Your upcoming film Survive - in a few words, what is it about?
Survive is a about the fears we face as a society today and how these
dangers range from global political issues such as terrorism, down to the more
intimate fact that as individual people we are often our own worst enemies. A
terrorist group attacks NYC by poisoning the water. The poison kills people
only to reanimate them. As the undead plague spreads, a small group of
strangers tries to survive by hiding in a house. By the end of the story the
people are as dangerous to each other as the zombies are to them.
As far as I know, the film will actually be directed by your 13
year old som Liam Makrogiannis - now how did that come about? And what
sort of experience does Liam bring to the table?
Liam has been involved in theatre and film
since he was eight years old. He has been a student at Manhattan’s
acclaimed HB Studio and has been involved in my films as well. The bulk of
his work has been acting, much of it in horror films. This past winter he
wrote and starred in a short film called Devil
Moon, which was about a
werewolf. Liam is constantly writing and has come up with some great
ideas. I have been busy the past four years co-writing/directing The
Super and The Turnpike
Killer. It's been four years of hard work and finally I
have some free time before I start my next feature, so when Liam came to
me with the idea of Survive, I thought it would be the perfect time for
him to do it. I have the time to help produce, but I am also able to take
a step back and allow him to grow as an artist. Liam has grown up with
theatre and film and he has been around amazing artists who have
influenced him. He is young but I trust his talent and senses.
How was the project conceived in the first place?
As I mentioned, Liam is constantly writing. He
has dozens of notebooks filled with short stories, treatments and ideas. Survive
was one that really made me stop and think, because while it is a
zombie gore-fest, the underlying theme and symbolism in the story revolves
around the experience of a kid growing up in post 9-11 America, more
specifically, New York City. Liam has grown up in an era of terror level
threats, war in the middle east, hysterias over Mayan calendars declaring the
end of the world and so on. I found it fascinating that he drew the parallels
of real life fears with the realm of horror. Once he showed me his story, I
knew I wanted to produce it and give him the chance to make it a reality.
Liam Makrogiannis (in Silent Hill-t-shirt)
and fellow zombies
What is your actual function on the Survive-set - and to what
extent do you reckon you can remain hands-off with your son calling the
Well, I am one of the producers first and
foremost. I have scouted locations, helped with casting, found financial
backing and done a million other things to help make this movie happen. I
am also managing the script. The story and dialogue are all Liam’s. Once
we start filming, the ship is Liam’s to steer. I will be on set to help
with lighting, set design, and any other kind of work but I will not be
involved with the direction. I trust Liam’s vision and besides, if I
were to intervene it would only detract from his experience and vision. He
wanted this, so he has to be the one to make it happen. It’s a learning
process for him as well, but I think in the end horror fans will be happy
with the result.
As far as I know, at this point Survive is
still in the fundraising process. So what can you tell us about your
The fundraising campaign is being done through
Indiegogo.com. We reached an agreement with New York Horror Film
Productions, who released the Turnpike
Killer big box, and they will
release the film on DVD as well as through a glorious big box VHS format.
Not having to worry about promotion and distribution has been great, but
we obviously still needed money to make the movie happen. We’re doing
this bare bones so we turned to the fan base for help. This is a true DIY,
indie endeavour so any help is appreciated. We’ve set up some very cool
“perks” for different levels of donation, which range from getting a
copy of the box set to actually getting producer credit and a cameo in the
movie. Money is tight for many
people these days, but any little help will do. We’ve assembled a cast
and crew of talented people who are doing this for the love of the genre
and for Liam as well. So we can get this done with a “shoestring”
When will the film go into
production, actually, and what can you tell us about your shooting
schedule, locations and the like?
We will actually begin filming this week in
Brooklyn. We’re doing a series of scenes in historic Coney Island, so
that should be a lot of fun. After that the bulk of shooting will start on
August 23rd. We will be filming in various locations throughout
New York City, the bulk of which will be in Brooklyn and Queens. The Survive
house is in queens as is the water refinery that is poisoned
in the movie. We are also shooting on the trains, in various parks and
neighborhoods and more. The New York landscape will definitely be a big
part of Survive!
What can you tell us
about your projected cast?
We have some stellar actors, and most are
people I’ve worked with in the past. Horror icons Manoush and Ruby
LaRocca have joined the cast and we also brought some alumni of The Super
Killer with the additions of Demetri Kallas, Edgar Moye and
William McLaughlin. Along with old friends, we casted some other talent as
well such as 15 year old filmmaker and horror jack-of-all-trades Johnny
Dickie, and goth music legend Baron Misuraca. The talent is superb and I
have nothing but the utmost respect for these folks who are giving their
time and talent in the name of art.
Your special effects man
Johnny Dickie is likewise only 15 years old. What can you tell us about
Johnny is an
amazing kid. He wrote/directed/acted/did FX in his own film called
Slaughter Tales just shy of his 14th birthday. Aside from being
a film talent, he is also an immense fan and collector of old school
horror, especially on VHS. Many know him from his review site called Video
Vendetta. We’re really happy and honored to have him involved. Johnny
will be doing FX and acting. I think it's pretty cool to see two young
teens teaming up to create a horror film. There's hope for the future after
And since we're talking effects: No zombie movie
without blood and guts, and I happen to know from experience that the
teenage mind often comes up with a lot gorier ideas than an adult mind.
