Your new film The
Disco Exorcist - in a few words, what is it about?
is an homage to the classic sexploitation and
horror films of the 70s. I wanted it to be a gory, sexy fusion of drive-in
classics like Abby, Sugar Hill, and
Beyond the Door as well
as the more smutty 42nd Street fare. I think we did a pretty good job of
matching the look and feel of those films, as well as injecting some humor
and solid characters as well.
Disco Exorcist was very obviously influenced by 1970's low budget
genre cinema, and judging from your movie, this is something very dear to
you. Why, and some of your genre favourites?
I grew up in the 70s and was really fascinated by more verboten film
newspaper ads I would see as a kid. Really lurid titles, artwork and
taglines would fuel my imagination. I would stare at the ads and just
have these great flights of fancy dreaming up what these movies could
possibly be about.
As I grew older, I was able to see a lot of these types of movies at the
drive-ins and the last few remaining mom & pop movie theaters that
were left. I was lucky enough to see movies like Lucio Fulci's Gates
of Hell (aka: City of the Living
Dead) and 7 Doors of Death
(aka: The Beyond) on a big
screen [Lucio Fulci bio -
click here]. Sure they were the hacked-up
Americanized versions, but who cares when you're 15?
In terms of my favorites, I would have to say a lot of the titles listed
above... and movies like Night of the Living
Dead, Texas Chainsaw
Galaxy of Terror, Martin,
the Hammer/Christopher Lee Dracula
Pieces, The Witchfinder
General, The Devils,
the list goes on an on!
sources of inspiration for The
I just love all things 70s. From
the music to the fashions. It was just an amazing time in this country.
Great music, great cinema. I think it was also a great time because it was
the first time as a nation we admitted that... yes, we like to fuck! Up
until then, sex was such a taboo subject. It was liberating.
How did the project come into
being in the first place? And what can you tell us about your screenwriter
Tony Nunes and your collaboration with him?
I've had the pleasure of knowing Tony for years. He's worked as a script
supervisor and assistant director on a few of my features, and over the
years he's branched out as quite a wonderful writer/director himself. We
share a very similar sense of humor, so when I came up with the title
and basic plot of the movie, I asked Tony to write the script.
After I told Tony what the general idea for the movie was, he asked me
what direction it should go in. I said, "Make it NC-17 rated. Go
all the way with it, and don't shy away from sex." Well, he
certainly didn't shy away from the sex!
me about The Disco
Exorcist were the many authentic (or at least authentic-looking)
props. Now how did you get them, and how hard is it to recreate the proper
The lion's share of the success of the look of the movie comes from the
film's producer Ted Marr. About 60 percent of that movie was shot on a
tiny sound stage, and Ted constructed and painted those sets with a
helping hand from the entire SFR team.
Another person who helped tremendously was my friend Andre Boudreau who
supplied us with a great deal of the 70s costumes. Andre collects
vintage clothes, and without his help the actors would have been even
more naked then they already are in the film!
Since it's in the title, does
(vintage) disco music hold any appeal to you, and some of your favourite
Boy, that's a tough one. I love a lot of the
classic disco music of the era like Donna Summer, Gloria Gaynor, and the
Bee Gees. But my favorite disco song has to be Disco '79 by
A few words about your leads Michael Reed,
Sarah Nicklin and Ruth Sullivan? And what made them perfect for their
Well, starting with Michael Reed -- his character Rex Romanski, who is a
disco playboy to the extreme, was written as quite a sleazy, unlikable
character. Michale brought a warm and a boyish charm to the character
that softened the rough edges of the character and made a rather
unlikable character likable. It was a really challenging role for
Michael, but he pulled it off effortless. He was also very comfortable
with all the nudity and sex he had to be involved in. This was, I
believe, my fifth film with Michael and he's always a joy.
Sarah Nicklin, who I've done seven films with, brought a real
"Girl-Next-Door" charm to Amoreena. One of the things I
noticed about porn actresses from that time was they had this kind of
everyday girl appearance. Sarah really projects a great deal of
innocence, but at the same time she has sex appeal to spare. She also
made Amoreena a bit more malicious than she was in the script. I mean,
at the end of the day, she doesn't deserve what she gets from Rita
Marie, but she DID steal this man away from her!
Ruth Sullivan gives what I consider to be the best performance in the
film. It's terrifying, yet you find yourself rooting for her. She's been
scorned, you know? This guy did treat her like garbage, and he does
deserve to get punished for it, but maybe not to this extreme! Ruth
brought a real fearlessness to the roll, and I think it's one of the
best performances in any of my films. Really terrific and oddly moving.
You just have to talk about one of the film's
supporting actors, the unmistakable genre-eccentric Babette Bombshell, for
Well, I had become friends with Babette on Facebook
and I thought, "Man, I have to get her into a movie!" And, I'm
telling you... she was on the set for two days, and it was a complete and
utter joy. I was floored by how professional, funny, and downright perfect
she was for the character. All the actors and crew immediately fell in
love with her, as did I!
A few words about the rest of your cast and crew,
and what can you tell us about the actual on-set atmosphere?
once again I was working with a lot of folks from my past films. I just
enjoy that family atmosphere on the set. Brandon Luis Aponte, Rich
Tretheway, Gio Castellano, Alexander Lewis, Lee Rush, Erin Olson, Michael
Thurber... all of these people are so fantastic, so dedicated to their
craft. You have to realize, even though we put out a very professional
product (and on-time and on-budget), the set is always very light. It's
work without feeling like work. I rarely laugh as much as I do when I'm on
set. It was just a joy. And, we also had the added benefit that almost
every day on the set was like a day skinny dipping at a pond. I mean, I've
been shooting movies since I was 15, and I've never seen this much skin on
a set before. But it was never lurid or sexual, it was just fun.
far as I know, you are as we speak already in the midst of pre-producing a
sequel to The Disco
Exorcist, The Brother of the Disco Exorcist. Anything you
can tell us about that one yet?
