Christian Grillo [Interview]
And we are back everyone with Day 3 of Trainwreck’d Society’s 1st Annual Week of Horror! We are counting down the days until every horror fan’s favorite holiday is upon us, and we are celebrating the world of horror by speaking with some of the business’s finest contributors. From filmmakers to actors and more, we are speaking with some incredible folks. So, without further delay, let’s jump in to today’s fine gentleman who was kind enough to share a few words with us. Today we have the pleasure of featuring independent filmmaker Christian Grillo, the man behind the 2012 indie hit Deer Crossing, and the creator of the upcoming science fiction thriller Apocalypse Kiss. He also works alongside his lovely wife on the popular horror themed television show Roxsy Tyler’s Carnival of Horrors. He is a man who needs no introduction in so many different circles of fine folks creating beautiful work, especially in the world of independent horror films (not to pigeon hold Christian, as he will justify later on). His 2012 film Deer Crossing absolutely blew me away. It was as though the idea of have such a low budget was in no way going to phase this man and keep him from creating a very wonderful film, which I believe he most certainly did. So how about we grill this poor guy about making that film, his upcoming works, and what he thinks of the world of horror in this day and age. Enjoy!
Can you tell us a bit about your 2012 film Deer Crossing? What was your inspiration behind creating this film?
Deer Crossing was my second feature film and the first to reach such a wide audience. With its release on REDBOX and Netflix and many online outlets and actual DVD rental locations, I felt that I had made some kind of impression on an actual audience that was not familiar with my work. The backlash of negative feedback was actually very refreshing to me. I learned that I was on the right path to succeeding something that I really wanted… people to feel something again from a film. Most of my favorite films were the ones that the masses either didn’t like or didn’t understand, Blue Velvet, Jacob’s Ladder, True Romance, Hardware. I have never been a fan of the widely accepted PG-13 cinema that is so abundant today. I wanna be inspired when I watch a movie, not fed adverts and safe pre-established franchises. I understand the business in the “Movie Business” but it shouldn’t be all dollars and cents. This was my inspiration from day one when I wrote Deer Crossing, to pull the rug out from under people and remind them that Movies and Art in general are not always meant to be safe. Reading review after review on redbox has proved to me that the American audience is a bunch of hypocritical children. I was given half star after half star rating with comments like ” This movie is disgusting” or “This movie needs to be pulled from redbox, children shouldn’t watch it” or “This movie is so disturbing I couldn’t stop thinking about it”… Yet they gave it a half star rating. When I watch a film that is labeled as a Horror/Thriller and it does any of the above to me I would think that the director accomplished his goal. To bring horror into my life.
Now that some time has passed since the film’s release, how do you feel about the finished product that is Deer Crossing?
Looking back I think I could have done a better job with some things and made some different choices in its design. It’s not a masterpiece… but most films aren’t. It was my second film and I think I take something from each one that teaches me how to do a better job each time.
When somebody walks out of a theatre, or turns off their DVD player, after watching a film of yours, what are you hoping they will feel and/or think? (Aside from just “liking” it?
Just the fact that they think about it is gratitude enough. I watch so many movies on Netflix that I can hardly tell apart anymore. They all have the same story, the same plot, the same faces, the same concept. If anything I would like people to say “Well… that was different”. If they can say that I win.
What, if any, are some of your favorite horror films you have seen this year?
Sad to say I haven’t seen any horror films this year that I can honestly say I liked. I have found myself growing bored with the genre. Same shit different day. This is why we see so many remakes these days. The people who actually have the money to make films lack the imagination. I am told that The Conjuring is pretty good…. I haven’t watched it yet.
Can you tell us a bit about your upcoming film Apocalypse Kiss? What inspired you to create this story?
My wife Carmela had suggested to me that she wanted to play a lesbian serial killer in a film. I liked the idea but I felt that this idea alone would need to be explored in an environment that was bigger than what we have used in the past. It would have to be somewhere that created the characters, not the characters creating it. Hence a futuristic backdrop. Apocalypse Kiss wasn’t just another film project for me, it was a David and Goliath story. Not the film itself but the fact of making it. I have always wanted to make a film that transported people to another world… Star Wars, Hardware, Aliens, Mad Max. Most ultra low budget film makers don’t even attempt to achieve a film like this because it’s just to difficult and costs too much money. This inspired me. I’m not just a writer/director because I like to say “Action”. I like to make things, create things, and do the impossible with my team. This is what I love about movies. I wanna be lied to and told that there is another world out there. I wanna be shown this world and made to believe that it exists. But foremost, I wanna be shown this world through good old fashioned tricks created by imagination. Like the movie Hardware, Apocalypse Kiss was shot mostly in one building. My team and I created 9 sets. These sets are the world of Apocalypse Kiss. USA 2052. Now I’m not saying Apocalypse Kiss should be held up to the standards of a film like Blade Runner but the Apocalypse Kiss does transport you and does it for what Ridley spent on Decker’s wardrobe. Apocalypse Kiss received multiple offers, some before the film was completed. It now has a home at MMI with a Global distro deal. BAM! You feel that Goliath?
What was it like to give direction to the legendary Lloyd Kaufman?
Most people don’t know but Lloyd is actually my biological father. He doesn’t know it yet, but it’s true I swear. Actually Lloyd was great. He was my first choice when selecting a cast for the film and I wouldn’t want any one else to be the President of my world than Lloyd Kaufman. He’s a fucking rebel and he don’t give a shit. I love this man, he has been doing what I wanna do for over 40 years. Make movies, and make them his way. On set Lloyd was very humble. He cracks jokes, runs his own camera for behind the scenes, and is ready like a pro actor. He doesn’t try to interfere, he takes direction and knows his shit. To work with a man who inspired me to do what I do since I was Ten years old is like meeting your hero. It’s even better when your hero is a great fucking guy.
Your main focus has been on horror films, but you have been known to sight inspirations like Robert Rodriquez and Adrian Lynne. So tell us, have you ever thought about breaking out in to a new genre? If you, what genre(s)?
It’s funny cause I always get pegged as a horror guy. Booley, my first feature was a black comedy… a satire. (You can catch this on VUDU) Though it was about a serial killer I would never call it a horror. It’s a weird comedy. Deer Crossing is about the human animal, the guy next door who keeps women locked up in his back yard and a government too corrupt to care. To me this was a crime drama, yeah it’s got horror elements to it but I still don’t think of Deer Crossing as horror. Now… Apocalypse Kiss is a complete Sci-Fi thriller. It’s not scary or even meant to be scary. So to answer your question… I think I have already broken away. Comedy, Crime dram, Sci-fi… I try to break away every time. It’s the audience that says I’m horror. “Or horrible”. Well if that’s not enough, my next film is going to be a kids film. I’m not kidding.
What are you plans for Halloween?
I make no plans, front porch, candy, kids in costumes. Last year my neighborhood canceled Halloween because of an early snow, only half the residents knew this. The township said they would reschedule the following week. Shittiest Halloween ever. Hope this ones better.
What was the last thing that made you smile?
My cat Bazinga bites my ass when I’m sitting on the toilet. Makes him feel freaky I guess. Hey… you asked.