Your new movie The
Terror Stalkers - in a few words, what is it about?
is a horror movie about a group of serial killers
who have set up a group The Flesh Mob. They are
members of very royal serial killer families like the Jack The
the Eddy Geins...
and they collect human flesh,
arms, legs, eyes, ears and some of them even are cannibals. I wanted to do
a horror movie with monsters, but human monsters no fantasy monsters, real, living monsters that are really
frightening. And they gather as a flesh mob and are
always looking for new victims... everywhere, everytime.
were your inspirations when writing The
Terror Stalkers - and the premise of a worldwide net of cannibals,
was that pulled out of thin air or based on any actual conspiracy theory,
Well, there is no consiracy concerning
the killers. Jack The
Ripper and the others were real people, so the
crimes were real crimes.
The idea the killers come together, work together have fun together in a
kind of secret killer lodge, of course there are
things going on in criminal, political and of course satanic circles, and I
used of course some ideas. The sentence with the hidden ones no one will
blame is taken from the Jack The
Ripper case, and Baron von Giehn is quite
a look-a-like of Anton LaVey who wrote the
Satanic Bible and is said to have been in touch with famous movie stars
and Hollywood directors. And the spirit of The
Terror Stalkers certainly is similar to LaVeys very charming and seductive approach to
Satanism. Besides there are conspiracies all around us. Whenever some
people meet to set up something from what they will benefit - stealing
from others usually - that's a conspiracy. Selling
weapons to Africa and things like that work the same way, but this would
be a political thriller, I wanted to do horror.
You just have to talk about The
Terror Stalkers' brand of comedy for a bit, but also its approach
I love Hammer
horror, I love the MGM
and I love Ernst Lubitsch and Howard Hawks. And when we had this time
a budget above our usually very tiny Unhappy End! budgets, I wanted to
bring in not only horror but also music and comedy.
The young beautiful woman, all alone in a house near uncanny woods and
suddenly all those horrible stalkers all around
is a nice horrror story. Sometime ago I met Cay Helmich who is not only an
actress but also a composer, songwriter and singer
and she had written many great songs with beautiful words and music. In
fact I know noone besides George and Ira Gershwin
or Charles Trenet who can write so many beautiful songs, I think Cay's
songs are brilliant and I thought the songs are great
for a horror story and it worked really well. There is also one song with
words and music by Dina Babajic who plays one
of the maniacs and her song Superstars in fact reflects the
philosophy of the Terror Stalkers. They of course do not think of
themselves as monsters, but as artists.
Most people do want to express themselves, singing a song, painting or
writing a poem. Before Baron v. Giehn attacks Annika, his next victim, with his fellow stalkers he dances around her
house like Rumpelstilzchen to Cay Helmichs song Come Closer. This dance expresses his maniac feelings, he is
totally crazy like Rumpelstilzchen, but the song is very
I also wanted to go in a different direction. If you
do horror there are so many great movies from Terence Fisher [Terence
Fisher bio - click here] or Roger
Corman [Roger Corman bio -
click here] and if you do gore there is Lloyd Kaufman or Tom Savini. Now how
could anyone top this? So I thought we better
go in another direction, create an atmosphere of uncanny horror with
Annika who is menaced by those maniacs and we
have all horror elements, they kill, they cut her in pieces, they are
cannibals and killers, but then there is Cay Helmich's
beautiful music, even when Annika is tortured we listen to Cay Helmich
singing Gimme a Break. I mentioned Howard Hawks, whom
I love very much, and in Rio Bravo John Wayne, Walter Brennan, Dean
Martin and Ricky Nelson are in the Sheriff's office
with the bad guys outside and they sing Rio Bravo and My
Rifle, My Pony and Me, that's really great. I also wanted
to march the horror road a different way. Savini's special effects and Hitchock's
suspense you cannot top, so I did not try but
went more and more towards comedy at the end. Lemonia and Holger in the
final scenes is kind of Lubitsch comedy and
along with Cay Helmich's music everyone watching this movie will keep
this ending in mind. Lloyd Kaufman always mentiones
in his books on filmmaking how important the ending is, because
that's what makes the audience decide how much they like
the movie, so always try to have a very good ending... I wanted that
someone who watches The
Terror Stalkers smiles about the ending,
having the impression or feeling to just have watched a musical comedy...
later, maybe one or two days later when thinking about you realize...
hm... that actually was a very BRUTAL movie with killings and terror and cannibals...
