The Chair is a brand new, star-studded who’s who of horror set in a spooky evil prison where sitting in the “chair” isn’t so cushy… and neither is getting to the set. Buried among the rubble of broken glass, sagging stucco, and various flotsam festooned with gang-graffiti, sits Pollution Studios.
It’s a small structure which thwarts even the canniest GPS technology, and its parking lots make a can of sardines look comfy. Yet, it seems like the perfect setting for such mayhem – when we finally managed to pin down the director, Chad Ferrin, here’s what he had to say about The Chair.
Dread Central: Tell us a little bit about the plot of the story, and if there are any particular influences or inspirations… The Green Mile, perhaps?
Chad Ferrin: The film is based on an amazing graphic novel by Peter Simeti about an innocent man (Tim Muskatell) on Death Row who witnesses incomprehensible acts of savagery by the prison’s sadistic Warden, played by the fantastic Bill Oberst, Jr.
I was influenced by the masterpieces of the prison genre like Brute Force, Riot in Cell Block 11, A Man Escaped, Runaway Train, White Heat, as well as some horror faves like Exorcist III, Renny Harlin’s Prison, The Tenant, The Ninth Configuration, and Jacques Tourneur’s Night of the Demon. And seeing we were shooting Anamorphic almost entirely within confined spaces, my DP Christian Janss and I found Nick Ray’s Bigger Than Life to be the most inspirational.
DC: What was a typical shooting day like on The Chair?
CF: It was really smooth sailing: 10-hour days, fantastic food (especially the creatively executed vegan fare), and a really talented cast and crew that made my job a breeze. The only bump in the road was with a cast member that had to be replaced after 3 days shooting, but we managed to bust ass, replace him, re-shoot those 3 days and still come in on schedule.
DC: You have a seriously awesome cast. I’d love to hear about how your “name” stars came on, and how long you’ve known each of them, and all that.
CF: I had suggested a few greats that I had worked with previously like Tim Muskatell, Ezra Buzzington, and Joseph Pilato. But it was Peter Simeti that was responsible for pulling together the excellent cast that you see before you. The performances, across the board, knocked me out, but I have to make a special mention of Roddy Piper and Ezra’s jaw-dropping performance in a scene on par with the seat-squirming impact of Deliverance. [Ed. Note: The Chair also stars Zach Galligan, Noah Hathaway, Naomi Grossman, Derrick Damions, Kyle Hester, Joe “Animal” Laurinaitis, Susan Eisenberg, and Kin Shriner.]
DC: Who would you describe as your ideal viewer for The Chair?
CF: Fans of the graphic novel, horror fans, and those sick and tired of CGI-filled crap and Hollywood remakes will find a stylish, unique film experience with The Chair.
DC: What’s next for you, and how do you approach your career in general? Do you actively seek to do different kinds of things, or do you tend to build on the successes of similar projects?
CF: I hope to start filming my western Horse later this year; we’ve got half the budget in place and are close to locking the rest, so things are looking good. Actually, Zebadiah DeVane, an executive producer on The Chair, is interested in saddling up on that one, so it just goes to show… you put in a hard day’s work with a dash of talent, and the right people take notice.
Typically, I write scripts and then bang on doors in search of funding. It’s a long, uphill battle that can be quite soul-crushing at times, but I keep at it until something breaks. The Chair was really the first project that came along where I didn’t have involvement with the screenplay and I was more of a gun for hire, which in a way was a bit less stressful and allowed me some more breathing room, so to speak. So fingers crossed that more quality projects like The Chair cross my path.
Richard Sullivan (Muskatell) is an innocent man struggling to escape his fate on Death Row. Witnessing the murders of his fellow inmates at the hands of the prison’s sadistic and psychotic Warden (Oberst) and his crew of guards, Sullivan decides that the only way to survive is to fight back. With the body count rising, the Warden and his guards close in on Sullivan. As he matches the brutality occurring in the prison, Sullivan starts to lose his grip on reality. Memories of the childhood abuse he suffered at the hands of his mother combine with vivid hallucinations which push him to the very edge, forcing him to question his sanity at every turn.