8 Questions to Die For: ‘Fertile Ground’ Director Adam Gierasch

In cooperation with Syfy and Lionsgate, on January 28th After Dark Films is releasing eight “After Dark Originals” in theaters, in a bid to take the “horror festival concept to a higher level”. Instead of acquiring the films after the fact, as with “8 Films to Die For”, these Originals were developed from the ground up at the famed genre distributor in an effort to create “high quality horror films” with full input from the After Dark team. Now, in anticipation of their release, B-D reporter Chris Eggertsen put eight questions to the directors of each of the upcoming films, in a series we’re calling “8 Questions to Die For: Interviews with the Directors of the After Dark Originals”. In this installment we interviewed Fertile Ground director Adam Gierasch, who earlier directed the After-Dark distributed Autopsy and also the recent Night of the Demons remake. Unlike the over-the-top Demons, Gierasch describes Fertile Ground as a subtler, much more character-based film about the slow unraveling of a married couple after they move into the husband’s ancestral home in New Hampshire. See inside for the full interview.

Fans of down-’n’-dirty lesbian make-out scenes (you know who you are) will probably be disappointed to hear that unlike Adam Gierasch’s last directorial effort Night of the Demons, his upcoming Fertile Ground, part of the “After Dark Originals” series, is a much more serious-minded affair with none of the gratuitous sex or nudity of that earlier film. Nevertheless, if the premise lives up to its potential this could turn out to be a spooky little gem. In our interview below you can find out why Gierasch earlier described the film as Roman Polanski meets a movie made for the Lifetime Channel, what classic films he was inspired by, and how much his real-life relationship with wife/co-writer Jace Anderson figured into the relationship between the central couple featured in the movie.

Bloody-Disgusting: This is your second film distributed by After Dark. What was different about the process under the “After Dark Originals” banner as opposed to “8 Films To Die For”? From what I understand, After Dark has more control over the production now.

Adam Gierasch: In “8 Films to Die For” it was an acquisition of an already-completed film. With “After Dark Originals” we had a script that After Dark was interested in and we made it together from the ground up.

BD: According to the press release, horror fans were “polled” by After Dark to determine what sorts of horror films they wanted to see. What was your mandate from the studio going into this, based on this audience polling? Or was this a pre-existing idea that just happened to fit with what they were looking for?

AG: After Dark’s mandate was simple: make the best film you can. This was a pre-existing script that fit in nicely with their slate.

BD: You co-wrote the film, as with your last two features, with your wife Jace Anderson. Were there any nuances from your own relationship that can be seen in the central married couple featured in the movie?

AG: Yes and no. There’s definitely an autobiographical element to the character of Emily — Jace really related to this character and based it on some of her own feelings and experiences. However, I will say that my wife/writing partner is a loving, well-adjusted individual whose behavior is quite rational. She tends not to see specters roaming around our house, and I certainly hope that I’m a lot nicer than the character of Nate (sometimes Jace might disagree).

BD: What other supernatural horror films inspired you in making this?

AG: I was very influenced by a lot of early 70s psychological ghost stories, like BURNT OFFERINGS, THE CHANGELING, JULIA and THE REINCARNATION OF PETER PROUD. Some earlier films like HUSH HUSH SWEET CHARLOTTE were also influential. It truly feels like a film from a different time.

BD: I really like the poster, the central image of which appears to be the skull of a young child (?). Without giving anything away, how does this image factor in to the plot of the film?

AG: Quite nicely! Let’s leave it at that.

BD: You’re arguably best known now for helming the Night of the Demons remake, but this appears to be more or less on the opposite end of the horror spectrum. Would you say this is a film more focused on suspense and atmosphere than Demons was? No torn-off boobs or passionate lesbian action this time?

AG: This movie could not be more different than NIGHT OF THE DEMONS. It was truly something new and different for me, and After Dark took a big chance on letting me make it. It’s a much more serious film with a much more serious atmosphere, and is really a character study. It’s very much a suspense/psychological drama.

BD: In earlier interview you did I came across a great quote from you – “If Roman Polanski made a movie for Lifetime Channel, it would be FERTILE GROUND”. Some could see this as being a dig against your own movie (The Lifetime reference), but I highly doubt that’s what you meant by it. Can you put that quote in better context?

AG: I was kidding around. It’s the story of a very lonely, vulnerable, hurt woman and has a dash of REPULSION mixed in with it. To be perfectly honest, I’ve never watched a movie on the Lifetime Channel. Some of my joking around may have come from my nervousness about making a film that lacks spurting blood, women in corsets being chased by demons or mad doctors carrying on bloody, twisted experiments in an abandoned hospital.

BD: What’s your next project going to be? Are you gonna stick to horror, or is the next step in your evolution a full-blown Oscar-bait “adult drama”? :)

AG: Total Oscar-bait adult drama for me. I’ve outgrown the horror genre and it’s time to step away from the kids’ table. And if you believe this, I have a huge bunch of swampland in Southern Florida to sell you. I have fake Caro syrup blood running through my veins.