Interview: Jim Towns | HOUSE OF BAD

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Jim Towns Interview

House of Bad, the acclaimed horror hit that's piling up the good reviews, has been snapped up for distribution by Osiris Entertainment.

The pic features an electric mix of young up-and-coming stars including Sadie Katz, currently starring in Chavez Cage of Glory, and Jobs co-star Clint Jung. Heather L. Tyler (Dexter), Cheryl Sands (Nip/Tuck) and Lisamarie Costabile (Rescue Me) are also part of the ensemble.

Written and directed by Jim Towns, House of Bad tells of three sisters on the run with a suitcase full of stolen drugs, yearning to break free from their sordid pasts. When the eldest sister Teig (Tyler) decides they’re going to hide out in their old, abandoned family house, its painful memories quickly become too real to fight off. Unable to distinguish dreams from reality, this attempt at a new lease on life turns into a race to survive.

Starburst caught up with director Towns to congratulate him on the acquisition and find out more about the little film that's getting big buzz.

House of Bad

Starburst: How would you describe the film? Horror? Thriller? Drama? It looks like it could be a combination of all three.

Jim Towns: I like to call it a ‘Haunted Heist’ film. It does blend a lot of different genres. There’s obviously the supernatural horror element of the house itself being haunted by the memories of what happened there. Then there’s the more physical terror of these three girls on the run with their stolen drugs, and the idea that the sister’s drug dealer boyfriend is hunting them to get his stash back and take revenge. Plus there’s a lot of family drama going on between the three sisters- issues that have been there since they were all little and are now boiling over. All those elements end up combining to build the tension within the house to a frenzied degree, so the audience can’t be sure where the next threat is coming from - outside or inside.

You co-wrote the script. Any films or filmmakers that influenced the direction or tone of the story?

I’m a classic film nut. Old Universal films like The Wolfman and Dracula and The Black Cat… these great old horror films whose dramas tended to play out in parlour rooms and bedchambers… that kind of claustrophobic narrative - like a stage play - was the way I knew we could build the ambient horror for the film, while keeping it focused around a single location.

The hardest part of doing an indy film is finding financing, what was your experience like?

House of Bad’s financing mostly came through our producers Scott Frazelle and Dorota Skrzypek. We did a small Indiegogo campaign as well. As the scope of the film (and its budget) grew, we brought in a few other backers, and Scott and Dorota and I had to dig a little deeper to get that quality up on the screen. We were fortunate that so many industry professionals - people who do the big shows here in LA - were willing to help our small film out, I guess mainly because they saw the quality of what we were doing and began to believe it was something special as well.

House of Bad

When did you know you had something good? Was it that first screening?

Films don’t always go the direction you originally planned, and sometimes they go in a direction you really wish they hadn’t and that’s happened to me in the past… but heading into House of Bad I already knew we were in great shape - my DP Chad Courtney is uber-talented and a great fella to work with. Our cast was incredible and all three girls looked gorgeous no matter how bruised and bloodied we got them. The shoot itself was fast and frenzied and is now a bit of a blur, but I remember even then watching dailies and being really pleased with the look and the feel of the footage. For a smaller-budget film we had a pretty healthy amount of coverage, and it took my editor Nina Lucia and I a while to craft all that into what you see - and longer for all the sound and score and visual effects to come together. So I’ve been very proud of House of Bad since the start. I think it’s a worthy addition to a long line of similar films, and it’s been great to read so many respected critics and film sites agreeing with me.

The film is being released as a DVD premiere. Did you initially hope for a theatrical, or in this day and age, do you think DVD is just as good as getting a cinema release?

There’s definitely a prestige to having a theatrical bow, of course. It’s great to see your film’s name up on the marquee. But it also complicates and delays your video release, which in the non-studio circle, is really your bread and butter. We’ve done a few select screenings around Los Angeles, and while I’d love to show the film around anywhere that would put it up, I think DVD and VOD are a much more direct conduit to viewers in the US and especially around the globe.

House of Bad

House of Bad is available on DVD in the US December 3rd with a UK release TBC.

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