Featuring the insane cast of Vinnie Jones, Michael Matthias, Michael Madsen, DMX, Armand Assante, William McNamara, Pittsburgh Slim, Rachelle Leah and even Kat Von D, back in October Bloody Disgusting’s Chris Eggertsen attended the world premiere of Charles Picerni’s vampire flick The Bleeding. The story centers on an ex-Army Ranger searching for the killer of his parents who discovers a family of vampires in a former chemical weapons factory-turned-nightclub. Beyond the break you can read his extensive report from the event, and keep your eyes peeled here for more when it comes in.
I arrived at the premiere of The Bleeding, an independent action/vampire film helmed by first-time director Charlie Picerna, at the Sunset 5 in West Hollywood fresh off the high of my interview with Richard Kelly, director of the upcoming high-minded horror/thriller The Box. It was certainly a changing of the gears given the wildly divergent styles of the two films, and I was trying to adjust my thought processes accordingly. In effect, Kelly’s movie is the exact opposite of The Bleeding in that The Box was designed for audiences with a taste for thought-provoking (but still thrilling) cinema, while The Bleeding was designed for people who, um, like to see things blowed up real good (with lots of gratuitous boobage thrown into the mix). See, while The Box deals with blood and guts in a more metaphorical sense, The Bleeding just deals with blood and guts. Which, by the way, is totally fine with me.
Let me first start off by saying that the scene at the red carpet was a horror show all its own. I was essentially shoved into a corner with about ten other journalists (I’m pretty sure I inadvertently felt a couple of them up at some point in the evening due to our close proximity), while at the other end frantic photographers snapped a nearly endless parade of fame-whore reality TV hosts and other suspect characters who probably had no business being on any red carpet, period.
One particular character that stands out in my mind is Geretta Geretta, an “actress” who apparently co-starred in a film with Michael Madsen (but really, who hasn’t?) and who looked something like a cross between LaToya Jackson and Sidney Poitier. She strutted down the carpet in a lime green dress and ridiculously high chunky heels, shouting out her film credits to the battalion of confused photographers as if attempting to validate her very existence, flashbulbs lighting up all around her and illuminating her fifteen seconds of fame for all eternity. Well, I found her so fascinating I couldn’t help but look her up on IMDb, and it turns out she was actually in Terminator II. No, not the James Cameron classic, Terminator 2: Judgement Day. Terminator II (notice the Roman numerals), released in 1990. That fact alone should give you a good idea of the essence of Ms. Geretta. She’s sort of like the direct-to-DVD version of Angela Bassett, and god love her for it.
Things only got more surreal from there, as row after row of Botoxed mannequins with insanely plumped-up Angelina Jolie pouts paraded past the photogs like perfectly coiffed show ponies just waiting for their cue, to jump through a hoop perhaps, or perform some other miraculous feat for their “adoring public”. At the height of the insanity I was being jostled and shoved and generally abused by the throngs around me, clawing their way towards the front to score that interview with the generic blonde chick from the new Twilight movie, or perhaps just steal a quick chat with Tony Tarantino (Quentin Tarantino’s dad, in case you were wondering), who I at one point mistook for Armand Assante and began interviewing about his role in the film (before he kindly corrected me). Indeed, the mirages were plentiful on the red carpet last night – is that the lead actor? The lead actress? And which of these dark-haired chicks is Kat Von D?
Well, I never did get the chance to talk to miss Von D (featured prominently on the poster despite her relatively small role in the film), but I did talk to Michael Matthias, the absolute, genuine lead actor in the film who according to the press notes is good friends with Vin Diesel (who he vaguely resembles). It’s his first starring role, and he certainly looks the part of the action star; the dude is absolutely ripped. Here’s what he had to say about his character:
“I’m a guy that comes back from a war after my brother has been murdered and his body has disappeared, so I’m trying to figure out what happened, because he left me a strange sign. So I get around to finding out what happened, [thanks to the help of] a whole bunch of characters. A priest, and a guy who owns a tattoo parlor…and then we have a throwdown. I find out it’s vampires, at first I really don’t believe it, but then we have to take care of business.”
Mr. Matthias, for the record, couldn’t have been nicer, and he was cool enough to return to me and continue on with our interview every time he was pulled away for a photo op with the rest of the cast. He definitely looked a bit like a deer caught in the headlights (an expression I was doubtless wearing as well), considering the chaos happening all around us, but he managed to keep his cool. So how did he land the part?
“I met one of the producers at a bar/restaurant”, said Matthias. “So I was speaking to him about movies and he [asked me], `can you meet me next week? I’m looking for [an actor] like you’. So I found out he was a real-deal guy, [although] at first I didn’t believe him.”
At this point executive producer Gordon Bijelonic, dapper in a suit and tie, approached and joined in our conversation. I asked Bijelonic what movies he might compare The Bleeding to, just to give me some frame of reference. He had this to say:
“You really can’t compare The Bleeding to anything, because I’ll tell you what — your traditional vampire movie always has a softer, kind of sexy [side] to it, and what we’ve done is we’ve taken Twilight and [added] a little punch to it, by [including] some big action sequences, and not making it so sexy like they usually traditionally are. It’s hard to have an analogy for it because, uh…I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen action in a vampire movie. It’s usually, `ok, hey, I wanna suck your neck, you know, drink your blood’ and that’s always the driving force behind it. But if you get a chance to see the film, you’ll understand what we’ve done and what I’m talking about.”
Ok, my mistake. Although don’t most vampire movies have action in them? Whatever, the guy was slick; I’m pretty sure I just nodded my head in wholehearted agreement. See, I was feeling dizzy and vaguely disoriented at this point, and more than that I was in desperate need of a stiff drink. But I soldiered on. So, this was second-unit director/stunt man Charlie Picerna’s first movie as director, right?
