It'll Take More Then A Bullet To The Brain This Time!
Directed By: David DeFino
Cody (Phillipe Kane) is having a very bad weekend; and it’s about to get worse. After losing his wife and his job, he is forced to help the one person he despises the most: his former supervisor, Allison Cartwright (Erica Doering). Allison too is having a very bad weekend. Her car has broken down on a deserted mountain road, winding through a forest rumored
to be haunted by evil spirits. She ends up accepting a ride from the wrong person. Soon, she finds herself in the clutches of the most vile serial killer/rapist alive – Samuel Parks (Timothy Muskatell).
Samuel has taken his Satanic devotion to the limit, sacrificing his unfortunate victims as offerings to his evil lord in hopes of gaining immortality. Allison was supposed to be his final sacrifice before the cycle could be completed, but she isn’t going down without a fight. In a twist of fate, Cody ends up saving her life. However, they both find themselves lost in the dark woods with a murderous butcher hot on their trail. It isn’t long before Samuel catches up to them. Cody blocks his path so Allison can escape.
Samuel and Cody square off. Samuel is no match for Cody, who takes all of his anger, all of his frustration, all of his stress out on Samuel’s skull. Unfortunately, Samuel’s demise is only the beginning. His tainted blood mixes with the soil to create something more evil, more grotesque, and more terrifying than Samuel ever was; something invincible; something with the power to make the dead walk. It’ll take more than a bullet to the brain this time.
In 2001 David DeFino Directed, and Produced the feature length Film Devil's Moon. At the time David was struggling to make ends meet. But with the support (and goading) of his friends, he was determined to make this film. The screenplay was written by Rick Steiner. David had met Rick working on a film that called "If Tomorrow Comes" (starring James Franco). If memory serves me correctly, it was after a screening of that film that Rick, Myself, my good friend Regina Bailey (Pre-production Assistant on Devils Moon) and Jeff Olan (Associate Producer of Devils Moon, and owner of Jeff Olan Casting) first started talking about making the film. We through together a couple ideas I had been working on, and came up with a plan.
The Screenplay for Devil's Moon is a mashup of 2 other ideas I had been trying to develop with some other shit mixed in for fun. The first was an Idea I had called “Over The Mountain”. This was the most flushed out idea that I had. It was The story of Allison, Cody and Samuel Parks. I really liked the idea of having a working class loser being stuck helping his elitist boss who just fired him. All while running from a deranged serial killer. The problem with this idea, is it is kinda boring... not much of a body count. So it had to be beefed up.
In comes my 2nd idea. 3 goth girls in the woods try to summon spirits, and inadvertently cause the possession of the unborn baby of one of the girls, which comes bursting out of her and hunts down the others. Admittedly, this needed work. It also needed a bigger body count.
Where to find more people to kill off in the woods? That was the next question... I suggested adding a couple rednecks...
Now lets jump back here for a minute. All this script planning was hashed out over beer between Rick, Jeff, Regina and I. Most of the casting took place right there. Rick would play on of the rednecks, Jeff would play Allison's Father (the owner of the company), Regina would Play Allison (we later had a falling out, and she was replaced by the Very Talented Erica Doering), We could get Tim Muskatell (Who had starred in another film Jeff Produced Called “Holy Hollywood”) To play the Killer. I had met Tiffany Shepis while trying unsuccessfully to get another script I had (Revelations) made, so I decided to use her as one of the “goth girls”, I decided on Rainbow Underhill to play one of the other “goth girls” because I had worked with her before, and as an actual “goth girl” I figured she would add an air of authenticity.
That left the casting of the other redneck and the male lead. But wait... We needed a death at the beginning... We needed to establish the killer, and show some blood (and flesh) at the beginning of the film. So we added Allison's sister as the first Kill.
This brought me to a dilemma. I had 4 parts to fill. The Male lead, A redneck, Allison's sister, and a goth girl. I also didn't have any minorities cast in the film. This was a bit of an issue for me. I didn't want an all white cast, but what part left could be played by a minority? The male lead? The problem with that is it would drastically change the tone of the film. The relationship between Allison and Cody was supposed to show elitism. If Cody had been a minority, it would have changed it to racism. Allison's sister? Sure she could have been an adopted daughter, but would Allison have been such an elitist if she grew up in a multicultural house? It just didn't seem like it would work to me. The redneck? To be honest, I wanted the rednecks to be stereotypical comic relief...
