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An Interview with Lori Bowen, Director of Stella Buio

by Mike Haberfelner

September 2012

Films directed by Lori Bowen on (re)Search my Trash

 

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Your new film Stella Buio - in a few words, what is it about?

 

Stella Buio is about a family that is torn apart, literally, by indiscretion. Stella Buio is a medium whom the widow hires to contact her deceased husband, not knowing that he and the medium had a brief affair and that the medium, who has engineered the entire night, has true, frightening power.

 

How did the project come into being in the first place?

 

Chris Cline, who played Philip in the film, is a good friend of mine and a fabulous writer. One day, he suggested that we work on a giallo together with Fulci-style zombies and the whole bit [Lucio Fulci bio - click here]. Now, technically, this isn't a giallo, I know... that term has sort of morphed over the years to encompass Italian horror, but a true giallo to me is a sumptuous, decadent murder mystery with a usually non-sensical plot. However, the two do overlap quite a bit. That night, I went home and wrote the first draft of Stella Buio. He loved it so much that he didn't even want to touch it so I proceeded to tighten it to what's now on-screen.

 

Stella Buio is a quite obvious hommage to Italian horror and especially zombie movies from the late 1970's and early 80's. Why exactly these movies, and some of your favourites?

 

Chris Cline

When I was ten years old, I saw Lucio Fulci's The Gates of Hell (City of the Living Dead) and was instantly hooked. His work, and the work of directors like Dario Argento and Mario Bava [Mario Bava bio - click here], have informed my work since. It's ironic how much I love Fulci considering how much of a misogynist he was and I can't explain it. City of the Living Dead and The Beyond are my two favourite Fulci films, and I adore almost all of Dario Argento's 70s and 80s oeuvre (and the first half of The Stendhal Syndrome ... I usually turn off the last half). Black Sabbath, Black Sunday and Planet of the Vampires by Mario Bava are of course fabulous. I've only just scratched the surface of Italian horror cinema so my knowledge isn't as deep as I'd like it to be, but I am working on that.

 

Other sources of inspiration for Stella Buio?

 

While my directions to Wheat, my lighting designer, were basically to watch Black Sabbath's The Drop of Water and Suspiria for the kind of lighting that I wanted, it was pointed out to me on two separate occasions that there's a lot of George A. Romero's Creepshow in the film. I wasn't conscious of it, but I totally see it now.

 

Stella Buio features a few quite graphic and over-the-top gore effects. What can you tell us about the effects work in your movie? And was there any line in terms of violence that you refused to cross (for other than budgetary reasons)?

 

The effects were done by Divine Imagery: Greg Baker is the head of that company and he brought in Dean Blackwelder and my cosmetic make-up artist, Joannie Atkins, hopped over to take point. They did a fantastic job given the limitations that we had - I didn't raise as much as I'd wanted using IndieGoGo because I'm too shy about asking people for their money. I know how it is right now, economically speaking, and I can't even give to campaigns I want to at the moment. There were a few things that we ended up not doing for quite a few reasons, but nothing was too violent or crossed a line. I'm not a gore for gore's sake kind of filmmaker. I'm not out to simply shock. I want to entertain, don't get me wrong, but I want gore for a reason, I want shocks for a reason.

 

I think we should also mention Stella Buio's musical score here, which for me is a perfect hommage to Italian horror music of old - so please, do talk about the musical score, and how much influence did you have on its creation?

 

Linnea Quigley, Lori Bowen

Thanks! The composer is my brother, Shawn, who can (and does) play pretty much any musical instrument you put in front of him very, very well. I gave him a CD of Fabio Frizzi's music from City of the Living Dead and The Beyond and asked him to just listen. Then I gave him those movies so he could see how the score worked in these films and the feelings I was trying to invoke. Then, he gave me the score and I gave him notes and quickly got to the work that's in the film now.

 

The titular character of Stella Buio is played by none other than veteran scream queen Linnea Quigley - how did you get her, and what was your collaboration like?

