ARROW IN THE HEAD INTERVIEWS
Anghus Houvouras wrote and produced the upcoming star studded horror film THE FURNACE. Directed by genre fav William Butler and starring the groovy Tom Sizemore, Danny Trejo and Michael Pare, the film brings horror back to jail a la PRISON and I for one am excited for that reason alone. Its a great yet underused setting within the genre! Anghus took some time to talk shop with us about the flick and here's the 411.
What are some of your favorite horror movies?
Night of the Living Dead, Evil Dead, James Whale’s Frankenstein, Exorcist.
What was the initial creative spark that got The Furnace running in your head?
My Grandmother had an old boiler in her basement that wasn’t used anymore. When I was a kid, my Grandmother would send my brothers and I to the basement when we were being loud and annoying, which was frequently. So in the basement of this old house was this old furnace that hadn’t been used in 30 years, and the door would slowly creak open and close. It used to scare the hell out of me. One day I just asked myself: “I wonder if what would happen if someone had been burned alive in there”, and I’d pretend you could hear voices coming from it. That image of the old furnace stuck in my head for years, and one day I just wrote the story, and it came out of my head like a faucet.
Writer/Producer Anghus Houvouras
You co-wrote the film with Director William Butler, how would you describe the writing process?
It was really interesting, because I’d never written a script with anyone else before, other than the voices in my head. There’s always a sense of trepidation when someone says “I’d like to add some things to the script.”, because your initial response is panic. “WHAT?”, you think “You want to CHANGE SOMETHING?”. But William Butler is a talented guy, and he added a lot to the story, fleshed out some the characters really well. It was a really positive experience.
I know that the film is set in a prison, but what kind of “evil” are we in for? Ghosts? Possessions? Zombies?
Without giving too much away, i can tell you that a ghost haunts the bowels of the prison, and as the state expands into an old, unused portion of the prison, they unearth something evil, something that should have stayed buried. It’s an evil, malicious ghost that unleashes high holy hell on the prison.
Tom Sizemore = one of the greatest men to have walked the earth
You also Produced the picture, props on getting actors of the likes of Tom Sizemore, Michael Paré, and Danny Trejo aboard. How arduous was it for you lock your name cast?
Most of the casting was done out of Los Angeles, handled by the Production Company and our casting agent Bob. And sweet lord did they do a good job. When they started reading me off the names of who they had cast, my jaw dropped. I was like “WHA?”… “Who?”. Assembling the cast was actually easier than I would have initially thought. A lot of the cast members told me that they loved the story, and it played a big part in their decision to do the film. It was kind of surreal to hear actors you respect and admire telling you how much they loved your script. You’d think it would make your head swell, but it’s really humbling. And the cast was so cool to work with. Great on camera, a lot of fun off camera. I think some of the best times I had during the shoot was hanging out with the actors on the days off. Breakfast with Danny, souveneir shopping with Kelly Stables… it’s amazing how grounded everyone was.
Where did you guys shoot? A real prison? How did the location affect the shoot?
Yeah, it was shot in Nashville at the Tennessee State Penitentiary. You might have seen it in other films like Last Castle and Green Mile. It’s this old, nasty looking prison on the outskirts of the city built in the late 19th century, and supposedly haunted. It was a logistical nightmare at times, since there was no running water or electricity, but damn does it look good on camera. Every shot has this cold, disturbing vibe to it. The colors, the degradation, it’s going to look scary as hell.
How gory can we expect the film to be?
Very. Depending on how it’s cut, this could be a really gory. I kept joking on set saying “this one might end up on Unrated Director’s Cut DVD”. There are so many disturbing scenes in this movie. Decapitations, dismemberments, people being burned alive…. There were even times while I was watching and thinking ‘where the hell did I come up with this?’. I remember when the screenplay was first being considered, one of the readers told me that one scene was one of the most disturbing things they’d ever read. That made me smile.
Michael Pare = nice guy badass
Will the effects be practical/CGI or a bit of both?
Mostly practical. There were some plate shots done for some CG scenes at the end, but I think 90% of what we did was practical. The guys at Cape Fear FX and Optic Nerve did some kick ass work. There was one night where they were dumping 50 gallon drums of blood, flooding corridors with it… the kind of stuff that can look really fake if done CG, so there was a great effort on everyone’s part to do as much practical as we safely could.
Any female nudity (or male for the ladies and dudes who dig dudes) in the film?
To quote Chef from South Park: I believe there is some sweet lovemaking down by the fire
When can we expect the film to be released and where (DVD, Theatrical?)
Later this year, hopefully theatrical.
What’s next for you as a writer/producer? Any other projects in the works?
Yeah. Right now I’m working on two projects. One is a horror film I’ve been working on for a small eternity called Dead of Winter, a retelling of Frankenstein set during the Second World War. And a revenge picture called Butcher, a gruesome little story of a guy left for dead who comes back to execute a whole lot of people.
Without giving too much away, which scene in your opinion will be the highlight bit in The Furnace?
Has to be the big payoff shot at the end in the furnace room. I can’t give it away, but there’s a moment at the end where everyone thinks they know what’s going on… then we totally flip it on you. It’s a real mind fuck. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it in a horror film before.
Danny Trejo = total badass
Looking good so far Anghus! Break a neck with THE FURNACE!