After Dark Originals: Steven C. Miller Talks Scream of the Banshee
So far, Steven C. Miller’s Scream of the Banshee has already turned some heads with an admittedly fascinating poster. Now the director chats with us to shed some more light on his upcoming After Dark Originals contribution.
"The idea of the banshee - the folklore, the legend - is that she pretty much can take many forms,” Miller says of his film’s infamous creature. “She can take the form of seductress, she can take the form of the banshee itself - which is the way it comes to take you out, and can she can also come as almost like a spirit-type entity that haunts you. She definitely has a lot of ways to scare the audience, that's for sure." Indeed, the banshee can also appear as a freakish old hag. We’ll learn much about this creature throughout the film, according to Miller.
"The opening of the movie takes place in ancient times so we get a great feel for where the character comes from, how they have to trap it, how they have to stop it... We get that right at the beginning so we know what we're in for for the rest of the movie." And how evil is this thing that haunts its victims for days after they’ve heard its legendary shriek? “The only way to protect yourself is not to scream. She feeds on your screams – once you scream, you’re dead. It’s really about her haunting you, her trying to scare you, her getting you to scream.” Miller won’t say exactly what the banshee does to end your time on earth, but we suspect it ain’t pretty or painless. But how will the viciousness be presented?
"In a movie that was only shot in roughly 14 days [without] a big budget, you don't really have the opportunity to do a lot of CGI effects. [CGI's] just not my thing. I'm much more of a hands-on person - what I see, what I can touch is what scares me. So I really wanted a physical presence onscreen." Miller also shares a bit of insight into a few of the banshee's "morphing" effects we may enjoy. "With the amount of time, we weren't able to do everything I wanted to do and make it look as great as I think it could have. But I think at the end of the day, it's definitely something for old school, 80's, monster movie fans. This is a movie they're gonna relate to and have fun with..."
The "old school" approach wasn't always the plan, however. "The [initial] script idea (written by Anthony Ferrante) was that it was all gonna be CG. And that was just not something I wanted to do. When I came on board, it was much more, 'Okay, this is gonna be practical.' And I think in the long run it saved them a lot of money anyway."
Even once that decision was made, there would still be a bit of trouble. The original effects artist that Miller was “forced to use while I was in Louisiana turned out to be terrible” and was quickly let go. To the rescue came effects artist Vincent J. Guastini. “Vincent came in and saved the day. We didn’t lose any shooting days – we didn’t have time to. He was able to come in, and we were able to move the schedule around so he could do all of the prosthetics there in Louisiana. There was a lot of stuff involved – a lot of props – and he built all of those as well.”
Miller chose Bulgaria to film the centuries-ago opening to "make the film look huge," courtesy of Bulgaria's impressive mountains, landscapes and structures. "I've never been there before - it was really fun. The place just looks like it's been bombed out, like an apocalypse hit it. But it's weird because there are still all of these old monasteries standing and castles all around. We were able to shoot in an old monk monastery - there was no production value needed." With only one day to shoot in Bulgaria, Miller scored the opening sequence, including a horse chase.
The cast includes Lance Henrickson and Lauren Holly, both of whom Miller grew up admiring. This writer wonders if Miller has any stories to share after working with two important figures from his youth. "I think my favorite of Lance is the day he showed up. We'd talked about his character a little bit on the phone - we didn't have a lot of time to talk before he got there. He kind of mentioned that he was gonna do something a little wacky, and I was kinda nervous. Well, he shows up and he had his nails completely painted. He had a wig on - a toupee - that was on backwards. And he looked like a complete mess, but it worked! And it actually made the character way more three-dimensional and much more of a fun movie. Lance himself, he's just a funny guy and he constantly kept everybody on-set laughing. It’s also got Lauren Holly, who is just a pro. She’s one of those girls that can be joking one minute, then I say ‘action’ and she’s crying – in the moment, in the scene and she’s good to go. In a movie like this, we pretty much told everyone that I wasn’t doing more than two or three takes, so the actors really had to be prepared to just get it done. And Lauren and Lance are both those kinds of people – as actors, you don’t have to worry about [them], you don’t have to do too much directing because they understand, they get it. You tell them what to do and they do it. They take direction really well, and it’s awesome to work with people that you grew up watching and thinking were amazing…”
Miller is also super-excited about his upcoming film, Apocalypse: Undead. Keep checking here for more updates on that flick, out in the fall of this year, which Miller has promised us will be “WILD.”
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