Troma Entertainment has harnessed a young group of Canuck filmmakers who go by the moniker ASTRON-6, and will be debuting their first feature film venture into the realm of bad taste. The film is called Father’s Day and the trailer, which is filled to the brim with topless women and bloody, man-and-man rape, is already getting attention online. As well, it seems that Troma founder Lloyd Kaufman simply cannot stop talking about the film, based on the amount of clips available online (google Lloyd or Troma and soon find out).
As much as we may love Lloyd’s ramblings, perhaps it is best for these bright and handsome purveyors of R-Rated gold to speak for themselves. I badgered them with numerous e-mails until all but one cracked and gave an interview (the last member presumably driven mad by my journalistic vigilance). Below is the fruits of my efforts:
How does it feel to be working along with Troma?
Steve Kostanski (makeup and special effects prodigy and sometime writer/director): It feels like I’m covered in thin layer of brown goo…like I just got puked on by a graboid from Tremors.
Adam Brooks (gruff character actor, sometime leading man as well as frequent writer/director): it’s feels okay.
Matthew Kennedy (not-as gruff character actor who also dabbles with writing and directing): Working with Troma seems like a good fit for us. We have often compared the shameless self promotion of the Astron-6 universe in our own films to the Troma filled backgrounds of Tromaville. It was only a matter of time really.
Jeremy Gillespie (graphics expert as well as frequent writer and music composer): It’s nice to know that once the movie is made it will actually have an audience, instead of just disappearing into internet obscurity. Whether you like their films or not, I think Troma deserve a massive amount of respect for how tirelessly they support truly independent film. And that they’ve been doing it for over 30 years! They’re one of the names that I remember seeing in my neighborhood video store as a kid, and that’s really what inspires all of our stuff. Working with pioneers in the home video industry is very exciting.
In a previous article about Father’s Day, you suspected that it was likely the gore and nudity that drew Troma founder Lloyd Kaufman to Father’s Day. Are there any other tantalizing bits of info about Father’s Day is going to offer that you’re willing to share now?
Kostanski: This movie is going to go to some very strange places, places that the trailer doesn’t even hint at. You know those weird movies that used to be on at 2 in the morning on Showcase or Bravo or The W Network? Weird shit like that.
Kennedy: Lots and lots of Maple Syrup and hot f— action to the max.
You already have an Astron-6 feature film (a Kostanski directed Sci-Fi epic entitled Manborg) in its finishing stages, what does it mean to you to leap right into another feature length project?
Kostanksi: I don’t think I’ve had any downtime from making movies in at least a decade, so if anything I take comfort in the routine of going from one crazy project to an even crazier one. Each movie we make tops our previous projects and Father’s Day is no different.
Brooks: Probably not since we all live in different provinces and have our work cut out for us with father’s day.
Kennedy: It means that Kostanski should put his heart and soul into finishing that Apocalypse Now before the dork hype wears off.
Gillespie: Filmmaking, although it can be rewarding, is an interminable, frustrating process. At the level we operate on we’re basically responsible for everything and it’s very stressful. So I guess to answer your question, it means that we’re a bunch of stupid idiots who love to make things hard on ourselves.
Are there going to be any more shorts made along the way and before Father’s Day premieres in 2011?
Kostanski: THAT’S SUPER SECRET
Or how about any projects you have in mind that will follow Father’s Day?
Kostanski: THAT’S SUPER SECRET 2: SECRET HARDER.
A bit of trivia now about the group for my readers. Each member met at a Winnipeg based, Horror themed short film festival. Through sheer serendipity it would seem, it was not long before they were appearing in each other’s films, placing the title card “ASTRON-6” ahead of said films as a joke, only to later adopt it as their name.
Clearly Horror is a major part of your film lives, What is it about horror that draws you in?
Kostanksi: From a filmmaking standpoint I like the idea of confronting things that disturb and terrify the general population. Being able to deconstruct and then recreate someone’s nightmares makes me feel like some kind of evil puppet master. Specifically, Puppet Master 3: Toulon’s Revenge.
