Your new movie Bite
Marks - in a few words, what is it about?
Marks is a gay horror comedy about a sexually confused trucker
taking over the delivery of a shipment of coffins. He picks up a
hitchhiking gay couple to help him stay awake behind the wheel, but when
their GPS misleads them into an abandoned junkyard, the truck breaks down.
Nightfall reveals the coffins to contain vampires, and now the mis-matched
trio must barricade themselves in the cab of the truck and try to survive
Marks being a vampire movie, is that a genre especially dear to
you, and your genre favourites? And how would you describe your movie's
approach to vampires?
I love horror films. Vampire
flicks are just another subgenre within that, so no, I don't have any
special love for vampire movies that I don't also have for werewolves,
slashers, zombies or ghosts. As to my film's approach to vampires, I
wanted to return to vampire lore of old. Where vampires weren't romantic
figures, they didn't wear tuxedos and capes, and there were definite rules
they had to follow. My vampires are basically re-animated corpses that
drink blood. But, I did want to put a modern-day spin on the mythology...
you know, try to operate within the boundaries laid out by
tradition, but do things in ways not seen before that don't break the
The whole homosexual subplot - how
did that sneak into Bite
Originally, the film was going to be very
dark and the hitchhiking couple was going to be a straight couple:
boyfriend/girlfriend. But the executive producer felt that by making them
gay, we could appeal to two different demographics: the horror crowd and
the gay indie crowd. I had no objections, so Jack and Alice became Cary
and Vogel. My idea was to take the two genres, horror comedy and gay
indie, and start the movie off as each storyline is a different genre,
then smash them together.
Other sources of inspiration for Bite
I knew this was going to be a low-budget
film and I'd read an article stating that the best thing to do in such a
case was to keep the characters in a confined space. The original Night
of the Living Dead took place mostly in a farmhouse, but I wanted something
smaller, to see if I could meet a challenge to shoot and keep interesting
a film in a very tight space (this was before Buried, which is even MORE
confined). The cab of a semi truck seemed perfect. From there, I just
needed something they had to barricade themselves from, and it was off and
How would you describe your directorial
approach to your movie?
Once I realized this was going
to be a horror comedy, I wanted to keep things light, fast and funny. AND
bloody. I knew with a low budget, we weren't going to have the time and
money to do complicated camera setups or intricate effects, so the jokes
and the performances were going to have to carry the ball most of the
time. So I concentrated on writing a funny script, getting really good
comedic actors and trying to get the fun we were having onto the screen
and across to an audience.
A few words about Bite
Marks' brand of humour?
character-driven. Brewster the truck driver has these silly folk-sayings
that make no sense but are funny in their absurdity. A lot of the humor
between Cary and Vogel is cynical, snappy and relationship-based. I
thought it would be amusing that, during a vampire attack, a couple could
fall back into an ongoing argument, completely forgetting the danger
they're in to argue about putting an empty bottle back after drinking all
the water out of it, or which version of Dawn
of the Dead was better.
How did the project come into
being in the first place?
My friend, Dennis Ashe, and I
were chilling one afternoon, and he suddenly suggested that we start a new
production company that would make low-budget horror films. He'd finance
them and I'd write and direct. He asked me to pitch him two ideas, and I
did, one of which was Bite
Marks. He wanted to make the movie
gay-oriented, and that could really only be done with one of them, so we
decided to go with the vampire comedy.
A few words about your three
David Alanson, Windham Beacham
Windham Beacham: Windham called me to set an audition time, and I
almost turned him down because he was SAG. But I decided to let him
audition, anyway, and I was glad I did. Of all the guys who came in,
Windham was the only one who nailed the part of Cary right on the spot.
He had the voice, the mannerisms, and what's more, his co-star David
Alanson started reacting to him instead of just reading the lines. Plus,
they looked good together and were believable as a couple. After having
him do a few more scenes from the script, I offered him the part right
then and there. He's so funny and great to work with. A walking bundle
of idiosyncrasies, but a real trooper. Windham was never happier than
when he was covered in blood. During the vomit scene, he wanted real
maggots dumped on him, but I refused. We ended up using cooked rice and
lube, and right before he gets hit, you can see a smile start to break
out on his face.
