Axelle Carolyn Marshall has been a horror fan for years. Like most of us, she became interested in the genre at an early age when most other girls were reading Judy Blume. Following her love of the genre, she became a contributor to Fangoria Magazine and covered the filming of THE HILLS HAVE EYES (2006) among other films.
In her travels, she managed to secure an interview with director Neil Marshall during press for THE DESCENT and later became his wife on Halloween in 2007 at an amazing castle in Edinburgh, Scotland. In addition to this, she somehow manages to find time to write for L’Ecran Fantastique, SFX, and The Dark Side magazines, while also writing a horror column on IGN.com.
House of Horrors caught up with Axelle recently to discuss her career as a horror writer and her role in her husband’s new film, DOOMSDAY.
Exclusive Interview: Axelle Carolyn Marshall
HOH: You are the exception to the rule in the world of horror film reporting, a female fan in a predominantly male-dominated industry. Have you always been a fan of horror?
Axelle Carolyn Marshall: Absolutely. As a kid, my parents didn’t want me to watch horror movies, so I started reading horror — Jean Ray at first, then I moved on to Stephen King when I was about 12. Then as a young teenager, I finally got to see The Fly and Re-Animator and that was it, I was hooked, body and soul.
HOH: What do you believe should be the primary objective of a horror film critic?
Axelle Carolyn Marshall: Analyzing horror with the same method and seriousness as any other genre. To the general public, horror has a bad name; most people don’t take this genre seriously. In everything I do, I try to show that there’s more to horror than blood and guts. People need to know that genre films can be equally smart, thought-provoking and as inventive as arthouse or mainstream productions.
HOH: What do you look for in a horror film?
Axelle Carolyn Marshall: The same thing I look for in any other movie. I want to be moved, shocked, surprised; I want to laugh or cry; I want goosebumps. Movies are meant to make you feel. Sometimes they can make you think too, and that’s an added bonus. But first and foremost, you’ve got to be entertained.
HOH: There are writers who dig into and analyze films to such an extent that they see things that invariably the director never intended. I recall reading an analysis of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD that saw each floor of the farmhouse as representative of each level of sleep. Another one wrote about ALIEN as the fear of growing up – the crew are the “children”, and the computer is the eponymous “mother”. What do you think of film theory when it comes to horror?
Axelle Carolyn Marshall: While I do believe that filmmakers often put much more subtext into their work than they intend to, I also think that overanalyses can kill a movie. I love to try and understand why a certain type of film becomes popular at a certain time, or see what events in the world or in society spark an interest for a certain genre — torture films and the Iraq war being the most obvious examples — but I don’t personally enjoy theorizing further than that.
HOH: Who are some of the filmmakers you admire the most?
Axelle Carolyn Marshall: David Cronenberg, John Carpenter, Paul Verhoeven, Wes Craven… and Neil Marshall, of course!
HOH: What are some of your favorite horror films?
Axelle Carolyn Marshall: THE RE-ANIMATOR, THE FLY, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, THE DEVIL’S BACKBONE, WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE?…Way too many to list. I also love Universal horror, and I’m a big fan of 80’s splatter films.
HOH: Have you written any scripts?
Axelle Carolyn Marshall: I have, one. It was optioned once, but never got made. It’s something I’d like to pursue at some point, but right now I have too many other things to focus on…
HOH: You’re married to Neil Marshall, director of the brilliant THE DESCENT and the upcoming DOOMSDAY. How did you meet?
Axelle Carolyn Marshall: I interviewed him! For THE DESCENT, at the Brussels Film Festival. We started long email conversations in the weeks that followed, and we seemed to have a lot in common…
HOH: Tell me about your role in DOOMSDAY.
Axelle Carolyn Marshall: I have two short appearances. First I was one of the infected and I died in front of the camera. SFX Supervisor Paul Hyett spent over 3 hours doing that makeup on me, it was brilliant. And then I was one of the punk marauders, during the cannibalism scene. But you’ve got to have good eyes to spot me in that one…
HOH: I understand that you do make-up effects as well. Is this an area of the business that you would like to pursue?
Axelle Carolyn Marshall: Yes, and if all goes well, I should be working on another film with Paul Hyett in the next couple of months. I’m also pursuing acting; I just appeared next to Leslie Simpson (who was in all of Neil’s films) in a short film called I LOVE YOU, by Tristan Versluis, an extremely talented SFX artist who’s worked on everything from HOT FUZZ to SWEENEY TODD. In some ways, it combined my love for SFX makeup with my new acting bug!
HOH: What are you working on now?
Axelle Carolyn Marshall: Besides all the DOOMSDAY, I’m writing a book called “It Lives Again!”, about horror movies since 2000, with lots of reviews, analyses, and interviews. It should be out the end of this year if I manage to finish it in time. I also started writing fiction. And I’m working on getting more substantial parts in front of the camera…