It’s two weeks later and my interviews from the 2014 Blood in the Snow Film Festival are still rolling out. Today, I have my conversation with writer/director Kyle Hytonen, producer/actor Dean Young, and actor Nigel Grinstead from the 1980s slasher homage Massacre at Femur Creek, which had its Toronto Premiere as part of the Short Film Showcase and also won the award for Best Poster. Before moving on to the interview, I thought that I should mention that, even though I ended up being personally a bit underwhelmed by the tone of the film (which I saw before the interview), I still still had an enjoyable time talking to these guys about their inspirations behind it. Also note, that the interview might include a few SPOILERS for the short.
Sean Kelly: How did you get the idea for the short?
Kyle Hytonen: It was just a love letter to making all the horror movies I watched when I was a kid, such as the Friday the 13th movies. When I had a film last year playing the festivals, it was a more serious film and seeing how the comedy horror movies worked and how people just loved them, that what sparked wanting to write a comedy. And then having connections with these guys, knowing I could get laughs out of it for sure, that is basically how it all came to be.
Sean: It was very obvious that it was a homage back to 1980s slasher films. Were you a fan of those types of films?
Kyle: Oh yeah, absolutely. I grew up on them – I saw my first naked woman thanks to Friday the 13th. Like I say, it’s a passion project more than anything and just to be able to get out there and say that these are the movies that I grew up watching. This is the love letter, like I said.
Sean: What specific films inspired you?
Kyle: All the early Friday the 13ths, New Year’s Evil, Terror Train. Any movie that had a serial killer with a plastic mask basically.
Nigel Grinstead: Halloween III?
Dean Young: My first naked lady was Jaws – the “It Hurts” lady, who gets eaten at the beginning.
Kyle: You’re putting death and naked ladies together.
Dean: I know. Don’t do that!
Sean: What made you decide to go for a more comedic tone for this?
Kyle: Getting an audience reaction was a big part of it. To do low budget horror films really well – to scare the s*** out of people – you have to have a really high concept or a hell of a lot of money or whatever. So, to do something on the low, on the cheap and still get laughs – get a reaction out of people – that was kind of what it was. And then, like I say, having people love the movie. It’s a t-shirt movie basically – it’s a movie you want to put on a t-shirt. Hence right there (points at Dean’s t-shirt).
Dean: Literally, yeah.
Sean: It’s definitely my favourite poster of Blood in the Snow.
Kyle: Oh yeah? Nice.
Sean: It’s a very interesting design for the killer. How did you come up with that?
Kyle: The mask I found in a Halloween store, like one of those stores that’s only open for a month in October, and it was just hanging on a rack. I was originally going to use mosquito net masks. That was the original idea and I thought something funny like that, but then I saw that mask and, like I say – New Year’s Evil, Terror Train, Halloween III – all those beautiful plastic masks and that’s kind of where it came from. It just looked good.
Dean: It would be timely if you did one of those plague doctors with the bird mask.
Nigel: Just a put a pyramid on his head. They never done that before.
Dean: Back to Femur Creek?
Kyle: The Ebola mask.
Sean: The film also plays with the whole thing that the killer never stays dead.
Kyle: Yeah, you cut the guy’s d*** off and he’s still going to come at you basically.
Sean: How much was the budget, since there’s some pretty decent gore effects?
Kyle: The whole thing was raised on IndieGoGo money.
Sean: Actually, I found that IndieGoGo campaign when I was doing a little research on the film.
Kyle: Nice. So, the whole thing was raised with that and I passed the initial goal, which was $1100, and every dollar that it raised and raised, I was able to up the ante on everything – up the ante on the talent, up the ante on the props, the locations, and the gore as well.
But really, the gore was like some plastic tubing that I bought at Walmart, a big-ass syringe that I bought on eBay and a collage kit to pump it out. That’s really all it was.
It’s old school right? Like Tom Savini in Friday the 13th just squirting blood out of Kevin Bacon’s neck. It worked then, still works now.
Sean: I love the behind the scenes on Friday the 13th. Like for Kevin Bacon, his whole body was not real.
Kyle: Yeah, at least these guys didn’t have to do that.
Kyle: I think you had the tube running up your arm.
Dean: Yeah, but I did get covered head to toe for sure. I didn’t mind.
Kyle: It felt nice and warm in that summer wind?
Dean: It did yeah.
Sean: Then there’s the music, which is like an 1980s score.
Dean: The music for it was amazing.
Kyle: There were two guys that did the music. One guy’s name is Greg Barnes and he’s based out of Michigan. I found him on YouTube, because I was looking for synth guys and YouTube is a great way to look for indie artists that don’t have exposure or anything like that. So, I found him and then, when the IndieGoGo campaign was running, I found Thomas Jupiter-8 from France. He contacted me, because we spammed the same websites when we were doing our campaigns, and said “I do synthesizer music, I love John Carpenter.” I went “OK, sure let me see what you got” and his stuff’s amazing and you can tell obviously in the movie.