David Alanson: I had known David for a year prior to the filming of
the movie, and I actually wrote the part of Vogel for him with the
understanding that he would have to audition and make me believe he
could do it. David is a lot like Vogel, actually. A true rascal, with a
mischievous grin and a twinkle in his eye that lets you know he's up to
no good. He's an ex-marine and was totally on-board for anything that we
needed him to do. He didn't have much acting experience, but he pulls
his part of effortlessly. Fun to be around.
Benjamin Lutz: Benjamin has lots of experience on the stage, but this
was his first feature film. I kept telling him that he could be Bruce
Campbell's younger brother, and it's true. He has the good looks, great
reactions and wonderful timing to be a great comic actor. He has a sly,
understated sense of humor and he's a real party boy. He's tried to drag
me out on the dance floor more than once. Very dedicated. He wanted to
make sure he got the southern Indiana dialect right as well as the
The traditional (bare-breasted) vampire girl gets
a rather unglamourous send-off in Bite
Marks. Would you like to comment on that, and a few words about
Krystal Main, the actress playing the vampire girl?
Well, I wanted to touch on the bare-boobed vampire girl by having her
appear that way to one of the straight characters in the film, but then,
since she's basically menacing the gay guys afterward, I wanted her to
have a nasty-looking persona that wasn't erotic in any way. I did want
to juxtapose her hideousness with her femininity, so I made sure she
wore lots of pink, even when she was covered in blood.
Since I knew the vampire girl or "Chickula" as we call her,
would be running around in panties and an open shirt exposing her
breasts, I decided that a porn starlet might be the best way to go. I
contacted someone who was a porn agent and asked him if he knew of any
girls who would like to be in a horror film, and he suggested Krystal. I
talked to her, and she said she was a huge horror fan. Taking that with
a grain of salt, I decided to test her by asking what her favorite
horror films were. Krystal told me she loved the original Texas
Chainsaw Massacre and The
Exorcist. She was in. We did have some problems
with her schedule, but she was one of the most dedicated people on set.
She sat through hours of complicated makeup, including prosthetics, and
never complained, even once when she got made up then couldn't be filmed
at all because the shoot was rained out!
few words about the rest of your cast and crew?
Well, the next guy would have to be Stephen Geoffreys, from the
original Fright Night. We had met a few times years ago, and when I
decided to look for a name, I thought of him. He read the script and
loved it, so he was cast. Fun guy to work with and very patient.
Racheal Rivera was the sassy waitress. I found her on Craigslist and
since she was in Indianapolis, she auditioned by phone. We all just
stared at each other afterward. We knew she'd be great.
John Werksey was the mechanic, and probably had the most makeup
applications. He had to appear in regular makeup, then beaten up, then
as a vampire, then burned to a crisp. John has a sly humor that was
welcome on set and loved making faces at the camera. Very easy-going guy
and quite handsome, as well. During the scene when he runs circles
around the truck, he actually blacked out from the heat and exertion for
a second but kept running!
you tell us about your scrapyard location, which in my opinion at least
fits the mood of Bite Marks
We filmed at Seymour Recycling Center, and they couldn't have been
more accommodating. They let us shoot there for over two weeks and
didn't charge us a thing. They also gave us an empty building to use for
our production department and volunteered to move the huge piles of
scrap around in any way we needed. They were great. They let us stay all
night without any chaperone, and they also gave us the pickup truck
which we crushed and even operated the crane that crushed it! Wonderful
The location was perfect. Even the loading dock we used was there. We
utilized practically every area of that scrapyard. It was paved, too,
which helped immensely. It was set back from the highway, but still,
people would come by to watch what we were doing. Even a police car came
by one night to watch!
Let's go all the way back to your
beginnings: What made you go into moviemaking in the first place, and did
you receive any formal training on the subject?
Mark Bessenger (right) with friend
was a kid, I found my mother's old Super 8mm camera in the hall closet.
