What’s the best thing you’ve seen recently then, seen anything good?
(Pause) Hmmm…(long pause)
The static buzz of silence…
Yeah, I’m just thinking of something that knocked my socks off. You know, the last film that I really had a lot of fun with was Kill Bill and that’s mainstream, which is incredible y’know. Ummm…well, see, this is mainstream too…(reflectively) that’s weird…I dunno, maybe I’m spending too much time in Hollywood.
What were you going to say?
Saw this film called Donnie Darko which kinda got looked over. I just found it on video and was like, okay, yeah, this is what it is, but it’s kinda…mildly subversive and at least it’s trying and it’s well-acted and it’s got a lot of nice direction. I quit looking for the Holy Grail some time ago, I just look for something that’s competently directed and well acted because so much shit isn’t.
Let me just tell you something ironically funny. I just bumped into the twin brother of the last director I interviewed for Film Threat about half an hour ago in a chip shop. The film was a Scottish film called Four Eyes and the director’s brother is in the film. And I walked into the chip shop in Bainsford and there’s his brother standing. And I’m like “Is your brother Duncan Finnigan?” and he’s like “yeah, yeah,” and I’m like “’Four Eyes’ was brilliant.” He was totally astounded that somebody had recognized him on the street. (Jim laughs) It’s just that that was the last guy I interviewed for Film Threat, and then meeting his brother when I’m going to be interviewing you.
The usual chaos. I understand that when you made “Roadkill” it horrified the lead actor Mark Gillespie (who plays the main character, cannibal murderer John Martin – Graham) when he saw it that he said he wouldn’t make himself available for a feature-length version. Is that correct? (In the short Gillespie has to dismember a male hitchhiker and cook a topless woman alive after waylaying them on the road after their car breaks down. He then eats them. The footage is incredibly grim and graphic – Graham)
He said that at the time. We made “Roadkill” and sent it out to a bunch of companies, probably 20 companies with an extended 100-page treatment, which is more or less a narrative version of the script. And everybody was horrified. It was too much in ’88. Now I’m going to re-approach everybody, that’s actually one of the things I’m gonna do here in 2004. And Mark has come around, and he’s ready to be John Martin. I think maybe we can actually pull it off this year, and I’m so ready to make that film right now. But yeah, at the time, back in ’88, that tape got finished and passed around Dayton, Ohio, and everybody had a copy. And poor Mark Gillespie, this theatre major from Wright State University, y’know, a nice guy who’d played King Lear and what have you, Shakespeare, goes to parties and everybody’s like (in exaggerated shocked voice) “Look, it’s the cannibal!” And yeah, he was pretty pissed off about that. (We both laugh) But he’s all good, he’s a reporter in Ohio, married, has some wonderful children. He’s a good guy, but if I wave the right amount of money under his nose he’ll be cackling and eating flesh-
Rolling in his own vomit-
-on the big screen. but this time in 35mm.
Would you like to make it as hardcore as the short?
(In disbelief) Come on, is there any other way?
I remember the first time I met you, in that theatre-cum-leisure-center in Northampton. And you were ranting on about how you wanted to have (here I mention sick, disturbing stuff that Jim told me about back in 1992 that he still wants to put in the film, if he ever gets it off the ground – Graham) and there were mothers moving their children away from us…
Yeah, but don’t put that in the interview, cos somebody’ll rip me off. (Have to say I don’t think so, Jim – the proposed material is way too grim and depressing for that – Graham) But yeah, that’s still the way things go. It’s gonna be over-the-top.
Do you honestly think you can get financing for something like that?
(Without a trace of doubt in his voice) Oh, I know I can.
How do you know you can?
Because I have faith.
Well, can’t argue with that, it’s gotten you where you are. The envelope has been pushed a lot since “Roadkill”…even if you watch a mainstream film like “The Cell,” that Jennifer Lopez film, there’s some pretty fucking graphic stuff in that. You know what I mean?
Jennifer Lopez film?
Did you see that film, “The Cell”?
“The Cell”? Oh yeah, I saw it. Yeah, I know, one or two sequences did push the envelope.
Graphic violence seems to be a lot more kind of acceptable than it was…
Oh well, come on, look at a film like “Final Destination” or “Final Destination 2,” they’re doing stuff that I used to dream about in the ’70s and they’re putting them on film. I mean, the most graphic body explosions…the kid getting hit by a pane of glass in “Final Destination 2”…
I’ve never seen either of them.
…oh my God! At least here in America it’s…I mean this thing is a whole body crush with a splat that, c’mon…I mean, I think “Kill Bill “ was sort of a harbinger of what’s coming. It’s like violence is okay, at least, y’know…violence on-screen seems to thrive during Republican regime here in the States, so…
Why do you think that is? Repression and people getting angry, or what?
Well I think, yeah, it’s reactionary.
Do you think you will make another feature then?
Do I think I will? Absolutely. 100%.
Okay, so this is my last question then. Are you still interested in Manson or would you be quite happy never to hear his name again and do you wish you’d (chuckling) never heard of him?
Oh no, no, I’m still very interested in what happens to all of them and to the case. There’s a lot of room for improvement upon my film. But he’s off my radar. I’m going for my next subject matters, y’know, I’m going after action, I’ve got an action film I wanna do, I’ve got a mafia film I wanna do. And I’ve got a film about a cannibal called John Martin I wanna do. And they’re all scripts. If you look at the Manson saga it could be a film that lasted 76 hours, it could be (chuckling) the real “Friday The 13th” through, y’know, “Part 10” but be interesting. I’d love to see some filmmaker go for it, I understand CBS is making a new TV version of “Helter Skelter,” I can’t wait to see that. So no, I’m still interested in that and, hell no, I’m not sorry that I made the film, I love my film and I actually get a kick out of watching it every time I put it in. So it’s a big happy ending. (Sardonically) A Hollywood happy ending, Graham.
The Story That Wouldn’t Die
“That’s All Folks!”
Posted on March 23, 2004 in Interviews by Graham Rae
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