One of the more gleefully absurd films that will be coming out this year is Soichi Umezawa’s Vampire Clay, which follows a small class of teenagers who are studying art, specifically sculpting, when a mysterious batch of clay begins attacking them in increasingly gruesome and outrageous ways. Yes, this movie is about killer clay and it doesn’t shy away from its outlandish premise, instead opting to embrace it fully and with charming glee.
We were very excited to get the opportunity to chat with Umezawa about the film, his love of practical FX (of which the film uses in spades), and what he’s got coming up next!
“Absurdity and gore ensue as a possessed pile of clay begins terrorizing students at an art school.”
After its April 20 release, the film will screen at the 2018 Cinedelphia Film Festival on Saturday, April 21.
Dread Central: How did your work on ABCs of Death 2 prepare you for directing Vampire Clay?
Soichi Umezawa: I did not had a chance to work as a director in a commercial base, therefore, it was a honor to be in ABCs of Death 2. It was a new gateway for me and even though it was a short film (i.e. one of the segment in the film), for me, it was a very big film as I was able to get a credit with ABCs of Death. However, I’ve done all the special effects/practical effects and story-wise in that I wanted to do in my ‘Youth’ segment, so I wondered what shall I do with my feature length movie. I specialize in special makeup effects and I like metamorphose and molding so I decided to use the clay. And I could only think of the film that clay attacking people was Golem so I started to think that it would be fun to approach from different prospect.
DC: Horror fans are very passionate about practical FX over CGI. How do you feel practical FX changes the dynamic of a film?
SU: I grew up watching practical FX so I am very happy to hear that there are still many horror fans who likes practical FX. I also think that practical FX will never end.
The most attractive point of practical FX is very simple, that itself is literally there. And horror fans are hungry for handmade/real love. At least, that’s what I think…
Even the practical FX/molding are not so well-made. The person who is moving those practical FX’s habit, the hand-made/craft-making feeling of the person who is trying hard to move the puppet, the haunted-house feeling of the person who is pumping the blood from the backside, those kind of live, playful feeling, especially those playful things that adults might get mad…I feel bonded to those.
DC: Vampire Clay is full of surreal imagery. Which FX gag was your favorite?
SU: I like all of them but especially I really liked the scene where Reiko was attacked as I was able to think very freely. Also, the last scene of Kakame, where Kakame becomes an earthworm, was very challenging and fun as I was able to create the miniature set that I don’t normally create. Although, to be honest, it would look much better if I was able to make it more high quality.
DC: Where did you even get the idea of killer clay?
SU: I’ve been thinking of the idea of killer clay over 20 years now. And when I was writing the script of the film, I gave shape to the idea that how the clay possesses a human and turns into different forms. But I’ve been doing claymation from about 12 years old, using 8mm film, so for me, the idea of clay moving was not so special at all.
DC: What else are you working on these days? Any more movies in the pipeline?
SU: We are working on a new film right now. Actually, we are working on the sequel to Vampire Clay which will be in production around early summer.
Also, for the special make up side, I am also working on several new films, a TV drama, and a commercial.