Media Interviews and reviews Fangoria Magazine Website Interview

Fangoria Magazine Website Interview

What is the main plot to HAUNTED HAY RIDE?

The basic idea was an attempt to create a character that would be included in a list along side such genre icons as Michael Meyers, Jason and Freddy Kruger, but who wouldn’t be considered a rip off of any of them. I’d like to think we succeeded. I named my sadistic supernatural killer simply “Hate”. The movie tag line that is being used on all the advertising and T-shirts is “Embrace your Hate”.

The story I wrote was about the son of a bastard cop who, after many years of abuse, both physical and mental, turns on his cop father and tortures and dismembers him. The son changes his name from Jacob to Hate. We never get to see what Jacob/Hate’s human face looks  like, which for me makes him scarier as a supernatural entity, because we don’t get to see him as just a human being wearing a mask.

 John Carpenter’s directorial indecision as to whether Michael Meyers was just a human psycho, or evil supernatural entity, weakened the first classic Halloween. Carpenter had Michael Meyer’s human face shown as a kid in the opening of Halloween, and at the very end, the adult Michael Meyer’s human face is shown before he’s shot by Dr. Loomis. This made him less scary to me but I still love the movie. It’s fantastic.

Like most of these guys, my killer wears a mask, but Hate drills holes in his head and uses an electric drill to permanently attach the mask to his face, erasing his humanity and whole previous life.

Fate brings Hate on a collision course with several young people trying to celebrate the Halloween season by going to a hay ride. Hate murders several people and arms himself with all kinds of deadly practical weapons - saws, mallets, barbed wire, crow bars, etc - and starts butchering the hay ride actors and farm workers. He ultimately hi-jacks the last midnight hay ride of innocent customers and takes them to an isolated spot on the hay ride trail and commences to slaughter them. The young people are unlucky enough to be onboard that fatal final hay ride.

How Haunted Hay Ride: the Movie came about was a result of my Halloween indulgence of taking time out to go to at least one haunted hay ride every Halloween. And every year, while standing in line, I kept remembering the same idea I had of doing a movie built around a haunted hay ride. Unfortunately, I would then forget the haunted hay ride movie idea it until the next year.

Halloween 2007 was different - I remember my haunted hay ride movie idea at the beginning of October, instead of the end of October, and wrote the script in a four day marathon session. Next I frantically started advertising for actors and looking for a farm with a haunted hay ride that would cooperate with the making of the movie.

The idea was to shoot a fast movie taking advantage of all the Halloween decorations everyone already had up. What I was doing was really the classic opportunistic Roger Corman approach to making a movie. Since it worked, the idea of shooting 2 or 3 movies a year came up.

Brock Farms had two huge and beautiful locations – one in Colts Neck NJ, the other in Freehold NJ – and Ed Brock Jr and Ed Brock Sr welcomed us shooting at both locations.  We started getting generic shots at both of their locations before we even had a cast. We filmed all the Halloween decorations, day-time haunted hay rides, the millions of pumpkins they had.

At the same time we succeeded in getting very good actors from local theaters and from Craig’s List and from friends who knew actors. The cast came together surprisingly quickly and we drug them quickly to the Brock Farms to get scenes shot with Halloween decorations as backdrops.

Haunted Hay Ride: the Movie’s main cast include Daniel Bartewicz, Ieasha Rodriguez, Darrell Underwald , Jenny Hill and Joey West. They all did a great job of acting. The supporting cast were also excellent actors and to name just a few – Ryan Lafferty, Felicia Layne, Steve Lyon, Donna Lloyd, Ben Sbar, Crystal Faries, Chris Moreland, Richard Mattei, Ron Toth and Chris Eilenstine. The cast is large for a low budget movie.

My father, Warren Disbrow Sr, has appeared in every one of my movies since 1987 and has played one character, Professor Hertz, in four of them. He has a fan following as a result. In Haunted Hay Ride: the Movie he plays Ed Brock Sr of Brock Farms, a dramatically different personality type from Hertz, yet he gives a solid, totally believable performance. I think his fans will love it.

