Exclusive: Composer Giona Ostinelli Talks Scoring Carnage Park, Working with Mickey Keating, and More! - Dread Central
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Exclusive: Composer Giona Ostinelli Talks Scoring Carnage Park, Working with Mickey Keating, and More!

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Mickey Keating’s Carnage Park (review) is hitting limited theaters and VOD outlets beginning July 1st, and it marks the director’s fourth time working with composer Giona Ostinelli. Ahead of the IFC Midnight release, we had a chance to pick Ostinelli’s brain a bit with regard to scoring the film, collaborating with Keating, and more.

Read on to learn more and hear an exclusive excerpt of the Carnage Park score.

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DC: Thanks for chatting with us, Giona. This is your fourth collaboration with Mickey Keating… how did you two get together, and what keeps bringing you back?

Giona Ostinelli:  Indeed, Mickey and I have collaborated on four films together. Our first film together, Ritual, was acquired by Lionsgate; our second film, POD, was released theatrically with the soundtrack shortlisted for the Academy Awards for Best Original Score; and our third film, Darling, came out in theaters in April and was named “the best horror movie of 2016” with my original score being described as “one of the most interesting and innovative soundscapes” by the International Film Music Critics (the soundtrack for Darling was released by Lakeshore Records and is coming out on vinyl from Mondo Records). And lastly, Carnage Park had a powerful premiere at Sundance and then enjoyed rave reviews at SXSW. It’s coming out theatrically in July, and I’m excited to be partnering again with Lakeshore Records, who will be releasing the soundtrack shortly after.

Mickey and I were first introduced by our mutual friend Eric Fleischman, the producer for both Carnage Park and Ritual. Mickey possesses an incredible amount of enthusiasm and energy, as well as an impressive encyclopedic knowledge of films. The wonderful thing about working with Mickey is that he’s always looking for something very particular, completely the opposite from his previous film, something that no one else has even heard before. Therefore, it’s always exciting having the opportunity to create something fresh and unique with a lot of character.

DC: How involved is he when you’re scoring his films? Very hands-on… or not so much?

GO: Mickey is very hands-on, which I personally love because I love the sense of collaboration and having a director 100% involved throughout the whole process. Mickey and I always start discussing the score from early on. In fact, I always find the idea of starting the conversation early on in the process extremely beneficial. In my experience, building the thematic material before having the actual cut to work with allows finding a film’s unique voice from the early stages as well as creating a strong foundation to evolve from. For both Darling and Carnage Park, I was probably one of the very first people to see the first cut. After watching the cut, I usually go back to my studio and start refining ideas and thoughts, having a picture in mind at this point. While Mickey is working on the final cut, we exchange these ideas.

Sometimes Mickey is very specific in his choices; for example, in Darling he had an idea of using a waterphone. After I purchased one, I started playing around with it, recording my various experiments and trying to come up with curious ways of producing the sound out of it. Afterwards, I took all the recorded material and started experimenting with distortion, delay, various amplifiers, etc. Waterphone ended up being one of the main instruments in the score.

Once Mickey has the final cut ready for me, I start working to picture. During this process Mickey comes over to my studio quite often, and I show him new material. I really enjoy this part of the process because scoring a film is like solving a puzzle, and there are times when you get stuck not knowing how to solve this puzzle. When a director comes over and sees the film with the music for the first time, he then starts getting ideas, ‘Why don’t we try this or this?,” and then I get inspired from his ideas and so on. This is what I absolutely love about scoring films – the collaboration with artists.

DC: The synopsis for Carnage Park describes it as a “pure-pulp thrill ride.” How do you begin to approach a project like that? I imagine it requires a different type of energy and “vibe” from a typical suspenseful horror movie.

GO: That’s a great question! Yes, Carnage Park was indeed a curious puzzle to solve, especially being a Neo-Western action thriller. I wanted to have a Western type of score, without sounding anything like the great Ennio Morricone’s scores. I wanted to include the traditional genre instruments like guitars and whistles, however at the same time reinvent the genre in a way. Not an easy task for sure. To achieve that, there was a lot of experimentation involved: recording an acoustic piano and then feeding the signal through a Marshall amplifier, blowing onto the piano and recording the resonance of the vibrating strings, “preparing” the piano and recording various effects and hits on it, recording the breath and then completely processing it, recording a string quartet and then transforming and modifying its sound, etc.

Usually when you score a film, you first write the music and then go to the studio to record it. However, with Carnage Park it was the opposite. I soon realized that in order to create something really particular, I needed to go to the studio first, and that’s what I did. Then I took the recorded material back to my studio and started using the string quartet phrases as the main composing tool, slowly adding other recorded effects and sounds on top. The final result of these experiments was a powerful and disturbing sound. And the best part is that you don’t really recognize what instruments are producing this sound. Once the score was written and approved, I went back to the studio and recorded more straightforward types of instruments like flutes and percussion.

DC: The music in Carnage Park is quite eerie – what’s your technique for creating that type of atmosphere? Any special instruments you utilized?

GO: Carnage Park had plenty of very specific instrumental choices. First, I intentionally wanted to either stay away as much as possible from the traditional instruments you hear in a score or fully transform those sounds into something new. As I mentioned above, I recorded an acoustic piano, a string quartet, guitars, whistling, breaths, etc.; then I heavily processed the sound and applied various effects like distortion, delays, and amplifiers to achieve a different quality of the sound. I recorded an electric cello that was then used to create an eerie soundscape; it also took the lead in one of the climaxing scenes with its piercing disturbing sound. I “prepared” the piano and recorded various unusual effects and hits on it. I threw batteries onto the piano strings, plucked them, blew onto the strings to record the resonance.

