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Lesbian Vampire Killers

March 2009

IT has lesbians and vampires and killers. It has Mathew Horne and James Corden. It has that one off Footballers' Wives and Withnail & I's Paul McGann... plenty to go at when the duo turn out for a post-screening Q&A in the basement of London's Soho Hotel.
So, a slap of the legs for the journalist who must have been from Stupid Weekly who wasted a minute of our lives by asking: "So who would you rather have bite you – a lesbian, a vampire or a killer?"
Fair play to James Corden for rescuing her from an attack of the tumbleweeds and venturing some kind of response.
"Well I guess out of the three you've got to go lesbian haven't you? Because they won't kill you,'" says the 28-year-old.
"Lesbian," says director Phil Claydon, matter-of-factly.
"Lesbian," adds a visibly despondent Mathew Horne. 30. You can tell he is just short of rolling his eyes.
Our Mat – that's what we call him as he's from Burton Joyce – doesn't look like he's enjoying the experience. It probably doesn't help that most national newspapers gave their stint hosting the Brit Awards a hiding.
"It all went to plan," he told me ahead of the press conference.
"But it's an impossible gig to do because you're playing to 9,000 people in Earls Court who just want to drink and eat. And the people at home don't have that wall of noise going on."
Critics also, in the main, turned their noses up at the Horne & Corden sketch show which started on BBC3 last week. Rather unfairly, I might add. As Jonathan Ross said, it's better than expected. And how many "got" The Fast Show straight away?
This week they've been similarly dismissive of Lesbian Vampire Killers, the duo's big-screen debut which opened in cinemas today.
It's a comedy about two mates who go on a walking holiday and end up killing a group of Swedish lovelies after they all turn into lesbian vampires. It was never going to be Annie Hall, was it?
One senses that they're in danger of irritating us by being too visible too often.
"We're very mindful of it," says Mat.
"But you have to understand, a lot of that is not to do with us. The sketch show coming out and the film ten days later, it's very much out of our hands."
James Corden, as ever the class clown, makes light: "We promise when this film's out the way we'll just go away."
He adds: "Let's hope we're not getting on anyone's nerves. It's the last thing we want to do."
While Lesbian Vampire Killers is an obvious vehicle for the duo, who first met on the set of Gavin And Stacey two and a half years ago, both auditioned for it before the comedy series was even broadcast.
"We auditioned for this film independently," says James.
"Mat was the very first person who came in for the casting process and read for Fletch," says the film's director Phil Claydon, referring to the role that would eventually go to James Corden.
"I was quite confused when I read the script," admits Mat, "because I thought Jimmy was the part I should go up for."
It does see the pair pretty much playing the characters we re are used to from Gavin And Stacey: Jimmy is the sensitive and nerdy Gavin; Fletch is an uncouth, sex-obsessed Smithy.
In one scene, Fletch gets to grapple with one of the lesbians in a shower and has his sweaty hands on her lady lumps.
"It was actually one of the worst days – genuinely," when someone suggests he must have enjoyed that.
"It was a really long day. You're really wet and covered in goo.
"The girl was wearing a body suit, her face had decayed and there was gunge coming out of her face.
"There was nothing really erotic in it in any way," he laughs.
"And you've got Paul McGann shouting the Lord's Prayer..."
Mat and James say they were "in awe" of McGann, who plays the priest who is determined to banish the evil Carmilla before she detroys mankind (not Annie Hall, remember?).
"The best thing about his performance is how he played it dead straight, with such conviction," says Mat.
James adds: "I had a lot of my scenes with Paul and in a lot of those scenes I'm wearing a long coat. In my head I would imagine I'm in Withnail. I'd try and slip lines in but he wouldn't ever bite.
"And that really ***sed me off at one point. Then I realised he was just one of those guys who never corpses. He is a very serious man.
"It's the only way I can describe him."
McGann was more interested in the set, he says.
"The forest we shot it in, they were real trees. For Paul this was the most amazing thing in the world. All he would talk about was 'this is amazing, this is real earth, these are real trees'".
He adds: "There were times in the past two years when this film was dead in the water. But Phil just never gave up."
"It just reminded me of every great movie I grew up with," says the director of the script.
"I'm a fan of horror movies," adds Mat.
"When I was 11 I watched The Omen 2 and it had such a huge effect on me. And I suppose that idea of watching a film you weren't allowed to watch because you weren't old enough was really attractive."
It wasn't the same for his co-star.
"I don't really like horror films," admits James.
"I don't really enjoy being scared. I like romantic comedies.
"I didn't even watch Doctor Who. I was scared by it."
"You were too busy learning Take That routines," jibes Mat.
"I was. I used to know the opening 35 minutes of Take That: Live In Berlin. The whole routine. And I'd either be Howard or Robbie. I absolutely love them. It was the greatest moment of my life at the Brits meeting Howard and Jason and them saying how much they love Gavin And Stacey.
"I honestly felt like I couldn't breathe. Still to this day in the back of my head I think they're going to need me at some point. And I'm coiled and ready."
Mat doesn't share his passion for boy bands.
"Mat likes bands who strap their guitars up there," says James (miming a chest strum) "in a dirty sweaty pub."
"You should review for the NME," retorts Mat, who is so into his music that he runs a club night in Shoreditch every Thursday.
"I pop down there, when and if I fancy. It's really fun. It's like an hour out of my life just to play some records that I like to people."
When we met last year, Mat had tipped – and become mates with – White Lies. Since then they've headlined the sell-out NME Tour, including a date at Rock City last month.
"I saw Harry (McVeigh, singer) the other night at the NME Awards and we hung out a bit.
"Yes, I was right about them," he laughs.
His next top tip are a Leicester guitar band called Minnaars.
"They're a bit like Foals."
Has he ever been in bands?
"I sang in a band at school but I never really wanted to do it properly. I never learnt an instrument. I knew it wasn't for me."
That said, when he was growing up in Nottingham he was a regular at Rock City and remembers seeing Oasis, David Bowie, Blur, Radiohead and Pulp.
He left the city to study drama at univerity in Manchester then made the move to London.
After appearing in Catherine Tate's TV show and Teachers, he was cast in Gavin And Stacey, where he met Corden.
"There's no jealousy, only support," says Mat, when asked about the pair's projects apart from each other. "It's good karma. We don't need to compete. We're doing all right together. We're doing all right apart."
While James pursues more movie projects – appearing in the big-budget Hollywood remake of Gulliver's Travels alongside Jack Black – Mat is tied up on the London stage until next month, playing opposite Imelda Staunton in Joe Orton's Entertaining Mr Sloane.
"The reviews have been great and I'm really enjoying it."
Not that he plans to do more theatre.
"The benchmark has been set quite high. And it's the part I always wanted to play. So it's going to be difficult to top that."
It wasn't until he went to Manchester University that he'd even read any Orton.
"I quickly became a huge fan. And I think Entertaining Mr Sloane is his best play."
But it was back in Nottingham that he first caught the bug to be a stage actor.
"I remember going to see Popcorn at the Playhouse. I think it was a world premiere. Whenever I go and see a play I always want to be up there. Which I suppose is why I'm an actor. I remember thinking that back then."
After his current play – and a holiday – Mat will be back with James to record a third series of Gavin And Stacey.
And that's not all. A second Horne & Corden series has been mooted along with a live tour.
There's every chance Lesbian Vampire Killers will also be screened in the US, with Hollywood looking for the next Shaun Of The Dead.
"The American studios all love it," says director Phil Claydon.
"They're waiting to see how well it does over here."
He admits there is a problem with having "lesbian" in the title.
"It is a straight comedy, it's not a sleazy sexploitation movie – it's very different to what the title suggests. We get it over here because it's got James and Mat in it. But they do love it. They're just working out 'how do we get people in through the doors?'"
Whatever the success of the movie, we'll be seeing more of the duo.
"We would love to keep working together and working independently," says Mat.
"We've got no aspirations to be Cannon & Ball," adds James.
Mat chips in: "Though it might end up like that."

