Your new movie Dead Eyes - in a few words, what is it about?
I think it's mostly about the power of vision and the fear to be observed
by someone unknown. Can you imagine to find yourself, during a hike,
observed by a distance by numerous persons, who hide in the bushes and
follow you everywhere? And then, once they get close enough, you also
discover they don't look exactly "normal"... The story is pretty
straighforward, a group of friends discover an ancient relic during a hike
in a remote area of Italy, near an abandoned monastery built by the
Templars. From that moment, the people of the ghost town surrounding the
monastery come back to life to hunt them down, lead by a blind priest. We
wanted to recreate the atmosphere of various tales by
Lovecraft, like "he Shadow Over Innsmouth, the idea of a whole
town possessed by older divinities that may be evoked in the contemporary
world by ritual magic.
were your inspirations when writing Dead Eyes, and could you talk
about your collaborative writing process for a bit?
MB: At first we thought about presenting everything like a real life
event, like something happened for real, but the legal consequences
stopped us from doing so! :) I like the idea that something that may be
defined as "pure" or "good", like the help from the
Church, embodied by the blind priest, changes into its opposite, the
lust for the power given by an old relic, that destroy the peace of the
town. The abandoned location we used helped in writing a story really
terrifying and in giving a sense of claustrophobia to the movie, that
proceeds without pause or relieves. It's a tight script, written by
exchanging numerous blood dripping emails, it has been a perfect
MM: I agree, it has been very easy and funny too to write the script
together. Regarding writing influences, beside Lovecraft, the location
itself, a real abandoned monastery, was very inspirational. I think that
shows up in the footage and will give added value to the movie.
did you choose the found footage approach when making Dead Eyes?
MB: My initial idea was to shoot all the movie like a POV of all the
characters, continously changing from character to character, but we
agreed that it would have been much too chaotic, so we opt to use simply
a single POV of the camera, to simulate a sort of documentary, found by
the police on the location of the massacre.
MM: I know that the found footage approach is over-abused in these
times. We calculated the risks of proposing another horror movie shot in
that way, but we decided that it would have been the best way to direct
this story for three reasons. The first is the fact that we were dealing
with a sort of real-life haunted location. We thought we didn't even
need production design, we could just enter there with a camera and
shoot what was inside the building and it would have been scary enough
by itself! Secondly, we had restraint of both money and time about using
that location for long times, I doubt that it would have been
logistically possible to shoot the movie in a traditional way. Third,
the story required the most realism possible and only this genre can
grant the illusion to be watching something happening for real.
can you tell us about your directorial approach to your story as such, and
what was your collaboration like?
MB: It has
been a wonderful collaboration. We did numerous location scoutings and
rehearsals before the shooting, creating a common detailed storyboard,
where our characters slowly would have descent into total despair until
they end up dismembered, like we wanted! We were on the same wavelenght,
since the first emails until when we were on the sets building the project
day by day, without conflicts or discussions.
whole shooting phase has been very collaborative. We listened also to all
the suggestions of our actors and crew members, talso rying to incorporate their
the movie, in the limited time we had. I believe
filmmaking is a completely collaborative art, it's not possible to make
good movies just imposing all the decisions on the others.
The synopsis of Dead
Eyes at least suggests quite a bit of violence and gore - so what can
you tell us about that aspect of your movie, and was there ever a line in
that respect you refused to cross?
MB: Blood and gore! We
really wanted gallons and gallons of blood, now I've become an expert of
animal entrails, found in the meat department of the supermarket. Among others, we used a lamb tongue, guts, intestines, the more they looked
disgusting, the more we liked them! Our actors agreed to being covered
with this revolting stuff without complaint, so, blood and gore!
What can you tell us
about your cast, and why exactly these people?
MM: I knew
already some of them from my previous short movies. It has been a real
pleasure to work again with great professional actors like Diego Riccobene
and Paolo Riva. Their choice has been natural since we started to think
about the story. It has been demanding to find the female character, our
final girl. We had numerous auditions, until we found Sveva Raimondi. When
we saw her audition performance on screen, we immediately knew she was the
right one. Her whole performance throughout the shoot has been very
intense. Orsetta Borghero is another great actress that we enjoyed working
with. In general, all the cast has been not only perfectly fit with their
roles, but they also have been real troopers, ready to walk an extra mile
for this project. Sveva also hurt herself really bad during the shoot,
cutting her hand for real with a rusty nail in the old church of the town
(we laughed about her real blood falling on the pavement of the church and
resurrecting the corpse of the monks buried there).
MB: We were looking for competent and simple professionals, not for
snobs or queen bees. For us it was very important the realism, they had
to play without following the script word after word, we asked them to
improvise and to be more natural as possible. Everybody has been up to
the task, they really entered into their characters.
course also have to talk about your location and why you've chosen it?
It's an old abandoned monastery dating to the XV century. It has also a
church annexed and another huge building. All this surrounded by a wild
and dark forest. It was the perfect location for our story! We both have
known that location for various years, we always wanted to shoot a feature
movie there! I think that the fact that it's an authentic creepy location,
not something built in a studio or a new house "refurbished" like
a dark manor, really shows!
can you tell us about the actual shoot and the on-set atmosphere?
