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Jan 2012 27

by Justin R. Beckner

Jeremy Kasten has forged a name for himself in the filmmaking business as a brilliant, ego free person whose resume includes producing, directing, and editing films and feature content. Some may remember Kasten’s work on the Suicide Girls Must Die film or The Wizard of Gore which also starred several Suicide Girls along with Crispin Glover. When he’s not directing feature films, he spends his time editing behind the scenes footage for major films including Step Brothers, Spider Man 3, and Water for Elephants to name but a few. We caught up with Kasten to discuss his most recent work, The Theatre Bizarre which opens January 27th, 2012 in select cities.
The Theatre Bizarre takes a rare and unique approach to the horror genre. The movie is comprised of six segments, each with its own director: Buddy Giovinazzo (“I Love You”), Douglas Buck (“The Accident”), David Gregory (“Sweets”), Karim Hussain (“Vision Stains”), Tom Savini (“Wet Dreams”) and Richard Stanley (“Mother of the Toads”). Jeremy Kasten was given the demanding job of tying all the segments together with a cohesive storyline of his own featuring the legendary Udo Keir.
For cities and screenings, check out The Theatre Bizarre Facebook page. If you’re a fan of horror films, you won’t want to miss this summit of brilliant directors doing what they do best.

Justin R. Beckner: May I start off by saying how much I enjoyed The Theatre Bizarre. I’ve always been a fan or horror films and I’m not quite sure why. Why do you think people are so drawn to horror films? Why do people like to be scared from time to time?

Jeremy Kasten: I think movies in general are cheap thrills. There are lots of ways people get thrills – there’s chick flicks where you get emotionally attached to the character and then you get worked up. Then there’s the shock factor which goes all the way back to silent film, The Kiss, where people were first seen kissing in a film. I think horror taps into that primordial part of our brain that responds to fear because fear is a part of us. There’s another way horror affects us in a more surreal way where a film can replicate the experience of having a nightmare. It’s like when you have a nightmare and you wake up and you’re happy to be alive, So I think horror movies can tap into our fears and affect us in that kind of way.

JB: The Theatre Bizarre is a very unique movie in that it is several short story style films within a film – each with its own director. How did all of the directors come together for this unique style of film?

JK: David Gregory and the executive producers handpicked the directors to make the film. I came on after all the films were written and a couple of the directors had already made their films but they did not have a director for the wrap around at that point. I suspect that because of the film The Wizard of Gore, which I did with SuicideGirls, they knew I could deliver a theatrical Grand-Guignol quality to the wrap around part and hold the movie together. They knew they wanted it set in a theatre, they knew they wanted some sort of lead character who would pull you through all of those short stories and give a sense of grounding to the overall story. So I got together with Zach Chassler who is my creative partner who writes a lot of my movies and he had some great ideas. I knew I wanted to do something automatons so we put our heads together and we came up with the idea that became what you see in the film after Udo [Keir] came in and added his own specific and phenomenal sensibility to it.

JB: I noticed several connections between HP Lovecraft stories and the stories in the film. Was that an intentional parallel or simply the result of each director’s influences showing through?

JK: HP Lovecraft has been a huge influence on every horror filmmaker in the twentieth century. I don’t know if it was intentional but it’s hard to look at a horror movie from the era that Lovecraft is known and not see an influence on the movie. I know that there are a couple scenes in a couple of the films that are pure Lovecraft influence – it’s not like anyone talked about it, but it’s certainly there. David Gregory took away a lot of the constraints on the directors for this film and I think that freed them up to let that Lovecraft influence shine.

JB: Did you and the other directors work in close proximity throughout the making of the film?

JK: I’m not sure anybody knew each other until this film happened. I knew David Gregory, the producer – he brought me on – but I didn’t know any of the other directors and I’m not sure that they knew each other. We’ve been to film festivals and done panels together and we all get along very well but there was not of communication among the filmmakers leading up to the movie other than reading each other’s scripts. Because I was doing the wrap around I was given all the scripts and was able to get a glimpse at a couple of the films before making the wrap around. We really all met at the first film festival the movie was at. There wasn’t a lot of communications between us until the movie was done. Since the movie has been done, we’ve formed some friendships that I think will last a long time. I was really glad to have the opportunity to work alongside some filmmakers that I admire and some of them I’ve even been influenced by their work.

JB: The Theatre Bizarre opens on Friday, January 27th, where can people go to check out this movie?

JK: It’s opening in select cities which can be found on the film’s Facebook page or at Shocktillyoudrop.com. Its opening this weekend and then they’re doing a platform release over the next couple weeks in other cities. Then eventually it will be coming out on DVD and will be available in that format as well. But if you look on the Facebook page and the film is not paying in your city, you can demand it on there and a theatre chain in your city will be more likely to book it. That’s the way it goes these days in the movie business. All the theatre has to do is pay for a person to run the projector, so if they know people will show up it makes sense for them to book the movie for a couple days. So if you’d like to see The Theatre Bizarre and it’s not in your town, I’d encourage you to be vocal about it and demand it on the Facebook page.

JB: You mentioned previously that you worked with SuicideGirls in the movie The Wizard of Gore. How was that experience?

JK: I have to say, it was really an amazing experience because when I first started that project, SG was not the brand that it has become today, it was still very much coming up. As one of the producers and editors of the Suicide Girls Must Die video, I joined that after they shot it, I was lucky enough to work with Sean and Missy on that project and get closer to SG and seeing what it had become was pretty amazing.

JB: With all the directing, producing, and editing, you’re a busy guy. What have you been working on lately aside from The Theatre Bizarre?

JK: Last fall I did the recut for the movie 11/11/11 and that came out on 11/11/11 of this past year. So it was a movie that had a really obvious promotional release date which made for an intense end of the summer for me because we basically did a total recut. But it was really cool and I learned a lot. Now I’m back doing what is essentially my day job which is where I produce and edit behind the scenes specials for movies. I’m currently working on Abe Lincoln Vampire Hunter and Men in Black 3 which is going to be out this summer.

JB: Abe Lincoln Vampire Hunter, that sounds pretty awesome.

JK: Yeah, it’s gonna kick ass. It’s by the guy who did Nightwatch which was the movie that really broke him out and then he did Daywatch. He’s pretty much a genius.

JB: Do you have any advice to people who may want to enter the filmmaking business?

JK: I would say if you’re going to do it, take yourself seriously – don’t half ass it. I think a lot of people dip their toes in the water and think that maybe they might want to try to make a movie. You’ve got to commit to it and really go for it and make every effort to know what you need to know for something, that makes a big difference. The people who are successful are usually the ones who immersed themselves and educated themselves about something. In order to break the rules, you have to know what the rules are; that’s a big part of filmmaking now in an age where everything is so wide open as far as independent films go.

JB: I really want to thank you for taking the time to talk to us. Do you have any final thoughts comments or plugs?

JK: I guess I’d like to say about this movie that I was most pleased about was what a pleasure it was to work with one of my heroes. I’ve always been a huge fan of Udo Keir, and it was a privilege to work with him because he’s so much fun and he’s so good at what he does. That was really special to me, it was a dream come true.

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