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In continuing with our historic support of independent filmmaking, Dread hit the set of director John Michael Elfers’ Kiss before the Slaughter earlier this month in the deserts of southern California, and now thusly delivers to you an extensive gallery from the shoot, as well as word on the status of the gritty and subversive Fire Trial Films’ project. Read on!
Elfers, whose previous feature horror flick Finale racked up globally a plethora of festival awards before acquiring DVD and VOD distribution (via Image Entertainment) has joined forces once again with that film’s co-conspirators Michael Elkin (who produces) and R. Stevens Harris (behind the camera), as well as new allies Denesa Chan (actress and producer) and director of photography Mario Contini, in order to deliver his ambitious vision.
Voted onto the ‘Blood List’ of 2010 (an industry insider list of the top not-yet-produced horror scripts in Hollywood), Kiss Before the Slaughter follows the exploits of ex-paramours Bradley and Raquel, who journey to Mexico for a black-market lung transplant for the latter, only to discover an underground organization who butcher the unsuspecting ‘donors’ on which Raquel had relied. Struggling with both their mortality and morality, Raquel asks Bradley – in an effort to save the group of complete strangers which the organization have ensnared as ‘donors’ – that instead he let her die. Needless to say, all hell breaks loose.
With Elfers having successfully raised financing for Finale by first shooting a no-budget trailer, he again subscribed to that methodology, although in this case stepped up his game, his goal to produce an ultra-slick, bullet-fast trailer on 35mm to convince studios and investors that he can handle a serious budget, and from the high-octane vehicle stunts and performances Dread witnessed on set, he may have done just that.
As for the cast the director assembled for his Kiss before the Slaughter trailer, they include genre veteran R.A. Mihailoff (Leatherface, Hatchet II), who came aboard to portray the wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing that runs the illegal operation from the US side, with John A. Lorenz as his badass Hispanic counterpart. Concerning the short’s protagonists, Chandler Maness appears as lead Bradley, the counter-culture antihero who is pursued by a duo of unhinged meth addicts (David Andreiw and Caitlin Rose Williams), while actress Natalie Pero (Bloody Mary 3D) portrays his star-crossed love, the sultry Raquel.
Also joining the cast for the four day days of principal photography were actress Denesa Chan, who delivered a rather gut-wrenching performance as the victim of a malevolent surgeon (and who braved a harrowing close-up under a real, spinning bone saw) and stuntman and actor Daniel Gutierrez, who seemingly without fear rode atop a van as it careened down a desert road in Ludlow, CA, only to leap onto the speeding vehicle’s hood during a scripted duel with actor Maness. The director himself too joined in the filmic danger, as we evidenced by the full body burn pyrotechnic stunt he performed.
“Despite the almost non existent budget, we got first rate talent, crew, support and resources,” the slightly-singed Elfers glowed following the shoot of those who assisted him. “For the first time in my life, I was able to create the sort of images I’ve been dying to create since I began making films. Everyone was amazing. Stephanie Slevin delivered the production’s punk rock wardrobe for under a hundred dollars. Our AD Esther Johnson doubled the amount of setups we knocked out during the second weekend. Jen Giragos and Rosa Menendez provided killer special FX makeup, blasting brains, spilling entrails and drilling through limbs. Mario not only created gorgeous images, he swung personal deals with rental houses and brought an incredible grip, lighting and camera crew. Our sound mixer Bill Millsap captured the cleanest audio I’ve ever heard on location. Kelvin Crumplin of Multivision donated use of two complete 35mm 2-perf camera packages. Ken Locsmandi donated film stock, Craig Ouellette was a huge help and Laser Pacific cut us an incredible deal on telecine – the list goes on.”
As for the status of the trailer for Kiss Before the Slaughter, which we will debut exclusively here at Dread, Elfers aims to have it cut together by late May (Shawn Clement is set to score), at which point his Fire Trial Films and Anvil Entertainment will shop it around to seek co-production partners and financing for the planned eventual feature version (‘money’ obviously will call the shorts on the final cast for the feature – such is the business).