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An Interview with Philip Gardiner, Director of House of Sin

by Mike Haberfelner

March 2011

Philip Gardiner on (re)Search my Trash


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Your film House of Sin - in a few words, what is it about?


Well, there are two basic levels really. On the surface, and just as one reviewer ONLY saw, it’s about sexual liberation or the reverse of that. If you only see that level then fair enough, I suppose some of the imagery can be distracting (try directing it!). The actual meaning of the film is really about the prisons we create for ourselves. We think we have found freedom, when in fact we actually a lot of the time create new traps. There have been numerous examples of this throughout history where certain groups have set up away from society and very quickly created a whole new society no better than the one they left behind. All of them crumbled. I took those historical ideas and placed them in a dirty modern environment, with a few extra bits.


Without having an actual name at hand to back my claim, I have the feeling that House of Sin's central character the Mage is based on an (or several) actual person(s). Is there any truth to that?


Absolutely. He is an amalgamation of several folk from history. Cagliostro, Eliphas Levi, Aleister Crowley, Rasputin and a few others. These folk supposedly set people free, revealed the hidden etc. Often followers were simply falling into a delusion of the leaders making, or their own.


Other inspirations for House of Sin?


Tinto Brass’s Caligula from 1979. J


Your film digs deep into topics like (sexual) dominance and submission as well as the philosophy behind it. Your personal take on all of this?


Personally I have no idea what folk see in being hurt, all I want to do is strike back. But I do understand the reasoning behind it, the closeness of pain to pleasure, of being dominated when all you do all day long is order people around. But no, not for me! I simply wanted to use the device to show a metaphor for society at large.


Am I right in suspecting a De Sadean influence in House of Sin?


There you go again revealing all my secrets. Short answer, yes.


In many ways, House of Sin questions what one would label as normal sex life. Where does normalcy in sex begin and end for you, personally?


When I lose my virginity I will let you know.


How much actual research went into the writing of House of Sin?


You could say a very long time, because it comes from the years of research into the mind of man, the legends, folklore, myths, cults and potty individuals that often lead people astray. Or you could say I sat down one afternoon with a pencil and nothing to do and started writing.


A few words about the actor who plays the Mage, John Symes?


John Symes

John is an amazing method actor. He just played the lead in Paranormal Haunting and scared the living daylights out of everybody, walking around in character of an evil Satanic madman. He never stops working, he is a true professional and he deserves an Oscar for what he just did in Paranormal Haunting. Such a diverse man, talented in so many areas. I simply cannot see me doing anything without him in future.


Sarah Dunn

In many ways, Sarah Dunn seems to work perfectly as slavegirl. What can you tell us about her?


Sarah is a top actress. She can shed tears on command, she can sing like an angel, she is just beautiful and she does exactly as she’s told – apart from put her top on.


Nik Spencer

And then there is your frequent collaborator Nik Spencer as the sidekick (and narrator of the film). Is there anything left to say about him you haven't already told us [click here]?


Always a true pro, what can you say about Nik that I haven’t already? Nik became the second Mage in this film or was it the other way around? The lines blur when they’re so good.


Out of the cast of characters populating the House of Sin, who do you identify with the most, personally, the Mage, the slave, the sidekick ... or the transvestite ... or even the girl who assists in suicides?


The Director.


Your film goes fairly far in the depiction of sexual activities and the like. Was there ever a line you (or your cast) refused to cross?


I simply do not like showing any "below" bits or actual acts of sex to be honest, I’d rather imply them. So what you do see, is not a lot more than you’d see on a beach, it’s just the context that shocks and the abstract nature and angles.


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Your and your film's website, Facebook, whatever else?


Well, the main ones are and

Plus and


Anything else you are dying to mention and I have just forgotten to ask?


Yeah. If there’s any funding guys out there, get in touch, we need another couple of million and I’m on target for the next blockbuster! Ha ha…


Speak soon Michael!


Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

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and shall not be held responsible for
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Thanks for watching !!!



Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD