Poltergeist meets IT in Clowntergeist, premiering on VOD September 12 from High Octane Pictures!
Emma, a college student with a crippling fear of clowns, must come face to face with her worst fear when an evil spirit in the body of a clown is summoned terrorizing the town she calls home. One by one Emma and her friends receive a balloon with the exact time and date of when it will appear to kill them written on it. After receiving her balloon, Emma realizes that she has two days left to live, and must fight against the clock to find a way to survive.
From writer-director Aaron Mirtes comes the film critics say may “reignite your killer clown phobia”*, Clowntergeist out 9/12 from High Octane Pictures.
How many months have you been on the promo trail for the film now?
This is my first month, so I’m still fresh and excited!
Is it something you enjoy – talking about the movie?
In terms of the film itself, how close to it are you? Is it like a child you’re sending out into the world?
It’s more like a 40-year-old child named Broderick that lives in your basement and won’t find a girlfriend or get a job and won’t stop eating your food. You love him, but you really want him out of the house. I have spent the last three years on this movie. I’m so happy with it and I’m so ready for people to see it and for it to get out into the world. But even if Broderick is eaten by leopards immediately upon leaving the house, I know it was still the best thing for him.
What was it about this particular project that appealed to you?
The clowns! When I first started this in 2014 (long before the clown craze) I was looking for a clown movie to watch one night and then realized there were none! There was It, Stitches, Amusement, and that’s all. I wanted to make a monster movie that was exciting, fun, unique, and added to the growing legacy of scary clown movies. My goal, honestly, was to show up when you googled “best scary clown movies”.
Are horror fans going to dig it?
Do horror fans like clowns, ice cream truck car chases, snapped-open ribcages, cat-and-mouse chases, suspense, neon lighting, blood, and guts?
Was there a check-list of things you HAD to have in the film?
The biggest thing was the 1950’s neon kitschy vibe. I knew I wanted to stray away from the whole circus theme. We’ve seen it a thousand times with scary clowns. I wanted a neon, retro-Americana, 1950’s, kitschy John Waters vibe to the movie. The starting point for this was the old ice cream shop, the ice cream truck, the Suspiria-esque neon lighting, and the ice cream man.
Also, my ice cream truck car chase. I HAD to have it! I wanted to re-create my love for Duel with an ice cream truck and by god we did it!
It is comforting to see people covering the movie, and genuinely getting behind it?
Yes! I was so thrilled when people really took to it. Even the ones making fun of us! I’m well aware that Clowntergeist is a stupid title. People, though, seem to be really excited to see the movie and have fun with it. It’s called Clowntergeist for god’s sake, it better be a fun movie! This is also my first feature. I wanted to make something fun, light, and a little zany. I think Clowntergeist really delivers. I also truly think it’s better than any movie called Clowntergeist has any right to be.
They said that a theatrical release is only a ‘promo’ for a VOD/DVD release these days. What’s your take?
For small movies, this is a great model. Release it in theatres in a few hot spots, get the buzz going, maybe hit a few festivals, and then let people watch it on VOD. This isn’t a good model for blockbusters, but when you’re a tiny movie it’s perfect.
Will we all, at some time, be watching films on VOD only?
No way. Movies have been available on VOD for over 10 years now. If it was going to blow up the film industry like iPods or Kindles blew up the music and book industries we would have seen that by now. Getting music and books onto your devices and taking them with you is simple. Listening to music from a CD is the same as listening to it on an iPod. It doesn’t matter if you take a physical book or a Kindle down to the beach. However you just can’t watch a movie on your phone in a doctor’s office and truly enjoy it. You’d also never say “Nah, I’ll skip this giant-budget movie I’m absolutely dying to see and see it on VOD.”. The theatre won’t die, and VOD will just be another option added to the pile.
As for the fate of the DVD and Blu-Ray. The writing has been on the wall for years, and yet sales for physical movies continue to thrive. I am, naturally, a Blu-Ray junkie. I think, like music and books, physical media will never die, but its share of the marketplace will shrink. I’m just curious to see how much it will shrink.
I went to Barnes and Noble for their 50% off Criterion DVD/Blu-Ray sale and the guy said they had extended the sale since it has been their biggest and most profitable one yet. So clearly there’s still an interest in physical media.
How much do you love the theatre, though? The genre film is almost made for it, isn’t there?
I adore the theatre. I wish we had a big theatrical release (doesn’t everyone?) however I think you can get a very similar experience curled up on the couch with a big group of friends and a big TV. Horror films are best in groups. Any way you can make that happen is okay with me!
If a film of yours isn’t getting a big screen release do you usually try and set-up a screening for it in a theatre anyway? Or get it a festival run? So that those that want to see it on a huge creamy screen can.?
It’s not so much the size of the screen I really want. I want to do a theatre screening with a group of strangers. To me, seeing how a crowd reacts is the fun part. We haven’t done that for Clowntergeist, but I’m already planning a way to get my new movie (coming out summer 2018!) in front of a few crowds.
With film fans themselves being the biggest supporter of sci-fi, horror and fantasy movies, should genre films be excluded from film criticism?
Sci-fi and fantasy movies like Lord of The Rings, Avatar, Inception, District 9 and Gravity are frequently recognized and lauded by critics. Horror movies are the one genre that never get properly recognized and frequently get put down.
Critics kind of hate horror movies. Movies like Insidious, The Strangers, Saw, The Village, Final Destination, and I Know What You Did Last Summer are attacked and disliked by critics despite being excellent movies. Classic horror films such as Friday the 13th, The Thing, The Shining, and Psycho were all panned and mocked upon release!
Horror films, however, shouldn’t be excluded from film criticism. It’s part of the game! And there are plenty of wonderful film critics out there.
You just have to take each review as it comes. Something like Rotten Tomatoes is irrelevant when it comes to horror movies. Take a movie like Get Out. Amazing horror movie, right? It got a 99%. It lined up with critic’s taste. However I wouldn’t say Get Out is any better than something like The Strangers which currently holds a 45%.
Critics definitely have a specific taste in horror movies, and each review should be taken individually. Find horror critics you trust and go with them.