Cyrus: Mind of a Serial Killer sees its release Tuesday. Written and directed by Mark Vadik and inspired by real life killers, the film follows a two person news crew – reporter Maria (Danielle Harris) and camera man, Tom (Tony Yalda) – as they head to the small town of Arkham Heights. There they interview Emmett (Lance Henriksen) about “The County Line Cannibal” – Cyrus (Brian Krause). As Emmett tells the tale, Maria realizes that this fantastic story could be the last one she’ll ever cover.
Bloody’s Lauren Taylor recently had the opportunity to speak with filmmaker Mark Vadik and actor Brian Krause about the film, which hits stores tomorrow! Check out the interview and Taylor’s personal thoughts on the film beyond the break.
In grad school, I had the pleasure of taking a course calledThe Concept of Evil in American Culture. In this course I studied, amongst other things, the clichéd elements that compose a serial killer’s childhood. Cruelty to animals, sexually, physically and emotionally abusive mentors, bed wetting after age 12, jacked up families – you know, the basics!
Basics that Cyrus: The Mind of a Serial Killer covers. The character of Cyrus is loosely based on real life serial killer Fritz Haarmann, “The Butcher of Hanover”, who was responsible for the murder of 27 boys and young men between 1918 and 1924. While Cyrus’ motivation seems to be keeping his truckstop diner in business, the research that went into creating his mindset and history is well written. Vadik’s dedication shows in his not turning the camera away at crucial developmental scenes of Cyrus and his mother.
But perhaps it is the portrayal of the character by actor Brian Krause (of Charmed fame) that keeps the film moving at a panicked rate. His attention to detail in perfecting sadistic looks and snapping in the right manner boost the plot which appears to be a great homage to films that came before it. It has already been called a mix of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killerand The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (I would assume we mean 2). And, at times, the movie has that raw, naked force of the originals.
I was given ten minutes to pick Vadik’s brain on just what inspired him to make this film and ten to figure out just what Krause thought about the character he portrayed.
Bloody-Disgusting: You’ve stated that you researched a lot of serial killers in order to write this film. What steps, though, did you take to make Cyrus unique?
Mark Vadik: There is a twofold answer to that. He’s obviously a conglomeration of killers. The storyline and arc is very closely related to Haarmann. The German serial killer. But in research there were big gaps in his life, and that’s when I turned to other killers to fill it in. Like Cyrus’s childhood – it really mirrors Henry Lee Lucas. Those are the elements that really are the conglomeration of him. As for what I feel sets Cyrus off from other killers – I didn’t want to romanticize him – which I feel a lot of the serial killers in films are. But I did want to make him multi-dimensional where he wasn’t simply hated. And I did hope to create a ping pong where the audience felt at times some empathy from the character. I think that is what separates him from real life serial killers – is that he has a far more humane side to him. Yeah, I think that’s a fair assessment. He definitely has a humane side.
BD: Definitely. As the movie started I honestly thought “Aww, this poor guy…” and then BAM! You’re suddenly “Ok! Not what I thought…”
MV: I LIKE YOU! You ask me as many questions as you want!
BD: Well, really, that is the one thing that drew me to it. As a young man, we see this attractive guy and then once you realize how rough he’s had it, and the situation with his wife, there is the transition to the roughness of Brian Krause taking on the character. And you definitely see it even physically as the story gets into the nitty gritty. Say Cyrus was real – how do you think he would’ve turned out had his mother not traumatized him at an early age? Do you think he would’ve snapped when his wife betrayed him?
MV: I don’t think so. I have a bit of a psych background – and I really think those developmental phases are really important with children. And so I think it was important for me to flashbacks to those sequences and sort of extrapolate those. One of the scenes people hate is with the dog. Someone berated me for 30 minutes about that scene. It was important for me to echo the way the dog is killed later with his song. And it’s gruesome and a moment I felt I had to show and it’s not something that other films don’t. I just didn’t want to present this evil human being and there is no rational basis for it. So hopefully those scenes show how a relatively innocent sweet child develops into this.
BD: What serial killers did you personally research and draw upon for this role?
Brian Krause: The Green River Killer is somebody that really stuck in my head. Leading a double life. Someone who was able to go out and murder and sleep with corpses and then come home and have a normal life with family and kids and relatives. That was really intriguing to me. The side that know one really knew. I think that with Cyrus, that is what I had to draw from, him leading a double life.
BD: I will pose the same question I asked of Mark – How would’ve Cyrus turned out if he hadn’t had a bad childhood?
BK: I think with a lot of these serial killers – they say that some of it has to do with your genes and DNA and not so much circumstance. Being traumatized as child or do you have this in you? BTK and Jeffrey Dahmer weren’t traumatized as children – there is nothing there to tell you that something went wrong – they just had it in him. For Cyrus, though, I think it was because of his childhood that he became that way.
Cyrus is available tomorrow on DVD.