WITHIN the first minute it's made clear which audience Mathew Horne and James Corden, in their first big screen adventure, are targeting.
If the title isn't enough, the shot of a pair of bare boobies will ram home the point – it's for teenage boys.
And the puerile of mind.
Me among them.
Jimmy (Horne) has been dumped by his vampish missus (Lucy Gaskell). Turning to buddy Fletch (Corden), who hasn't the most sympathetic ear, he is encouraged to go on holiday to find a woman to help ease the pain of rejection.
But, being skint, the pair have to stay in Blighty. Sticking a pin in a map they head for a remote village in East Anglia (not Wales as many reviews are saying).
Bonus – a camper van full of hot foreign female tourists have just booked into the local hostelry.
"What are the chances!?" quips Fletch, whose sole motivation is sex.
The ladies are students of English folklore, attracted to the village for its legend of Carmilla, the Lesbian Vampire Queen, who was executed in the 17th Century by vampire hunter Baron Wolfgang Maclaren.
Should she rise again, then mankind is under threat.
Just the blokes mind. All women will become vampires... and lesbians.
As all the village womenfolk are.
And the men know it, sending visitors their way as sacrifices in order that their own necks remain puncture free.
Only the vicar (Paul McGann), whose daughter is approaching her 18th birthday – the age at which the women become lesbian vampires – wars against them.
There's more to it. A love story unfolds between Jimmy and Lotte (MyAnna Buring).
And Jimmy, it seems, isn't just a dweeb from the city but the very man who can put an end to Carmilla as a direct ancestor of the Baron.
That said, it's his blood when mixed with that of a virgin that can release the spirit of Carmilla.
Yes, of course, she rises again and it's left to Jimmy, with the help of Fletch and the intense vicar, to slay her.
It isn't based on a true story, before you ask.
Influences of classic British horrors are clear: the chases through the forest (Carry On Screaming); the eerie pub full of suspicious locals (An American Werewolf In London) and the possessed holy man (The Exorcist).
That it stars two British comedy actors slaying the undead makes Shaun Of The Dead an obvious reference point.
Just add a few topless lesbians.
But it's silly, not salacious.
And could quite easily be a Gavin And Stacey spin-off. A kind of Gavin and Smithy's Summer Holiday.
Corden nabs all the best lines as the yobbish and sweary Fletch.
"Best remember her the way she was," he tells Jimmy as his ex, who'd followed them in the forest to kiss and make up, goes from vampish to vampire.
And then there's his frustrations at his lack of luck with an army of beauties, whining: "Dead women will get with each other but they won't sleep with me."
The B-movie stylings favoured by Quentin Tarantino are a nice touch and early on director Phil Claydon adopts Guy Ritchie's rapid-motion techniques. Shame they don't continue.
Don't expect too much and you'll be laughing loudly – mostly at Fletch's asides.
And you have been warned – the conclusion suggests a sequel is in the offing.
Rating: 3.5

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