Quantcast Christopher Garetano interview

Christopher Garetano!!!
Christopher Garetano knows his horror. As he should! He's the filmmaker behind the revealing & intriuging documentary 'HORROR BUSINESS', which documents 5 struggling filmmakers on their journey to fullfill their dreams by making horror movies. This is a film about those guys on the outskirts of the horror business & their passion to make their own films. We caught up with Chris over dinner to find out exactly why an avid horror fan, such as himself chose to make his debut a documentary. The answers we got, much like the film itself, were surprisingly heartfelt. In a nutshell, Chris is one of us & his film is a tribute to all those struggling out there to make a name for themselves. Read on! This one's for you! - by Robg., Jsyn, & Mikec. 8/05

Robg.: Let's start with the question we ask everyone. What are your earliest recollections of the horror genre?

Aside from the usual, Friday the 13th, etc. I remember Abbott & Costello Meets Frankenstein. Also Godzilla. There was this TV movie I remember with Larry Drake called 'Dark Night of the Scarecrow.' That was the one in particular that got to me when I was a kid. But at the time, I don't think I was aware that I wanted to be a filmmaker. I was really interested in this kind of material and I liked to draw pictures and play with the toys. I didn't know I wanted to be involved in film until I saw Tom Savini - someone actually doing it in Fangoria magazine and on that documentary Scream Greats which was about him. That's when my interest was really charged. I wanted to do make-up effects and be a part of making something.

Robg.: Is that how you initially started? By wanting to do make-up creature effects? How'd this lead into making your own films?

I think it was just part of growing up. At the time, that's where my head was. The idea of physically making monsters and making masks out of latex and oatmeal and gelatin and whatnot. (laughs) You guys know all about that.

Jsyn: Errr... using cotton, tissue paper, and oatmeal? (laughs)

I'd make up family members for Halloween for practice. (laughs) But at the same time, I was borrowing my father's VHS camera and just recording my own little movies. I'm sure many of us have done the exact same thing. This story is not a unique story in any way. But that is how I started.

Robg.: What came first? Your first film project or going to school for film?

I remember even back in high school, they had this video program. You know, where they'd send the bad kids off to for half the day, and of course, I was one of them. But I took video productions there, and although I wasn't serious about much, I noticed myself becoming very serious when it came to the idea of making horror films of some kind. I wasn't really serious about it until age 22 and now I'm almost 30. Honestly, I was a mess, but I knew I wanted to do something and that was make horror films.

Robg.: With most of us, horror films have become therapeutic. Do you think that's what helped you through a lot of those "messed up" experiences in your life?

I always did feel a comfort in watching horror films. My interest was sparked when I saw someone actually doing it and having fun doing it. Scream Greats was a great example of that. And I'd always go back to that. I'm not going to say something like I read (Edgar Allen) Poe when I was 3. (laughs) It was Tom Savini.

Jsyn: I've seen Scream Greats 45 times and worn that tape out.

I had asked Savini if it would be available again and he said, "Why? Do you know someone who has it?" I don't think anyone knows what happened to Scream Greats. But I also have to mention Jay Wells. Please don't ever forget that name. He was a very disciplined make-up artist. He was someone I met when I was 12 and he tried to teach me how to do make-up effects. And he was someone who would get serious compliments from Dick Smith, Tom Savini, and Michael Westmore, who did 'Star Trek.' Jay passed away when he was only 40 years old a few years ago. At that time, he was working on a film I wanted to get off the ground. I'd say that guy is just as much an influence on me as any "Scream Great."

Jsyn: Was working with him your first experience on working on a real project?

