Zombie Strippers! director Jay Lee moves in a new direction with Alyce Kills, a much darker psychological tale about a woman’s guilty conscience slowly driving her to the brink of insanity.
Then, she whips past Crazy Town and lands right in the middle of an all-out gorefest. Dread Central spoke to Lee about the character of Alyce (played confidently by newcomer Jade Dornfeld) and her unbelievable transformation from shy wallflower to bloodthirsty femme fatale.
Dread Central: Do you think Zombie Strippers! will create more interest in Alyce Kills? Would you say that fans of Zombie Strippers! will be open to watching this film? Do you think there are different types of horror fans or are we mostly all in the same camp?
Jay Lee: Here’s the thing that I learned about horror fans in the past two years, when I’ve been really knee-deep in horror films, is that I think they’re the smartest audiences out there. Because the thing about horror fans is they want to be surprised; they like experiencing new things. Most film genres you can pretty much predict an ending like a rom-com or a James Bond film. You pretty much know what’s going to happen and people are just there for the ride; whereas horror films, you don’t know what’s going to happen at the end. The genre is so varied and there’s so many different types of horror movies. And I think the true horror fans really just like to experience new filmmakers, new films, new plotlines, new twists, new endings, and I think that horror fans are the ones that appreciate that the most. The true horror fans that really enjoyed Zombie Strippers! for the horror comedy it was, I think they’re going to like the different twist that Alyce> is, definitely.
DC: With horror fans, they’ll go out and pretty much watch everything but if you’re a fan of romantic comedies you’re not going to go out and watch every romantic comedy ever made.
JL: Right, exactly.
DC: So, even though this centers around a female character, how much of the fatalism in the film comes from you? Obviously, you wrote it. Did it kind of help you to exorcise some demons making this film?
JL: Actually, yes, it very much did. The original idea for the film was just to give some actors some really meaty parts to work with. So, I was working on this dark psychological thriller scene by scene just to create something that an actor can really sink their teeth into. But then I went through a really bad year and that’s when I was able to infuse it with dark tones and the desperation and the fatalism just from what I went through for a year. It is very much me.
DC: Speaking of the performances, Eddie [Rouse] as Rex puts in a pretty fearless performance. Was he the most fun character to write and who do you think is more nuts? Alyce or Rex?
JL: When I was working on it I was calling it a downward spiral into sanity. So, I was trying to make some crazy characters but at the same time make them as… it depends on how you looked at it. They could be more sane than crazy. Here’s Rex as this drug dealer but yet he can defend it against the perception of, say, white-collar crime. He’s not nearly as bad. Everybody thinks Eddie ad-libbed that part because that’s really kind of who he is, he’s not a drug dealer, but he’s very conspiracy oriented so everybody thinks that was actually him…
DC: Oh, that’s funny. Well, at one point, he’s called a ‘fucking cliche’ by Alyce. Does making the male characters into more predictable villains make it easier to believe that Alyce is going to go nuts? It just doesn’t feel like there’s any humanity around her, so I guess she feels a little bit more alone?
JL: I think making the male characters a little bit more predictable and, in a way, even weaker – like Vince is definitely the weakest character in the film – it’s stepping stones for Alyce for her downward spiral into sanity. Where I think the male characters become more predictable, she becomes more unpredictable. That was the thinking, at least.
DC: When she starts to go crazy, it starts to happen pretty quickly. Did you always want her to start to lose it and be that intense, or were there versions where that descent happened more gradually?
JL: Uh, no. What I was trying to do with her downward spiral was to do it in stages and do it in steps. First to start psychologically, to have her transmorph psychologically – like the funeral scene. And the scene with the news broadcast and the scene with Vince where she’s just manipulating in any way possible, going as far as having him punching her out. To really do it psychologically and then suddenly the physicality could start because she just can’t find the control in that scene and there’s really only one way to find that control with Vince. That just starts a whole new twist into her progression. Then, it gets physical because that’s the next step she has to take.
DC: Yeah, it gets VERY physical. There’s a real Fight Club quality to Alyce’s work scenes. It made me think that you probably had some shitty jobs back before you were directing, so what’s the shittiest job you’ve ever had, do you think?
JL: I don’t think I’ve ever really held an office job like that. That was actually shot in, um, one of the associate producers – her name is Shannon Malone – that was actually shot in her office and she’s been working that job for years. And I know how much she hated it…
But my worst job probably was I had to work for a cigarette company counting cigarettes, stale cigarettes once when I was in High School. Just repacking stale cigarettes and shipping them off in the flickering fluorescent lights in an inner city warehouse. So, for me, that was the worst job I ever had.
Alyce Kills is available now on DVD and VOD.
Life takes a downward spiral for Alyce after a night of partying goes terribly wrong and she accidentally pushes her best friend off of a building. Panicked, Alyce lies to the police about her involvement. When she later learns that her friend miraculously survived, she begins to unravel, losing sleep, her job and eventually her sanity. When she eventually decides to take control, she unleashes enough chaos to satisfy any gorehound.
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