Your new movie H.P.
Lovecraft's The Beast in the Cave - in a few words, what is it
a movie about the human nature of fear, and the consequences of a rash
desicion. It’s Lovecraft in his earliest form, and we tried to stay
pretty close to the text on it.
What inspired you to adapt especially this one of
H.P. Lovecraft's stories, and what can you tell us about Lovecraft's
influence on you as a horror filmmaker in general?
was born out of a desire to get back to work with my producing partner
Larry Underwood [Larry
Underwood interview - click here]. We wrapped our television show
Dr. Gangrene Presents and
I went off to make some documentaries, music videos, and ultimately
Tailypo. While I was working on that Larry started a new online series
called The Fantastic Films Of Vincent Price, chronicling every film by the
actor, as well as writing a number of short stories that ultimately ended
up in his Tales From Parts Unknown story collection. We were kicking stuff
back and forth to each other all the time. He'd send me rough drafts of his
stories, and I'd send him rough edits on
Tailypo. But we really weren’t
doing anything together. So we tried to find something we could put
together fairly fast. He had found this story that H.P. Lovecraft had
written at 14 years old that took place in a cave. It was short enough we
though we could knock it out in a day and we just jumped right in.
talk about H.P.
Lovecraft's The Beast in the Cave's writer and fellow producer
(and your longtime collaborator) Larry Underwood [Larry
Underwood interview - click here], and what was your collaboration
like on specifically this project?
Well, like I said
before we always are kicking stuff back and forth to each other. We call
and text each other constantly. I value his opinion, and I believe he
feels the same about mine. It’s a mutual respect. We have a honesty
between us that is always good-natured. Larry was involved from concept to
final edit on this. He adapted the original story to a screenplay, scouted
the location, hiked in with us for the actual production, and had a voice
in the editing room. I don’t know that we have ever come up on a
situation where we couldn’t find a path that made us both happy. There
have been times I've made directorial choices that he might not agree with
but it's rare he has never really pushed back. In the same way, if he feels
strongly about something, I may not agree with him, but can always see
where he is coming from as a storyteller. If we are both on the same page
then we usually know its going to be gold. This one was mostly gold.
Lovecraft's The Beast in the Cave gives plenty of room to the
literal words of H.P. Lovecraft - now what was the idea behind this?
part of what made this film shootable was that we stuck with the text framing
it with the writing of a letter. It allowed us to use a lot of the words
as Lovecraft spoke them. This also meant that a majority of the movie
could be done in voiceover which helped move shooting along as we didn’t
have to worry about sound for those parts. We did make a few changes in
phrasing and word choice. I remember replacing the word “sepulture”
with “mausoleum” as I didn’t think a lot of the audience would know
that word. But I did have a bit of hesitation, as anytime you mess with a
story from someone as notable as H.P. Lovecraft you run the risk of
I ran into a bit of luck in Charleston, South Carolina while screening
Tailypo at the Crimson Screen Film Fest. Scott Poole, who is a noted
authority on Lovecraft and has written the book In The Mountains Of
Madness: The Life and Extraordinary Afterlife of H.P. Lovecraft, was
giving a presentation on the work of Lovecraft in film and afterwards we
talked about the movie, and he seemed excited that I had adapted it. I
sent him a copy early and he gave me some insight as well as a really nice
quote to use as we began to send it out for festival screeners: “In the flood of short films attempting to interpret Lovecraft’s work,
Cameron McCasland’s The Beast in the Cave
rises above them all like
Cthulhu from the corpse haunted city. Taking one of Lovecraft’s little
known juvenile tales and adding his penchant for memorable characters and
thoughtfully crafted frights, McCasland’s brilliant little chiller
places him at the cutting edge of a new kind of horror; brainy, shocking
and, haunting the viewer at the edges of sleep. Lovecraft wouldn’t have
admitted it, but he would have be undeniably pleased.” - Scott Poole
that, I knew we had hit the right tone. And Im excited because we are
going back to Carolina this summer to screen it at Crimson Screen. Tommy
Faircloth & Robert Zobel run a really cool set up there. It’s going
to be fun to watch it with an audience including Scott.