Breathing is an important element of the score as well; I used it as a rhythmic device and a percussive element. I also recorded flutes and ethnic woodwinds as well as effects like just blowing through the flute without producing any notes to recreate the sound of the wind, the emptiness of the desert. I also used a lot of percussion instruments. Being a drummer and percussionist myself, I’m naturally very picky when it comes to percussion. For Carnage Park I detuned a surdo and a big taiko drum. Moreover, having all the violence happening on screen, I wanted to use a percussive instrument that would represent that same type of aggression and hit the audience with that same effect. I ended up recording a nail gun. A nail gun produces such a violent and powerful sound that it was just perfect for the film. To give a constant but subtle rhythm to a couple of scenes, I utilized the noise produced by the pedal of the piano. Its percussive sound is so interesting, it naturally has a lot of decay, it’s subtle but ominous at the same time.

At the very beginning, one of Mickey’s requests was for the score to sound like it was done in the 70’s and to retain the fuzziness that those scores had. Nowadays the recording technology has advanced so much that we’re always getting a crystal clear sound. To be able to reproduce the fuzziness of the 70’s era without having to pull out the old tape machine and record on tape, I had to find other ways to do so. For example, one of the reasons why I had a piano going through an amplifier was because the amp added a bit of distortion to the clean piano sound, as well as eliminated a substantial amount of depth, making the sound closer to what Mickey was envisioning.

DC: Looking back, what were the most challenging scene and the most fun scene, respectively, to score in Carnage Park?

GO: There was one particular scene in Carnage Park which was extremely challenging. In this scene our main character, Vivian Fontaine, played by Ashley Bell, is walking around exploring the desert. The scene is roughly 8 minutes long and is continuously cut between Vivian’s character and Alan Ruck’s Sheriff Moss. Mickey envisioned this long scene as basically a “ballet” between the two characters, who are in two different locations but are somehow connected. The challenging aspect of this scene was to find the right rhythm for their ballet, especially because it had to carry on not just for one or two minutes, but for the entire duration of the scene. Moreover, the score had to perfectly match the editing pace between the characters. It was definitely challenging to find that balance between two themes, how present or subtle they should sound, how upfront the rhythm should be, etc. On top of that, every single detail throughout the 8-minute scene had to be captured in the score in a subtle way. I ended up writing something like 15 or 16 versions, which is basically 90 minutes of music for this scene alone. For this particular scene I felt like I was in a way Dante and Mickey was Virgil; he guided me masterfully through this impossible task, and we came out with an amazing result.

Regarding the most fun scene, well, every single scene was a blast to work on; however, around the end of the film there’s a scene where Vivian is inside the shack and getting attacked by Wyatt Moss. For this frantic and violent scene, I needed to utilize a percussive instrument that would reflect Wyatt’s vicious intrusion. Somehow, none of the acoustic percussion really worked for me. For some reason I had an absolutely random thought of recording a nail gun… and guess what, the nail gun revealed to be the best percussion instrument ever for this specific scene with its powerful punching sound. It was so much fun playing around with it producing and recording various hits. As you can imagine, it’s quite a difficult instrument that requires years of training to master the technique!

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DC: Your credits include all sorts of genres, but there are quite a few horror movies aside from those you’ve worked on with Mickey, like Indigenous directed by Alastair Orr, Thomas Della Bella’s The Remains, Darrell Wheat’s Recovery… Do you have a preference, and are you a horror fan yourself?

GO: You’re correct; I’ve scored over 28 feature films, all in different genres. I love diversifying myself as much as possible because working on one genre only, first of all, I would most likely lose interest in it quickly; second, by exploring other genres, I believe you expand your horizons. You never know where the inspiration/approach for a film, for a specific scene, for a specific character will come from. I believe that you can learn something while scoring a comedy that later on might come useful in an action film. Or vice versa, learn something from a horror film that will become useful when scoring a drama. Last year was very productive for me. I scored Mickey’s psychological thriller Darling and Neo-Western action thriller Carnage Park, drama The Boat Builder starring Christopher Lloyd and Jane Kaczmarek, sports drama Carter High starring Charles Dutton and Vivica Fox, family comedies How Sarah Got Her Wings with Derek Theler and Lindsey Gort and Christmas Trade with William Baldwin and Denise Richards, as well as BBC’s TV pilot “Zombies Next Door” and Nickelodeon’s “The Massively Mixed-Up Middle School Mystery,” which has just been nominated for the Jerry Goldsmith Awards for Best Score for TV.

I strongly believe that the more you diversify yourself, the better you get and the better perspective you develop. For instance, I enjoy producing albums, and I’m currently working on one with Sonya Belousova, composer and star of the “Player Piano” music series, or writing music for theater like Tobio: The Puppet Master, which I wrote in 2013 and is currently being performed in Moscow, Russia, or scoring commercials, etc. I think by continuously working in the same niche there’s a danger of running out of ideas. To me, the most interesting artists are the ones exploring everything; by doing so, they can produce something fresh and unexpected.

Regarding being a horror fan, I have a terrible confession to make. I’m actually a person who gets scared really easily, and therefore, I’ve always been terrified of watching horror films. I remember as a kid reading Stephen King’s The Mist, and the monsters scared me immensely. However, I know this will sound like a paradox, I love scoring horror films. I simply love creating a score that will keep the audience on their toes, on the edge of their seats throughout. I enjoy thinking and planning how to score a scene in an unpredictable way to get the audience scared. Moreover, horror films provide a fantastic opportunity to experiment with various sounds and soundscapes, creating something less traditional, more particular. I guess you can say that I love working on horror films because I’m in control regarding where, when, and how to scare the audience, and therefore, I’m less enthusiastic watching horror films because in that situation I’m not in control anymore.

DC: When you’re not working, what kind of music do you listen to? Music’s kind of scattered right now; are there any artists you’re excited about – anybody new or even someone who’s been around awhile?

