Page last updated at 09:19 GMT, Friday, 9 May 2008 10:19 UK

Talking Shop: Neil Marshall

Neil Marshall is the director of critically acclaimed horror films Dog Soldiers and The Descent.

Neil Marshall
Director Neil Marshall was keen not to rely on too many CGI effects

He's back with his third feature, Doomsday - a post-apocalyptic science fiction action movie starring Rhona Mitra, Bob Hoskins and Malcolm McDowell.

In 2008, a deadly virus infects Scotland and Hadrian's Wall is rebuilt to keep the country in quarantine.

A quarter of a century later the Reaper virus resurfaces in England, so an elite group of police officers, headed by Eden Sinclair (Mitra), is sent to Scotland in search of a cure.

Warning: this interview contains plot spoilers


So how much is Doomsday a tribute to those post-apocalyptic movies of the 1980s?

It's an open love letter to that whole period of time - the whole ethos was that we were all expecting to die in a nuclear war any second.

Viper
The plague survivors include a tribe of cannibalistic punks

In the cinema we had Mad Max and Escape from New York coming out; on Top of the Pops we had the Wild Boys video and everybody dressed up like Mad Max; on TV we had Threads and The Day After.

It was such a rich period and I was soaking it all up. I thought it was time for me to splurge it all back out onto the page and make something that was like that.

There's a lot of classic 80s music in the film. At what point did you decide to use Spellbound by Siouxsie and the Banshees for Sean Pertwee's death scene?

Spellbound has long been one of my favourite songs and I've been itching to get it into a movie. It was something that came up in the edit.

I was thinking of some Sex Pistols tracks to put in there but we tried it with Spellbound and that just worked so well.

I'd actually wanted to put a Banshees track [Into The Light] on the end of The Descent but the producer didn't like the music very much and we couldn't afford it. With Doomsday we had a bit more money to spend on things like that.

The only Doomsday song that was there from the start was Two Tribes [by Frankie Goes To Hollywood]. That was written in the script.

Rhona Mitra
Rhona Mitra has appeared in TV shows Boston legal and Nip/Tuck

Sean Pertwee met an equally sticky end in Dog Soldiers. He must be wondering what you're going to do to him next?

Yes, poor old Sean! I must give him something more substantial next time. In one way he was gutted his part was short but he was really pleased because he got the best thing in the whole movie - it's a showpiece death scene.

How much reaction has there been to the scene where the rabbit gets shot to pieces?

When I was in Brussels, the French and Belgian journalists were all wanting to know if I'd blown up a real rabbit. I thought: "What do you take me for?" I'd be in jail if I'd done that!

It's an incredibly convincing effect and I'm very proud of that. That is the point at which the people are either with the movie or they're not.

Don't take it too seriously - we've got exploding rabbits in this film.

How easy was it adjusting to a bigger budget of $30m?

I loved it, the scale of it. It was exactly the same problems, just much bigger ones. From my point of view, you've got this much script to do with this much time and money - and that doesn't change.

Bob Hoskins
Bob Hoskins plays the security chief helping to find a cure

Bob Hoskins described you as an English Tarantino. How do you feel about that?

Well I hope I don't talk as much. I think Tarantino's a phenomenal director and a very clever writer so I'll take that as a huge complement from Bob.

The film opened in the US to mixed reviews. Do you read reviews and were you disappointed with the reaction?

There's a lot of very positive reviews but the negative ones are really nasty and quite personal towards me.

I think the Americans have had a harder time getting it than people have over here - a lot to do with the sense of humour, a lot do with the fact that it's set in the UK and has an all-British cast. That may have alienated the American audience a bit.

I also thing it was marketed wrongly in the States and it should have been released after the UK. But all that's by the by.

I think it's good for me to read those reviews. I was incredibly lucky with my first two films. To expect the same again would be daft so it's probably a good wake-up call for me.

On your MySpace site you list Carry on Screaming as one of your favourite films.

It's one of the greats. The first time I saw it I didn't know it was supposed to be a comedy. I was like five or six and it scared me rigid.

Doomsday is out in UK cinemas on 9 May. Neil Marshall talked to BBC News website entertainment editor Tim Masters.


SEE ALSO
Doomsday director's gory vision
23 Aug 07 |  Entertainment

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