tomb [Mr Normanton’s publication about horror comics] would never have reached so many people if those involved with its distribution had not got involved.

RV: When you were watching up to a thousand slasher movies, which were whittled down to about 250 for the book, what grabbed you about movies and let you know you were watching a movie you were going to enjoy?

PN: I became addicted to the Italian giallo and their subsequent horror movies. I hadn’t seen these films in thirty years, having overdosed on them back in the day. With writing the book and having seen so many other films, I really started to appreciate their style and content; the Italians were just so imaginative. They had a different way of doing things, which set them apart from so much of what was going on across the Atlantic. Similarly my regard for British horror films was revitalised. I seemed to leave British horror movies behind when Hammer and Amicus came to an end. This book gave me the opportunity to go back and rediscover some of those long since forgotten gems. In anything, whether it’s music, literature or film, I have always been drawn to those who can do something just that little bit different and make it special.

RV: Some of the evil characters in slasher movies become a bit sympathetic in spite of themselves. There was a nice moment in Halloween 2 where Michael Myers has just killed a lot of people, and he wanders into town to do some more damage. Then a little kid comes up to him and says trick or treat, and Michael Myers pats him on the head and keeps walking. Were there any supernaturally evil or other mischievous characters you found yourself liking a bit?

PN: Michael Myers is a tragic individual; you can’t but help feel an element of sympathy for him. A writer with insight will add this to the character’s development, but at the end of the day it’s up to this person to come to terms with their innermost demons. Myers couldn’t, nor could Kreuger, which makes them such absorbing villains. I had considerable empathy with the cannibalistic family in The Hills Have Eyes; they were merely following their instincts in the wake of man’s experiments with atomic radiation, as with Leatherface, but I could feel nothing for the rest of his clan, only a deep rooted resentment. We wouldn’t have such memorable horror movies if the bad guys suddenly repented half through the proceedings.

RV: What are some of your plans?

PN: Well, I retire later this year, far earlier than I had expected due to the ongoing cuts in the UK’s public sector. So for me it’s quite an exciting time. I want to go back and read the silver and bronze age of my youth and see where they take me. I’d like to spend more time writing strange fiction. I don’t get as much free time as I used to do, so for the last few years I haven’t had the chance to explore my ideas and develop anything approaching a style. It took me eighteen months to write a 13,000 word story, which will probably never see publication; but at least I saw it through. For the moment I am not making any hard and fast plans; it would be a relief to get some spontaneity back into my life.

– See The Mammoth Book of Slasher Movies by Peter Normanton.
– copyright Simon Sandall

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