For the needed spooky night-time haunted hay rides we went to Jackson NJ, next to Six Flags Great Adventure amusement park and filmed those scenes at a place called Dracula’s Domain. It’s an elaborate 45 minute hay ride with 15 Halloween horror skits. The Dracula’s Domain hay ride actors came back after the holiday and re-staged their performances for us. They also came to our studio in Neptune NJ to shoot their bloody death scenes separate.

I love body count movies. My Invasion for Flesh And Blood (available from Troma as a double feature DVD with my Flesh Eaters from Outer Space) had 36 splatter kills and has been very successful world-wide.

We tried to cram as many gory murders as we could into Haunted Hay Ride: the Movie too, because thrill killing is fun. Haunted Hay Ride: the Movie even starts with that very brutal and very graphic pre-credits murder of Hate’s cop father. I’m a fan of these movies. I love this stuff myself. I don’t like cruelty in movies but I love blood gushing and splattering and action scenes.

 

How did shooting go?

Haunted Hay Ride: The Movie was the quickest movie I’ve ever made. It took less than five months total to make, from writing the script to the last physical gore/CGI effect.

The three stages of making a movie – preproduction, production and post production – was still extremely hard on me personally since I, as always, ended up doing most of the jobs that required filmmaking experience. Its not that the crews were lazy, they were just inexperienced, and I could do these various jobs faster and on a higher quality level based on my years of experience

  Like on all of my movies, for Haunted Hay Ride: The Movie I wrote the script, was involved in getting locations, created Hate’s costume, handled all the lighting and photography, handled directing, dealt with sound and microphone placement, edited the movie solo including creating sound effects and everything. I did all technical aspects of the filmmaking solo. The credit reads on all my movies : ”Written, Directed, Photographed and Edited by…”.

The only thing I can’t do is music. Several local NJ musicians contributed to the soundtrack. But unlike traditional filmmaking, the music was not composed to a final print of the movie. Instead I picked the original music tracks just as if I was using stock library music. The music was done by Ben Sbar, Ken Megill, Dan Brady, Ben Puglisi and Dan Megill. Ken Megill did an excellent song tie-in that we’ll be using to market the movie called “With Love, from Hate”.

There will be a soundtrack CD and a comic book tie-in on Haunted Hay ride: the Movie. The comic book will be distributed through Diamond.

Steve Krietzberg served pretty effectively as my Production Manager on Haunted Hay Ride: the Movie and Gerald Blakey was very helpful in many ways getting things done. And my father created physical effects and props.  (My father built full size animatronic dinosaurs in the past for a different movie that rivaled Jurassic Park in quality, yet they were made on a shoestring.)  

Are there any special effects we should look forward to?

There are several physical splatter effects in Haunted Hay Ride: The Movie, as well as quite a few CGI gore effects created by our resident computer wizard Mike Christopher Lee.

During filming I didn’t have an effects crew like I had on Invasion for Flesh And Blood, so many kills ended up well staged and cut together, but lacked blood. In post Lee began adding splatter and replacing physical effects shot on the set that didn’t work with really impressive CGI ones. At the same time my father and I shot physical gore effects to add punch to the murders and dismemberment scenes like a pretty believable leg that gets sawed off and flops on the floor; we used real animal parts to make it grossly real.

There is almost 30 kills in Haunted Hay ride: The Movie and I tried to give each one impact. The murder of Hate’s father was done 100% with physical effects, like Tom Savini did on the classic Dawn of the Dead (1977) and it took eight hours to film and its pretty damn powerful. Everyone who worked on the movie is blown away by that particular murder and they all tell me not to change anything about it. Even the CGI guy Mike Lee, who likes to fiddle with things using CGI, says it’s perfect and refuses to touch it. I’m proud of that splatter scene.