Brooks: I watched a lot of horror as a small child, over my older brother’s shoulder, and it scared the hell out of me, gave me nightmares. for some reason there is an attraction for me towards things that frighten me. as a grown up it’s pretty much impossible to be scared by a movie, but i always hope i will be. usually they just make me laugh.
Kennedy: I like the fun of horror. It is the opportunity to see everything you can’t see in real life without being a psychopath. I feel there is a certain celebration of art in the macabre, after all Gladiator won a lot of awards…
Gillespie: The feeling of fear that a good horror movie provokes is addictive. I remember seeing The Shining when I was 7 or 8, and from that point on there was no turning back. Plus they’re a lot of fun to make.
From that, many, though not all, of your short films are essentially comedies that play with or use horror conventions, does horror lend itself to comedy that easily or is it simply your personal preference to meld the two? Perhaps both answers work?
Kostanski: It’s a very jarring but satisfying experience as an audience member to go from being amused to being terrified. That roller coaster effect is part of the draw, but also I think that humor can help generate sympathy for the characters. If the protagonists are entertaining enough that they can make you laugh, its even more horrifying when something bad happens to them.
Kennedy: I think that comedy is a good tool to make horror lighter and more accessible. It is easier to make horror that is funny than it is to make horror that is horrific.
Gillespie: I don’t think we ever consciously thought about it. That’s just what happened. Astron-6 is truly the distillation of our five sensibilities.
How do you feel about the current state of Canadian horror films?
Kennedy: Splice was really good, so I think they’re doing alright for the time being. Splice was a nice throwback to early Cronenberg.
Gillespie: Saw Splice, which I thought was probably better in concept than execution, but gets an ‘E’ for effort.
Brooks: I guess as long as Cronenberg is still around we’re doing fine.
How about just horror in general and the sort of films that make it to theatres versus those that are straight to DVD?
Kostanski: Horror has been in a rut of disappointment for me lately. It seems like every low budget effort that comes out these days is just another exercise in rehashing old ideas without pushing any real boundaries. Everything is the same old crap about average joes getting tortured. Smells like…boring!
Brooks: the good horror movies are few and far between and most of the straight to DVD stuff is laughably bad. I’d rather watch horror from the 70s and 80s but that might just be nostalgia talking.
Gillespie: The majority of contemporary horror films seem to hang their hat on extreme content. I’m not a big fan of nü-school horror, like the Saw franchise or anything that Rob Zombie makes. Gore doesn’t generally keep my interest unless there’s something backing it up. I prefer more of a slow-burn. More atmosphere.
Kennedy: I think it still rings fairly true that new movies that you really want to see are the ones that are going to at least some kind of theatre. That being said, you can be more explicit on DVD release and that is where you see all the unrated versions of films coming out. There is a great deal of low end horror that goes straight to DVD and Father’s Day is soon to be among them so hopefully it doesn’t get lost in obscurity. All I know is I’m tired of the Saw franchise but that likely generations from now will look back on it the way I look back on the Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street franchise with a sense of nostalgia.
Do you think its important for Canadian films to stand out amongst the rest in the horror genre?
Kostanski: I guess it would be kind of neat if Canadian horror films carved out a little niche for themselves, every other country is doing it. It’s not a huge deal for me personally. I just want some good horror movies, period.
Brooks: Regardless of genre, I think Canadian films should take more risks and try to be less like American films. we don’t have nearly enough money in Canada to beat them at their own game. Canadians should make uniquely Canadian movies and that does NOT mean f—ing hockey musicals!
Kennedy: Maybe now it’s Canada’s turn to reinvent the genre.
Do you feel that your work would stand out as “Canadian” in some way?
Kostanski: I’ll settle for our work standing out as being “good”. Did we make a movie worth sitting through? That’s the real question.
Kennedy: I believe the backdrop will be very Canadian. The obsession with sexual perversions that stand out in the work of most well known Canadian filmmakers will also not be missing from our work.
Gillespie: Only in that people ignore it.
Well, they shan’t be ignored much longer. Father’s Day debut arrives in 2011 (take a wild guess what day) and you can all see what the fuss is about by checking out their entire short film catalog for free at http://www.astron-6.com/ but be warned, it is not for sensitive viewers.