The Cutting Room: Adam Brooks and Matthew Kennedy talk “THE EDITOR”, Part OneFearful Features,Movies/TV,News Phil Brown No Comment
Welcome to THE CUTTING ROOM, a new weekly column on FANGORIA.com that highlights the stories that most share DNA of our print counterpart. Rather than just feature the articles and interviews that didn’t make the cut, this column is dedicated to providing a greater lifeline between FANGORIA Magazine and FANGORIA.com.
For years the lovable miscreants at Astron-6 have been sullying the good name of Canadian entertainment in all the right ways. A Winnipeg filmmaking collective of five like-minded genre and cheeseball movie obsessives (Matthew Kennedy, Adam Brooks, Conor Sweeney, Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski), Astron-6 spent years cranking out hilarious short films for festivals and their website that paid homage from everything from beach movies and Batman to Lucio Fulci’s ZOMBIE. Eventually they broke into features with the delightfully dirty (and troubled Troma production) FATHER’S DAY as well as the surreal sci-fi oddity MANBORG. Their works walk a fine line between parody, homage, and straight up absurdist comedy. They clearly love B-movies for all their best and worst qualities and the gang certainly has a knack for transforming it all into pants-wetting comedy. All of which made them ideal candidates to resurrect the giallo.
The latest Astron-6 feature, THE EDITOR, is easily their finest and most ambitious project to date. Finally given a little money to play with thanks to Telefilm, the filmmakers delivered a bizarre and colorful giallo comedy practically designed to tickle horror fans to their core. The garish colors, surreal lighting, exaggerated gore, and nightmare logic that made the classic giallos masterful is recreated perfectly, along with the bad dubbing, mistranslated dialogue, awkward acting, and nonsensical storytelling that makes them so unintentionally hilarious. Featuring appearances from Udo Kier, Paz de la Huerta, and Laurence R. Harvey as well as hysterical lead roles for all the Astron-6 regulars, THE EDITOR is a movie made by obvious fans of the strange little subgenre who adore all of the ludicrous and intoxicating excesses that make giallos so special.
With the film about to debut on screens of all sizes thanks to the folks at Scream Factory, FANGORIA got a chance to chat with co-writers, co-directors, and co-stars Adam Brooks and Matthew Kennedy about their love of the giallo, the unique challenges of reviving the genre, and how the hell they were able to secure financing from the Canadian government to make their twisted dream a reality…
FANGORIA: The first thing I want to ask is what did you guys possibly write in your application for Telefilm financing?
MATTHEW KENNEDY: A whole load of nonsense.
ADAM BROOKS: I think what sold Telefilm more than anything we wrote down was our pitch video. It really reflects the end product and I think that’s what they dug was that we had a real sense of what we wanted the style to be exactly. Apparently that was the shortfall of what we were competing against. They weren’t really sure what they were making. But we at least knew.
FANGORIA: Did anything from the pitch video make the final film?
BROOKS: Scenes from the pitch video are in the final film, but we reshot them. That was all on SLR, but we reshot everything for the film on the Red camera.
KENNEDY: I set myself on fire for the pitch video. I did the stunt at the end myself on a dock. I did my first full body burn and it’s awesome in the pitch video, but we didn’t know that’s all it would be used for. I thought it would be in the final film. I wouldn’t have done it just for the pitch video. [laughs]
FANGORIA: I’m assuming you guys have loved giallo movies for a long time. That passion really shows. So was THE EDITOR a dream project that you’d been discussing for quite a while?
BROOKS: I think we’ve been watching these movies together ever since we became friends, the whole Astron-6 crew. I remember sitting and watching NEW YORK RIPPER and DEEP RED in Matt’s living room among others. They are such great group movies. I think we’re interested in making every genre of movie. We want to make a beach comedy and a coming of age movie and a giallo. This was just the time to get the giallo over with.
FANGORIA: Was it difficult to write in that style of faux-stilted, poorly translated dialogue?
KENNEDY: Adam says I’m good at it.
BROOKS: I think Adam’s really gifted at it. I think that’s what started the ball rolling. I was exhausted from editing FATHER’S DAY and pitched to Matt, “What about a movie about a crazed editor?” I had a tagline about the cutting room floor and a few others that were even worse, if you can imagine. Matt had just been watching HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY and was doing impressions of the stilted cadence. [Fulci movies are the best for that] and the more recent the Fulci movie, the worse they are. So Matt was better at that than I was, but we both got into it.
