Excl: Director Talks the L.A. Screamfest Premiere of Stag Night

My favorite films growing up were the works of John Carpenter,” Peter A. Dowling, writer and director of the feature flick Stag Night, told Dread as we discussed his film, which premieres this coming Monday, October 11th, at 9:30pm, as selected by Rachel Belofsky’s Screamfest L.A.!

ScreamfestHalloween is one of my all time favorites,” continued Dowling of his love for Carpenter’s body of work, “and Assault on Precinct 13 is a great exercise in sustained suspense in a single location, as was The Thing. Actually, until writing Stag Night (review here) and Flightplan, which takes place entirely on a plane, I hadn’t realized how much I must have learned from Carpenter. Being a first-time director I knew there was an unwritten – or maybe written by you guys,” he laughed, “formula for a low-budget horror film, and that is something horrible happens to a small core of people in a remote, singular location without many extras. This usually leads to a house in the woods where help is far away, but I thought, ‘What is remote and desolate within the big city where help is only a scream away?’ So I set Stag Night in a deserted subway system beneath the feet of a bustling city. I could have picked an abandoned factory or something, but having ridden the London Tube and the Berlin U-Bahn late at night – in Germany I shared a carriage with neo-Nazis and large dogs – I always felt that those places make you feel trapped and vulnerable after dark. So I wrote the script for Stag Night and started to shop it around to producers, just as a ‘small’ movie called Creep came out in England. I guess ideas are just sometimes in the air.

Produced by Arnold Rifkin, Christopher Eberts and Michael Phillip and starring Breckin Meyer (“Heroes”, The Craft), Kip Pardue (The Wizard of Gore, Hostel: Part III), Vinessa Shaw (The Hills Have Eyes remake), Scott Adkins (The Bourne Ultimatum) and Karl Geary (The Burrowers), Stag Night revolves around a starry-eyed bachelor (Pardue) and his last night of freedom before his nuptials. Unfortunately for the unlucky romantic, the referenced night is spent trapped in a deserted NYC subway station, where he and his entourage are terrorized by a particularly bloodthirsty group of more-than-likely cannibalistic humanoid underground dwellers.

Excl: Director Talks the L.A. Screamfest Premiere of Stag NightShot in Sofia, Bulgaria in October of 2007 (the flick subsequently received a UK, April 19th release via Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment – negotiations are under way with US distributors for a Stateside release), Dowling told us of Stag Night’s shoot, “ A lot of people know that there is a vibrant movie industry in Sofia right now, but we didn’t shoot at the nice, warm studios. We shot in an abandoned ice rink, which was never finished being built when Communism ended. So, the place was basically designed to stay cold and was not the most comfortable place to build sets and to shoot. One actress, who was supposed to be in a warm apartment, had to hold ice cubes in her mouth between takes so her breath wouldn’t condense when she spoke. That said, there was a great energy on the set and to my amazement, throughout the grueling shoot, stuff got done. Things got a little trickier when we found a section of a newly constructed subway tunnel to shoot in and found that we only had the money to light and dress 50 feet of the tunnel. So we did what we could with it, and I think we got away with it feeling like different locations. Overall, with the use of inserts I shot myself in Brooklyn and Manhattan, I think we were able to convince audiences that the movie is (set) in New York.”

As for what Dowling’s up to at present – a lot, apparently.

“My background is in animation, and I am writing an animated feature for a Swedish company and a new series for an Irish company called Boulder Media (great company),” said the filmmaker. “On the live action side, I’ve got a few scripts at different stages of financing – which is a nightmare in this financial climate – and I’m just entering into negotiations with Full Circle Films (the company behind The Mortician) on a London-based thriller I wrote for me to direct called 13 O’Clock. It’s about a man who gets his death certificate one day early, which leaves him running from a company that seem to know what he’ll do before he does it. It’s a paranoid thriller that falls somewhere between Eagle Eye and Pi, and the title is a reference to George Orwell’s 1984, whose famous opening line was, ‘It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

Tickets for the Los Angeles Screamfest premiere of Stag Night can be purchased here!

Visit Screamfest online here for a full run-down of the films playing, as well as to purchase tickets. The highly anticipated Gierasch/Anderson Night of the Demons remake kicks off the fest this Friday.

Sean Decker

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  • Vanvance1

    Stag Night was worth a watch.

    Thanks for the article, I enjoyed it.