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An Interview with Richard Casey, Director of Horror House on Highway 6

by Mike Haberfelner

September 2014

Films directed by Richard Casey on (re)Search my Trash

 

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Your new movie Horror House on Highway 6 - in a few words, what is it about?

 

A college student is injured by a malfunctioning soda machine at a gas station on highway 6. His fellow students take him to a doctor who lives in a basement bomb shelter and awaits the second coming of Elvis Presley. They canít leave. A killer stalks them with an axe. One of the kids goes mad. Perhaps they are dead, and perhaps Death is not the end.

 

What were your inspirations when writing Horror House on Highway 6?

 

Grand Hotel and Apocalypse Now. Grand Hotel, 1932, with Greta Garbo - it's the classic ensemble piece; there are multiple story lines that occasionally intersect. The plan for Horror House on Highway 6 was that if we lost an actor, we could deemphasize that story line. And it was easier to shoot around different people's schedules.

Apocalypse Now is a great knight errant/behind enemy lines/haunted house tale. Some Horror House on Highway 6 story points come from Apocalypse Now - or from the myths that precede it. J Dog, the repo man, is modeled on the Dennis Hopper photojournalist character.

Also: Black and white expressionistic horror films - Vampyr especially. 80's slasher movies. SchrŲdingerís cat.

And I was thinking about mortality.

 

Almost 30 years ago, you made a movie called Horror House on Highway 5 - is that one in any way related to Horror House on Highway 6, and could you talk about the old movie for a bit?

 

Horror House on Highway 5 was made with no money when I first came to LA. It's pretty erratic, but for some folks it has a certain crazy charm. People wonder if the filmmakers were stupid, crazy, on drugs, or somehow trapped in an ironic nuthouse.

There is no answer, of course.

Horror House on Highway 5 has managed to live on, and I thought that I could make a sequel and it would find distribution.

 

Horror House on Highway 6 is full of bizarre elements and pleasantly surreal twists and turns - did you ever run in danger of getting lost in your own story, and was all of the weirdness already in the script, or was it to some part improvised on set?

 

One thing you can do if you're making a film with really limited resources is bite off more than you can chew, attempt more than you call pull off. This is good - who knows what's going to come out of it? Why not jump off that cliff without looking?

The weirdness was there from the beginning. There were lots of rewrites, but the actors always got the new pages and learned them. Only one speech is improvised: Hermann recalls an I Love Lucy episode when Lucy encountered an axe murderer. The actor remembered seeing the show. Maybe it exists.

Getting lost in the story: danger or opportunity? The movie is about being lost, so...

 

Horror House on Highway 6 doesn't exactly shy away from violence - so you have to talk about this aspect of your movie for a bit, and was there any line you refused to cross?

 

I don't have a short answer to that question. Or a long one, either. See last answer.

 

What can you tell us about the film's brand of humour?

 

Same as last question.

 

Do talk about your directorial approach to your story at hand for a bit!

 

We had to work around everyone's schedule, and the movie took a long time to shoot. Years. For a lot of the scenes we could not get all the actors in the same place at the same time. So we had to shoot scenes multiple times, sometimes in a different place. I could live with it.

 

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

 

We had auditions. We used people that Rocky Kendall, the producer, and I thought were right. I'm happy with their performances. We knew production would extend - though we didn't know it would go on forever - and we needed actors who would go the distance. They all hung in there, and only one actor has subsequently dropped from sight.

 

For one of the main villains we cast William Caldwell, an African-American actor. I liked the way he read a key scene where the character muses on the difficulty of knowing if he is in a dream or a story that he or someone else is telling. But having an African-American guy as a crazy violent mad doctor gave me second thoughts, particularly with the racist characterizations that were being thrown at Obama. I'm still conflicted and not entirely comfortable, but I like William's performance.

 

You also have to talk about your main locations, and what were the advantages and challenges of filming there?

 

Richard on set

What locations? We had no locations; it's cinematic trickery. Sometimes it shows; so be it.

We did shoot one day in Frazier Park, about 60 miles north of LA. It was cold and everyone was hungry.

The other exterior shots - Geisel Library at UC San Diego and the Angeles National Forest - were kindly provided to us without our having to ask permission.

 

What can you tell us about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?

 

Small cast, small crew. One shot after another. Went on for years. Everyone was nice and no one got hurt.

 

A few words about audience and critical reception of your film so far?

 

Not my area, I just make the movie.

 

Any future projects you'd like to share?

 

We have a script. I think of it as Horror House on Highway 8 (skipping Horror House on Highway 7 for the time being). I'm talking with Blue Oyster Cult about participation. Horror House on Highway 8 - Don't Fear The Reaper?

 

What got you into filmmaking to begin with, and did you receive any formal education on the subject?

 

MFA Film Production, NYU.

 

What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Horror House on Highway 6?

 

Music videos - Black Sabbath, Angry Samoans, Romeo Void, Blue Oyster Cult, Vom, Morons, etc.

Hellbent, feature. A rock musician makes deal with - guess who - the devil!

 

How would you describe yourself as a director?

 

Tenacious. I can adapt to changes, reversals, uncertainty, the possibility that the thing will never be finished.

The director should know where the actors go, where the camera goes, what the scene is; and then set the frame.

I can do that.

 

Filmmakers who inspire you?

 

Here are four: Rudy Ray Moore (Dolomite), Carl Theodor Dreyer (Vampyr), John Ford, George Kuchar (Eclipse of the Sun Virgin).

 

Your favourite movies?

 

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Find Richard Casey
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USA  amazon.com

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Germany (East AND West)  amazon.de

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x-rated  find Richard Casey at adultvideouniverse.com

Here are five: Kriemhild's Revenge (Fritz Lang, 1924), Repulsion, Them, My Darling Clementine, 2000 Maniacs.

 

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

 

No.

 

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

 

It's on Facebook.

 

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

 

I didn't answer your questions about violence and humor. This is the stuff of low budget screwball horror movies - at least MY low budget screwball horror movies. The films are made up of violence and jokes and erratic shifts. I can't explain this jumble. Or, I can provide so many possible and contradictory explanations that it makes no sense.

Maybe that's what it's all about.

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

Thank you, Mike!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Thanks for watching !!!



 

 

Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
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
to the weirdly romantic,
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
Amazon!!!

 

 

 

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