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An Interview with Ryan Cavalline, Director of Stockholm Syndrome

by Mike Haberfelner

January 2009

Films directed by Ryan Cavalline on (re)Search my Trash


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Your new film is called Stockholm Syndrome. Can you tell us in a few phrases what the movie's about?


The film is about human trafficking in a small town. We follow a husband and wife, as they get kidnapped and are forced into this bad situation. We follow them as they do whatever they can to survive.


In writing, Stockholm Syndrome sounds very violent. How far do you go in your depiction of violence on screen?


When I was writing it, I thought I had really pushed the violence as far as I could but, after watching it several times, I truly think I could have pushed it even further.The violence is strong and brutal but, it doesnít take away from the story, it just adds to it.


Would you consider your film as what is now termed as torture porn, and what are your thoughts about films that bear that brand proudly, like the Hostel-series?


It's funny because a few reviewers considered the film torture porn and I really donít feel like it is. I tried aiming the film in that direction, but it didnít come out that way. In my opinion there is only one real scene where I would consider it torture porn. There is a scene where a priest comes in to buy a girl and he tortures her to death. That is the only scene in the film that I would even consider torture porn. The rest of the film is truly about these characters trying to survive. It also goes into the characters who are committing these crimes. So, the viewer gets a taste of everything. The film was also considered to be like Hostel but, I disagree. The story in Stockholm Syndrome was based on actual events. It may have elements in it like Hostel but, I think the film can stand on its own two feet.


What were your inspirations for the movie's plot?


I had just watched the film Last House on the Left and I recall how real that film felt. It wasnít about monsters or UFO people, but it was about humans doing bad things to other humans which I find to be more scary then anything else. At the same time there was a new report about a few girls that had been kidnapped and forced into prostitution in a town that wasnít far from where I was. It scared me to know that these things are happening in youíre my own back yard. So, I did some research and read some horror able stories. My script then came from those stories.


A few words about your cast?


I had a lot of my normal actors working with me again. I had Eddie Benevich who is a good friend and a kick ass actor. He came on to play Geno, one of the bad guys. I also had Jason Senior (David Ė Husband) and Todd Proesl (Priest) who are also good friends, join the cast. I was lucky enough to work with some new faces. I had the fabulous Lisa Marano who plays the pregnant wife and Todd Humes who plays the other bad guy, Ty. Everyone did a great job and worked really hard to bring this film to life. The cast suffered through a very rough shoot. A lot of cold weather and really bad shooting locations.


The film's website/mySpace/whatever else?


When and where will Stockholm Syndrome be released?


The film will be released on 5/5/09 through Brain Damage Films:


Let's leave the present behind for a while and go back to your beginnings. What got you started as a filmmaker?


Iíve always been making movies since I was a kid. I spent a lot of time making up stories when I was younger. I didnít have any video equipment when I was younger, so I would draw a lot of comic books. Most of them being horror related comic books. When I hit high school, my parents were nice enough to get me a VHS camera and I was able to get my hands on some video equipment at the school, this started the film making monster in me. I kept making short films with my friends and continued to do so into my college days. It was in college that I started 4th Floor Pictures and just continued to build from there. It was during my college days that I ate, slept, and breathed film making. I loved every bit of it and I pushed to get my own films made, even when I didnít have a dime to my name.


Your first feature film was Serial Killer back in 2002. Would you like to talk about that one?


Serial Killer was my first feature film. It was a very low budget film done for a few hundred dollars. The basic idea was to make a very cheap film and have tons of nudity in it. I think we achieved thatÖ. I did some quick research on Serial Killer and wrote a quick script with a ďWho did itĒ type of ending. Basically, we were going to use Serial Killer to raise funds to make a better film. We were hoping that Serial Killer would appeal to the fans of erotic films. We sold enough copies to make another film and that was the real goal of the film.


That one was followed by Demon Slaughter, a gangster/monster movie hybrid. How did you even think up that special blend?


