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An Interview with Jeff Freeman, Director of Island of the Cannibal Death Gods

by Mike Haberfelner

January 2012

Jeff Freeman on (re)Search my Trash


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Important note: For the next week, starting Monday 3/12 till Saturday 3/17, 2012, all profits from the rental and sale of Island of the Cannibal Death Gods through our website will be donated equally between Scares that Care and the Animal Rescue Mission. Take the time to donate a couple of bucks to two worthy causes. You'll also get to see a cheesy B-Horror film that after watching, you'll, at the very least, appreciate other movies more.


Your new film Island of the Cannibal Death Gods - in a few words, what is it about?


Island of the Cannibal Death Gods is an homage film to the low budget horror films of the 60's and 70's. Think along the lines of Roger Corman [Roger Corman bio - click here] meets William Grefe meets Herschell Gordon Lewis [Herschell Gordon Lewis bio - click here], but with less money. I wanted to make a film like the ones I used to watch at the midnite movies when I was a kid. There was a weekly show called Creature Feature when I was growing up that, along with the old Universal monster and Godzilla movies, would show these low budget horror films from all over the world. I loved it.


Basic question: Why a cannibal movie? And to what degree was Island of the Cannibal Death Gods by European (mainly Italian) cannibal movies from the 1970's and early 80's? And some of your genre favourites?


I actually wasn't inspired at all by those films. The idea came out of my head and without giving away too much, was inspired by the concept of corporate retreats. It was all the rage, a few years ago, for all these corporate executives to go out into nature, strip naked and beat on drums and get back to their primitive selves. That, more than anything else was the inspiration.


Other sources of inspiration when writing Island of the Cannibal Death Gods?


I actually have hidden some social commentary in the dialogue of the movie. This was inspired by our current craze with so called "Reality TV". I find the whole concept to be baffling. We seem to have become a world of voyeurs watching the train wrecks of these people's lives when in reality... it's not real. The crews film hundreds of hours to get the one hour a week people watch. I snuck in some of my personal feelings about that.


Though not quite as gory as many other cannibal movies, there are quite a few blood-and-guts-effects in Island of the Cannibal Death Gods. What can you tell us about them, and about achieving them on your rather low budget?


They were about as basic as you can imagine. Intestines were sausage casings with fake blood and instant oatmeal in them. Machete's with the blades hollowed out, mannequin torsos covered with latex and my friend pushing the intestines out of the chest cavity by hand. This film was made on a shoe string and most of the money spent went to making sure my cast and crew were taken care of.


What can you tell us about your directorial approach to your subject matter?


I really only have one approach when I'm on set. First, while I mean business, I like keeping the atmosphere light and fun. Making a movie is entertainment and you better enjoy doing it. Second, I make it clear to everyone I'm working with to check their egos. There are no unimportant people on set. The person holding the boom, the person bringing lunch, the person carrying the equipment - you can't shoot a film without them anymore than you could without a cast or director.


I think an all-important aspect of any cannibal movie is the location. So what can you tell us about your locations, and how did you find them?


We were very fortunate there. All of the waterway shots were filmed along the intercoastal in Ft. Lauderdale. The actual "island" was a small 4 acre nature preserve in the middle of a warehouse district. It was through people offering to help us with the film that we were able to secure these locations for filming.


Making a movie out in the wild sounds at the same time like loads of fun and loads of stress. So what can you tell us about the highlights, trials and tribulations of shooting Island of the Cannibal Death Gods, and about the on-set atmosphere?


Whew... that's a loaded question. We endured a two day torrential downpour that flooded the nature preserve and forced us to cancel shooting one weekend. Then we had a cold snap that came through that dropped temperatures into the low 30's the first weekend our "cannibals" were to be on set. While they all stood ready to do it, I couldn't ask these wonderful women to parade around in their skimpy outfits in that weather. I came down with a case of the flu one weekend and was horribly sick during the two days of shooting. The bar scene that you see in the film was actually the fourth bar we used as the footage from the previous 3 was unusable. Through it all, my cast and crew stood by me and the project.


A few words about your principal cast?


I could not have asked for a better cast for my first feature. They were enthusiastic, helpful, energetic. Every director should be lucky enough to have such talented, professional people working for them. They made shooting this film such a wonderful experience for me that I can't do justice to them in the few words here. They were phenomenal.


What can you tell us about Island of the Cannibal Death Gods' brand of humour?


It's dark humor. I tend to have a sarcastic, dark sense of humor. I blame it on a mother that brought me up watching Monty Python's Flying Circus.


Would you like to talk about Island of the Cannibal Death Gods' ultimate punchline for a bit, or do you think it would mean giving away too much of your film?


I don't want to give it away, more than I already have with the answer to one of the previous questions. :) Suffice to say that Herschell Gordon Lewis [Herschell Gordon Lewis bio - click here] once told me that any good horror film has to have a "Gotcha" moment. From the reaction that I've gotten so far... we did that. People have been totally surpised and loved it.