 

Do you have a release date yet for HAUNTED HAY RIDE and from whom?

Haunted Hay Ride: the Movie will be available on DVD on September 30th 2008. It’s the first movie released by our newly formed distribution department.

I’ve never had trouble getting any of my previous movies released. I make commercial movies which attract distribution offers. My previous movies have been seen around the world and have gotten great reviews and I’m a NY Times Critic’s Choice. I do my job well, despite the limitations of working on very low budgets. I’m hoping to get bigger budgets on future movies. I’ve served my time as an under-financed independent.

The big problem dealing with distributors has always been getting paid. For example - Troma has had three of my movies – Invasion for Flesh And Blood, Flesh Eaters from Outer Space and Scarlet Moon – for about 3 years now and in all that time all I got from them was a check for $135.00. I’ve made more money than that in one 2 hour signing session at a Sun Coast Video outlet.

The harsh reality when dealing with distributors is that unless you get the money upfront you are not likely to see anything at all no matter what the contract says or how successful your movie becomes.  I asked George Romero about distributors not paying royalties and he said that he had experienced the same thing himself with his own movies.

My feeling now is that you’d have to be an idiot to “give” your movie away to a distributor who will keep all the money, particularly when there are so many avenues opening up today to distribute your movies yourself.

 I have a growing fan base around the world. I don’t need to take a bad deal just to get exposure. My movies are available through Blockbuster, Turner Classic Movies, Best Buy, Tower Records, Target, Ebay, Amazon, lots of chain stores and all over the internet. The same will happen with Haunted Hay ride: The Movie and Dark Beginnings.

We are also converting my web site - www.warrenfdisbrow.com -from an “information only” site into a “sales site” to sell my movies and tie-in items like T-shirts, posters, etc. My web site will be the quickest immediate way of buying Haunted Hay Ride: The Movie ; our dealing with chains and outlets will be a slow, time consuming process that won’t give fast results. I’ll be setting up an Amazon business account too that will be up and running quicker than we can get the movie in chain stores, and we’re investigating the possibilities of offering our movies as downloads from our site, provided we can find a way to prevent piracy while doing it.

Another of the things I worked on, Drive-In Madness, which had a bunch of horror celebs in it, including Romero, Savini, Ackerman and James Karen, has just been re-released on DVD by the wonderful John Russo of Night of the Living Dead fame. While at the last Fangoria convention John and I swapped DVDs. He got a screener of Haunted Hay Ride: the Movie and I got a DVD copy of my Drive-In Madness! I worked on that back in 1987 and it’s still available in the marketplace.

How is this different from your previous films?

I feel Haunted Hay Ride: the Movie very different. It’s more polished looking. It’s less offensive in subject matter. It’s the first film I made without nudity. Its brutality and graphic violence is more main stream. It’s the first time I wrote normal characters that the general public can easily identify with. (The last two movies, Scarlet Moon and Dark Beginnings, had no normal characters; they both had a cast of Satanists and vampires; humans were just an occasional cameo snack.)

I’m hoping that Haunted Hay ride: The Movie will be more broadly accepted. Scarlet Moon and Dark Beginnings are not bad movies, just more limited because of their harshness dealing with taboo subjects. Scarlet Moon, despite its offensiveness, got some really great reviews world-wide when release in 2006.

Troma has the USA and Canada DVD rights to Scarlet Moon at the moment and it’s being sold all over the place. Sadly, Troma is spending nothing to promote it, so the public has to discover it from reading the reviews or by accident. It’s a sad trend with smaller distributors that they are now just dumping all their movies into the market place and spending nothing to raise public awareness of their existence. That’s another reason to release your own movies yourself. I’ll re-release all my movies myself as I get the rights back.

Also, what can you tell us about the plot to DARK BEGINNINGS?

Dark Beginnings had to be a prequel to Scarlet Moon because the earth explodes at the end of Scarlet moon. Both movies deal with a race between various supernaturals to gain possession of a magical huge red diamond called Scarlet Moon.  Whoever owns the Scarlet Moon will have ultimate power on earth. It’s the age old Cesar/Hitler power trip, only with vampires.

