Your new movie Ms.
Cannibal Holocaust - in a few words, what is it about?
It's about tenants in a condemned building who suddenly
find themselves mysteriously under siege by a cannibal cult and their
preacher-like leader known only as The Woman, played by Nicola
They are cornered in the building and all hope seems lost when a
strange girl, played by Kellyn Lindsay, shows up with an agenda against
were your inspirations when writing Ms.
Probably the biggest
inspirations were Assault on Precinct 13
and other early John Carpenter films.
Both title and posterart of
Cannibal Holocaust are very reminiscent of grindhouse cinema of
the 1970's and early 80's. Was that a conscious influence, and what can
you tell us about your directorial approach to your story?
knew from my own distribution company female revenge
flicks were doing well. I had made Clay, which had gotten great
reviews, even from Fangoria, and won at some good sized fests, but it
had undersold in my opinion, so I wanted to do something more out and
out flashy and sellable.
Cannibal Holocaust features plenty of excessive violence. Was
there ever a line you refused to cross in terms of violence and gore? And
what can you tell us about the gore scenes in your movie?
Cannibal Holocaust there wasn't. I'm not sure if I have one, as long as it
movie. But in Ms.
Cannibal Holocaust I wanted you to not only fear for the
see what might happen to them should they fall. I hadn't really ever
made an out and out gory film, but loved them, and figured it was about
Cannibal Holocaust also features quite a few rather elegantly
handled fight scenes. What can you tell us about the fight choreography
and stuntwork on your movie?
We did most of it on the spot
sequences I mapped out alone ahead of time. I had
ideas from my own training, but we would work thru that and add more on
set, and then I'd roll camera. We'd do it in pieces, and I'd cover it
from whatever angles I needed, and I just made sure the actors did it
the same way every time... and in the final movie it looks like we had
multiple cameras set up at the same time... but no, just one, with me
running it. It was great to see it come together so well, which was
also a credit to the editor, Jonathan Straiton.
A few words about
Cannibal Holocaust herself, Nicola Fiore, and what was your
I had a great time with Nicola.
She had worked on a movie I produced called Terror at Blood Fart
and through that movie's director, Chris Seaver, I contacted her. She
was on board immediately, and the only debate I had was whether to cast
her as The Woman or The Girl. Originally I wanted The Woman to be
blonde and The Girl to be a brunette, and it came down to two potential
combos with different actresses. Nicola was game to play either, she
just wanted in on the movie and loved the concept and script and left
it up to me which role I'd put her in. In the end I felt she would
have a better presence as the villain, and she definitely did a great
job in the role. Every time she is on screen she comes off so bad ass!
What can you tell us about Kellyn
Lindsay as Nicola's main adversary?
Kellyn contacted me
after seeing my call for actors, and she had
almost as much experience in Tae Kwon Do as I did, so it made showing
her the moves that much easier. The Girl does the most fighting, so
it made more sense to put her in that role, but she also brought strong
acting skills to the table. She keeps moving up the Hollywood ladder
with roles too! Anyway, she was a total pleasure to work with, very
easy to direct, lots of fun on set, and created a great dynamic with
A few words about
the rest of your cast and crew, and about the on-set atmosphere?
Cannibal Holocaust was one of the funniest shoots I had ever been on.
The first week was rough because we fell behind schedule, but once the
bulk of the cast was done we just had a great time. Jonathan and I work
well together, but we also joke well off each other, and tend to tease
just about everyone on set. There was tons of laughs, but when it
came time to shoot everyone was professional and did a great job.
There's always some things that don't come out as you hoped, but
overall I'm pretty much pleased with Ms.
Cannibal Holocaust. It's much different than Clay in terms of story and shooting style, and I'm just trying
make each movie a lot different than the last one...
we speak, Ms.
Cannibal Holocaust has only just been released. What can you tell
us about audience and critical reception so far?
both fest viewings I did at my own fest, it got a great response. Many
of my friends and regulars liked it the best of all my movies or found
it the most watchable in terms of it just being a straight-forward
story, not heavy on subplots or themes. I had some gore fans there I
strictly wanted to appeal to and they loved it! One guy even asked for
the screening disc we should, which had a temp score. I knew when they
were excited - fans of gore horror movies, flashier horror movies,
action horror movies - I had hit my target well.
the story doesn't really suggest it, but if there was demand, would you
ever consider doing Ms. Cannibal Holocaust 2?
I do have an idea for how The Girl would come back. Or I would consider a prequel. But I doubt I'd be doing one... I have a lot
of other ideas for movies I want to make first.
go back 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?
grew up acting out my favorite movies with my
friends, and then making up new ones we acted out. After going through
four years of college in accounting and criminal justice, and not
excited about where my life was headed, I got inspired to become a
filmmaker after my younger brother was taking film and video classes in
college and shooting short stories I wrote. It suddenly made perfect
sense, and I think the intimidation factor of trying to become a
filmmaker had held me back from pursuing it sooner. But I knew that's
what I wanted to do and
then went after it. And no, no formal training... I learned by watching
movies and reading books and then shooting stuff... and my early
efforts show it! They are really rough and bad but I grew with each
one and I get better at least in some ways with each one...
read somewhere that your first film, so to speak, was actually an
instructional video on the antique business called (if I'm not mistaken) What
a Deal!. Would you like to talk about that one for a bit?
it was. I was working down in Florida, had my new S-VHS camera, and was eager to shoot something. My dad had written this book
on buying and selling antiques
and so I took it and shot a video of it and it sold great!
first feature film City of the Vampires - a few words about that
one and lessons learned from it?
production, horrible movie, but I did get
my first movie done, it did teach me a lot about what it takes to make
a movie, especially when you're pretty much the entire crew including FX, and I learned a lot about distribution with it as it sold quite
well (I shelved it after a few years once I had learned enough from
it... I didn't want to victimize any more customers who bought it!!).
