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An Interview with Luke Meneok, Director of High Tea

by Mike Haberfelner

September 2018

Films directed by Luke Meneok on (re)Search my Trash


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Your new movie High Tea - in a few words, what is it about?


In a nutshell: rolling joints; hanging out with chicks; summer vibes. It's sort of an elaboration on The Meathead, a recurring masked killer who appears frequently in my work.


What were your sources of inspiration when writing High Tea?


It's hard to say exactly. It was a few years ago that I wrote High Tea, and I don't remember taking a long time to complete such a short script. The idea mostly came from the early days of Video McNasties, when we were still screening Blackbags. Audience members would ask us during Q&A’s what The Meathead did with his victims, because I only showed him abducting them and left the rest up to the viewer's imagination. We would joke that he hosted make-believe tea parties, but I legitimately saw some potential in this idea. I suppose the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre is always kicking around in the back of my mind, though, when it comes to this sort of project. You could safely say that it influenced the vibe a lot. All of those old slashers played a part in a general sense. Even though I wrote dialogue this time, Dave mostly ad-libs for this character, so you'd have to ask him about his specific influences. For the musical score, I basically wanted to rip off early John Carpenter and cues from Planet Terror.


What made you decide to bring Meathead from Blackbags back, and in what way has the character developed since then?


The Meathead character was a lot of fun, and Dave and I have frequently been interested in him reprising the role over the years. We happened to be housemates when High Tea was made, and everything just fell into place after a sudden burst of motivation. There was even this old shed in the backyard of the place we were renting, where I'd stored a recycled toilet for an unrealized music video concept. I don't think the toilet was in the script, but I figured, ‘why not?’ I also wanted to make up for the Blackbags prequel, The Art of the Wushu, which did not really turn out the way I wanted. What I did there was try to recreate what I'd done with Blackbags, but it didn't work. The other issue was that, while I'd provided an origin story for The Meathead, I realized I still hadn't answered the audience's questions about the victims.


This might sound like an odd question, but to what extent could you identify with Meathead in this one - and with his victim Tina?


I don't think I could say I identify with The Meathead, beyond having a twisted sense of humor. The Meathead's not really a person, but more of a demonic entity inhabiting a physical host, so I'd imagine it'd be hard for anyone to identify with that. I consider The Meathead to be a comedic character who just happens to murder people, but some folks will tell you I laugh at everything. I identify with Tina on a superficial level, in that she is burdened with the task of performing a particular service for someone else, potentially facing scrutiny. In her particular role as the victim, I think we've all been in a relatable situation at some point in our lives, at least on a metaphorical level. But I typically draw a lot of inspiration for my female characters from shit I've heard my real-life female friends recount on a daily basis. Many of my ideas come from real life.


Do talk about your movie's approach to both horror and comedy for a bit!


I've discussed this notion countless times, but I'll say it again: humour unifies. People seem to respond the most to humour. You get them laughing and they drop their guard. They allow themselves to become more vulnerable, and they're more willing to sit through amateur indie horror films with low (read: no) production values. When it comes to The Meathead, this is a character we try to have fun with because that's the nature of the character. He's an unstoppable killing machine from Hell, and fulfilling his purpose brings him satisfaction. He's not even really a 'he,’ per se. It's just easier to use male-identifying pronouns because The Meathead embodies so many qualities that tend to be associated with masculinity, and is portrayed by a male actor. In regard to ‘horror’, I don't really set out to produce explicit horror-themed narratives, because I don't ever really stick to the conventions of one genre. Is this even a horror movie? I don't know what that means these days. I think the horror genre has largely become a joke in itself. It was never really anything to take seriously in the first place, but people have become almost religious about it, largely because of nostalgia culture. I better stop there, though. This could turn into a tangent that's been carried by a thousand other dissident voices, and I might end up alienating the audience (that I don't actually have).


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


I studied theatre and film in undergrad, but there was more of a focus on theatre in my degree program. So I got used to producing scripts with minimal locations and set changes, featuring lots of exposition and action confined within a small space. This project could've been a little one-act stage play, except I learned that I don't enjoy working in live theatre. That's basically how I approached this project, though. I didn't introduce the actors beforehand, so there was initially a genuine awkwardness, and it worked. I mean, you don't want your final girl appearing too comfortable around the creepy masked killer who’s trying to end her life, right? Not at first, anyway, since we shot chronologically. I didn't purposefully arrange to shoot on the most sweltering hot days that August, but it definitely helped get everyone in the right frame of mind. The longer you were trapped in that little shack, the more you wanted to make a run for it.


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


David Kolenski is obvious. He's The Meathead, so there's no project if he's not involved. Courtney Make's great. I've known her for years, since we met on an unreleased short film I helped with. She was cast as the female lead in that, so I already had an idea of what she could do. I think we'd been talking about working together again, and she was available when we wanted to shoot High Tea. That's the main reason anyone's been in my movies. Availability, and/or we know each other somehow. I only ask the ones who enjoy doing it to come back, though. She also came back to sorta reprise the role of Tina in Alley Trash, my interactive YouTube narrative from last year.


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


That shed was real tight, so it was just the three of us and a big scary spider lurking in the corner. The opening frame of the movie is an extreme close-up on that spider, as a matter of fact. We got to know each other pretty well over those few days, the three of us and that spider. To make matters worse, I think those were some of the hottest days of the year. We had candy, though. That helped a lot.


The $64-question of course, where can your movie be seen?


It's an official selection of the Fear Fete film festival in Mississippi, coming up this October. I'm still waiting to hear back (read: receive more boilerplate rejection emails) from a few festivals, so it's not going to be publicly available at least until after that. If I could get it featured as a vignette in an anthology, that'd be cool, but it'll probably just be free to watch on Vimeo. I was talking to John Migliore about making it available on the Indie Horror Online Roku channel, so it might end up there.


Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of High Tea yet?


So far, it's been pretty well-received. A few festival screenings, including an award for best horror short last winter. The crowds we've been part of have been laughing in all the right places, and no one's shit on it yet. The musical score got some local radio airplay. We've had a good run, and it's not even over yet.


Any future projects you'd like to share?


I've done some curation and programming, which I enjoyed, and I've always wanted to organize a film festival. So I'm trying to get a little something going in that area. We'll see, though. It's more work than most people realize. Everything is.


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


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Your shop for all things Thai

The only online representation at the moment is the Video McNasties Facebook page. I did a whole bunch of graphic design work for a potential webpage layout this past summer, but I hit a lazy spell and haven't been motivated to do the coding bit. The music, however, is available to stream or purchase 24/7 on the Easy Andy Bandcamp page (


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


Don't hold a piss longer than you have to, and don't hold in a sneeze unless your life depends on it.


Thanks for the interview!


Thanks for letting me talk about myself some more.


© by Mike Haberfelner

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Thanks for watching !!!



Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
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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
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
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... 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