Richard Brandes on directing dread

PENNY DREADFUL takes its title from a Victorian form of literature that often wallowed in melodramatic excess and prolonged action (because writers were paid a penny a word and dragged everything out in order to make as much money as possible). Screenwriters Diane Doniol-Valcroze and Arthur Flam felt it suited their story because it features a girl named Penny (Rachel Miner) caught in a dreadful situation: she has a phobia about automobiles, but she must take refuge in one that’s broken down in the middle of the woods, leaving her at the mercy of an unrelenting psycho killer lurking outside.
Producer-director Richard Brandes optioned the script and rewrote it for what is essentially his feature-film directing debut, after years of writing, producing, and/or directing direct-to-video and made-for-television titles. The finished film, which also stars Mimi Rogers as Penny’s therapist, is an effective combination of slasher-horror and psycho-thriller that tries to do for the automobile what Hitchcock did for the shower in PSYCHO. Read More