Your first (and so far only) feature film as a director has been called
Satan's Cannibal Holocaust. Can you tell us in a few phrases what
this film is about?
The film is my directorial debut feature.
The story follows the young journalist Kelly Cauldwell (Sheila Theile) as
she is working on her next big article about her father, Mayor Caldwell
(Michael Ketcher), and the wonderful things he has done to clean up the
city. She slowly starts to reveal the true secrets that lurk in the
shadows and the existence of a mysterious, flesh eating society that
cannot let her knowledge reach the public’s ear.
A few words about your cast and crew?
My cast was made up of actors that I have
worked with in the past on short films and actors that auditioned for
certain roles. My crew was small, but consisted of solid people in the
industry who I had worked with on many different projects and some that I
continue to work with even today. I made Satan's Cannibal Holocaust
before I was really in full
swing of being a member of Wicked Pixel Cinema, so some of the crew were
old friends who I started this whole filmmaking journey with and some
were also future Wicked Pixel Cinema members as well.
Satan's Cannibal Holocaust's cast and
after a bloody shoot
explicit is the film in terms of gore and violence?
There is a good amount of both! I had helped with the special FX on the
film a bit and have always loved the goodness of being soaked in blood
after a long shoot. Since then, I have expanded my knowledge of special FX
a hundred times over and actually am the Effects Artist on Wicked Pixel
Cinema’s current film Ratline. If I knew back then what I know now, the
gore and violence would have been unstoppable. There are a few moments
though in Satan's Cannibal Holocaust
that definitely will satisfy any fellow gore hound’s
appetite. Whether that be a sadistic school girl torturing her victims for
pure delight and pleasure, or two naked initiates rolling around, bathed
head to toe in blood during a sacrificial ceremony, the amount of blood
and gore is delightful!
The film's title is an obvious
reference to Ruggero Deodato's masterpiece Cannibal Holocaust
[Ruggero Deodato bio - click here]. Was that
film at all an inspiration for Satan's Cannibal Holocaust?
This has been one subject of attack on the film itself and let me say I am
a huge fan of Deodato’s Cannibal
Holocaust and enjoy every squirmy
moment of that movie. Whereas that was just one of many films that have
inspired me in general, the film was not a direct persuasion on Satan's Cannibal Holocaust
film also was not any attempt to rip off that film. I have caught plenty
of grief because the words cannibal holocaust are in the title,
however executive producer Ron Bonk is the one who actually titled the
movie, not me.
I didn’t have any objections to the title either.
To me the title was more to the effect of my other love for light hearted,
bloody and enjoyable B movies such as Satan's School for Girls, Satan's
Cheerleaders, or Satan's Sadist.
inspirations for your film?
My inspirations come from every angle of cinema, from the beautiful
lighting and color of Suspiria, the amazing FX (for it’s time) of
The Beyond or Zombie, to the wonderful and memorable characters of
Return of teh
Living Dead or The
Toxic Avenger. Since Satan's Cannibal Holocaust, my inspirations have
shifted a bit as I have focused more on the Special FX side of everything.
For Ratline I sat down and watched a lot of movie
with FX work done by Greg Nicotero, Stan Winston and Dick Smith. These are
my top inspirations for the FX work and I actually had the pleasure of
meeting Greg Nicotero at a convention in Dallas last year and got to
talking about a lot of the fun and messy aspects of the job. I must also
say, not in the FX department, but other recent inspirations for
characterization and storytelling have been Firefly and Serenity. If you
haven’t had the chance to check out these series, do it! It will hook you
in and will never let go!
Jim Wayer and crew shooting another
film was produced for the Sub Rosa Extreme label. How did production come
into being in the first place, and a few words about the Sub Rosa Extreme
This is actually the very last of the Sub Rosa Extreme line, and
production first came into place when executive producer Eric Stanze asked
if I was interested in directing a feature film [Eric
Stanze interview - click here]. Eric had seen some of my
short films and believed that I could produce and deliver a film that
would fit perfectly into the Sub Rosa Extreme line of films.
I had worked as assistant director on the
director’s cut of I Spit on Your Corpse, I Piss on Your Grave and felt
at home with the fast paced environment of these Sub Rosa Extreme films. I
started back in high school shooting short films in one night and won Best
Writing in the 48 Hour Film Fest 2004 in St. Louis, so the fact paced, run
and gun style of film making was like second nature to me. I gladly agreed
to the challenge and developed a screenplay with Scott D.Muck based on a
story Ron Bonk tossed our way.
How did you get into the
(independent) movie scene and what were your film experiences prior to Satan's Cannibal Holocaust?