I mentioned above how seductive
LaVey wrote his Satanic Bible and that's the spirit behind it... it all looks
nice and cosy but beneath there is much more horror
than you see at first sight.
You have chosen not to direct The
Terror Stalkers yourself? In a word, why, and what can you tell us
about your director Martin Schmidt?
Indeed I had to decide
NOT to direct The
Terror Stalkers because the producer Michael Huck had to
protect the movie from
the director Michael Huck. I usually prefer to produce and direct myself,
but usually we have smaller sets and casts and crews
and in The
Terror Stalkers there were many scenes with so many people in
front and behind the camera I knew it would be
too much for me to produce and direct and I had to find someone else to
A friend had introduced me to Martin Schmidt and they invited me on the
set of Ted V. Mikels' Astro Zombies: M4 - Invaders from Cyberspace
they shot in
Berlin and I watched Martin directing a crowd of people fleeing from the
Astro Zombies who destroyed the Brandenburger Tor
and the Reichstag. Later Martin also invited me on the set of Die Zone, a
splatter film he shot with Holger Delfs playing the
maniac axe murderer. Martin is the fastest director I've ever met. He is
like: action, cut, ok we'll take that one... and I know
he would be much better than I handling all those scenes with so many
people behind and in front of the camera.
The credits say directed by
Martin Schmidt and produced by Michael Huck as that was what we did most,
but of course we
could have also written, produced & directed by Michael Huck
& Martin Schmidt as Martin was also a little bit involved in
producing and I a little bit in directing. In fact Martin started more
producing talking first to Eva Habermann and her agent
and I first met Eva Habermann after Martin and Eva had already agreed on
shooting together and that Eva would play Ingrid.
and also many of the other crew members brought in ideas... It worked like
that: Martin and Holger,
who played the evil Baron, rehearsed the scene when the Baron sneaks
around Annika's house and they showed me what they
had in mind with the light showing the Baron's giant shadow on Annika's
house like in the old silent movies of Murnau and
I remembered Maurice Chevalier's shadow dance in Follies
Bergere and suggested we could do a musical number using
Cay Helmich's Come Closer having the Baron dance around like
Rumpelstilzchen. We rehearsed and Martin came up with
the idea of using red filters, so one thing led to another. Same with Dina
Babajic who also brought in her own ideas.
As Martin was not present all the time on the set as he lives near
Hannover, I had the chance to direct some of the musical
and comedy scenes with Dina and Lemonia and Holger. In fact the credits
say also: written by Michael Huck but Lemonia
co-wrote all her scenes and Dina set up the atmosphere for her own song Superstars. I wanted to send it up, do it in a
funny way, Groucho Marx style, but Dina didn't want to send it up and
wanted to have a serious approach. So Dina and
I watched MGM
musicals with Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire and finally Minelli's Gigi and we did
Superstars Minelli style, it worked very well and Dina is probably most responsible
for how we finally did it.
So actually everyone was involved
more or less in everything and the credits say more what who did most, so
most of production, Martin did most of direction especially the big scenes
and Dina or Lemonia in example did most acting...
Of course it's getting complicated if you have a
director and a writer-producer and Martin and I had some different
ideas, like how to shoot the scenes when Yvonne Wölke is captured and killed.
Martin is a fan of the scream queen character
and that means he wants the scream queen actually scream, while I think the
scene would have been better if the dtalkers had gagged her before killing her. As Martin was the director it
was his decision of course.
