"Revenge never dies" in Dead West, the new film from writer/director Jeff Ferrell. And with the road trip revenge thriller coming out on DVD via RLJ Entertainment this Tuesday, we caught up with Ferrell for our latest Q&A feature. In today's Horror Highlights, we also have photos from last week's Los Angeles fan screening of Rings and the trailer and release details for The Burningmoore Deaths.
Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for us, Jeff. How and when did you first come up with the idea for Dead West?
Jeff Ferrell: The idea for Dead West was born during the shooting of my first movie, Ghostlight. One night after filming, I was with the lead actor, Brian Sutherland, in his hotel room. We were drinking beers and throwing ideas around, when he suddenly said, “I really wanna play a serial killer. Write a serial killer movie for me.” And then I got the idea, what if we did a serial killer film with no on-screen violence, which focused solely on the characters and their psychology? We both loved the idea, so that got the wheels turning, and I developed the script from there.
Where did filming take place and what did those environments add aesthetically and atmospherically to your movie?
Jeff Ferrell: The filming took place entirely in Washington State, mostly in the Seattle area. Being a Washington native, I was very familiar with the vast array of different landscapes available in the state, which really helps when you’re shooting a road movie. There are around 30 locations in the movie, and each one is a real place with no production design or much in the way of set dressing added. That really adds to the authenticity of the locations, because they are all real places with a history. And that, in turn, added to the atmosphere of the movie that I wanted to convey, which is being on the road and visiting all these strange, quirky, roadside locations that you see all across America when you’re traveling on the highway.
What was the shooting schedule like for Dead West?
Jeff Ferrell: We shot the entire movie in only 12 days, which for a film of this size and scope, was very ambitious. There were around 30 locations and 30 speaking roles in the film, and sometimes we were shooting as many as three different locations a day, often quite far apart from one another. It was very challenging, to say the least. But thanks to the dedication and hard work of my cast and crew, we were able to pull it off.
Do you have any favorite road trip or revenge movies—horror or otherwise—that influenced you while making Dead West?
Jeff Ferrell: I love road movies, some of my favorites being David Lynch’s Wild at Heart, Dirty Mary Crazy Larry, Badlands, Detour, Vanishing Point, Thelma and Louise, Kalifornia, and Paris, Texas, which was the movie that cinematographer Ty Migota and I talked about the most in reference to the look of the movie we wanted to create with Dead West. Paris, Texas has this great combination of scenic road landscapes and colorful, highly stylized lighting, which was similar to the approach we took for our film.
As far as revenge movies go, some of my favorites are Rolling Thunder, I Saw the Devil, Vigilante, Death Wish, Ms. 45, Point Blank, Straw Dogs, and lots of the classic spaghetti westerns like Once Upon a Time in the West, The Great Silence, and Death Rides a Horse. I find myself attracted to revenge tales because they deal with the dark side of human nature, and the limits to which we are willing to push ourselves to avenge the wrong done to us or our loved ones, and the moral ambiguities of embarking upon such a quest of vengeance and violence.
When you look back at your time on set, is there a particularly funny or memorable moment that stands out?
Jeff Ferrell: We filmed a murder scene at a location called Oxbow Park in Seattle, where the giant hat and boots are located. We were forced to film the scene on Easter Sunday, and when we arrived at the location, there were about two dozen little kids having an Easter egg hunt in the park. So we had to wait for them to leave before we could begin filming the carnage. There was another time when we filmed a scene with an actress lying in a ditch on the side of the road, bloody and wrapped in plastic. Apparently it looked so real that a guy pulled off the highway and started to call 911, before we were able to stop him and reassure him that it was only a movie.
What was it like once again working with Brian Sutherland, who co-starred in your film Ghostlight, and what made him the right fit for the Ladykiller in Dead West?
Jeff Ferrell: It’s always great working with Brian. He’s one of my closest friends, and a dedicated and professional actor. He was cast as a last minute replacement in Ghostlight, and the experience of working with him on that film was wonderful. Since the idea for Dead West was created together with him, he was always the only choice to play the Ladykiller. And I think he did a really great job bringing the character to life.
Is this a world you would consider returning to in a potential sequel?
Jeff Ferrell: Yes. In fact, I have already written a sequel, which we are planning to film this year.
With Dead West coming out on DVD from RLJ Entertainment on February 7th, what projects do you have on deck that you can tease, and where can our readers find you on social media?
Jeff Ferrell: As I mentioned previously, I’m working on making a sequel to Dead West as we speak. I also have a couple more supernatural horror films lined up, as well as a horror anthology which is being directed by myself and some other filmmaker friends of mine. So you’ll be seeing several more films from me in the coming year.
My social media sites are:
www.facebook.com/jeffferrellmusic (I’m also a singer/songwriter, and this is my music page)
Rings LA Fan Screening Photos: "A new chapter in the beloved RING horror franchise. A young woman becomes worried about her boyfriend when he explores a dark subculture surrounding a mysterious videotape said to kill the watcher seven days after he has viewed it. She sacrifices herself to save her boyfriend and in doing so makes a horrifying discovery: there is a “movie within the movie” that no one has ever seen before…"
Directed by F. Javier Gutiérrez, Rings stars Matilda Lutz, Alex Roe, Johnny Galecki, Aimee Teegarden, Bonnie Morgan. Rings is now playing in theaters via Paramount Pictures.
Photos courtesy of Paramount Pictures:
The Burningmoore Deaths Trailer & Release Details: Press Release: "On February 14th, MVD Entertainment will release the feature film debut of Geoff Tate, former lead vocalist of the mega-platinum metal band Queensrÿche. Entitled THE BURNINGMORE DEATHS, the horror film - written and directed by Jonathan Williams - is inspired by true events surrounding unsolved murders captured on security cameras during a production shoot of a Home Improvement TV show pilot.
Tate takes on the role of James Parrish, a man who allegedly killed his own wife and three children before disappearing without a trace. With the home now vacated and boarded up, a home improvement company gets permission to film the renovation process for a test pilot for a TV network, not knowing that Parrish had returned to take up residence once again in the derelict building. Bloody chaos ensues - and it's all captured on camera!
THE BURNINGMORE DEATHS features an original score by Andrew Kadin with additional music by Dawn of Solace and Geoff Tate.
"I think I've always done it... In our own shows and with the way I present music," said Tate. "It all has a bit of a stage acting bend to it. So this wasn't really a stretch for me. It was just playing to a different audience, to a camera rather than a room full of people, but it's the same thing. You play-act and you make stuff up and you present that like you would in a stage show. "