Friday, April 15, 2011



JOE: At this point our film-circle was complete. It’s funny that by the time we all met we already had two different movie projects going. One was headed by Darren Parsons (he'll try to tell you his name is Dar. Don't believe him! It's Darren!), Laugh A Little. The other was mine, Blood Pudding.

Blood Pudding came about because I was itching to make a movie, and Darren was getting pretty good at doing some gory make-up effects. I picked a horror movie for that reason. I've always loved horror films. I remember the library in grade school carried the book Everything you Always Wanted to Know About Monsters but Were Afraid to Ask. I loved that book. I never wanted to return it. I checked it out a lot. It mostly covered, but wasn't limited to, the classic monsters from Universal studios, Dracula, The Wolfman, Frankenstein, The Phantom of the Opera and so on.

JESSE: Years later I bought the book at Half Price Books and gave it to the fucker.

JOE: I remember staying up on Friday nights with my mother to watch the local horror-show host introduce that week’s fright fest! He was called Sammy Terry. The opening theme always spooked me. I wouldn't turn out the lights until that was done.  Oh, then Sammy would laugh.  Spooked me out as a kid. It's too bad the horror-show host is no more, but maybe I'm getting too off the subject here.

Blood Pudding was originally going to be called The Slasher (imaginative 'eh? I changed the name to Blood Pudding after a priest friend of mine told me about an oriental dish of the same name). The story was about just that. Some deformed dude who slashed people up. I wanted it to be simple and showcase Darren's make-up talents. The original plot was that a deformed guy seeks shelter in a house and kills the inhabitants.

Simple, yet there was enough there to play with some make-up effects. I wanted to do severed heads, scissors in the eyes, that sort of thing. The main character was named Byron. One side of his face was severely deformed. It looked like it was melting off. The idea for the character’s look came from a practice make-up session Darren and I did on the last day of summer vacation.

Darren wanted to teach me a bit about make-up. He had some pieces of latex that we could use to make somebody look scarred and deformed. We decided to make some zombies. Luckily, my little brother, Jim, and little sister, Jill, were home for us to practice on. I used one of the latex pieces to completely cover Jill's eye. It looked like her face was sliding off her skull. So later, when it came time to make the movie, I thought that would be a good look for the hero, who would be played by Darren.

DAR: Joe didn’t want me in the role of Byron. He wanted somebody bigger. We had this argument in his parent’s pool. We would sit there and talk about Blood Pudding because at the time we were doing all types of special effects with latex and fake blood and he was creating this story of freaks in his mind. It was evolving and we would talk about it. He wanted someone bigger but I persuaded him to use me. He came around. I think he liked it in the end.

JOE: I wrote a first draft but it was too short, so I added in a few nonsensical things to make it a bit longer. The movie now started with our hero, Byron, getting tired of his mother’s constant abuse. He brutally murdered her, along with his evil little sister, then ventured out into the world. While hiding out in the woods he happened upon another deformed man.

This guy had a horn jutting out of the middle of his forehead, making him look like a Unicorn. This character also developed from hours of messing around with make-up. Darren had a couple of pieces of latex fashioned into horns he was using for a demon character in his acting class. It looked quite good.

So, on one of those days in the summer before we met Jeremy and Jesse, we made my brother up to look like a freak with a horn jutting from his head. We called him Unicorn Boy. I thought this character would work well in Blood Pudding, in which Unicorn Boy and Byron would meet and form a freakish bond. Unicorn boy was being chased by a couple of rednecks with nothing better to do with their time than harass people with horns sticking out of their heads. These guys came across Unicorn Boy and Byron and started tormenting them. Byron brutally murdered both of them, thus protecting Unicorn Boy. This really made Unicorn Boy uneasy.

Eventually, Byron and Unicorn Boy broke into a house in search of shelter against the night. The homeowners didn't like this and Unicorn Boy was murdered by one of them. Byron then slaughtered the homeowners and wandered off into the night. That was about all it was when I met Jeremy. Jeremy read the script, thought of ways to improve it, and did. He added some stuff that it really needed.

