SLICING “BEEF”: INTERVIEW WITH DIRECTOR PETE JACELONE

Slasher films have a tendency to look alike. After all, how many times can you see nubile young girls fall screaming under well-aimed blades?

Veteran low-budget/high-scream horror filmmaker Pete Jacelone (“Psycho Sisters,” “Psycho Sisters 2,” “Dead Students Society,” “The Erotic Mirror”) is literally slicing new territory in his latest feature. The film is called “Beef: You Are What You Eat” and it makes a significant change in the slasher modus operandi: The screaming young ladies are sitting this one out – instead, the victims of the slasher are a group of male bodybuilders.

Bodybuilders? Yes, in this film the slasher is a deranged fitness photographer with an obsessive mania of gaining muscle bulk. He literally cuts the big boys down to size (to bite size, actually) in his quest to become the next Arnold.

“Beef: You Are What You Eat” achieves a funky blend of genuine horror with unexpected comedy from the bodybuilder victims (hey, who knew those muscleheads could do comedy?). Film Threat caught up with Jacelone at his Mount Freedom, N.J., home to discuss this unusual new movie.

What was the inspiration behind “Beef”?
I was contacted by a writer of short story that featured a nerdy guy who kills a bullying body builder and eats his flesh. I was asked if I was interested in making a short film based on it. But the more I read it, the more I thought this could make a good feature film. So we expanded the characters and story line, and eventually came up with “Beef: You Are What You Eat.”

Bodybuilders aren’t usually celebrated for their comic gifts, but you wound up with some rather funny big guys (particularly Adam Reich as the too-eager would-be calendar model). What went into the casting of the film?
I think I found some pretty funny, and mostly talented bodybuilders for this flick. I arranged for a casting call though NAB, a bodybuilder’s web site. Mike, the guy who runs the site, was pretty helpful. He put out a mass mailing to his guys, and a bunch of them responded. I had each one send me a videotaped audition. I had them read some lines from the script, and act out death scenes. Plus they all did some of their posing routines.

Frankly I was impressed with the response. Some very well known and nationally recognized athletes and fitness models responded. Most of them were fairly decent actors. Each one had their own unique personality, so I mostly had them expand their natural persona’s into their characters. So I think I got a good natural cross-section of the kinds of people who become professional bodybuilders. We got a few genuinely nice guys, a few cocky guys, etc. Actually, they were all great guys and fun (if not mildly intimidating) to work with.

From a horror filmmaker’s perspective, is it more fun to have guys or girls as the victim of a mad slasher?
That’s a good question. Actually, as a horror film maker its fun killing both guys and girls. Traditionally, girls are the classic victims of horror films. I believe this is true since the earliest days of horror.

In my first film, “Psycho Sisters” (1995), I tried a different formula by creating a story about two sick chicks who murder and butcher guys. In a lot of ways, guys are more interesting as victims – they generally tend to be less vulnerable than girls. I think “Psycho Sisters” was one of the first horror movies to totally break the scream queen victim mold by using innocent guys as victims. After making that movie, I found that a lot of people (both guys and girls) liked the “male victim” formula, so I continued to experiment with it in various projects.

I think “Beef” was the culmination of it all, because not only are the victims guys, but they’re also big strong musclemen. To my knowledge this is the first movie that features body builders as slasher victims.

What’s been the distribution strategy behind “Beef”?
We released a special limited edition of “Beef” on our ScreamKings.com web site, basically to get the movie out there. Meanwhile we are continuing to send “Beef” for review and to festivals; we’re hoping to find a distributor. You probably know that finding a distributor for a low-budget shot-on-video horror film isn’t easy, but because of this movie’s unique premise and its potential appeal not only to horror fans, but also to the whole fitness and bodybuilding subculture (which happens to be huge), we hope “Beef” will eventually find a distributor for national home video release.

What are your next projects?
My business partner, Alex Pucci, and myself are very excited about our upcoming shot on film project “Frat House Massacre.” It took us many months to shoot, and we’re finally in the final phases of post-production. The movie takes place in the 70s, and has a definite raw grind-house/slasher feel. We’re very fortunate to have Claudio Simonetti on board doing the soundtrack score. The film is scheduled for release late in 2007.

Beyond that? There’s always something brewing in the wings, including the possibility of more bodybuilder victim slasher films. After all, they were fun to kill!




Posted on September 7, 2007 in Interviews by
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