Icons of Fright Chats With STUNG Director Benni Diez!!

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Icons own Jovy Skol loved the creature attacking catering workers tale STUNG (review), which hits VOD on July 3rd from IFC Midnight, and we thought what better way to help get you fright fanatics turned onto the film, than to have a small chat with Benni Diez, the film’s director.

We asked Benni about what turned him onto the project, and his inspirations for creating such a fun and sometimes creep creature feature, one that features fun performances from Clifton Collins, Jr. (PACIFIC RIM) ( Matt O’Leary (DEATH SENTENCE, TIME LAPSE) and genre legend Lance Henriksen. Be sure to check STUNG out beginning tomorrow and check out what Benni had to say regarding the film below:


STUNG has such a crazy,off the wall premise, which is very interesting to me. It recalls a time in which horror films could be fun. What inspired you to tell the story?

I got the Stung script from my manager a few years ago, and it hit me at just the right time. I was fed up with working for TV and commercials, and I desperately needed to get back to my roots, my passion for the genre movies I grew up with. Stung spoke to the inner kid in me, having seen a lot of creature movies when I was probably too young for them. When I got in touch with Adam Aresty, our screenwriter, and we realized we had so many favorite classic movies in common, we knew we wanted to do something together. The set pieces, the characters, the insane yet classic premise, a scope I could still see myself handle as a first-time feature director – I just knew I had to make this movie, no matter how. I owe it to a lot of long-time colleagues and friends that we could actually pull it of.
I loved how it also took a look at classes, and the problem with them, was that an important factor in the writing and on your part, the directing of the film?

Adam himself had worked as a bartender when he was still in school. The upper class people he worked for were a real pain in the ass, and when a swarm of wasps started bothering him, his mind started creating horrible death scenarios for those people. The class issue is a deliberate theme, and one of the story elements that I loved most. We tried not to overdo the parable, but of course in the end it’s always the reckless behavior of the worst human beings that set those tragic events in motion. It makes it so much fun when they get their asses handed.
The casting of both Lance and Matt O’Leary were both very unique, and it worked for the film. Did you have any specific actors in mind during the preproduction process, or did you think of that afterwards?

I always tend to think of certain actors when developing a character, but that changes over the course of working on a script. You never know what happens two years down the road, you might just end up with an actor who was cast because of strategic reasons, and still have to make it work creatively. We were so incredibly lucky, because now I could never imagine anyone else than Matt in this role. Once I had talked to him, I knew we had found our guy, so we went really deep into the little quirks of his character. I thought it would be a lot of fun to juxtapose a certain indie drama sensibility against a completely insane horror scenario. You want the audience to root for those guys, and along with them say: This is fucking crazy!
Lance was a blessing in so many ways. He immediately understood the humor we were going for, and brought a lot more of that to his character than we could have anticipated. He elevated the material, and that’s the best thing that can happen to a director. It tought me to stay open at any time, because you never know what great things wait around the corner. And of course he’s been my favorite android in film history, so having him in our movie was more than inspiring.
Were there any particular genre films or even non-genre films that inspired you?

Most of the classic terrifying horror and creature films, like Aliens and Jaws of course. But also those with a good sense of fun, like Tremors, Gremlins, Slither. There are so many. Mostly those with a healthy dose of practical effects, which we went for as much as we could afford ourselves. One recent review described it as Party Down meets Ticks. I really love that, it feels spot on.
What’s next for you?

I’m working on a few visual effects and writing assignments right now. And I’m working on a few genre projects, which are in different stages of development and will hopefully turn into feature directing gigs at some point. I would love to make a hard sci-fi movie in the near future, but my next one could also end up being a slightly futuristic revenge actioner. Or a psychological horror thriller. Or a twisted take on war. Or something with puppets. We’ll see, the future definitely looks exciting.

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