YORK horror filmmakers Stewart Sparke and Paul Butler will show their new feature film, Book Of Monsters, for the first time at London’s FrightFest tomorrow.

This 86-minute follow-up to their £12,000 2016 debut, The Creature Below – also premiered at the annual FrightFest film festival – can be seen at the Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square at 11am as part of the First Blood scheme, with tickets on sale at frightfest.co.uk.

Shot in York by director-producer Sparke and writer-producer Butler, The Creature Below successfully attracted distribution at the Cannes film festival, going on to be released on DVD and VOD in ten countries, while Amazon and HMV stocked it on DVD and Blu-ray in Britain.

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Book Of Monsters writer and co-producer Paul Butler

Now Sparke and Butler’s feature film production company Dark Rift Films – formed in York in 2015 – have made Book Of Monsters as the two York St John University graduates take the next step to establishing the haunted city of York as a factory for horror movies.

“York has got a lot of ghosts, so it must be something to do with that,” suggests Birmingham-born Paul.

“As well as our film, my good friends Miles Watts and Tony Hipwell and Hannah Bungard are making their Zomblogalypse film in York and another local production company, RedShirt Films, have just finished filming their first feature film, Chestersberg,” says Stewart.

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Stewart Sparke directs cast and crew on the set for Book Of Monsters

“So it just goes to show how film is thriving in York right now – and incidentally our lead actress Lyndsey Craine and actor Arron Dennis are also starring in Zomblogalypse and we also share a few of the same crew!”

The impact of The Creature Below gave Stewart and Paul momentum for their new film. “Early last year, we launched a Kickstarter campaign for Book Of Monsters, which successfully raised £45,000 and became the third most funded UK horror film – and 15th most funded in the world – on the crowdfunding platform,” says Stewart.

Such funding has enabled Dark Rift Films to pay everyone involved in making the film, whereas The Creature Below was done on a gratis basis.

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Lyndsey Craine, Michaela Longden and Lizzie Stanton facing their monster challenge in Book Of Monsters

The new film was shot in August and September last year over 15 days at Prime Studios in Leeds, around York and Pocklington and in Paul’s garden, with the emphasis on Yorkshire talent.

“Along with our lead actress Lyndsey Craine, most of the cast and crew are from York, and I feel like the film’s success demonstrates that the city is quickly becoming a creative hotspot for filmmakers and other artists to produce their work,” says Stewart, from Beverley.

Combining old-school practical creature effects and a dark comedic edge to make for a “deeply entertaining monster movie”, Book Of Monsters is set at Sophie’s 18th birthday party, an event that turns into a bloodbath when a horde of terrifying monsters descend on her house, intent on devouring the party guests and killing anyone who tries to leave.

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Director Stewart Sparke behind the camera while filming Book Of Monsters

As her school friends are torn apart and eaten, Sophie must rally a band of kick-ass misfits and take up arms to send their party crashers back to hell. To survive the night, Sophie has to face her destiny, but the monsters are real and she is the only one who can stop them.

To attract backers to the Kickstarter fund last summer, “we came up with an interesting marketing angle,” reveals Paul. “As well as offering signed T-shirts, posters and DVDs, our biggest hook was that everyone who donated £10 could vote for which monsters would be included in the movie.

“We let people choose monsters; how people would die; the weapon of last resort, and who should be the uninvited guest at the party.

“So we had the horror-movie cliché scenes, like the shower scene, the phone not working, the police not turning up, but always with a twist on that; always a bit of a spin, but we won’t give that away."

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Happy 18th birthday! Lyndsey Craine's Sophie at her party in Book Of Monsters

Summing up their film style, Paul says: “It’s a horror comedy that doesn’t take itself seriously; it’s scary but it’s funny; it’s not just a splatterfest but has an emotional heartbeat and it’s a coming-of-age movie too. Think Gremlins meets Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and there are homages to so many movies: Alien, Gremlins, slasher movies of the Eighties!”

Analysing the production values of a £45,000 film, Paul says: “They are five times as high as the budget, with great visual effects and sound, done by artists who just love the medium, using their creativity to the maximum.

“Essentially, it’s a studio-based film, but it does have a foot in lots of places with six main characters, multiple monsters and a 25-minute action sequence in the middle.”

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Gnome attack: look out for them in Book Of Monsters

Paul, 33, and Stewart, 29, not only work together in making films but also in their daytime jobs as technicians at Leeds Beckett University, where Paul is Stewart’s manager. “We’ll work 9 to 5, then go and do our other ‘job’ making films, and then we’re up again at 6am, but we’ve managed to make two films now,” says Stewart. “We’re just always tired basically, but we’re already planning our next three films!”

A teaser trailer for Book Of Monsters can be seen at youtu.be/FpyAyoPpHIo

Did you know?

No sooner had Dark Rift Films finished filming The Creature Below than York buckled under the Boxing Day floods of 2015. "We had a little basement in Fishergate, which was flooded to above the ceiling level, but luckily we'd got everything out two days before," recalls screenwriter Paul Butler.

"I then got my camera and filmed the flooding for ther post-apocalyptic ending, so it worked out well in the end."

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Foot note! A severed foot in the new York horror movie Book Of Monsters