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 can’t 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.
were your inspirations when writing Horror
House on Highway 6?
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.
Now is a great knight errant/behind enemy lines/haunted house tale. Some
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.
Black and white expressionistic horror films - Vampyr especially. 80's
slasher movies. Schrödinger’s 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
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.
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.
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?
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?
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...
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?
don't have a short answer to that question. Or a long one, either. See
What can you tell us about
the film's brand of humour?
as last question.
Do talk about your
directorial approach to your story at hand for a bit!
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.
can you tell us about your key cast, and why exactly these people?
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.
also have to talk about your main locations, and what were the advantages
and challenges of filming there?
Richard on set
locations? We had no locations; it's cinematic trickery. Sometimes it
shows; so be it.
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?
cast, small crew. One shot after another. Went on for years. Everyone was
nice and no one got hurt.
words about audience and critical reception of your film so far?
my area, I just make the movie.
future projects you'd like to share?
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
Film Production, NYU.
What can you tell us about your filmwork prior
to Horror House
on Highway 6?
videos - Black Sabbath, Angry Samoans, Romeo Void, Blue Oyster Cult, Vom,
Hellbent, feature. A rock musician makes deal with -
guess who - the devil!
How would you describe yourself as
I can adapt to changes, reversals, uncertainty, the possibility that the
thing will never be finished.
director should know where the actors go, where the camera goes, what the
scene is; and then set the frame.
Filmmakers who inspire you?
are four: Rudy Ray Moore (Dolomite), Carl Theodor Dreyer (Vampyr), John Ford,
George Kuchar (Eclipse of the Sun Virgin).
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
are five: Kriemhild's Revenge (Fritz Lang, 1924), Repulsion,
Darling Clementine, 2000
... and of course, films you really
Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever
Anything else you are dying to mention and I have
merely forgotten to ask?
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!