Cyprus’ film industry has crept its way into the dark genre of horror film in another Olivewood milestone, as the first scary movie shot on location, the Ghosts of Monday, is set to premiere this summer.
Thrilled over what Cyprus had to offer, filmmakers of a spookier genre, producers, directors, and actors in Olivewood’s first horror venture said they would be pitching the island as more than just a sunny destination with beautiful scenery.
In comments to the Financial Mirror, a member of the Altadium production team and actor Marianna Rosset said the director Francesco Cinquemani and a cast, including star Julian Sands, all left Cyprus impressed with its horror credentials.
Altadium, shortly after releasing their previous film shot in Cyprus, SOS. Survive or Sacrifice, starring William Baldwin, filmed its next venture under the guidance of Italian director Francesco Cinquemani.
The Ghosts of Monday, boasts an international cast and several Cypriot actors, is currently in post-production and should be ready to hit theatres this summer.
Based on Barry Keating’s script (Nightworld, Hidden in the Woods), the film is a ghost story expected to send chills down the spine.
The story revolves around a group of US filmmakers who travel to Cyprus to shoot a documentary about the tragically infamous Hotel Gula, a once-popular resort where more than 100 people were killed under mysterious circumstances.
Julian Sands is the star lead, is known for his roles in films such as The Killing Fields, A Room with a View, Arachnophobia and Boxing Helena.
The Ghosts of Monday is Altadium’s third film entirely shot on location, with the producers venturing into a new genre.
“The experience of shooting a horror film was very different indeed. And very exciting. We had lots of fun during the shooting despite the fact the story entails a lot of drama,” said Rosset.
“We found that Cyprus is a perfect spot for a horror movie, as it offers a variety of sceneries, light and plenty of talent. From actors to the crew.”
Sands said he was amazed by what the island had to offer the international film industry.
“Cyprus is far more than just a sunny place with nice beaches.
“Cyprus is part of the mythology of an ancient history.
“For us, we were unfortunate to be filming during the pandemic and lockdowns; it was a great disappointment as so much of the local culture was off-limits,” said Sands.
He was pitched the role by director Cinquemani, whom he had met earlier in Rome.
“I met Francesco in Rome. I liked him; he is always working on projects; he sent the script, which I found interesting, and I was intrigued by the prospect of filming in Cyprus. I was very happy to commit.”
Sands plays Bruce, a former film star whose career has taken a dip, so he hosts a TV show on paranormal activity on things that go bump in the night.
On his quest for the paranormal, Sands’ character finds his way to Cyprus to interview people who have witnessed such phenomena.
“A combination of the flair and flavour of somebody who was an actor but still has a style over how he presents himself.
“A character, enjoyable to explore, while there is a more serious aspect to him, a much more private side,” said Sands.
He was confident Cyprus could be a destination for big productions, especially horror films.
“I have been so impressed by the professionalism; it was just refreshing to discover the level of skill and experience there is on the island.”
Cinquemani also told the Financial Mirror that Cyprus has what it takes to film any genre.
He has directed Hollywood ventures, such as his latest movie, The Poison Rose with John Travolta, Morgan Freeman, Forest Whitaker and Trinity of the Soul, a documentary series shot in Italy and India.
He was also behind the camera in Beyond the Edge with Antonio Banderas and Andròn – The Black Labyrinth with Alec Baldwin, a sci-fi movie.
“Can Cyprus become a destination for horror films? Certainly. The island has everything to film a good horror movie.
“From old buildings to a history filled with legends and stories, influences from both the East and the West.”
Cinquemani argued that Cyprus offers fascinating scenery with a mixture of new and old cultural relics from the East and the West, while the island’s light is more than ideal for shooting films.
“The light of the day is different from that in the rest of Europe. It is similar to the light of the day you can find in California. The light is the most important factor for a movie.”
Although Ghosts of Monday was shot mainly indoors, “Cyprus light was still a factor, and will be for any movie genre”.
Like Sands, Cinquemani was also fascinated by the talent he had found in Cyprus.
“It was a pleasant surprise for me, and I will be definitely pitching Cyprus to my colleagues as a film destination.”
The director revealed he already has plans to bring one of his next films to Cyprus.
“It has been one of the best experiences in my life. Everything and every one was fantastic, from the actors to the crew and the sceneries.
“Cyprus is currently underestimated as a movie destination and has a lot to offer for any genre; this is something that needs to be worked on.
“I shot two movies in Malta, which is also an upcoming film destination, and I think Cyprus can do a lot better.”
Ghosts of Monday cost around €1 mln to make.
Apart from Sands, the cast also includes Mark Huberman, Flavia Watson and Marianna Rosset, Cypriot actors Anthony Skordi, Maria Ioannou, and Christina Marouchou.