Dark Beginnings, being a prequel to Scarlet Moon, has the same main characters. Michael Bruce of the Alice Cooper Group is back in this film too; Mike and Forry Ackerman both appeared in Scarlet Moon.

What happened was I had almost an hour of pretty good scenes left over from Scarlet Moon after I edited it down to 96 minutes. Everyone felt some of the best scenes didn’t end up in Scarlet Moon and it was a crime to just throw them away. So I looked at the footage we had, wrote and shot new scenes, and got another 95 minute feature film out of the leftovers!

With both Scarlet Moon and Dark Beginnings we made the Gone with the Wind of low budget movies, with scenes set in different countries and we even have a NASA space shuttle launch. I guess you could call them low budget “epics”.

I announced a year ago that Dark Beginnings was going to be released shortly. What happened was Mike Lee took it over. He’s had the movie for almost a year now, using CGI to revamp it with high tech computer generated effects. He even replaced some of my physical sets with bigger, more impressive CGI sets. I hate the time loss, but the movie will be better visually in the end. It already looks superior to Scarlet Moon.

Who's some of the cast in DARK BEGINNINGS?

Dominic Gregoria, Guy Camilleri and Annie Donato. Dominic is now a newspaper publisher but he also continues to act; he appears in Haunted Hay Ride: the Movie too. Guy Camelleri is in LA doing movies and TV shows like House and Crossing Jordan. Annie Donato is succeeding at a career in psychiatry but still has the acting bug. The cast of Scarlet Moon and Dark Beginnings were almost the same. I have others in Hollywood who started with me too. Some day I’ll relocate to Hollywood myself. Maybe after I shoot the next one, The Haunting of Holly House.

And what about THE HAUNTING OF HOLLY HOUSE? You begin shooting that in the fall. What can you tell us about that?

The story of The Haunting of Holly House is about a father’s attempts to find out how his son died, which leads him to Holly House. I don’t want it to be a “comic book”. “Comic book” horror movies aren’t scary. There are too many “comic book” horror movies already. The horror in Haunting of Holly House for me has to be grimly real.

Each movie I’m doing is getting me closer to main stream by being generally more broadly acceptable kinds of movies. They are less politically, religiously, socially and sexually offensive, but I still want to deal with horror, violence and the supernatural.

I see Haunted Hay ride: The movie as a departure from my previous movies. Haunting of Holly House will be even more so. I’m aiming for something serious, grim, and dark; a horror drama, with emphases on quality acting and a scary story. My goal with Haunting of Holly House is to scare people. Another goal I have with Holly House is to show the powers that be in Hollywood that I can make something on the same quality level that they produce. It would be the ultimate compliment to me if the movie was scary and people thought it was made in Hollywood.

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Now Available!

Hate's Haunted Slay Ride

DVD Details:

16:9 Widescreen
Running Time: 1 hour 56 minutes
Region 1
Unrated Directors Cut
Not suggested for children
Special Features:
Commentary Track
Featurette: The Making of Hate's Haunted Slay Ride
Featurette: Visual Effects Artist Michael Christopher Lee featurette
Warren Disbrow Movie Trailers  

List Price: $16.95       

Haunted Hayride The Movie:

DVD Details:

Commentary Track featuring Writer-Director Warren F. Disbrow, Stars Jenny Hill, Dan Bartkewicz, Joey West, Warren Disbrow Sr
Featurette:  Movie location Brock Farms, NJ
Featurette: On movie location Dracula's Domain Haunted Hay Ride, NJ
Featurette: The Making of HAUNTED HAY RIDE: THE MOVIE
Video Interviews with Cast and Crew members
Promotional Free music tie-in WITH LOVE, FROM HATE by Butterfly Suicide

Warren Disbrow
Movie Trailers

List Price: $16.95