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An Interview with James Cullen Bressack, Co-Director of Theatre of the Deranged, Director of My Pure Joy

by Mike Haberfelner

January 2012

James Cullen Bressack on (re)Search my Trash


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Your new anthology film Theatre of the Deranged - in a few words, what is it about?


Pure chaotic mayhem! Itís a throwback to the old Tales from the Crypt stuff. You get to see 5 horror movies all by different directors with different styles.


What were the main inspirations for the project, and how did it come into being in the first place? And what can you tell us about your co-directors, and how did you get them to contribute to the movie?


Well, too many times have I seen awesome horror shorts go without a wide audience because they werenít feature length. So I decided to collect a few shorts from friends of mine and put together an anthology to showcase them. It is awesome being able to have my short with a bunch of shorts by friends of mine. We all got together and made something that is really different here. Everyone had their own unique style and it really translates well to the screen. It makes for a high-energy film.


I wanted to help other film makers get their shorts seen by a wider audience. After I collected two shorts, I wrote and directed one and so did my good friend Creep Creepersin [Creep Creepersin interview - click here] as well as my other close friend Brian Dorton. What I wanted this film to do is show audiences that there is real comradery and a filmmaker community working with one another instead of against each other, and I think the film does just that!


Especially in horror, anthology movies have a long tradition. Any explanation for that, and your favourite horror anthologies?


My favorite all time anthology is Creepshow! It is such a great film. I also absolutely loved Trick 'r Treat.


I think anthologies have a place in horror because horror fans want to see a lot of blood and gore and not just one story. It gives you a full course meal with appetizers and builds up. It feels more like an event then just a film, which is always a lot of fun.


Theatre of the Deranged is also high on comedy, right? So how would you describe the film's overall brand of humour?


It is a very morbidly funny film. I added a laugh track to the host segments in order to give it a surreal feel and encourage the audience to laugh. I want audiences to have as much fun with this film as possible. Some of the best horror is gory but we can also laugh at it.


The film's framing story was written by and is starring Cory Jacob [Cory Jacob interview - click here]. What can you tell us about him and your collaboration with him?


It was awesome working with Cory again. He was one of the leads in my first film My Pure Joy, so this collaberation felt natural. We have a great trust for one anothers opinion's and it really translated well to the screen. It was an easy and fun collaberation. He had me in stiches with his jokes during the host segments.


Let's get to your segment Speak Easy: What is it about, and what were the inspirations for it?


It was inspired by how there can be two different ways the exact same conversation can go. I will also say I looked at a hammer and decided to write this.


You have also recently produced another upcoming anthology Treasure Chest of Horrors by directors Doug Waugh, Shawn C.Phillips [Shawn C. Phillips interview - click here] and M. Kelley. What can you tell us about that one, and how did it come into being?


I worked with Doug on filming Unmimely Demise, and everyday after filming he showed me his shorts he had done a long time ago. I saw that one of them had Lloyd Kaufman in it and was impressed. We got to talking and decided to put together another series, because Theatre of the Deranged already had all of its slots already full. But I wanted to do the same thing as Theatre of the Deranged, help get exposure for other indie film makers' shorts.


For Treasure Chest of Horrors, you refrained from writing and directing and sticked to producing - why? And which of these activities do you enjoy the most, personally?


I didnít have time to make a segment. Treasure Chest of Horrors and Theatre of the Deranged arenít supposed to be just about me, they are supposed to be about helping others get their stuff out there. It is my passion to write and direct, and I want to help other filmmakers realize their passion as well.


Is it true that Treasure Chest of Horrors II is already in the making, and what are we to expect?


It is! And you can expect 10x the violence and 10x the depravity. This one is going to be nuts! Miles Dougal is in it and so are some familiar faces from Treasure Chest 1. Itís going to have a similar feel with a higher budget and brand new shorts.


Another film of yours that is going to be released very soon is My Pure Joy - now what is that one about?


Essentially it is about someone trying to hold themself together while falling apart. It is the manifestation of teenage angst in the form of a young serial killer. It's basically American Psycho meets Superbad.


What were your inspirations for writing My Pure Joy, and how much of yourself do you find in your lead character Adam?


The lead character of Adam is based on me, aside from the serial killer part, of course. Itís a very personal film and it translates well to the screen. It was inspired by, and pays homage to, all of the horror films I grew up on.


