Quantcast Dante Tomaselli 2005 interview (2)

Dante Tomaselli
- Interview 2
Dante Tomaselli was one of the first people we were lucky enough to speak to for the very first edition of Icons Of Fright way back in May of 2004. Through out that time, he's been nice enough to check in with us once a month to congradulate us on each new edition. We found it only fitting to honor him and his films with this special follow-up interview as part of our local independent filmmaking edition. He brought us up to speed on all his upcoming projects including 'Satan's Playground', 'The Ocean', and 'The Horror Of Dante Tomaselli'; a documentary helmed by filmmaker Christopher Garetano. - by Robg. 8/05

What's changed for you both personally and artistically in the past year since last we've spoken?

Nothing has really changed. I'm still chipping away. I'm still just a person obsessed with making horror movies. I guess if there's anything drastically different, I am more fearful of terrorism, the idea of exploding into pieces at any given second. I don't take subways or buses anymore. I'm more hermetic than ever actually.

Last time we spoke, you were in the editing process for 'Satan's Playground'; your feature with Felissa Rose, Edwin Neal, Ellen Sandweiss & Ron Milkie. What's the official word on a release date as of now? Is a distributor locked and will we see a theatrical or DVD release soon?

Satan's Playground is done. And since the film just got a good review in Variety Magazine, I think it will be picked up for distribution pretty shortly. You have to remember -- it made its World Premiere only last month, in June. Satan's Playground is an indie...it's not connected to a studio, so there's no automatic release date. There has to be a period of promotion before the producers are able to effectively sell it. The film could have been on DVD months ago, it has had many DVD offers since October when I had the rough cut ready, and there was a screening at the SoHo House in NYC. But I'm glad my producers waited because now it's finally finished and it made its premiere. Satan's Playground should get a specialized theatrical release, because it seems to work well with an audience looking for creepy, horror fun. At the very least, you know you'll see it on DVD.

'Satan's Playground' has screened at festivals in the past few months. How has that experience been for you? Did the film turn out as you had initially envisioned it?

Overall, yes, actually. Because when I'd observe an audience screening my last two films, Desecration and Horror, they were either totally engaged or they simply got up and left. And that was fine -- because those were films made for myself and not necessarily an audience at all. But with Satan's Playground, my aim was to make a popcorn horror movie... and people really do seem to have a good time. It's a simple, spooky fairy tale horror ride.Visually, it's like watching an LSD hallucination. It's very colorful; I tried to pack each frame with a lot of detail.

Considering the impressive special edition you were able to put together for 'HORROR', what kind of stuff can we expect for the inevitable DVD release of 'Satan's Playground'?

Well, that's really up to the producers... and the distributor they pick. It's not like Desecration and Horror, where I was one of the producers. This film belongs to Em & Me Productions. I have confidence the DVD release will be sweet.

You're currently hammering away on the script for your next feature 'The Ocean'. What can you tell us about that story?

The Ocean is about a woman haunted by the drowning deaths of her husband and son. It's a "family" horror film with apocalyptic undercurrents. The Ocean is going to be very challenging to film. There are lots of disaster movie-type sequences and I'm going to need some real daredevil cameramen to capture some of the giant wave drowning sequences. There will also be some lyrical, beautiful underwater photography. As you know, Judith O'Dea, of Night of the Living Dead, will play a Scuba Diver. She'll be featured in most of those kinds of scenes. Felissa Rose will be demonically possessed, but that happens on land, inside the house overlooking the crashing surf.

Considering you're still in the writing process. What have been some of the biggest influences on the 'The Ocean' so far?


If I may be so bold, THE OCEAN is a kind of a cross between THE EXORCIST, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, LET'S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH, POLTERGEIST, THE FOG and JAWS.

You've sent me some nasty pics in emails of some jellyfish bites and other terrible misfortunes that can happen to a person while swimming in the ocean. How much research have you put into the things you plan on incorporating into 'The Ocean'? This seems like it's going to be a really different, yet fascinating film from you.
Oh, there will be terrible, hideous jellyfish stings. The ocean itself will revolt. There's a mysterious Ebola-like virus spreading along the small coastal community. And there are killer waves. The Ocean will have that evil, blasphemous feel of some Italian 70s religious horror film. Very very atmospheric. I want it to be a crowd-pleasing movie experience too. It'll have to try to strike that balance.

You have a tendency to use the same actors in a lot of your films. In essence, almost creating your own mini-universe within the world of your films. Whom can we expect to see come back in 'The Ocean'?

Christie Sanford, Ellen Sandweiss, Edwin Neal, Danny Lopes... of course Felissa Rose.

Will 'The Ocean' be a straight forward story ala 'Satan's Playground' or will you be playing with the non-linear story structure like on your earlier films?

It'll kind of be a combination of both.

When it comes to getting a film financed, it's obviously difficult work. But 'The Ocean' will mark film number 4 for you.  How different has it been from film to film securing financial support for your movies as you get further and further into your career? Has it been easier now that your current films are structured in a more straight forward linear format?

It has gotten easier because now my films have a track record. They generate lots of reviews, especially online. Do a search on my name. It's clear to most people, I hope, that I'm trying to get better with each movie.

