As the 13th Hour Horror Festival nears its epic ending we talk to festival organiser Kat Hoult about everything 13th Hour related from starting it all up with partner Alex Smith to her picks of the festival to the future and beyond
This is the inaugural 13th Hour Horror Festival, how did it all start?
Kat Hoult: I was already working on developing the Real Horror Show last year, then Alex and I met up with Adam Morely who had started the Scifan Corporation and was working on a new version of Dracula. Shortly after Tiernan mentioned his brainchild Zomedy to us, and we got very excited (what comedy and horror fan could resist working on something called Zomedy?) and found ourselves developing three horror shows so we thought ‘why not go the whole hog and make it a festival?’
I’ve always been a massive horror fan and it was great to find all the brilliant people and acts who were too, and bring them all together for Hallowe’en.
Where did your love for horror come from?
Kat Hoult: I used to read every ghost story I could find when I was a child. And naturally moved onto zombies as I got older. When I was 15 I had to compose a piece of music for school and I ended up writing a tune on the piano called ‘The Execution’ that represented a man slowly walking up to the gallows, so obviously I’ve always been drawn to the bleaker side of life!
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced so far creating the festival?
Kat Hoult: Mainly needing to be in several places at once for a lot of the time!
Live horror theatre like The Woman in Black and Ghost Stories is a marvellous thing why do you think there isn’t more of it?
Kat Hoult: It’s pretty hard to get right. Which both those shows have done very effectively. I saw Woman in Black when I was 17 and that was genuinely what got me into theatre. As a moody teenager I refused to believe going in that it could actually scare me. I had a great seat on the end of a row and the atmosphere in that show as it builds is electrifying.
It’s tricky to make sure the moment of terrifying an audience doesn’t just come across as a bit silly. Also, I’d say horror sits in an odd place between comedy and drama; its naturally comic because its normally ridiculous but is also dealing with a disturbing subject matter.
You have two major horror plays running throughout the festival The Hallowe’en Sessions and a new version of Dracula, can you tell us more about them?
Kat Hoult: Hallowe’en Sessions is an exciting mix of brand new horror stories written by some of the best playwrights and authors out there including Kim Newman, Stephen Volk, Anne Billson and directed by Sean Hogan. Dracula is a brand new version of the classic blood curdler with an incredible cast including Andrew Lee Potts from ITVs Primeval, and Charlie Bond from Strippers vs Werewolves. Both shows are going to be “must sees” for Horror fans.
Dracula is one of three AlleyKat productions including the Real Horror Show and Zomedy what is the extent of your involvement in these shows?
Kat Hoult: Real Horror Show is written by and stars my hubby, character comedian Colin Hoult and I’m directing the show. The two night run is basically a much bigger and better showcase of a piece we’ve been experimenting with over the last year. Its very original, proper scary and a great mix of darkly comic plays with a socially relevant twist and some shocking audience interaction. Plus we’re lucky to have a fabulous cast of some of the best comic actors around including Anna Crilly, Humphrey Ker, Thom Tuck and musical act Frisky and Mannish.
Zomedy is the brainchild of comedian auteur Tiernan Douieb. He brought the idea to me earlier this year and I jumped at it. Stand ups as Zombies! What more could you want? I’ve been working closely with Tiernan on the logistics of the show, as well as advising on the development of the concept.
There is also a whole horrific host of other acts and genre’s of show on from chaotic comedy to death row cabaret to scary sketch shows can you run us through what to expect from this eclectic line up?
Kat Hoult: It was a deliberate decision to programme the festival in an events style way mixing up all styles of shows – we have podcasting, film, storytelling, puppetry, improv, theatre, sketch comedy, stand-up comedy, musical comedy, character comedy, cabaret, musical theatre, lectures and workshop readings. It fits in really well with the venue’s programming and makes for a proper celebration of horror in all forms.
We have: Psycho vs Psycho where for the first time both versions of the films are screened simultaneously. I watched the first test screening for that the other day and it was so mesmerising, you can’t help but totally geek out over it. Midnight Movie Theatre – a spooktacular from sketch group, and uber horror fans, The Beta Males is a definite must see, The School of Fright – improvised tales of terror in the style of Poe, Lovecraft, King and more, this is the late Ken Campbell’s classic troupe do horror.
Obviously LoveHorror’s Zombie Movie Massacre – classic zombie films for just £5 (or £2.50 if you see another show!), a series of bizarre lectures on everything from Alistair Crowley to the skeletons of giants, Ain’t afraid of no ghost – Ghostbusters fanatic Paul Gannon’s stand-up show about ghosts , Death Row Diva staring Crimson Skye – cabaret that bites! Plus most of the theatre’s regular nights are doing a special Horror Night including Jonny and the Baptists, Max and Ivan and Richard Sandling’s Perfect Movie.
It all sounds amazing, what personally are you looking forward to most and why?
Kat Hoult: Obviously Real Horror Show is going to IMMENSE so can’t wait for that but looking forward to all of it to be honest. Starting with a Zombie packed special screening of Shaun of the Dead on 13th. We’re combining the launch event of the festival with the final stage of the World Zombie Day walk, and the idea of watching a theatre full of zombies is a dream come true! I’m expecting it to end in an avalanche of gore, blood and booze.
Looking further into the future, what are your plans for 13th Hour Horror Festival, global domination I hope?
Kat Hoult: I’d love to bring it back next year with bigger and bigger events and shows and even more zombies! And werewolves. There aren’t enough of those this year. I asked one of our brilliant designers Becky Athawes to create a werewolf paw clawing out of a grate as part of the design exhibition on the stairwell as I realised werewolves had been a bit left out!
I would like to do more site-specific events in future too. So many brilliant people have already suggested exciting ideas for 2013, and mostly of a challenging nature. But that’s really part of the fun of it. I find it difficult to resist.