In cooperation with Syfy and Lionsgate, this Saturday After Dark Films is releasing a new “After Dark Originals”, 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 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 Scream of the Banshee director Steven C. Miller (Automaton Transfusion) about his film which follows an archeology professor who unwittingly releases a mythical banshee with the ability to kill through the power of her ear-splitting scream.
The banshee is a supernatural figure from Irish mythology that can take on many different forms, including a frightening old woman or a beautiful temptress, with a wailing cry that was said to foretell a person’s death. In After Dark Originals’ upcoming Scream of the Banshee, director Steven C. Miller (Automaton Transfusion) has tackled the banshee mythology, in a modern-day story about a college professor who inadvertently releases one of the creatures and must fight to stop it when its ear-splitting wail begins leading to the deaths of anyone that hears it. In our interview Miller discusses what it was like to collaborate with After Dark on the project, working with actors Lance Henriksen and Lauren Holly, and which old-school movies inspired him during filming.
Bloody-Disgusting.com: You’re best known up to this point for helming the cult zombie movie Automaton Transfusion, which you wrote as well as directed. Was it weird at first directing off someone else’s script?
Steven C. Miller: No, it never really felt weird. I am a very collaborative director, so putting my vision to someone else’s writing seemed like a very easy transition. I think it allowed me to have a very unique take on the material, that you sometimes lose when you are completely engulfed in the project from penning the script to shooting the film. In some ways it’s an even bigger challenge to convey someone else’s story and I tend to enjoy a challenge.
BD:How involved was After Dark during the shoot? In other words, how much freedom were you given to realize your own specific vision?
SCM: Banshee was different for After Dark because they also had SYFY in the mix. After Dark definitely let me run with my vision but there were quite a bit of restrictions due to the fact that it was going to be eventually playing on SYFY and I had to make sure they were happy also. I quickly realized I wasn’t going to be able to make the edgy, gore filled Banshee film I had originally intended on delivering. Instead I focused on making it more of a throwback monster movie that delivers scares but is really lots of fun.
BD:You’ve got a great cast in this – Lauren Holly and Lance Henriksen being the most prominent. What was it like directing those two, considering you probably grew up watching them?
SCM: Both were amazing. It was incredible to watch them work. We shot this film in 2 weeks and with that kind of schedule you don’t have time for take after take. Lauren and Lance got that and were completely prepared. I doubt if I ever shot more than 3 takes with them in front of the camera. Lauren especially has a seriously insane gift to just be in the moment on cue. She is a very involved actress and that puts a Director at ease. I didn’t really have to do much with them, it was just shoot and run. Great experience for me and hopefully them too.
BD:The Banshee looks quite sexy in the poster. I’m assuming she uses her physical sex appeal to snare her victims?
SCM: Banshee has many forms and yes the seductress is one. She calls to her victims as if she is inside their minds. This probably wouldn’t be a bad thing, if there wasn’t razor sharp jaws underneath that pretty face.
BD:The power to kill with just a scream is pretty awesome, but it also begs the question – how do the protagonists defend themselves against it? Earplugs?
SCM: HAHAHA. Well the banshee just doesn’t go around screaming, then we would have exploding skulls throughout the whole flick. Banshee wants you to be scared, she wants you to scream first. You scream you die. To protect yourself you have to figure out how to keep from screaming. GOOD LUCK!
BD:How closely does this banshee adhere to the original Irish mythology?
SCM: It follows fairly closely. There were obvious things we had to update and some things that just didn’t work for this movie, but we really tried to keep as close to the original myth as possible.
BD:I’ve heard you describe this as an “old school” creature feature. What are some of your inspirations from the sub-genre that would give us an idea of the film’s tone?
SCM: I looked at movies like “Creature from the Black Lagoon” and “Wolfman”. Both were scary films for their time but they never went over the top with the killings. Lots of the scares came from what you didn’t see and thats what I tried to do with Banshee. Also I chose to have Banshee be a physicalprostheticin stead of a CGI creature because thats just what I like. I love something i can physically touch. The tone of the film is in the same world as the original “Fright Night”. A very FUN movie that has all of the genre moments but doesn’t take itself too seriously.
BD:You have a couple of other genre projects coming up – the sequel to “Automaton Transfusion” and “Area 52”. What can you tell us about those projects? Which one’s first?
SCM: Both films are in different stages of development along with the remake of “Motel Hell”. I’m currently prepping 3 other genre films, including GRANNY, which I recently shot a short promo for with Jamie Kennedys company. I’m also doing a television pilot that I wrote with my friend Max Labella, which is in the vein of Walking Dead meets 90210.