Yes, because he would take me along to help on things he was working on. One thing he did was an ad for Smirnoff Vodka. A Frankenstein ad. Jay actually studied Jack Pierce's work and had production photos of the original Frankenstein for reference. He was really precise. I was living in the city at the time for my first year of college and he sent me downtown to find a jacket exactly like Karloff wore in the original Frankenstein. Jay was so dead-on precise when it came to his work, and I had to try to explain to him that a tailor at Universal make this jacket and I'm not going to be able to find it at a thrift store! And he just wouldn't listen. I bought him something that was very close. And he screamed and threw it on the ground and yelled. This is just the type of artist he was, but he was also a really, really good guy. You would be able to hang out with him, have some food, drink a beer, and just laugh with him. He didn't take any shit. And he was just a very strong willed person when it came to his professional make-up. That's exactly how I feel about filmmaking at the moment. I just want to get better at it. I want to learn more about it. Every day. And not to impress anyone. It's for myself. I want to know what I'm doing. Get better at it, so I can tell a story better for other people.

Robg.: Is Horror Business your first feature/project or did you work on some stuff before that?

I worked on a bunch of shorts from the time I got into film school. Also, from when I was a kid, if you want to include that. I was always working on films somehow. I seriously started working on shorts while in film school, and I'm never going to really show those shorts to anyone because they were only meant to be practice. A lot of guys that went to film school all thought they could be Stanley Kubrick on their first film. And they were beaming at their own footage. But I knew that it was going to take a while, at least for me. I made 5 shorts about 5 minutes each my first semester in film school. I did a lot of video projects. I did one short that got onto Fangoria's first 'Blood Drive' DVD collection called 'Inside.' Before that, I did a few commercials for some local businesses. But Horror Business is truly my first feature.

Robg.: Between your shorts and Horror Business, you started your own horror zine called 'Are You Going?' How did that come about?

I started that right after 9/11. The reason I say this is because the same day that September 11th happened, there was a personal tragedy in my family. So I was dealing with two horrible things at once- what was going on for me personally and what was going on in the outside world. It was a really dark day. And I remember telling myself that I was going to take this energy and put it towards doing something good. I was out of film school at the time and was starting to feel the realities of the world. When you're in film school, it has its own caste system, and everyone thinks they're going to make it. But it's just not the truth unless there's a lot of nepotism involved or you're really privileged and I wasn't any of those. So, I knew it wasn't going to be easy at all, and I felt I had to do something.

There was also a drought at the time when it came to horror movies. There wasn't really anything going on like there is now. There weren't many horror movies a few years back, and the ones that were out were all being called "modern teenage thrillers." I felt it would be a good time to make a unique horror magazine - a journal that would teach people how to make films from someone who is in the position where they don't have a lot. And also, I wanted honest reports on what's going on. I wanted it to be very frank and honest.

At the same time, my original vision for the magazine was to have someone in the business write each article. So, if there were an article about make-up, I'd want a make-up artist to write it. If there was an article on filmmaking, maybe I could get a director.

So for the first issue I had Ed Neal, H.G. Lewis, Bill Moseley, and Mark Borchardt all writing articles. That's what I wanted it to be - the first horror journal where people in the industry actually wrote articles for every issue. I couldn't keep it up, but here and there, people came in and wrote great articles and I did 5 issues. Then, I started Horror Business and had to put the magazine on hold.

Robg.: During your time working on the magazine, was there any definitive moment or something you were really proud of? What was the high point of doing 'Are You Going?'?

I'd say it was issue number 5. I created this issue for House of 1000 Corpses. And granted... this was before I saw the film. But at the time, there was a lot of buzz generating for the film. So, I started creating this ultimate definitive guide to House of 1000 Corpses. I was so excited for this movie to come out because I knew it was going to influence other companies to make horror films, and it did, regardless of however it turned out. But I felt this film was going to change things. Even more so then it possibly could have. I was excited for horror movies to come back. And remember, if you really pay attention, this was the movie that did start it for all the other companies. Because there was a buzz going around for a few years. And other people caught on, some through the Internet - and everyone was getting excited for this movie that hadn't even come out yet. And the companies started their projects. Wrong Turn is a result of House of 1000 Corpses whether they want to admit it or not. Everything from then on really had a lot to do with what's going on now, and I think The Devil's Rejects is going to also, even though I'm not that fond of House of 1000 Corpses.