I started developing an interest in this field back in high school. I took
some video production classes, shooting on VHS and editing on linear deck
to deck editing systems. I actually developed such a love for the craft
that me and a friend of mine more or less created our own class called Independent studies in Video Production which no student at the high
school ever had pursued before. So one of the classes my senior year
consisted of us two students, working on various projects and the final
exam was that we had to turn in a completed 20 minute short film. That
year I also joined a small indie group of film makers and friends called Chuck
We produced and created various short films and I had a lot of fun. I
quickly started to realize that I wanted to progress and do more and more
in this field so within a year I parted ways with Chuck Dixie, and
together with close friends who also wanted to do more with it, created my
own small company called Thadius Pictures (which is the company name used
on Satan's Cannibal Holocaust). After the formation of Thadius
Pictures, we set out on doing a
few one-night, quick shorts and competed in the 2004 48 Hour Film Fest,
then decided to start taking it seriously. So we raised funds, auditioned
and set out to create a short film titled Love's Revenge (which appears
as a bonus feature on the Satan's Cannibal Holocaust DVD).
From there on I found Wicked Pixel Cinema and joined
up with them on the feature film Deadwood Park, where I served as Key Grip
and Key Sound Design Assistant. Since then, I have been fully sucked into Wicked
Pixel Cinema and work here full time. Currently we are moving into
post production on our latest film Ratline.
Cannibal Holocaust has come out, you have hooked up with Eric Stanze
(who executive produced your film) and his Wicked Pixel Cinema [Eric
Stanze interview - click here]. How
did that come into being, and what can you tell us about Stanze and his
approached producer Jeremy Wallace about helping out on their film Deadwood
Park. A friend of mine had shown me the Wicked Pixel Cinema
website (which oddly enough I am supervisor of now), and I followed them
closely as they were actually doing what I had been trying to do for
years: make good movies and continue to better themselves at the craft.
I saw the
opportunity to help out and work on Deadwood Park and jumped at this
chance to meet the filmmakers that I had been stalking online for months
by then. Being on set of an indie film, and especially on a Wicked Pixel
Cinema feature, you quickly find that it is a very family type environment
and that when a group of people slave together for months, and more or
less live together for weeks on end, you develop very deep relationships
and feelings of brotherhood that you cannot find in any other facet
of life. By the end of production on Deadwood Park, I was fully hooked
into Wicked Pixel Cinema and knew that they would have to force me away at
gunpoint to get me to leave. So here I am now, working full time at our
studio and bugging Eric Stanze on a daily basis!
of the biggest things I love about Eric Stanze and all of Wicked Pixel
Cinema is that there are no egos floating around that would cause drama or
slow down the progression of the company. Even though Eric is the
boss, he is never controlling or arrogant to the point of thinking he
automatically knows more than you since he has been doing this for two
decades. Even if he thinks you are wrong on something or he thinks his
idea is better, he will always give you the opportunity to state your case
and always has an open ear to anything you need to talk to him about or
ask him about. This well oiled machine that is Wicked Pixel Cinema
continues to amaze me on a daily basis. We always strive to better the
company and are constantly trying this or that, and coming up with some
amazing ideas and actually executing those ideas. I can honestly say,
without bias, that no company in the world who works at the budgetary
level that Wicked Pixel Cinema does can boast the accomplishments and
levels of quality that we can.
Both your film and Stanze's films are
essentially horror films. Is horror a genre especially dear to you?
It is to a
point. I have worked on plenty of non-horror films and I can honestly say
that not only is horror the most fun genre to work on, but the smell of
fake blood brings nothing but happy memories to my brain. Horror sparks
some great emotions in people and the feeling of being able to make
someone squirm, jump or outright piss themselves from fright is quite
concept of what the person is seeing is obviously a movie, even if the
scary man with the machete was real, he is still trapped in the glass box
that is in front of you. Realistically there is no reason for anyone to be
frightened by simple images displayed in front of you, but seeing the
reactions of people who are generally freaked out and will physically jump
at scares in a horror film is amazing. It takes me back to a book I read
written by the crazy and amazing Walter Murch, where he explains the human
mentality when it comes to movies and, if done correctly, how the movie
can actually put the viewer into the film and they will totally forget
that they are sitting on a couch wrapped up in a blanket with a big fat
bowl of popcorn on their lap.
will laugh at comedies with their funny jokes or high jinks, or cry during
a drama where the story or situation is related to personal experiences in
the viewer’s own life, but very seldom has a viewer been chased around
by a possessed red headed doll or had to refrain from sleeping cause a
psychotic child murderer would kill them in their dream world. I enjoy all
genres of movies, there are plenty of non-horror films that I would rank
up there in my favorites of all times, perhaps more so than a lot of
horror films, but when it comes to making the movie, I love to watch the
audience react to a person holding up a fake head that I made in complete
horror and astonishment, fearing that their head may be the next one this
killer decides to take.
Feeling lucky ?
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are your thoughts on today's state of horror cinema, both in the
mainstream and the independent scene?
