Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Breath of Hate

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As a child and teenager I became interested in horror films from the first time I saw Gunnar Hansen swing a chainsaw, at Dennis Hopper, in "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2." Unknown to me at the time there was and additional world full of the undead, pin-headed villains, and demon possessed girls who were each anxious to scar my perceptions of reality. Now, I will soon get the chance to replay the trauma of my youth in 2010 when Wes Laurie puts the final ink on his dark screenplay for "Breath of Hate."

Envisioning a world gone awry "Breath of Hate," will sear my memory again as cultists from a psychiatric ward, terrorize the innocent and destroy hope for a happy tomorrow. In Wes Laurie's new script there will be dark comedy, romance, and for horror fans lots of thrilling goretastic sequences. Blending several genres together with a focus on characters throughout; horror enthusiasts will get a greater taste for the production after shooting begins this summer. Have a look at some snippets from Laurie's latest production "Silent Night, Zombie Night," and all the bloody details from his next gritty project "Breath of Hate."

(28DLA) Wes, how did you meet Sean Cain and get involved with Velvet Hammer Films for the film project "Silent Night, Zombie Night?"

(Wes Laurie) "Basically I got the money to make a movie through my production company Arsoncuff Entertainment and Sean had a movie ready to go. He had a script he had written that was primed and ready to be shot (previously I think he had set it up and people did not come through with the money). So, I made a deal with him to make his movie first and then one of my scripts secondly; a two-fer kind of deal if you will. Velvet Hammer Films and ArsonCuff Entertainment are 50/50 partners on these two movies.

I met Sean when I interviewed him for a horror website I was writing for. I also reviewed his movie 'Naked Beneath The Water,' but had nothing to do with the production of it. The story behind the making of that movie is quite interesting in its own regard as he made it a long time ago and then got the chance to re-shoot 60% of it and release it for a second go round. I was quite honest in my review of it and stated it was a good example of indie filmmaking and the issues that arise, making 'Naked Beneath The Water,' quite interesting to watch from a filmmaking aspect, perhaps film students should see it in a class. Though, I think Sean may even refer to his first baby as, 'it is what it is.' I am sure he still loves it all the same. 'Silent Night, Zombie Night,' was a chance for him to take another swing and as the party bringing in the big chunk of the financial backing I hope I was accommodating enough for him to feel he got close enough to making the movie he wanted to make. I mostly stayed hands off and let him keep control of every aspect that he needed to make it his art."

(28DLA) Can you introduce readers to Arsoncuff Entertainment, your production company, and talk a little about the path that you have traveled to bring Arsoncuff to where the company is today?

(Laurie) "As for ArsonCuff Entertainment, it was technically founded in just 2008, though the name is one I have had with me since my teen years. ArsonCuff was a detective from some noir style tales I used to write. In kindergarten I wanted to be a policeman, but by first grade I was a writer and have been ever since. I was born and raised in Missouri and movies have always been a huge part of my life watching everything I could get my hands on and having a Grandma that indulged such behavior on the weekends. Eventually, I combined my loves of movies and writing and moved to California because some folks liked what they read. Unfortunately for me I moved to Cali' the same year as the writers' strike and the people interested in my work went quiet due to such events. However, I did write a horror comedy script, entitled 'Baghead,' that a newly founded Canadian company wanted to produce. The project was never completed, as that company dissolved before they got too far. Oddly enough another movie from the Duplass brothers named 'Baghead,' was released around then. Their movie is quite cute, nothing like the silly gorefest I had written. I am not a patient person when it comes to projects and I am a massive multi-tasker, so instead of focusing on selling scripts I decided to figure out how to finance them. This leads us to the present circumstances and I will have made two movies by the end of 2009. It will not stop."

(28DLA) "Silent Night, Zombie Night," was recently at the LA Weekend of Horrors this past weekend and the first trailer was shown before "Live Evil." How was the fan response for your trailer and the reception of "Silent Night, Zombie Night," at the event?