GO: I always try listening to everything and anything. I go from Massive Attack to Thomas Newman, from Brazilian Girls and Foo Fighters to Daniel Pemberton, from Free Blood to Timbaland. I like listening to everything because I can get inspiration from different styles and genres. And that’s also why I love scoring films, because by scoring films you get an opportunity to explore various genres within a film, and that’s simply great. For example, last year I scored Recovery, where for the first half of the film I had to write continuous EDM music and then for the second half [it was an] electronic/orchestral/action score. I love diversifying and challenging myself by exploring new territories and new horizons.

DC: You’re so young and have so many projects under your belt already (28+ features and 60+ shorts)! What else is coming up for you that our readers can keep an eye out for?

GO: As mentioned above, I’m currently co-producing an album with composer and pianist Sonya Belousova, star of the “Player Piano” music series that has gained over 11 million views in a record time, initially executive produced by Stan Lee. My soundtrack for Carnage Park is being released later this month by Lakeshore Records, with whom I previously worked on Darling, which is now available on digital platforms like iTunes as well as on CD from Amazon. Very soon Mondo Records is releasing my soundtrack for Darling on vinyl, which I’m incredibly excited about. My wonderful agent, Becca Nelson of Air Edel, is currently finishing the negotiation process regarding two films. My score for Nickelodeon’s “The Massively Mixed-Up Middle School Mystery” has been nominated for the Jerry Goldsmith Awards, so I’m planning a quick trip to Spain for the awards ceremony and concert in July. Moreover, The Boat Builder starring Christopher Lloyd and Jane Kaczmarek, as well as Carter High with Charles Dutton and Vivica Fox, are both scheduled for release later this year.

You can check out all the news about my projects, as well as listen to my selected soundtracks, on my official website: gionaostinelli.com. Here’s also a direct link to my blog where I break down some of my scores by elements and extensively discuss the scoring process: gionaostinelli.com/#!the-process/g3ktn.

Carnage Park opens July 1st in New York at the IFC Center and will also be available On Demand the same day. Look for it a week later, on July 8th, in Los Angeles at Laemmle’s Noho 7. The cast includes Ashley Bell, Pat Healy, Alan Ruck, James Landry Hébert, Darby Stanchfield, and Larry Fessenden.

Synopsis:
This pure-pulp thrill ride jumps between past and present as it pieces together the puzzle of a shocking crime. It’s 1978 and a bank robbery gone wrong leaves Vivian (The Last Exorcism’s Ashley Bell) the hostage of two criminals on the run. But things go from bad to off-the-rails berserk when she and her captors wind up on the sun-baked desert outpost of a deranged ex-military sniper (Pat Healy), who ensnares them in his deadly game of cat and mouse.

Rising horror auteur Mickey Keating (Pod, Darling) directs this gritty, grisly homage to the glory days of grindhouse cinema.

carnage park poster

 

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David Lynch Says There May Be a Fourth Season of Twin Peaks

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This past year we saw the release of David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks: The Return” on Showtime. And while the series was strange as hell (go figure) I enjoyed ever crazy-ass floor-sweeping, face-punching-off minute of it.

But will there be a fourth season? After all, we had to wait the better part of three decades to get this new third season.

Well, writer-director David Lynch was recently speaking with THR and eventually, the conversation turned to if there will ever be a fourth season to which Lynch replied:

“I don’t know,” Lych said. “It’s too early to say that right now…I’ve learned never say never.”

Good enough for me!

I don’t know if you watched “Twin Peaks: The Return” so I’m not going to go into spoilers here, but I will say the end left the door wide as f*ck open for a fourth season.

What did you think of David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks: The Return”? Would you be excited about a fourth season? Let us know below or on social media!

“Twin Peaks: The Return” hits Blu-ray December 5, 2017.

BUY IT HERE!

Synopsis:

Picks up 25 years after the inhabitants of a quaint northwestern town are stunned when their homecoming queen is murdered.

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Exclusive: Cast & Crew Reflect on Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation – Part 2

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Last month, we brought you Part 1 of an extensive cast & crew retrospective detailing the history of the oft-maligned sequel Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation! Continuing our coverage, we bring you the remainder of our interviews with actors Tyler Cone (The War at Home), Tonie Perensky (Varsity Blues), and John Harrison (Guiding Light) as well as special effects artists J.M. Logan (Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering) and Andy Cockrum (Sin City).

In this segment, we cover the various production details that went into the making of this campy sequel, as well as provide a bit of insight into the Hollywood politics that plagued the film’s initial release! Enjoy!

What were the shooting conditions like?

J.M. LOGAN (Special Effects / Stunts): “Shooting conditions were about as basic as they could get. Chainsaw was an incredibly low budget movie. I don’t know the official figure, but it was a very small, very local production… privately financed by a wealthy lawyer who I think was a personal friend of Kim Henkel; they’d been trying to put it together for years. Bob Kuhn was a classic Texas warrior-poet-cowboy who’d always show up in the morning after every all-night shoot with a giant cooler of Lone Star beer on ice for the crew. So that was the guy that made this movie happen, if it helps paint a picture. It was all local actors and I think Levie Isaacks (cinematographer) was the only person that came in from Los Angeles. I can’t imagine the budget was more than a couple hundred grand. They had rented an old historic house in downtown Austin as their production office and set out to find the things they’d need among local professionals.

“The gore is being kept real minimal on this one which is fine with me … Chainsaw 2 was basically a gorefest. Tom Savini did some great stuff for it but we’re trying for a much different feeling with this one.” – J.M. Logan, Fangoria, 1994

The production gave me a little shed in the back of the house which became my make-up effects lab. I placed my first order for special effects supplies from Hollywood and my good buddy Andy, a filmmaker colleague, volunteered to be my assistant as long as we covered his gas and I agreed to do the make-up effects for his movie A Troll’s Bridge, which we shot immediately following Chainsaw. Honestly, it was a miracle I didn’t fall flat on my face. I’d never even used most of the supplies I was ordering. I just knew that’s what everyone else used to make that stuff. Incidentally, I ended up doing all the practical effects on the movie too; I didn’t know any better.”