Cameron and Wynn Reichert
Lovecraft's The Beast in the Cave shot, actually, and do talk
about your location for a bit, and what was it like filming there?
shot the cave scenes in an actual cave in Crossplains, Tennessee. I had
worked on a film back in 2005 called Dead Last that shot on the same
property and we just kind of happened upon the cave one day. Kind of just
had that in the back of our mind, and I think it was Larry who went back
out there and looked around again to see if it was in any shape to shoot
in. Save for some minor graffiti we had to avoid it was in good shape. We
actually left it even better than when we started as we did a bit of a
clean up job on some old junk that had washed up.
house scene was shot right outside of Nashville. I had produced a music
video for Florida Georgia Line there a few months back, and befriended the
owner who was gracious enough to welcome us back. It had an eerie vibe to
it, as it was once owned by the pilot of the plane who perished with Patsy
Cline. Patsy had spent a lot of time in the house when she was alive, and
I remember just walking around and humming “walking after midnight”. I
really don’t believe in ghosts, except for in instances like these as I
think it's romantic. For that shoot it was myself and Wynn Reichert [Wynn
Reichert interview - click here] with J.
Kyle Kelly (who ultimately edited the film) as well as my wife Jamie. We
knew the angles on the room pretty well as it had not been that long ago
we had shot a man writing a letter at a desk for the music video.
can you tell us about your cast, and why exactly these people?
will say that it was a tougher shoot for our tall guys like Larry and our
lead actor Wynn Reichert [Wynn
Reichert interview - click here]. The cave is fairly small, and they spent a lot
of the day having to crouch down as the ceiling wasn’t very high. To top
that in its about a mile and half hike to the cave over some fairly
treacherous terrain. But that also forced us to plan the gear we took, and
we had to be finished in time to pack up and hike out before it got dark.
Mark Greenbaum played our guide. He had been on the old Dr. Gangrene show
a number of times before I took over the directing reigns but I had got to
know him a bit as he was a long-time friend of Larry's and had done a bunch
of sight gags in live shows. It was my first time really directing him,
other than a TV promo we had done where he played a zombie eating a pile
of brains. Both of those guys came ready to work and knew their lines.
Joseph Drake played our monster. Joey had been the monster in the suit for
Tailypo, and it just felt right bringing him back for this one.
of course also have to talk about H.P.
Lovecraft's The Beast in the Cave's creature for a bit, and to
what extent were you involved in its creation?
was more in the hands of Chuck Angell, who did the creature design on the
face of our actor Joseph Drake. Larry did some research on prosthetic
pieces and we decided pretty quickly on what the monster should look like.
I had Joey do some simple test photos with just covering him in a talcum
powder, as we wanted him to be a big ashy looking. Chuck did the
prosthetic application, and painted the makeup. And Joey hiked in the
woods with make up already on, and sat in it all day as his scenes were
later, but Chuck was also shooting for me so I needed him on set. Oddly
enough Joey had an allergic reaction to the latex and ended up in the
hospital the next day (which I didn’t know until later). He got a
cortisone shot, and was all good. It makes for a better story that way I
about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
was pretty light-hearted. Probably the least stressful thing I had made in
years. Like I mentioned we were pretty scarce in the gear we brought along
as we had to hike it all in. It was me, Larry, Chuck, Wynn, Mark, Joey,
and David Baker who had come to be an extra set of eyes and ears for Joey
in the mask. We brought in a picnic lunch and ate in the cave. I think it
took about seven hours to shoot the cave scenes. Wynn was pretty wiped out
by day's end as I kept stuffing him in little holes and making him crawl
around. I think it helps sell his panic well. It was fairly comfortable as
caves have a fairly even temperature. We all had little beads of water on
us, as the cave dripped a lot. And we may have scared some hikers any time
Joey stepped outside the cave to smoke a cigarette as he was almost naked
except for a loin cloth and that monster make up on.
$64-question of course, where can H.P.
Lovecraft's The Beast in the Cave be seen?
still have a few chances to see it on the big screen, and we have made it
available for a limited time for screening on the Dr. Gangrene
channel as it's is currently nominated for best short film at the Rondo
Hatton Classic Horror Awards, and we wanted people to get a chance to see
it before balloting ends. I’ll be in Evansville and Charleston to screen
it and Larry is heading over to Chattanooga for an encore screening (we
won Best Regional Film at Frightening Ass Film Fest in Chattanooga back in
October and they invited us back for the big party). And both of us will
be on hand here at home in Nashville. We’re still booking it so
screenings may pop up.