"Thus far most of the responses have been overall positive. We have had a lot of support from a lot of different folks. Naturally there have been those who have commented on the movie sounding like a 'B-movie,' or 'stupid,' However, even most of the people saying that have gone on to state that is just the way they like their movies any way. The teaser trailer is an action packed display of some of our gore which flowed day and night during production, soaking all of our paperwork as well. People tell me they've had fun seeing it and that was more or less the goal, having fun is what it is all about. The next trailer will probably be the 'drama,' trailer for it. As for the Weekend Of Horrors, Fangoria has been great in getting us press on the project. Sean Decker over there is a stand up guy. So, naturally we repaid him by dressing him up like a zombie, shooting him, and making him fall in the dirt."

(28DLA) Why do you think so many fans connect with horror? And what is the appeal for you or for fans with the zombie sub-genre?

(Laurie) "I am a fan of more 'bizarre,' things and the horror genre gives a storyteller a lot of freedom to explore taboos and beyond. I am not one to get all philosophical about why people love them and identify with them, but in a round about way, what you see with the horror fans is the same dedication and spirit you see with comic book fans and comic movie conventions. Really if you took the time to compare, all those iconic horror villains are basically superheroes too. As for zombies, looking at it from a filmmaking stance and considering it was to be my first production credit, sounded like fun. It would involve lots of makeup and bloody effects, the more chaos the merrier!

My first love in movie making I will confess is not horror, but interesting characters and entertaining stories; regardless of genre. My favorite movie is most likely Magnolia with P.T. Anderson being one of my favorite directors. Charlie Kaufman would probably be one of my favorite screenwriters. ArsonCuff Entertainment will not solely focus on horror in the future, or we might, but not on purpose. Might just be the cool stories we want to tell have horror elements. As for Velvet Hammer Films if you check their website you will find a trailer for director Jim Wright's movie 'Crossroads.' It is a short film, based off of a full feature script he has. It is actually more of a drama than horror and stars Jack Forcinito; the lead from "Silent Night, Zombie Night." Heck, Sean Cain's 'Silent Night, Zombie Night,' was inspired by Roman Polanski's 'Knife In The Water.'

From a business viewpoint horror movies are an easier sell thanks to the wonderful fans making such a strong market for them. However, that leads to a lot of people trying to just cash in with crap. I hope our crap looks and smells better than most crap though. A lot of people put in a lot of hard work."

(Mike Allen) What was the strangest event you saw or experienced on set for "Silent Night, Zombie Night?"

(28DLA) "There was something strange and magical about watching actor John Karyus on his knees in full zombie get-up, screaming out like some sort of demonic cat being sodomized in the middle of a Los Angeles neighborhood, right before actor Andy Hopper starts chopping at his head with a machete.

I guess what tends to make for the best stories are the LAPD stopped shooting one day and then the LA Fire Department. Someone called in that there were gangs at war in the street. The LAPD flew overhead in a helicopter and told us all to sit on the curb and drop our weapons. Then the squad cars came rushing around the corners and shotgun toting officers on foot hustled in as well. I was in full zombie makeup myself and blind from having my actual contacts out to wear special zombie ones. They rounded up our gang of zombies, had a laugh and then left. On the last day of shooting, just to show how our luck was, the Fire Department pulls on to the set. Two houses down they had an emergency call I guess, but as they came down the street they saw the prop cop car from our movie parked out front and mistook it for the house. Two fire trucks and an ambulance. The fire department guys hung around for a while getting autographs from the zombies."

(Mike Allen) Now that you have finished writing the script for "Breath of Hate," can you give fans a little taste as to what to expect from the film?

(Laurie) "'Breath Of Hate,' should be dark and moody, with elements of horror and romance, blended with the brutal drama. Of course some humor is present as well, as it always is in life. I really tried to bring some heart into the gore and kink of the story, which follows a call girl named Love who has decided to quit her job. For the first time she sees herself having a future with a romantic interest, and as a strong willed woman and a survivor in a dark world she must break down her walls to let this future happen. Of course her last job ends up dropping her into the hands of three escaped mental patients, who are more than happy to help break her down. And the leader of the trio envisions a spiritual revolution sweeping the world with him at its head. He becomes convinced that Love is the final piece he has been waiting for to fulfill his visions.

