Interviews with filmmakers responsible for some of the scariest movies ever made have formed the chilling backbone to a new book by a Huddersfield author.

Freelance writer and film critic Tony Earnshaw has been interviewing directors and actors for over 30 years and has dipped into his archive of over 2,000 interviews for his latest book.

Fantastique - Interviews with Horror, Sci-Fi & Fantasy Filmmakers is a collection of 30 interviews with such giants as John Carpenter, Tim Burton and Quentin Tarantino.

Film critic and author Tony Earnshaw
Film critic and author Tony Earnshaw

The book looks at the stories behind the films, including the mistakes made during casting and why some film ideas never make it to screen.

"I always want to know the stories behind the films," says the 50-year-old father-of-two.

"I want to know why somebody was cast and what made them the right or the wrong person.

"There are some familiar films in the book and some less familiar ones. I hope there's something for everybody who likes these kind of movies."

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Horror is one genre that fascinates Earnshaw. He began watching scary movies as a teenager at a time when he also enjoyed reading James Herbert horrors such as The Rats

The Exorcist, released in 1974 and one of the most profitable horror movies ever made, continues to fascinate him.

"I first saw it on 'knock off' video tape when it was banned. I was about 17 and never forgot it."

He interviewed the director William Friedkin in 1998 on the release of a director's cut of the movie.

The Exorcist
The Exorcist

The interview reveals Friedkin's thoughts about the "curse" surrounding the film which some people claimed had unleashed dark forces.

Whether you believe in curses or not, The Exorcist undeniably packs a punch.

"It's a really unsettling film because it's done straight," says Earnshaw.

"The reason why it doesn't lose its impact is because it's pure horror."

While the Friedkin interview was serious in tone, Earnshaw's face-to face chats with both Tarantino and Men in Black actor Will Smith were a little less so.

"Will Smith was very funny when we talked about Men in Black. It's a conversation packed with laughter and banter - and bad language."

"Will Smith is a laid back, accessible, funny and self-deprecating guy. You can have a laugh and a giggle at his expense."

Quentin Tarantino
Quentin Tarantino

Tarantino was also in great form when Earnshaw caught up with him in Liverpool.

"We bonded over bad movies. He used to run a film festival in the States and put on Brannigan starring John Wayne. I said 'Brannigan? It's a terrible film' but he (Tarantino) said he liked the pub fight scene.

"We ended up not talking about his movie (Death Proof) for 10 minutes because he's a buff, like a lot of these guys are.

"They are all steeped in films and they are all aficionados."

Writer and film critic Tony Earnshaw
Writer and film critic Tony Earnshaw

Earnshaw, who lives with his family in Fenay Bridge, says his book will also appeal to serious students of film.

"Some of the filmmakers in Fantastique talk at length about their greatest successes - and their greatest failures. Putting that on record is useful for future students and film scholars."

Fantastique is published by the American publisher BearManor Media.

The cover of the book. Design is by Steve Shaw
The cover of the book. Design is by Steve Shaw

A second volume is already in preparation, says Earnshaw. It will focus on actors such as Johnny Depp, Sigourney Weaver, Sean Connery, Leonardo DiCaprio and Sir Anthony Hopkins.

He has half a dozen interview-based books in mind, with plenty of material already on file thanks to those 2,000 interviews, some of them unpublished.

The focus, says Earnshaw, will continue to be on the interviewee.

"I'm just the bloke asking the questions. I enjoy the chat. But I also like to listen. That's the trick.

Time Line

Tony Earnshaw's top 10 scary moments

  1. The Rats (James Herbert)

    Flesh-eating rats rampage through a darkened cinema. A terrifying moment in a book that informed my youth

  2. Salem's Lot

    TV series directed by Tobe Hooper, based on a Stephen King novel and featuring Huddersfield-born actor James Mason (pictured)

    Young Ralph Glick, recently vampirised, scratches at his brother's window. One of the most frightening scenes ever put on film.

  3. Lonely Water

    Public information film directed by Jeff Grant

    The figure of death haunts ponds, rivers and stagnant pools where unthinking children play, ready to take the life of the unwary, the show-off, the fool.

  4. Insidious (director: James Wan)

    A father in a trance battles to save his child as malevolent spirits move in on him.

  5. The Wicker Man (director: Robin Hardy)

    Pious policeman Neil Howie screams for his life as he begins to burn inside a giant funeral pyre. Beyond, as the sun sets, gleeful pagans sing to mark the regeneration of their crops.

  6. The Exorcist (director: William Friedkin)

    A young girl, possessed by a demon, turns her head 360 degrees as a horrified young priest looks on in disbelief.

  7. I Walked with a Zombie (director: Jacques Tourneur)

    The silhouette of a zombie heralds a creepy walk through cane fields to a voodoo gathering.

  8. Carrie (director: Brian De Palma)

    Spoiler alert: Carrie White is dead - but her hand still shoots from the grave in the final moments of this classic chiller starring Sissy Spacek (pictured)

  9. Alien (director: Ridley Scott)

    Kane (John Hurt) begins to choke. Moments later a snake-like alien erupts through his chest. Also starred Sigourney Weaver (pictured)

  10. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Hush

    Episode of TV series directed by Joss Whedon.

    Buffy and her pals have been rendered mute, just as the town is invaded by the Gentlemen, grinning demons that cut out people's hearts...