While Island of the Cannibal Death Gods might look a bit like a 1970's grindhouse movie, the musical score rather suggests a 1950's B-picture. So what can you tell us about your musical score, and your collaboration with composer Michael S.Patterson?


Michael was a godsend. He is such a talented musician and composer. I told him what I was looking for and he just ran with it. The score came out of his head with virtually no input from me. He was attracted to this project in the same way I was. With a love of those old cheesy horror films. His score just added so much to this film. I have such an appreciation now for how a good score can really make a film. Any movie directors that need a great composer... Michael's your man.


A few words about critical and audience reception so far?


It's been good. The reviews we've received so far have been very positive. The movie was just released a couple of weeks ago so there hasn't been much audience response for far. I'm hoping that reviews like yours will help fix that.


Genre veteran William Grefe has given Island of the Cannibal Death Gods a very double-edged shout-out on - now how did that come into being?


I met Bill at a networking event and asked him if he'd watch the film and share his thoughts. As a director who made a career out of making cult films... I wanted to know what he thought of my modern "cult" film. After watching it, he felt strongly enough about it that he agreed to do the promo. I thought it was brilliant. I wanted a humorous endorsement and he came up with the idea and we ran with it. One take and we were done. I've gotten a little criticism from people that don't get it. They think I'm letting someone trash the film. I guess you have to have that kind of dark, self deprecating humor that I have to get it. I find it very obvious that it's supposed to be funny. When he starts by calling me the American Fellini and that Steven Spielberg's films pale in comparison to Island of the Cannibal Death Gods... it should be fairly obvious that we're having fun with it. At least it was to me. Bill has a personal rule against commenting on another director's work, so the fact that he agreed to do the spot at all says something about how he felt about Island of the Cannibal Death Gods.


Let's go back to the beginnings of your career: What made you want to go into filmmaking, initially, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?


I graduated with a degree in film from Florida Atlantic University. I did the extra thing back when I was a kid... 18, 19 years old but couldn't pay the rent. I walked away from it for a long time, but the passion was always there. Then a couple of things got my interest stoked enough to want to get back into it. One was Bruce Campbell's biography, If Chins Could Kill. A great portion of the book details the making of Evil Dead. Second was a film by Mark Altman and Robert Meyer Burnett, Free Enterprise. Learning the back story of those two projects really inspired me.


Before you made Island of the Cannibal Death Gods, you made quite a number of shorts, right? Would you like to talk about those for a bit? And what encouraged you to switch to making feature films?


*laughing* No... my shorts all sucked, I don't want to talk about them. Actually, since Island of the Cannibal Death Gods I have made one other short that I'm happy with. It's called Desperation and was written by Island of the Cannibal Death Gods alum Beau Yotty. That short I'm very happy with.


Any future projects you'd like to talk about?


I'm currently vacillating on a screenplay that's a rags to riches story with musical numbers. There's a science fiction dramatic-comedy TV series that's in the treatment stage and another horror film, filled with social allegory that's on the back burner.


Directors who inspire you?


Roger Corman [Roger Corman bio - click here], William Grefe, Sam Raimi, Terry Gilliam, John Carpenter... to name a few.


Your favourite movies?


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x-rated  find Jeff Freeman at

*Whew* - That's a tough question. I go through cycles where I'll watch a certain film literally a dozen times. I can't really say I have a favorite. I love many films across many genres. That may sound like a cop out to the question but I can't really choose one over another.


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


Again there really aren't any specific films. I'm not a big fan of movies that substitute violence or gore or over the top special effects for plot and story. Plot and story are everything in a movie, in my opinion.


Your website, Facebook, whatever else?


My Facebook page is me... Jeff Freeman. The movie has a Facebook page as well and I keep our fans updated on the movie there. We have a website at: and we're working on having the movie for sale worldwide on the site in a day or two. For rent or to own.

Update: Island of the Cannibal Death Gods is now available worldwide and for download to your Apple or Android device (or your PC) through our website! The deluxe edition DVD is also available for purchase, as is our official 11x17 movie poster. Visit the website for reviews, bloopers and everything else for our Fannibals!


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


Just one thing and it's aimed at other independent filmmakers such as myself. You may not have made the best film in the world, your film may not be seen by a lot of people. But if you made a feature film to completion... that is something special and you should take pride in that. Many people start trying to make one... but you did it.


Thanks for the interview!


It was my pleasure. Thank You.


© by Mike Haberfelner

Legal note: (re)Search my Trash cannot
and shall not be held responsible for
content of sites from a third party.

Thanks for watching !!!



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



Stell Dir vor, Deine Lieblingsseifenoper birgt eine tiefere Wahrheit ...
... und stell Dir vor, der Penner von der U-Bahnstation hat doch recht ...
... und dann triffst Du auch noch die Frau Deiner (feuchten) Träume ...


Und an diesem Tag geht natürlich wieder einmal die Welt unter!!!


Bauliche Angelegenheiten
ein Roman von
Michael Haberfelner


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