Madman Entertainment

What would you ask THE LOVED ONES director Sean Byrne?

Sean Byrne’s tongue-in-cheek and fabulously foul horror flick THE LOVED ONES is out now, jam-packed with special features for all you rabid Lola-lovers. But if you felt like the DVD extras didn’t quite get under the skin (so to speak) of his grotesque fantasy, you are in luck: we asked our magnificently malevolent LOVED ONES Facebook fans to pose some questions to Sean. He has since judged which he thought were the ten best questions, and the lucky 10 who asked those questions will be getting a devilishly awesome prize in the mail any day now…

So without further ado, let’s see who won, and how Sean answered their probing questions – probing as a drill through the skull, that is:

1. Q (Adam Gregory): Were you surprised that TLO underperformed at the local box office when the buzz/reviews were so strong?

A: I’d hoped for stronger theatrical returns but it’s hard to be heard above big studio movies, especially in multiplexes crowded with product. It’s a blink and you’ll miss it scenario. So I wasn’t totally surprised. They say you judge the success of a movie after 10 years. Movies like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Evil Dead and Donnie Darko built up a loyal following over time and are now considered great successes. I believe the film delivers. People are finding it more and more. And hopefully they’ll continue to find it. So if you like it then please spread the word!

2. Q (Amy Shambrook): Did your inspiration come from real life events?

A: Daddy is loosely based on serial killers Ed Gein and Jeffrey Dahmer. The home lobotomy technique is based on Dahmer. The zombies were based on the case study of a teenage girl (I won’t mention her name) who was entrusted into the care of her neighbours while her parents went on holiday. The neighbours then kept her in the basement, starved her and scrawled things into her chest. The bleach injected into vocal-chords is also based on fact. The logic is that it’s more reliable than gaffer tape because you can’t rip it off…

3. Q (Tekin Sawatzki): Was Lola’s personality based on an actual person, or did her character come completely from your imagination?s

A: The initial idea for Princess came from my niece, who was 5 when I started writing. Like most little girls her favourite colour was pink and she was into fairy wings  and magic wands etc. I thought it would be interesting to take that belief in Disney-style-fantasy and transplant it in the mind of a socially invisible teenager who’s had an insanely messed up socialisation. Placing innocence and madness side by side was the idea. I imagined Lola to be as vulnerable as Carrie, as sadistic as Annie Wilkes from Misery, and as spoilt as Veruca Salt from Charlie And The Chocolate Factory. Then Robin McLeavy came along, having done a ton of her own research, and made her more fun, sexy, schizoid and lonely than I’d ever imagined.

4. Q (Sarah Springer): What advice can you give, from personal experience, to hopeful future filmmakers?

A: Know your own mind and try to make a film that you don’t think anyone else could have made but you. In more practical terms, the biggest pressure and the most expensive thing on a film set is time (or lack of it) so come to the shoot as prepared as possible. Try to maximise every second.

5. Q (Monica Scurlock): What does your parents think of the film? And was film making their dream job for you?

A: My parents really enjoyed the film. I was pretty nervous showing it to them. My dad’s a film critic and horror is his least favourite genre! But he was happy the movie had good character development because a lot of horror movies don’t. I’m not sure if filmmaking was their dream job for me. I think they presumed I was going to be a lawyer because I did a law degree before trying my hand at filmmaking

6. Q (Steven Ballantyne): I ♥ this film! Seen it 3 times so far and looking forward to #4 .. it’s already a classic for me and is so quotable. I keep telling my friends back in the UK to check it out.Some great questions thus far so my question to Sean would be .. What inspired the title of the film?

A: Thanks for the kind words. I’m stoked you’re up to your 4th viewing! The title denotes the film’s twist, that the basement is home to Princess’s discarded loved ones. It also about Brent, the loved ones he’s lost and the loved ones who make him determined to live again.

7. Q (Martin Cook): I like your use of sound to create a menacing and oppressive feeling in The Loved Ones. (The drill made me grit my teeth and I couldn’t watch!) Did you pay extra attention to getting that right?, and do you feel that effective sound design is often underused by horror directors?

A: I think sound is one of the most under appreciated and under utilised parts of the craft. It alters the way you see and feel things. Horror directors tend to use it in a more expressionistic way than drama directors because  spooks and chills aren’t naturalistic. They’re feelings that have to be created. I was fortunate enough to work with two very skilled and bold designers who were excited about, to quote Spinal Tap, going “up to eleven”. The drilling was always intended to be wince inducing to the point the audience can barely take it anymore. We wanted to stretch the slingshot as far back as possible so that when our hero finally does rise it’s with hardcore velocity!

8. Q (Cameron McCulloch): Who would you most enjoy tying to a chair and torturing
A.) Charlie Sheen (see if he really has tiger blood).
B.) Kim Jong Il (repeadly saying “matt damon” each time you strike him)
C.) Chuck Norris just to see if he really is invincible.

A: I’d have to say Kim Jong II because Chuck Norris is drill proof and Charlie Sheen, if he was still “banging 7 gram rocks”, would probably enjoy it.

9. Q (Matthew Rooke): in such a genre mash up film did you have to especially research stoner, torture porn, teen romance etc genres or are these just second nature to you, kinda built into your psyche?

A: I studied Misery during the writing stage because of structural similarities (both captive/claustrophobic). Dazed and Confuzed is my favourite teen movie so I brushed up on that. Carrie was an influence. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was too. And Evil Dead. Tarantino, Lynch, Jackson, Haneke and Fincher were also inspirations. The “Is it safe?” scene in Marathon Man played its part… But I didn’t study them searching for an idea. The idea came because these influences were already swimming around in my head.

10. Q (Whitney Murrie): How did Lola and her Dad become serial killers? They take the father daughter relationship to a whole new level!

A: I think Daddy was always a sociopath. Existed on the periphery of society. Couldn’t relate or feel. Always had the urge to torture but never acted on it. Got married to a painfully shy local girl. Was a distant husband. His wife (Bright Eyes) turned to antidepressants. Numbed her world. Princess was born. Daddy felt love for the first time. Would do anything for his little girl. She started school. A boy was mean to her. Princess told her Daddy. He abducted the boy and tried out the lobotomy technique you see in the movie. Bright Eyes ran. Was going to tell the police. Bright Eyes had to be stopped… So Daddy is the Frankenstein figure. He has trained Princess in the art of torture in much the same way a father teaches his son or daughter how to change a tyre.

So congratulations to Whitney Murrie, Matthew Rooke, Cameron McCulloch, Martin Cook, Steven Ballantyne, Monica Scurlock, Sarah Springer, Tekin Sawatzki, Adam Gregory and Amy Shambrook! Send an email to and we’ll get your prize out to you! Oh, and Brendan Tolley, don’t despair – Sean especially asked for you to be sent a poster to thank you for your amazing storyboard work.

And hey, horror fans, don’t forget Madman has all your fright-films needs covered with our Asylum label – check it out here!

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