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An Interview with Aaron Mento, Director of Ugly Sweater Party

by Mike Haberfelner

December 2018

Films directed by Aaron Mento on (re)Search my Trash


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Your new movie Ugly Sweater Party - in a few words, what is it about?


Itís about these two friends who go to an ugly sweater party, but one of them is wearing an ugly sweater possessed by the ghost of a serial killer. Things get bloody...


What were your inspirations for writing Ugly Sweater Party - and was any of the movie based on real life camp experiences (not the murders I hope)?


So many things influenced the story and style of Ugly Sweater Party. John Waters, John Landis, Canadian slashers, and The Prisoner TV show are just a few! Not based on any camp experiences, but I did try to capture the feeling of being stuck at a weird party and not liking the vibe, just non-stop awkward exchanges. Until the shit hits the fan.


Do talk about Ugly Sweater Party brand of humour for a bit!


I have a very dark sense of humor, so that is definitely infused into Ugly Sweater Party. Some of my favorite comedies are Vampireís Kiss, Serial Mom, and Coldblooded. Sudden explosions of graphic violence or unexpected discomfort are my catnip.


Ugly Sweater Party has its fair share of gory bits - so what can you tell us about those, and how were they achieved?


Most of the gore was achieved through practical FX by Richard Calderon, and he had so many amazing tricks up his sleeve. I donít want to spoil the illusion, so I wonít go into too much detail, but we used CG to erase certain things...


Do talk about your movie's approach to horror!


The horror in Ugly Sweater Party is very tongue-in-cheek. However, this isnít a spoof or anything, very brutal things happen to the characters. If you have a sick sense of humor, youíll be laughing, if not, then youíll be disturbed...


With Ugly Sweater Party being mostly an outdoors movie, do talk about your locations, how did you find them, and what was it like filming there?


We had a connection to a standing camp location in Idyllwild, CA, so I wrote the entire script specifically for that location. It was a beautiful place with real cabins, but it was at 6,000 feet elevation, so you got winded easily. I lost a lot of weight on this shoot!


What can you tell us about your overall directorial approach to your story at hand?


I wrote the movie, so I was very open to allowing inspiration to strike, and I could experiment and change things on the fly. At the same time, the shoot was very precisely organized, and we only had actors for a short window of time. The movie looks really loose and spontaneous, but everything was orchestrated by a very dedicated crew. I wanted to give the cast time to try things, to take risks, and with a lot of preparation we could make that happen.


Do talk about Ugly Sweater Party's key cast, and why exactly these people?


My approach to writing Ugly Sweater Party was very unorthodox. I would meet actors on the indie horror circuit, and then I would write the script with only them in mind. So they agreed to the role before the script was even written, and I would shape the story as new characters were added to the ďpartyĒ. These actors all inspired me, thatís why they are all in the movie!


A few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?


The atmosphere was super friendly, because most of the actors knew each other and were friends in real life!


Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Ugly Sweater Party?


The reception has been very enthusiastic, and Iím so glad that people are having fun watching the movie! People are getting it and sharing it with friends, family, and other horror fans. Iím especially happy that the performances are getting great notices, because the cast did an amazing job.


Any future projects you'd like to share?


Felissa Rose [Felissa Rose interview - click here] and I are collaborating on my new feature Survival High, an 80s inspired slasher, and she is playing the evil teacher villain! Felissa puts captured students through a curriculum of death and torture...


What got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?


The first movie I remember watching is A Nightmare on Elm Street, so I want to thank my parents for introducing me to horror at a young age. Itís my favorite movie and it inspired me to be a horror filmmaker. For training, I have an MFA in film production from Loyola Marymount University. 


What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Ugly Sweater Party?


My first feature was Standards of Living, a dark sci-fi comedy that is the first feature shot entirely on an iPad 2. Next, I directed and co-created Choose Their Kill, a choose your own adventure slasher series, for Eli Roth and CryptTV. Dark comedy flowed through each project.


How would you describe yourself as a director?


I like to write my own material, so I can change it with the actor, and we can fully collaborate to find the best performance. Iím most interested in full moments, nothing wasted, and being intuitive so we can work without a net. I prepare for everything, but Iím never too precious.


Filmmakers who inspire you?


David Lynch, John Waters, John Landis, Sam Raimi, Paul Verhoeven, etc.


Your favourite movies?


Feeling lucky ?
Want to
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Find Aaron Mento
at the amazons ...


Great Britain (a.k.a. the United Kingdom)

Germany (East AND West)

Looking for imports ?
Find Aaron Mento here ...

Your shop for all things Thai

A Nightmare on Elm Street, Purple Rain, Eyes Wide Shut, Lost Highway, Total Recall, Joe Vs The Volcano, Double Impact, Black Christmas, Sleepaway Camp, etc.


... and of course, films you really deplore?


I try to find something to like in everything I watch.


Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?


You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @aaronmento

Ugly Sweater Party is on Facebook at

You can rent/buy Ugly Sweater Party streaming at


Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

Legal note: (re)Search my Trash cannot
and shall not be held responsible for
content of sites from a third party.

Thanks for watching !!!



Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD