Sunday, 16 January 2011

Stronghold that defied legions of the dead

Top sci-fi mag SFX has now picked up on the impending movie adaptation of my novel, STRONGHOLD. In an article last week, they wrote:

Abaddon Books, the shared-universe publishing arm of game-maker/2000 AD owner Rebellion, has signed its first movie deal. STRONGHOLD: TOMES OF THE DEAD, by Paul Finch, has been picked up by Amber Entertainment for development.

The story is one to make zombie fans and Welsh readers equally happy: in 13th century Wales, the locals are sick of tyranny. With ancient druidic magic, they raise an army of zombies to drive out the English. Most importantly, how cool is the idea of knights fighting zombies? Rebellion CEO Jason Kingsley is tipped to direct.

“It’s a great story in a setting that I personally find compelling, the medieval period,” he says. “I love stories about zombies in apocalyptic settings and always thought, what would happen if an armoured knight met a zombie?”

Okay, we’re sold. Rebellion’s got JUDGE DREDD filming in South Africa at the moment, so this deal marks a further success in the company’s plans to create cinema from its multifarious fictional properties.

STRONGHOLD may take a long while to come to the screen, but it’s not the only Abaddon tale in play, reveals Kingsley – “though it’s simply too early to make any mention of it.”

Well, it’s always exciting to see your material get the big screen treatment. But I must confess, this is only one of numerous horror products of mine that has been optioned for movie development, and thus far only two have actually made it past principle photography – SPIRIT TRAP in 2005 ( and THE DEVIL’S ROCK, currently in post-production (

I’m massively excited by what this promises, but in truth am still surprised that STRONGHOLD was optioned so quickly. On the face of it, I’d have thought this a potentially very costly project to film. For those who haven’t read the novel, it concerns a smallish force of several hundred English knights besieged in Grogen Castle in mid-Wales by uncountable legions of the undead, and subsequently battling for their lives against an overwhelmingly vast enemy whose troops can be torn, hacked and mutilated but never, ever killed.

Aside from the truly colossal numbers of zombies involved, the castle itself would surely pose a challenge for any film-maker. King Edward I of England built some of the mightiest bastions in Britain, particularly in Wales, where he sought to quell the locals’ rebellious spirit. Many of their names became bywords for invincibility – Conwy, Harlech, Caernarvon – but I based my blueprint for the fictional Grogen Castle on ‘Krak des Chevaliers’ (pictured), the crusader castle built in Syria in the twelfth century, and regarded as one of the strongest fortresses the pre-mechanised world had ever seen. Of course, adaptations for the big screen often differ from their original source material, so none of this is set in stone (no pun intended), but the many battles in STRONGHOLD occur above, below, over and all along these indomitable ramparts, with frequent use of siege engines and medieval war machines, and of course widespread destruction and carnage.

It’s going to take some doing. And there’s something else, not unrelated to this. In the novel, the depiction of general medieval warfare, let alone warfare against the undead, is extremely graphic. Don’t take my word for that. Here are a couple of excerpts from critiques online. First of all, from C. Heywood, writing on the WH Smiths website:

The undead come in every conceivable state of corruption and mutilation, and are gruesomely and chillingly described by the author. In that respect, this is an all-out traditional horror novel. But much of the horror also stems from the savagery of the combat, which at times seems to explode from the page it is so shockingly violent. Heads are split, limbs lopped, eyes gouged out …

And from Colin Leslie at Black Abyss:

What follows is a gruesome account of the battle for Grogen Castle between the English defenders and the newly risen Welsh zombie army. It's a veritable dictionary of anatomical terms as body parts are skewered, severed, chewed and burnt in increasingly bizarre ways …

I don’t know about you folks, but I can’t wait to see all that realised on film! More info and updates about this, and other projects, as I get them.


  1. I am a huge fan of your work Mr. Finch. I am excited to see this come to fruition! Thanks for all of your hard work!

  2. You're welcome, Sirc. Glad to be of service. Hopefully, STRONGHOLD will make it onto the big screen sometime soon.