Writer/director Frazer Lee is one of the great gleaming knives on the new horizon of filmmaking. Like many horror aficionados he found himself drawn to horror films at an early age and after studying writing and screenwriting he aimed to make his own fright films. In 1998 he formed Robber Baron Productions with producer Joseph Alberti with a goal of resurrecting the great British horror film…and he’s off to a very impressive start. He made his directorial debut with the multiple-award-winning film short ‘On Edge’ (based on a short story by Christopher Fowler), which is fifteen minutes of sheer dental terror starring racksandrazors favorite (and Hellraiser’s Pinhead) Doug Bradley. He followed this success with another award-winning successful short ‘Red Lines’, also starring Mr. Bradley. The film was highly praised by audiences as well as the horror community. Tobe Hooper said, “Red Lines gave me the total creeps and the creeps is essential to horror… This guy’s a great director, he knows how to do it guys.”

Next up for the talented filmmaker is his feature film debut, ‘Urbane’ – a modern gothic horror film starring, once more, Doug Bradley. You can check out the film’s progress at www.urbanethemovie.com. ‘Urbane’ has already spawned a screenplay by Frazer (co-written with Max Kinnings) was well as a graphic novel (with artist Shane Oakley) published by Rough Cut Comics. Mr. Lee also has published several of his horror short stories in various periodicals and anthologies. Hmm…a British writer/director of horror whose films feature Doug Bradley, the comparisons with Clive Barker seem inevitable, but as his work attests - Frazer Lee is very much his own man.

Recently Mr. Lee took a few moments to answer some questions about his career, horror, and his dream project a bio-pic of the legendary demonologist Aleister Crowley entitled ‘Crowleymass’ --- info there --- www.crowleymass.com.


  Owen: I am so excited about seeing your feature length debut, 'Urbane'.   I love modern gothic.  Can you give a quick synopsis?

Frazer: Many thanks I'm very excited about seeing it too! In brief, Urbane tells the story of a young medical student called Lili who stumbles across the terrifying world of a race of demons called, you guessed it, the Urbane. She's in terrible danger and doesn't know who to trust. It's a full-on horror movie with plenty of twist and turns. Urbane is dark, scary and fun – just as a horror movie should be!
Owen: 'Urbane' stars Doug Bradley ('Pinhead' from 'Hellraiser') who has starred in both your award winning short horror films - 'On Edge' and ‘Red Lines’.  What about Doug makes him the perfect star for your productions?

Frazer: Ah, Doug is a true horror icon and a great actor. He embodies the kindly/sinister dynamic of, say, Peter Cushing; and of course the urbane genteel characteristics that make his Pinhead such a memorable creation. I like the moments where he just...transforms into this shark-eyed nasty, he can really switch it on for the camera. He's a true professional on-set and has a great sense of dry humour which always makes for a fun shoot. Doug also likes real ale, good music and shoots a mean game of pool – all bonus points on Team Robber Baron!

Owen: Also the music for 'Urbane' is by one of my favorite film composers Claudio Simonetti whose previous work includes 'Suspiria', 'Deep Red', and 'Dawn of the Dead'.  How did he come on board with your production?

Frazer: My producer Joseph Alberti and I were introduced to Claudio at Adele Hartely's Dead By Dawn Festival up in Edinburgh, Scotland. We hit it off and hung out in the bar, watched movies together and visited Greyfriars Cemetery. He's a great guy, and a wonderful musician of course. At one point I was rather excitedly describing a scene I'd written and Claudio leaned forward and said quietly, "We must work on something together you and I." I was very happy, needless to say. And, as it happened I had the ideal proposal in mind already - the score for Urbane!

Owen: Since you work with Doug Bradley so frequently has anyone put two and two together and offered you the next 'Hellraiser' as a directing project?  If so would you be interested?

Frazer: Well, no one has ever offered - that's just not the way it works in movieland (laughs). But I would definitely be interested if I fell in love with the screenplay, and had plenty of creative control. My vision for a Hellraiser movie would be one drenched in the mythos, suitable for theatrical release, with that beautiful music from Christopher Young and a storyline rooted in what was best about the series – its pervosity. The first Hellraiser movie featured a sadomasochist from Hell wearing his brother's skin and trying to get into his niece's panties for goodness sake! Let's not fuck around here - I would absolutely want to paint it dark bloody red.

Owen: So with going from shorts to a feature -- was it a whole new world, or is the difference merely one of length?

