Exclusive Interviews from the Set of Parasites


It was a hot sunny day in August in smoggy downtown Los Angeles when we visited the set of indie filmmaker Chad Ferrin’s Parasites. That day’s scene was being shot in a derelict cemetery, dry dead grass barely covering the graves of those poor souls buried six feet below us.

The production was also utilizing the chapel, already a shambles but made even more so thanks to eerie production design. Below the pews was the crematorium, which bore some truly creepy artifacts including a coffin-sized cast iron oven with a window offering an inner view.

Parasites is about a group of young friends who get lost in the seedy streets of L.A.’s Skid Row, where they encounter a crazed gang of vagrants that seizes them one by one and horrifically kills all but one man. The survivor escapes on foot, naked and unarmed, with a pack of depraved transients in pursuit. Robert “Corpsy” Rhine is an executive producer of Parasites, which was produced in association with Girls and Corpses.  He also appears in the film as “Spade.”


We talked with Ferrin and two of the film’s producer-actors, Robert Miano (Donnie Brasco) and Silvia Spross (Dario Argento’s Giallo), and here’s what they had to say.

Dread Central: The last film you did, The Chair, had such a great cast. So can you tell us a little bit about who’s in this one?

Chad Ferrin: Well, we’ve got Robert Miano from Donnie Brasco and Joseph Pilato from Pulp Fiction. We’ve got lots of fresh faces, kids, because I wanted young blood. I didn’t want some jaded asshole who’s going to be like, “I’m downtown, there’s no bathrooms, there’s a bum taking a shit next to me, I’m afraid for my life.” I wanted kids who have not been on a set really and are like, “This is great, this is exciting.” Every one of them was just so happy to be there and it had that energy. Everyone was infectious and everyone was having such a great time. It has been the greatest filming experience of my life. Best time on set, ever.

DC: That’s saying something because you’ve done a lot of work.

CF: On paper, it looked like the most grueling experience: all night shoots, downtown Los Angeles, dangerous areas and what not; [yet], it was the most pleasurable time in my life.

DC: Did you write this script?

CF: I did write the script a couple years ago; Noah Segan and I at the time [were going to work together] because we just finished Someone’s Knocking at the Door, and we were going to make it for a higher budget. We tried to get the money and nothing really clicked. Then I got hired to do The Chair with the great Roddy Piper. He just passed away and that’s just really heartbreaking. He was not only the nicest guy but he was a good actor. He had everything: looks, talent, sharp, strong. He had it all and was a nice guy to be around.


DC: Thank goodness you got one of his last performances on film.

CF: And he is great. There is a Deliverance-style prison rape scene, and we were setting it up and Rod was like, “You know what, I’m really uncomfortable doing this.” And I’m like, “Roddy, don’t worry about it; you could just step back and supervise the other guards, don’t worry about it,” because I’m like, “Take what comes to you as a low budget thing, and don’t be sticky about it.” So I’m like, “Whatever you need to do Roddy, it’s fine.” Then I gave the other guys a pep talk and I’m like, “Look, we’re in competition with Straw Dogs, Deliverance, and Irreversible, so this rape scene has to be gut-churning and something that you remember,” and I was trying to be as passionate as possible because I’m willing to die for what I do, because it’s all I’ve got in my life, and I’m trying to explain that to them and Roddy is listening, and he comes up to me after and said, “Chad, I want to rape them but I’ve got to kill them after.” And he did it and it was jaw-dropping. So it was really unbelievable and then I heard that he passed away. We were shooting [this] and it was really sad. But we’ll meet again; there’s another world out there.

DC: Where does the title come into the premise of Parasites?

CF: Well, to me the homeless people are kind of parasites. Everyone in a way is a parasite; the boyfriend, the girlfriend that’s sucking the energy in life and love. It centers around living on the streets and this is their home. They live off other people’s wealth and success and everything like that, so they’re a kind of parasite. The dual thing is that the kid is just sucked into this world, and he is just a college-going kid, and he has to fight for his life after he escapes and he puts on the clothes of a homeless person. So now he’s out there and everyone treats him like shit, so he sees the side through the eyes of the homeless people that are trying to kill him throughout the movie. It’s basically a remake of The Naked Prey. Also check out Apocalypto, which is a remake of The Naked Prey.

DC: Your makeups here on set are awfully gory. Who’s doing the practical effects?

CF: Melanie DuBarr and Crystal Nardico, referred to me by Gary Tunnicliffe, who I’d worked with before. I was like, “Gary, look I’m doing this low budget movie and we’re making it for like 20 thousand dollars, 10 days straight in downtown Los Angeles, can you help me out and find me someone that’s really good with make-up and really wants to get their fingers bloody?” and he’s like, “I’ve got a couple of girls who might be able to help you out.” He was really protective over them because he’s worried and fearful of their lives in downtown and then he was like, “Just let me know if anything’s gone bad, and then they’ve got to walk.” And I was like, “If anything does go bad, they should walk” and everything has been so smooth and so great and pleasant.

DC: So what are some of the more gory make-ups? I know that there is a slashed throat coming up? And I see someone here who looks like she’s been shot.

CF: Yeah, [Silvia] was shot with a shotgun. We’ve got a foot being blown off with the shotgun next, and we’ve got Joe Pilato getting a Scatman Crothers style death from The Shining with a shovel in the chest. The gang banger, Peter Mendoza, gets a chop to the side of the neck, kind of a Don’t Look Now style slash where the axe comes… so there is always a little reference there, but to me a lot of it comes on the fly. This has been really great. Working on The Chair was like being a gun for hire, and I tried to do as much as I could but it’s one of those things where I want to go back to being my own boss, do my own thing and just being 100% in control, and not having to say, “Hey, you like this cut, do you like this shot?” It got me so frustrated that I took my entire fee from The Chair and funded this movie with it. The minute I got the money, I found out they’re about to tear down the Sixth Street Bridge, which is the major focal point. Not only is it the most filmed bridge in all of the movies… but I needed it for Parasites.

DC: Yeah, why are they tearing it down? Is it dangerous?

CF: It’s crumbling supposedly, but all the other bridges that were built around the same time don’t seem to have that trouble. So I found out they’re going to tear it down in August. It’s rush, rush, rush.





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