ANDY COCKRUM (Special Effects / Stunts): “My job on the set was initially helping J.M. with tasks like painting latex on skeletons or helping Matthew with his leg brace. However, my job quickly shifted from being J.M.’s full-time assistant to being the fog guy.”

J.M. LOGAN (Special Effects / Stunts): “I brought in a bunch of smoke machines that I borrowed from video game tycoon Richard Garriott’s stash of stuff that we’d used to put on his epic spook house in 1992. Every bit of fog you see in that movie are Andy and I running around in the woods with two stage foggers that weighed about 100 pounds a piece!”

ANDY COCKRUM (Special Effects / Stunts): “They had a couple of fog machines and no designated operator. One night I volunteered and for the rest of the shoot, I was running around the woods with these heavy fog machines that were tethered to long extension chords. It was a grueling hot job but I loved doing it. Most of the scenes where you see Renee running through the woods or cars racing through the forest… that’s my fog!”

TONIE PERENSKY (Darla): “Our first night of shooting was a night shoot out on location in the woods in Bastrop, Texas. It was 95 degrees with 100% humidity at midnight! I felt so badly for our hair and make-up department. I had a bouffant hair style and the minute I stepped out of my car aka my personal honey-wagon, my whole look would practically melt.”

TYLER CONE (Barry): “Those nights were hot… and long nights from sunset to sunrise. So in between, we had as much fun as we possibly could.”

ANDY COCKRUM (Special Effects / Stunts): “I also played the Stuffed DPS Officer. I guess I get to brag that I played in a scene opposite Renee Zellweger. My job was to stand perfectly still in a corner… Renee runs in, sees me, screams and then runs away. Unfortunately, this was the last shot of a long night and by that time, I was so exhausted that I couldn’t stand still and was slightly weaving back and forth. I remember one of the camera assistants being so pissed at me because he was tired and wanted to go home. He started screaming and throwing stuff and had a fit and walked off-set. They eventually got the shot but if you look closely, I think you can see me moving back and forth.”

J.M. LOGAN (Special Effects / Stunts): “Chainsaw was a very, very rough shoot for everyone. It was almost all night shoots. We only had one motor home for all the cast, costumes, everything… limited amenities… uncomfortable locations that were sometimes an hour’s drive away from home… long days and massive mosquitoes. I didn’t know any better at the time, but it was an incredibly tough movie to work. We were all beat into the mud… which was part of Kim’s philosophy. He felt the discomfort of everyone making the movie would psychologically help create the atmosphere of discomfort in the film itself. He wasn’t there to have a good time and actively tried to make the experience uncomfortable, in the most purely creative sense possible. He didn’t thrive on others suffering, necessarily… he thought that art came from adversity, which is a sentiment I believe in philosophically… but Kim took it to another place.”

Publicity still of Renee Zellweger

Was there a scene that proved most difficult to accomplish?

TONIE PERENSKY (Darla): “The kitchen scene where Matthew smacks me and throws me down to the floor… we shot a number of takes.”

TYLER CONE (Barry): “The car scene was tough to shoot because it was 110 degrees in that warehouse. For me, none of my scenes were really tough. Even the scene where I got killed, it was a split-second with a sledgehammer coming down on my head and then all of a sudden, it’s like, Barry’s gone!”

JOHN HARRISON (Sean): “The chase scene was challenging for technical reasons. When Matthew was running me down with the truck, we were suppose to make it look like the truck was zigzagging across the road. It was tough because the road was fairly narrow and my natural instinct would probably have been to run into the woods instead of staying in the street. Part of the joy in this period and specific genre is watching people do stupid things. It is like the typical scene of a person home alone and going outside without any protection to check on the noise of something really creepy… then they get their head chopped off or they are eaten by a monster. Or the dream that people are being chased but their feet aren’t moving and the monster is walking slowly but catching up. There is a but of humor in the cheesiness of events.” 

J.M. LOGAN (Special Effects / Stunts): “Everything on this movie was difficult to accomplish. It was hot… which means that the actors were super sweaty which is hell on make-up. There were no trailers or other movie comforts… so nowhere to really cool off. We were rolling camera from dusk til dawn, six nights a week, for what seemed like months. I don’t know how long it actually was, but it was long enough to feel like a lifetime. In many ways, I feel like I grew up on that movie… it was a transformative film for me. Not only did I get to put my spin on one of the greatest horror icons there is, but I learned how to work a movie set.”

ANDY COCKRUM (Special Effects / Stunts): “I’d only worked on two features before… as an extra on Nadine (starring Jeff Bridges and Kim Basinger) and doing props for a Merchant Ivory production… so I didn’t have a lot of experience on how a film should run. Since then, I’ve worked on several Robert Rodriguez films… Sin City, Spy Kids 2… and looking back at Chainsaw, I realize it was a pretty crazy shoot.” 

J.M. LOGAN (Special Effects / Stunts): “In the scene at the end where Leatherface chases the RV and then shows up strapped to the side of the wrecker… that was actually me as Robbie’s stunt double because Robbie had hurt his knee. Both Andy and Steve Kuhn, who was the transportation captain and son of producer Robert Kuhn, at one point or another, played Leatherface in that sequence in various shots. The shots with me were the first shot of him running out of the woods, the shots through the RV door of him trying to get in, and then being strapped to the side of the wrecker. We all wore Debbie Pastor’s face at some point!”

Publicity still of Leatherface vs. Mr. & Mrs. Spottish

ANDY COCKRUM (Special Effects / Stunts): “I was Robbie’s stunt double for two or three scenes. They asked me to put on the outfit, which was lingerie, a mask and a wig… The scenes I was his stunt double for were at the end when he was chasing Renee down the road with the Chainsaw. Some of those shots are me. Also, in the shot where Leatherface is on the back of the tow truck swinging at the RV… that’s me.

