His career might have started by making short films but Austrian filmmaker Marvin Kren successfully managed to impress horror fans across the globe with his 2010 zombie movie Rammbock. Staying with the genre, Kren’s follow up Blood Glacier received its debut as part of the Midnight Madness programme at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival and was then brought to our shores when it was shown as part of the 2013 Frightfest Halloween allnighter which took place at Vue Cinemas Leicester Square London.
Ahead of the UK release of Blood Glacier (aka The Station), we caught up with Marvin to discuss his film and his thoughts about the release being compared to the ultimate creature film, John Carpenter’s The Thing.
Hi Marvin, thank you for taking the time to speak with us.
So Blood Glacier will soon be unleashed on the UK. Where did the journey start?
My first feature was Rambock. It was a zombie film set in Berlin and I felt comfortable in the genre as I like it so much. I grew up with creature feature films and I loved films like Tremors. I also like films where you can laugh and be fearful at the same time through the actions of the protagonist, it’s like a roller coaster. There was a producer who asked us what we were planning next so we pitched him this old school creature feature idea that tried to update on the creature feature classics like The Thing and he loved it so we went for it.
Great stuff. Marvin, in your own words how would you describe Blood Glacier?
Blood Glacier is an old school creature feature monster film where a group of scientists working on a station in the mountains discovers something wrong with a glacier which starts to bleed. At the same time, a minister for the environment is planning to tour the area and it appears that the liquid from the glacier makes mutants of the animals living in the mountain, putting everyone in danger.
So what was the inspiration behind the story?
The inspiration comes from old school creature features. It’s about a group of people in a cabin who have to fight against creatures but I wanted to tell a story where the group of people were actually worse than the creatures that were trying to attack them from outside.
I understand that the film was shot entirely on location. That must have been tough for everyone involved. What was it like?
The film was shot in the Italian Alps in south Creole which used to be Austrian but is now Italian. It was a tough shoot as I didn’t want to shoot it in a studio. I wanted to shoot it in an original place where you can feel the exhaustion in the actors’ faces. We shot it at 3,000 metres which is very high and really assaulting as the air is really thin there. My mother (Bridget Kren) plays the minister in the film and she is much older so she found it especially hard. But it was also a picture which involved a number of animatronics to create the creatures in the mountain so at the end of the day it was lots of fun. The shooting took 30 days and I loved it.
So tell us more about your creature designs…
For the creatures I was speaking to a very famous artist in Austria called Tomak. You should Google him out. He’s a great drawer and he is always focusing his drawings on the perversion of the human body or animals. I told him about my mutants in the hope that I would find a good partner to realise my vision. We tried to find some creature feature art for puppet artists who would be good, most of which were based in London but proved too expensive. There was someone in Hungary but then there was someone in Germany who fit nicely.
Why are you so focused on using animatronics?
What is very important for me is that when I see a creature it’s so much better. If I can’t see it, touch it, or smell them, the realism is lost. Therefore it was important that our mutants were creatures which were a cross-breed between insects and mammals and had a certain smell and appearance so we could get a reaction using the same tricks that old school films used such as extensions to make them more realistic.
Tell me your thoughts about the comparisons between Blood Glacier and The Thing?
The film was premiered in Toronto as part of Midnight Madness and Variety or The Hollywood Reporter wrote “Austria’s answer to The Thing“. A lot of people see similarities between the two films and I have to admit that it is obvious that there are some references but it was never my intention to do a remake of The Thing. I simply got ideas and elements of it along with my love for creature feature films like Tremors to bow and pay respect to the classics which inspired me to become a filmmaker.
So what’s next?
I’m doing two thrillers for German TV and I am planning a new horror film which is more of a technology horror film a bit like Catcher in the Rye meets The Devil. There is also ABCS of Death 2. I have the letter “R for Roulette” and I think you can pretty much imagine what I am referencing with that.
Cinema Chords would like to thank Marvin Kren for taking time out to speak with us. Blood Glacier is available on DVD from 27th January and we’re sure the trailer below will more than tempt you into grabbing this one while you can.