Most of your films have been filmed in Jersey. But with 'The Ocean', you're heading out to Puerto Rico to shoot. What prompted your decision to make this your first film shot out of state?

I wanted to shoot in the Bermuda Triangle, because that's part of the backdrop of the movie. Plus, I need to shoot it in a place where the waves are consistently large. I don't want to go to Hawaii. That's too far. Puerto Rico is screaming out to me. There's this area called Rincon, where I did some location scouting, it's a bona-fide surfing haven. People come from all around the world to surf there. And they have these spooky caves that are in the script.

Let's set this straight! In our last interview, you had mentioned your next feature being 'Apparition' which later became 'The Ocean'. You also mentioned doing 'Alice, Sweet Alice 2'. What exactly is on your future slate as of RIGHT now?

THE OCEAN is definitely next.

There were rumors circulating about your interest to tackle a remake of 'The Evil Dead'. Granted, you're not the type of director I would normally associate with a remake project, but I'd personally love to see your take on 'The Evil Dead.' If you ever got the chance to do it, how exactly would you approach remaking a film considered a classic & what would you bring to the project that would be new?


I'd love to do The Evil Dead. Hey, I'm not into remakes either. But Sam Raimi has given his blessing. He wants a new Evil Dead to be made. I have a strong spiritual connection to the original. It's sacred to me. As you know even Ellen Sandweiss is in my new movie. If I were given the opportunity to make The Evil Dead, it would be my time to finally make a balls-to-the-wall splatter-punk flick. Non-stop gory mayhem. I'd make it a punishing film. I'd treat it with the upmost respect.

One thing I was curious about. Let's talk a bit about the make-up effects on all your films. Who's worked on your first 3 films, and considering how much pre-visualization you put into your films, how do you and your make-up team approach pulling off such horrific images?

Well, a model maker named Oliver Brigg did most of the Special Make up FX on Desecration. Our favorite image was the bloodstained nun clawing at the window. And for Horror and Satan's Playground, I worked with Scott Sliger, who is now a close friend. He has a company called Monsters, Madmen & Mayhem Makeup Creations. I work very closely with my makeup artists yet at the same time, I give them a lot of freedom within the parameters of what I'm going for. We do storyboards, sketches...

Our favorite make-up-fx visual is the melting doll in Horror and there's a gory scene where a boy gets sliced up in Satan's Playground. Scott and I communicate almost non-verbally. He just knows what I want. And I respect his talent so much. It's the kind of formula I have with a lot of special artists I get to work with on films. I always have that kind of thing going on with my cinematographers too. It's a really priceless synergy.

We recently caught up with Christopher Garetano, who made his feature debut with the documentary 'HORROR BUSINESS' and he tells us his next project will be a documentary based on you titled 'The Horror Of Dante Tomaselli'. Can you tell us a bit about how you came to know Chris and where the idea for this project came together?

Isn't Chris terrific? He has that spark, that extra something. He'll go far in this industry, mark my words. Chris and I met at a Fangoria Weekend of Horrors Convention in January 2002. He personally handed me a copy of his magazine, Are You Going? and inside there was a very good interview we did. We talked on the phone later and hit it off. Then for one his next issues, he devoted the cover to my films. The Headline read: "The Horror of Dante Tomaselli." Skip to 2005...and he's going to be directing and producing a movie on my hallucinatory film world.

The state of horror is always in constant flux. With the PG-13 & Japanese import craze dying down a bit, and now some more promising original horror films in production, how do you feel about the current state of horror since last we spoke?  Have you seen anything recently that really stuck out to you as something special?


I'm really bad. No. I don't watch anything. I am so stuck in my own mind, trying to make my films. I watch old stuff, of course, 1920s German expressionism to 70s, 80s horror. But I haven't seen anything new. I still have to really watch that Malevolence DVD you sent me. A short that impressed me recently was filmmaker Adam Barnick's bizarre, visceral MAINSTREAM. Also, Chris Garetano's feature documentary, HORROR BUSINESS was engaging and visually exciting. But that's about it as far as I know.

We understand you'll be at the upcoming Fangoria Weekend Of Horror's convention in NY/NJ in September (2005) to talk about 'Satan's Playground' and 'The Ocean'. It's been a while since you've spoken at a convention. Who's coming down with you and what can we expect from your panel? Don't be shy! You'll do fine!

(laughs). Yup I'll be there. Yes, I'll feel very shy. You know it's not my thing. I only feel comfortable on the sets of my movies, and especially not conventions where there are hundreds of people and I have to be on a stage. Mmmm. But hopefully, Felissa, Ellen, Edwin, Danny or Christie will be up there too. There should be a Satan's Playground panel. I'll definitely need at least one actor there with me. I have to contact Tony Timpone and work that out with him. I know he wants me to preview the film, so I'll show a 5-minute Satan's Playground preview clip. Hopefully, it will tantalize the audience more than my presence, because I am not a performer, showman-type. I make weird, psychedelic horror movies. Then I retreat into my imagination and plan for the next one.

Don't forget to read our first interview with Dante Tomaselli from May 2004!!!


Special thanks to Dante Tomaselli.
Visit: SatansPlaygroundTheMovie.com
and TheOceanMovie.com


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