Fright Exclusive Interview with CHEAP THRILLS Director E.L. Katz!!

imageAt this year’s South by Southwest Festival, a film that nobody could stop talking about was E.L. Katz’ CHEAP THRILLS. Within an hour of the film’s premiere, everything from Twitter to Facebook was packed with nothing but praise for what has been called “career best performances” and a film that “you won’t soon forget”.

Well Boston residents have the opportunity to catch CHEAP THRILLS during its east coast premiere at the Boston Underground Film Festival (or B.U.F.F. for short), when it screens on March 30th at 9:15pm. E.L. Katz was nice enough to let us throw a few questions his way, in which he talked about the genesis of the project, among other things. Read on!


First off, congrats on CHEAP THRILLS getting bought at SXSW. The film seems to be well received all around, did you expect the reception to be as awesome as it’s turning out to be?

Thank you. Listen, we were so busy just trying to finish the project in the final days before the delivery deadline, that the only thing I was thinking about was if we had all the right sound effects, or if the color correction was even. Tunnel vision, micro obsessive shit. When I landed in Austin, I was just tired, and anxious… really had NO idea that it was going to go over like it did. I stumbled onto the stage, introduced it, and then just crossed my fingers that it would connect on some level.

How did the project come about for you?

A couple years ago two of my friends decided that they wanted to start an indie production company specializing in offbeat horror films. Stuff that could be done for a low budget, so we could play around with the genre, and not necessarily adhere to certain commercial limitations. I was brought on to find cool material that we could match with the right directors.

I reached out to Trent Haaga, who I’d always been a fan of, ever since he was one of the main Troma guys, and obviously DEADGIRL. He showed me this script that was called “Money For Something”, which he’d originally written as a spec, but his reps felt it was too offensive, or small. I read it and just knew that it was perfect for what we were going for with the company.

Ultimately, the company never came together, but a little bit later, my roommate at the time Travis Stevens was doing pretty well producing indie genre flicks himself, so I sent him the script, told him I had to direct it, and he said, “Sure, let’s make it.” It was crazy, because I’d been working in this industry for such a long time, and always wanted to direct something, but nobody really took that desire seriously. I was a screenwriter, not a director. Trent and Travis were the only ones that had enough faith in me (or were crazy enough) to give me a shot.

First at SXSW, and now at Boston in BUFF, do you have any further plans regarding CHEAP THRILLS being screened anywhere else?

We’re going to the Madison, Wisconsin film festival right after Boston, but I’m not sure what the rest of the festival strategy is at this point. I do know that probably by the end of the year Alamo will put it in theatres… all of that stuff is being worked out right now.

For anyone who hasn’t seen the film thus far, how would you describe CHEAP THRILLS?

If the films FUNNY GAMES and THE HANGOVER somehow found a way to fuck, and then, impossibly, created a weird, goofy, evil, little baby. I think that baby would be CHEAP THRILLS.

What’s next for you?

I want to watch a shitload of films, get a little bit of rest, and then make another movie.

There you have it Fright Fiends. “FUNNY GAMES meets THE HANGOVER“..sounds like a blast to me. You can check out CHEAP THRILLS at the B.U.F.F, when it plays on March 30th at 9:15pm. If you’re able to, check out the whole festival, which runs from March 27th-30th. You can find out additional information regarding the festival HERE.

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