I don't even think it made a lot of money by average standards, but the fact that all these other people started scrambling to make horror movies was exciting. And I was really paying attention to all that was happening. So for issue number 5 I had interviews with Rob Zombie, Sherri Moon, Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, and Wayne Toth (who did the make-up effects for the film). And the movie wasn't even out yet! They gave really good informative interviews. That issue was really what I wanted the magazine to be. We also had a section of the zine called 'View Finder' where we would have a cinematographer talk about the photography and the film stock and really help people learn what they need to do to make their films.

Jsyn: Being a Long Island-based filmmaker, do you think that's an advantage or a disadvantage to making what you want to make how you want to make it? As opposed to being in Hollywood doing whatever.

I think it's an advantage. I've met so many people that say, "You have to come to L.A. or you're not going to get your career started." It may be true for a camera assistant or any kind of assistant job on making a film... or even a make-up artist. But you know, there are a lot of independent films going on here in New York. Maybe you should go out to L.A. if you want to help the thing as a whole, but if you want to run your own show, you could be in Iowa and do the same thing you're going to do anywhere else. I mean, why not? I was there already. I worked as a production assistant on that Hugh Jackman film Someone Like You.

And I worked for Panavision in NY right out of film school. All those guys in film school were dying to have that gig, as a camera prep tech, which would have eventually led to a job in the union as a professional camera assistant, where my friends are working on 'The Sopranos' now. But I left. There's no way to be a filmmaker that way.  My friend stills work on shows like 'The Sopranos' and he's a camera loader and happy with it. But that's not what I wanted to be. Who says these guys can do a better job than I can? And the only way I thought it was going to happen was to accomplish something on my own. If I were to teach a film class, I would be very honest and I would teach them every little trick I learned along the way. Because I think those are the best teachers; the ones that really are hands-on and pass on knowledge. I would tell them you have to make sacrifices. If you have to move back home with your folks for 3 years, then do it. Don't worry about anything except the project.

Robg.: Tell us how Horror Business came about? Where did the idea to make a documentary about making horror films come from?

I hadn't seen too many documentaries besides maybe Pumping Iron and American Movie. But then I saw some Errol Morris stuff. I'd seen The Thin Blue Line and another one called Mr. Death. Honestly, a lot of elements came into my motivation to making my first feature a documentary. If you look at the issues of 'Are Your Going?' you'll see a lot of Horror Business in it - the people, some of the things I say, some of the points I was trying to make. It's all in those 5 issues. The basis of it. After seeing Mr. Death and a few more Errol Morris films, and of course, Orson Welles 'F for Fake', I wanted to be extremely creative with something. At the time, I was trying to get a fictional story off the ground, but it was very difficult to do that.

So, I thought, "Well, I have equipment, so I could make a documentary." But I wasn't very excited with that. But then I thought why not try to do something as creative as possible with what's available to me in documentary form. So that's what I decided to do. And that was it. 'Are You Going?' magazine was the basis of it, and seeing these other films, and seeing what other people can do with them. I wanted to start something interesting with it.

I knew that I was going to have Mark in it because I spoke to him from the beginning. My goal was to do something original. I could have easily taken that footage and made the unofficial 'American Movie 2' which is totally what I did not want to do. I have 9 hours of footage of my experience in Milwaukee, and I used only a fraction of it.

Robg.: Originally, didn't you talk to directors such as George Romero and Eli Roth about being some of the featured directors in Horror Business?

Yes. I was speaking to both Eli Roth and George Romero about taking part. And it seemed like it was going to happen. At the same time, to be honest, I felt that they had very busy schedules and the people that are more prominent in the industry at the moment have such busy schedules that I couldn't really focus on them the way I'd like to.

Even the guys I did visit - it was almost rushed in a way. I personally wanted to spend a lot of time with them to really, really get to know them well. You have a situation like on the set for Zombie Honeymoon, where I was on the set for literally 13 hours straight. That was my only chance to get what I could get.