 

Like everyone in the genre, I was a fan of hers from films like The Return of the Living Dead and Sorority Babes at the Slimeball Bowl-a-Rama. I'd seen her at a couple of conventions, but I'm (surprisingly) an introvert. Eventually, though, Linnea and I were introduced by a mutual friend at a film festival in 2011 and when I wrote Stella Buio, I knew I wanted her for the role, but I didn't think she'd actually take it because it's a short film. But I'm of the mind that you never know unless you ask, and if the answer is no, well, that's where you are now. So I asked and she accepted! Linnea is absolutely lovely and so much fun to work with and, if I may say so myself, she's excellent in Stella Buio! I'd love to work with her again!!

 

cast read-through: Melanie Robel, Linnea Quigley, Laura D'Anieri, Lance Flint

What can you tell us about the rest of your cast?

 

I'm not a big fan of auditions. I know they're essential for finding talent and seeing if someone one has chosen for a role is right, but I find them slightly dehumanizing. And then there's the whole "rejection" issue... For every film before JustUs (which I made last year), I'd cast through Craiglist and found some good people that way. I also tend to cast with my instincts. All of that said, Linnea recommended Melanie Robel [Melanie Robel interview - click here] after they'd worked together on Post Mortem America 2021, Melanie recommended Lance Flint after they'd worked together on La Fleur de Mai, and then Lance recommended Laura D'Anieri. I've known Shawn McBee since high school and then Chris, as I've said, I've known for a while (we were projectionists at a chain theatre that I've since quit). They were all wonderful and I love them all to pieces!

 

Melanie Robel

What can you tell us about audience and critical reception of Stella Buio so far?

 

It's only just started out on the festival circuit, but so far it's been accepted to the Buffalo Screams Horror Film Festival in Buffalo, New York and Sudderfest in Boston, Massachusetts in October, and the Horrible Imagingings Film Festival in San Diego, California in November. The critical response has been wonderfully positive! I know everyone says this, but it's true: everyone worked so hard on this flick, it's great that our hard work is being recognized! I can't wait to see where else it goes!

 

Let's go back to the beginnings of your career: Is it true that you wrote your first horror script at age 12? What drove you to do it at such an early age, and lessons learned from it?

 

I did. I'm a huge A Nightmare on Elm Street fan and was frustrated with how the series had gone so goofy. And I wanted Nancy Thompson back. So I wrote a terrible script called A Nightmare on Elm Street 7: The Last Dance. Shortly thereafter, Wes Craven's New Nightmare was announced and I retired the script and thankfully so. There might be a few things about New Nightmare that I don't dig (fifth claw?), overall, it was lightyears ahead of its time and is not only my favourite sequel, but my favourite performance from Heather Langenkamp.

 

Like I said, my script was terrible, but the most valuable thing it taught me is that I could do it, too. If I inspire nothing else in others, I hope I inspire the feeling that they can do it, too.

 

What can you tell us about your further growth as a filmmaker, and did you ever receive any formal education on the subject?

 

I was accepted to the School of Visual Arts and Hofstra University, both in New York, but couldn't afford to go to either. So, other than four years at a visual and performing arts high school and a semester of film at a community college, all of my education has been self-taught (I love to toss the word "autodidact" around). Every short film has been like an intensive film school and I learn so much on every shoot. I LOVE this stuff!!

 

I do everything myself: I write, direct, shoot, cut, produce, arrange craft services, visual effects... pretty much everything. I know where I'm lacking and am working on fixing those areas and feel like I'm improving with every film.

 

Your first "professional" film I think was Without/Within. You just have to talk about that one!

 

I love that film, but there are a lot of technical issues and it was entirely too long for film festivals. It seems to freak some people out the most when I explore spiritual ideas, and the idea for this was that you could be soulless and not even really know it until a stranger has taken a random photo of you and then arrives at your place with a gun in their hands because the camera says you're soulless... but then, what happens to the hunter when they lose their soul? This one starred Kristin Mellian, whom I've worked with a couple more times, Sabrina Carmichael, Jon Wagner, and Janine Lolli.

 

Other past films of yours you'd like to talk about?

 

My second film Aftershock is a zombieless zombie film about one woman's decision in the face of certain death. It was just myself and my friend Janine again and it was shot and cut in the space of a couple of hours. A few years later, it was picked up by the Viscera Film Festival which is part of the non-profit Viscera Organization to promote and encourage women genre filmmakers, and has led to a world of awesome. I now work for them and it's been amazing!

