ML: It’s been a bit, Jeremiah. In general, what have you been up to?
JK: This year has been a fantastically busy one, and I’ve been balancing my time between a documentary about the great American playwright Edward Albee, several music videos and the genre films we’re about to talk about.
ML: This time around, you’ve brought to us 3 very different films all in the genre of horror. What is it about the world of horror that appeals to you?
JK: Horror allows us the opportunity to stretch reality; it’s also a safe way to explore the dark side of human nature. It’s exciting and cathartic to walk in strange territory.
ML: The first film, “Berenice”, is based on an Edgar Allan Poe tale and was written and directed by yourself. Why Poe and why this tale in particular?
JK: I originally wrote it to be part of a superb horror anthology called TALES OF POE, directed by Bart Mastronardi and Alan Rowe Kelly, but the financing didn’t come together. The project sat on the shelf until I was introduced to executive producer Mike T. Lyddon, who was seeking material based on literary tales of terror. Mike generously provided the funding and we were finally able to make this morbid character-driven film possible. The CREEPERS anthology (with BERENICE on volume 2) is for sale at http://www.creepersfilm.com.
ML: The second film, “Minions”, involves a man accidentally stumbling into something he shouldn’t and adds the element of witches. This film involved crowdsourcing via Kickstarter, correct? Was this your first go around with raising money in this way? What do you think are the pros and cons?
JK: I’ve directed a few projects that were crowd funded, either by myself or other producers. It’s a terrific way to support artists and colleagues. It’s difficult for me to see any cons, other than that I wonder if crowd funding can be done more than once or twice before those resources dwindle. I’m not sure.
ML: “Minions” is beautifully shot, as is the case with all your work, but left me with questions at the end – was the ending left deliberately vague so the viewer decides the final outcome?
JK: We cut off the ending before the audience sees the final outcome, but hopefully they’re on to our trick by then. You know it’s heading towards a dark place.
ML: The last of your most recent films is my personal favorite. “Painkiller” tells the story of two scientist searching for a way to manage chronic pain who get more than they bargained for. It’s got the right amount of tension, horror and disturbing. Where did this idea come from?
JK: The idea was sick, original, thoughtful, and not mine! Our writer/producer Jerry Janda was one of the financiers (and actors) in a film I made with horror personality Rob Dimension called BAGGAGE. Jerry presented me the script for PAINKILLER and asked if I’d like to direct. It read like a body horror version of FIGHT CLUB, and its themes of personal ambition at all cost, even at the expense of those you love, cut me to the quick. I signed up immediately.
ML: “Painkiller” is a “body horror” film, a sub-genre that deals with the destruction of the body and a sub-genre that seems to be reclaiming some popularity after its height during the 80s and 90s. Why do you think that is? What makes this sort of horror more appealing than a slasher film to an audience, do you think?
JK: While I love slasher films, the body horror genre has always spoken to me more because it deals with very human, biological fears. Aging and decay make us uncomfortable, as do injuries and the weakness of the flesh. It hits me in a much more direct and emotional way. But weirdly I also think of PAINKILLER — and BAGGAGE, which I mentioned earlier — as perverse love stories with (disturbing) happy endings.
ML: Out of these three films, which is your personal favorite and why?
JK: When you finish a movie, it no longer belongs to you. It’s been fun putting these three movies out at the same time, because they hit people on their own wavelength. Some prefer wine, others like beer, and some like absinthe. Some have loved THE MINIONS and hated BERENICE, others felt exactly the opposite, and you happened to enjoy PAINKILLER the most. For me, I’m thinking of the next project, which is always the one I try to make into my favorite.
ML: It was intriguing to see a Poe story re-written for a modern day audience. Do you think you’ll be doing more based on his work or was this a one time thing?
JK: I have a script based on THE FACTS IN THE CASE OF M. VALDEMAR, which I’ve always thought of as a gruesome goodie, as well as THE MAN WHO WAS USED UP (which is obscure, like BERENICE, and has a freaky surprise ending). I’d also love to tackle THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO, which is my favorite Poe story, though Alan Rowe Kelly recently beat me to the punch on that one.
ML: Tell us what’s up next for you in the filmmaking world.
JK: There are a few projects looming on the horizon, but right now we’re submitting the three current titles to film festivals and seeing what the future holds for them. I’d love to make a feature length movie based on the main character from THE MINIONS, with an entire project set within that strange half-world between witches and madness. Lukas Hassel, who played the role, is a wonderful actor; I feel like we and writer Joseph Fiorillo have a lot more to explore together. Let the future come.