Then, you had guys like David Stagnari with whom I was able to spend a little bit more time with because he lives very close to where I live. So I could call him up and suggest, "Hey, let's go do this or that." I think when you're interviewing someone, it's good to kind of warm up. You guys know all about that. We just went out and had a meal together, said hello, and shook hands as opposed to just you coming up and saying "Now I'm going to ask you questions." I think it's important, especially with my next project with Dante Tomaselli to be able to sit with him, and talk to him and learn what his life is like a little bit.

Robg.: Dante's great and that'll be interesting getting to know him. I mean... (laughs) I'd like to think I'm friends with him. But I don't know? (laughs) I've interviewed him twice.

I met him a few times in person, and I don't think he even remembers the first time. It was like 1997, and I was walking on the street in New York City. I stopped at a used bookstand just looking through books. I was wearing a Texas Chainsaw Massacre shirt. So, he came up to me and we started talking, and he was telling me how he was getting ready to start a movie and it was called Desecration. He gave me his card and told me to call him up if I had any ideas. He doesn't remember that, but I still have the card. That was the first time I met him.

Robg.: Getting back for a moment to the different people you chose to feature in your film - Jay and I were talking before about how it was probably best that you didn't incorporate any established horror directors in Horror Business because it might have thrown off the balance of the entire piece. It would've been a really different movie if you had these struggling filmmakers and then someone like George Romero.

Exactly. You guys are getting to the point faster than I can! I couldn't do with Romero what I would've wanted which was an honest portrayal. It would've been rushed because it would've been "Ok, Chris. You're coming here on so-and-so date to interview George." Maybe I would've gotten to go in his house. No offense to other documentaries that do this, but I personally dislike when you see in an interview the movie poster in the background and a red light. It makes it like a press junket. Why can't we just have George sitting in his backyard with his dog next to him? Does it have to be horrific? We're not trying to make a suspense scene with this. Have him sit outside with a cigar in his hand. It doesn't really matter.

You're interviewing a person, you're not interviewing a horror film, and so you don't need to have the horror film elements there. I can understand why people like to do that, but I wasn't interested in that. In a lot of ways, you're right. I would have liked to have spent a lot of time with them, where I could just call them up and say "Hey, let's go here or there. Let's take a ride." It would've been a different type of film, but I would've tried to get that same honesty out of it. I wanted it to be very real.

Robg.: There are 5 main filmmakers in Horror Business. How difficult is it to set up spending long periods of time with these 5 schedule-wise? How did your relationship start out with all 5 filmmakers in the film?

It was different with them all. Mark I had contacted when I was doing the magazine. He wrote a couple of articles for 'Are You Going?' and then I had asked him if he'd be interested in taking part in my documentary, as long as it didn't get in the way or interfere with what he was doing.  It was him that initialized "Why don't you come down here for a couple of days as I start shooting this movie." I shot footage of him while he was shooting his first feature. That was really exciting. I expected to get an interview but he ended up being one of the subjects.

Robg.: Speaking of Mark, this project you went to see get filmed - Scare Me - was the first thing he had worked on as a director since 'Coven.' That is a 6 year gap?

Yes. He was in other projects, but this was the first film he was making himself. And it was exciting being there and very interesting and surprising. It was also surreal because I had watched American Movie so many times. But at the same time, it was just as interesting as being on Ron Atkins set for different reasons.

Mikec: How did you meet Ron Atkins?

Ron called me up one day on a number I had advertised for ad space in 'Are You Going?' magazine. At first I thought he wanted to buy an ad, but he was like, "Nah, man. I think you should watch my movies and do an article on them." So a week later, I got a package in the mail with all of his films. And the first one I put in was Necromaniac, which I'll lend to you guys if you haven't seen it yet. You'll probably have the same reaction to it that I had, which was that I was in complete shock and awe and disbelief of what I was watching. I couldn't understand how anyone could make something like this. I don't know... what else to say. I was having convulsions. And I just couldn't believe it.

