1. Midnight Spookshow - Michael Staininger (Interview)

    An Interview With Director Michael Staininger Of The Film The Tomb

    Zack Daggy: Describe The Tomb in your own words.

    Michael Staininger: The Tomb is a timeless interpretation of the Edgar Allan Poe classic short story Ligeia; a twisted, atmospheric mystery thriller, in which a man finds himself torn between two women, between obsession and love, between darkness and light.

    ZD: What were your inspirations behind the film’s style?

    MS: Most important for me was to convey the atmosphere of Poe’s writing, which is cryptic and ambiguous at times, and always dark and mysterious. We tried to give the piece a timeless feel, though contemporary, and to plunge the viewer into a world of madness and spirituality, without going overboard at the same time. It was quite tricky to find the right balance between classic storytelling and a more modern, flashy editing style. I am happy with the flow, whereas I wish some crucial story elements wouldn’t have been left behind in the cutting room. As far the film’s color palette is concerned, I was most inspired by the look and feel Tim Burton created in Sleepy Hollow.

    ZD: How would you compare your film to Edgar Allan Poe’s original Ligeia?

    MS: Most certainly we took a lot of liberties in our interpretation of the short story, but, then again, Ligeia is a short story, and The Tomb is a feature film; there are a lot of gaps to be filled. In the short story, we never really know if Ligeia existed or not, or if it was all just a drug induced hallucination. Also, if we do assume that Ligeia was real, the narrator in the short story, which would be Jonathan in our film, is in love, or better taken by Ligeia, not by Rowena; the marriage to Rowena is merely a rational choice, but what the narrator really wishes is that Ligeia would come back into his life, which actually happens in the end. There are a lot of parallels, Ligeia possessing Rowena’s body, the love triangle, the subject matter of immortality. Plus in the film, we actually get to know Ligeia and give her a purpose. We tried to give ourselves as much freedom as possible, without alienating Poe’s fans and Poe himself. I do hope we did his work justice, within the creative boundaries and budget constraints we had to work in.

    ZD: What was you favorite experience while making The Tomb?

    MS: Oh, there are many, it was quite a ride, and I could fill a lot of pages with stories worth telling from the shoot. If I could pick one, it was the day we shot the opening horseback scene on a cliff by the Black Sea in Crimea. I am a sucker for historic epics, and I always wanted to do a scene with a horse. A much more elaborate one was scripted and story boarded, but nevertheless, what we did gave me goose bumps. Tow horses, a kid actress, a stunt team, a helicopter, a deadly cliff, winter winds, lot to think about logistically, and it all went great. We worked on a super small budget and I am proud of what my production team was able to pull off. A second noteworthy moment was when Michael Madsen decided to do his own stunt at the very end of a 16-hour day; we all held our breaths for a moment there, but he proved that he is a true action hero.

    ZD: What drew you to film making?

    MS: It was when I watched Braveheart for the first time in cinemas that the fascination of being able to create worlds we cannot experience, characters which we cannot get closer to in any way more real and realistic, has taken a hold of me. Every filmmaker has the key to unlock a gateway to people’s fantasies, dreams, feelings and emotions. There is no other place than a movie theater where it all becomes possible. A director is the maker of that very key, and it’s a delicate job, which requires a lot of training and experience in order to be mastered. The first film, as was The Tomb for me, is also the first baby step into the endless universe of storytelling. 

    ZD: What films used to scare you the most growing up?

    MS: I have always loved Hitchcock, so Psycho and Birds are clearly at the top of my list. As I have a phobia of insects, I’d put Arachnophobia up there as well, and, since I have seen Jaws for the first time, I can always feel the presence of a Great White when I am in the ocean. There are quite a few films that have scared me and still do, but in recent times, I’d certainly say that The Descent is my number one horror film pick related to how many times I jumped in the theater.

    ZD: If you could direct the remake or adaptation of any other story, which would it be and why?

    MS: If I could, I would love to do a remake of Highlander, which is actually in the pipeline I heard. The idea behind the original is great, and the franchise, which was driven into the ground, has had enough of a break in order to be given a fresh start. What Chris Nolan did with the Batman franchise is the best example and should set the standard for any director trying to do the same thing with a different franchise. Nolan clearly is my big directing idol, in addition to Michael Mann. Highlander would give me a chance to play with the historic epic sword fight man on man theme and to bring it into a contemporary, if not futuristic, but still realistic setting. It could be a fantastic Graphic Novel as well. Very challenging, very demanding; that’s what I like.

    ZD: Is immortality a good thing or bad thing?

    MS: Depends how you see it. I would presume that everybody has the hidden desire to be immortal. It’s not easy to accept that our life will come to an end at some point. So, yes, immortality is good, from a very selfish point of view. Being able to live forever sounds like nothing anyone would want to turn down. On the other hand, critically, what happens if you are immortal and your friends are not, at what age will you stay immortal, does life truly have a purpose if it never ends? The latter question is central and highly philosophical, but drawing a short conclusion, I’d say that mortality is a good thing, for mankind, for our planet and for natural evolution. The world moves at a continuous pace, nothing remains as it is, we change, we age, we die, perhaps we are reborn. Some things we’ll never know, and that’s what makes life a gift. It is the biggest gift of all, and it wouldn’t be that if it never ended.

    ZD: What draws you to the horror genre?

