Here’s the second part of my interview with Dan West. In Part One (click here) West talked about some of his influences and some of the behind-the-scenes madness he and co-writer/director Rick Popko went through to get their visions made. In Part Two West gives us a little peek on their new upcoming film and talks about the indie horror scene a little more. Enjoy!!
Q: I know you’re keeping a tight reign on your new project, but can you tell us anything about it? Are there any returning cast and/or crew members from your previous films? Will it be the same kind of over-the-top film we’ve come to love from you guys?
Dan: It will certainly be over-the-top, but in a much more horrific way than just vomiting for three minutes on camera. The story for this next movie is completely crazy, but we’re playing it more deadpan. It’s much more a black comedy than simply wild exploitation. I don’t think Rick and I would ever want to make a movie that wasn’t over-the-top. That is out forte, for better or worse. The cast we have lined up is a great group and we expect them to deliver. We are talking to Shannon Lark about the possibility of her playing the lead, so we’ll see if that transpires. I think she would make a great leading lady for this project and she has her own horror niche’. She did appear in RetarDEAD as one of the Living Dead Girlz. We are also talking to Amber Steele from the Living Dead Girlz about playing a substantial part. All of our male leads appeared in RetarDEAD as supporting characters.
Jello Biafra might make an appearance if we can work that out. Three of our female leads are all new to our movies and they are all going to be great. We have a good group of people on board. Rick and I will also appear but in much different and smaller parts than the previous movies. You will certainly recognize some of the cast from the previous movies though. We’d like this next movie to have the same feel as something like the British film, Severance. That’s kind of the mood we’re aiming for but with a Dario Argento feel.
Going back to the independent scene, what are some advantages to working outside of Hollywood and the mainstream?
The main advantage is that you can shoot absolutely anything you want to. You are not making movies by committee and aren’t obligated to submit your movies to test screenings and things like that. You are also not obligated to listen to accountants holding the purse strings who can tell you that scenes need to be cut for this or that reason. Whatever insane vision you can dream up and pull off, well the world is your oyster in that capacity as an independent filmmaker. The other advantage is the adventures you experience doing this kid of crazy fly-by-the-seat of your pants movie making. They are a pain to create, but the strange experiences you have creating them are wonderful. Rick and I always liken it to us dressing up in our Batman outfits and going out to do things that not a lot of people in the right minds wouldn’t do. The adventure is half of the reason why we do this insane shit. In real life we are fairly boring people, but when we are making movies we become these two eccentric weirdoes running around doing crazy things. It’s like having a secret identity that you don’t talk about in mixed company.
What kind of effect has the rise of social media (like Facebook and Twitter) had on the way you think about promoting and even distributing your films?
Social media is shifting so drastically that it’s hard to keep up right now. We did promote the movies on My Space for quite a few years and maintain a My Space page, but now it’s Facebook that’s leading the charge. We try to take advantage of every option at our disposal, because in this day and age you would be a fool not to. I think the greatest source of promotion for our movies have been websites like your own. We have been championed by several horror sites and I believe that that is what has really brought in an audience for our movies. We’ve had some nice print reviews in magazines like Rue Morgue and Shock Cinema, but the web support has really proved the biggest advantage. Even the people who can’t stand us and write the scathing reviews of our movies sometimes bring in new fans. But as I’ve mentioned, the first two movies really polarize fans of independent horror movies. They love us or they detest us and that is just fine with Rick and me. The worst thing would be if everyone was simply indifferent to our material. That would be a great disappointment. I can handle being called an untalented, tasteless asshole, but indifference would be much worse.
I haven’t ventured into the Twitter area. We’re been “Tweeted” about several times, but that kind of thing just seems to be for people that can’t stand having an empty minute in their lives. It seems like a ridiculous addiction to throwing your opinions out at every opportune moment and it seems rather silly and annoying to me.
I’m one of those sick, tasteless assholes who’s a huge fan of Monsturd and RetarDEAD. Will we ever see any kind of special DVD releases for them? Maybe even a single DVD release with both films in a pack? Do you have any behind-the-scenes or deleted scenes you could include? Where can my readers watch and buy your films?
Actually both DVDs have behind-the-scenes features included. Monsturd also has a commentary track. Both are available on Amazon.com [get Monsturd here and RetarDEAD here]. You can rent RetarDEAD from Netflix and they also have Monsturd available for streaming. I don’t think you’ll be seeing any special editions any time soon. Monsturd has been through three different distributors and there isn’t really a big call for any kid of special edition. We have material that we could use for such a thing, but we’d rather move on to the next project. We spent the entire last decade working on those movies and I think it’s time to get on with some new projects.
Here’s a question I like to ask every filmmaker I interview: If budget and time and distribution were of no concern, what would be the one film you’d like to remake?
I always wanted to do a version of Stephen King’s It. I would also like to do Rick and Dan Meet Frankenstein … I think Bruce Campbell might be doing that kind of thing soon in “Bruce Versus Frankenstein”, so that would be great, I love Bruce Campbell. The one movie I always wanted to remake with Rick and me in the Vincent Price and Peter Lorre roles is The Comedy of Terrors. I also would do a prequel to the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre titled “Grandpa”…which would feature younger versions of the killers with Grandpa as a main focus. Maybe those are all ridiculous ideas…I’d probably rather just remake something like “The Green Slime”…now that would be kick ass!
Thanks so much for your time. I know you’re busy with your new film and I only ask that you keep me updated as you’re able to tell me more details. Good luck!!!
Thank you for giving a rat’s ass. It’s always nice to be appreciated for our efforts. I’ll keep you posted on the next movie.
Again, thanks Dan for taking the time to answer my questions!! You’re a really interesting guy with tons of great stories and insights. I also like how he and Popko are learning from past mistakes. They aren’t changing the KINDS of movies they are gonna make; they are just changing the WAY they make them!! nd to make it easy for ya, click the links below to buy Monsturd and RetarDEAD!! I’ll definitely keep you updated with news of their new project.
Buy Monsturd here.
Buy RetarDEAD here.