6-9 Chattanooga Film Festival - Chattanooga TN
6-9 The Alhambra Theatre Film Festival Evansville Indiana
23-24 Nashville Film Festival Nashville, TN
19-21 Crimson Screen Horror Film Festival Charleston, SC
you can tell us about audience and critical reception of H.P.
Lovecraft's The Beast in the Cave yet?
for sure. The one thing Larry and I really wanted with the movie was for
it to play at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival and it did, playing at both
the Providence Rhode Island (which is the birth place of H.P Lovecraft)
and in Portland Oregon where the festival has longterm roots. In a bit of
happenstance the movie premiered both in Rhode Island as well as at the
GenreBlast Film Festival in Virginina on Lovecraft’s birthday. I was
attending Genreblast where they screened both it and
Tailypo in the same
block. I realized only then that I had made two movies about a shot in the
dark. It's funny how seeing it with an audience can do that.
than that, it screened in Australia for A Night OF Horror which also
celebrates the work of Lovecraft and a handful of other festivals in the
U.S. and Canada. It was nominated for a Emmy here in Nashville and it's
currently in the running for the iHorror Award and Indieville TV Award in
addition to the Rondo. We didn’t expect any of that. It's been kind of
funny as I've made other things that have done well, but I labored over
them more. This one has just been easy from the start. It's had longer legs
(or tentacles I suppose) - I chalk that up to Lovecraft more than anyone.
future projects you'd like to share?
just this week put out the trailer for a new western I directed called
Prisoner Of Perdition. Larry wrote the screenplay for it off a short story
he did. It has played two festivals in Oklahoma already and has a few more
booked as of now. I'm really excited about that one. Big cast including
Rusty James, John Wells, and Michael Longstreth. Great looking sets from
Copper Canyon, which is like a second home after shooting Lashman &
Tailypo there. I call it a weird western, as I think it's the kind of
story you would have seen on a Twilight
we are currently editing another short that I directed from a story that
originated from Larry's short story sabbatical, called Retrieval
Service. It's about a pair of graverobbers who get in over their heads. Stars Kenny
Garner, J.D. Hart, and Rebecca Lines in another great make up job by Chuck
Angell. I'm really excited to show that one off. It's got a few last touches
to do, but it came to life really well. We shot that a few months back and
the plan is to collect these and some other shorts into an anthology
hosted by Dr. Gangrene
after they make their film festival runs. We have
one more story we want to shoot for that, and that will probably be my
next narrative project as a director.
I’m writing a few things. Working on some documentary stuff and just
deciding what I want to do next. I'd like to tell the story of US
Marshall Bass Reeves. Nothing set in stone, but the story is coming
together, and Im hopefully we can get it made.
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answer my tweets if anyone has questions.
Anything else you're
dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
me just ask that for anyone that loves movies and independent film I
implore you to come out and engage with filmmakers at film festivals,
conventions, and any other kind of screening. Tweet at people, and write
them letters when you like something. It does a world of good to know
people are out there in the darkness watching. I don’t disparage any
films being made in Hollywood, but if you love truly independent art, then
make a point to support films and film makers where you can. So many
brilliant minds doing good work right now that need the support so they
can continue to make films. Guys & gals like Henrique Couto, Jaysen
Buterin, Izzy Lee [Izzy Lee
interview - click here], Nathan Ludwig, Sannah Parker, Christopher G. Moore,
Jill Gevargizian, Jason Tostevin [Jason
Tostevin interview - click here], Kelton Jones [Kelton
Jones interview - click here], Phil Elam, Ryan LaPlante,
Chris McInroy, Dustin Mills [Dustin
Mills interview - click here], Wendy Keeling, Tim Hall, Michael J.
J. Epstein interview - click here],
Lynne Hansen, Scott Schirmer [Scott
Schirmer interview - click here] & Brian Williams and an ever-growing list
of names of filmmakers who are doing great work. If you don’t know
them, look them up. Find their movies, and engage them in conversation.
Don’t complain about remakes, sequels, or that no one is making original
stuff because all of these human beings are doing just that. Seek it out,
and share it with your friends. Buy them dinner and drinks if you can and
let them sleep on your couches. If you seek it out I promise you will find
something that you like. When you do, hold on to it and help them grow. We
need audiences. If you like it tell people. What I’m saying here is the
old Daddy Warbucks cry of “Let’s all go to the movies!”
for the interview!