Director Brian Pulido didn’t have to look much farther than practically his own backyard when he was seeking inspiration for his next horror project. He found that the state of Arizona provided the right landscape to create a chilling supernatural journey with his telling of The Graves.
“The story of The Graves is a mélange of things that interest me,” explained Pulido. “I like to visit weird kitschy places in Arizona, and we found this place called Vulture Mines. It just stuck with me. I immediately thought this would be a great location for a movie, so it inspired me to write The Graves. Instead of six or seven twenty-year-olds, I was more interested in telling a story of these two sisters, which seemed to be a little different than what we’ve seen recently for horror film trends,” Pulido added.
Since Pulido was responsible for both writing and directing The Graves, I asked him to give us a little insight into his pair of protagonists and what we can expect to see happen to them in the film.
Pulido said, “Meg and Abby Graves see themselves as monster slayers of sorts. They’re looking for trouble; you could even say they’re attracted to it. Beyond the monsters and the supernatural, we also have one sister on a journey to step outside of the shadow of the other, so it’s also about women finding their power. Kind of like Buffy meets The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.”
It turns out, though, Vulture Mines wasn’t nearly the perfect shooting location as Pulido first imagined. While the abandoned mining town provided a visually stunning palate to film against, it also meant that the production requirements would be excessive to say the very least.
“We shot The Graves in May, 2008, and we were on location for over two weeks,” discussed Pulido. “It was a great looking location but very difficult to shoot. We had no water, no power, and we couldn’t bring in any heavy trucks either. So we had to bring in a generator and seven Winnebagos for production and figure out how to ferry in water to the set.”
Since Vulture Mines is known as a creepy and isolated tourist stop in Arizona, I asked the director if there were any weird instances while they were making the film. Not only did some of the crew have a few supernatural run-ins, some of the locals voiced their opinion about The Graves production shooting in the area.
Pulido said, “We had several weird things happen on set. Our art department had several experiences with paranormal entities that just could not be explained otherwise while they’d be prepping the set during the very early or very late hours. Ten miles north of us there was a giant meth lab, and about ten miles south there was an active cult. It was pretty surreal.”
“One day, we had someone show up on set with a shotgun. Then the next day we get there, and someone had written ‘Get Out!’ in mud and stage blood. I guess someone was trying to tell us something,” Pulido added.
The cast of The Graves is a pretty even mix of both new and legendary genre talent so I wanted to hear from Pulido what his strategy was with casting his project.
“The producers were very aggressive in going after everyone we wanted because I knew for The Graves to work as a good horror film, I needed solid performances from my actors,” explained Pulido. “I wanted to make sure we got what I like to call ‘the DeNiro and Hoffman of Horror': Bill Moseley and Tony Todd. The benefit of working with actors of that caliber is that you can give them space to really flesh out their characters, and both were amazing to work with.
“Clare Grant and Jillian Murray (who play Megan and Abby) are just getting known in the industry but are phenomenal actresses. We never had them read together before they signed on either — we just knew there’d be great chemistry between them but wanted to still allow them to demonstrate a distance between their characters. They turned out to be wonderful storytellers. They’ll go far in the industry,” Pulido added.
The Graves was one of the first names announced to be picked up for After Dark’s 2010 Horrorfest 4 film festival. While Horrorfest has a reputation of being a bit uneven in the past, Pulido believes that this year’s roster demonstrates that After Dark is finally finding its footing as a prestigious horror film festival.
Pulido said, “Getting picked up by After Dark was perfect because they were our number one choice so we are very lucky. I’ve worked with After Dark before, and it’s clear to me that they are learning more and more every year. Now After Dark is getting discerning with its film choices and is working at promoting diversity within the horror genre. Their marketing is nothing short of brilliant. I am so ecstatic to be a part of this year’s lineup of films,” Pulido enthused.
With The Graves set to debut at the end of this month, I asked Pulido about whether or not horror fans would have the opportunity to see the Graves sisters take on more monsters in future films.
“If The Graves performs well, we’ve already discussed the possibility of a sequel. We even have a basic outline and have talked to the cast members who would return about the possibility of a sequel as well. It all depends on how audiences receive the film,” Pulido said.
Our thanks to Brian Pulido (visit his official website here) for taking the time speak with us. Be sure to check out The Graves, as well as the other seven films “to die for”, during After Dark’s Horrorfest 4, which runs January 29th-February 4th.
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