Looking back… and having worked on many films since then… I realize now how crazy and dangerous that shot really was. There was no rehearsal. They just took a belt and secured me to the back of the truck and told me, ‘Okay, the truck is going to speed down this road and pull up next to the RV. You’ll lean out as far as you can while you’re swinging like crazy at the RV, then right at the end, the tow truck will veer off and the RV will flip.’ That was it; no rehearsal, no nothing. It was pretty exciting and scary at the same time and I think I could have done it better with some sort of rehearsal. But we did the shot and I survived. Robbie eventually had a small part in A Troll’s Bridge as well.”

TYLER CONE (Barry): “I remember with Renee running and the cattle prod… and all the different things that Lisa had to go through with all the blood on her face… I just remember everybody else seemed to have a much tougher time whereas I was just having a good time. I just didn’t have any of the heavy duty scenes!”

“Kim [Henkel] said that in the first film, they did [the scene] with a pantyhose harness, but that didn’t work this time, so they ended up making this pretty industrial harness for me …. It took us maybe two days to shoot because we couldn’t get it right …. [Robbie] had to actually lift my body way up over the hook and pull down on it and do it all looking natural.” – Lisa Newmyer, The Austin Chronicle, 1997

J.M. LOGAN (Special Effects / Stunts): “At one point in the movie, Matthew bites onto Lisa’s nose and shakes it so violently, she comes away bloody. To create the effect of her bitten nose, I made a prosthetic. Once Kim saw it, he told me that he wanted me to put wax on her nose and actually bite it myself so that it would look real. He wanted to see that actually happen so that he’d believe it… and he wanted Lisa to feel the experience of someone biting her actual nose. I don’t remember if I tried that or not to appease him, but ultimately we went with the prosthetic version.” 

TYLER CONE (Barry): “Joe Stevens was very method and he was hitting that cattle prod so hard on Renee that it was actually bending a bit. In the scene with the shotgun on me, he was hitting me with that shotgun. I mean, I had figure 8 scratches on my chest from the barrel of that shotgun.

“So far, I’ve been hung on a meat hook and had my nose bitten off. Tonight, I’ll get set on fire. It’s been great … the wounds get worse. I look really hideous. When we have dinner at 1:30 AM, it’s like, ‘Don’t let Lisa come in.'” – Lisa Newmyer, Fangoria, 1994

I’m always protective of my friends and I was very protective of Renee and Lisa this one night because… from the cattle prod, they just had bruises all over them… Renee was all scraped up. I mean, she probably still has scars from when she was filming this. And I remember saying, ‘Either I want to have scenes like this or we need to stop…’ I was a little bit envious because I really wanted to have some action scenes but I also remember being like, ‘Okay, they need to tone this down a little bit.’ Because as you’re making a movie, you really shouldn’t be getting injured this much. And I’m sure if a union was on-set, they probably would’ve prevented some of that stuff from happening. But everyone stuck with it though. They were troopers!”

Any memorable on-set moments? 

TYLER CONE (Barry): “The high school scene was the first night of filming. My first scene was the kissing scene where Heather (Lisa Newmyer) finds me.”

JOHN HARRISON (Sean): “The moment we drove off from the prom parking lot was following a short sprinkle. I recall the production and art team running all over the parking lot trying to wipe down cars for continuity.”

TYLER CONE (Barry): “We had a lot of the scenes in the car. We filmed those scenes after we did all of the outdoor stuff because we had this large warehouse [which is] where we filmed… it was like 110 degrees in there. It was hot and we were all sweating. Those were kind of stressful times to work.”

Renee Zellweger. Courtesy: Tyler Cone

JOHN HARRISON (Sean): “The old car we used with the suicide doors was beautiful and troublesome. I don’t recall what happened exactly but I feel that it broke down a couple of times when we were trying to get it to work for the scenes.”

TYLER CONE (Barry): “We had contests of who could catch the biggest mosquitoes because we had mosquitoes out there like pterodactyls. I mean, they were going through jeans; they were going through everything!”

J.M. LOGAN (Special Effects / Stunts): “We would smash the beasts, transfer them to a piece of white gaffers tape and stick them to the inside of a ziploc bag with our name written on the tape. At the end of each week, the crew member who smashed the biggest mosquito would win a six pack of beer… many prizes were awarded. There were mosquitoes the size of humming birds.”

JOHN HARRISON (Sean): “On the nights that Renee, Tyler, Lisa, and I were hanging out, we had a ball. We would sing songs together, dance around, goof off, and just enjoyed our time. Renee even brought in some poems she had written and they were brilliant.”

John Harrison. Courtesy: Tyler Cone

TYLER CONE (Barry): “We spent a ton of time just dancing. We did ballroom, we did swing dancing, we did the pretzle, we sang… Renee was a great singer too. I never saw the movie Chicago, but I’m pretty sure she sang in it. Great voice.”

JOHN HARRISON (Sean): “I was on set for probably three weeks or so. While the budget was low and I needed to be there much more than just during the scenes I shot, it was such an exciting experience. We were treated well and had fun.”

TYLER CONE (Barry): “Renee would walk around and talk to Levie Isaacks or some of the crew… and while she’s talking to them, she’s squirting them in the crotch with a water gun. Totally straight-faced as she’s talking to them and they’re talking to her… and they just don’t even notice that she’s squirting them with a water gun. It was hilarious. 

Sandra Adair, who was recently nominated for an Oscar, edited our film. I saw [Richard Linklater’s] Boyhood and was like, ‘She edited Chainsaw…’ I’m sure she would have a much different perspective *laughs* She saw so much footage, oh gosh.”

