This is the second in a three-part interview with Pat Higgins.
Pat Higgins Interview – Part I
PH: I wanted to do something that was a riff on slasher movies, but I had no real interest in lining up a bunch of pretty characters and killing them one-by-one. So it became this kind of inversion of a slasher movie, where all of the people lined up to die were reprehensible killers and the person offing them was a distillation of the ‘victims’ from decades of slashers; the cheerleader, the babysitter, the college student. It was an interesting idea and we had great fun with it.
The film was first released on DVD in the US, it also had a limited release in UCI cinemas in Germany. How did this come about?
PH: The German distributors, Ascot Elite, were fantastic. Sadly, I don’t think they’re still active. They arranged for a really nice DVD, which was easily the best version of that first release and will only be bettered when the Director’s Cut hits the UK later this year. In addition, they set up a short theatrical run which I was only aware of when various UCI cinemas started cropping up on my KillerKiller Google alert. A customer in Germany was kind enough to send me the ticket stubs from his visit so I had a memento. Funnily enough, though, the reviews from German critics were the least favourable that the movie received anywhere in the world, which I thought was a bit unfortunate. Best release, worst reception…
Your third film Hellbride, built upon the success of your previous films, do you think this was your breakout film?
PH: I’m not sure if I’ve ever really broken out! Hellbride was actually shot before KillerKiller, but had a much longer and more troubled post-production and thus didn’t emerge on DVD for a couple of years. I’m very fond of it in many ways, and it was probably the most fun on set I’ve ever had, but there are bits of it that don’t work as well as we’d hoped they would. The end set-piece was hugely ambitious for a film at that budget level, and it doesn’t quite kick into gear the way that it should. No regrets, though. Out of the blue, HMVs all over the country suddenly started stocking up vast quantities of the movie last Halloween and selling them for £3 a throw, so for a while it was fairly high profile again for no particular reason I could work out!
PH: Lee and Nicole are all set to get married, but the ring that he’s bought for her is cursed with the spectre of a wronged bride from a hundred years ago. People die, blood gets spilt and someone tells a horrible story about a kitten and an octopus.
“One Ring to Bind them, One Ring To Kill ‘Em All” did you ever consider using something like this as the films tag line?
PH: Ha, I like that. The tagline we had for it (“At Nicole’s wedding there will be blood, mayhem and slaughter. There will also be cake and a late bar”) prompted an article called “Is this the greatest tagline ever?” over at the Horror Channel, so I think we did okay. There’s something about the set-up that lends itself to good taglines.
The Devil’s Music is your take on the found footage horror movie; can you remember why you chose to make a film in this genre?
PH: Yup, because we had no money! The Devil’s Music was literally made with the tiny amount of money we had left in the kitty from bringing Hellbride and KillerKiller in under-budget the previous year. We knew we didn’t have the cash for a traditional shoot, but a mock-documentary seemed like a possibility, and I’d already written the story a few years beforehand. Despite such humble origins, it’s probably been the best received by critics of all of our films.
Did you base the character of Erika Spawn on anybody in particular?
PH: She’s a bit of a female Marilyn Manson, of course, but we threw elements of several others in there too. There’s a bit of Ozzy, a bit of Iggy, a bit of Alice Cooper, a bit of Joan Jett. Plus, away from her stage persona, she seems to have an uncanny knack for saying things that I agree with.
PH: Once again, not sure I’ve ever exactly arrived. Maybe my bus has broken down.
Is there any reason as to why I can’t buy a DVD of The Devil’s Music in the UK?
PH: We had a widely publicised digital release in the UK through IndieMoviesOnline, which was a very different strategy for the time. We had full-page ads in magazines like Total Film, which was a bold move for an online-only release. It’s been available on a very decent special edition DVD in the US for years, but I’m pleased to say that the film will finally have a conventional DVD release in the UK later this year.
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