Your new movie The Amityville Legacy
- in a few words, what is it about?
The film follows a cursed antique toy monkey from
the original DeFeo home as it's gifted at an annual family reunion in
smalltown Nebraska 40 years later.
The Amityville Legacy
taking place during a family gathering going horribly wrong - is any of
this based on real life experiences?
Ha! Well, do family gatherings typically not go
horribly wrong? Just kidding, not really based on my own life, rather the
traditional Amityville storyline. The original story is about a
dysfunctional family so we thought it appropriate to incorporate that
element in this film.
(Other) sources for inspiration when writing
The Amityville Legacy,
and to what extent were you inspired by the original Amityville Horror
film and its sequels as well as the book and actual murder case it's based
on? And speaking of the actual murders, did you do any research on the
We actually collectively did
a lot of research for this project. The last thing I wanted to do was piss
off anyone directly connected to the real crimes. We tried to keep the
"true story" part as accurate as possible, while still providing
a lead-in to our spin-off story. Our film was made in the tradition of Amityville: The Evil Escapes,
Amityville 1992: It's
About Time, Amityville: A New Generation and Amityville: Dollhouse. Those later sequels are a lot of fun
and took the storyline in different and interesting directions. The
"cursed item" element always appealed to me because you can do
so much with it. I wanted to make a film that felt very much an Amityville sequel, while still paving it's own path. While
heavily inspired by the film series, we also attempted to create something
we could really call "our own". It was also important to make a
film that wasn't a "cash in" on the name, but rather make a
movie that comes from the heart of a fan of the series, and made for fans
wanting a 'true' Amityville flick.
What can you tell us about your co-writer and
co-director Mike Johnson, and what was your collaboration with him like,
both during writing and during the shoot? And how did you first meet even?
known Mike for a few years. We first worked together on a music video for Velvet Acid Christ called "Maldire". He played the
priest who dies at the end. Johnson is a filmmaker himself and I had seen
some of his shorts and music videos prior. With
The Amityville Legacy
important to make a film that was not only visually appealing, but
professional as well. Nobody wants an Amityville movie that looks like
it was shot in some dude's backyard. It needed to look legit, and
everything I've seen from Mike I consider top notch, in terms of low
budget filmmaking. He was the magical touch this film needed. We both have
very different directing styles, but I think we really balanced each other
out on this and created something everyone was really proud of. The
writing part was fun. Basically, I came up with like a 20 page outline of
essentially what I wanted to happen in the film and then handed it to Mike
and told him to go wild with it. He brought back a really solid script
that really expended on the outline in so many great ways. After a few
minor changes we quickly had our final script and we went right into
talk about your movie's approach to horror!
we went with a more traditional "pot boiler" approach with the
story, the horror is very much there throughout. What starts as a typical
family function dissolves into utter madness in the course of 70 minutes.
We kept a few things for the fans like the "buzzing" sound,
doors closing on their own and a cursed item all to help create suspense.
But there's also parasitic worms, incest, gun violence and ghosts. While
not too heavy on gore, we rely on the mood and atmosphere to really creep
out the viewer, much like the original films. The final 10 minutes are
truly "edge of your seat" material.
What can you
tell us about your overall directorial approach to your story at hand?
story like this is often tough for me to handle. When left to my own
devices, I usually direct more standard "killer in the woods"
type flicks which are way easy to shoot. You can do them fast, cheap and
don't need that many takes. However, a film like this really required me
to "slow down" a lot and spend a lot of time on set-up, lighting
and preparation. That's why I needed both Mike Johnson and cinematographer
Mark Thimijan to join me. Each of us has our own special trademark that
when combined worked really well. Mark spent a lot of time making sure the
frame was always dazzling, while Mike focused a lot on the actors emotions
and the way the scene played out and I spent most of my time keeping
everything moving along and on schedule. Also there was so many actors,
crew, FX and locations that it was really like "managing" the
film more than I'm used to. It was a great learning experience for me,
even 26 films into my career.
talk about your key cast, and why exactly these people?
Popejoy was our lead. I've worked with him a little in the past on music
videos and films like Gloved Murderess and Die Sister,
Die!, but this was his biggest role for me. Popejoy has a very
distinct persona that I thought would be perfect for "Father".
