There are only a few people that are credited for pioneering the horror genre. While Alfred Hitchcock made his imprint on the genre with his ability to captivate viewers with mind-boggling thrills and cerebral storytelling, William Castle was flaunting his incomparable showmanship by utilizing theatrical gimmicks and fun gags to trick and treat audiences at screenings of his films. Although both of these filmmakers are monumental figures of that particular era of cinematic genre fare, Hitchcock and Castle were never particularly known for on-screen depictions of extreme gore and bloodshed. In fact, one name comes to mind when we think of the inception of cinematic carnage in its truest sense (I.E. blood, guts and gore), and that name is H.G. Lewis; the creator of such classic cult gut-churners as Blood Feast, The Wizard of Gore and Two Thousand Maniacs!.
Scheduled to attend Calgary, Alta’s Third Annual Horror Convention, and currently in the process of fundraising for his latest directorial endeavour, Zombificador, via the popular crowd-funding vehicle, Indiegogo, the legendary Godfather of Gore himself, Mr. H.G. Lewis, took some time out of his busy schedule of conjuring ideas for his latest splatter-fest to answer a few questions for DIABOLIQUE, and further pique the horror community’s curiosity by unveiling a few of the finer details of the film and the fundraising project.
DIABOLIQUE: How did the idea to try and raise funds for your upcoming horror anthology, Zombificador, via Indiegogo come about?
H.G. LEWIS: The idea came from the producer, Marc Fernandez, who felt that public involvement from the first instant would increase public involvement in the ultimate produced film.
DIABOLIQUE: Was it a matter of desperate times call for desperate measures?
LEWIS: Desperation is never a successful motivator. Marc regards the Indiegogo approach as a logical way to initiate funding. And with my personal history, I’m not about to be desperate to get a movie underway.
DIABOLIQUE: And why did you opt to use Indiegogo as opposed to other similar crowdsourcing websites?
LEWIS: Indiegogo allowed Marc, who’s not a U.S. resident, to raise funds. Beyond that, Indiegogo was a logical choice because the technique allows the entrepreneur to use the funds raised even if the amount hasn’t reached the intended goal. So we can start the movie with the amount we’re able to raise, assuming it’s at all logical. (With Kickstarter, Marc says, a venture doesn’t get money unless the total goal is achieved; and US residency is required.)
DIABOLIQUE: How much have you raised so far and how much do you need to raise overall to fund the film?
LEWIS: I’m not in a position to say, because the cash flow isn’t static. But to have the cameras grind for even a respectable fragment, we’d need to be in the lower six figures.
DIABOLIQUE: Describe what it was like trying to find the funding to make your movies back in the ‘60s and ‘70s compared to how it is now.
LEWIS: In those golden times, independent distributors would put up advances, covering the right to distribute a movie within their assigned territories. Theatrical release was king. Today, only a splinter of independent productions achieve a theatrical release, and that restriction, added to the flood of films pouring out of digital cameras, can be a mortal wound to any hope of exclusivity.
DIABOLIQUE: How were you funding your movies back then?
LEWIS: Once Blood Feast and Two Thousand Maniacs! had established a reputation for playable pictures that made money for both the production company and the theatre, I could coast from film to film. I self-financed many of my movies, but distributors were ready to supply advances because the theatres that played our movies would give advances to the distributors in exchange for guaranteed exhibition.
DIABOLIQUE: Tell me a bit about the project itself. How did the idea for Zombificador come about?
LEWIS: I hadn’t known Marc Fernandez. He contacted me with the irresistible argument that he wants to produce “the goriest movie in all history.” You certainly can imagine: I was intrigued both by his sincerity and by his astuteness.
DIABOLIQUE: And how did you collaborate with Fernandez on the script?
LEWIS: There were elements in his script I felt were “flat”. Some elements were tedious, some too familiar for comfort and too few that transmitted a component I feel we need for an individualistic image: sardonic humor. Marc quickly accepted my philosophy, and that left me without an argument. Clever on his part, wasn’t it?
