Q&A: Indie splatterfest “MULCH” is making compost
There is a charm to the cheap and dirty gorefest. Those who turn their noses up at it and pretend to only have the most refined tastes in their monster movie stabfests are kind of crashing bores. For the rest of us, a good cheesy piece of high camp loaded with grotesque practical FX and mom’s minivan hits the spot. Done well, a movie like this takes us back to our glory days of a movie night with good friends and enough karo syrup to choke a Labrador. You can feel the fun the actors are having on screen, their joy is infectious and when the brains start to spray all over the walls in pneumatic jets, everything feels right with the world.
So it is with MULCH, a new ultra-low budget indie schlockfest from director Frank Popp Jr. and his twisted cadre of moviemaking mental cases. It’s cheap. It’s crazy. It’s also a ton of fun and hearkens to the best of the early days of Troma. You want to watch it with friends and maybe a drink, or two.
The plot revolves around maniac vegetarian gardeners who require a special ingredient to produce the finest quality fertilizer–you guessed it: it’s the red kroovy baby. Human blood and viscera give their veggies the organic edge. When a survivor returns to the scene of the crime with his skeptical psychiatrist and his neurotic patients in tow, well I think you know how this will go down.
MULCH is pure DIY madness that hits the right balance between the jokes and the sleazy gore. We had a chance to speak to director Frank Popp Jr. in advance of the film’s world premiere this past Saturday, April 13 at the Shock Stock Subculture Weekend in London, Ontario. He shared some insights into MULCH:
FANGORIA: Where did this twisted idea come from?
FRANK POPP, JR.: In 1996, I started making a TEXAS CHAINSAW spoof called “The Cooks Mills Gardening Tool Massacre” that was the blueprint of what Mulch is today. I was very young and had no clue what I was doing, so nothing ever came of it. Around 2004, I broke my leg and was off work for two months, so I had the time to sit down and write a new script. After talking with Joel (who also played Lance in C.M.G.T. massacre) I decided to reprise his role as the only survivor and do a ten years later movie where his psychiatrist brings him back to the scene of the original. The idea was to use some early footage of him from CMGT massacre, and some of the same locations.
FANG: What kind of gear were you using? What was the approximate budget of the film?
FPJ: When we decided to make MULCH, I had dropped out of college and figured I’d use the remaining money to begin the movie… The script was written for specific locations I had free range with, and it didn’t have as many effects or stunt sequences as the final product now. The idea was to do what Sam Raimi did so many years ago, make a short movie, and pitch it to potential investors in hopes to re-make it on a larger scale. So, we figured on using a couple of low end DV cameras and putting all the money into what you’re seeing on the screen. As time went on, and more people got involved (i.e.: Scott Patterson and his amazing special effects) we began to re-write and add more graphic sequences. I mean, the original script had a car accident in it, but it was like a simple T-bone and I figured I’d put on a helmet and drive the car myself. Then I met the Dmytrow boys, [James & Ed Dmytrow, who did the stunt driving] and they said, “well, we’re thinking about doing a head on collision and we’ll drive the one car over the other and roll it. So what do I say, “No?” I said hell yeah, let’s do it. In the end, the budget came in at just under $40,000. That’s because everyone worked for free, and no one got fed.
FANG: Tell us a bit about the special FX. There is some great classic splatter stuff in there.
FPJ: I didn’t want Mulch to be one of those low-budget horrors that cuts to a splat of blood hitting the wall after the axe comes down on the screaming girl. I wanted the audience to see the decapitation, to see the arm break off, to see copious amounts of blood pouring from a guy’s head after it’s been twisted all the way around and snapped off. When we first started doing the effects, it was mainly Joel [Corriveau], Darren [Toderick], Chris [Luciow] and myself [The Four Horsemen] doing them. Then we met Scott Patterson. I thought I had a boner for this kind of stuff, Scott lives for it. He’s amazing at what he does, and he’s a super nice guy too. Scott shares the same vision and passion for splatter FX as I do, and he really made the special effects become like a character in the movie; very wild and over the top.
FANG: As an indie filmmaker, what is your advice to others out there with dreams of making their own movies?
FPJ: Know your audience, and write for what you already have. Use your resources, and always* respect your cast and crew because chances are they’re working for free.
FANG: Most challenging aspect of making a movie on your own?
FPJ: Time management. We all had day jobs to pay the bills. So I couldn’t expect them to drop their lives when I asked. So I was patient and worked around everybody, even if it meant rewrites or whatever. I also made sure that whenever an individual was not needed on the set at that time, there was always a bonfire pit, comfy chair and a case of beer to enjoy while waiting for the next scene.