December 20, 2015

Indiewire hosts the latest TALES FROM BEYOND THE PALE episode by Joe Maggio. CANNIBALS follows an auteur who discovers that a young filmmaker is biting his style.

Indiewire is exclusively premiering new episodes from the third season of “Tales From Beyond the Pale,” the audio play series produced by Glass Eye Pix. Episodes will be available for two-day windows. 

The season concludes today with filmmaker Joe Maggio’s “Cannibals.” Read an interview with Maggio conducted by Indiewire’s Eric Kohn about the inspiration for the episode below. Pre-order the third season of “Tales From Beyond the Pale” here.

The story of “Cannibals” involves an established director who confronts a young filmmaker who’s been ripping him off. Is this something you’ve experienced firsthand? 

Well, I’ve done my share of idol worshipping — writers and directors I became obsessed with and whose work I devoured. I started off with Cassavetes. I watched his films over and over again, but beyond the film work I really dug into his personal life. I wanted to know what brand of cigarette he smoked, what was his cocktail of choice, whose shirts did he wear, that kind of stuff. I suppose that, unconsciously, I was simply trying to conjure up a presence, to get as close as possible to the man so that some of his greatness might rub off.

READ MORE: How Horror Movies Have Changed Since ‘Psycho,’ According to Filmmaker Eric Red

After Cassavetes I had a David Lynch phase, Kieszlowski, Fellini…And then you reach an age where such obsessive fandom feels somehow undignified. You become your own person, comfortable in your own skin, and it feels silly to be so involved in the minute details of another man’s life. It’s like when I see a grown man walking around in a football jersey with another man’s name on the back – it’s ridiculous! For “Cannibals,” I wondered how it must feel to know that there is this person out there digging into every aspect of your creative and personal life. I imagined it would feel flattering to a point, but then it might start to feel like a violation, or worse…

How did this approach to storytelling differ from your experiences as a filmmaker?

“You reach an age where obsessive fandom feels somehow undignified.”

This is actually my third time out with “Tales From Beyond the Pale” so I feel like I’ve made some progress as a “radioist.” I guess the most obvious difference between radio and film is that with a radio play you’ve got to be careful that your story will be compelling on a purely auditory level, which really isn’t that hard because frankly I find it compelling to just listen to someone with an interesting voice saying interesting things. And that really is the biggest difference for me, that the radio plays allow me to write really long passages of dialogue, which I love to do and which is not something I can get away with as a filmmaker.

With film, I feel like I’m always trying to trim things back, to show and say the minimum. But with the radio plays I let it rip.

You’ve been exploring themes of human depravity across several films. What appeals to you about this focus? 

Oh, I guess what I’m really exploring is my own depravity, my own sick fantasies, or the crushing fears that would otherwise fester inside of me. Writing about these things and then watching an actor get up and speak the words that previously only existed in my head, or perform the gestures and actions I’d imagined a thousand times is a way of exorcising my depravity and achieving a kind of transcendence.

What’s your relationship to the horror genre? Do you consider horror to be a part of your earlier films? “Bitter Feast” is the only one that has some horror elements.

I don’t think I’ve ever made a movie that lies strictly within the horror genre, although “Bitter Feast” comes the closest. I’m someone who dabbles in horror, who sees the horror in the seemingly benign — which, when I think about it now, is actually a defining characteristic of the best horror films, or at least my favorite horror films, like “The Exorcist” or “The Shining.” You start with something so ordinary, so familiar, and then you start peeling away the layers until you get to the rotting core.

What’s next for you?

I’m just finishing a new film, “Supermoto,” about a girl who wakes up in a motel on the edge of the prairie in Eastern North Dakota. She quickly discovers that her boyfriend has ditched her and all he’s left behind is a toothbrush, a few bucks, a set of racing leathers and a supermoto motorcycle. We shot in scope with seventies-era Lomo anamorphic lenses. It’s gonna be pretty sweet.

Cannibals

December 18, 2015

Indiewire hosts Eric Red’s LITTLE NASTIES, a new TALES FROM BEYOND THE PALE episode about the terror of children’s beauty pageants.

 

Indiewire is exclusively premiering new episodes from the third season of “Tales From Beyond the Pale,” the audio play series produced by Glass Eye Pix. Episodes will be available for two-day windows. 

The season continues with filmmaker Eric Red’s “Little Nasties.” Listen to the episode above, and read an interview with Red conducted by Indiewire’s Eric Kohn about the inspiration for the episode below. Pre-order the third season of “Tales From Beyond the Pale” here.

How would you say this medium of storytelling differs from filmmaking? From novels?

Doing a radio show is like making a movie because you’re dealing with getting performances from actors and working with a sound effects mix to tell the story. But it’s really more like a novel, because radio enlists the audience’s imagination as an active participant. A film shows you pictures, a book makes you supply your own, and so does radio. What I love about writing novels is when people read a book they provide their own images to the prose, which is a more intimate involvement because they’re engaging their imagination. It’s the same thing with radio — when you listen to the show, you see what you’re hearing in your head. The fun in doing one of these as a writer and director is designing it to work so the listener fills in the blanks.

READ MORE: ‘Tales From Beyond the Pale’ Season 3 Posters Will Chill You to the Bone

When I was a kid, my grandfather used to tell me about the horror radio shows he listened to as a boy. When he described those radio scenes — the ghostly train engines, the creaking footsteps and rattling bones — my imagination ran wild…just like his must have as a child huddling around the radio listening to famous horror shows like “Inner Sanctum” and “Lights Out.”

“Tales From Beyond the Pale” reinvents the classic radio horror show format for modern horror audiences in the hippest, coolest way.

What inspired your interest in a child beauty pageant as a setting for a horror story?