We had actually some problems relating to theh abitants of these
buildings. Not the resurrected villagers, I'm talking about the giant
spiders and the bumblebees that nested there! I've been bit by one of
them on the head! Our DP was also kind of arachnophobic, you can imagine
that this old building was covered by thick layers of spider-web and we
didn't want to clean it because we wanted to maintain its original
creepiness, so sometime it was difficult to convince him to enter
some rooms with the camera! After a little while he got used to it, but
the other Marco started making him jokes, using plastic spiders and
hiding them near him... at the end, it was a lot of fun!
The atmosphere on set was fantastic, everyone was friendly and in peace,
a peace only broken by the threats of the location, like broken glasses,
rats, giant spiders, supersized bumblebees. The funny thing is, when we
were on pause everything was quiet, but anytime we screamed
"action", everything could happen!
$64-question of course: When and where will the film be released onto the
MM: We expect the movie to be ready for
delivery by the end of May. It will be released for sure in US and Italy.
We hope also in other territories. Release date is not set yet, but should
be by the beginning of next year.
Let's go back to the beginnings of your
careers: How did each of you enter the film business, and did you receive
any formal training on the subject?
MM: I took a directing master degree at the Academy of Art University in
San Francisco, but I started shooting short movies before moving there.
When I moved to California I had already shot 15 short movies and
various videoclips (mostly for metal bands). After school, I founded Dolce Mare,
with a partner, and then opened EuroObscura, the sales
agency branch of Dolce Mare, specialized in horror and cult movies.
MB: I had no formal training, I entered this business thanks to my
friend Marco Magni, we realized some short movies together before this
one. I made also a short by myself but it has not been released yet.
How did you two
first hook up, actually?
MM: We've known each other since the
time of primary school! Living both in a small town in the countryside of
North Italy, and being both interested in this genre and this kind of
movies, it was just natural to wind up working together!
What can you tell us about your
filmwork prior to Dead Eyes?
MM: Between the other things, I shot some horror shorts. One has been
distributed by Troma
Ent., Merry Xmas Motherfucker!. It was
a very cheap but entertaining splatter short. One of my latest
short movies is Zombie Connection - on that set I met Diego
Riccobene and Paolo Riva, now starring in Dead Eyes. This one had to do
with a cocaine so powerful to bring to life the dead!
MB: I wrote and directed a thriller short called The Eleventh Day, but it's still in my drawer.
Any future projects
you'd like to share?
MB: I've tons of ideas, it's a matter of time and money mostly, I'm
always available to work on new projects.
MM: At Dolce Mare we are developing three different feature movies
at thr moment, even if they have nothing to do with horror! I wrote one of
them, The Lion and the Ring, it's a more ambitious project,
it's a war movie set during the Russian campaign of 1943 and based on
some real life events that happened to my grandfather. For now, it's more of
a dream project as it would require a budget substantially larger than a
movie like Dead Eyes, it's more likely that before to
finally produce and direct that one I will come out with another horror.
At this moment though I'm really focused on completing the
postproduction for Dead Eyes...
Almost all of your movies are of
the horror variety - a genre especially dear to you, and why (not)?
is the genre that I know better and that I'm more passionate about. When
I was a kid, I founded a sort of horror club, I used to invite all
the kids of the neighbourhood and screen horror movies recorded with my
old VCR... I still have all those VHS...
I always loved to hear terrifying fairy tales, where everybody dies at
the end. I loved horror literature, comic books and obviously movies. I
grow up with the scifi movies of the seventies and the splatter movies
of the eighties. It's something that has always been within me.
would you describe yourselves as directors?
MB: Expert, capable, intelligent, handsome? :) A good brain for a hungry
MM: I like most to work with actors. I regret that with Dead Eyes we
didn't have too much time for rehearsals. Sometimes when I shoot I'm
over-excited but always manage to be patient, even in the more adverse
situations, and to avoid screaming towards anyone. I'm very
collaborative and listen to everybody, even if at times it's difficult
when you've a schedule to follow...
who inspire you?
Cronenberg, Ridley Scott, Quentin Tarantino, Kenneth Anger, Brian Yuzna,
John Carpenter, Roger Corman [Roger
Corman bio - click here], Pupi Avati.
MM: I would add Amando De Ossorio, I think that his Blind
Dead-movies have been a major influence on Dead Eyes. I would also
add Alejandro Jodorowski, Alfred Hitchcock, Takashi Miike, Werner
Herzog, Pasolini, Terry Gilliam, and obviously the Italian masters of
horrors: Dario Argento, Lamberto Bava, Ruggero Deodato, Mario Bava [Mario
Bava bio - click here], just
to name the first that pop into my mind.
Your favourite movies?
MB: The Fly, Zeder,
MM: Videodrome, Rosemary's Baby, Shining
and most that Kubrick did, Holy
Mountain and Santa Sagre, Suspiria,
Big Trouble In Little China, Salò,
Nosferatu (both the Murnau one and the remake by Werner Herzog). And I
have to also mention The Walking
Dead, even if it's a TV series, can't wait
to see how it ends!
and of course, films you really deplore?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Disney movies, Stallone movies and the movies with animal protagonists
(except when the animals are killing animals).
MM: Twilight saga, they made of the myth of the vampire and of its
primordial force a brand for teenagers!
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
MM: You can check
out the Facebook page of our movie here: facebook.com/DeadEyesMovie.
You can also check out the EuroObscura webpage, to see what other movies
we have in catalogue: www.euroobscura.com.
you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
We passed more time thinking about the name to give to the location in the
movie than to write the whole script! We made this to protect the
location, that is haunted and still looking for young blood!
for the interview!