DIABOLIQUE: Did you and Marc take a thematic approach to writing the film? What is the underlying theme of Zombificador that ties the five individual segments together?
LEWIS: Within the classic “Monster” framework – and because of that framework we need droll relief to avoid sameness – we have the classic cast: zombies of course, talking puppets, unsuspecting humans transformed into monsters, mutant bugs, and the inevitable psycho-killers. Five separate segments interconnect, all happening the same day in the same town. Understand the creative timing: I’m still schlocking around with the script, making changes as I wake up with new clouds on my brain.
DIABOLIQUE: Have any actors been cast for the film yet?
LEWIS: My understanding from Marc is yes: Bill Moseley, who appeared in Marc’s previous film Mugworth, and Michael Berryman. I don’t want to cry “wolf!” with actors and actresses. So much of the casting awaits a hard start-date.
DIABOLIQUE: As stated on the Indiegogo page for Zombificador, the film is a truly ambitious endeavour as it is promised to be “the ultimate gore movie”. Who will be taking care of the SFX? Hopefully, there won’t be any CGI used…
LEWIS: I embrace your attitude toward CGI. I’ll use it only when no other method is sensible, such as positioning an image inside a TV screen or computer monitor. I may discuss effects with Marcus Koch, who did the effects for my film, The Uh-Oh Show. But the ultimate decision depends both on Marc and on the location where we do the filming.
DIABOLIQUE: Horror anthologies have made a huge comeback in recent years. Did you feel you absolutely needed to jump on board the anthology band wagon to get on par with the rest of the horror filmmaking community, or was it something you had in mind prior to the new wave of horror anthologies?
LEWIS: Zombificador isn’t an anthology. The stories interconnect. Ask me that question again when we’ve shot at least fifty scenes and I’ll give you a coherent answer.
DIABOLOQUE: Have you seen any of the recent anthologies such as Little Deaths, The Theatre Bizarre, V/H/S and The ABCs of Death? What are your thoughts? Which of them have you found to be particularly engaging or well done?
LEWIS: Any answer I’d advance at this point would be regarded as competitive, and too many writer-directors feel ego-threatened whenever somebody else makes a successful movie. I’m trying to avoid that trap.
DIABOLIQUE: It’s stated on the Indiegogo page that Zombificador will be the horror film for fans of old school, traditionally made horror films. Do you think it’s realistically possible to make such a horror film in 2013? How will it be the same and how will it be different?
LEWIS: Take my word, please: Nothing about this movie represents “the old school” except in the broadest terms. You know my reputation. With every film I make, I try to edge the product into a new niche. What the Indiegogo reference intends is assurance that horror traditionalists won’t feel betrayed.
DIABOLIQUE: In other news, you’re scheduled to attend the upcoming Calgary Horror Convention in August. Will this be your first time visiting Western Canada?
LEWIS: Oh, no… but it will be the first time I’m visiting Calgary.
DIABOLIQUE: How did you get on board for the Calgary Horror Con?
LEWIS: I had a direct invitation from James Saito.
DIABOLIQUE: Describe what the Horror Con experience is generally like for you. Do you enjoy attending these events?
LEWIS: I certainly do. I can keep my finger on the pulse of the industry, meet people I’d otherwise never encounter, and even on occasion be invited to sing the theme song from Two Thousand Maniacs! (That’s my voice on the original sound-track.)
DIABOLIQUE: Is there anything you would like to share with DIABOLIQUE readers before we wrap?
LEWIS: Sure! You’re my kind of people – just nutty enough to appreciate off-the-wall screwballs such as I am. I love you all!
Diabolique Digesters, you can buy tickets to the Calgary Horror Con here, and H.G. Lewis’s Zombificador can be donated to here! This film cannot be done without your help, so check out the perks, watch the video (embedded below) and help keep splatter horror alive!
– By Lacey Paige