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In the fall of last year we ventured into the mountains just outside of Big Bear, California, to the set of then-filming feature Axeman at Cutter’s Creek and while there chatted with many of the flick’s principal players.
Kicking things off in our set visit coverage is an interview with actress Elissa Dowling.
Written and directed by Joston Theney, Axeman at Cutter’s Creek stars Dowling (Black Dahlia), Tiffany Shepis (Nightmare Man), Brinke Stevens (Skeleton Key), Ray Trickitt (Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers) and Arielle Brachfeld (The Haunting of Whaley House). With the marketing tag “Get ready for a vacation to be dismembered,” it revolves around nine vacationing twenty-somethings who are hunted by the titular axe-wielding local legend. The cast of Axeman is rounded out by Chantelle Albers, Jamie Bernadette, Erin Marie Hogan, Eliza Kiss, Dylan Hobbs, Stephen Eith, J. Scott, Carlos Javier Castillo, Paula Tracey Wilson, Dave Hernandez and NBA superstar Scot Pollard as the Axeman.
Arriving to the remote locale in the late afternoon after a few wrong turns amidst thunder, lightning, rain and falling rocks, we were greeted by Theney (who also produces), who directed us to the log cabin at the top of the road, which pulled triple duty as base camp, lodging and location.
“Go fast up the hill,” he advised us, swatting at the cloud of gnats which swarmed him. “It’s steep, and if you go slow, your wheels will spin.”
Taking his advice, we conquered the dirt track without a problem and, upon entering the cabin, were greeted by Dowling, Brachfeld and Bernadette, who had arrived a day before their call in order to reconnect. Cocktails were offered, and with the mood rather boisterous, Dowling and I sat down outside on a picnic bench to escape the din in order to chat about her Axeman role of Stacy, a former collegiate track star who finds herself at odds with the childhood friend she’s always known and loved.
After bumming a cigarette (we hoped in vain that the smoke would deter the myriad insects from nipping at our flesh), Dowling told us, “I met Joston, believe it or not, on MySpace so it’s been a long time! Six years later out of the blue I get a message from him on Facebook that he’s doing this film, and I was like, ‘Hell, I’ll do it!’ He got things together pretty quickly after that, and here I am.”
Of her character, “It’s interesting,” said Dowling, who has racked up dozens of vampish roles in a slew of genre films. “I never get to play an athlete because I’ve never been an athlete. I’m generally more of the Goth chick that scoffs at the cheerleaders so it was interesting because I’m playing an athlete in this.”
So what did she do to prepare?
“I walked a lot,” she laughed, “and I kept looking at my ass and asking, ‘Is it firm?’ And it is! So I’m okay! To be honest, I know what athletes are like. They take it really seriously so I’m trying to approach it that way. I mean, I used to be a ballet dancer, which I hated, but I can kind of sort of relate. I can still lift my leg over my head! But it was hard. Your toes bleed. I’m lucky I don’t have crazy feet now. But I think my character is more of an ex-athlete who still keeps up. And I have an interesting relationship with one of the characters, Cassidy [actress Albers]. “It’s like A League of Their Own, like Kit and her sister, Dottie. Competition is so important for this character, and I’m not normally like that at all. I’m the girl that generally helps everyone out and is super nice to everybody, and I’m not competitive. But with this character, she tries to become Cassidy and take over so she’s kind of nasty in that way.”
“I’ve definitely met a lot of that type of girl,” continued the actress, “[those] that feel they need to take each other down to get ahead so I know what they are like. I’ve had it happen to me so many times, and I can see the signs. I think we are better off by helping one another. But this character is the opposite of that, and I think that she kind of regrets it. There is a complex relationship between them. The funny thing is that the actress who plays her, we’ve become great friends since the script readings. Chantelle is an absolute sweetheart, but I have to not look at her like that when we start shooting.”
“So yeah, I wanted to do something different,” she furthered of her attraction to the project. “And plus the cast. Anytime I get a chance to work with Shepis, then I am there because I love hanging out with her, and I never get to see her. We are bunking up in the cabin tonight, and I’m going to molest her once she falls asleep because she’s so hot. Working with Brinke attracted me, too. She is such a sweet, sweet soul! I worked with her on Joe Hollow’s Disciples, and that was the last thing we did together. So really the cast sold me, and plus the script was cool. It’s fun! It’s a funny movie, and I think it will keep people entertained because of the comedic elements, too.”
We asked Dowling about the level of that comedy.
“It’s not like overdone,” she replied, “but there a lot of funny things that happen, and the way the characters relate is funny, too. It’s definitely an homage to 80’s slasher films, and that’s another thing… I love slasher films. And I’m not going to pass on a great slasher film shooting in Big Bear! The killer is really tall so that always works, and he’s got an axe so that’s good, too! Those two things usually go over well with the audience. Apparently Suzi Hale and the FX team have done a lot of work in pre-production so there’s going to be a lot of blood. I’d give the script’s gore quotient a ‘ten.’ Blood, gore, lesbians, and people die!”
As for the status of Blood Red Films’ Axeman at Cutter’s Creek, filmmaker Theney informed us recently that he’ll be screening exclusive scenes from the flick in Cincinnati, Ohio, at HorrorHound Weekend this March 22-24, where he’ll be appearing with Dowling, and that a trailer for the film and release information is forthcoming.
Stay tuned for more, and to stay up-to-date in the meantime, be sure to “like” Axeman at Cutter’s Creek on Facebook.
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