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An Interview with James Eaves, Alan Ronald, Pat Higgins, Directors of Bordello Death Tales

by Mike Haberfelner

April 2014

Films directed by James Eaves on (re)Search my Trash

Films directed by Alan Ronald on (re)Search my Trash

Films directed by Pat Higgins on (re)Search my Trash

 

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Your movie Bordello Death Tales - in a few words, what is it about?

 

PAT: It's an old-school anthology, with an Amicus kind of vibe [Amicus history - click here]. My chapter's called Vice Day and is about a strange and dangerous meeting between a beautiful webcam girl and a frustrated politician blowing off steam. Things get dark.

 

Basic question, why a bordello?

 

PAT: We talked about potential locations that would offer up opportunities for sex, violence and secrets. A mysterious, stylised version of a bordello came top of the list. The location itself is this wonderful gothic model built by Harold Gasnier that owes more to the Addams Family mansion than the average brothel.

 

How did the project come together in the first place? And how did you all meet to begin with?

 

JIM: My wife was about to have our first child and I knew I wouldn’t have enough time to put together a feature, so thought I could maybe collar two other filmmakers to work collaboratively on a third each of a movie.

 

PAT: Jim suggested it to me at the cast and crew screening of his brilliant movie Bane. He fancied doing an anthology. I brought Al Ronald on board, who I'd worked with previously on several films including KillerKiller (which is out on DVD in the UK for the first time this autumn). It just slotted together really well.

 

AL: I had worked for Pat as director Of photography on a bunch of his previous movies: Trashhouse, HellBride and KillerKiller. As well as doing a bit of a stint for him in front of the camera for The Devil's Music. In between those I had gone off and made my own feature Jesus Versus The Messiah, so Pat knew I could write and direct. He and Jim concocted this insane idea to do an anthology film and I was thrilled when they asked me to get involved.

 

What were your inspirations when writing your respective segments?

 

JIM: I wanted to do an 80s video nasty - something with vibrant colours and a lot of blood. I always remember watching ‘The Burning’ through the crack in the door when I was little and it shit me right up! Obviously having watched it since I see the comedy value in it - but I was going for something similar – something dirty nasty and bloody!

 

PAT: I’d been fascinated with the idea of doing something involving webcams for quite a while; I loved the opportunities for deception and misrepresentation that they opened up!

 

AL: For Stitchgirl I wanted it to be a mix of a lot of things I love. From Tim Burton, to Looney Tunes via The Evil Dead. And of course the entire segment is homage to The Bride Of Frankenstein, my favorite horror movie.

 

Do talk about the directorial approach to your segments for a bit!

 

PAT: It was strange having most of the dialogue conducted via webcams; it meant that a lot of the time my cast were talking to laptops rather than other actors. We tried to make sure that they still had performances to react to by recording rehearsals, so when you see Cy talking to a laptop, he's actually reacting to Danielle's line-readings from rehearsals several weeks beforehand. It was a very quick shoot; my segment was three days filming altogether.

 

JIM: I found Stuart Gregory through our Producer Steve Barnes - we had a chat - then he put some glasses on and gave me that serial killer stare and I knew I didn’t have to do much. He made our ripper come to life - I just had to light him up and get the blood flowing. It was important to me that the movie flow – I’ve tried to make sure that each scene had a smooth ending/beginning – I wanted to keep the pace up – especially since I had the first slot.

 

AL: This is the first film I have made where my focus was on creating a visual style on a low budget. I wanted to try to make it look as much like an old-fashioned horror movie as possible. Hence shooting in black and white and the expressionist lighting style. There are also a couple of shots which are intentionally out of focus to try and mimic the look of an old film. I tried to control the look of everything on screen for this film, something I have never attempted before.

 

To what extent did you coordinate your segments with one another, storywise and stylewise?

 

AL: We are careful not to have stories which may be too similar, but apart from that it is anything goes. In some ways the more they contrast, the better. By the end are all just excited to see each others films.

 

PAT: We tried to make sure that we didn't end up covering the same territory too much; we needed a bit of thematic space between the three stories so that the movie would work properly. They all take place in the same building, of course, but the 'reality' of the three stories actually feels quite different. We've all brought our own creative sensibilities to the table!

 

Natalie Milner as the recurring character in all of your segments - what can you tell us about her, and what were your collaborations with her like?

 

AL: Natalie had a lot of work to do on this movie. I think she did an amazing job of keeping the character consistent across three different scripts of varying tone and writing styles. No matter who wrote the Madam Raven scene, Natalie always managed to make the character work the same way. A tricky thing to achieve.

 

JIM: Yes, she really nailed the character – I think the character originally came from Al’s script and we ported it across to other characters within Pats and mine – but she managed to walk from one segment to another without seeming out of place.

 

PAT: She's a superstar. I'd worked with her on a movie called Hellbride a couple of years beforehand. Ideally, we'd have brought Raven back as a linking character on the sequel, but schedules didn't work out.

 

Do talk about the rest of your respective casts for a bit!