JOHN HARRISON (Sean): “Tyler used to give me rides to the set on occasion as I didn’t have a license yet. We would listen to bands like Blind Melon in Tyler’s jeep as we drove out or home, sometimes in the wee hours of the morning.”

TONIE PERENSKY (Darla): “Driving home at 7 AM on the I35 from Round Rock into Austin as Darla… ghoul make-up and that insanely sexy silver dress by Kari Perkins. I was exhausted, but when stopped in traffic, I would from time to time notice other drivers who had noticed me. You should have seen the look on their faces. Classic.”

Courtesy: Tyler Cone

Do you remember anything about the locations? 

J.M. LOGAN (Special Effects / Stunts): “The high school and the ‘hospital’ at the end were both Pflugerville High School, which featured all of the original Chainsaw cast except Gunnar Hansen. Much of the driving stuff was at the intersection of Mopac and Highway 71, way before that intersection was complete. It was still under construction when we were shooting there, before Mopac continued any further south than Highway 71.”

TYLER CONE (Barry): “I do remember the house… Upstairs, there was some room that was supposedly off-limits to everybody. So, of course, once somebody says the room is off-limits, all of a sudden it’s because, ‘There was a murder. It’s haunted!’ The set decorator and art director had made that house such a mess, in a nice horror film-style… that it really looked like we had found this house in the middle of nowhere and decided to film in it.”

The Chainsaw house as it appears today; directly across the street from the house featured in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Courtesy: Robert Patterson of Set-Jetter.com

TONIE PERENSKY (Darla): “Between takes or during scenes that I was not in, I would sit on the back porch of that famous old house. One morning at dawn, I sat there looking out at the most sedate picture-perfect scene of the Texas prairie at sunrise… an orange glow… birds just beginning to sing the morning in… and then behind me rose the blood-curdling screams and sound of the chainsaw revving up and slicing through some… thing. It was surreal.”

J.M. LOGAN (Special Effects / Stunts): “All of the woods scenes and the road where the RV flips over was a ranch in Bastrop, close to the Lost Pines State Park, which is likely no longer there due to the devastating fires a few years ago. The gas station and the realtor office were in a small crossroads south of Bastrop on Highway 95, which I’m certain are no longer there.”

TONIE PERENSKY (Darla): “The realtor office was a little metal building, so multiply the heat and bugs for that one.”

J.M. LOGAN (Special Effects / Stunts): “The gas station was an ancient general store that had closed in the ’50s with most of its contents still intact. Inside, there were still pairs of Converse sneakers in their boxes from back when Converse first started manufacturing shoes.”

Do you have a favorite moment or line from the film?

JOHN HARRISON (Sean): “With Matthew… when Vilmer tells me, ‘He’s dead now.'” 

TONIE PERENSKY (Darla): “The kitchen scene with Matthew. What can I say? It was an homage to a scene from The Postman Always Rings Twice. I tried to do it justice.”

TYLER CONE (Barry): “My favorite moment was actually an ad-lib in rehearsal. When Heather, Lisa’s character, starts going on about, ‘What if we all died? They could write a song about it!’ and I just slowly look at her and say, ‘Shut up.’ That wasn’t originally in the script. When we were in rehearsal over at the studio, I remember doing that and Kim was like, ‘Okay, we have to have that in there.’ That was my favorite line because… that was me.”

“I just thought of something SO cool. What if we got into a wreck and crashed into a car in front of us and we all DIED? They could write a song about it!”

TONIE PERENSKY (Darla): “My favorite scene by far is at the Bud’s Pizza drive-thru where I am toying the police officer (Derek Keele) about his investigating what is in the trunk of my car (Renee Zellweger). I really got to improvise there and loved every single minute of it. Ever since I was a kid, I had an innate fascination with human behavior. I would closely observe people, dissect and extrapolate. The sociopathic mind is such a maze. And I’ve never met an actor who didn’t delight in playing ‘crazy.’ There’s so much room to create there.”

Do you recall anything about the local Austin rock band Pariah, whose song “Torn and Tied” is played during the opening scenes? Both Renee Zellweger and Lisa Newmyer were dating members of the band at the time.

TYLER CONE (Barry): “I believe Renee was roommates with Lisa for a long time. She was dating Sims [Ellison]. He was the bassist and I believe Lisa started dating Sims’ brother. One night, Renee and I got together when we were still in Austin and the band was shooting the music video for one of their songs. I remember Sims was wearing this Mickey Mouse spinners-and-shorts kind of get-up and Renee had on these really long eyelashes… I mean, she looked beautiful. And I guess we were part of this crowd watching these guys play, almost like a Nirvana-type video. But I’ve never seen that video… I’m not sure if it even came out. But Renee and I… we were extras in that music video.”

Rumors were circulating that McConaughey and Zellweger’s agencies were ashamed of the film and in turn, had put pressure on Columbia/Tri-Star in order to shelve the wide release. Do you recall any of these matters? Were you disappointed in the film’s limited release?

TONIE PERENSKY (Darla): “Every actor goes into a project with high hopes. There’s always a cautious optimism that you could be a part of something that will be entertaining and have a lasting impact. So, of course I had hoped the film would have made a bigger splash initially.”

ANDY COCKRUM (Special Effects / Stunts): “I had no knowledge of agencies trying to squash the film. However, one day on the set… J.M., Tyler and I were discussing that we were going to shoot A Troll’s Bridge after Chainsaw.  Renee said she was interested in playing a part in the film. I remember a few weeks after Chainsaw wrapped, I met with Renee down on 6th Street to give her the script. She seemed really excited to have another film on her schedule. A week or so later, she called to tell me she couldn’t take the part because she had a role in Love and a .45 and the rest is history! Obviously, I think she made the right choice.”

