It's war between heaven and hell in Alleluia! The Devil's Carnival, making its world premiere tonight at Hollywood's Egyptian Theatre ahead of its upcoming US tour. We recently caught up with director Darren Lynn Bousman and writer/actor Terrance Zdunich (who plays Lucifer) to talk about the highly anticipated musical film follow-up to 2012's The Devil's Carnival.

On the decision to have heaven as the setting of the sequel:

Darren Lynn Bousman: We always knew that Devil’s Carnival was about more than just the carnival. When we did part one, heaven is only glimpsed at for a few seconds. And we knew that the next one that we did, we had to give heaven the same amount of time we gave hell.

After Devil’s Carnival 1 was completed, Terrance and I started talking about what would heaven look like and what could we do to make the audience excited to see heaven.

Terrance Zdunich: We wanted to do something bigger than we did with the first one, and this one is a feature-length film, whereas the first one was basically a 60-minute trailer for the idea. We wanted to introduce audiences to new characters and new landscapes. It seemed natural that if we set the first episode in hell, the next one we get to see what heaven looks like. In this film, we’re introduced to God’s angels.

On the look and atmosphere of heaven in Alleluia! The Devil's Carnival:

Darren Lynn Bousman: Heaven is the actual hell in our story. We tried to spin it as hell being the fun, boisterous, loud place that you want to hang out and go to and heaven is the oppressive, kind of horrible place that no one wants to be sent to. We give you a peek behind the curtain of heaven and nothing is what it seems.

We wanted heaven to have this very art deco, beautiful and grandiose look to it, but in reality it’s anything but that. The shots are huge and there are tons and tons of extras walking around everywhere. Everyone’s got a smile on their face, everyone couldn’t be happier. But when you peek behind the curtain just a little bit, you see that everyone’s miserable, that the smiles are fake—in some instances literally cut into their faces.

Terrance Zdunich: We wanted to do something that hopefully audiences haven’t seen before, but it also needed to be complimentary with what we had established in hell’s carny theme park. We went with a more grandiose, manicured, artificial take for heaven. It looks like you’re watching an otherworldly version of Roger Rabbit. Everything is very over the top. And you can’t do heaven and hell and not have a little tongue in cheek, so we’re very aware of that and we wanted to poke fun and be blasphemous when we could, but also be a dark musical. The whole point is to escape into a fantasy world for 90 minutes and hopefully walk away humming a song.

On what to expect from the musical numbers of the sequel:

Darren Lynn Bousman: The musical numbers are so different, just from a stylization of music. It’s big band, it’s Hollywood’s Golden Age, it’s brass, it’s people jitterbugging around the place. It’s a much, bigger, more grandiose environment than hell ever was.

It’s funny, my first short film I ever did in film school was a musical called Winter Follies. Before I got into directing horror films I was directing musicals and I fell into doing horror films because I could not get a musical made. All three musicals are different. Repo is Victorian Goth-punk. The first Devil’s Carnival is very rock and roll mixed with jug band. This is Hollywood’s Golden Age—big band, peppy music, so I’m getting to play around and experiment with stuff that I’m fascinated by.

Terrance Zdunich: Both sides of the war are featured in music. But we took a different approach this time and the story has flashbacks and it goes into the history of both the Kingdom and the impending war. So even with the hell stuff, we were able to explore some different stylizations because it’s the past versus the present.

The music of heaven is modeled after the 1930s Golden Age of Hollywood sound, when everything was big and brassy and seemed happy. But of course we put our devilish twist on everything, so you get this demented big band sound.

On Lucifer having a bigger role this time around:

Terrance Zdunich: In this film, the devil has a much bigger role. In the first film he was a puppet master lurking in the shadows and he wasn’t brought to the front until almost the end of the movie. But this film pretty much opens up with him being full-blown crazy in your face. You get to really see how he runs his world and how God runs his, and of course those two methods are incompatible.

On what to expect from the premiere and the early stage of the multi-month road tour:

Darren Lynn Bousman: It’s bigger this time. Specifically what we’re about to do for the premiere is much bigger than anything we’ve done before from the actual event side of it.

That’s what makes it unique—the fact that the cast and filmmakers are showing up. It’s not just, “Hey, go see the movie,” but the actual people who made the movie attend it as well.

The first week’s roadshow will include Barry Bostwick, Emilie Autumn, Marc Senter, and J. LaRose. Every week we’ll announce who’s showing up at specific theaters.

Bousman on the status of his upcoming film Abattoir:

Darren Lynn Bousman: Abattoir is still in post. Actually, the day after the premiere [of Alleluia! The Devil’s Carnival], I go on a plane to fly to Baton Rogue to finish the color and sound on it. The thing with Abattoir that’s kind of crazy is we didn’t realize how many visual effects it actually had. So the process got stalled a little bit just for the sheer number of visual effects in the movie. It will be finished in about three weeks and I can’t wait for everyone to see it. It’s my take on the haunted house film and it’s pretty crazy and out-of-the-box and I think people are really going to dig it.

Lin Shaye, Dayton Callie (the Ticket-Keeper in The Devil’s Carnival), Jessica Lowndes (who was in the first Devil’s Carnival as Tamara), and Joe Anderson (the new Mason Verger on NBC’s Hannibal) are in it. It’s this really dark, macabre story about this guy (played by Dayton Callie) who is buying crime scenes and then taking the crime scenes out and building a house of just crime scenes in the middle of a forest.


To learn more or purchase tickets for the Alleluia! The Devil's Carnival roadshow, visit:

  • Derek Anderson
    About the Author - Derek Anderson

    Raised on a steady diet of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books and Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Derek has been fascinated with fear since he first saw ForeverWare being used on an episode of Eerie, Indiana.

    When he’s not writing about horror as the Senior News Reporter for Daily Dead, Derek can be found daydreaming about the Santa Carla Boardwalk from The Lost Boys or reading Stephen King and Brian Keene novels.