CRAIG SINGER'S PERKINS 14 is presently slaying the big screen via AFTER DARK'S HORRORFEST III. The flick is about 14 folks brainwashed by some nut-job, who go on a rampage in a small town. Craig recently dropped by the site for some fish and chips and here's what he had to say about PERKINS 14, a potential DARK RIDE sequel and more!
Who would say were your major horror influences while growing up?
Loved the original Night of the Living Dead. My folks took me to a Drive In when I was a kid and I had re occurring nightmares for about fifteen years. It was a clear indication from early on of the power and influence the cinema could have. Also films like “Deep Red” and “The Bird with the Crystal Plumage”
What was it about Lane Shadgett’s PERKINS’ 14 screenplay that made you say “I want to do this”?
That’s not exactly how it worked. I had been working for many years along with my partner Chris Williams on a “Fan involved” feature Horror Film. As you know I directed and Chris Produced “Dark Ride” as part of year one’s Horrorfest. Dark Ride did extremely well and Courtney Solomon asked if I would direct another film for Afterdark. At the same time Chris & myself had developed a business relationship with a NY based company called Massify. We were working together on our “Fan Crafted” Horror Project when After dark came knocking so the moons sort of aligned and all parties teamed up. After hundreds of fans submitted “Pitches” for the Massify contest – a concept was chosen and only after the winner was selected did Afterdark hire a professional writer to complete the script.
Did the story change much if at all from script to screen?
Certain things did change. I fought like hell to shoot the film in Philly but Courtney was very persistent about Romania – he asked me to keep an open mind and then offered me a 2 picture deal if I would consider shooting in Romania J We had a limited budget and time so the script needed to evolve and at time accommodate production limitations – welcome to the glamorous world of filmmaking!
Now you’re no stranger to horror, you also helmed DARK RIDE. How different is PERKINS 14’ from the latter in terms of tone and visual approach?
Very different indeed. Dark Ride had a camp and fun factor with a good deal of humor that Perkins doesn’t. At the core Perkins is about loss and a deep tragedy that surrounds a series of relationships. I wanted the film to have a gritty almost Grind house vibe. I have worked with my wonderfully talented DP John Sosenko for many years. He came out from LA and we enjoy that special “short hand” many Directors & DP’s often talk about. We shot the film super 16 mm many shots were handheld and while Romania provided an interesting backdrop – I am a firm believer in storyboarding even if you don’t end up using the boards – the confidence of having them helps me prepare for the numerous things that go wrong on set. The film is also completely scored - musically, I felt that source would detract from the emotional thread that a great score can provide an audience.
You shot the film in Romania; for budget purposes I assume, how challenging was it to have to deal with a foreign crew?
The crew was wonderful. One of the hardest group of working individuals I have ever had the pleasure of filming with. There was a language issue at time but nothing we couldn’t get past.
What would you say was the most arduous obstacle you had to surmount during production?
The food was atrocious and they don’t really obey traffic laws in the area we were in. Additionally everything at the Studio tends to be “No problem” and I learned that when you hear that – it usually meant “Problem” but to be honest the folks at Media Pro Studio were extremely professional and very pleasant to deal with. Plus we shot nights and the studio owner had a swimming pool. Some of our small American contingency would go for a swim at 2-3 in the morning and used the late night swims as a sort of therapy.
PERKINS’ 14 is premiering this month via After Dark Horrorfest; what are we in for? Titties and gore? More suspense oriented? All of the above?
I am particularly proud of the performances and yes we deliver relentless gore and some sex but when the day is done – P14 delivers a very Grimm but entertaining tale of mayhem – murder & madness.
When can we expect the film to hit DVD? Is there an uncut version or a director’s cut to look forward to?
I believe the DVD id due out the end of March and as of now there is no plans for a directors cut. After dark was very respectful with the cut and only gave me a few well received notes.
What’s your favorite KILL from PERKINS’ 14? Is there one you’re particularly proud of?
The Motel sequence and nastiness is something that stands out – There is always a point in a film for a director where after studying every single frame for weeks and weeks – you lose a bit of perspective. My long time collaborator Cass Vanini (a super talented editor) was working very hard on this scene – after we placed my composer Costas Kristides’s chilling score against picture – I literally got this warm tingly feeling throughout my body (not the same tingly feeling you got in a seedy 42nd street in the late 70’s J - but a Tingly feeling none the less. – A kind of “OK, things are really coming together” “That really works quite well” vibe and all the perspective came back and I knew we were on the right track.
A PERKINS’ 14 or a DARK RIDE sequel. Feasible?
YES IT IS! My brilliant writing partner Robert Dean Klein actually has a fantastic idea for a Dark Ride 2 in 3D sequel – makes me smile just thinking about it! Jonah will be back one day J
What’s next up for ya? Any other genre films in the works?
Chris Williams and I have started working with Warner Brothers on a film tentatively titled “Fear 101” Chris is really more like a brother and we have worked together for many years. We keep each other in check at times and it’s not easy – we both are extremely passionate about what we do but in the end we know secretly it’s nice to have an honest sounding board. We have always been creatively in sync and the Warner films amounts to years of work and will take Fan participation to the next level. Much more than even Perkins 14. We are going to put the “Blood in the Fans Hands”!
What was the first drink you guzzled down at the PERKINS’ 14 wrap party?
Chivas – it was a present from one of the crew members.