The ter­ri­ble screams of lost souls fill the cor­ri­dors and­nooneis leav­ing dou­ble maths alive... nah,my­old school hasn’t changed a bit

Writer re­turns to his alma mater only to dis­cover it has been Di­rec­tor: I blame mum for turn­ing me into a lit­tle

The Sunday Post (Inverness) - - NEWS - Aged 13 and 3/4 By Ross Crae Rcrae@sundaypost.com

five years had passed – it seemed in the blink of an eye – but some things had not changed a bit.

There were fear­some char­ac­ters in the play­ground, bloody bat­tles in the can­teen, and, be­hind the doors of the staff-room, lost souls star­ing blankly into the mid­dle dis­tance, as pupils shrieked through the cor­ri­dors out­side.

The only dif­fer­ence was that a film crew was there to film it, cap­tur­ing ev­ery blood-cur­dling scream, song and dance in one of the most ea­gerly-an­tic­i­pated Scot­tish films in years.

I re­vis­ited the cor­ri­dors and class­rooms of my teenage years when cam­eras rolled in Port Glas­gow’s for­mer St Stephen’s High on Anna And The Apoca­lypse, the zom­bie-com­edy-mu­si­cal, which sees a young girl and her school­pals fight to save the world from an in­va­sion of the un­dead.

As tough as it some­times was, St Stephen’s was never this hellish, ex­cept, per­haps, dur­ing dou­ble maths.

Ter­ri­ble screams rang out from what was once the com­put­ing class­room, lights flick­ered along cor­ri­dors and the physics depart­ment was off-lim­its.

It felt just like 1992.

Bloody hand­prints were smeared across the win­dow of the can­teen, and pud­dles of the stuff ran the length of the cor­ri­dors.

My English teach­ers at St Stephen’s High in Port Glas­gow strove valiantly to spark our imag­i­na­tions.

In a town where the true apoca­lypse came in rolling waves of re­dun­dan­cies through the 1980s and 90s, they in­tro­duced us to the magic of Shake­speare, the ev­ery­day ro­mance of poet Nor­man Mac­caig and the po­tent re­al­ism of play­wright Alan Spence.

Yet even they would have laughed off any no­tion that a mu­si­cal hor­ror movie feted by one of the most fa­mous pro­duc­tion com­pa­nies in film his­tory would be shot in these class­rooms, and raved about in The New York Times.

Now, al­most three decades later, that wildest fic­tion is a glo­ri­ous, blood-smeared, flesh-eat­ing, singing, danc­ing re­al­ity.

As Anna And The Apoca­lypse co-pro­ducer Nick Crum toured me through the build­ing, my feet stick­ing to the sugar-syrup blood, paus­ing to look at sev­ered body­parts in my old English class­room, I re­called the teach­ers who made the dif­fer­ence – Mcbride, John­ston, Mckin­lay, Mc­crorey, Sul­li­van, Do­herty, Mcgil­livray – as well as some oth­ers I’d rather for­get. Me­mories sprung from ev­ery cor­ner of the days of 10p Space Raiders and spam rolls, Joan Lin­gard nov­els and first kisses in the school disco, when the can­teen be­came a night­club for 13 year olds at Christ­mas. It does in the movie, too, with thrilling chore­og­ra­phy and bril­liant mu­sic in one of the best set pieces since San­dra Dee and Danny Zuko strut­ted their stuff in Grease’s Ry­dell High dance off.

Later this month, it’ll be dis­trib­uted through cin­e­mas by Orion, the Cal­i­for­nia-based pro­duc­tion house be­hind Rambo, Robocop and Dances With Wolves. Anna And The Apoca­lypse was the brain­child of film­maker Ryan Mchenry, who trag­i­cally died from can­cer in 2015 aged just 27, be­fore he could see it be­ing made. Di­rec­tor John Mcphail says he got his love of hor­ror films early... pos­si­bly a lit­tle too early.

The 33-year-old, who picked up a num­ber of awards for di­rect­ing 2015’s Where Do We Go From His friends, pro­duc­ers Crum and Nay­sun Alae-carew, pur­sued Ryan’s am­bi­tion, bring­ing in writer Alan Mcdon­ald and di­rec­tor John Mcphail. Once fund­ing was se­cured, their com­pany Blaz­ing Grif­fin set their sights on tak­ing the un­dead doon the wa­ter. In­ver­clyde had no chance. The zom­bies were com­ing.

Anna And The Apoca­lypse fea­tures well-kent faces Mark Ben­ton ( Water­loo Road) and Paul Kaye (Den­nis Pen­nis) as the se­nior names on a reg­is­ter of young stars-in-wait­ing.

It’s an un­likely love story on the lower Clyde where ghouls stalk new hous­ing de­vel­op­ments be­hind Tesco, scuff­ing through play­parks and crum­bling in­dus­trial es­tates in the hunt for hu­man flesh. Think Here?, said: “I grew up with films. My mum loved John Car­pen­ter, one of my favourite di­rec­tors. She would say ‘you need to watch The Fog, it’s bril­liant’ and I’d be sit­ting there ter­ri­fied!

“For years I ac­tu­ally wanted to be a cin­e­matog­ra­pher, and it wasn’t un­til about six or seven years ago I started di­rect­ing, made my first short film. I re­ally en­joyed it and boss­ing peo­ple about!

“No, I love work­ing with peo­ple and be­ing col­lab­o­ra­tive. That’s the best part, I got to just hang about with­my­pal­sand­makea film.”

Hav­ing pre­vi­ously worked on­ro­man­tic­come­dies,he rel­ished the chance to work on his favourite genre for Anna And The Apoca­lypse, al­beit with a few nerves.

“I loved it, but I was ter­ri­fied.” he says. “I wanted to make sure I did ev­ery­thing right by what I would want as a hor­ror fan.”

John wasn’t, how­ever, a mu­si­cal fan, un­til he started do­ing his re­search for

Di­rec­tor John Mcphail

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