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HELLBLOCK 13 PDF Print E-mail
Written by by Kevin J. Lindenmuth   
Aug 09, 2004 at 02:00 AM
The anthology format, it seems, is almost synonymous with the horror film bringing to mind such classics as Romero's CREEPSHOW, the original TALES FROM THE CRYPT and, of course, Dan Curtis' TRILOGY OF TERROR, that featured the unforgettably ferocious Zuni doll. During the past decade three similar themed anthologies have been produced in South Carolina, CAMPFIRE TALES, FREAK SHOW and HELLBLOCK 13, all directed by independent filmmaker Paul Talbot, who confesses a strong affinity for the format and subject matter.
Q: So, what is it about anthologies that appeals to you?
PAUL: I've always liked anthologies like DEAD OF NIGHT, DR. TERROR'S HOUSE OF HORRORS and TORTURE GARDEN. I was fortunate as a kid because I grew up watching UHF channels on television, before there was access to videos. One station, every Sunday, showed a Universal horror movie and another showed two AIP pictures. I watched a lot of movies. Also, the anthology format seems to work well for us because you can shoot them in chunks, each episode in four days, commit the cast and crew, wait a few months, regroup, and do another one, rather than getting everyone together for one month. It's tough to do a four week shoot and get people to take off work from their regular jobs. It also allows you to put a lot of effort into it in a shorter period of time. Yet in some ways they're tricky because everything is set up in three acts and in an anthology you're doing that over and over again plus having the framing segment going on. You have to be conscious of pacing and define your characters very quickly. But they've worked out good for us--a trademark for me.
Q: How long did it take to make each anthology?
PAUL: It took four years to make CAMPFIRE TALES. The way it came about was--I majored in media arts at the University of South Carolina and during my senior year I took a l6mm film class. There I met William Cooke (producer of first two movies) and we did a short called "The Hook", based on that classic scary story. When we graduated we wanted to be filmmakers and didn't know how to go about it so we said "look, we have a thirty minute short already, let's make an anthology". We worked freelance, scraped money together, would shoot a segment and do the same thing over again. We were also able to get a couple of grants through the local arts organization. We did all the post production on film and transferred it to video. It was completed in 1991, was picked up by a distributor in California and had some small pay-per-view deals. FREAKSHOW was put together on a limited partnership and was mostly financed through myself and associate producer Jeff Miller. It also shot in 16mm but the negative was transferred directly to Betacam SP. The film took two and a half years to complete and came out Halloween of '95. HELLBLOCK 13 was the quickest to make--one year. We shot entirely in 16mm and all the post-production was done digitally on the Avid system. It's the most technically proficient of all three films. The technology is really nice.
Q: Do you find it easier to do all the post-production on video?
PAUL: When you first deal with video you kind of miss the film but you realize it's pointless to edit on film nowadays. With video your "work print" looks fairly decent so you can show it to potential investors. I do prefer it. It's ridiculous to do any post-production on film. Video is more accessible and cheaper and the technology is really nice. It's amazing how easy you can do wipes and dissolves. Filmmaking is still expensive but it's more accessible on the smaller end.
Q: You always try to include some horror names in your productions...
PAUL: We try to get some cult names in the films for marketability and for the fans. With CAMPFIRE TALES we thought we should get some type of a name and we approached Gunnar Hansen and got him to come down and narrate the stories. In FREAKSHOW one of the segments was a period piece and we found out that Veronica Carlsen, who starred in the Hammer movies, lived near to us in South Carolina. With HELLBLOCK we got JJ. North (ATTACK OF THE 60 FOOT CENTERFOLD) and Debbie Rochon (ABDUCTED II, TROMEO & JULIET), who we met at a horror convention a few years ago.
Q: How did you approach Gunnar?
PAUL: I came across an article he wrote in a magazine, a non-horror magazine, and put two and two together. So I wrote the editor and said I was trying to get in touch with him. A few days later Gunnar called me and we talked and worked out a deal. It's worked out ever since, as he's been in all three movies.
Q: What does he write about?
PAUL: He lives on Barrier Island in Maine and writes a lot of poetry and non fiction. He wrote a book on Barrier Island, another on serial killers and is also a documentary filmmaker. He has a name with the horror fans and also has a name among the literary and documentary crowd and of course the two worlds never cross. The people who know Gunnar Hansen the horror actor don't know that he writes poetry and the people who know him as a writer have no idea he was in TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE.
Q: Are there any interesting anecdotes from HELLBLOCK?
PAUL: We had less problems than on anything I've ever done. In the trailer park segment with the witches house we went up to the guy's house and asked him if we could film on this date and he said "sure, no problem". So we get there with the cast and crew and film there for an hour when one of the PA's comes up and says "that lady over there says this is her house, she's called the police and they're going to confiscate the film." It turned out the guy was renting the house and shouldn't have given permission. It's also difficult when you have a title like HELLBLOCK 13 because people say "We're Christians, we don't want Satanic movies shot on our property". The assistant cameraman had it all worked out, though, that he'd give the police a blank role of film if they tried to confiscate what we shot. The wraparound prison segment was filmed in an abandoned prison and shot in January during the two coldest days of the year-30 degrees and no heat. Debbie just had this prison dress on and she was an amazing trooper because she was freezing. In a few shots she's actually shaking because it's freezing in that place!
Q: It seems like a lot of independent directors stick with their genre--namely horror. Why do you think this is?
PAUL: Even though horror movies are not all that big a strong point nowadays, the hardcore fans are stronger than ever--there are more horror fanzines and magazines than ever. Usually every Sunday for three hours I read my horror magazines, there's so many. I've also noticed we're getting a lot more underground cult actors, like Sasha Graham, who are in a lot of different movies. Whenever these actors are interviewed they'll talk about other movies they've done and will get you publicity. The films that inspired me the most are CARNIVAL OF SOULS, PINK FLAMINGOES and NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD - because they were regional horror films done by people that didn't have contacts with Hollywood. Yet they could still make a legitimate horror movie that could be shown anywhere.
Q: What's the most important thing about being an independent?
PAUL: You have to surround yourself with people who will support you. In my region everyone sees me as a real filmmaker--they know it will get finished. The movie has to be a labor of love because even the people you're paying are working for less than they normally would. But people would rather work on a feature than a grocery commercial. It always boils down to time and money and do what you can do with what you've got.

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