JEREMY: When I first read Joe's short script my immediate reaction was to avoid Joe because he was one seriously screwed up individual, but after this initial reaction wore off I concluded that I liked what he had produced for its quirkiness and originality. Okay, horror movies have been done to death, particularly the slasher films.  You can only do so much with some insane killer stalking a group of people from point A to point B and killing them in new and imaginative ways.

To me Blood Pudding had a fresh concept in that it seemed to mix the old Universal horror films such as Frankenstein with the B-quality bloodlettings of Friday the 13th and Hills Have Eyes. Throw in some David Cronenberg with a smattering of Clive Barker and you've got yourself one funky stew.

I immediately found some problems with the story that I wished to address with its author. Most prominent among them was that Blood Pudding lacked a villain. As written, Byron wasn't necessarily a bad guy. He was a deformed man who had suffered years of abuse from his unstable mother and lashed out at the world in the only way he knew how, which was through violence. We also shouldn't overlook the fact that the people he killed basically deserved it.

Byron was the protagonist, the character with whom our sympathies lay. We needed an antagonist, someone to challenge the main character. After all, it's kind of hard to root for somebody who is ripping out peoples intestines and eating them like fine cuisine. We needed somebody whose actions would overshadow Byron's own brutality, who was bad enough in his own right to allow us to side with Byron and Unicorn Boy.

When I first mentioned this to Joe he went on the defensive, which is perfectly natural when somebody begins nitpicking at something you've poured your heart into. He stated that the script didn't need a villain because society was the villain. It was a big juicy metaphor about how we judge people based on their appearance instead of what's on the inside. I waited for Joe to finish and then reiterated the fact that we needed a flesh-and-blood villain, a physical representation of society's hatred for all things different. Joe relented and asked me if I had any ideas. I said I did and gave a pitch I'd cooked up overnight.

What if Unicorn Boy was the star attraction of a traveling freak show? He, like Byron, was abused constantly by the person who was supposed to be his caretaker; though, instead of the mother figure we have it be the owner of the freak show, the Ringmaster. The other freaks can't tolerate this abuse and set Unicorn Boy free. The Ringmaster then hires a bounty hunter called Patch to retrieve his property. Byron encounters Unicorn Boy, steadily gains his trust, and begins an adventure with him; all the while they are being tracked by this menacing bounty hunter. Joe seemed to like the idea and we immediately incorporated it into the script.

JOE: I came to the realization that I liked working on things with other people, that the idea became as much theirs as it was mine. Up until I met Jesse and Jeremy I'd only worked on stuff with Darren. Yeah, we brought a few other people in on stuff we were doing. None of those people had the vision, the fire, the love of movies and writing that Darren and I had. I used Darren as a sounding-board without realizing it.

So why did Jeremy's ideas for Blood Pudding impact me so much? Darren was good to bounce ideas off of but the problem was (I think) I wanted to do things that Darren wasn't that interested in doing. I wanted to make a bloody, no-holds-barred horror movie. He was pretty good at creating the make-up effects, but he did not have the same love of horror movies that I did.

At the time, I described Blood Pudding to people as The Hunchback of Notre Dame meets The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I found that Jeremy had a love of horror movies the same as I did. He was more in tune with what I wanted to do. We would often go to our favorite video store, Royal Video, and rent lots of horror movies. Some were really bad; some were charming and cheesy; all of them were bloody. After we made our selection, we would go back to his place, cook some pizza pies and watch the movies. Those were good times.

So I'm no auteur. Lucky you!

JESSE: don't you find it funny that we split into two filmmaking groups? Jeremy and you on Blood Pudding and Darren and I on Laugh A Little. I mean, we all helped at one point on the other's film but when it came to production there were two groups.

JOE: Yeah...I thought about that. The main reason was that we didn't know you that well (although I do recall wanting you at more shoots). Then there was the matter of transportation. It was very easy for me and Jeremy to get together since we only lived a few miles apart, while you lived closer to downtown. With Darren being the only one driving at the time, well that didn't help much either.

Onwards and upwards!



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