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An Interview with Tom Ryan, Director of Return to the Theatre of Terror

by Mike Haberfelner

September 2020

Films directed by Tom Ryan on (re)Search my Trash


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Your upcoming movie Return to the Theatre of Terror - in a few words, what's it going to be about?


We travel back to The Theatre of Terror where it all began. We'll take a closer look at the history behind the mysterious movie palace and see four new chilling tales of terror play out on its silver screen.


What were your sources of inspiration when writing Return to the Theatre of Terror?


For Soothsayer, ACT ONE of the new anthology, it was H.G Wells, C.M Eddy jr, and The Twilight Zone.
The rest are a combination of Creepshow, Tales From The Crypt, and Spielbergís Amazing Stories.


Basic question, why an anthology movie, and what are the challenges but maybe also advantages of this concept?


Our first anthology was especially challenging, but the experience was unforgettable. With the completion of each short film we felt a new pressure to get the next one done and make it better than the last. At the end of it all we realized what we had accomplished. Itís extremely difficult to make one quality short film and we had made four of them back to back. Looking ahead to the next project, I decided there were more disturbing stories to tell, more bizarre concepts to explore, and more sub-genres of sci-fi and horror to get lost in.


Of course we need to pay for all of this, so thatís the first challenge. We need to be able to budget for five stories. Four segments and the wrap-around. If we achieve that, the next obstacle is making a good film. We donít want any of these segments to be the throwaway story in the bunch. Every film we start needs to be the best film weíve ever made or itís not worth showing up.


The advantages are the kind of films we get to make. Because weíre not handcuffed to one plot, and one set of characters, we get to change our style and our approach towards each film to better compliment the narrative and keep the audience on their toes.


In what way (apart from concept) is Return to the Theatre of Terror related to your earlier The Theatre of Terror?


The theatre itself is a character in the story. We gave birth to that concept in the first film and will now dive a little deeper into its origins and its purpose.


What can you tell us about Return to the Theatre of Terror's approach to horror?


We want the viewer to fall into a false sense of security believing they know what they see unfolding when they actually do not. Redirection, the twist ending, that final stab in the heart. Just when you thought you had it figured out we get you where it hurts.


Do talk about the intended overall look and feel of Return to the Theatre of Terror!


A return to the classics. Our first short Soothsayer is 100% The Twilight Zone in look and feel. The next segments will reflect everything thatís inspired us from the 70ís to early 90ís in both television and film.


What can you tell us about Return to the Theatre of Terror's tentative cast, and why exactly these people?


Because weíre only a quarter of the way into the anthology I donít want to jump the gun on cast announcements. While we do have our lead players locked in for all the films, you never know how life and circumstances can get in the way and change that. For now, I can say we are working with some incredibly talented individuals whom weíve met through the film festival circuit and through relationships we have in the film community. I do all the casting myself and I am very particular about who I choose to play a part. These actors have all demonstrated that not only can they convincingly deliver the lines, but they ARE their respective characters. Almost as if I wrote the part explicitly for them. As a casting director and the writer of the material, you just know the feeling when you see the audition.


As far as I know you're presently still raising funds for Return to the Theatre of Terror - so what can you tell us about your campaign?


Our campaign is nearly 50% funded and we are elated at the support weíve received thus far. Itís a very straight forward pitch and I believe the fans of our work, our friends, and our families all know that we work hard to deliver a high quality and entertaining product. Their confidence in our experience and in our vision has given us an incredible amount of momentum going into this production. Itís been very humbling to know that so many believe so strongly in our work.


Once the budget's in place, what's the schedule, and any idea when and where your movie might be released yet?


I donít like sitting on unfinished films and I donít like procrastination. I have set a personal goal of releasing the finished feature anthology by October 2021 if not sooner.


Any future projects beyond Return to the Theatre of Terror?


There is a script Iíve been discussing with a good friend and former actor in one of my previous films. I like the concept and it could make for a great straight slasher film. It would be a great deal of work to do it right but hopefully the timing will be right and we can get it made.


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Anything else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?


I would just like to thank you for consistently giving me a platform to promote where I can promote my work.


Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

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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