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Stevan Mena
writer - director
of MALEVOLENCE
If you haven't heard of writer - director Stevan Mena yet, rest assured... YOU WILL!!! His debut film "MALEVOLENCE", the 2nd part of an intended trilogy impressed Anchor Bay Entertainment so much, that they made it their first theatrical release ever. This is a horror movie genre fans have been waiting for. A film that homages all the classics, such as Halloween, Psycho, Friday The 13th, and The Evil Dead. Even Fangoria magazine said that the film was " a stylish, no humor return to great 80's horror." We caught up with Stevan to find out what secrets we could find beneath the surface of 'MALEVOLENCE'. - by Robg., Vin, Mike C. 9/04
When did you first know you wanted to get involved in filmmaking?
 
When I was very young, my favorite pastime was listening to film soundtracks, especially John Williams. I then began making films when I was about 11. My love of film music evolved into a love of the filmmaking process.

How did you develop your character's for 'Malevolence'? It seems you opted to tell a story with a lot of unpleasent characters as opposed to the average teens.
 
I wanted to create characters that had depth and purpose. I HATE horror films where there is no purpose for people to exist in the story other than be killed. So I wanted there to be more at stake than just kids hanging out and having sex.

The film has a lot of GREAT scares. Debra Hill said in an interview that during the writing process for Halloween, her and John Carpenter started out by making a list of things that scared them, and incorperated that into their script. How'd you set up the scares and suspense while writing your script?

The scares in Malevolence are kind of like a sucker punch. They are a combination of atmosphere, suspense, music, and camera angles that work to distract you so that you don’t see it coming. I knew on paper what I wanted those scenes to achieve, but a lot of it comes together in the editing room, through timing, music, etc.

'Malevolence' is considered the 2nd portion of an intended trilogy. If you had the budget, would you have filmed the full story as one movie, or was it always intended to be three different films?

It was always intended to be three films. The story was originally 500 pages long. And each film takes the story in a new direction. Also, I wanted to have a place to go. So many horror film sequels are made just for the sake of making money, not to expand on a story.

The look of the film is fantastic. Was 35 mm always your first choice as far as filming?

Yes, a big mistake many filmmakers make is assuming that  film is the most expensive part of production. It is expensive, but not in comparison to crew and location expenses. And at the end of the day, the film is the end product, you want your work to look the best it can.

Speaking of the look of the film, your cinematographer was Tsuyoshi Kimoto. What were your working experiences together like on this project?

Sometimes great, sometimes difficult. We didn’t often see eye to eye, but that is often the case with artists. And sometimes when there is friction in the creative process, it produces amazing results, just ask Pink Floyd.

It's interesting to have a few subplots intertwined into 'Malevolence'. Was the bank robbery always a key plot point to your story?

Yes, it was always part of the story.

There's a reference made by the cop about the place being lost much like a acorn tree in the middle of a field. At the beginning of the film, there's a shot of an acorn tree in a field & it's creditted as 'scary tree' in the credits.  Is there more to the tree then meets the eye?

You must have seen the film more than once!!! Well, when Kurt passes the tree, we hold on it. An early reference to Riley’s comment later. It’s a symbolic gesture to enhance Riley’s words, to subliminally create in the audience a sense of isolation. Very deep, I know, but I am VERY impressed you caught that! No one else has. It shows you are really paying attention!

How'd you decide on the mask for the killer?

Part of the purpose of the bank robbers was to create a plausible reason for the killer to wear a mask, by stealing it from Kurt, and creating the mistaken identity subplot. It allowed him to get close enough to Marylin to inflict the damage.

The shot of Martin's face still haunts me, even after seeing the movie a few times now. Where's you find that actor?

Jay Cohen and I attended a film seminar in 1998. We have been very close friends ever since. I’ll break it to him gently how haunting his face is (LOL!)

The movie borrows heavily from all the slasher greats, but can be seen as a respectful homage to those films.  How would you defend this against the  horror purists that might not see the film in this way?

Well, I made those homages because I wanted to show my respect for the films that came before me. Everything has been done to death, and every idea for slasher films has been conceived previously. My point in also showing those homages was to point out what why the old films worked, and today’s horror misses the point. To the horror purists, I say relax, and have fun, it’s only a movie. At least I didn’t completely disrespect my predecessors by destroying the memory of their works by remaking their films and assuming I could improve on their vision. Scream mocked my favorite genre. I wanted to remind the “horror purists” why they fell in love with these films in the first place!!!

You had a huge amount of various problems during the actual shoot. Is it true that you had a mild heart attack the last day of shooting?

It had been an arduous shoot, and I guess my body, after not sleeping or eating in days in order to keep the ball rolling, just gave out.

Have all these problems effected the way you might go about working on your next feature?

Well, next time I will have people helping me, and not try to do everything myself.

Your score for the film is very reminisent of John Carpenter. Is he an influence? And did you always intend on scoring your own film?
 
I always intended to score my film, mainly because I couldn’t afford anyone else. John Carpenter is a huge influence, however, I feel the score is more like Charles Bernstein’s score from Nightmare on Elm Street. I think people make the Carpenter reference because of the use of stingers, and piano, similar to how he emulated the piano in the Exorcist.

The prequel idea you have is meant to take place a mere few days before the events of this film. Which characters appear in your prequel and will it explain more of the origins of the killer story from the late 70's?
 
Yes, it will reveal the identity of his tormentor, the original killer, Graham Sutter. It will also go deeper into Julian’s debt, his relationship with Marylin, and will also completely turn everything in Malevolence 1 on it’s head, especially the end!!!

You have yet to mention where the sequel would go. Is there anything you can tell us about the script you have for it?

I don’t want to give too much away, but it will bring resolution to Martin’s story. And his family…?

After a few years in production, what was it like to finally see the completed film screen in a theater in front of an audience?

Amazing.

Your film is the first theatrical release from fan favorite Anchor Bay Entertainment. How did Anchor Bay get involved with 'Malevolence'?

They viewed the film and decided that Malevolence belonged in theaters. We were in the right place at the right time. We’re not on 2,000 screens, but we’re not straight to Blockbuster either.

The tag line for the film is "No one gets out alive" and all the posters sport a creepy image of the house. Tell us a bit about the promotional marketing for the film?

Well, that tagline is significant of the house. The years of murder that have taken place over the last 20 years.

Being that Anchor Bay Entertainment released the film theatrical, what are the plans for the DVD? Is it getting the special edition treatment it deserves and how will you be involved with that?


Yes, there will be many extras. Missing scenes, alternate takes and music, and behind the scenes footage.


The Icons staff have all seen 'Malevolence' 3 times each! How's the film doing theatrically so far?
 
I knew it. You guys rule! So far our opening on LI went great, and now we’re breaking into other markets across the US. Theatrical releasing is tough for small Indie films, but we’re so far doing great!

You've admitted to being a fan of all genres of movies. Is there any type of genre you'd like to move onto next? Or would you like to continue working in the horror genre?
 
I’d like to step back from the edge to do a thriller. I also do comedy too. In fact, there is actually some hidden humor in Malevolence, but it’s under the surface, like it was in the original Texas Chainsaw.

Any dream projects you'd love to work on?
 
I’ll just be happy to be working!

What would you like to say to the Icons Of Fright audience that have yet to see 'Malevolence'?

Buy a ticket!!! or... the DVD!!!



Special thanks to Morgan. Visit: Malevolence Movie.com


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