Director Panos Cosmatos definitley has balls. His first feature, Beyond The Black Rainbow, is one of the most psychedelic offerings in quite some time, and the film reaches beyond the abstract into territory few films dare to explore. The question is, does Cosmatos have the vision and the talent to match his confidence? Decide for yourself when you see the film!
Dread Central caught up with Cosmatos during the Tribeca Film Fest and talked with him about his new film…
Panos Cosmatos: Well, I think it kind of works best when the audience sort of discovers it as it unfolds. So, I think it’s one of those films where the less you know about before you go in the better, you know? I’ve had some experiences where I walked into a film and knew nothing about it, and those are some of the most powerful experiences I’ve ever had in a theater. It was just a completely unexpected experience.
DC: So how did the actual title come about? What is the Black Rainbow?
PC: When I’m writing a script, I usually just start with images and ideas. I’ll put a title on it before I even write it. And that just creates this sort of vibe to go by that I can build on. Originally, I was just going to call it Black Rainbow but I wanted something a little more evocative. Ultimately, I think that the title Under The Black Rainbow ended up meaning a sort of unattainable spiritual enlightenment.
DC: Why did you set the film in 1983? Was it just because you grew up during that time period, or did you want to include some specific commentary about the Reagan era?
PC: Well, because the movie was inspired by films from that time period. I’ve said this before, but the idea behind the movie was when I was a kid I wasn’t allowed to watch R-rated horror films, so I’d read the back of the boxes and just look at the cover art and just imagine my own movie without ever seeing them. But of course, years later when I did see them the movies were completely different than the ones I had imagined in my own mind. So the idea was to make one of those imaginary films.
DC: Do you remember some of the covers from certain horror movies and maybe even what kind of movie you came up with after seeing certain cover art?
PC: Pretty much any movie from that era that you can imagine. One in particular that terrified me to look at was one called Humongous…
DC: Oh yeah! I know that movie! What was the cover art to that again?
PC: (Cosmatos laughing) It was like a strange fucked up cradle made of bones!
DC: That’s right. Do you remember what you came up with based on that? Some kind of devil baby?
PC: To be honest, I can’t remember specifically. But just remembering that I would do that and I wanted to make a film based on the idea of an imaginary film inspired just by descriptions and art.
DC: I kind of hate the term, but would you call Beyond The Black Rainbow a mood piece? What abstract films did you take a cue from? Amer? Suspiria?
PC: I haven’t seen AMER yet. But obviously, SUSPIRIA, I love that movie. More than any other horror film I think it was inspired by stuff like LAST YEAR IN MARIENBAD and Georges Franju’s EYES WITHOUT A FACE. Even something like ALPHAVILLE where it’s almost a deconstruction of genres that you love. But I’m just trying to go beyond that. I definitely would describe it as a mood piece and a trance film. I think films like APOCALYPSE NOW and THX-1138 are kind of trance films.
DC: How difficult was it taking such a high concept and translating it to the screen? Did the final product resemble what was in your head or did it transform into something else entirely?
PC: For the most part, what I saw in my head is right up there. And then there were times when it actually exceeded my expectations.