So, when I told him my reaction to the film, he thought I was great because he's like, "Well, you have a sense of humor, man. Because a lot of people get offended by my work, but you were laughing." But I was laughing at the whole situation. I could not understand who made this and why it happened. I was just in shock. I actually watched it with John Goras.

We both had the same reaction to it. And we watched it 3 times in a row. Just because I'd never seen anything like it before in my whole life. So, I guess in a way, it did its job. I wasn't fond of the way it was made, but it was fitting of the situation, because if it was beautiful, then I don't think it would've worked. It was as if these maniacs... these crazy meth-heads went out and made a movie with their stolen video equipment. (laughs)

Robg.: Every time a scene from one of his films came up during your documentary, I'd look over at Jay and he'd literally twitch. (laughs) Speaking of, where the hell did you find John Goras?

Well, just so you know what kind of guy John is... He's the type of guy who would walk into my apartment, and there'd be people there, and he'd throw on a tape of bestiality. (laughs) We didn't ask for this. He would sneak up to the VCR, look around and smile while everyone's talking and put on bestiality films. This is before it was apparent on the Internet. And my guests would just leave. And John would be smiling and laughing and giggling to himself. That's just John.

So, he made this animated film called 'Chirpy.' He brought it to a film festival in Germany and it played in the UK. It was banned in London. Of course, now he made these stickers that say: "Chirpy banned in London!" 'Chirpy' is about his statement on pornography and there's a bird flying around named Chirpy. She eats mushrooms and starts to hallucinate and then ends up getting screwed by a large horse. And the horse has the voice of Barry White. So... that's John. He's played it for people here and there, and people have been aghast by his work. And John likes that a lot. He likes stirring people up. He's a very intelligent man and has a lot to say about the world, but he is a bit crazy.

Jsyn: Do you think there's an irony with these people who are in Horror Business to have some kind of message. When it's like... what message? It's a horror movie! I'm not saying that horror movies can't have a message but do you think that maybe they're in the wrong genre for something like that?

Here's my opinion on this and I think this is pretty much what we were saying before. When we were children, we didn't give a shit about the subtext in horror movies. It was all about the aesthetics. It was all about the action. I didn't know Dawn Of The Dead was about consumerism. I didn't think that as a kid. I was looking at zombies and swat team guys defending themselves. Now, as we're older a lot of us try to put rhyme to reason. We try to give everything a reason. And I think that's important too because you can say a lot about the world through a horror film.

Some great horror films have a lot of subtext and they have a lot to say, but at the same time, the apparent feature needs to be an entertaining one. It needs to be a well-made, well-acted, well-written, and well-crafted statement before it has subtext about what's going on in the world. Because everyone has an opinion.

This world's a mess whether we want to admit it or not. We can say what we want to say about it, but it's going to go its own natural way. We can do things, and things can change. But I think looking back through history, it's always been a mess... we've always had the same problems in one way or another. I don't know why people feel it's so important to take horror so seriously. But I also don't like it when it's nothing but a joke.

Jsyn: The two things we all talked about after seeing your movie was first book ending it with the Orson Welles quote. He's arguably one of the best filmmakers ever.  And in between it's these guys and the title 'Horror Business.' We wondered if it had anything to do with the horror business. It almost felt like "did they (the filmmakers) have anything to do with the horror business?"

It's 'Horror Business', not 'THE Horror Business.' I know what you're saying because I thought of these things, and I knew people were going to feel this way. Ultimately, I wanted to show the guys on the very outskirts of the business. Orson Welles was one of the greatest filmmakers that ever lived... and I opened with a quote from him saying how difficult filmmaking was. Well, these guys are the epitome of that.

Jsyn: Welles was one of the best filmmakers to ever live but also one of the worst when it came to the film business end, which I think could be applicable to the guys in your movie, too.

