Welcome to the third part of our interview with Pat Higgins.
You co-wrote and co-directed Bordello Death Tales with James Eaves and Alan Ronald, what prompted you to share the writing and directing details for this film?
PH: Well, it wasn’t sharing so much, since the movie is an anthology. We all took control of our own stories. So we all got to be our usual control-freak selves.
PH: I love the movie and I loved the experience, and doing the sequel over the last few months has actually been even better. It’s a very different feeling doing a third of a film each. In some ways, you don’t feel the weight of the whole flick on your shoulders but in other ways you’re desperate not to let the whole team down and make a weak story.
How did the idea for the film come about?
PH: The film was Jim’s idea; he wanted to put together a horror anthology in the style of the old Amicus movies and things like Creepshow. He pitched it to me at the premiere of his movie Bane; I loved the idea and suggested it to Al. It worked ridiculously well, really. Jim was eager to get another movie under his belt before the birth of his first child, and spreading the workload was a rather inspired way of doing it!
Do you have a favourite section of the film?
PH: I love them all for different reasons. Jim’s for the bad-taste gore and wonderful stylistic flourishes, Al’s for being flat-out bonkers and pushing further into insanity than I would ever dare go (yes, I’m thinking of the musical number), and, of course, my own chapter because it’s MINE, goddammit.
And now we come to Strippers vs Werewolves, this was going to be your labour of love, but things took a sour turn…
PH: I’m a fundamentally upbeat kind of guy, and I’ve been lucky enough to have had almost entirely positive experiences throughout nearly a decade in the industry. So Strippers vs Werewolves is very much the odd one out, and is therefore less fun to talk about.
PH: Back in the 90s I used to record double-bills of exploitation movies off Sky. I built up quite a VHS library. I used to vaguely theme the double-bills and one of them (I actually dug it up the other day) I labelled Strippers vs Nutter. This led to the phrase ‘Strippers vs…’ becoming a running joke amongst a few of my friends. In 2008 we needed an additional film title for our catalogue of ‘in development’ projects for the Cannes festival that year, so we threw together a poster for Strippers vs Werewolves with a tagline ‘It’s a B-movie. But it’s a bloody good one’. Somehow, despite the fact that I was out there to publicise The Devil’s Music, I ended up being introduced at parties as the guy who was making Strippers vs Werewolves.
It must have been odd working on a film, where your only input was as a screenwriter? Did you spend any time on the set of the film?
PH: No, I didn’t. God, this is going to turn into a series of extremely short answers!
So I take it you weren’t aware of the changes made to your script until the film had been released?
PH: I was made aware when production wrapped.
How much does the final film differ to the script that you handed in?
PH: I don’t know, I haven’t seen it. I’m waiting for the director’s cut!
Have you learned any lessons from this experience?
PH: Ultimately, I guess having a bad experience on a project has underlined just how fortunate I’d been up until that point. Having spent nearly ten years in the industry without having experienced any broken promises or bad faith up to that point was quite a run. And, luckily, I was able to go straight back to working with people I trusted and could rely on for Battlefield Death Tales, which was an incredibly fun, smooth shoot and has turned out to be a cracking film.
Can you tell us about any of your future plans?
PH: Well, Battlefield Death Tales (which looks like it might get a quick retitle for the UK) has signed to Safecracker Pictures and will be out on DVD in August. As I mentioned earlier, The Devil’s Music will finally be out on DVD in the UK very shortly, plus a director’s cut of KillerKiller will be along later in the year. We’re already looking at possibilities for a third Death Tales, probably in 2013. Longer term, I’ve got House on the Witchpit and Chainsaw Fairytale coming up on the horizon. House on the Witchpit is a full-tilt terror film – a real panic attack of a movie. Chainsaw Fairytale is like a gore-soaked tilt on Enchanted. I have been known to claim that I haven’t slept since 2003, and it genuinely feels like that sometimes. But, fuck it, I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Pat, it has been an honour to have the opportunity to talk to you, thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. Do you have any final words for the readers?
PH: Always treat people with decency and respect, and don’t record important scenes onto head cleaner cassettes.
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