Today is pretty simple to sum up. Mainstream horror equals remakes and
sequels, where no one really has to put that much effort into the film
itself. Marketing can be tricky for these movies, but they already have a
good stable foothold in the fact that this title has a name for itself and
a fan base that has steadily grown over the years. The movies themselves
have been pretty much crap. There have been some refreshing modern day
mainstream horror movies (The
Descent, Saw, The
Strangers, 28 Days
Later/28 Weeks Later) and even some good modern remakes/sequels
(Dawn of the Dead, Devil's Rejects, The Ring), but for the most part it’s either a crappy
remake of an awesome original movie or a crappy, water downed original
On the other side in the independent realm, you have a broader degree of
crappiness and amazing originals. If I had to lean towards a favorite side
of the two, I would definitely swing to the independent side. The strides
that serious independent horror film makers have made have been very
inspiring. I am very annoyed when I see great modern day horror films like
Frontieres or Dog Soldiers that don’t get the respect or push they
I am constantly finding some of the most amazingly
modern original horror flicks that I have never even heard of because they
are passed over by the press so that the latest big budget crap fest starring some glorified douche bag can have a giant spread trying to make
the movie seem so awesome. That is another thing I truly respect about the
independent world of film making in general. When a group of people are
motivated to produce and create a movie by their love for the craft and
genre and not by the goal of breaking box office numbers, you can see the
passion behind the movie. When you watch a movie like FearDotCom or
Gothika, all you see is an over budgeted piece of crap trying to make
money off horror fans. Now when you see a movie like Severence, or
can see and feel the passion and determination behind the flick to make it
the best that it can be.
Do you have any plans to ever direct another movie?
If the opportunity comes up and I actually have the time to do such a
thing, I would not turn it down. I have written a feature length script
that I would someday love to direct, but as of now, I have way too much on
my plate as it is. Directing a feature film was a dream I always had and
one that I have accomplished with pride. I have found also that directing
a movie is an enjoyable experience, but being able to focus down on a
single area such as lighting or special FX allows me to accomplish much
greater outcomes and in the end, whatever project it is, benefits from
that a lot more than me trying to control everything. Right now, I would
much rather focus on lighting (something I have an unnatural lust for) or
special FX during production and then marketing and graphic design work
directors who have influenced you?
I would have to say some of the greater
influences have come from people like Dario Argento, Alfred Hitchcock,
Lucio Fulci [Lucio Fulci bio -
click here], George Romero, George Lucas, and even Sam Wood. These are the
greats who in their own ways have influenced not only my cinematic
experience but the mentality and view I have on the process itself. I also
continue to be influenced and inspired by modern day directors like Darren
Aronofsky, Robert Rodriguez, Zach Snyder, Joss Whedon, Lloyd Kaufmann, and
Trey Parker. These all are directors who continue to pump out great movies
and are nonstop with their pursuit of bettering themselves and their art.
Your favourite films?
There are too many to really list. I enjoy
movies in general, and enjoy that feeling of being sucked into a film and
its universe and having that feel of really being there. Any movie that
has me still imagining myself in that universe hours or sometimes days
after watching it is on my list of favorites. Watching a movie is the best
way to really settle my brain down and relax sometimes and so my favorite
movie changes from hour to hour depending on what my mood is. Sometimes I
want to sit down and watch a movie like I am Legend to get that really
thoughtful and isolation feeling. Other times I would want to pop in Hot
Shots and just laugh my ass off at ridiculous humor and not think about
anything. A lot of times I want to dive into Firefly and Serenity, because
being aboard Firefly with her crew would be amazing.
films you really hated?
As many films
as I love to watch and indulge myself into, there are probably just as
many ones as I hate with a fiery passion. I am open minded to a lot of
movies, even ones that are not the best quality, but have full heart
behind them. I understand that there are people out there who desire to
get into film making and everyone starts out with making bad movies and
progress with each project getting better and better (just an example my
first short outside of school was a short called The Killer Vagina, yes, a
actually love seeing these first few films, knowing that this is where
this filmmaker started. At the same time, when the cast and crew of a no
budget film obviously put no effort into the movie at all, or spent more
of the budget and time partying and being fucked up than actually working
on something, it makes me want to find something metal, heat it up till
red hot and shove it into their eyeballs. There are many filmmakers out
there who put no effort into the movie and pull together a big feature
length pile of crap and then expect to be showered with praise. These
types of film makers and their films are as bad as the ones who have
hundreds of millions to make a movie and wind up with an expensive turd.
That is my rant for this section.
Anything else you are dieing to
tell us and I have simply forgotten to ask?
Go to wickedpixel.com! Make sure you stay up to
date on our current film Ratline. When that thing comes out, the world
will never be the same and trust me…the bar shall be raised again!