GLEN BAISLEY: FEARING THE DARK OF THE TENEMENT IN FAIRVIEW FALLS

Another element that will tie the four movies together is the presence of actor, filmmaker and Fangoria Managing Editor, Michael Gingold, who plays twin brothers Eli and Winston Korman. In Fairview Falls, Eli is the coroner who takes charge of the killer’s victims; his brother, Winston, is a schlock filmmaker who runs afoul of Ethan.

“Mike Gingold originally cameoed as the coroner in ‘Fear of the Dark’. I love the character; it’s a quirky little character. So when we brought him back in ‘The Tenement’—I loved working with Mike, I wanted to use him again. But how do we do this? It takes place in the same universe. So we goofed about it. I don’t know if it was myself or he, but it was like ‘let’s do it as a twin brother as a goof’. So he makes a little reference in ‘The Tenement’. ‘Go see my brother, the coroner. Looks just like me except for the friggin’ beard!’ So now we bring him back in ‘Sins of the Father’ and he had to grow the beard back. And we’re bringing him back as the coroner again in ‘Fairview Falls’. Having everything in the same universe, it’s really easy to paint yourself into a corner. But it’s fun.”

To the casual and cynical reader, Gingold’s presence in Baisley’s movies may seem like a valuable political move—the fledgling filmmaker appealing to the ego of the powerful journalist. Baisley and Gingold, however, are good friends today because of their involvement together on ‘Fear of the Dark’. ‘There’s this one guy on this internet site who said that Mike being in ‘The Tenement’ made it bulletproof, ‘cause no one who wants to write for Fango would dare rip it apart. And that’s just bullshit. I couldn’t get any press for ‘Fear of the Dark’ for the longest time. Mike’s telling me, ‘No, you have no track record’, this, that. I honestly don’t care. He’s a friend, and I liked him right off the bat and wanted to work with him. That’s all there is to it.

“It was one of those flukey things, how we met. I was friends with a friend of his, and I got a call from him one day, he goes, ‘Hey, we’re having a movie night, and I’ve got a guy here who wants to meet you.’ And it turns out it was Mike Gingold. This was back in 2000. So we hung out and I showed him a little bit of ‘Fear of the Dark’. We showed the movie to test audiences and they kept saying, ‘Look, we don’t know anything about the Black Rose Killer. He’s not fearsome enough.’ Because you don’t see him for the rest of the movie. It doesn’t really focus on him, it was more about the aftereffects of his murders. So you never got to see how bad he was. And so it was decided that we were going to go back and shoot this body count sequence. So I said to Mike, Look, I want to nail you to a tree and be a victim.’ He goes, ‘What? How about something a little less involved?’ So I gave him the basic idea of (the coroner character). He came up with the dialogue, which was fun stuff. And we had a good time with it. We became very friendly afterward. So when it came time to do ‘The Tenement’, I said that I wanted to bring him back as something else. And plus, there’s nothing more fun than beating him with a shovel! The shovel’s made of plexiglass, I’m like, ‘No, it won’t hurt’. And the actor wails on him with it, full force, like fifteen times. (laughs) He hates when I tell this story. He goes, ‘You bastard, you’re going to pay for this one day!’ Then we had to do it again, there was a short in the mike so the audio didn’t come out! He’s holding out his coat like ‘el toro’. I’m like, ‘What are you doing? That’s not going to sound right.’ He says, ‘What do you mean. What do you want me to do?’ I said, ‘Put the coat on.’ ‘You’re gonna hit me with the fucking shovel again?’ But, good sport that he is!”

“Bulletproof”, “critic-proof” or not, “The Tenement”, for its part, has received predominantly positive reviews. Some of the acting seems amateurish (and at the risk of offending, even Gingold is to blame at times!), and the movie suffers from familiar problems from lighting and sound. “Fear of the Dark” suffered from these same criticisms.

“‘Fear of the Dark’ is a first movie. There are some technical issues with it. And I’m not saying the ‘Tenement’ is perfect either. If you compare ‘Tenement’ to ‘Fear of the Dark’, I’d say that the story in ‘Fear of the Dark’ is even stronger, because it’s following one person’s spiral into insanity, it focuses on one individual, it’s a dark, psychological thriller. You really have two hours to spend with this character rather than on average a half-an-hour. But yeah, the lighting wasn’t as good in some of the scenes, the sound is off in some places. So it’s a tough sell. As an audience you expect more from movies.

“I got started doing community television, stuff like that. And a friend of mine and I were watching something on TV, he said, ‘Hey, why don’t you write a movie’. Now I’d been a big Full Moon fan, and I knew Denice Duff from going to conventions and stuff. We got to be friends. I thought, ‘Yeah, I’ll try and write something for them’. Denice put a good word in for me, and I got a script to them, even though they didn’t really accept outside stuff at the time. And It didn’t go anywhere, but it was enough encouragement for me to try and rewrite something and see if maybe I could do something on a small scale budget. I raised the money, bought all the equipment, taught myself how to edit. I was used to the old U-Matic machines and the jog shuttle thing. I bought myself a whole computer system, taught myself the whole bit. Got together a semi-professional crew, family, friends, went through the Pennysaver to find actors, the whole nine yards. We set up a shooting schedule of two weeks and shot ‘Fear of the Dark’. The subsequent alternate opening and ending, we did over weekends over the following year or eight months. And I was happy. Right out of the gate, we won an award. Actually, at a local film festival, they tried to ban it at first. They said it was ‘too graphic and too shockingly realistic’.”

All films have their shortcomings. They’re easier to spot, of course, in independent films. Despite it’s own flaws or faults, where “The Tenement” succeeds is in terms of strength of mythology, particularly where the inspired quirks are concerned.

Take, for example, the second story about a young girl, mute and seemingly disturbed. She spends her days listening to an antique radio and dancing with an imaginary playmate. But is her partner imaginary? If not, will that help her escape the sexual predator stalking her when her parents are away? Or take the aside that is almost a throw-away: a drug pusher outside the building encounters the truly creepy landlord, who has the power to show the dealer his very brief future. It’s these little touches that will stay in your head long after “The Tenement” ends. Regardless of a film’s budget and limitations, if it can make you think about it later, if images can pop unbidden into your head without warning, then that movie is a success.

“You try everything you can. Especially on this level, the b-independent level, you try everything you can to stand out. My niche is sort of the Stephen King angle, with the interconnected stories. But from a marketing standpoint, and I think that’s where this might suffer. I try to approach each story from the standpoint of a fresh viewer. It can be a standalone story, but I still try to put in all these subtleties so if you have seen all the other movies, you pick up on all the easter eggs and nuances that are lost on the rest of the world. At least, I hope that’s what people find interesting about it.”

Visit Glen on the web at Light & Dark Productions.




Posted on July 30, 2004 in Interviews by

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