How would you describe your directorial approach to My Pure Joy?


I wanted to craft a film that fell apart as the main character fell apart. The film is Adam, so I directed it towards his character's emotions and made the film evolve as he evolved.


Being as it is that My Pure Joy is a movie about a man driven to murder by the gore movies he saw I just have to ask: What can you tell us about the gore content in your movie? And how would you rate the importance of gore for modern horror as such?


I love gore! To quote John Doe from the film Seven, ďWanting people to listen, you can't just tap them on the shoulder anymore. You have to hit them with a sledgehammer, and then you'll notice you've got their strict attention.Ē You have to shock people nowadays. There is a HIGH volume of gore in My Pure Joy and a kill scene that will surprise everyone and make anyone cringe.


Gore is very important and we need more of it in horror nowadays. Like the 1980ís. I will say if you have a great story you donít always need gore, but it is always a fun touch.


You were only 18 when you made My Pure Joy. What convinced you you could pull of directing a feature film at this relatively young age?


All my life I have always wanted to direct a movie. I studied film endlessly in my room. I just had this feeling in my bones that it was what I was meant to do. I had also made a few shorts before this and felt that I was ready to take the leap to a feature film.


What got you into moviemaking in the first place, and did you ever receive any formal education on the subject?


I did go to a film school for a little while but ended up leaving to make My Pure Joy. What really got me into making films though, my real film school, was the years of walking to the theaters after school everyday and watching a matinee. The large collection of DVDs and VHS tapes that I watched relegiously, that was my true schooling.


I was really inspired to make films though, and I know I have said this before but, what really pushed me to become a filmmaker was when my dad got very ill when I was in the 5th grade. He was bed-ridden for years so all we did together was watch movies. It was our escape. I would come home every day from school and go to his room and we would watch a movie. It's how we spent our time together. What we could really share was film. That is when I was inspired to make movies. I wanted to give someone, in the off chance that they were in the same situation that I was in when I was little, just a few extra movies they can watch and talk about with a loved one.


You've made quite a few shorts over the last few years. Want to talk about those for a bit?


Sure! Whatís funny is that practically all of the shorts starred JD Fairman [JD Fairman interview - click here], who was in My Pure Joy. We have worked together for years making movies, although my early shorts were very experimental or silly. I learned a lot from the mistakes I made on those films.


A few words agout your production company Psykik Junky Pictures?


Psykik Junky Pictures was started by Jarret Cohen and myself. We are aiming to give you guys the best in cutting edge entertainment (literally J), and we won't settle for anything less than that.


Any future projects you'd like to talk about?


I have a few projects in the works right now, but they are in early stages so I canít quite mention them yet, but I promise you will be the first to know! However we do have Theatre 2 coming out as well as Treasure Chest 2 and 3. My short Unmimely Demise will be in Theatre 2, here is a trailer for it:


The $64-question of course, when and where will Theatre of the Deranged, Treasure Chest of Horrors and My Pure Joy be released?


Theatre of the Deranged comes out in July. Treasure Chest of Horrors comes out in June. And My Pure Joy will be available in February, on February 14th but you can preorder it right now on bestbuy, amazon, and many many other sites:




Almost all of your movies are of the horror variety in some form or another. Is horror a genre especially dear to you, and why?


I love horror because horror is like fantasy films for adults. I also love gore so itís a perfect fit. I won't only be making horror movies, but I am enjoying making them right now and it will always have a place in my heart.


Directors who inspire you?


To name a few, Henenlotter, Miike, Tarantino, Rodriguez, Roth, Ittenbach, Romero, Ferrara, and of course Park Chan-Wook. There are plenty more but I donít wanna go on for ever! J


Your favourite movies?


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It would take FOREVER to name all of them so I will just say right now, my all time favorite movie is Oldboy!


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


I donít deplore any moviesÖ


Your website, Facebook, whatever else?


You can follow me on twitter @JAMESCULLENB

Here is my IMDB:

Facebook Fan Page:


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


We are always looking for more shorts to be submitted to Theatre of the Deranged 2 and Treasure Chest of Horrors 3 so email me your short if you want to be a part. Itís all about spreading the love and getting everyone the exposure they deserve.


Thanks for the interview!


Thank you for having me! Itís been a real pleasure!


© 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




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


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