Fantasia International Film Festival
Widely known for his iconic bad-ass roles in The Terminator, Aliens, Planet Terror and last year’s sleeper hit The Divide, Michael Biehn is a legend to movie buffs worldwide.
So it came as no surprise that many film-goers came to Montreal’s prestigious Fantasia Film Festival to see the man kick some much deserved ass in his own grindhouse directorial debut, The Victim, which was also produced by his wife and co-star, Jennifer Blanc-Biehn.
For readers out there that are unfamiliar with the plot of the film, The Victim starts with an unexpected bang (or should we say “crack”?) when Annie (Jennifer Blanc-Biehn) witnesses the murder of her friend in the middle of the woods and is forced to take refuge in the home of a stoic hermit named Kyle (Michael Biehn) even though she is being hunted by two crooked cops desperate to get rid of any witnesses to their crime.
Considering the film is full of sex, violence, cocaine and exploitative elements throughout, it came as a welcome surprise to see that both Michael and Jennifer are polar opposites of the characters they played and envisioned onscreen. In fact, before the film screened, the amorous couple offered up their own reserved seats to the general public to make sure no one was left out at the screening, which is almost unheard of in the festival circuit.
After the successful screening, Dread Central had the opportunity to talk to “The Biehns” about their new film, their future projects and what had inspired them to tackle the gritty world of low-budget horror.
When asked about his interest in taking on his first writing and directing venture, Biehn expressed much gratitude to his greatest muse, Grindhouse: Planet Terror director Robert Rodriguez.
“I had thought about directing for quite some time. [James] Cameron always said I would make a good director. However, I wasn’t that aware of grindhouse films until I worked with Robert Rodriguez on Planet Terror. After that, I started watching all types of these films. I knew with my name that I couldn’t make a five-million-dollar movie, but I could make a smaller one. Jennifer [Blanc-Biehn] actually raised the money for the project, and then the opportunity presented itself. My real inspiration came when I was in Canada shooting The Divide and read Robert Rodriguez’s book A Rebel Without a Crew in my spare time. Reading that book gave me the confidence I needed.”
Jennifer also had some loving words to say about her husband in terms of his directing skills.
“Michael has always helped me in terms of directing me. He helped me with my screen test for “Will & Grace,” and when I did a film with Shannen Doherty called Friends Til The End, he coached me for the part. He has always had these directing skills, and it wasn’t until Robert [Rodriguez] inspired him that he truly knew he could this.”
During the Q&A after the film, Biehn had revealed that the final script for The Victim was one that he polished after he was not happy with it (he had agreed to just star in it at the time). He took away the SAW-like torture porn aspect and injected an entirely new plot, making it a psychological grindhouse thriller instead. During our own interview, he elaborated in more detail why he made this crucial decision.
“Believe it or not, I don’t like gory movies that just show violence for the sake of violence. I know there are good filmmakers that have made these types of films, but it just didn’t interest me. I’m more interested in stories of the human condition, and even though [The Victim] is a pulp version of that, to me this is the story of what happens to men when attractive women are around and they don’t think straight and they get into trouble. I didn’t want to just make a violent movie, but rather I wanted to focus on men with too much power and how they can do anything they want. Behind every powerful man is a mistress. I wanted to explore that. Men have so much to lose as far as respect and their jobs when it comes to falling for alluring women. That’s the story I wanted to convey.”
While talking candidly, the duo also revealed that their film was shot amazingly enough in twelve days. We talked to Jennifer, who is the protagonist of the film and the challenges of her having to perform emotional, physical and sexual scenes on screen in such a short period of time.
”It was just fast and furious. I was having a really good time because I was literally running around non-stop 24/7. Even on my days off, I was still busy producing and was always up for the challenge. Don’t get me wrong; there was fighting off-screen, and that could be seen in the making-of featurette. There’s all this kind of drama that went on. But for the most part I had a really good experience, and I trust Michael’s direction. Right from the start, I told him I didn’t know how to do this in the time frame, the crying, the fighting, the whining, the running. Although I relied on him, and he really did help me through it.”
The couple spoke glowingly of not only their current film but also their upcoming project under their production company Blanc/Biehn Productions, Treachery, which stars the pair and I Spit on Your Grave’s Sarah Butler.
“We made The Victim on a low budget—way under a million dollars, but what we did after was the opposite of what we thought we’d do, and we made our next follow-up [Treachery] for a quarter of the budget we had with this film. It was like an experiment, and we did it in eight days!” Jennifer exclaimed.
“Ninety percent of the new film is cut, and we’re really happy about it,” Biehn added.
For those of you who could not make it out to the festival circuit to see The Victim, you will be excited to know the film will make its DVD and Blu-ray debut on September 18, 2012. The filmmaking couple and team also added some words on the cool features to be expected.
According to Jennifer, “There is a half-hour featurette; it is full of interviews and candid footage. And there is an audio commentary with both Michael and I so there will tons of cool things to see that you haven’t seen with the theatrical version.”
Make sure to support Michael and Jennifer and buy The Victim this September on Blu-ray or DVD from Anchor Bay. The film will also have exclusive theatrical engagements at select theatres in New York starting August 24th and in Los Angeles starting September 7th.
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