FANGORIA: Did you dub over each other or did you each do your own dubbing?
BROOKS: We did ourselves, but in H.I.Z., a 30-minute short film we did years ago that was an homage to ZOMBIE 3, Matt swapped voices with Conor [Sweeney].
KENNEDY: The only person who did their own voice in that was Adam.
FANGORIA: I was genuinely impressed that you got the look right because as easy as it is to poke fun at the sillier aspects of old giallos, they are genuinely beautiful movies. How challenging was that compared to FATHER’S DAY or MANBORG that certainly had their own look, but nothing near as complex?
KENNEDY: It was far more challenging and time consuming.
BROOKS: Yeah, we’ve never spent so much time on lighting. Matt and I lit 80% of the movie ourselves, positioning the lights and manipulating the gels. But that was kind of the fun part, you know?
KENNEDY: It can get frustrating though.
BROOKS: Oh it can. There were a couple of challenging days that came to mind. The Giuseppe scene I remember spending a few hours trying to get the lighting right and I’m glad I did. I love that color stuff. Those Argento movies are beautiful.
FANGORIA: That cigarette burn gag was great.
KENNEDY: Oh hey, good for you.
BROOKS: You’re the first person to notice.
FANGORIA: That’s such an odd self-conscious gag, even for you guys. Where did that come from?
BROOKS: Yeah, that was there from the script. I just wanted tiny clues to the ending. It’s tough because you want there to be something that kind of makes sense, but at the same time if you see it coming 30 minutes in, the whole thing is blown.
FANGORIA: Did you spend much time working out the logic of the plot?
BROOKS: I was particularly inspired by INFERNO. Remember the ending of INFERNO? “I am death!” That’s what I mean. The killer of that movie is death. So… no shit? Right? The killer of every movie is death. That might be the stupidest ending of all time, but I love it. Or the ending of TENEBRAE where it’s the critic, but also the writer. Those endings are such nonsense that we knew we could get away of anything.
KENNEDY: I remember you showing me the ending of INFERNO so excitedly.
BROOKS: I love it.
FANGORIA: Yeah, those movies operate on an insane dream logic that sometimes feels intentional and sometimes not, but it works in this really wonderful way.
BROOKS: It feels like it’s got to be intentional. The music and lighting contribute to that dream state, but I think the nonsense of those movies also lends them a sense of absurdism. Maybe it was intentional and maybe it wasn’t, but it fits in with like Samuel Beckett or… whose the guy you like so much?
KENNEDY: Harold Pinter.
BROOKS: But for us to turn it into an absurdist comedy felt like a natural extension of those [giallo] movies.
FANGORIA: What was the most difficult set piece to pull off?
KENNEDY: Yeah, what was it? Well, what was the biggest set piece? Well, I guess the car going of the cliff was the most elaborate. The burn was probably the hardest.
BROOKS: Yeah, mostly because there were no professionals involved. None of us had ever done a burn like that before. We didn’t even have the professional gel. We had something that we came up with. So that was scary.
KENNEDY: She got burned a little bit.
BROOKS: Hey, you know if you haven’t heard from this actress in a few months… that’s none of our business really. [laughs]
FANGORIA: Was it tough to find all of the period specific costumes and sets? You nailed the hair and facial hair aspect, but what about everything else?
KENNEDY: [laughs] Thank you. We had some help. One of our actors who plays Giancarlo, his wife is a costume designer in Winnipeg, so she helped us out.
BROOKS: Conor found his own costume. I bought Matthew’s [costume]. I obsessed over mine for months, not that you can tell. I’m obsessed with this Franco Nero movie HITCHHIKE.
FANGORIA: With David Hess?
BROOKS: Oh you know it? Yeah, I tried so hard to get that right. We also replaced Sears sign with Nero.
KENNEDY: That was for legal reasons. [laughs]
BROOKS: Yeah, and any nod to that man we could get in there we had to do. There was a time when we tried to get him to play the police chief, but his agent told us that she wouldn’t even take the offer to him because it was so low. We were like, “Come on. We don’t have money, but we do have love.” She wouldn’t hear it.
Check back here at FANGORIA.com next week for Part Two of FANGORIA’s chat with THE EDITOR filmmakers Adam Brooks and Matthew Kennedy!