Editor’s Note: This interview with Dutch filmmaker Wim Vink by Hans Minkes originally appeared in the pages of the Netherlands-published Schokkend Nieuws (Shocking News) Film Magazine, dedicated to horror, science fiction, fantasy and cult cinema. It was first published on July 9, 2013, and digitally-republished in its homeland on September 9, 2013, and updated on July 22, 2018.
Hans Minkes, the writer of this interview for Schokkend Nieuws, also publishes his film insights for the Dutch-language cinema blog Bloedlink FilmBlog— a blog dedicated “about the real necessities in life . . . Genre, Horror, and Cult Movies!”
As you read this interview, you’ll discover Wim Vink has a rabid, international fan base and is revered in the United States by horror aficionados. While the press is bountiful in the Netherlands, there’s no English-language press on Vink’s works—let alone an interview—with the writer-director.
Our thanks to Schokkend Nieuws and Hans Minkes for allowing this English-translated version of this article to appear on B&S About Movies. We also extend our special thanks to You Tube user altohippiegabber for their efforts in preserving the career of Wim Vink and making us aware of this rare interview, which we’ve translated for U.S. and other English-speaking fans. As Alto opined: Wim Vink is undoubtedly the godfather of the Dutch horror film, “the uncrowned horror king of Tiel.”
Amen to that.
Wim Vink: Groundbreaker from Tiel
09-09-2013 | Last updated: 22-07-2018 | 07-09-2013
By Hans Minkes
In ZOMBIE 1, Richard Raaphorst’s short film from 1995, Wim Vink rises from the grave after a drunk has pissed on his tombstone. This time, reaching retirement age is enough to bring about his return. Wim Vink, after a long career as a professional photographer, hangs up his camera. But his film camera hangs on another twig. . . .
The founder of Dutch low-budget horror—he has directed the short films ZOMBIE HORROR (1981), DANCE MACABRE (1986) and the feature film HEAVEN IS ONLY IN HELL (1994)—is reviled by many. He is accused of a lack of talent or is called a sell-out for the ostentatious use of surreptitious advertising in his films. Yet there is no escaping it: Wim Vink was the first to shoot horror films on pro-super-8 and 16mm with friends and acquaintances. And that from the wet river clay of Tiel.
What I admire in this man is that he has managed to make horror films with his own hands for years and that he enthusiastically tried to sell them to everyone. Pouring blood bag after blood bag on your actresses, while no one around you is waiting for this and investing so much money in your dream with a reasonable chance of never seeing it again, that’s guts! To me he is the Godfather of Dutch Horror.
ZOMBIEHORROR was your first short horror film in 1981. Why did you choose horror?
“I was crazy about horror. I had already filmed everything; documentaries, nature films, corporate films, but no feature film yet and you should have tried everything. The equipment was there and within two days I had gathered friends around me who wanted to go on the adventure with me. I was a big fan of Fulci, Argento and Romero’s work, so a horror film was a natural choice.”
How did you manage to finance the films?
“I paid for everything out of my own pocket for ZOMBIEHORROR. I had a budget of 10,000 guilders (!) [dollars]. Later I started using surreptitious advertising. I often had to hear criticism about that, but it was effective and shooting a film costs a lot of money.”
It sometimes comes across as if you were fighting the windmills of Tiel like a Don Quixote in clogs. Did you encounter a lot of resistance? To what extent are you responsible for the end result?
“The problem is I’m stubborn. I want to keep everything in my own hands and that takes a lot of time. I wrote the scripts, filmed everything myself and also did the editing. It was always really a Wim Vink Production. You really shouldn’t arrive in the Netherlands with Dario Argento at the time, then you would have been ripped off. I’ve argued hundreds of times with people who don’t understand horror, but I don’t anymore. Everything is allowed in movies. It is and remains film. End of discussion.
“The headmaster of a school in Zoelen, a village next to Tiel, has been unimaginable at me with letters sent to the local newspapers. I was put down. Fortunately, there were also supporters, such as the then mayor of Tiel. The misunderstanding has even once almost led to a real lynching. I had planned a funeral scene next to the cemetery in a small village outside Tiel on a Sunday morning. We were busy when suddenly a procession with villagers and accompanying coffin entered the cemetery. To say the least, people were not pleased with the film crew present. We were almost molested there. Fortunately, one of the actors was a police officer. He called for reinforcements quickly, otherwise things could have gone wrong.”
In the pre-internet era, advertising a movie was a bit more challenging than it is today. No YouTube or crowdfunding, but with a film look and your soul under your arm, you can visit potentially interested parties. How did you handle that?
“In the Netherlands I distributed large numbers of video tapes with my own hands, but it was mainly abroad where I had the most success.”
In a videotape I bought from you, I found a personal message from the American distributor Mondo Video. They asked if you could provide NTSC versions of your movies. What have you managed to achieve internationally?
“I immediately saw the great potential of the foreign market and therefore decided to make my films in English. I have spent many guilders [dollars] advertising in fanzines worldwide. For example, I had advertisements in Fangoria, which I paid five hundred dollars for at the time, and then you only had a postage stamp size in advertising space. The advertising campaign certainly paid off. I distributed my films single-handedly in the United States, Russia you name it! I also had a long-term contract with the French television channel Antenne 2, which often showed my films in the late evening programme. I have won 187 awards worldwide, so in addition to scorn and ridicule, I have certainly received respect and appreciation. [There was never a deal with Mondo Video due to financial disputes].”
Despite the relative success overseas, you were systematically rejected at film festivals in the Netherlands. Seems quite frustrating to me.
“I submitted my films several times for festivals, but I never made it through the pre-selection. ‘We don’t allow those kinds of films,’ was often the reaction I got. I thought, look at it, I am organizing a festival myself; the Benelux Horror & Science-Fiction Narrow Film Festival in Tiel. It had four editions in the eighties and was very infamous! I had about 1,200 visitors in one day, so there were definitely people waiting for genre films.”
Strangely enough, you can’t be found in the compilation video THE NETHER HORROR COLLECTION from 1995. Your name does appear in ZOMBIE 1 by Richard Raaphorst. The grave of Wim Vink that is pissed on by a drunkard, on which ‘Wim Vink-the Zombie’ comes to life; do you consider it an ode or a snarl?
“Oh, delicious! I think it’s a good joke. Any form of publicity is advertising and it was entertaining too. Richard Raaphorst contacted me to ask if I would mind. The film was already finished by then, but I said: ‘Go ahead!’ I’m actually flattered.”
I recently came across a DVD of your movie HALF PAST MIDNIGHT on a site. Doesn’t seem like pure coffee to me?
“I’ve come across that DVD too, but it’s as illegal as it can be! I have not given permission for that. I’ve been working on the release of a DVD box set containing all six horror movies I’ve made for some time now. With making offs, trailers, soundtracks, stills, mini posters, and two short horror/science fiction animation films. And then there is also a bonus. What that will be. . . . There were some contractual obligations that made it take so long.”
Now that you’re retired, you naturally have plenty of time. Can we expect some more news from you?
“It’s always itchy! I have stories on the shelf for ten films. But making those films takes a lot of time and energy and I’m not twenty-five anymore.”
* Be sure to read the retrospective review by R.D Francis at B&S About Movies of Wim Vink’s Half Past Midnight and Heaven is Only in Hell, along with Pandora and Dance Macabre.
Our many thanks to Julius Koetsier, the Editor-in-Chief at Schokkend Nieuws, for working with B&S About Movies to honor the work of Wim Vink in the U.S.
About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes film reviews for B&S About Movies and publishes music journalism pieces and short stories based on his screenplays, on Medium.