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Your “ABCs OF DEATH”: S for Jake West

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by: Samuel Zimmerman on: 2013-01-31 18:00:16

Are you ready for THE ABCs OF DEATH? Were any of us, really?
With one punchy line—“26 Directors, 26 Ways to Die”—the film announced itself
as a highly anticipated, highly insane romp through one of our earliest tools
of education. Attempting to learn you the alphabet something fierce, the horror anthology and
its roster of some of genre’s best international talent leaves no repulsive,
splattered, pearl-clutcher of a stone unturned. Jake West, director of DOGHOUSE,
landed “S” and subsequently crafted a multi-faceted, swiftly-paced piece. Here,
he speaks to Fango about his own love for the subgenre and more.

FANGORIA:  The
anthology is near and dear to every horror fan’s heart. What’s your favorite?
Do you have a particular favorite story?

JAKE WEST: My favorite Anthology is the 1945 British-made
DEAD OF NIGHT. My favorite self contained story within it is “The
Ventriloquist,” about a ventriloquist who thinks his dummy is out to get
him.  However, it’s actually the
wraparound story which is the coup de grâce in this film, as it pulls all the
previous stories into a genuine hallucinatory nightmare conclusion. It’s a masterpiece
and was way ahead of its time; and I’d say the granddaddy of the cinematic Horror
Anthology.

FANG: With something like ABCs OF DEATH, do you enjoy going
in surprised? Did you want to know what everyone else was doing?

WEST: I want to be surprised. I’ve no idea what any of the other
directors are doing and that’s what’s so great about this project.  We’re all gonna push the bloody boat too far
out and to fuck knows where. It’s gonna be uncomfortable. It’s gonna be
insane.  What a trip to take. I genuinely
can’t wait to see it myself!

FANG: DOGHOUSE, while a fun film, had some issues on its
mind, especially when it came to gender relations. Are you playing with
anything similar in your ABCs short? If so, what’s it like packing something
subversive into three or so minutes?

WEST: It’s very different to DOGHOUSE.  We shot this in the desert and it was a tough
challenge to shoot in such a remote, difficult location, with such a small
unit.  The story speeds by and I think
packs a neat story punch with a few barbs of subversion (if you wanna look for
them). To me, it’s like a beautiful exciting dream that then punches you in the
face. I really liked working in this super short timeframe of just a few
minutes running time, because it really forced me to focus my idea and sits in
absolute unity with my film’s theme  that
“life speeds by, oh so fast!”

alt

FANG: When did you first come to understand death as
natural, imminent?

WEST: For me, it was the pattern of first the death of
family pets and then later friend, then family.

FANG: When did you develop a sense of humor about it?

WEST: The humor comes and goes, depending on one’s closeness
to the edge.  As you get older
unfortunately, you confront it more and more.

For me, in a horror film the humor comes through the horror,
as it reminds of us how alive we are. It also challenges us on how much we are
willing to feel if we’re willing to project our imagination into those dark
spaces.  With movies, we can safely
experience terrors and ironically, this awareness of death   is actually life affirming. You’ve got to
find some joy in such a wonderful contradiction!

FANG: Favorite cinematic kill?

WEST: Funnily enough, it’s not a gore kill. For me, it’s in
BLADE RUNNER When Roy Batty Kills Tyrell. It’s the one kill that resonates
beyond all others as it puts me in the emotional space of a mind-blowingly huge
moment. Killing your creator. Wow!

FANG: What can we expect from your contribution to THE ABCs
OF DEATH?

WEST: A revved-up amoral joy ride that takes a fiery rockin’
trip through the desert of the “live fast die young dream.” Fast cars.
Fast women.  And of course, hell to
pay!  Plus, there’s an extra bonus for
genre fans as its all accompanied by an exquisite score by renown composer
Simon Boswell (PHENOMENA, HARDWARE).  So
I really hope the audience enjoys taking the ride down this slippery slope into
Death [laughs]. Whatever the case, we’re all gonna die, so try enjoy it while
you can!

THE ABCs OF DEATH is now available on VOD and iTunes, with a
limited theatrical release headed our way March 8. For much more on the film,
pick up FANGORIA #321 (on sale February) and spend today perusing the likes of
Shock Till You Drop, Badass Digest, FEARnet, HitFix, Bloody D and more as each
profiles another of the film’s directors, much like above!

And if you’ve yet to see the film, may we suggest you take
today to visit your local beer distributor and be back in front of your TV or
computer by 8 p.m. pacific for a group watch where the many filmmakers and
fellow fans will use #deathparty and #THEABCsOFDEATH on Twitter, as a means of communicating just
how real shit is about to get.

 

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About the author
Samuel Zimmerman
Fangoria.com Managing Editor Samuel Zimmerman has been at FANGORIA since 2009, where fresh out of the Purchase College Cinema Studies program, he began as an editorial assistant. Since, he’s honed both his writing and karaoke skills and been trusted with the responsibility of jury duty at Austin’s incredible Fantastic Fest. Zimmerman lives in and hails from The Bronx, New York where his pants are too tight and he’ll watch anything with witches.
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