Director and writer Ryuhei Kitamura reveals how his ten-year friendship with Mick Garris sparked the bloody short Mashit, part of the horror anthology Nightmare Cinema. The movie premiered at this year’s Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal on Thursday, July 12th.
A series of down-on-their-luck individuals enter the decrepit and spine-chilling Rialto theater, only to have their deepest and darkest fears brought to life on the silver screen by The Projectionist – a mysterious, ghostly figure who holds the nightmarish futures of all who attend his screenings. By the time our patrons realize the truth, escape is no longer an option. For once the ticket is torn, their fate is sealed at Nightmare Cinema.
For more information on Nightmare Cinema, check out Fantasia International Film Festival.
Dread Central: What initially enticed you to participate in Nightmare Cinema?
Ryuhei Kitamura: It’s all about amazing Mick Garris. Nightmare Cinema is his baby. I first met Mick at the screening of Midnight Meat Train back in 2008. He loved the movie and told me “You are now one of the masters of horror”. Since then we’ve been very good friends and even wrote the script together, which we still want to make. I can’t remember when was the first time we talked about this Nightmare Cinema project but it was a long time ago.
He told me that he wants to do it Masters of Horror style, but a movie this time and asked me if I’m in, and I said absolutely! That was the beginning.
If you’re in the film business you know how hard it is to set up the project and make it really happen. We had so much interest over the years, nothing happened, back to zero, and Mick never gave up and finally made this happen for real. I have so much respect and love for the master Mick Garris. He is an amazing producer, director and human being.
DC: You are responsible for groundbreaking gore in films like Versus, Azumi, The Midnight Meat Train, Downrange and many more. Even though your short, Mashit, touched on sensitive topics with children, I was overjoyed to see your trademark gore make it into the film. What is your process in orchestrating gory scenes?
RK: I put blame on my amazing Sandra! She came up with this sensitive and no mercy idea. When we finally got the line-up for all 5 directors, I knew I had to do something other masters wouldn’t do. So I started throwing ideas around with Mick and Sandra and we ended up with Mashit. I didn’t even know what it means but loved the sound of the title anyway and when I read it I was blown away. Mick is the producer so I asked him again and again to make sure if he’s serious to let me do this script. He knows me and he knows I’ll go all the way, and still said yes.
We were lucky to have the amazing SFX team KNB on board so I asked them to bring blood pumps from Kill Bill and body parts from The Walking Dead. More than that we were able to shoot in the church where John Carpenter shot the climax of The Fog. We only had a day and a half to shoot the final battle sequences, but it was a blast. I was yelling on the set, “More blood! Give me more blood!”
DC: I noticed that two of Nightmare Cinema‘s cinematographers worked on other stories in the film. You worked with Matthias Schubert. What was that partnership like while constructing the vision for your Mashit?
RK: Matthias is amazing. Extremely talented and has insane passion. I worked with him on Downrange for the first time. Movie making is not an easy job. Everyday something’s gonna come up and you have to face thousands of problems. In a situation like that, you know who you really are. Movie making is the best way to find out what kind of person he or she is. We survived the tough shooting of Downrange and I loved everything Matthias did so I took him on a journey of Nightmare Cinema and he blew me away again. So when Alejandro lost his cinematographer I strongly recommended Matthias and it worked perfect. It’s funny that my lead actress Mariela Garriga is a friend of Alejandro and she originally came to do a casting session with him, and it was that day that I decided to fire the lead actress I already had. So I stole Mariela from Alejandro but I gave him back what I owe by giving him Matthias. That’s what friends do, right?
Anyway, Matthias is my strong right hand man when I make movies and he will shoot my next big action movie which I will start shooting soon.
DC: Sandra Becerril is one of the most recognized horror writers. How was it creating with her?
RK: She’s an amazing sexy crazy bitch…In a good way. If you meet her you would never believe the nicest person writes something that twisted and evil. Mick introduced me to her and we were instantly connected and started throwing ideas. The very first version of Mashit was a bit different from the final version but this “two movies in one” concept was already there. With a strong support from Mick it was pure joy to work with Sandra and I’m looking forward to do something together more.
DC: What do you hope audiences gain from watching Mashit and Nightmare Cinema overall?
RK: We have 5 very different style directors doing something out of pure joy here.I think horror movie fans will enjoy this greatest hits of horror – kind of like Japanese Bento Box style. As both a fan and friend, I’m curious to watch what other directors did. When Mick chose me to be a part of this amazing project, I knew that he wanted me to do the craziest and bloodiest episode. And that’s exactly what I did.
I’m so honored to be part of Nightmare Cinema and I hope audiences enjoy it as much as I do.