Sure. Well, I'm not a conspiracy theory guy but I think that Welles caused a lot of problems for himself in the early days and left a bad taste in a lot of people's mouths. He messed with a very rich man like Hurst when he made Citizen Kane and he stirred a lot of trouble with the War of the Worlds stunt. He started out as a wise guy and people didn't like him for that. But I think it was mainly the Hurst thing... if you screw with someone who is extremely rich, like in the modern story with Troy Duffy and Harvey Weinstein, then it is going to last for the rest of your life. I'm not comparing Troy Duffy to Orson Welles, but he's really not that bad of a filmmaker. Because he didn't react the way people wanted him to, he kind of screwed things up for himself.

Robg.: I find that whole story fascinating because The Boondock Saints is one of my all-time favorite films and I never knew the whole back story behind it until seeing that documentary Overnight.

Well, Duffy probably is not that guy you see in Overnight. That's his excitability. That's him being young and stupid. We're all stupid when we're young.

Jsyn: I think given his age and receiving so much money so fast, it makes you react.

Duffy was only 24 at the time, I think. If I was 23 and Harvey Weinstein gave me money, I would've said the wrong things myself, I'm sure. But there are grown men in my film. Everyone is over 30. Ron is I think 36. Mark's 37. David's 39. They're not 24.

Robg.: I love the opening to your film. It's a powerful and relatable image of this kid going into the bathroom, putting on some make-up and getting ready to shoot his own horror film. I'm just curious how you decided to make this the opening because I felt it really set the tone for what you're about to see.

Again, I don't think my situation is unique. I've heard my story told a million times. And I don't want to throw in spice or jazz it up by saying "Oh, it was this revelation that made me want to do this." We all pretty much had the same experience growing up as kids. We all loved horror films. And we all wanted to make something. There were thousands of times when I put on make-up in the mirror and went outside with my friends and made a movie. That's where it all started. And hearing from other people, I just think it's a common image that people can relate to.

Robg.: With the amount of footage you shot, how many edits did you cut for the film? How long did it take to get to the version that we're about to see theatrically?

I'm going to make a few small updates and technical tweaks to the version you've seen - just making captions and things like that look a little nicer. The process took a long time. I was shooting for about 8 months without editing. Then while editing, I didn't want to make it seem like I was being harsh on any one filmmaker in particular or saying anything directly, because that just wouldn't be right. Regardless if they were difficult or not, and some of them were, it just wouldn't be right. These people lent me their time and a piece of their life. I tried to be careful about certain things that were said because some of it might isolate certain people. People have their opinions and I respect that, but the ones in the film aren't exactly mine. And I didn't want anyone to mistake that. Words that might seem like I personally support an ideal that is not mine, I cut out.

I didn't count how many times I edited it because I was the only editor on the film and the movie went through several versions. And at times, I had full sequences with Bill Moseley, Debbie Rochon, William Lustig, Russ Streiner from Night of the Living Dead, and Felissa Rose, who is awesome by the way. There are some really cool scenes, especially one with Debbie that I know I'm going to put on the 2nd disc of the DVD. The problem with it was I didn't get good sound and I felt it was out of place to have her and a few other actresses when I had to get back to these other main guys. I had 82 minutes to tell a story. And I couldn't fit all these people into one film. I have enough footage to make 4 movies out of this!

Robg.: So, we can probably expect a really great DVD release with tons of bonus footage?

Yes, absolutely. And what I'm doing now since I've finished Horror Business is I'm shooting new things as a furthering of the film. I don't think you'll see me or hear me once talking about the making of the film because I'd find that boring. What I will do is maybe a commentary, so if you do want to hear about that stuff you can. But otherwise, they'll be 4 mini-documentaries on the 2nd disc. And we're also going to see people we didn't even see in Horror Business in new mini-documentaries. I was thinking of these guys that run this website or some other filmmakers.  I see a bunch of new stuff. But some of the stuff I already have, such as this one piece about poster art. It goes back to stuff from the 70's, hearing some aficionados talking about posters and you get to see the creation of the Horror Business poster, which was done by an artist named Trevor Cooke. We went through the whole process of the creation of the poster together, and I filmed it and interviewed Trevor.

