Lee Demarbre's SMASH CUT (read my review here)- a Canadian made homage to the films of Hershell Gordon Lewis, made it's world premiere at a sold-out midnight screening of the Fantasia Film Festival, in Montreal. The film was extremely well received, and director Lee Demarbre, and stars David Hess, and Sasha Grey were on hand to present the film. After the screening, I was lucky enough to speak with Demarbre, and Hess- who happily agreed to be interviewed for the site.
CB: Lee, considering you own the Mayfair theater in Ottawa- obviously you know a thing or two about midnight movies- and this really does feel like an authentic midnight movie in the vein of Hershell Gordon Lewis, who obviously was a big influence. Is that what you intended- to make a fun modern, midnight movie that would recapture the old experience?
Lee: When I think of Hershell Gordon Lewis, I always think of a midnight crowd. It`s my favorite time to see a movie, and that`s actually when we do our best business at the Mayfair. So it is a film made for that type of audience.
CB: Do you find it`s a bit of a lost art? I mean, I saw THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT remake a while ago, and it didn`t really have that old midnight movie feel. It was no fun- it`s a downer.
Lee: It`s true- David`s movie, THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, is a really fun film. It`s scary and creepy as hell, but it`s like SCARFACE. I can`t stop laughing at Tony Montana when I see that movie. You get familiar with the characters and you start to relate to them in a way- even though you`d never pull off anything they do- but it takes on this black humour. And yeah- there`s nothing fun about the new LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, or FRIDAY THE 13Th. I think a lot of Hollywood is inspired by MTV music video film making, and that type of style doesn`t necessarily lend itself to `fun` movies.
David: Well, also- art imitates life, imitates art, imitates life, and so on, and I think we`re in a place right now where art is imitating life, and our lives aren`t that good. That`s not much out there to inspire us. Now- I`m not a downer- but it`s true.
Lee: Yeah, I like the artsy-fartsy thing as much as anyone else. I`ve just been around too many filmmakers who attempt to make a narrative film- fail, and then turn it into an experimental thing, and call it an accomplished work- when really it`s a failed attempt at telling a story. It hurts when you`re sitting next to someone like that, and trying to get funding from an arts council, and you have to convince them that your film is also art, even though it has blood and guts, sexy nurses, and so on.
David: Maybe the key word is story. There's a failure out there to really do justice to what makes a good story.
Lee: Especially in Canada, as we're always trying to get away from what Hollywood is doing, and embrace the experimental. Maybe if we focused on telling a good story, our films would be better.
CB: David, I thought you were amazing in it. You brought a lot of pathos to it, especially in your intro, where you`re showing your movie- dressed up as a clown, to a roomful of pretentious snobs, and I really felt that was strangely moving.
David: Well, Able is tragic in a way- he`s misunderstood, and how much of that is his fault. Also- from the commercial standpoint- it`s a great setup for the rest of the film. And, we`re not without our commercial desires.
CB: Yeah, but it`s fun- that`s what`s good about it. It doesn`t take itself to seriously.
David: Well, it`s a fusion film. It fused all types of genres.
CB: What are you guys planning next. David- is it true you`re starring in a remake of Abel Ferrara`s THE DRILLER KILLER.
David: Yeah, they`re planning that for 2010. They had a tough time getting the rights from Abel.
CB: Also- you put out an album recently. You actually started off as a songwriter, working for Pat Boone, and others.
David: Yeah, I`ve put out a few over the last few years and I`m working on another one.
CB: How about you Lee?
Lee: I`ve actually done two films since SMASH CUT. One`s called SUMMER`S BLOOD, starring Stephen McHattie from PONTYPOOL, and WATCHMEN. He`s awesome. It`s sort of a drama about kidnapping. The other is called STRIP NAKED, and is a fun action flick about a stripper who ends up with all this money and drugs accidentally, and has to get away with the loot. It`s a fun yarn.
CB: When is SMASH CUT rolling out?
Lee: We`re off to Fright Fest in London, and a bunch of other festivals. Lionsgate UK is putting it out in Europe. I`m holding out on the US rights as I want it to have some kind of theatrical life before it goes to DVD.
David: And you can see from last night how well it plays on the big screen. I was blown away. It`s hard for me to watch a film I`m in and be objective- but I managed to do that last night, and the audience seemed to have a blast.
Thanks again to Lee Demarbre, and David Hess for taking the time to chat with me. Look for SMASH CUT this fall at all the local genre film festivals.