Stand-up comedian Barry Dodds started his comedy career age 21, working with acts such as Jimmy Carr, Kevin Bridges and Sarah Millican. More recently,he starred in Jason Cook’s hit sitcom ‘Hebburn’. However, comedy is not his only passion. Barry spoke to Spooky Isles’ NIA JONES about his love for horror films and ghost hunting.
SPOOKY ISLES: How long have you been a fan of horror films?
BARRY DODDS: Since I was far too young to be watching them – I remember going to the video shop and being frightened by all the horrific images on the video box covers, but at the same time, I was very curious. When I was about 10 years old, an older neighbourhood boy rented a film called “Freaky Fairytales” and we watched it at his house. It scared the living hell out of me,I have seen it as an adult and, of course, it is rubbish.
SPOOKY ISLES: UK horror or USA horror films?
BARRY DODDS: Both have their merits but the USA has the advantage of having the best special effects artists in the world available to them – they can push the boundaries in terms of gore with KNB Effects in particular. I find UK horror tends to use CGI, which I detest in horror films.
SPOOKY ISLES: Which are your top 5 favourite horror films?
BARRY DODDS: Inside, The Exorcist, The Hellraiser series, The Hills Have Eyes (Remake) and Dawn of The Dead (Original).
SPOOKY ISLES: Who is your favourite horror film actor?
BARRY DODDS: I have seen some fantastic performances but I am struggling to think of one that I would put above the other, if I had to say one, perhaps Beatrice Dalle in Inside.
SPOOKY ISLES: Do you have any favourite moments from your life as a horror film fan?
BARRY DODDS: The closing frames of Blair Witch Project will haunt me forever, the lawnmower scene from Braindead, Cenobites vs. Dr Channard from Hellraiser 2, the eye splinter from Zombie Flesh Eaters and the ending to Eden Lake which is the most depressing film ending ever (a good thing!). Meeting Ruggero Deodato, director of Cannibal Holocaust was exciting too… I could go on forever!
SPOOKY ISLES: What was the last horror film you watched – what did you think of it?
BARRY DODDS: A British film called Entity (not to be confused with the ‘80s classic). Utter, utter rubbish.
SPOOKY ISLES: You are originally from Gateshead, Tyne and Wear – When did your interest in the paranormal start?
BARRY DODDS: My cousins told me ghost stories when I was young and they would really terrify me. As I got older, I wanted to know more, I think I am drawn to things that scare me.
SPOOKY ISLES: You have told us previously about your passion for overnight ghost hunts– can you tell our readers about how these ghost hunts began?
BARRY DODDS: When I was 13 – there was a radio show called ‘Night Owls’ on a North East station called Metro FM. The DJ Alan Robson was looking for listeners willing to join in with a world record attempt for ‘The World’s Biggest Ghost Hunt’ at Warkworth Castle in Northumberland. My friend and I applied and were accepted – the next year I was accepted again; this time for a ghost hunt at a (then abandoned) country house called Beamish Hall near Stanley in Co. Durham.
SPOOKY ISLES: What has been your scariest experience on a ghost hunt?
BARRY DODDS: An experience at Beamish Hall – I was on a vigil, sat in a corridor with fellow ghost hunter, when I suddenly saw a cubbyhole door unlocked itself and swing open. In all honesty, I ran, tears streaming down my face, I was trembling with fear. I know people will put this incident down to a young boy’s over-active imagination or think it was some kind of elaborate set up but I promise a 100% it wasn’t. I quickly came to the realisation that I hadn’t a clue what I was playing with and what I considered a little bit of fun wasn’t so much fun anymore. I’ve been back to stay at Beamish Hall (now a gorgeous hotel) in recent years and the said corridor has been blocked off; but I can tell where it is by tapping on a certain part of the wall.
SPOOKY ISLES: You have performed comedy in ample venues across the country – have you had any strange ghostly experiences or encounters while doing stand-up?
BARRY DODDS: Surprising no, not really; considering how many deaths there have been on stage (crap joke, but I had to do it!). The Rawhide Comedy Club is hosted at the Royal Court Theatre in Roe Street, Liverpool and that venue has some interesting spooky stories attached to it, after dark, that place does take on a very odd atmosphere.
SPOOKY ISLES: And lastly – Werewolves, Vampires, Ghosts or Zombies?
BARRY DODDS: Zombies, there is no debate, and not the running ones either;I am talking Romero / Fulci stumbling ones, proper horror.
Follow stand-up comedian Barry Dodds on Twitter @Barry_Dodds
NIA JONES is a Spooky Isles Wales correspondent. She is a freelance writer who has written pieces for The Guardian Community Film Blog’s Clip Joint, Inside Media Track and Reader’s Panel. Follow her on Twitter @niaserenwib. Read her previous articles on Spooky Isles here.