We sat down with legendary axeman Slash to talk about his new horror movie production company, Slasher Films, their first release, Nothing Left to Fear, the seven gateways to Hell and, of course, music…
Starburst: Can you tell us a little about Nothing Left to Fear?
Slash: It’s a horror movie about a young family that relocates to a small community in rural, mid-west America on the pretence that they’re going to take over the congregation there and live this country lifestyle. They were asked to move there by the present Pastor who’s retiring. It turns out to be a very sinister plot that gets them there and everything goes horribly wrong.
The movie is based around the legends surrounding the Kansas town of Stull. How much do you know about these stories?
I’m very aware of it, more so now, when I first got the script I wasn’t. The writer told me I should look online and check it out. It turns out that Stull is literally one of these seven gateways to Hell – the others being in Europe and South America – and so that in itself was pretty fascinating.
Have you been to Stull yourself?
No. We wanted to shoot there but the community wasn’t very keen on us making this movie as it were. They definitely didn’t want us to shoot there. I’ve been through Kansas, but I’ve never been to Stull. I’m planning on going there at some point but I doubt we’ll get welcomed with open arms. The interesting thing about it is, if you read extensively through all the different points of view about Stull, there’s a lot of people defending its innocence, for want of a better word. There’s a lot of people that will say that that dilapidated church has been standing there since the 1700s and for the better part of the last 100 years, although it was torn down in in the ‘90s, it was a roofless frame for a long time and the actual crypt or cemetery that everybody is talking about being the gateway, the one where all the kids go and party and worship the devil that they had to fence off, is not really the cemetery at all. There’s another one that’s hidden and grown over that’s much more creepy than the one that’s infamous. It’s an interesting story and people defend it to the point that you want to ask a lot of questions about the origin of this. It’s not just a bunch of people from college that made it up, there’s always some deeper meaning behind these mythologies and there is a history going all the way back to the 1700s that there was witch burning there. There has to be a deeper truth to it than just a lot of rumours.
What was it about the NLTF script that made it the first production from Slasher Films?
It was just a great little story and sort of original. You’re dealing with a lot of familiar horror subjects but at the same time it had its own unique way of going about it. The seventh gateway of Hell possessing the younger sister was unique into itself. The God fearing young family being lured into this seemingly pleasant community on the pretence of happiness and a pleasant future for the kids and then it turning out to be something horrific. That was all really appealing to me. There were a few other good scripts as well at the time and we started developing four and the only one that didn’t really have any red tape and baggage attached was Nothing Left to Fear. Realistically, it was also the most financially feasible for a first time production company. All things considered, it was my favourite of the four stories because it was the simplest and the most innocent. It had that slow beginning where you meet this young family and it has this slow development and so it had a certain charm because of that. The other ones were flat out horror movies from the opening credit until the end.
Are you happy with the completed film?
It’s great. For something that we did for a couple million bucks, initially it was supposed to be more, I was really pleased with how it looks and how it sounds and how we managed to get the story together in a twenty day shoot. I thought we did a really good job. The director did great; any lesser director we would have had a cheap looking, low-budget, typical DVD bargain bin kind of movie. It ended up having a lot of really good qualities to it. There are things, of course, that I think are wrong with it, but I think every producer and director ends up thinking that way. All things considered, I think we did a great job.
What is the goal of Slasher Films?
It’s really an outlet for me to be able to produce horror movies that I like. I grew up on what I think are some of the great horror movies of the day, of the ’60s and ’70s and the ’80s as well, but then the genre took a turn in the late ’80s and ’90s where I lost interest in it. So given the opportunity to produce, I wanted to try and bring back more story driven and character driven feature style horror movies that were more about what you don’t see hiding in the dark that really scares you as opposed to just being jolted all the time. Something that was a little more psychological. When it comes down to it, something that really sets up and makes your hairs on your neck stand up and you’re waiting for something to happen. Right now, I think horror movies have become so dumbed down that you almost know exactly what’s going to happen and have all been about visually stunning you with dismemberment, eating of entrails and all of that kind of stuff and it’s more unnerving than it is scary.
Too much gore in lieu of scares.
Right. Some of them are good, they have their place, it’s cool and I watch them all the time but the ones that I really love were the ones that were more left to the imagination and I think that’s the style that’s always been my favourite. Movies that really put the fear of fucking God in you - that’s what I’m working towards.
So what’s your favourite scary movie?
That’s a tough one. I always revert to the movie I saw when I was about nine years old, which was The Omen. The acting was great, the story was great, the cinematography was great, the directing was great - it was just a really good movie that happened to be a scary movie. You don’t see that that often anymore.
Is this your first soundtrack?
I’ve been involved in a lot of scoring situations. I didn’t write but performed all of The Wrestler, the Darren Aronofsky movie, a couple of years ago and I did an entire score for a really low budget movie from a Mexican director named Olallo Rubio called This Is Not A Movie. I’ve had bits and pieces – I did a lot of work for Quentin Tarantino back in the ’90s where we just used bits of music for scenes, stuff like that – so I’ve been around for a while, but this is probably the first proper movie that I’ve sat and really scored and used a sound designer and scoring composer to orchestrate the music. It was definitely a unique experience for me and a stepping stone for all the next movies I’m going to make, I’ll definitely be involved with the score.
How easy was it to collaborate on the score with Nicholas O’Toole?
Nicholas is great. Because I don’t have a ton of scoring experience, he was great because I’d be able to sit down in my own comfort zone and write everything on the guitar and then give it to him. He would interpret it all in an orchestral format and we sat shoulder to shoulder doing this. He’s a really genius guy and really talented and it was good for me to be able to work with somebody like that and be able to realise the music that I was writing being done like that because I don’t have the time to sit down and score an entire movie by myself, I’m too busy with my own thing as far as music goes. I’ve got a band and records coming out all the time. So it’s great to sit and write something really natural and hand it over to someone like Nicholas and have him make it work. A lot of the stuff that we did while I was on the road was computer to computer. It was all very interesting, a lot of work, but a great learning experience for me.
What’s next in the pipeline for Slasher Films?
That’s what I’m trying to sort out now. I’m knee deep in scripts at the moment. I’ve been through probably about thirty-odd stories and reading a lot of books to see if there’s something I want to make. At this point I have a bunch of really great ones and it’s going to be a matter of deciding which one I want to do, so I’m pretty excited at the moment.
Is the plan to release one a year?
That really depends. The production process is normal, but the development process and the business behind getting a movie made is so fucking slow it’s unbelievable. So I would love to have one, two movies out a year. I think once I get the gears going I’ll be able to start doing that but it’s hard to say at this point if I can do it. I think I should be able to easily get one a year done but I’d like to be able to do more.
NOTHING LEFT TO FEAR is out now on Blu-ray/DVD/VOD.