    MS: I am not a horror genre fan per se, and I took the job because I wanted to take on a challenge for my first film, and adapting a literary master is just that. I am intrigued by the genre, and I wouldn’t say no to doing another horror film, whereas I do believe that The Tomb is more a thriller than a horror film, but the story has to be right. Giving people thrills and chills is certainly the most fun aspect of doing a horror film. Again, that’s not the core quality of The Tomb, which is atmospherically scary but not gory, but I can see myself creating a product for the more ‘hardcore’ horror fan base; in this case, the teeny slasher genre, such as Scream, would probably appeal to me the most.

    ZD: Why do you think people like to be scared?

    MS: Fear is one of the most primal human feelings and if one can experience it in a safe environment without consequences, it results in a pleasing adrenalin rush. That’s the essence of the desire to be scared, and the reason why horror movies will always have a large audience.

    This Q&A is Made Possible Thanks To PetMeds! Get 10% off your next order when you go to http://petmeds.com/moth.

    4 years ago  /  1 note

  2. Midnight Spookshow - Elio Quiroga (Interview)

    Midnight Spookshow  The Haunting aka No-Do

    An Interview With The Director of The Haunting aka No-Do: The Beckoning, Elio Quiroga.

    Zack Daggy: How would you describe The Haunting aka No-Do: The Beckoning?

    Elio Quiroga: It’s a horror ghost story about people who can see invisible things, and about how secrets can’t be kept hidden forever.

    ZD: Where did the idea for this film originate?

    EQ:I was very interested in the NO-DO concept. NO-DO were the old newsreels produced during the Franco regime in Spain, something like the “March of Time” or “Movietone News” newsreels audiences watched in Spanish movie theaters as complementary programming before the actual features. I found it very interesting, and explored the concept of  NO-DO crews filming inexplicable phenomena all over Spain for 40 years, documenting miracles for the Vatican authorities with the aim of making Spain a destination for pilgrims. Some of this really happened, and some secret footage is said to be hidden in secret Vatican vaults so to mix reality and fiction was intriguing. 

    ZD: What other films would you compare it to?

    EQ: This is a really difficult one for me! I think that the movie has been influenced by classic films like “The Exorcist” or “The Changeling”. But also some recent horror movies like “The Ring” or “Stir of Echoes” are near in “spirit”.

    ZD: Did your own experiences with faith at all apply to the making of this film?

    EQ: Being a Spaniard it’s obvious. Here in Spain the Catholic Church was very close to the Dictatorship during the 1939-1970s period, and even now they have a huge power here; in some issues Spain nowadays, due to the Catholic contemporary influence still lives in the XIX Century. Without the complicity of the Church, the 40 dark years of Franco’s regime wouldn’t  have been  possible and democracy would have come earlier. So there’s some kind of idea in the movie of  our country’s “buried corpses”, hidden with the complicity of the Church. And also, there’s all this fascinating darkness that surrounds the Roman Catholic world. It’s a fascinating universe, obsessed with secrecy, sin, pain and guilt. Perfect to build fiction, specially horror.

    ZD: The No-Do archive footage in the film I found extraordinarily creepy. What was your inspiration behind that?

    EQ: I’ve been always fascinated by using documentary film footage as a way to make horror stories; I find that films using this kind of technique, such as “REC” or, in a more realistic way, Haneke’s “Benny’s Video” can be deeply disturbing.  The “taste” of “real footage” works very well in horror.

    ZD: What were your favorite scenes to shoot?

    EQ: The archive footage was fun, we inspired ourselves with real footage from a really haunting place in Spain, called Garabandal. Back in 1962, a NO-DO team was sent to Garabandal, a lost Village in the northern part of the country, in Cantabria, where 3 girls were said to be having visions of the Virgin like a sort of Lourdes or Fatima miraculous phenomena. The NO-DO (real) footage of the event is really bizarre…

    ZD: What films used to scare you the most growing up?

    EQ: I remember when a kid being fascinated by TV series like “The Twilight Zone” in Spanish public television (the only we had then) and was also I fell in love with Lewton’s horror classic films like “I Walked with a Zombie” or “The Body Snatcher”, the Universal and Hammer monster classics, and other wonders like André de Toth’s “House of Wax”, etc. I remember a very frightening (for a child) Frankenstein version made for TV by Jack Smight or Albert Lewin’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray”. Also remember with awe this forgotten gem called “Hangover Square”. John Brahm was a truly wonderful horror director. Later, when a teen I was fascinated with giallo and zombie movies, which were screened weekly in Spanish theatres. And sci-fi, of course. I remember watching “Silent Running” at 6 in a movie festival in the Canaries and being horrified by our self destruction instinct as species… One of my “circular” moments in life was meeting Douglas Trumbull in the Sitges Festival an telling him the story…

    ZD: Do you believe in ghosts?

    EQ: Fortunately, not. Although I am fascinated about the subject, I am quite skeptic.

    ZD: What draws you to the horror genre?

    EQ: Horror has this wonderful side that allows you to tell a fantasy tale and make audiences enjoy it, and almost by the way,  suggest them to take a look at some problems and issues. It’s very interesting. A way to think about real issues using fantasy; that’s really poweful.

    ZD: Why do you think people like to be scared?

    EQ: I think that we all love to feel fear… in a controlled environment. In the case of horror movies, you are in control; you can stop it with the remote or leave the theatre, it’s controllable. It’s a way to understand the ugly face of our species, but with the distance that fiction gives you.

    4 years ago  /  0 notes