Another piece is more stuff I filmed with John Goras and him creating this piñata. He goes on and on about the significance of things going on in the world, while making this piñata, which is very strange but different and interesting. Another piece you can look forward to is John Brodie and I driving out to Montauk (Long Island) to look for "the beast." John is, as you know, a conspiracy theorist, and he claims that there's a beast running around Montauk that was released by the government. It's referred to as the "Montauk Project." That'll be his follow-up.

Robg.: What's next for you after Horror Business?

I actually have a few projects in mind and they are all definitely goals. But the first one, which I'm extremely excited about is film called The Horror of Dante Tomaselli. And basically... it's not a propaganda film for his fans. It's not going to be a profile on him either. What it is going to be is a film about the state of the world, and maybe a bleak outlook on it, with Dante at the very core. So think of it as a tree with many, many branches. And the branches are going to represent different projects and different people connected to Dante somehow. He's going to be the core of the whole film. And it's going to be extremely visual and original and interesting. I really want to do different things with the film in general while telling this story. I'm sure a majority of it will unfold as I make it, but my main goal is to do something unique and not the same old profile or "look at this guy and his films" type piece. It's going to be very different. That's all I can say now, but a lot of different elements that'll be used in the film visually will represent his films and his life.

Robg.: Will your film cover his new movie The Ocean and how will all his films be incorporated into your documentary?

I'm going to tell Dante's story starting from his childhood, but I want to get into his mind and his emotion more than his career. So maybe his story and his feelings will be juxtaposed with certain images from his films, but they'll also be manipulated. You won't see direct clips from the film with the caption at the bottom. I mean, you will see that, but I want to do something more. It won't be your basic documentary structure - it's going to be something very odd and organic and move and feel like that with a lot of music. I'm very in tune to sounds. When working on Horror Business, I really needed music that I felt I could relate to and I listened to this CD by this band called 'Zombi.' They were just out there and cosmic and dark. I contacted them and Steve Moore composed the music for Horror Business.

Robg.: Speaking of, how pivotal is music to your filmmaking and films in general?

Extremely important. In the sense that it really needs to be there and it needs to be right. And in other times, when not to use music. An example is Full Metal Jacket. For the first 3 quarters of that film, there is no music at all. It was important for that film to not have music until a certain point, whereas in a movie like Vertigo, the music goes hand in hand with the images. It depends on the story and how you're telling it. If the music is right, then it's just as important as anything else in the film. There have been times where music has completely saved a film.

Robg.: Dante seems to be somewhat of a recluse when it comes to himself personally, whereas he prefers his work to speak for him. How did you convince him that your intentions for a documentary on him were pure and genuine?

He convinced me! He saw Horror Business and was very interested in me doing this project. And he actually coined the title from an issue of my magazine because I did a feature on him and on the cover of the magazine, it read 'The Horror of Dante Tomaselli.' I was really into his movies at the time and I still am, but he was making horror films at a time when there was a drought. No one else was doing it. He was a serious horror filmmaker and not a goofball like these guys that were making I Still Know What You Did Last Summer. (No offense to those filmmakers.) I felt Dante and Larry Fessenden where the only people that I could personally see doing something special. I felt that these guys were going to take the reins. So I had followed Dante's work from the beginning and he's always been a really nice guy from the get go. We hooked up at the Fango convention when I was doing the magazine and I wanted to do a piece on his new stuff. It was fascinating to me because I felt like I was watching the birth of a new horror icon. And I was. I just thought by now, financially capable people would really see what these guys are made of and would be giving them tons of money to make dozens and dozens of movies.

Robg.: What about your other projects?

I'm writing a screenplay which I promise will be a very worthy horror film and very contemporary about what's happening or what could happen now in society. I've been thinking about what scares me now and it's the fact that we're a bit complacent, that we could be sitting ducks... the fact that the Twin Towers blew up and it might not be the end of it. It is very possible that something could still happen and happen very close to our homes and maybe even inside. So the story I am writing regards that fear.