 

My third film was A Hammer Fell in Jerusalem: Anathema and starred, among a huge cast, Chris Cline. It's an experimental silent black and white piece based on a chapter from a novel I'm working on about a warrior Priest after the biblical end of the world has happened and the Grigori have come back to claim the earth as their own. Another one that was way too long, but enjoyed surprising success on the circuit in spite of all of that. My next film, as an exercise to test out some new equipment, I made a vignette "prequel" called A Hammer Fell in Jerusalem: And be at Rest. in which Chris put the Priest's collar back on.

 

My next film after that was JustUs, a story about the cost of revenge and my first SAG film, and it starred Sage Hall and Travis Garner and featured the voices of Kristin Mellian, Aaron Pushkar, and Linnea's fellow Scream Queen Brinke Stevens.

 

In between, I've made a couple of music videos for my brother's band, World Collision, and I recently animated a music video in the style of shadow puppets for my friend John O'Keefe, who is a classical cellist.

 

Any future projects you want to share?

 

I'm in development on two features right now. The first one I want to make is called Skin and is about the lengths to which one woman would go for eternal youth and beauty. One of the actresses I've approached to be in the film called it an urban horror fairytale. The other feature I'm working on is currently titled Doc and is about the poison of revenge and how it's passed down through generations.

 

Most of your films are of the horror variety in one way or another. A favourite genre of yours, and why (not)?

 

I love the horror genre. Horror is about so much more than blood and gore. I feel it's akin to a mirror that we can hold up to society to make us confront the evil within ourselves or the fears that hold us prisoner so we can recognize and conquer them. I find violence and shock for the sake of violence and shock to be boring.

 

How would you describe yourself as a director?

 

I aim to entertain and make viewers think, to tell good stories with interesting characters. I realized the other day that I'm an actor's director. I love actors... not divas or "celebrities", I have no patience for that crap, but actors. Actors bring to life these crazy things we writers have thought up... we really do ask them to do crazy things. I like having a calm, fun set and taking care of my cast and crew.

 

Filmmakers who inspire you?

 

There are so many... Terry Gilliam, George A. Romero, Wes Craven, Takashi Miike, Park Chan Wook, Drew Daywalt and his amazing wife Marichelle, Karen Lam, Shannon Lark [Shannon Lark interview - click here], Andrew Shearer, Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci [Lucio Fulci bio - click here], Danny Boyle, David Lynch, almost all of the Viscera filmmakers... geez, so many...

 

Your favourite movies?

 

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USA  amazon.com

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(Must be over 18 to go there !)

x-rated  find Lori Bowen at adultvideouniverse.com

Seriously, too many to list. I love all kinds of movies spanning all genres. It's important, no matter what genre you work in, to watch more than just that genre to have a more full cinematic vocabulary. You never know where inspiration will come from!

 

... and of course, films you really deplore?

 

There are plenty of films I hate with a passion, even from some of my favourite directors, but I don't know that it does anyone any good to list them without going into detail as to why I don't like them. For good or bad, they got a film made and that's an incredible accomplishment.

 

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

 

I have a blog: http://kimyoo-films.blogspot.com

And a tumblr: http://kimyoofilms.tumblr.com

And there is an official Kimyoo Films Facebook! hahaha https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kimyoo-Films/130239893758093

You can find trailers, some full films, and my music videos on my YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/KimyooFilms

 

Anything else you are dying to talk about and I have merely forgotten to ask?

 

Nope! I think you pretty much covered everything! Thank you!

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Thanks for watching !!!



 

 

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
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

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

out now on DVD

 

 

Stell Dir vor, Deine Lieblingsseifenoper birgt eine tiefere Wahrheit ...
... und stell Dir vor, der Penner von der U-Bahnstation hat doch recht ...
... und dann triffst Du auch noch die Frau Deiner (feuchten) Träume ...

 

Und an diesem Tag geht natürlich wieder einmal die Welt unter!!!

 

Bauliche Angelegenheiten
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