 

AL: Eleanor James is Stitchgirl. Seeing her costume and developing the silent mannerisms is the closest I have come to seeing an image in my head made real. I think her performance is brilliant. And she makes it look so easy. She really created a sympathetic, funny and tragic character out of nothing. She was great to work with and we both felt a little bit sad when she took the costume off for the last time. We grew quite attached to Stitchgirl!  And the fact that Stitchgirl doesn't talk left the bulk of the dialogue to Julian Lamoral Roberts as Doctor Whale. Julian just lifts the whole movie to another level with the gravitas of his performance.

 

PAT: I'd worked with both Cy Henty and Danielle Laws before, which was a bit of a must because my story is pretty much a two-hander and I knew that it would entirely stand or fall by their performances. Danielle was comfortable with both the sexy, confident side of her character and the more vulnerable, human side bubbling away beneath that exterior. Cy could be both likeable and terrifying. I can't imagine my story working anywhere near as well as it does if I'd cast it differently.

 

JIM: I should really mention Amber Pictures regular Tina Barnes. I gave her what on paper looks like a wafer thin part but she made it into something real - which really helps sell the opening scene of not only my segment but the whole film!

 

What were your respective shoots like?

 

JIM: I’m stood there filming a half naked pole dancer in a bar with last nights lager sticking my shoes to the ground, men everywhere watching the action on stage and I turn to see my 8 months pregnant wife taking stills… it was strange to say the least. But it was also fast - our schedule was very much defined by the arrival of our daughter so we HAD to get it all done in time.

 

PAT: Fast, fast, fast. The third day of my three day shoot in particular was one of the most frantic I can ever remember. We had an insane amount to get through and very limited time, but somehow it all came together. The day we all spent together shooting the sequences in the bordello reception was a lot more relaxed. It was good to see Jim and Al again - we're very rarely in the same room together!

 

AL: The cast and crew worked so hard on Stitchgirl. We had a very limited time to shoot everything in Doctor Whale's room. One night in fact. It was a long, exhausting experience. Much coffee was consumed. But was a brilliant shoot, we had a lot of fun, particularly when we did the musical number.

 

Do talk about audience and critical reception of Bordello Death Tales for a bit!

 

PAT: I love that there's absolutely no consensus between reviewers. Different people enjoy different parts of the movie. It's a fun flick to watch with an audience; Jim's story makes them squirm in their seats quite early on with some of the OTT torture stuff, and they never quite settle down again. They never quite feel 'safe' with this one!

 

AL: I'm glad people have accepted the movie the way they have, it was a labor of love for us and a bit of a gamble. People really seem to get it.

 

JIM: It's always interesting to read the reviews and see which segment people liked best or their reasoning for loving/hating a particular scene/segment.

 

What can you tell us about Bordello Death Tales' follow up Battlefield Death Tales/Nazi Zombie Death Tales?

 



JIM: Well it was dejavue for me a little bit – we were about to have our second child and once again I knew I couldn’t do a feature and we’d had such a good experience on Bordello Death Tales we all knew we wanted to do another one. I was on the fence until Al mentioned setting it during WW2.

 

PAT: That was another project that dropped into place beautifully. Shooting something set in a different historical period is a challenge enough for big budget productions; for a micro-budget flick it's a pretty huge mountain to climb. We hoped to diffuse that a bit with the tongue-in-cheek disclaimer at the beginning... After all, if you're looking for historical accuracy, you might prefer to watch something that doesn't have a load of zombies, ghosts and demons in it. But, no. We still get emails from people pointing out historical innacuracies in uniforms and guns. It was a great fun shoot, though, particularly the big battlefield scene where we had stuff blowing up (which was a first for me). The pyro team were experienced and brilliant.

 

AL: Well, it's a very different type of movie, with different sorts of scares. It's a whole new flavour of Death Tale.

 

Are you planning to make any more Death Tales-movies? And any other future projects?

 

PAT: I'd love to do another Death Tales. I think I'm meant to be more coy about it than that, but I would. As far as other stuff goes, over at Jinx Media our development slate is absolutely packed and we're hoping to get another project in front of the cameras very shortly. We've got a few projects that we're really excited about, including House on the Witchpit and Chainsaw Fairytale.

 

AL: My first feature Jesus Versus The Messiah is due to be released on DVD later this year thanks to the guys at Cine Du Monde. We are all very busy with our own projects much of the time, in a strange way Death Tales feels a bit like a holiday, but I have a feeling it might be a question of 'when' rather than 'if'.

 

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JIM: I’m going to be making a feature next – and announcing it soon so watch this space! As for Death Tales… I’m not planning on having anymore children so I don’t have an excuse to make another one – but never say never!

 

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

 

JIM: Well there’s the Death Tales Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/bordellodeathtales

The Amber Pictures website www.amberpictures.co.uk and my blog :  http://jameseaves.wordpress.com

 

PAT: Hit https://www.facebook.com/jinxmedia and don't forget to follow me on Twitter @zcarstheme. I imagine Jim's already plugged the Death Tales one. Oh, and I write for Huffington Post about films and all sorts of other stuff: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/pat-higgins/

 

Anything else you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?

 

PAT: I sometimes do live shows about filmmaking; you can check one out for free at https://vimeo.com/60319770

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Thanks for watching !!!



 

 

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
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

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

out now on DVD

 

 

Stell Dir vor, Deine Lieblingsseifenoper birgt eine tiefere Wahrheit ...
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... und dann triffst Du auch noch die Frau Deiner (feuchten) Träume ...

 

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