Ryan Nicholson of Plotdigger Films, the writer and director responsible for the 2008 sadistic rape/revenge feature Gutterballs, chatted with Dread Central regarding his next horror ventures, the in-the-can feature film Star Vehicle and his soon-to-shoot slasher flick Famine.
Produced by John Craig and Chari Van Dyke and set for a European DVD release this spring by Cult Movies Entertainment (North American distro is in the works at present), Nicholson’s fourth feature, Star Vehicle (see exclusive production stills below) presented by New Image Entertainment and Plotdigger Films, follows “the downward spiral of movie driver Donald Cardini (actor Dan Ellis), a self-professed movie buff with a penchant for explosive violence when provoked.” Said Nicholson, “Driving the stars of low-budget movies along with their fragile egos to and from locations in the middle of nowhere pushes Don’s buttons – in all of the wrong directions.”
Those suffering the wrath of the driver include “Luke (actor Nathan Durec), a young and self-absorbed filmmaker who challenges the driver’s authority,” revealed Nicholson, as well as, “the movie’s Scream Queen starlet Riversa Red (actress Sindy Faraguna), who to her dismay finds herself the target of Don’s obsession. With his encyclopedic knowledge of her ‘body’ and of her body of work, the driver worms his way onto Riversa’s good side, who then finds herself at the center of a cyclone with both the driver and filmmaker vying for her attentions.”
As for the twist, Nicholson said, “A mysterious hotel bellboy (Nick Windebank) and an unknown ‘watcher in the woods’ lend themselves to the growing suspense as the cast and crew hole up at Forest Grove Lodge, although after two grueling days of principal photography, the driver becomes unhinged and finds himself fired from the production. His dismissal from the project comes with a price, though, as he returns to the set with a loaded 9mm the next day and forces the film’s cast and crew to act in his own home movie. Those who make a stand are dealt a deadly hand, and those that await their fate wish they never stepped into the ‘Star Vehicle’.”
“I wrote the movie based on experiences I’ve had with movie drivers,” said Nicholson, who previously helmed 2006’s Live Feed and last year’s Hanger, of his inspiration for Star Vehicle. “Those guys can be in very bad moods. They work the longest out of anyone, and they share the limelight the least. But they’re the hub of information. They know who’s doing who!”
This scribe wondered if such a film-centric subject will be inaccessible to a portion of the film’s audience (people may watch “Entourage”, but box office results for industry-related flicks have historically been less than reliable), and Nicholson expounded, “I wanted the main character ordinary because I didn’t want him to be alienated from the viewers. I wanted the audience to relate to an ‘everyday’ kind of guy that is pushed and pushed to the breaking point and finally snaps. I think viewers outside of the film industry will relate because Don is like the weird uncle you see at Christmas every year – and that’s once too much!”
With FX provided by Michelle Grady (she who conjured the nastiness on display in Gutterballs) and music by Steve Moore, aka ‘Gianni Rossi’ of the electro-synth duo Zombi (he who provided the aural candy for Gutterballs), Star Vehicle was shot on the Panasonic HDX-900, and Nicholson said, “It’s the first movie I’ve had the chance to upgrade to better resolution. The movie was shot outdoors, and the results are amazing.”
As for Famine, Nicholson’s next venture, the film is currently in pre-production with a start date for principal photography scheduled for this July in Vancouver, Canada (Dread is slated to be on-set so expect in-depth coverage this summer).
“Famine will be directed by me from a script written by Jeff O’Brien, who wrote Insecticidal,” Nicholson told us. “John Craig and Chari Van Dyke will produce, and Michelle Grady will provide the gruesome murder effects. We will be shooting on the Red Cam more than likely.”
As for the plot of Famine, which the filmmaker referred to as an “80’s school slasher homage,” Nicholson said, “Two years after a prank with a Bunsen burner a la ‘Slaughter High’ which send a popular male high school teacher to the critical burn ward a la ‘The Burning’, the culprits – and graduating class – of the high school set up for a 24-hour ‘famine’ in the gym. It’s a big party with a DJ, some dancing, and their nasty demise as one-by-one they are knocked off. In the end the killer is revealed to be … a surprise!”
“Fans of Gutterballs will dig Famine in the ‘kill-scene’ department,” said the filmmaker, who’ll commence casting for the flick in May. “As with the bowling alley in Gutterballs’, this high school location will lend itself to some amazing set-pieces. It will also have a retro vibe to it with wardrobe, music, and props; and the violence will be extreme.”
Will the fornicating be just as extreme as seen in Gutterballs, we wonder?
“As for the sexual content, I will leave the depraved sex for Gutterballs 2,” teased Nicholson, “which goes into production spring 2011.”
For more info visit Plotdigger.com.
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