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INTERVIEW: “BLOODY BIRTHDAY” director Ed Hunt talks new film “HALLOWEEN HELL”

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Serious genre film fans are aware of the name Ed Hunt. And certainly, even general horror hounds know the man’s work. The U.S.-born Hunt made his name North of the border in Canada, helming a series of rickety exploitation films in the early 1970’s, including the Christopher Lee-starring sci-fi potboiler STARSHIP INVASIONS and the following year’s thoughtful, award-winning apocalypse thriller PLAGUE. The 1980’s saw him spit out a pair of oddball masterpieces in 1985’s outrageous and disturbing BLOODY BIRTHDAY and 1988’s literally cerebral monster mash THE BRAIN, the latter of which this writer has had an unnatural obsession with for decades.

And while the past 25 years have seen Hunt be unusually silent and, by all appearances, somewhat retired, the man has returned to cinema slinging with his latest picture, the low-budget gorefest HALLOWEEN HELL, a classic “dead teenager” (or at least dead twenty-somethings) flick that features Eric Roberts as Dracula. Eric Roberts. As Dracula. True story.

In honor of Hunt’s return, FANGORIA turned the hot lights on the man to get more intel on this indie splatterfest.

FANGORIA: The first question FANGO needs answered is… where the hell have you been, Ed?

ED HUNT: There are many reasons for me not making a movie for a long time. You can’t just make a movie because you want to.  Getting a movie made is a 24/7 activity.  During that long period, my mother had a series of illnesses until she passed away in 2009 and I was primarily responsible for her care, advocating for her when she was in the hospital. That took time and attention.

I had near misses in getting projects financed, and I probably could have directed an erotic thriller that would have spawned a bunch of sequels if I had pursued it but I didn’t. I will admit that as far as managing my film making career, I have not been wise. After PLAGUE, BLOODY BIRTHDAY, and THE BRAIN, it probably would have been a lot smarter to partner with someone who could have read a ton of scripts, found a good script, packaged and produced and directed it.

Why did I choose HALLOWEEN HELL? Because I could finance and make it and because I believed it would attract and entertain an audience. And I had an interest in what I saw happening with reality television.  I see a lot of it as sadism and getting entertainment out of the misfortune and pain of others. So I increased that to the edge of the absurd. It interested me.

FANGORIA: Can you tell us a bit more about what the film is about?

HUNT: HALLOWEEN HELL is about a “Devil Doll’ that has a demon inside it, and on a Halloween when there is a full moon, that demon comes out of the doll and kills people in a very bloody, gory way.

A Dracula-wannabe, played by Eric Roberts, sets up a pay per view reality TV program where 6 young people will get $100,000 if they spend all Halloween locked in a room with the devil doll when there is a full moon. The demon invades their minds and kills some of them. There is a love story and a total showdown.

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FANGORIA: How was it working with Roberts?

HUNT: I really, really like Eric Roberts’ performance as Dracula.  He is more than a total professional.  He really does have ‘star quality’. He is a total team player. I really like what he did in pushing the edge of a total villian who relishes and enjoys his own evil nature.

FANGORIA: Did making the movie re-ignite your passion for making movies?

HUNT: Yes it did, in a strange kind of boomerang way. During some parts of post -production, which were very frustrating, it caused me to think about my most basic roots in filmmaking.

The very first movie I ever made was a student film at UCLA, called THE ROBOTMAN MEETS KING KONG. It was about 9 minutes long in 8mm, and it was a stop-motion animated movie. The Robot man was a shaving soap can with pencils for arms, and I sculpted King Kong out of clay and moved him a frame at a time.

It was outrageously funny, bizarre, surreal and over the top irreverent, satirizing one of America’s most “sacred cows.” It touched on and foreshadowed themes that show up in my other movies. I think it would have risked my safety and even life to show it to a wide mass audience, even now, but an auditorium of 1960’s film students just loved it.  They gave me a standing ovation, and the best-looking female film student introduced herself to me and told me how much she liked the movie, so we became friends

I got strong positive reactions, and awards for UFOS ARE REAL and PLAGUE but the reaction to that student film is the best reaction to any of my movies, and I realized more importantly that it is the most “me” of any of my movies. I took out one of my scripts and began adapting it into a stage play. It is called FART ZOMBIES GO BALLROOM DANCING, OR TRAPPED IN AN ELEVATOR WITH A TALKING DICK. That is what I am working on now…

 

Well, we’re excited to see anything Hunt gets up to. He’s one of the most eccentric and interesting cats around and we’re lucky to have the man back in action. For the full Ed Hunt interview experience, keep your eyes peeled for the upcoming FANGORIA #345. And as for HALLOWEEN HELL, look to late October for its home video premiere. We’ll keep you posted…

About the author
Chris Alexander
Author, film critic, teacher, musician and filmmaker (not to mention failed boxer) Chris Alexander is the editor-in-chief of FANGORIA Magazine. He got his first professional break as the “Schizoid Cinephile” in the pages of Canadian horror film magazine RUE MORGUE before making the move to FANGO in 2007. His words have appeared in The Toronto Star, Metro News, Wired, Montage, The Dark Side, Tenebre and many other notable publications and he appears regularly on international television and radio.
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