Terror Stalkers does feature a few of your regulars, to what
extent were you actually involved in the casting process? And why exactly
I did write the script and did produce so I
had certain ideas who should play which part. Martin and I talked about
and Martin got her involved. Eva suggested two of her friends Armin and
Gerry should play two of the Terror Stalkers and
they were just perfect for both parts. Most of the remaining roles I did
cast and of course wanted to work with people I already knew
especially as The
Terror Stalkers was a more complicated project than Unhappy End!
or even The 7 Nightmares
I wanted Jean for the part of Annika as she is perfect for those kind of
parts Karin Dor [Karin Dor bio -
click here] played in the Edgar Wallace
movies. Jean's character is even named Annika Derr, Derr being the real-life name
of Karin Dor. The part of the Baron was written with
Holger Delfs in mind whom I had seen playing the maniac in Martin's Die Zone. Holger in fact is a set designer, painter and
artist who works for big productions like Ronald Emmerich or recently A
Cure of Wellness, but Holger like Martin loves
horror and splatter movies and Holger sometimes also plays some parts in
those kind of movies and very, very well.
I also wanted Katja and Vonny in the movie but with Katja it did not work
as she was busy in Las Vegas shooting a mafia series
for US television while we were shooting The
Terror Stalkers, but fortunatey
Vonny could come with us to London to shoot
the final sequence.
What were the main challenges when
producing The Terror
Not to get crazy, but this is the case whenever you shoot some project.
Billy Wilder once said shooting a movie
is blood, sweat and tears and the fun starts AFTER shooting, when you
wrapped principal photography and you
start editing and post. Hitchcock is said he did not like shooting, for
him it was a necessary evil as he had the whole
movie in mind.
Do talk about the shoot as such, and
the on-set atmosphere?
We were shooting with interruptions
for several months around Berlin and in London, so there were very
on-set atmospheres. The first day when everything goes wrong and nothing
works, you - as a producer - would prefer
to leave the set, stop the movie and go away and buy a Mercedes. Jean was
there and did hold my hand and with
Jeannie around I managed to survive that day. Next morning I watched what
we shot the first day and thought "Well
that does not look THAT bad" and the second day things are going
better - then when we had shot all those
big scenes with so many people involved and we started to do the smaller
scenes, it went better and better
and in the end it became really fun. We did fly for a couple of days to
London to shoot the Jack the Ripper scenes
next to Big Ben and the final sequences when Vonny kidnaps Agata and we
went to London and did not work all
the time but had plenty time off and we went to a Hammer Convention with
Caroline Munro [Caroline Munro
bio - click here], Barbara Shelley and
many other Hammer
stars, and we went to East End to a play with Lindsay
Lohan, Speed the Plow, and then we
shot our scenes for The
Terror Stalkers in London in a Park near Buckingham
Palace, that was all fun. And of course
the musical and comedy scenes with Holger and Lemonia also were so much
fun. The last scenes we shot were
the Eddy Gein
scenes in the woods when he cuts the police woman's ear off. So actually the more we
were shooting the more it became fun.
The $64-question of course, where
can the movie be seen?
The DVDs and Blu-rays are sold on
tele-movie-shop and on filmundo and the movie can also be bought VOD
Anything you can tell us about
audience and critical reception of your movie yet?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
nothing, as we just started selling, I got the DVDs some days ago and two
days ago the Blu-rays and just did
mail the DVDs to cast and crew. So I do not have any feedback from anyone
future projects you'd like to share?
I want to finish The 7 Nightmares
Girl next and then again a 90 minute Unhappy End! movie but in
Terror Stalkers style as
far as production is concerned.
website, Facebook, whatever else?
Anything else you're
dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
thanks for asking, I think I never menitoned this before, but I really
think we need more Kaiser Wilhelm Memorials in Germany.
for the interview!