Cheyenne King plays his slutty, drunk sister-in-law. She literally
"nailed it". This was my first time with her, but her natural
beauty and impressive talent got her the role. The kids are all played by
either Dustin Ferguson film veterans or fans of my work. Since this was my
"love letter" film, I wanted to involve everyone who really
makes my films what they are. Julia Farrell, Jennii Caroline [Jennii
Caroline interview - click here], Breana Mitchell [Breana
Mitchell interview - click here], Schuylar Craig [Schuylar
Craig interview - click here] and Britany Dailey are actresses that have
appeared in tons of my other films and have been building their own fan
followings. While Tony Brown [Tony
Brown interview - click here] and Jade LaFont [Jade
Michael LaFont interview - click here] were not only die-hard fans
of my previous films, they were also big fans of the Amityville series
as well, so it felt right to include them... especially since they both had
prior acting experience. Jeanne Kern plays Grandma (perfectly tongue in
cheek), she was in Silent Night, Bloody Night 2 and Cheerleader Camp 2 The Death, and Colby Coash, who plays Mark's
ghost-father in the film is actually one of the Nebraska Senators! He's a
big fan of horror and has appeared in many of my films previously, with a
starring role in 2015's Blood Claws. Finally, Daniel Stier is
my "newcomer". He's had minor roles in Tales For The
Campfire and Shockumentary. I love working with him,
he's got a great attitude and natural acting ability.
of course also have to talk about your location, and what were the
advantages and challenges of filming there?
had 2 main locations. The exterior of the house and the interior of the
house. Since the house needed to be in the country for the film, we used
fellow filmmaker Pete Lipin's place for the outdoors, then once they enter
the house, we are in Sara Moshman's house. We previously filmed Silent Night, Bloody Night 2 and
Die Sister, Die!
there. What it boiled down to was having all the things we needed for the
film. We needed an open big yard in the middle of nowhere that had a big
shed and wood to chop, but also needed a house with lots of rooms and a
large dining table. So while it got a little complicated, we were able to
pull off the house we needed for the film. We also had short scenes at a
gas station and on the road, but those were much easier to shoot. We even
scored a drone for the road and house exterior shots that really added a
lot of production value.
What can you
tell us about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
shoots, while often crazy fast, are usually pretty relaxed. I go with the
flow, don't let things upset me and maintain a positive attitude. This
film offered some new challenges, such as male nudity, working with a co-director and having to crunch 3 days of shooting into 1 at the end of
production. However, while it got stressful, it was still a lot of fun and
everyone had a really positive attitude on set. Everyone bonded really
well, as most had worked together prior.
$64-question of course, when and where will the movie be released onto the
First it's premiering
on June 7th at The Ross Theater in Lincoln, NE. It should hit
Amazon Prime shortly after that. We are still securing DVD and Blu-ray
distribution, but have several interested distributors.
Anything you can tell us about critical
and audience reception of The Amityville Legacy
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
This is the first film I've made that hasn't been
met with immediate negative criticism (at least yet, lol). We've had 3
public reviews so far, all glowing. The Amityville Saga fansite
said it was the best film to bear the name since the 2005 remake. That
says a lot, considering the slew of recent films in the last few years to
slap Amityville in the title.
Any future projects you'd like to share?
late July I start production on The Dummy 2, a sequel to the
1995 film by Todd Jason Cook. After that I'll tackle Meathook
Massacre 2 and later this year in November I hope to do Tales
For The Campfire 2. The Dummy 2 will be available thru
Screamtime Films, and the other 2 will debut on my upcoming Sinister
Studios Vimeo channel. Also, Faces of Dying is now available
on VHS from Manor Video, with Meathook Massacre coming next.
movie's website, Facebook, whaever else?
you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
appearances! The newest episode of the Trash Video Podcast is now
available, I chat more about making The Amityville Legacy. I
have a radio interview on the Keith Harris Radio Show on June 24th,
I'll be discussing a lot of my films there. Also, I'll be live in person
with Brinke Stevens on June 26th in Omaha, Nebraska at the Dark
Hearse show – signing & selling Die Sister, Die! posters
and DVDs. Finally, I'll be appearing in the upcoming UK documentary called
VHS Lives: A Schlockumentary as one of the featured directors,
which should come out later this year!
for the interview!