Robg.: Something I meant to ask before... You actually use some footage from 9/11 in Horror Business. People are very sensitive when it comes to addressing what happened or using footage to show what happened. How do you feel about using footage that some people might find either misplaced or offensive for whatever reason?

I know that it's not misplaced because for the most part, if you look throughout history, it's usually after a huge disaster or war that a slew of horror films starts coming out. Open your eyes. It's after 9/11 now and horror is huge again. Look back to the 70's and the horror boom. I knew it was going to happen. The footage also directly relates to what David and John Goras are talking about - that horror films reflect what's happening in society. They do. Look at what's going on. Look at all these horror films happening. Look at us talking about horror films now. This would not be happening if that stuff didn't happen. It's just a result of that. It's how we cope with it. It's how we reflect on it. That's a lot of what REAL horror films are. If you want to make comedies that have gore in them, that's a different story. But horror films are the films with the things that scare us. Where we don't relate to the killer - where we relate to the people being killed. And we're actually scared for them and we want them to succeed and get away from these people and not cheer for some guy running around with a chainsaw. That's all fun, but I never cheered for Leatherface as a child. I wanted Sally to get away. As much as Franklin was an annoying guy, I didn't want to see him get killed! You were afraid for these people and that's why it worked! You related to the people getting killed, not the crazy fuckers in the house! Ed Neal scared the shit out of me in that movie and even still! He had me convinced he was the weirdest guy in the world...

Robg.: (laughs) And you may not be wrong about that!

Well, there's another little film I'm working on. It's not exactly a horror film but it does have those aesthetics to it. There's this place near my home called 'Angel's Gate' and it's a hospice for dying and disabled animals - dogs, cats, horses, etc. This woman Susan (Marino) has 200 animals that she cares for. It's a residential hospice in her house so from the outside it looks like this normal facade of a suburban home. But you go inside and there's a two-legged cat jumping around and a dog hobbling along with a clef palette barking and hugging up to your leg. Susan is just a greathearted woman.

You walk by another room and there's a dog dying in a shower stall or a sick cat on oxygen inside of a glass case. I've started to compile footage for a documentary called 'Angel's Gate' based on this place. I'll focus on a certain operation for this one dog, a boxer puppy with deformities on all four legs. The dog is getting an operation never done before to extend his legs and correct the deformities. It's going to be an odd documentary. I don't want to use the wrong terminology but it's almost like a sideshow with animals. But at the same time I really want to show the huge heart of this woman who runs this place. I probably won't start editing it until after the Dante project, but it's something I really want to do.

Robg.: This is the one project I don't think we'd be able to sit through because we're all going to just cry like babies.

It's hard being there, man. But the mentality of this woman is that she wants to be there for these animals until their very last breath. It's hard to walk past a room and see one happy dog and then one dying dog, but she's there for them. They don't die alone. I think it's going to take some time to make this, but there will be an overall good feeling around it. I don't want to bring people down. I actually stumbled upon Susan by chance because on the 4th of July, I saw this odd animal crawl out of the woods while I was driving with my girlfriend. It was an old little Chihuahua. We pulled over and put him in a blanket and took him to the vet, assuming he got hit by a car. But he actually had a deformity in his shoulder, so we took him down to this hospice we had heard about from a friend and Susan took him in right away. She said she'd keep him, but she actually ended up finding his family. But it's odd. We saved this animal and this animal brought us to her place. And it amazed me. I think it'll make for a really great film.

Thanks for talking to us, Chris. Everyone look out for this guy!

Special thanks to Adam Barnick for the extra pictures.
Visit: HorrorBusinessMovie.com
or E-Mail Chris @: TerrorMovie@aol.com.
Also visit: www.AngelsGate.org.

Read our review of the 'HORROR BUSINESS' NYC premiere!!!

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