Darren Lynn Bousman and Terrance Zdunich kicked off The Devil’s Carnival road tour on April 5th in Los Angeles. Since then, they have been hitting various cities across the US and I had a chance to check out the Pittsburgh stop. Mixing elements of a live show with a 1 hour short musical film, The Devil’s Carnival offers an entertaining and unique experience, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the event improves over time.
The Pittsburgh stop marks the halfway point for the tour, doesn’t it?
Terrance: Yeah, today is the halfway point. It is the first day that we’ve really had an afternoon off.
Last time we spoke, you talked about difficulties of setting up the tour. Now that you’re at the halfway point, have things gotten any easier?
Darren: Today was the very first day in 22 days that we’ve had a free moment. And even in that free time, I’ve been answering emails. It’s been awesome because every city has a line around the block and fans dressed to the nines ready to support us. But, instead of being able to completely enjoy all of that, I’m concerned about having enough air in the tires to get us to the next stop or making sure the DVD works. Last night, the DVD automatically ejected, causing a complete hold on everything.
What is the fan reaction to the film and music? This is the first time people are seeing and hearing it. What’s it like to see everyone excited and dressed up, but not knowing exactly what to expect?
Terrance: I think it’s great, but it’s always a weird mixture of feelings. I have anxiety every night about that very thing. We met a guy in Nashville who already got a tattoo, which is awesome, but he hasn’t seen the movie yet. He’s basing it on the fact that he thinks what we do is cool. If he has a change of opinion after watching the film, he’s stuck with it on his arm.
With that said, it seems like the crowd is really enjoying it and the momentum is growing. There is a lot of hype and people seem to be digging the songs, indentifying with characters, and dressing up as them.
Have you noticed any fans that are following you at multiple stops?
Darren: Yes, we had one guy that took a bus 18 hours to get to us and then drove fans for five stops. Someone else followed us to 7 stops, starting at Chicago. It’s really, really cool, but scary because people plan their trips and lives around this. What if we suck? What if we’re terrible? I think we’re cool, but you never know if someone who spends all of this money will like this.
Are you thinking about adding more cities after Las Vegas? That’s currently listed as the last stop.
Darren: This is the beginning of many tours. We have a lot of money to make back and we want to make more episodes, so we’ll do as many tours as we can to break even. We’re doing great and sell out most nights, but the problem is that selling out of theaters doesn’t begin to recoup what we spent making the film. I don’t know how soon it will be after this tour, but we’ll definitely do at least one more tour. We’re also talking about a UK road tour as well.
That’s great to hear about the possibility of a UK tour. We’ve had a number of readers already asking about it.
Darren: It costs us X amount of dollars to show up in a city. At some theaters, we’re operating at a loss even if we sell out an auditorium. We’re doing this mainly for exposure to let people know who we are. It’s just six of us in a van and it’s punk rock filmmaking.
Owning your own business can be tough, but I feel like the freedom and flexibility is worth the added stress. Do you feel the same way?
Terrance: The freedom is really what it is about. When it is all said and done, there are pros and cons. It is our work and it feels like our neck is in the noose in some ways, but we’re under a lot of stress right now. Every once in a while, I step back and think of how awesome it is when I walk pass someone dressed up. It’s cool to sit back and watch your art come to life really speaking to people. It’s infectious to even people who are involved that don’t necessarily have as much stake into it as Darren or I have. Emilie Autumn came out the last two stops and is coming out again for another 4 stops. Our hope is that things continue to grow.
Shortly after our interview, the event started with a brief Q&A with Darren and Terrance for special ticket holders. After that, the doors opened for everyone and the theater was packed within minutes. Darren had previously mentioned that they would have a different act at each stop and a local magician kicked off the show. The performer walked over broken glass while getting out of a straight jacket. He kept the audience entertained and laughing, and it was a good start to the show.
Then the film segment of the show started, which comprised of two portions. The first was highlights, behind-the-scenes clips, and songs from Repo! The Genetic Opera, which led into the screening of The Devil’s Carnival.
The Devil’s Carnival is set up as an anthology film, following three new arrivals to hell. In this case, hell is set up as a bizarre carnival with even more bizarre characters. Some of the talents involved include Emilie Autumn, Dayton Callie, Briana Evigan, Sean Patrick Flanery, Bill Moseley, Paul Sorvino, and Ivan Moody.
I’m usually not a huge fan of musicals, but found the music and setting to be very enjoyable and polished. Terrance described the music as “sinisterly classical” and I think it perfectly described the type of music that I heard. The best compliment I can give the film is that it made me want to see more. It gave me a good sample of this world, but seems like there is so much to explore with this material.
What we’re getting with The Devil’s Carnival may only be a taste of what’s possible in the future, but that doesn’t mean that it was any less entertaining. Darren and Terrance have big plans, including more tours, more episodes, and the possibility of a TV series. I can see this eventually becoming a much bigger live music event, similar to attending carnival or large rock show. If you enjoyed Repo!, rock operas in general, or you’re just looking for something a little bit different, I’d say it’s definitely worth your time. It’s clear that this is a labor of love for everyone involved and is a chance for horror fans to support something unique.