This interview underlines one of the most touched dilemmas: how is it possible that some works, proclaimed through all the underground, moved along thanks to the rumors done by fans, found out as cult-movies, can find no distributors in Italy? Steven Goldmann worked on a transposition from an american comic-books series (Trailer Park of Terror), a sort of Tales from the Crypt, redneck debased. Unfortunately this film is under the “untouchable” category in Italy so fit out with patience and try to see this in english language, it’s worth it. From the words of the director it’s possible to feel his energy: gags, jokes but also a serious cross section of the America where he works. Let Steven speak.
Let’s talk about the “man” Steven Goldmann: what kind of studies have you done and/or what were the experiences of your life that brought you to the cinema?
I grew up in a home that loved the movies. My father owned a 16mm projector and was close friends with the Canadian film distribution company FAMOUS PLAYERS. On Fridays – from the time I was 6 or 7 years of age – we would go and pick out a movie to watch. I saw my first Horror films on my window blind this way – almost all the cool HAMMER HORROR films for sure. I was a child actor and aspiring photographer – along with my love of film lead me to go to film school at Concordia University’s Pavilion Des Beaux-Arts for film and then New York University for the same.
From there I started my professional career in the editing room, went to work at an ad agency as a creative and then finally directing. For much of my directing career Music Video clips were my main focus. But now it is feature film.
May you talk about your approach to a script? Do you suddenly paint in your mind some scenes, do you think about the importance of some characters or … ?
Well TPOT – I was given the comic books and I had to come with an idea for a story first. So I guess right from the start things came to me all at the same time. I love character and drama – but I love visuals too! So I can’t do it separately. It is all part of my tool kit. My favourite thing was putting some of my real life experiences into the script. You will have to imagine what those are!!!
Trailer Park Of Terror is a perfect balance between splatter-gore films of the eighties (as Re-animator) and ironic horror ones (as The Cottage or Shaun of The Dead for example), who are the directors who mostly influenced your style and the films you loved?
Well I have to say that Sam Raimi and early Peter Jackson play an important role – they really know their filmmaking, but they also really know how to entertain an audience. The early films of Toby Hooper – his 70’s stuff definitely informed my approach to rawness of some of the scenes in Trailer Park Of Terror – but in terms of homage – there are many in the film to quite a few of my favourites. Even the likes of Russ Meyer! When it comes to this genre my love for it started so early – I have to say the UNIVERSAL monster movies had a very large impact on me and on how we approached the writing of this film. I like when monsters can be heroes. But if I you were to force me to focus my answer to a couple of films and a couple of directors that have had the biggest influence on me – well… hmmm. Over all, The Exorcist is still a touchstone for me. It is perfect. I think I see me as somewhere between Evil Dead and The Exorcist. Though the directors with the most profound effect on me are not traditional genre guys; Sidney Lumet and Martin Scorsese.
On a funny side note: I took the woman who would become my wife to a double feature of Stuat Gordon’s Re-animator and From Beyond. It was a test. And she passed. She loved them as much as me. I love that you could see my love for that film in Trailer Park Of Terror!
Where did you take the inspiration for the idea of Trailer park of Terror?
As I noted earlier there is a comic book series of the same name. It is a tribute to TALES FROM THE CRYPT – only it is the Redneck Trailer trash version. I always wondered how and why the Crypt Keeper became THE CRYPT KEEPER. In the comics NORMA is like the CRYPT KEEPER – so we decided to create an origin story for her.
… and for the zombie playing guitar on the roof (it’s one of the coolest and amazing characters I’ve ever seen on a movie)?
It was partially inspired by a character in the comic who wears and Elvis wig. It is not the same character – Roach does not exist in the comics. I had a recollection of a story that was about a ELVIS zombies and it stuck in my head –as did character on a number of Cramps album covers – between these thoughts and my friend and Nashville rocker Matt King ( whose music is all over the film ) who grew up in a trailer park – Roach was born! I also wanted music and Greek Chorus for the film. I thought it would be cool to have some Psycho-Billy music and I wanted away to see it not just hear it.
One of the most important focus in the film is the music: bluesy-rock themes are always in the background of the scenes, are you a musician too or are you simply a lovers of these kind of scores?
I just LOVE MUSIC!! I play a little – but I am a very serious collector of many kinds of music. I have a particular fondness for Rock-a-billy. I wish I could have used more. I wanted a strange combination of The Reverend Horton Heat meets Marc Ribot and Tom Waits at their most dark and percussive! This scared my producer a bit. So what you hear is halfway.
What have been the feedbacks for your film in America and Europe?
I do not really have a way of knowing. Maybe you can tell me! I think there are those who love it and those who hate it. The ones who love it – love Roach and the music – the ones that hate it – hate him. So I think it is polarising. When I read different reviews – like the one in Fangoria – I am proud. I dreamed about being in the magazine! I’m just not sure how many people have seen it let alone heard of it. Perhaps it will grow as a cult film I don’t know. My biggest sadness is that it only played on the big screen at Film Festivals. The audiences all over the world loved it. I had such joy listening to them laugh and scream. Now I do not know what kind of cult you can get from just a DVD release.
What do you think about the crack of the worldwide economy? Could you gently release some of the zombies to slash some bloodsucker who had done this?
Well the economy has made it impossible to make Trailer Park Of Terror 2 – and that is tough! So I do not think you will be seeing me letting then loose to eat any one in the near future!! It has made it very hard to get my next film started.
… and what d’you think about the H1N1 spreading panic?
We have seen this movie no? 28 Days Later? I have a joke: A bear, a lion and a pig meet. Bear says: “if I roar in the forest, the entire forest is shivering with fear.” Lion says: “if I roar in the jungle, the entire jungle is afraid of me.” Pig says: “big deal…. I only have to cough, and the entire planet shits itself.“
Coming back to the cinema we would like to know what are you working on by now.
I am hoping to make a film called HOODOO written and produced by the great B-Movie titan J.S Cardone (The Covenant, Prom Night,The Forsaken, … ) It is a classic Voodoo movie with the vibe of THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW mixed with coolness of THE EXORCIST. I’m also working with the incredible writer of MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN – Jeff Buhler on screenplay based on the novella DEAD FELLAS by David Whitman. Crazy crazy shit! Like HELLRAISER meets LOCK, STOCK and TWO SMOKING BARRELS!
And there is more – but those are the key Horror projects for me right now.
You can use these last lines to give some suggestions to the independent directors who are trying to rise their head out of the underground.
I am so busy working and writing to get my next film off the ground – my head is down and I see less. I need you to tell me! I will say I have just discovered some one old who is becoming new again! Brazil’s Coffin Joe – Zé do Caixão!! What a trip! I think a new generation should search him out. Beyond that, I hope I am one of those people are watching to rise up from the underground. I would like my chance!