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An Interview with John Migliore, Director of Exorcism of the Dead

by Mike Haberfelner

August 2019

Films directed by John Migliore on (re)Search my Trash


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Your new movie Exorcism of the Dead - in a few words, what is it about?


Exorcism of the Dead is the story of a young woman named Candace, who is the victim of demonic possession. She also happens to be dead. The demon won't leave her body, which has proven to be quite useful despite Candace's death. Father Abuna is called in by her family to perform an exorcism, but he's got a few secrets of his own that may prove dangerous...


With Exorcism of the Dead revolving around an exorcism, did you do any research on that subject?


I did a lot of research. Most of it was online, but I also tracked down some books on the subject. I put in a few lighter moments here and there based on what I learned. I couldn't believe some of the wild doctrines surrounding the rite. The story is fictional of course, so I took some liberties along the way. It also helped that I grew up in an old-school Catholic family that was often influenced by superstition and ancestral rituals.


(Other) sources of inspiration when writing Exorcism of the Dead?


I love The Exorcist (1973), and I think Exorcist III (1990) is a fantastic film. More recently, I really enjoyed The Exorcism of Emily Rose( 2005). I set out to see every film on the subject before writing my script, mainly to see where I could play off expectations while also providing something new. I've watched dozens of exorcism movies, and I'm pretty sure I still missed a bunch! Again, my upbringing was also influential in choosing this particular topic.


To what extent could you actually identify with Exorcism of the Dead's protagonists Father Abuna and Philip, and how do you think you would react in a situation like this?


As a writer, I always put a little bit of myself into the characters, or at least try to understand why they would choose to do the things they do. Abuna is a flawed character who continues to try his best, even though he's made a lot of mistakes. That's me. That's a lot of us! Philip is very supportive and caring, but he's hiding something too. They're both good people, but nobody's perfect. I can relate to that. If I was in a situation like this one, I'd be overwhelmed. It was hard to just edit some of the scenes!


Do talk about Exorcism of the Dead's approach to horror!


I think Exorcism of the Dead is a weird blend of several different horror genres. There's obviously the supernatural slant you would expect, but there are other moments where it turns into a slasher film. It's even like a zombie movie for a few scenes! In the end, Exorcism of the Dead mostly hangs out in the realm of psychological horror. There's definitely some mindgames going on...


A few words about your overall directorial approach to your story at hand?


I approached the film in a very realistic and economical way. We were dealing with a micro-budget, so right from the start, locations and situations were chosen with that in mind. We shot long days to save money too, but that led to some interesting outcomes. I think the fatigue and pressure added to all of the performances. I also think the claustrophobia inherent in shooting for hours on end in one room spilled over into the audience's perception of the events as well.


What can you tell us about your key cast, and why exactly these people?


This was the first film where I went with an expanded cast. I usually cast people I've worked with before, since I know they can do exactly what's needed on set. They all do a fantastic job. This time, I also chose actors with a theatrical background. I asked them to learn the script the way they would for a stage play. This allowed us to really move through scenes quickly, sometimes even in real time. I shot with two cameras, so even though some scenes go on for a while, we still get multiple views...


Do talk about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere!


This was a really tight shoot. There were a lot of scenes and only a few locations, so we tried to get all of it as fast as we could. The atmosphere was friendly, but there are always tense moments when you

try to move at that kind of pace. We had certain cast members isolated to one location, so when we did move from one place to another it was almost like making a completely different movie!


Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Exorcism of the Dead?


The audience at the premiere seemed to really enjoy it. Some of them were confused by the occasional moments of humour in the movie though. I put in some funny lines here and there, just to break up the tension. Some people didn't know how to react! The rest seemed so serious, that some of them felt the humour was out of place. I think those lines come at good times, and give us a little insight into what the characters would be like under better circumstances.


Any future projects you'd like to share?


We recently finished post-production on Creature from Cannibal Creek. This one is an old-fashioned creature feature and it's a lot of fun. It's very different in tone from my last two films. In the movie, a group of cannibals keep people in cages until they're ready to be butchered. One of these captives escapes, but dies in the surrounding forest. Nature soon takes a hand, reviving the former captive and turning him into a marauding monster!


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


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


I'd like to thank everyone that worked on Exorcism of the Dead. The cast and crew really gave it there all. Always nice to work with great people...


Thanks for the interview!


Thank you!


© by Mike Haberfelner

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Thanks for watching !!!



Robots and rats,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
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tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
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Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


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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


A Killer Conversation

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

out now on DVD