Demon Slaughter was the second film I did. I shot this right after completing Serial Killer. It was another film done with no budget. The storyline was about a gangster who wants to get out of his mob family. After escaping the mob he heads to a cabin where all of these bad things start happening. The film has been described as The Sopranos meets Evil Dead. Iím not sure where the idea came from, but it had zombies, demons, and a lot of action. It was quickly made and pushed out into the market, so we could raise enough money to make another film. Shooting quick and cheap kinda became a theme around here.


A few words about your Dead Body Man-trilogy?


Dead Body Man was one of those films that just kinda happened by accident. The original storyline was more of a serious film. As we started filming we added these jokes into the film and it became very funny. So, I quickly changed the script up and made it into a horror/comedy, which was all new to me. We continued filming and it was just blast to make. There were no rules with a comedy. You could say or do whatever in the film. It found a following when it was released, so we ended up making a sequel. The sequel didnít hold back in any way and itís just a balls-out funny film. We complete the series about two years ago with Dead Body Man Chronicles and it was just released through GMD FILMS -


What can you tell us about Day of the Ax?


Day of the Ax was my throw back to the 80ís slasher films. I was always a big fan of Halloween and Texas Chainsaw Massacre, so I wanted to do an old school slasher film. I wrote a very basic script but, I tried to develop some type of story that was different from anything done in the 80ís with slasher films. Basically, the storyline was about a group of kids who go camping and they run across this inbred family who are raping girls to bring demon babies into the world.


And how about House of Carnage?


House of Carnage is actually a sequel to Day of the Ax. The story just continues where the first one left off. I really never planned to do a sequel but, I got this great location and I wanted to use it for something. So, I quickly wrote a storyline and we started shooting. There really wasnít a solid script written because we didnít have the time. I just wrote a lot of directions for each scene and the actors had to find their way in those scenes. Much of the film doesnít even have dialogue. Some day I would like to revisit this series and do the final film the right way and give it some justice.


Your film with the best title is in my view Aspiring Psychopath. Could you please talk about that one for a bit?


Aspiring Psychopath was a quick film. We had this idea of doing a film about an individual wanting to be a killer. So, we played around with the idea and decided to have a female as the lead because it was something different. We shot this off and on for several months. It also didnít have a solid storyline. The idea was just basically a killer learning how to kill. It was later picked up for distribution by SRS Cinema


Any future projects you'd like to talk about?


Right now we are in the production stages of a new film called The Killing Fields. This will be my 10th film. I wanted to revisit the idea of serial killers again with a fresh idea. So, I did several months of research and gathered a lot of nasty stories and developed them into a script. I think this film will one of the nastiest films Iíll ever do. Iím looking forward to it.


You usually write, direct and produce your own films. Which aspect of moviemaking do you like best, which the least?


I enjoy doing the writing and the directing. It lets me create and thatís what I love to do. The producing isnít as fun. The producing end always has to deal with the business stuff and thatís something I really donít enjoy doing.


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Directors who have influenced you?


I think every director out there has been an influence on me in some way. There are just some many to name. I would have to say Tobe Hooper was my first true influence. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is the first film that made me want to direct or to make my own movies.


Your favourite movies?


Iím a big fan of indie films Ė Director Eric Stanzeís films (Ice on the Sun, Scrapebook, Deadwood Park)

So many films to nameÖ The big ones - Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Evil Dead (all of them), Halloween, Satanís Little Helper, and Faust (1999 Ė by Jan Svankmajer).


And some films you really deplored?


I really donít hate any films. There are films I just donít care for. Hatchet is a film that I would pass on if I had to watch it again.


Anything else you are dying to tell us and I have simply forgotten to ask?


I think that covers it. Thank you for the interview. To find out more about 4th Floor Pictures and our films please visit:

All films are available at:,,,

You can also rent them from Netflix.


Thanks for the interview!



© by Mike Haberfelner

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and shall not be held responsible for
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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