A while ago, I watched a documentary on child beauty pageants and honestly was mortified. Not just how the pageants objectified children in a pervy way — the whole Jean Benet Ramsey thing — but how some of the kids seemed to be bossing their parents around in every respect. It’s a different culture, so I’m not judging.  But it seemed to me a unique setting for a horror tale that also satirized the child beauty pageant world, in a funny scary way.  So that was the inspiration for “Little Nasties.”

How has this genre evolved since you first started contributing to it? 

“It’s not how you show it but how you don’t show it.”

I think the genre has devolved somewhat. There’s too much gore now, to the point where it’s totally off the chain. The classic horror films that influenced me like “Psycho,” “Rosemary’s Baby,” or “The Exorcist” were more grounded in character and reality, relying on sophisticated suspense and tension techniques. My most recent film, “100 Feet,” with Famke Janssen and Bobby Cannavale, was a throwback to those. The whole film was a woman under house arrest haunted by the ghost of her husband. Even though it was one location and mostly a one-woman show, it still had the audience on the edge of their seat throughout, even with only one death scene.

To me, it’s not how you show it but how you don’t show it. The classic example is the shower scene in “Psycho” — you don’t see any nudity or knife wounds, you just think you do because of how the sequence is designed, so your imagination supplies the pictures, which is what makes the scene so scary. To me, that’s more interesting, and brings me back to what was so much fun about doing “Little Nasties”: the whole show was about using just sound and dialogue to tell a story the audience uses their imagination to visualize, which is very intense.

You started your career in the eighties. What sort of creative challenges have you faced since you first started making movies? 

Getting them made is the biggest creative challenge, same as always. I am very happy to be able say that the films I’ve written and directed so far, “Cohen and Tate,” “Body Parts,” “Undertow,” “Bad Moon” and “100 Feet” all turned out the way I wanted, though they were occasionally a battle to get made. If it was easy, everybody would do it.

What’s next for you?

I’m working on films of my two most recent novels, “It Waits Below,” and “White Knuckle,” and writing the sequel to my novel, “The Guns of Santa Sangre,” which will be the second book in a trilogy.

Little Nasties

December 11, 2015

Indiewire hosts Jeff Buhler’s GUTTERMOUTH, a new TALES FROM BEYOND THE PALE episode inspired by the fact that he’s “always been terrified of drains.” Streaming now!

 

The story for “Guttermouth” involves a man who hears voices coming from a drain. What inspired this premise?

I don’t really know how to explain this, but I’ve always been terrified of drains. Not terrified like I don’t want to take a bath, but ever since I was little, I remember thinking how weird it is that all the water we use just goes down these pipes to some place underground. Stare at the sink for a while and your imagination wanders…

What tradition would you place this story in? On the one hand, it’s got a creepy supernatural tone; at the same time, it’s more of a psychological thriller.

I would put this in the relationship drama department. What is really at play here is a failing relationship and that is something we can all relate to, whether is a partner or friend. The supernatural stuff is really the mirror we hold up to look at ourselves and the silly head games we all play with each other.

As a filmmaker, how would you say the process of crafting audio plays differs from making movies?

“The supernatural stuff is really the mirror we hold up to look at ourselves.”

This is my third go around with the “Tales” gang, and I would say I’m finally getting my head around that very question. Audio storytelling is freedom.  There’s no crews, cameras, lights, etc. It’s far closer to theater that way.  The storytelling rests completely on the actors and the sound design, both of which are aspects of filmmaking that I love. I mean, who doesn’t love foley?  It’s just a blast to watch people walking on kitty litter or ripping up bunches of celery for bone snaps.

I was over at Larry Fessenden’s house and accidentally broke an extremely valuable vase. Doing these shows is the only way I can pay Larry back. He promises to knock $200 off my tab every time I turn one in but I don’t really trust him or that Glenn McQuaid fellow. Very shifty, that pair.

More generally, what do you like about working with Glass Eye Pix?

Basically it’s all about creative freedom.  Glass Eye lets creators run with ideas that no one else would touch.  They are supportive throughout the process but not intrusive.  And, most importantly, they’re getting really good at doing these things.  When I see the evolution from Season One to these recent Tales, I am really proud to have been a part of it from the beginning.

You’re currently working on several remakes. What do you make of this particular creative challenge and how does it differ from other projects?

Jacob's Ladder

“Jacob’s Ladder” was the first in what I’m calling my Trilogy of Reboots.  After that, it was a new “Pet Sematary” and then a new “Grudge.”  With each of those projects, the challenge was to find ways to make the current version have a reason to exist other than the name. Each of those scripts are completely different from the original movies — or books — in certain details, but remain true to the spirit of the original stories. They’re all fun and, I think, will not feel like a lame horror cash grab but actually a companion piece to these movies that we, as fans, hold so dearly.

With the “Tales” work, it’s completely just for fun. There are very little restrictions. The stories are all originals. Each one is completely different from the ones before. Writing and directing the “Tales” episodes feels like doing short stories after you’ve been working on giant novels.  They’re quick and fun and best of all, they get made!

What else do you have in the pipeline?

Outside of my Trilogy of Reboots, I’m just finishing a script I’ve been developing with Juan Carlos Fresnadillo — who is also the director of “Pet Sematary” — called “Into The Zombie Underworld,” which takes place in Haiti and delves into the real life experiences of a journalist who lived there just before the earthquake.  It’s all based on real events and very, very scary.  A bit like a gritty and modern “Serpent and the Rainbow” but real dark shit. A lot of fun to write. I also wrote a supernatural thriller called “Descendant” that is being produced this coming year with Screen Gems, and “Lotus,” which will be directed by Nicholas Macarthy, who did a wonderful little film called “The Pact. ”

And of course, I’m always coming up with more ideas for the “Tales” gang.  Gotta pay off that vase…