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Interview with Rocky Costanzo

By Dag (2005-12-04)

We've talked to Hallowed director Rocky Costanzo about his new horror movie.

Q: Can you tell us a bit about "Hallowed"?

Rocky: Hallowed explores insanity and how anyone can be driven to it by having a dramatic experience, which is the case with Gabriel. As a 10 year-old boy, he witnesses his dad break down. He takes his hunting riffle and shoots Gabriel's mom before turning the gun on himself. That experience is too much for this young boy to handle. Now it's 20 years later and Gabriel begins acting out what his inner demons are feeding him. He believes he was chosen from God to take lives and preys on vulnerable victims.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for the movie?

Rocky: Hallowed is based on two short films I made in the 90's called "Godsend," and they were based on my experience of being! visited by a few religious guys who rode bicycles and dressed in formal attire. They constantly came to my house wanting to talk to me about their religion. I was young at the time and was actually scared of these guys. I felt like I was being stalked or something. It got to the point that when they came to the door I would hide in the house until they left. It was during one of those visits where I was on all fours hiding behind the couch that I thought to myself "Hey, this would make a great horror film." Now of course, the character of Gabriel needed to be developed into something evil, but that was the incident that sparked the storyline.

Q: What is it you find so fascinating with horror movies?

Rocky: I think it's because they are such an escape from reality. Yes there are murderers in real life, but horror films usually go beyond "normal" and into something you don't see in real life. And it's the only g! enre of film that audiences are so forgiving of. The storyline, acting and even quality play second to the scares, suspense and gore. Audiences always walk out of a horror film in good spirit. I know I always do.

Q: As a filmmaker who is your inspiration?

Rocky: Stanley Kubrick is someone I admire very much. His films are so unique. It is easy to tell just by watching a few seconds that you are watching a Kubrick film. I also like Tim Burton, Richard Linklater and of course John Carpenter.

Q: Why did you choose to include a tribute to John Carpenter's classic "Halloween" in the movie?

Rocky: For several reasons, but the main reason is that Halloween is the first horror movie I can remember seeing in the theater. I was 5 years old if you can believe that. It was tradition that my dad take my sister and I to almost every slasher that came out in! the 80's. We saw them all, but none of them stuck with me like Halloween. So, this was an opportunity to at least thank John Carpenter & Debra Hill for inspiring me to become a filmmaker. I must have made 20 Halloween home movies when I was a kid. Besides, I wanted to acknowledge Carpenter & Hill for being the great filmmakers that they are. Also the passing of Debra Hill and Moustapha Akkad this year gave me a little more incentive to pay a small tribute to Halloween. It wasn't about ripping off the movie and pissing off the fans. It was about honoring the filmmakers and having a good time doing it.

Q: What has been most challenging in making this movie?

Rocky: Making it truly scary. This is probably the one thing that horror audiences take for granted. It's a very difficult task. Having scary ideas does not mean they are going to appear scary on screen. Anyone can make a gore film, but to ma! ke a truly scary movie is quite the accomplishment. I like to think Hallowed has some great scary moments, however it's the audience that will determine if we succeeded or not.

Q: How do you work with the actors when directing scary scenes?

Rocky: It's tough. Luckily I was fortunate to work with actors who were willing to sacrifice cuts and bruises for their performance. Andrew spent nights running/climbing/crawling through these dirty tunnels. Rosslyn had take after take of being emotionally frightened. Supporting roles as well with Carrie and Jennifer screaming and crawling along the ground. I just try to get them to be in the right frame of mind. They really need to "feel" the moment, take after take.

Q: What's next, any new projects you're working on?

Rocky: During the filming of Hallowed, I was involved with another project, shadowing a popular Goth band around on their U.S. Tour. The documentary (still untitled) is now in post-production and should be released next Summer. I'm still involved as the director for a coming-of-age drama called 11:11, which had a few set-backs but is expected to finish up next year as well, so I'm keeping very busy... luckily.



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