“[He did] a lot of TV stuff in the `70s and `80s and he’s a huge stunt coordinator, a lot of second unit stuff, and so he’s really good at the action sequences”, said Bijelonic.
Well, I didn’t get a chance to talk to Picerna either (in fact I’m not sure he was even there), but I did chat with the very likable screenwriter Lance Lane, who gave me some insight into where he got the inspiration to write the screenplay.
“I like writing action, so we were trying to build an action piece with vampires, and do a hybrid action/vampire movie”, said Lane.
Simple enough. Action plus vampires equals good bloody fun, am I right? For the record, he told me he watched the Kathyrn Bigelow cult vampire classic Near Dark to prepare for the project, which isn’t a bad place to start.
I also got a chance to speak with first-time actor Pittsburgh Slim, the rap artist best known for the good-time hip-hop single “Girls Kiss Girls” and who was subsequently signed to Jay-Z’s Death Jam label. You can also currently download his latest single, entitled “My Bitch Is Crazy” (which he recorded specifically for the film), off of iTunes.
“I play Crash, who’s basically one of the good guys, he’s a younger guy who’s kinda been taken under Father Roy’s wing, and essentially we help Michael Matthias’ character kinda overtake the bad guys”, said Slim about his role in the film.
Slim was also lucky enough to work closely with Michael Madsen (who plays Father Roy) for his first acting role – not a bad gig.
“It was fantastic”, said Slim. “I mean I’m very grateful and thankful [they gave me] a role that’s right next to Michael Madsen. Just to be able to watch him just did a lot for me and hopefully what I brought to the movie as well, so I had a blast.”
One thing I will say for Pittsburgh (Mr. Slim if you’re nasty) is that on top of being a super nice guy, he’s also got great taste in horror films.
“I like a lot of the older horror movies, like, you know, old black and white… Nosferatu, you know, things like that”, said Slim. “But then I enjoy some other [horror] movies, like one of my favorite movies ever is An American Werewolf in London. There’s no, like, computer-generated stuff. It’s just acting, story, and special effects.”
Awesome. If The Bleeding is anything close to the quality of London, we’re in for a treat. I have to admit, though, that at this point, exhausted and slightly bewildered (not to mention injured), I pulled myself away from the carpet for a bit of a breather. Looking back on the scene, I could hardly believe I’d survived it. The photographers and TV reporters reminded me vaguely of buzzards, moving from one slice of fresh meat to the next, practically trampling over each other to get just one photo of the Twilight girl, decked out in skimpy attire and an ivory-white perma-smile.
To be fair, I know it’s the photographers’ job and that’s what they’re there for, just like I was there to interview the talent involved in the movie. So yeah, I was a part of the madness too; I have no problem acknowledging that. Although in my defense, I exercised quite a bit of restraint compared to, say, the large-breasted, short-skirted, curly-haired TV host/reporter who throughout the night had continuously and aggressively attempted to steal away the talent I was in the middle of interviewing. (That being said, I wasn’t going to cross her under any circumstances – that bitch would doubtless cut the shit out of anyone who got in her way).
Anyway, there was one interview I hadn’t scored yet that I was bound and determined to wrangle at any cost: namely, the legendary Mr. Michael Madsen himself.
Mr. Madsen and his wife had managed to stake out one tiny corner of the red carpet all to themselves, and while of course the autograph-seekers had managed to surround him them all sides (where the hell did all these people come from?, I wondered), he put forth a cool, easygoing vibe that served to drive home the fact that the dude is a pro; it was, essentially, just another day in the life for him.
And so, tape recorder quaking a bit in my hands (I’m about to talk to Michael fucking Madsen!), I approached the actor and Tarantino favorite, cocktail in one of his hands and cigarette in the other, and asked if he might answer a few questions. “Sure”, he said.
So, I asked him, what’s your role in The Bleeding?
“I’m a priest, Father Roy, but he carries around Thompson machine guns, so yeah, he’s very conventional”, said Madsen. “I like Vinnie Jones a lot, he’s in the movie, and I wanted to back up Mikey Matthias, because this is his shot. And I like Charlie Picerni, you know, second-unit stunt director. You know, he got his shot at an `A’ picture, and I wanted to do good by Charlie. And I like to stay busy, man. If I’m not working I’m fucking worthless, so you know, I like to stay as busy as I can. You don’t know really what you’re getting into when you’re in the middle of it, and you hope that it will come out really well, and then you come out and support it, and hope for the best, you know?”
So, had he been a fan of horror before shooting the movie?
“[Horror] is one of the genres that I haven’t been in yet, you know? And it was kinda cool that I got my shot at it. It’s good business, I mean they [do good] box-office.”
Very practical! I was surprised, though, that even though he’d starred in nearly 100 films he hadn’t ever done a horror movie before. I started with another question, but then out of nowhere some dude armed with dreadlocks and a cheesy, made-to-order Hollywood grin approached the actor as if they were great friends from way back and started chatting him up. I’m pretty sure Mr. Madsen had no idea who the fuck he was, but ever the nice guy (not to mention a terrific actor, both in the film and in general), he amiably exchanged pleasantries with the desperate hanger-on who had just interrupted his interview.
Well, there goes that. Truthfully, I was just happy to have gotten anything out of him.
I headed inside then, and I watched the movie. And I have to say, Mr. Bijelonic was right: the film did, indeed, boast lots of action and lots of vampires (not to mention serious boobage). If their aim was to make a balls-out, modern-era exploitation movie, they certainly did their damndest to deliver the goods. Moreover, the movie refreshingly doesn’t take itself too seriously. And why should it?
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