ICONS OF FRIGHT interview with SCHISM/NIGHT OF THE DEMONS director ADAM GIERASH!
While typically not a huge fan of remakes for the most part, one that I did like a lot was 2009’s NIGHT OF THE DEMONS directed by Adam Gierash. It’s a fun trashy movie that has some of the funniest moments and one of my favorite soundtracks around. Adam had previously directed another movie I thought was fun to watch, 2008’s AUTOPSY. You can tell by both of those films, that Adam has a love for the genre, and I recently had the opportunity to speak with him about those films, as well as his upcoming film SCHISM starring Callum Blue & Ashlynn Yennie. Read on!!
You’ve been working on SCHISM, in one shape or form for a while, right? If I’m correct, you and Jace wrote that a while back?
Yeah it was quite a while ago; gosh we must’ve written it six years ago I think. It was something that my agent felt was too extreme for her to sell, so she suggested that I try to make it as a movie, just as a director. I was like “well if you can’t sell it, how am I going to get the money to make it??”, so I just put on the backburner, kind of liking where it was, and went ahead and made some other movies and wrote a bunch of scripts..and then finally it came time and I found somebody that was willing to put up money for it and I have to thank Seven Arts for doing that.
Everything I’ve read on it so far makes it seem like it’s a different movie, tonally than your previous films, was that intentional?
As a filmmaker and a writer, and I always consider myself first and foremost a writer, you don’t always get to pick what you do. In certain cases, like with NIGHT OF THE DEMONS, somebody called me and asked “would you be interested in directing a remake of Night of the Demons?”. That kind of thing doesn’t happen very often, so I was like “Yeah, damn straight! I like the original, cool” …and that’s how a project like that comes about. With AUTOPSY, it was a spec script we sold, and we said that we’d only sell it if I could be the director on it. It was a very conventional horror movie that we wrote with our friend Evan (E.L Katz) that wasn’t necessarily what I wanted to do, but it came out and I’m decently proud of it. So movies come about in different ways…and this one (SCHIZM) was like “This is the movie I WANT to make” and I felt like with whatever little amount of clout I do have it was like “please please give me a chance!”. I wanted to do something that was very different, and I would’ve preferred to start out making movies like Schism, it’s the kind of movie that’s closer to my heart. I’m not sure if at this point I succeeded, but if I’m going to go out, I’d like to go out like this: swinging. It’s really brave.
Yeah totally. What’s the status on it, is there a release date at this point?
No, not yet. The movie isn’t even done.
Oh so it’s still in post-production?
Yeah, we’re still waiting for digital effects, and the composer and those kinds of things. They’ll be selling it at AFM, but yeah we’re in the middle of the post process.
With Schism being your fourth film you’ve directed, has your approach to directing changed since the days of Autopsy?
Yeah I learned what I was doing. With Autopsy, it was like “AAAAAHH!!!”. I showed up on set and tried to do my best. I really had no clue as to what I was doing whatsoever. With Schism, I’ve learned so much I can’t even explain it. Sometimes being new at something is a good thing but with my case, I was a slow learner, but with everything I do I grow a little bit more, and even if I don’t completely succeed, I learn.
Has there been any recent films you’ve seen that have stood out to you?
LOOPER, I thought that movie was great.
Yeah totally, I equate seeing LOOPER with the first time I saw THE MATRIX in the theater. I thought I was going to watch a standard decent action movie, but I was blown away.
I mean, I could never make a movie like LOOPER. It’s not the kind of thing that it’s my wheelhouse. In terms of movies that influence me and make me want to make movies, I’d have to say KILLER JOE. That’s the direction I’d like to be moving in. I’d like to add a bit of supernatural-ness into it but I love those gritty, mean spirited but kind of funny crime movies. I like stuff that’s a real gut punch.
Has there been anything in the horror genre that’s you’ve really liked?