Well, all I can say that
this point is that it's being written by the original screenwriter of The Disco
Exorcist Tony Nunes, and it involves Rex's younger brother Roman
Romanski, who was off in Los Angeles while the events of the original film
were taking place. I'm not going to give anything away about the plot yet,
but I will say it's goes in a more weird science-fiction direction that
the first film, but it will still deliver plenty of sex and violence
Let's go back all the
way to the beginnings of your career: What got you into filmmaking in the
first place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?
I starting doing this when I was 12 when my father bought me a Super 8
camera. I just made little horror films with my friends and family.
Pretty typical of a kid growing up when I did in the 70s and 80s. I
never thought I was going to do this stuff professionally until 1990
when I was hired to work at a Mom & Pop television station. I spend
14 years there working on commercials, television shows, live programs,
the whole nine yards. That's really where I learned my craft, and
learned how to produce things on a schedule and on a budget.
In 2004 I left the television station and formed Scorpio Film Releasing
with my partner Ted Marr. 12 films later, we're still here, and we're
planning on producing three features before the end of 2013!
might be totally wrong on this, but as far as I know your debut feature
was the Shakespeare-adaptation Titus Andronicus. What can you tell
us about that movie - and why Shakespeare?
What's not to love about Shakespeare? I grew up in a family where
reading was king. My mother would read Shakespeare to me as a kid, and I
just fell in love with the language, the drama, everything.
And, don't listen to what the IMDb tells you. Titus Andronicus wasn't my
first film. That would be We Deliver, which was made back in
1987. It's a screwy horror/comedy about a pizza delivery boy who ends up
making a delivery to a female vampire.
I'd like you
to say a few words about a handful films of yours I have rather randomly
picked from your filmography, mostly based on the strength of their titles
I have to admit:
my first shot at horror. I like some of it. I think the photography is
pretty darn good, and the gore effects are amazing. It's a bit on the slow
side though. I was still learning the ropes when it came to the genre!
I like this film a lot, but not a lot of people
do. It's actually a romantic comedy hiding out as a horror film. It's got
Ken Foree from Dawn of the
Dead, Lynn Lowry from The
Crazies, as well as
genre legends Debbie Rochon [Debbie
Rochon interview - click here] and Trent Haaga. It was a blast. I mean, it's
got musical numbers with dancing furries, what's not to love?
Dysfunctional Book Club?
hired gun project. It's a screwball comedy. I loved the screenplay, and it
was a wonderful shoot. Sadly, I didn't have say over the casting of the
two leads and that kind of hurt the movie a bit.
A personal favorite of mine, and probably my
most critically successful film. I love the cast, and I think was really
my "break-through" movie.
Atomic Brain Invasion?
film I really love. Co-written by Guy Benoit, who I think is the best
writer in the indie scene right now. It's also, oddly enough, my most
personal film. It's full of action, comedy, gruesome monsters, and lovely
characters. It's also my first "family" film. I really dig the
fact that eight year old kids can see and enjoy the film. It comes out
world-wide on October 2nd!
in a Women's Prison?
A short film I made for the 24
Hour Film Challenge. I hope to make it as a feature one of these days like
we did with Nun
of That, once I can find the funding.
very haunting, beautifully photographed film written by Guy Benoit and
starring Debbie Rochon [Debbie
Rochon interview - click here], Sarah Nickin, Michael Reed, Rich Tretheway,
Evalena Marie and Jonathan Thomson. I love this film. It's beautifully
filmed in black and white, and it's very much in the Hitchcock tradition.
other films of yours you'd like to talk about?
I think I
future projects you'd like to share?
Well, we have Murder University
coming out in August, and then we go into production on a very
dark drama called Normal in December, and then I'm directing a currently
untitled ghost story in 2013, and hopefully Brother of the Disco
Exorcist as well!
In general, how
would you describe yourself and your style as a director?
I would describe myself as a very happily married man who's been lucky
enough to do what I love for a living for the better part of a decade.
As for my style as a director, well I try to have a very relaxed,
stress-free atmosphere on the set. I like to be as prepared as possible,
but still allow things to be loose enough to allow for creativity and
suggestions from others on the set. I like to make jokes on the set,
tease the actors a bit, and that's all a part of creating a feeling
that, even while we're working very hard, it's not "work".
who inspire you?
I'm inspired by a great number of
directors, and the list will change daily but here are ten off the top of
my head -- Alfred Hitchcock, Billy Wilder, Orson Welles, Chuck Jones,
Roger Corman [Roger Corman
bio - click here], Bernardo Bertolucci, Roman Polanski, Francis Ford Coppola,
David Cronenberg, and William Castle.
Your favourite movies?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Patch of Blue, Taxi
Driver, Night of the Living
Dead, Stalker, Day for Night, Wizards, The Garden of the
The Music Man, Salo, Kiss Me Deadly, Suspiria,
The Conformist, ... the list goes on and
and of course, films you really deplore?
Well, I'm not
going to name names, but I hate any film that makes me feel like the
audience was ignored in the process of making the film. That it's a
completely ego-driven piece. I don't feel like you need to make movies for
the lowest common denominator, but there's nothing worse than watching a
film and you can actually sense utter contempt for the audience.
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
and my facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/SCORPIOFILMRELEASING
you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
I think you covered it! I just hope everyone who reads this interview
really enjoys The
for the interview!