I did learn one big lesson - I didn't love the script when I made it
and given how much work it takes to make a movie, I'll never start
another production unless I love the script from the onset.
You got into
self-distribution pretty much from square one - why is that, and what can
you tell us about your company SRS
There was no one really handling these shot-on-video movies.
Video was getting out of the business, and I had felt like they were my
one option, so I decided to launch my own distribution company. I had
released What a Deal already but sold it to library outlets to
success, but not video stores so much. It was around 1996 when I fully
invested myself into distribution and since then have handled well over
200 movies and dealt with hundreds of filmmakers in many different ways
- from distribution to my film fest to just general advice...
What can you tell us about your films
since City of the Vampires, and your evolution as a director?
they've gotten better in most
cases. City of the Vampires was the worst. Dark Descent was much,
and I had vowed if it wasn't an improvement over City of the Vampires
out of the filmmaking business. The Vicious Sweet was another
improvement and got a lot of great reviews and I've always felt like it
was my first real movie, as I put the most time, prep and effort into
making the movie I wanted to make, despite setbacks.
Estates didn't have the depth of The Vicious Sweet nor as good of a
it was a fun movie to shoot and it was different in that it has a lot
of humor spoofing other SOV flicks where the prior movies had been
pretty humorless (except for some dark humor in The Vicious Sweet).
miles above all else, again it was very close to the movie I envisioned
from the start and I felt had my best story.
Cannibal Holocaust was a bit of
back... I knew going in it didn't have as deep a story as Clay
was made to sell, period. But some things went wrong on production.
Photography-wise, it looks the best, and it was my first 24p
production. I like a lot of it, and enjoy watching it, which is rare
for me and my own work. But towards the tail end of the movie I see
some things I
didn't get how I envisioned them and it bugs me... but as I said
before, most every one seems to like it, so maybe it's just me being
too hard on myself! I'm almost done shooting She Kills"and
a lot of humor and is definitely THE most over the top movie I've made,
but I love the story and am really pleased with the footage so far and
it may end up topping Clay as my favorite among my own flicks.
have also over the years become quite a prolific producer of films
directed by other people. How would you describe Ron Bonk, the producer,
and would you care to talk about a few films you have produced?
I've been hands off, like with Tim Ritter, Eric
Stanze [Eric Stanze interview -
click here] and Chris Seaver. I knew if I gave these guys an idea and a
title they'd get the movies made, and they have. As far as hands on, I
did work a lot with Jerry O'Sullivan on Gut Pile, and that was
of fun, I even got to act a little, and I was happy to help Jerry get
his vision down on screen. Most recently I was hands on with Night
Something Strange with Jonathan Straiton, and again, same story, it
was Jonathan's vision, but I was even more involved with this one, even
co-writing some of it, and it was interesting to see ideas I came up
with or added to be shot by someone else. I was on his set 24 days, more
than I'll be on She Kills, more than possibly any movie I've
on, and I really was just there to help Jonathan, who can make a great
movie without me, polish his vision that much more. It's hard to find
quality help, even harder to find dedicated help, and I just tried to
be that for Jonathan as he had been on my productions.
future projects you'd like to talk about?
Currently, just She
Kills, which I mentioned prior. Still shooting it but it is coming
out great. It's really one of the most over-the-top movies ever and
I'm not trying to pat myself on the back... it just is! The dialogue,
the gore, the deaths... and I put a lot of crazy shots in it I've never
been able to fit in any movies prior. In other movies, like Clay, if
the angles or placement or camera moves got too crazy it would distract
from the story
being told there, in my opinion at least. But in She Kills I
be as crazy as I wanted to be. And then the icing on the cake is I've
gotten some amazing acting in the movie - way better than I could have
hoped! Jennie Russo, Trey Harrison, Michael Merchant, Jody Pucello,
David Royal, etc, etc, right down to the extras, everyone did such an
amazing job. I don't know if it's just the comedy in the script,
played straight but funny, but maybe being goofy just unleashes
people's true acting ability as even the non-actors did great and will
make people laugh and quote them and so forth. I'm excited to cut it
and polish it up, it will definitely be the best looking flick I've
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
There are so many, but Alfred
Hitchcock, George Romero, John Carpenter, Peter Jackson, Christopher
Nolan, Sam Raimi... those are just a few.
Your favourite movies?
Wars of course, the original Dawn of
the Dead, and just about any B-movie, from gore to exploitation to
comedy to even documentaries. I love watching old Mystery Science
Theater 3000 episodes too.
and of course, films you really deplore?
Ah, I don't want
put any down, even the really bad ones are enjoyable, if only because
they're so bad.
Facebook, whatever else?
www.srscinema.com, or find
me and the SRS Cinema, Syracuse International Horror Film
Cannibal Holocaust and She Kills fan pages on Facebook - I do a lot of
contests for SRS and the film fest, so "like" those pages to win
swag, plus be up to date on our latest production and distribution
Anything else you are dying to
mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
Nope, all set!