Frazer: I've yet to shoot Urbane, so I honestly can't answer that fully. But from where I'm standing it looks like a deeper, more life-encompassing world for sure. Making a short is stressful and joyous, so I can only imagine creating a feature-length movie to be near-suicidal orgiastic experience. I am ready – bring it on.

Owen: When 'Red Lines', your second short film, was shown at the re-screening of Tobe Hooper's 'The Toolbox Murders' in San Francisco, he shook your hand and said, "Man, your movie scared the crap out of me!" Was that a surreal moment for you?  Was it proof that you had definitely made the right career choice?

Frazer: Oh yes, that was at the Fearless Tales Genre Fest in 2004. One of the proudest moments of my life definitely. Tobe Hooper was very kind to say that and I replied saying that his movies have been freaking me out for years. He was kind enough to go on the record with a positive endorsement and for that I am eternally grateful. I'm not going to rest on my laurels though - I have to keep pushing to carve out some space for my work in the fickle world of movie making. Directors like Tobe are a constant inspiration to me - I'm definitely a fan as much as a filmmaker.

Owen: Along with producer Joseph Alberti, you formed Robber Baron Productions in 1998 to "resurrect and reestablish the great British Horror Film."  Other than its country of origin, what constitutes British horror?  Are there any unique characteristics?

Frazer: Classic British horror to me has a level of darkness and oppression rarely found elsewhere. That, and really good acting. I think the ultra-low budgets have caused less reliance on special FX, as the Brits simply can't afford to show hoardes of beasties! Of course, British horror is also famous now for being funny and not taking itself too seriously - films like Shaun of the Dead and Dog Soldiers - but I crave a British horror that is just unashamedly frightening. That's just my point of view though.

Owen: If that is the case with British Horror what do you see as the characteristics distinguishing U.S., Japanese, and Italian horror?    

Frazer: It's difficult to generalize about each form, as each country is influenced by the next. But in Japanese horror, you definitely find a lot of body loathing and disturbing sexual anxieties. The best Italian horror is beautifully stylized and risk-taking, with lots of sex and gore. U.S. horror is perhaps an aggregation of all the above when done well, and all about the CGI and the running-and-the-screaming when it's done not so well. I do find it interesting that hundreds of remakes are coming out of the U.S. when there are so many original and scary horror projects looking for funding - but remakes have always been prevalent, lower-risk projects.

Owen: I've read that you became fascinated by horror films as a boy watching Hammer Horror and Universal Monster double bills. What earmarks of those films (if any) do you find trying to create in your own projects - that  delicious dry ice fog and creepy creaking doors...?

Frazer: I think a couple of things do sneak into my stuff. I always admired films that managed to create an atmosphere - all-encompassing - a world to bleed into to from everyday life. Hammer's "The Gorgon" absolutely does this in the opening minutes. These movies also left a lot to the imagination – economic and well-edited to make you think you saw something... They are also cracking stories that subvert the everyday and turn it into something fantastical and alien. Give me that over a soap opera any day.

Owen: What filmmakers have had the greatest influence on you stylistically?

Frazer: Oh, far too many to mention! A good shortlist would be John Carpenter, David Cronenberg, Robert Wise, Clive Barker and Dario Argento. But I'm not fit to be in the same room as those guys, so I'll quit namedropping - oh, okay one more - Val Lewton!

Owen: Tell me about you dream project, the bio-pic of the notorious Aleister Crowley.

Frazer: Ah, now Aleister Crowley was a fascinating character. An occultist, yoga-master, mountaineer and writer, I feel that moments from his life would make for a great movie. Victorian society referred to Crowley as "The Wickedest Man in the World" and I'd like to explore that in the movie project someday. Of course, everyone who knows about Crowley has a totally different take on the man, but my dream project would be one that encompasses the flaws as well as the rightness - I'm interested in exploring something of Crowley's immense energy on film. Maybe one day I'll have that chance, I don't know, it would be an expensive picture with lots of locations and historic periods.

Owen: What is the best part and the worst part of making films?

Frazer: The best part is without a doubt having the opportunity to show my work to audiences, and being able to discuss it in Q&A sessions and interviews like this one. Also, being able to work with so many inspiring and talented people on a labour of love is always a great experience. Meeting other filmmakers at film festivals is a blast too, checking out the competition. The worst part is the extreme poverty (laughs) and the frustration of waiting and pushing, and waiting and pushing, for finance while movies like "Freddie Got Fingered" get greenlit on a daily basis! (cries laughing)

Owen: What frightens you in real life?

Frazer: Romantic comedies. I'm not kidding. "Notting Hill" and "Four Weddings and a Funeral"? Irreparable damage, my friend. Utterly terrifying.