The Arrow interviews Steven Mena
I've known about Malevolence for a while now. Word on the beaten down path is that its one hell of nail-biter of a horror movie. I couldn't tell ya cause I haven't seen it yet. Anchor Bay recently picked up the rights to this baby so we'll all be able to make up our minds about it soon enough. Till then, here's a little interview with writer/director Stevan Mena about the flick. Take it home, Stevan!
ARROW: What’s your favorite horror movie?
SM: My favorite horror movie, by far, is the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I just can’t seem to get bored of it. I saw it in the theater when I was twelve, and I haven’t been the same since.
ARROW: Malevolence is your first film. Can you tell us a bit about your “filmmaker” background?
SM: I started making movies around the age of 11 in my backyard with my brother, Jason. We had this camcorder, one of the early ones that forced you to carry around the vcr on your shoulder. It’s all I ever did. I tried film school, but hated it, so most of my knowledge comes from trial and error.
ARROW: What was the creative spark that made you sit down and write the Malevolence screenplay?
SM: Malevolence was born from a hybrid of stories I was working on, a bank robbery script, and a serial killer script. It was one of those chocolate/peanut butter moments. From there the story grew and grew until it was about 500 pages long, so I broke it up into 3 scripts. I wanted to create a horror film that had more at stake than just kids having sex and doing drugs who are just there to get killed. There’s also another level to the film that examines child abuse, and the whole Freudian theory of nature vs nurture, in our case the question of whether serial killers are born, or a by-product of their environment.
ARROW: How did you finance the film? From your own pockets or were investors part of the equation in any shape or form?
SM: I started out with about $50,000 in my pocket from good meaning friends and family (fools). After that was gone in a few days, I realized my math was way off. So even though I knew it was crazy, I applied to every credit card company out there. Needless to say my photo is probably on the wall in every visa/mastercard office.
ARROW: Did you find it difficult to find actual “good actors” while casting your picture?
SM: Yes, it took many months to cast the film, mainly because I was too stupid to hire a casting director. But I think even though no-one in the cast had really done any acting before, they did a great job. One of the actors, Brandon Johnson, missed auditions. We were about two weeks away from beginning principal photography, and we had no lead actor. Then we got a call from him about a week before shooting began, and we hired him on the spot.
ARROW: What was the film shot on and how long was the shoot?
SM: It was shot on 35mm. The shoot was about 30 days, spread out over two years. We had many setbacks during shooting, lost locations, bad weather, no money, one actor even suffered a brain aneurysm during shooting. He thankfully recovered. So it was basically a few days here, a few days there.
ARROW: What would you say was the main obstacle in terms of getting your film made?
SM: I guess money, because every time I ran out, I had to go back to work, and save, and apply for more credit cards, beg, etc.
ARROW: How did you overcome it?
SM: Just through time and persistence. I just refused to give up. I knew this was what I wanted to do. Making a film is kind of like sex, once you get started, it’s kind of hard to stop until it’s done.
ARROW: I haven’t had the chance to see the film so therefore have to ask: are the two main “slasher ingredients” covered in Malevolence...gore and T&A?
SM: Actually, if you look back at the history of slashers, the best ones were completely devoid of gore and T&A. If you watch Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, Texas Chainsaw, Psycho, there’s only suspense and implied gore/violence.
(ARROW NOTE: I have to call you on this man...Halloween has a PJ Soles "tit shot" and NOES was pretty gory to me...all about that ceiling scene. END OF NOTE)
I feel that what’s left up to the imagination is far more terrifying than just trying to overwhelm the audience with blood, gore and tits. Usually, a clear sign of a slasher film with nothing to say is one that splashes the screen with senseless gore and nudity. So to answer your question, there is minimal gore in Malevolence. And as far as T&A, I just couldn’t find a time during the telling of the story where it would have been appropriate for the characters to just disrobe.
ARROW: Where is the film at, in terms of distribution? When will North America get to see it on video shelves?
SM: Anchor Bay has acquired the film, and they liked it so much, they decided to make it their first theatrical release. I think Anchor Bay is going to become the next Lions Gate, so I’m thrilled they have chosen Malevolence as their first theatrical release. Malevolence is being released on a limited rollout, starting in NY, and then will be released on DVD this winter.
ARROW: What’s next on your plate “feature” wise? Is a sequel to Malevolence feasible?
SM: I have several scripts in the works. One is a thriller and I would love to cast Michael Wincott in the lead role. I think he's one of the coolest and most overlooked actors out there. As far as Malevolence, it's the middle part of a trilogy, so there’s always a chance maybe they’ll want to finish the story.
ARROW: Do you plan on staying within the horror genre or are we going to see a romantic comedy written and directed by Stevan Mena one day?
SM: I would definitely like to branch out into other genre’s, but I love the horror genre, so I’ll never stray too far from that.
ARROW: What’s your favorite fear flick of 2004 this far?
SM: Malevolence, of course! But if I had to choose a second, I’d have to say Shaun of the Dead.
I'd like to thank Stevan for slashing through the site. Looking forward to seeing Malevolence! BRING IT! I said...BRING IT!