TYLER CONE (Barry): “Renee wanted to make sure that she had the next project lined up… which ended up being Love and a .45 with Rory Cochran, which kind of helped her move out to Los Angeles. That was around the same time that Matthew moved out to LA as well and I think he did Angels in the Outfield. It was kind of weird how both of their careers took off around the same time.”

“We had a blast making that. But that’s all I’m going to say on the subject.” – Matthew McConaughey, Entertainment Weekly, 2002

JOHN HARRISON (Sean): “I was in high school during that whole period and not too worried about it. I was more concerned about my classes, football, band, theater, and after school jobs.”

J.M. LOGAN (Special Effects / Stunts): “After we wrapped, I just went on and kept working. I moved to Los Angeles three years later. I kept getting wind that at some point, the movie had been completed but hadn’t come out yet so I didn’t really know much about it. We had a premiere at the Paramount Theatre in Austin… I would say around 1995… just after Matthew started exploding. Both he and Renee were there, but then I didn’t hear anything at all for years until it finally came out on video with a whimper.”

TYLER CONE (Barry): “I was living in Los Angeles when the release happened four years later, but the film actually did show at South by Southwest. So we had that screening there… Renee didn’t show up to that one but Matthew did. I believe that was right after he had started A Time to Kill and so there was already a lot of buzz about him getting that lead role. So my take was that he was totally cool with it because if he wasn’t, he wouldn’t have been at the premiere. He came over to me after and told me that I was funny in the movie… but we didn’t see Renee and the rumors at the time… and I don’t know which way it was… was that it was more Renee’s manager and not Matthew.

And I do know that at one point, when I was living in Los Angeles… because remember, Renee and I were pretty good friends… she sent me a message because she was jet-setting all of the sudden… she said she had to get her phone disconnected and was going to get a new number. She had left me this really long message and said to call her through her manager. I did and I said, ‘Renee told me to get a hold of her through here, just let her know that I called.’ Her manager said, ‘Oh, by the way, how do you know her?’ and I said, ‘We did Chainsaw together.’ I probably should’ve just said we were friends from Texas. He laughed and said, ‘Yeah, she’s not gonna call you,’ and then hung up. So that was the last interaction that I had with Renee and so my thought was that it was more so him. I do know that Renee stayed in contact with Lisa afterwards and it wasn’t like she was trying to run from the film. I believe that if I had been through her management and not really her manager personally, it would have been different. Renee wouldn’t have done that.

Renee Zellweger. Courtesy: Tyler Cone

As a matter of fact, I think I still have the voicemail… Because it was on the old voicemail tapes and I realized I had saved everything from those days… scripts, video tapes, any kind of tapes… so I have all that stuff. I haven’t heard it but I know it’s in there somewhere. I just remember it being this really long message like, ‘I hope that LA is rockin’, we gotta get together, just make sure that if you want to get a hold of me, you call this guy.’ If she didn’t want to talk to me, she wouldn’t have left this long message. So when I got through to him to get a hold of her and he pulled that little laugh and said, ‘She’s not going to call you,’ once he found out I was associated with Chainsaw… I mean, that was him. That was him for sure.

Supposedly, Robbie told her what happened and she was so mad that her manager had said that yet I still never heard from her after that. So she knows what happened but, again, it wasn’t one of those things I was devastated by. I’m sure if I ever ran into her, I’d be cordial because I don’t blame her for his actions.”

According to Texas Monthly, Robert Jacks also believed Zellweger’s camp was behind the film’s botched release. Did Jacks ever comment on the matter with you? 

TYLER CONE (Barry): “Robbie and I were friends after we filmed. He was still in Austin when I was in Austin. Matthew and Renee had already moved to Los Angeles. Even though I was talking to Renee on occasion, Matthew and I never spoke outside of filming. And so Robbie was kind of in-between, like, ‘Hey, what’s going on with Matthew? What’s happening with Renee?’ Because he was in contact with both of them. And I know that he was excited for this to come out because he was also really good friends with Blondie… Debbie Harry… and they had worked on the soundtrack together and so he was looking at that as an opportunity for his music as well. 

I’m not surprised that he would be upset by anybody trying to squash it, but I don’t recall him saying that it was Matthew or Renee. I just remember, at the time, it seemed to come more from Renee’s side. I can understand if he was upset. I mean, I wanted the film to come out. We were excited to work on it and to see what was going to happen. Then all of a sudden, it was one of those situations where it’s not good enough for somebody? It’s like, wait a second, you were on the set, you had a good time, we all had a good time doing this and now it’s not good enough and you want to hide it? That’s why I didn’t feel that it was Renee or Matthew, but I would not be surprised… especially given my interaction with her manager… I would not be surprised at all if it was him. At all. I felt like he pulled a lot of strings with her career and her personal relationships as well.”

What are your thoughts on the lasting appeal of the film? 

J.M. LOGAN (Special Effects / Stunts): “As a movie, I think it’s all pretty silly, but I don’t know that it matters much what I think. I still think it’s one of the most bizarre and unique movies I’ve ever been a part of. The whole experience was so traumatic, even though it was amazing at the same time… it’s still hard, 25 years later, for me to be objective about the film. This wasn’t another job for me, as it might be now. It was my first job of its kind… my age of reason. My rite of passage in many ways.”

TYLER CONE (Barry): “I just think that if more people did kind of catch on to what Kim was trying to do, it would’ve been more entertaining for people. I admit there were a lot of people that were angry with the film because they were expecting something different. I think some of it also… with Matthew and Renee’s careers taking off when they did and how that whole thing happened… I think that it kind of took out some of that chance for it to be known as a campy cult classic because then their success kind of overshadowed everything. Now, people would watch it and they would be more fascinated with the fact that Matthew and Renee came from this as opposed to appreciating it for what it is.”

TONIE PERENSKY (Darla): “I am grateful that it seems to have found its audience over the years. I never dreamed that twenty years later, I’d be answering questions about the film. That makes me smile.”

