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SYFY WIRE Features

Winnie-The-Pooh: Blood and Honey Creators Tease Full Universe of Twisted Children's Stories

Depraved versions of classic characters will share the screen in the upcoming Poohniverse: Monsters Assemble.

By Josh Weiss
Winnie The Pooh (Ryan Olivia) walks down a long hallway in Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood & Honey 2 (2024).

Are we ready to stick around the Poohniverse? Writer/director Rhys Frake-Waterfield and producer/actor Scott Jeffrey (aka Scott Chambers) aren't resting on their blood-soaked laurels. With just a week to go until the domestic theatrical release of their Winnie-The-Pooh: Blood and Honey sequel (a direct follow-up to last year's sleeper slasher hit), the filmmakers have confirmed plans for an ambitious cinematic crossover event involving classic fairly tale icons — all of them in the public domain, of course — reimagined as horror villains.

Following their solo outings, Winnie-the-Pooh, Bambi, Peter Pan, Pinocchio, and more will converge in 2025's Poohniverse: Monsters Assemble (a cheeky nod to the winning Marvel Studios formula). "We’re bringing a lot of young, emerging UK directors to do some of these films with us," Frake-Waterfield, who will direct, Monsters Assemble, tells SYFY WIRE over Zoom. "We didn't want to stretch ourselves too thin and it's quite nice to have a different style amongst these films."

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As of this writing, Bambi: The Reckoning (helmed by Dan Allen) is nearing the end of post-production, with Peter Pan's Neverland Nightmare set to be filmed next under the directorial oversight of Jeffrey.

"It's very dark, very bleak," Jeffrey teases on the same call, citing Scott Derrickson's The Black Phone and Alexandre Aja's High Tension (released in the United Kingdom as Switchblade Romance) as inspiration. "It features a Tinker Bell, who believes heroine is pixie dust ... Peter Pan is abducting children and believes that he's going to send them to Neverland."

Then there's Pinocchio: Unstrung and while a director has yet to be officially announced, Jeffrey does let slip that they're currently in talks with special effects maestro Todd Masters (designer of the Chucky animatronic for the 2019 remake of Child's Play) to bring Geppetto's famous wooden marionette to life.

What Are the Winnie-The-Pooh: Blood and Honey Films About?

With their existence revealed to the world, Pooh (Ryan Olivia), Piglet (Eddy MacKenzie), and two 100-Acre Wood newcomers — Tigger (Lewis Santer) and Owl (Marcus Massey) — bring their homicidal, humanity-hating rampage to the town of Ashdown, home of their ex-best friend, Christopher Robin, who escaped at the end of the first movie.

"Christopher Robin should really be the key protagonist of the story," Frake-Waterfield explains. "That’s who the books follow, his interactions with Winnie-the-Pooh, and we wanted to make sure that was happening here."

This time around, Jeffrey wears two hats as producer and principal cast member, taking over the role of Christopher Robin from Nikolai Leon. "It's fun and as an actor, your imagination really gets used," he says. "I really like that and I found myself in some really challenging moments and scenes, working in really challenging conditions — like this rain machine that was on for 12 hours. It was all crazy, but ultimately, everyone involved was just so lovely ... we just had the best time."

Armed with a much larger budget for the sequel, Frake-Waterfield was determined to do right by viewers. Through a series of polls shared on social media, the filmmaker and his co-writer, Matthew Leslie (Summer of 84), went directly to the consumer, "rather than it being bunch of execs in a studio riffing on what they think the audience wants."

"Everyone was saying they wanted more characters; more backstory; new looks for the creatures; bigger, crazier deaths," the director continues. "After we collected all this research, Matt and I sat down and ensured that the story we were developing was going to meet this criteria. We made sure that there was a lot more lore in this one."

In addition, the production could now afford the services of The Prosthetics Studio (a UK-based company founded by a makeup artist whose resume includes such mega-franchises as Harry Potter, Captain, America, and Star Wars). "They redesigned all the creatures, they did all the practical effects in the film, and they’re all excellent. I'm really excited for people to see it now. It's more of the film we wanted to make first-time around."

Another upside of having more money was the ability to hire established actors like Simon Callow, a veteran of the stage and screen (you might know him from Four Weddings and a Funeral, Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, and, most recently, the recent Hawkeye TV show) for the role of Cavendish. "I didn't think he'd say yes when we offered it to his agent, but he really liked the character," Jeffrey recalls. "He’s a dream. If you change your performance in any way, he reacts to that, which I really appreciate as an actor. I don't like stuff that’s over-rehearsed, and he's not like that. He's very much instinct-based."

Check Out an Exclusive Look at Traumatized Christopher Robin

Christopher Robin (Scott Chambers) is covered in blood in Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood & Honey 2 (2024).

How Winnie-The-Pooh: Blood and Honey Franchise Villains Channel Beloved Slasher Movies

While he would have liked to introduce the rest of the Pooh crew, Frake-Waterfield knew that a bigger ensemble would mean compromising on quality, particularly where the makeup and prosthetics were concerned. "There are logistical and budget considerations for that," he says. Jeffrey agrees: "You could do them all, but they’d look a bit average."

In the end, they decided on Tigger and Owl for their unique contributions to the group dynamic. "With all four of them, I was like, ‘How do I make them distinctly different?’" the director notes. "I love ‘80s horror, so there's a lot of inspiration behind some of those in these characters. I wanted to make sure that was coming out in their personalities."

"It was trying to bring those characters back that have gone a bit muted in the last couple of years," echoes Jeffrey. "Friday the 13th [for example]. It's been so long since we’ve had a film from that franchise. The same with Nightmare on Elm Street. So, it was our way of going, ‘Okay, these are the characters we all like, let’s try and re-envision them a little bit with these characters.’"

Below, Frake-Waterfield breaks down his view of each of the four antagonists...


Winnie The Pooh (Ryan Olivia) walks down a long hallway in Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood & Honey 2 (2024).

"He’s much more like Jason or Michael Myers. He's your guy who just … kills people as quick as he can. His mission is, ‘Get there, die, move on.’ He doesn't want to linger too much."


Winnie-The-Pooh: Blood and Honey

"Piglet is more unique, but he's still slightly inspired by Texas Chainsaw Massacre with the whole apron element. He'll just eat anything basically — a bit like a pig."


Tigger (Lewis Santer) is covered in blood in Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood & Honey 2 (2024).

"Tigger is much more like Freddy Krueger or Art the Clown. There's more of a sadistic nature to him. He likes to torment [his victims], he likes to make people suffer. And he's a bit crazy — that's why his outfit is a straight-jacket covered in blood. There are some teasers out where there's a blind girl and he's holding her eyes [in a taunting way]. It's because he's enjoying the suffering. If that was Winnie-the-Pooh, [he'd] have just stomped on her head and moved on to the next person."


Owl (Marcus Massey) looks down menacingly in in Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood & Honey 2 (2024).

"There’s something really interesting about Owl, in that he’s always depicted as the wise one and he flies. He brings something different to the group. He can be a bit of a scout; he’s able to feed back the information of where certain people are, what they’re doing. [He’s] flying in the sky rather than just another physical body running around with slightly different weapons ... there’s elements of Jeepers Creepers and Hellraiser. He's a lot more vocal, he's the most vocal one amongst the group … he loves to give speeches.

A collaboration between ITN Studios and Jagged Edge Productions, Winnie-The-Pooh: Blood and Honey 2 will enjoy a limited run at theaters nationwide between March 26-28.