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Interview: Paul Bunnell, Director of THE GHASTLY LOVE OF JOHNNY X

Written By:

Whitney Scott Bain

With a background in stand up comedy and the late, great Bob Hope as his idol and inspiration, it’s no wonder writer/director Paul Bunnell knows how to weave a fun tale of flying saucers, musical numbers, a love story and rock-and-roll all into one wonderfully entertaining film, The Ghastly Love of Johnny X. Starburst caught up with Mr. Bunnell to talk about his new movie… 

Starburst: What inspired you to make the Ghastly Love of Johnny X?

Paul Bunnell: Growing up in Los Angeles, we had all these great horror hosts like Jeepers Creepers and Seymour that introduced me to films like Teenagers From Outer Space, The Creeping Unknown (The Quatermass Xperiment), Invisible Invaders, Caltiki-the Immortal Monster… the list is endless! I decided that that was the kind of film I wanted to make for audiences one day.

The film has had quite the journey to screen, when did you begin production?

Production originally started in 2004 and we finished the film in late 2011. The dedicated cast and crew stuck by the project and I am deeply grateful to them. There’s one scene where Bliss and Chip arrive at the drive-in movie theater that we shot in 2004. They get out and perform the dance number in 2011 and you can’t tell there’s a six-year difference between the shots!

We loved the cinematography, very striking. Can you tell us how you achieved that look?

We shot it on the last of the Kodak Plus-X 5321; a stock which will never be made again. Kodak scoured the country for us and we received Plus-X film ranging from short ends to full reels. The Artist was going to use the stock we had, but decided to shoot in 35mm colour and desaturate the look to black and white, so historically, we are the last ever film to be shot on Kodak Plus-X 5231 as there is no more.

Mickey O’Flyyn is an integral character in the film, how did The Office’s Creed Bratton get the part?

Originally, I wanted George Chakiris (West Side Story) for the role, but he didn’t think he was right for the part. I went to a revival screening of Phantom of the Paradise and Paul Williams was there where I told him about the project. He was interested, I went through his agent and he read the script. He loved the role of Mickey O’Flynn, but by the time I got the money together to shoot the scene, he had other commitments. He’s now the head of ASCAP which deals with music rights. He still liked the project, so I wrote the Cousin Quilty part for him which he’s teriffic in. 

I then hired a casting director and this agent kept sending me Creed Bratton’s headshot. So, at the 11th Hour, we needed somebody and I thought, why not give him a chance and he turned out to be a great choice for the role.

So, persistence does pay off!

It does!

Where will we be able to see the film?

It will be available soon on DVD & Video On Demand from Strand Releasing, and the UK festival circuit is next.

Read our review of The Ghastly Love of Johnny X by going HERE.

Whitney Scott Bain

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