Shannon Talks TERROR TOONS 3 With Director Joe Castro!!
TERROR TOONS is one shocking, gore-filled, bloody epic that proves cartoons shouldn’t be trusted. In preparation for the release of the third installment in the trilogy, we sat down with director Joe Castro to learn more about TERROR TOONS, why he loves gore so much, and what it was like to work with the legendary director Herschell Gordon Lewis.
Shannon: Hi Joe! Thanks so much for speaking with me today! For those who are not familiar with the TERROR TOONS trilogy, can you tell us a little bit about them and your newest one, TERROR TOONS 3, is about?
Joe Castro: Absolutely! The TERROR TOONS trilogy, what is it all about. Basically, in a nutshell, TERROR TOONS are killer cartoons that have come from the cartoon convention into our physical world and they stalk and kill people in a cartoon-style fashion; however, when you die, you die for real and they are created by Satan. It was a very cliché concept created by myself, my friend Mark Villalobos, and my partner of 19 years, Steven Escobar back in 2000. The first movie came together very fast and the entire film was shot in 3 days for $2,200 and it was the number one micro budget film of the year at Blockbuster video. It was really impressive, it moved 50,000 units in the first two weeks alone and every Blockbuster in America had 4 VHS and 4 DVD’s on each shelf in every store. I packed every cliché I could into the movie from the horror genre with the exception that these people are being killed by these killer cartoons and it’s kind of done in the style of Herschell Gordon Lewis meets a Warner Bros. cartoon or a Tex Avery style as some people would describe it. So naturally, a sequel was made about 4 years later and it was done in the same fashion using the same techniques but with a little more money and that film sort of spawned its own cult following – it was done kind of on a lighter note but it was still the same premise but this time it was Satan’s son who was bringing the cartoons into our world.
Now, for the third film, as the director I didn’t want to do the same thing over and over again and I decided to try something different. Herschell Gordon Lewis had seen both films and really liked them and so what I wanted to do was make something that was an homage to what Herschell has done. By doing that I decided to do some simple things like make all the special effects practical effects – the blood, the gore and the creatures in the movie. I also used Herschell’s original blood formula from his 1963 hit BLOOD FEAST in this film. He actually gave me the formula of how he mixed it and we used that blood in this film. There’s also an effect that Herschell put together that he created himself for a movie he directed called THE WIZARD OF GORE and what I did was recreate that special effect in this movie. My partner and I have been making movies for 19 years now and it’s a dream that we have both chased so we went to Florida and asked Herschell to be in the film and give him a role in the movie and Herschell went so far as to also write lyrics for our theme song. Herschell Is all throughout the film, there’s a lot of Herschell in there, he narrates the film, we use his blood techniques, his special effect techniques are in the movie, and his humor is in the film and of course he wrote the lyrics for the theme song. I also had a die-hard fan from the original TERROR TOONS film who was also a musician and I was able to hire him to create the theme song and sing Herschell’s lyrics.
You are known for having shocking and gory films, what inspires you to make movies like this?
I grew up on a goat ranch in Texas and it had a slaughterhouse and almost every person my family is a hunter. My family didn’t hunt for sport but my dad would actually hunt and feed us by hunting deer and the wildlife and I think I incorporated that into my life in a different way. I kind of expressed myself differently, I myself am a lover of animals but I just think I show it differently through my art. My best friends growing up were my cousins and I have to owe them big time credit, their names were Eddie and Ernest and they were twins. Both of them were 33 when I was eleven years old, and they literally showed me every single horror movie they had ever seen from the time I was eleven to thirteen on VHS. They educated me in the world of horror and they are still my best friends today. Eddie unfortunately passed away but Ernest is alive and I’m grateful for them for showing me every bloody movie they could. They somehow knew that that was what I was gravitating towards so my world of education began really early in gore and splatter.
Some people may not know that you are not only a director but you also do special effects. Do you find yourself being drawn to one over the other?
That’s a really good question! I know that when I tell a story, I do it visually, and I even tell my actors sometimes when I’m working with them that they are basically colors in a palette for me and I’m painting a picture. I think that there is no difference to me, I think I can tell stories with special effects and vice versa. They are kind of fused together to me and I don’t really see them as separate anymore.
You are known for your horror films so what is it about the genre that keeps you coming back?
Oh, it’s because anything is possible, literally ANYTHING is possible. I think the difference between my horror films and like a classical horror film is that in a classic horror film I believe that the directors and filmmakers create situations that look absolutely real and are based on reality, even physics and how we live life, but my films, especially TERROR TOONS, I’m not asking you to believe that what I’m showing you is real, I’m asking you to come into this world I created and to just let your imagination go. That’s the difference between my films and regular genre films. I would say that most of my films have horrifying elements in them and you have to be kind of warped to laugh at some of the things that are in my movies but they are comedic and can be really funny.
Other than TERROR TOONS 3, do you have any other upcoming projects we should know about?
Well, actually, Brinke Stevens, who is in TERROR TOONS 3, has directed a portion of TERROR TOONS 4 and we are currently in post-production of it already. This is going to be Brinke Steven’s directorial debut. My last film, THE SUMMER OF MASSACRE, won the Guinness Book of World Records for highest body count in a slasher movie and that was in 2012, so I’m still kind of riding the coattails of that one and now we have TERROR TOONS 3 and I would like to have TERROR TOONS 4 out this year. It’s really just myself and Stevens working on it and it’s been a great team, it’s been 19 years, and we understand each other and it’s a passion of ours.
Well thank you once again Joe for taking time out to speak with us at Icons of Fright. We look forward to seeing the next installment in the TERROR TOONS series.