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Underground filmmaking doesn’t get much more underground than this. We’re in a basement in Queens that’s serving as a location for the independent fright feature THE SUPER, and a better setting for ghastly violence would be hard to find. The walls are crumbling, paint peels off them, pipes are exposed. Down a back passageway lies a cramped space full of junk that one would be loath to explore alone.
All involved in the shoot have been assured that there are no health concerns down here—but that’s not the case for the movie’s characters. On one corner of the floor lies an old mattress, and cowering on top of that is actress Ruby LaRocca, staring up in fear at SUPER stars Demetri Kallas and Manoush. He’s got a knife and she’s got a camcorder and they’re about to enact a horrific act of violence upon their poor victim. Behind a camera of their own, writer/directors Brian Weaver and Evan Makrogiannis, who make up Hallows Eve Films, capture every last drop of the bloodshed, true to their mission statement of making THE SUPER a no-holds-barred homage to the down-and-dirtiest horror/exploitation cinema of decades past. LaRocca’s fate may be seriously unpleasant, but it’s far from the only horrible act that THE SUPER will unflinchingly depict; in particular, a character played by new actress Kathryn Zawicki is subjected to acts of perversion so profound and disgusting, decorum prohibits listing them here.
“Brian and I agree that even though there are horror movies coming out that are very graphic and gory, they’ve lost the edge, the griminess, the sleaziness you saw in the ’70s and ’80s,” Makrogiannis says. “They’ll show someone splattering guts everywhere, but they’re still politically correct; they don’t want to offend people when it comes to certain subjects. We just decided, let’s do a movie the way they used to be made. I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE, LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, MANIAC—those guys weren’t concerned with who they were going to offend. If anything, they wanted to offend people to make audiences think.”
Thus, THE SUPER incorporates social issues as well, as explored through Kallas’ character George. A Vietnam veteran who came home suffering severe post-traumatic stress disorder, he also hasn’t recovered from the subsequent deaths of a couple of friends and fellow vets. The more he’s confronted with the immorality (real or imagined) of the tenants of the building he runs, the more he starts to lose his mind. “We get to watch him spiral out of control until there’s pretty much nothing left of him but insanity,” Weaver explains. “He did some pretty horrible things in ’Nam, and now it’s all coming back to him and we witness that throughout the film. But as much as he’s a depraved guy, there are things about him that make you sympathize with him a little bit. There are values behind what he does.”
THE SUPER is Hallows Eve’s second feature following the more straightforward serial-murder opus THE TURNPIKE KILLER, in which Kallas and German actress Manoush had small parts. TURNPIKE’s Bill McLaughlin, Edgar Moye and Javier Marquez have also returned to take roles in this movie; new to the SUPER ensemble are LaRocca and Raine Brown, both familiar faces on the East Coast indie horror scene, and Lynn Lowry from both versions of THE CRAZIES, among other films. Taking part in the basement shoot are actor David Francis and death-rapper Necro, using his real name Ron Braunstein for his feature acting debut; Fango scribe Logan DeSisto, THE SUPER’s assistant director, is also being pressed into service in front of the camera, being transformed by makeup FX artist Brian Spears into one of THE SUPER’s more unsightly denizens (pictured left).
“This is definitely one that my grandmother is not going to see,” Spears says as he applies DeSisto’s prosthetics. “It’s definitely a brutal film, but then again, it’s true to life. Violence is not pretty, and that’s what we’re trying to convey.”
Certainly, what transpires down in the basement isn’t pretty, but we’ll refrain from any detailed description, since a good deal of the material lensed today takes place during the movie’s final act. Instead, we’ll jump ahead a couple of months, to one of the last days of shooting for the SUPER crew (also including brothers Steve and Chris Kilcullen, who are handling the cinematography and editing). The location, appropriately enough, is a Queens bar/lounge called Hell Gate Social, where George and his pals Artie (Francis) and Carlos (Marquez) drop in for a few drinks and reminiscences. Unfortunately, their name-dropping of ’Nam pricks up the PC ears of a group of yuppies; a confrontation ensues, and ends with one of the latter (Brandon Heath) bloodied on the floor.
Day becomes night and the SUPER team relocates outside. As curious residents of an apartment above the bar look on, the yuppies limp off in one direction while George lobs a couple more verbal grenades, then separates from Artie and Carlos to walk away in the other. He’ll be back, though—to cause more mayhem before THE SUPER’s running time is done, and potentially in the annals of exploitation-movie antagonists. “Brian Spears said last night that he thought this film would put Demetri on the map,” Weaver says. “He probably would like to get more dramatic roles, but there’s a good chance he could become the next cult horror icon after this film.” See THE SUPER's Facebook page here, and look for more coverage in Fango’s pages in the future.
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