So what can you tell us about your projected gore effects, and will there
be a line you refuse to cross (besides the unachievable)?
Liam and Johnny promise a lot of blood,
intestines, brains and more. There are limitations because of budget, but
without giving away too much what I can tell you is that there will be
butchery, cannibalism, zombie flesh eating and more gory fun!
thoughts about the zombie genre as such, and some of your and Liam's
Well one of my top five horror films ever is
the original Dawn of the
Dead. It is an amazing film in all aspects and I
think that the reason why it is so powerful is that there is the
socio-political depth. It’s the watermark of all Romero’s zombie films
no doubt. I love Night
of the Living Dead and Day
of the Dead, but I think Dawn
is just spectacular.
I am also a huge fan of Fulci’s undead classic
Zombi 2 [Lucio
Fulci bio - click here]. Fulci’s opus is a gore fest but it also touches on subjects
beyond the gore. Then there are zombie movies that I love for the blood
guts and fun like Re-Animator,
Burial Ground and Return
of the Living Dead. I watched those three films religiously when I was a kid!
While I grew up with the slow zombies who dug their way out of a grave or
who slowly lurched around for brains after being reanimated, Liam has
grown up in the era of fast zombies which are a whole different type of
living dead monster and threat. His favourite zombie films of all time are
28 Weeks Later and Dawn of the Dead. The idea of a fast undead predator is
terrifying to him - but he also has an appreciation for the classics. We had
a lot of fun watching Return
of the Living Dead together. I know zombies
have saturated art and media alike, but the zombie film will always be an
integral part of the horror genre. I am looking forward to working on Survive. Liam is looking to pay homage to the old school zombie films but
he is also looking to maintain some of the spirit we find in modern zombie
Survive will be released in a
retro-VHS Big Box by New York Horror Film
Productions. Why did you
choose that format of release, and what can you tell us about New York Horror Film
The first edition of the film will be the VHS
big box. It will feature the correct dimensions and construction of the
old school Wizard and Comet classics, complete with a retro style box
design and hand painted cover art. We will include a poster as well and it
will be a limited release, hand numbered. I think the plan is to include
the DVD as well, so basically it will be a VHS/DVD combo just like The Turnpike
Killer was. I am a child of the 80’s, so I have very fond
memories of renting and buying horror films on VHS back in the day. VHS
was how I discovered and explored the realm of horror, from commercial
releases to the video nasties and on. I still collect horror on VHS and
it’s a hobby that I have passed on to Liam and his brother as well. When
Killer was being shopped around, we had many standard deals
offered to us, but New York Horror Film Productions stood out above the
others. Their interest in releasing The Turnpike
Killer in a VHS Big Box was just too much
to pass up. They did an amazing job with the The Turnpike
Killer box set and I’m sure
they will nail Survive as well. New York Horror Film
Productions is a
small Brooklyn based company that cares about the indie scene, especially
the retro revival. I knew Survive would be the perfect fit.
So ... any idea yet when
the film will (tentatively) be released then?
Well, we hope to be done by mid September.
After that it's off to post production. We’d love to have it ready for
the holiday season, but we’re not going to rush things to make the
Christmas deadline or anything. As much as we’d love to see the Survive
big box in every horror fan’s blood soaked stockings on Christmas
morning, we are more concerned with a proper edit and good product. So
I’d say anytime from December to late Winter. The sooner the better
Any future projects beyond Survive?
Once Survive is done, I plan to shoot a trailer
for a vampire film based on the In Flesh and Spirit-comic put out by
Overtone Comics. The book is based on a vampire character created by my
friend and goth music legend, Baron Misuraca. Baron started his career with
New York hardcore legends Sheer Terror, then marched through the years with
successful bands such as Desecrator, Vasaria and eventually his more recent
solo projects. Baron will star
as the main character and we will shoot in Brooklyn. The goal of the
trailer will be to raise interest, and hopefully funds, for a full length.
I am a huge vampire enthusiast, so it would be a dream for me to work on a
classic style vampire horror. Lots of sex, violence and classic scares!
Feeling lucky ?
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I will also be writing a script for a movie called Archangel. The script
will be based on a story written by my good friend Sam Glass Jr. Archangel
is a story about a serial killer on the prowl in NYC. This is going to be
tense, dark and violent. I can’t wait to start on this, and the writing
will surely carry me through the winter. We have high hopes for this one,
and the tentative cast is powerful. I cannot divulge anything else, other
than what I've told you, but I’m sure it will be a project that will please
many horror fiends!
film's website, Facebook, indiegogo, whatever else?
Indiegogo site: http://www.indiegogo.com/SurviveVHSBigBox?a=816538
The Facebook Survive fanpage:
Killer official site: http://www.turnpikekiller.com/
And please check out
my 70’s exploitation stye film The Super:
else you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
I just want to thank you so much for the
interview! It’s a great chance to promote my work and reach out to the
fans. Speaking of which, I want to thank everyone who has supported The
Super and The Turnpike
Killer! Much love and thanks for making this all
worthwhile. Keep a look out for Survive! coming soon!
for the interview!