She bought me a cartridge of film, and I shot a little movie in the back
yard with my cousins as actors. That gave me the bug. I studied creative
writing at Indiana University, then filmmaking at Columbia College
Chicago. I'd loved horror movies ever since I saw my first one, The
Revenge of the Creature, on the Channel 3 Afternoon movie, so I've
generally played in that field.
read somewhere that before Bite
Marks, you have made two as-of-yet unreleased features, Ninja
Zombie and Rhapsody. Why don't you talk about those for a bit?
in the late 80's shooting Super 8 features was the rage. I and a friend,
Don Rasmussen, decided we'd do one, and we made this film called Ninja
Zombie, which was a horror/action/martial arts flick. That was about a
spider-themed cult trying to get a mystical urn that could return dead
things to life. The archeologist who possesses it asks his friend, a
martial arts expert, to protect him, but when his friend is killed the
archeologist uses voodoo to bring him back to life to continue protecting
him. It was really fun, but while we took the film to a completed cut with
a stereo soundtrack, we couldn't find a distributor for it. With Rhapsody,
I shifted gears and made a gay romantic drama shot on Super 16mm. It was
about a concert pianist trying to write a rhapsody but suffering with
writer's block. He meets and falls for a hunky construction worker, but is
confused about what to do when he discovers the guy is really straight but
due to a past tragedy is trying to live a gay lifestyle. I ran out of
money on that, and it stills sits in my garage waiting to be completed.
other films of yours you'd like to talk about, any future projects?
just directed a short film called Candy, about the dangers of 976 sex chat
lines. It's also gay-themed horror, and has gotten a distribution deal to
be included in a compilation of horror shorts in 2012. I'm currently
writing a spec script for a cable TV show, then I'll move on to the next
feature. I've also outlined a novel that I hope to begin writing soon.
who inspire you?
Alfred Hitchcock, John Carpenter, Jack
Arnold, Charles Barton, among others.
Your favourite movies?
My all-time favorite is The
Abominable Dr. Phibes. When I was twelve, my
mother took me to see it at the theater one Saturday afternoon, and it's been my
favorite ever since. Vincent Price [Vincent
Price bio - click here], the art nouveau sets, the costumes, the
music, the theme of revenge, everything comes together in this black
comedy/horror flick. Of course, I also love Halloween,
The Fog, Friday the 13th,
The Haunting, House
on Haunted Hill (all the originals, of course), Two on a Guillotine,
Murder in the Blue Room, Tarantula,
Count Yorga, Vampire,
Costello Meet Frankenstein, The Legend of Boggy Creek and most of the
Godzilla-films. I love giant monster movies!
and of course, films you really deplore?
I really hate Night
Warning, even though it's kind of a cult favorite. It's
mean-spirited with a nasty homophobic character who gets killed offscreen.
And while I love trash (Dracula
vs Frankenstein, The
Killer Shrews, I
Was a Teenage Frankenstein, etc.), I hate garbage: Birdemic:
Shock and Terror, Vampires Suck, Evil Bong and just about any
SyFy Channel original movie. I
love cheese, but not stinky cheese. lol
Facebook, whatever else?
You can find the most recent updates on both Bite
Marks and Candy by
joining their Facebook fan pages. Search for BITE MARKS: THE MOVIE and
CANDY: A SHORT HORROR FILM.
Anything else you are dying to
mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Marks is ending its festival run, but you can catch it at the
Gay Charlotte Film Series
do a web search for the theater venue
The Carolina Theater
The Barcelona International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival
Nov. 5th, 10:00pm
Cinema Club Catalunya
Queersicht Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, Bern, Switzerland
Nov. 11th, 11:00pm
Courts Metrages 2
Reeling: Chicago Gay & Lesbian Film Festival
Nov. 11th, 7:00pm
The Portage Theater
Indianapolis GLBT Film Festival
Nov. 13th, 2:45pm
IUPUI Indianapolis campus: Daly Student Center
Florence Queer Festival
Nov. 25th, midnight
Odeon Cinema Firenze
The film will be released on dvd on Nov. 15th 2011 from Breaking Glass
Pictures. It's available for pre-order from Amazon.com,