TYLER CONE (Barry): “At the time, there were a couple of interviews but Lisa, Renee and Matthew really took everybody’s attention. Robbie, a little bit… but for the most part, people weren’t really too interested in John and I; they were more interested in Matthew and Renee, obviously, and then Lisa… because she was the scream queen who got hung on the hook, everybody wanted to get a piece of her!

“It is what it is. It’s a classic B-movie. Twenty years from now, it’ll probably be as popular as the original.” – Lisa Newmyer, The Austin Chronicle, 1997. Courtesy: Kenny Braun

The Los Angeles Times actually had a pretty decent article and what I liked is they said that I was a guy that had an electronic news zipper scrolling across his forehead reading marked for death, which I thought was a pretty good compliment… It was a good compliment to me when people didn’t want to meet me ’cause they thought I was going to be an asshole. It’s been a long time and being recognized… which doesn’t happen often but it does happen on occasion… is still like, ‘Wow. That’s really cool.’ If people are like, ‘Wow, I was kind of afraid that you were going to be a dick,’ I’m like, ‘That’s cool! That’s cool that you thought that!'” 

J.M. LOGAN (Special Effects / Stunts): “I was so young and had such naive expectations… it almost seemed natural that I could be doing a Chainsaw movie at that point. I just sort of thought that’s how it happened; you kept working on movies and some of them happened to be noticed and you took opportunities where you could find them. I definitely felt honored to be doing a Chainsaw movie, but I don’t think I quite grasped the uniqueness of what I was doing at the time… or appreciated it as thoroughly as I might now. I didn’t feel like I was making a “big” Chainsaw movie. It was the kind of atmosphere that felt like a bunch of friends got together and decided to make a movie with Leatherface in it. It never felt official but at that point, I didn’t have much to compare it to. I didn’t quite understand the gravity at the time.”

JOHN HARRISON (Sean): “Fond memories of a really fun time. My wife got to work with our friend Eric Thornett a few years ago on a couple of projects. It was fun to watch them play with some of the same fun, campy elements that make these films enjoyable. Chainsaw definitely has a bit of a legacy from its original release. Each iteration is also so different from its previous version. My time on-set and with the cast and crew is definitely a time I will never forget.”

TYLER CONE (Barry): “I feel like we all got something from the film and whatever direction we went in our lives, Texas Chainsaw will always be a part of it. I would love to be able to reconnect with everybody. Obviously, that’s very difficult to do, almost impossible to do… but I had a great time.”

“On the opening weekend in New York, Debbie Harry went with some of her friends, and she called afterwards and told me that they laughed and screamed and jumped and had a real good time. Chris Stein thinks it’s the best out of all the films. Exene Cervenka adores it. Viggo Mortensen, Exene’s husband who was in the third installment of the series, thought it was great. As far as people that I know who have seen it, they weren’t just buttering me up about it, they really think it’s hysterical. I think that it lives up to what it is, but, you know, I think it has to be promoted in that kind of a way.” – Robert Jacks, The Austin Chronicle, 1997

TONIE PERENSKY (Darla): “I got to be a part of the canon of Chainsaw films, and as a horror aficionado, that’s great. I’m honored to have been part of the series and rub shoulders with horror royalty. Thank you so much for bringing attention to the film and keeping fans in the loop.”

TYLER CONE (Barry): “If you keep an open mind, you’ll see the humor. But if you go in and you’re like, ‘I want to see the original Chainsaw,’ you’re not going to see it. You have to have an open mind to see the differences that Kim Henkel purposely put into the film. There were no mistakes. He knew what he was doing when he was doing it. He was a really smart guy and people just didn’t get it. He interjected that humor in there on purpose, and I like that kind of stuff. I like that humor.”

J.M. LOGAN (Special Effects / Stunts): “The movie itself is a very strange piece of art. Resplendent in flaws arising from both the script and the manner by which it was made, driven by a man executing a vision formed over twenty years of catharsis… For years afterwards, the sound of someone in a neighborhood using a chainsaw would send involuntary shivers down my spine from the experience of working on the film and I’m sure I’m not alone. In the end, I think Kim would look at that as being one of his greatest accomplishments.”

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Blumhouse’s Happy Death Day Has Now Made $100 Million Worldwide

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Well, it looks like it will only be a matter of days at this point until we hear that Blumhouse will be producing a sequel to their recent hit Happy Death Day.

Deadline is reporting that the PG-13 slasher has just snatched up $100 million dollars worldwide. It breaks down to a total of $55.5M domestic and $44.6M international.

These are surprising numbers considering the film is a (fairly) bloodless slasher. But it does sport the twist/gimmick of being placed within a time-loop so it has my interest.

I haven’t seen the film yet myself, but I do plan on checking it out once it hits Blu-ray on January 16th, 2018. How about you? Let us know below!

Happy Death Day is directed by Christopher Landon from a screenplay he wrote with Scott Lobdell. The film stars Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine, Charles Aitken, and Rachel Matthews.

The film hits Blu-ray, DVD and On Demand January 16, 2018.

Blu-ray Bonus features:

Alternate Ending

Deleted Scenes

Cupcakes & Killers

You’ve Killed Me!

Tree’s Final Walk of Shame

Worst Birthday Ever – Filmmakers and cast discuss the challenges of executing the time-loop concept at the center of the film, including how to make each day feel different despite the fact it’s being repeated.

Behind the Mask: The Suspects – At the heart of any great murder mystery is a list of possible suspects. In this featurette, we explore all the possible identities of Tree’s killer.

The Many Deaths of Tree – Director Christopher Landon, star Lena Rothe, and producer Jason Blum recap the various ways in which Tree is killed, but also explain why we never actually see her die.

Synopsis:

A college student who relives the day of her murder with both its unexceptional details and terrifying end until she discovers her killer’s identity.

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