You might have caught our review of ANARCHY PARLOR, a gory as hell film about a group of vacationers that happen to cross paths with “The Artist”, a man who might seem like just another tattoo artist, but has something far more sinister in mind for the group. If you’re one of the more squeamish types, then get ready to cover your eyes, but if you’re one of the brave ones…this is a blood and guts-filled ride that you might want to check out.
We caught up with co-directors Kenny Gage and Devon Downs to talk about the film, tattoos and their inspiration behind making such an extreme film. Read on!
Gage: how’s it going man?
I’m great, but it’s been a hellish week, my tire blew out while driving on the freeway, so that’s never good.
Downs: Oh wow, are you ok?
Yeah, I’m fine now, crazy stuff. I’m curious about your film, it plays on a lot of the torture films we’ve seen before, but comes at it in an interestingly different angle. What made you two want to tell this story?
Downs: Well, Jerry, we wanted to do something that did feel familiar but come at it in a different, with a next twist on it.
Gage: Yeah, when we finally got a chance to write and direct a horror film, we knew that we really wanted to jump into the realism kind of game. The French horror scene does it so good, and some of our favorite films are those types.
Yeah, I’m the same way, I love that stuff.
Gage: yeah, and HOSTEL did it really well, so we kind of wanted to jump into the ring and do our take on it. We were in talks with Robert (LaSardo), who we really wanted in the film, and we came across an article as we were creating the story. It said that in the middle ages, there were times where kings and governors would use the skin of their enemies to actually bind books.
Gage: Yeah, it really happened, and there are actually books in Harvard that are bound in skin. It really gave us an idea, because we had never seen skin being used as a canvas in anything.
Downs: ..and to take that even one step further, if you’ve descended from a lineage of artists and that’s what you’ve been doing, in 2015, what kind of urban camouflage would you be using? The tattoo parlor just seemed like a good angle. So many tattoo artists are great artists and painters in their own rite too, they don’t just tattoo, they take the art of it very seriously. I’m heavily tattooed myself, and I’ve spent many hours in tattoo parlors, so to have a character who was not only an artist that practices those old traditions but also tattoos, it was easy to kind of hide in plain sight.
Having Robert LaSardo lead the film was such inspired casting, he’s not of those actors with drawn on tattoos, the guy’s the real deal. Did you have him in mind since day one?
Downs: Yeah, absolutely. Robert’s a friend of ours, and one thing that’s unfortunate about Hollywood is how tattooed people have been marginalized throughout the years by the roles they’re typically allowed to play. With Robert and Sara Fabel, who played Uta, we wanted 100% of the tattoos that you see on their characters to be completely real and authentic. Kenny, do you want to speak more about our relationship with Robert?
Gage: We’ve always felt that Robert was one of the great actors of our time, but that he was always put into these caricature-like roles. Knowing that Robert had that Stella Adler training and also had this history of acting, we had always wanted to work with him. He has a real force to him, and a level of intensity that just elevates everybody around him. We knew right away that not only did we have to have him lead this movie, but we wrote the part specifically for him. We didn’t tell him though. We went out for dinner with him, and put the script in front of him and said, “This is your next movie” and that we had written it specifically for him, and his jaw just dropped. He took it home, read it, and called us a few hours later and said, “I’m in!”.
Speaking on that tattoo culture for a bit, it’s something that I am VERY into, I’m heavily tattooed myself and have been very into that culture for around 17 years now. What brought you two into the tattoo culture?
Downs: A couple of things. One, I’m an avid motorcycle enthusiast, and there’s obviously a lot of tattoos in the motorcycle world. Another factor is that both of my parents are artists, so I like the art of it and the personal expression of it, the personal freedom. I don’t about you, but for my and I know for Kenny, each tattoo represents a particular timeline for whatever shit you were going through at the time. If I’m on vacation, I’ll head on to the nearest tattoo parlor and check out whatever flash they have and stuff. That’s one of the coolest thing about the Lithuanian experiences, Kenny and I got to check out all of the community there, and Robert even got a tattoo there, it was awesome.
What was the inspiration for making the film in Lithuania?
Gage: We had always wanted it to be in Eastern Europe, for that kind of “fish out of water” experience. There were some great places in both Bulgaria and Romania, great production companies, but when Lithuania came to the table, we had never heard of a film being made there. In our heads, it was just so cool and special to be the first people to shoot a horror film in a country that was so historical.
The sets and locations are pretty intense, were any of those built sets, or did you happen to find some epic looking real life locations for those scenes?
Downs: There’s not a single set in the entire film actually.
Downs: Yeah, it was all on location, and that was one of the many reasons we chose to shoot in Lithuania. We were basically given carte blanche to shoot in the the capital, so 100% of what you see is real and are actual locations.
Gage: Yeah, and also, the tattoo parlor and dungeon were actually just one location. So when the character was going down the stairs in the film, you’re really going down the stairs into where we were shooting it, it wasn’t a camera trick.
Being such big fans of the horror genre yourselves, is that something you want to do again with your next project, or are you trying to break out a bit next time around?
Downs: Actually, kind of both. We have a few different horror stories that we’re working on but we’re also working on some action/thriller kinds of projects as well. We’re absolutely wanting to do more horror films, right Kenny?
Gage: Horror is definitely my #1, I love horror. Like Devon said, we have some action stuff too, but yeah, we definitely love the horror genre and want to keep working in it.