Then it hit me. There was a guy that I worked with that was the basis for Marcus. He drank to much red-bull, was a bit hyper, and would call everything racist. (seriously, If you were talking to someone else and said something would put a “black mark” on your credit... he would shout from across the room “Why does it have to be black?”) This was my final character. A black guy that drinks to much red-bull, and thinks everything and everyone is racist. We could use that character to poke fun at racial stereotypes in movies, and make him the most normal person in the movie... But how to get him into the woods? Make him a fitness nut out for a jog!!!
We spent the next few months auditioning for the remaining roles, and finding locations to steal. I decided to shoot the film on the weekends for a total of 14 days of shooting (stretching over 2 months). Rick put together the pieces I had into a really fun script, and Regina and I broke it down and started planning.
1 - 21
Trent Rainbow and Liz as Zombies
Shooting Samuel Parks Demise
The Three Stars of Devil's Moon Block out a Scene
Rainbow Underhill Rehearses a scene
Directing Tiffany Shepis in a scene from Devil's Moon
Cleetus and Cooter
D.P. Chad Ferrin in a tree
Trent Haaga and Rick Steiner between takes
Rick Steiner in costume
Marcus being chased by evil
Allison Cody and Marcus
Tom Devlin touching up Rainbow Underhill
The talented Tiffany Shepis
Tiffany Shepis in Devil's Moon
Tiffany Shepis in Devils Moon
Tiffany Shepis on set of Devils Moon
Tiffany Shepis and the Demon Baby
Trent Haaga Getting into his role
Trent Haaga in zombie make-up
The first Cinematographer I had was a guy by the name of Walter Glover Jr. I had worked with him over at PRG and he was in the freelance world now. He had access to 2 Canon XL-1's and we were going to shoot 2 camera to help compensate for the short schedule. Walt is a talented film maker, and it would have been great to have him on the show. Unfortunately for me, Walter got offered a series of BMW commercials during the same time frame. And had to back out of my project. They paid. I didn't. It was understandable.
Luckily for me, I was able to talk Director Chad Ferrin into taking over the reigns as cinematographer. Now I would like to make a point right here. I truly think Chad is one of the most under ratted film makers of my generation. “The Ghouls”, “Easter Bunny, Kill Kill”, “Someone's Knocking at the Door” are all great films that rise above their simple splatter movie edifices to hold a stark and deranged mirror to societies grotesque face. But a cinematographer, he is not. I knew that going into this, but figured I could look over his shoulder and make sure he was doing right. The reality was more like:
Me: Cut! Hey Chad how'd that look?
Chad: looks good to me
Me: Okay, Moving on.
Now granted, he didn't have anything to work with. We were in the middle of the woods with no power. My idea of using battery packs for the lights didn't work out that well. Speaking of that, I would like to thank my amazing cast and crew that truly went above and beyond following my insanity into those woods. We also had no bathrooms... other then a bush. We would hike in with coolers for craft service. I often wonder how many people just showed up to watch me fall into insanity like Fitzcarraldo or something.
I need to point out here that I was under no manic delusion at this point. I didn't think I was making the next "Citizen Kane", or even the next “Jaws”. I knew what I was making, and it was all going somewhat to plan.
I loved what most people would call “Bad” horror movies. Movies like "Pieces" or "The Beyond". I loved them for many reasons. For one, they pushed bounds. They had the freedom to be less mainstream because they didn't need the mass turnout to make a profit.
One of the other reasons I loved “Bad horror movies is that they are a bit more... obviously movies. When you have a larger budget, and can stretch out your shooting to 30, or 60, or even 90 days, you have time to make sure everything is perfect. The lighting is perfect, the camera angle is perfect, the effect went off perfectly... When you shoot in a much shorter time frame (as most low budget films do)... well you might not have time to do 10 takes to get that “perfect” one. You may not have time (or the gear) to set that “perfect” mood with the lights. You may have to just deal with that effect looking shitty.
That is what I loved. That in the middle of watching these horrendous acts happening in the movie there would always be that bad line read, or that seam on the prosthetic, or the boom shadow on the wall. Like a reassuring voice that whispers “It's only a Movie”.
I was well aware that this movie would have mistakes, but so did most of the movies I enjoyed. There are actually several places in the movie where I deliberately used bad takes because I found them hysterical. I guess I was just too naive to understand that when you are tying to make a “bad” horror movie, and you succeed, you end up with a bad horror movie.
©2013 David DeFino