Right now people are thinking this is a 'torture,' movie, but hopefully those people are going to be pleasantly surprised at what it truly is. If we pull it off right, 'Breath Of Hate,' has the potential to be intimately unsettling, which could be scary, yet hopefully pack a punch in the emotional entertainment department as well. Or I could have just skipped all of that and said 'dinosaur vs cheerleader.' Oh yeah, and I tried to cater to Quentin Tarantino's foot fetish with the script."

(28DLA) "Breath of Hate," is your first screenplay to move into the pre-production phase of filming what was the writing process like for you? How many revisions have you made to the original script?

"I am always writing. Writing, to sound passionately silly, is breathing for me. I am always working on a script and I write very fast. The first draft of 'Breath Of Hate,' did not take me so long to write and Sean Cain chose to direct it off of that draft, but I always have to keep updating something to make it even better. The script has been finished for months, but I have lost count of the revisions I have chosen to do. Currently there are two versions of the script, with one specially written to cater to a different type of actor than the other for the main baddie. Because I am constantly writing and coming up with new ideas, since we have not started shooting yet, I like to revisit 'Breath Of Hate,' to just keep it fresh for myself.

(28DLA) When you were writing the script for "Breath of Hate," did you have anyone in mind for the central villain? Have you contacted anyone to play this part in your film?

(Laurie) "No, I did not write the script with anyone particular in mind for the villain. I cannot really discuss casting things right now because I think any actor we approach should be made to feel like they were our top pick, right? I can say that the 'villain,' of the script, ala the head of the weirdos causing Love some grief is not who I actually consider the 'evil,' bad guy of the script. I think the smaller role of Love's pimp is actually the bad guy of the script.

As far as casting goes I have indeed talked to several, very recognizable names for acting bits. 'Names,' are expensive and when it all comes down to our final decision I think I am more interested in making a good movie as opposed to trying to sell it. Obviously we want to sell it and 'name,' cast helps do that for you, but talent is talent for me and if the guy willing to do it for a cookie fits the role perfectly I want to give the guy a cookie and his shot. Of course if you give an actor a cookie, they are going to want some milk, and catering by the way gets real expensive and I would like to make sure we feed our actors a glorious spread. So, maybe we turn down Tom Cruise and buy a big ham instead."

(28DLA) I have noticed Tarantino's love for feet in "Pulp Fiction," and "Kill Bill Vol. I," among others. What is the fascination with feet for certain writers and directors?

(Laurie) "I would not say all writers and directors have such a fascination. However, for those that do, you can look at it like this: 1. turning on the foot people is only going to make them want to see and talk about your movie. 2. Non-foot people are not exactly going to turn away from a movie if there are some shots of feet; they will either pay them no mind or find them possibly gross depending on the scene and movie gross might be called for.

Everyone has something that 'does it,' for them and most of us are sexual beings so it ends up expressed in our art. I think women are the ultimate symbols of what is considered beautiful in our world and when a girl has it 'going on,' that extends to her feet for sure. There is nothing creepy about it.

Not to get too personal here, but I would say I could be turned on simply by a girl being barefoot, but then again I could be turned on by her fully clothed as well or never see her feet and feel the same way. I wrote some articles on the website Associated Content, which pays you performance payments via how many page views you get. I guess the relevance of catering in some small way to fetishes like feet interests me because I did some articles on the subject and they have to date been my best performing, consistently highest paying articles out there. So why not throw some bare feet in there? Not too hard to do, does not hurt anything. As for Quentin Tarantino, he is one of the cinema Gods right now and we must appease the Gods."

(28DLA) Any last words for Canadian horror fans or horror fans in general?

I have never been to Canada. I would love to travel there as a part of something or to make Canadians a part of something entertaining. As for horror fans I can only thank them for their support thus far in the early stages of our movie productions and hope what we create something worthy of their time.

For more information on Arsoncuff Entertainment and Wes Laurie check out the Myspace page below:

Arsoncuff Entertainment Homepage

And have a look at a whole slew of articles on feet from Wes Laurie at Associated Content below:

Wes Laurie on Associated Content