Well I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily a “horror” movie, but there’s a movie that I saw over the summer called THE SOUND OF MY VOICE that I thought was really well made and interesting. I thought that one was really good. In terms of horror, my issue really is that..and I’m as guilty of this as anybody, there seems to be FOUR plots out there and people seem to be doing to same four plots over and over again. So sometimes it’s like “OK, I’ve seen that before”, so what I find happening is that people are relying on execution. It’s like “I’m going to direct the shit out this thing!!” well, you very well might, but it’s STILL the same haunted house movie I’ve seen 67 times. I REALLY want people to start stretching themselves, and come up with stories that aren’t exactly the same as what we’ve all seen. I mean, that’s also what I want for myself, because let’s be honest, Night of the Demons and Autopsy weren’t exactly groundbreakers. Both of those were just genre movies that happen to fall into the same four plots that you see over and over again.
Yeah but with NIGHT OF THE DEMONS, one thing that stood out to me is yeah it’s a genre movie, but with that one it’s really obvious that you have a love for the genre and for the music as well.
I love horror movies. I love horror movies and I love 80’s death rock.
Yeah seriously. I still think it’s one of the best soundtracks I’ve heard in a while, how often do you get to hear Concrete Blonde or Type O Negative in a movie today?
Not to mention TSOL, and some newer bands like Psychocharger, who really rock. If you guys haven’t heard Psychocharger yet, go get their record, Mark of the Psycho, it’s fantastic. Not to mention super nice guys as well.
How do you feel about the recent trend of films getting maybe a week long theatrical run in a few theaters then getting thrown onto VOD/straight to dvd?
I think it’s fantastic. I think it’s great.
Do you think it opens more doors to filmmakers?
Yes definitely, and I think it’s more financially viable. It used to be “is your movie theatrical?” and the answer would usually be “no ” but now it’s like there are so many more windows to see movies in and it’s so much easier for studios not to lose money on them. Everytime a studio releases a movie theatrically, it’s going to cost them I’d say about 20 million in the P&A (prints and advertising) in order for the movie to break even on that, not to mention the money they spend MAKING the movie. That’s for a major theatrical release, but to put a movie in a theater for a week, I think that’s wonderful, it give people a chance to see movies and I would BEG your readership to go see those movies when they’re in theaters for that week or so. I go and see everything I can in theaters, like THE BARRENS comes out for a week, I’m there.
Yeah for sure. I live 2 ½ hours away from LA but I drove to see THE BARRENS in the theater, any of those movies I can show support to, I’m there as well.
Yeah, when THE SOUND OF MY VOICE came out, I was there on day two. I think as horror filmmakers and fans we have a responsibility to go see the movies when we can and I also think VOD is great. There’s no reason to get snobby anymore, you get the best release platform for your film and every film will have a different release platform that suits it.
I think a lot of the stigma that used to plague straight to dvd movies is going away which is cool in my opinion.
It was always bullshit. Ya know, what a HUGE release MARTYRS got! Man, that must have made TONS of money. What a huge monumental release INSIDE got..wow! That movie was breaking box office records!! (sarcasm) . It’s always been bullshit and it was something that was perpetuated by Hollywood. Well if Hollywood has a disease, as a filmmaker, you tend to catch it…I know I have.
With your NIGHT OF THE DEMONS remake, there are quite a few homages to the original, with the lipstick scene and having Linnea Quigley in a cameo, did you feel a responsibility to include nods like that, or did you want to just do your own things?
I felt the fans of the original would appreciate the cool stuff like that in it. Kevin was involved (Kevin Tenney, the director of the original) and the producer wanted there to be little things like that, I didn’t object. I just said “If I’m going to stick a lipstick in somebody’s tit, I want it come out of her pussy”..I wanted to up the level a little bit.
Yeah, I have a friend that hadn’t seen it yet, so I showed it to him recently and he flipped out on the demon anal scene.
Wait until you see SCHISM…no I’m not going to say anything.
Do you have plans for anything after SCHISM or is that too soon to think about?
I don’t know. I mean there’s a lot of writing stuff that we’re working on that’s really cool, and we have a bunch of cool jobs right now. Most of which I can’t talk about because of legal stuff, not my choice. In terms of directing, I want to do something very different. I know horror fans will love this one, but I want to do a dramedy about a dysfunctional family of alcoholics and drug addicts. I also have a script called “Safe Word”. That’s a story about a couple that decide for their anniversary that they want to take chances and break boundaries..and just to say: it doesn’t go very well. It’s a very gruesome, bloody examination of sexuality among committed couples.
Nice, that sounds fun.
Well, thanks alot for your time Adam, it’s definitely appreciated.
Have a nice day.
You too man.