I read reviews. I do, I shouldn’t, but I do – some are funny, some are positive and some are painful to read, but time gives you comfortable perspective.
The movie ‘Hellbreeder’ (I co-wrote/co-directed/co-produced with Johannes Roberts) was shot in and around 2001 – at the time we set out with lofty ambitions of creating a unique art house horror movie. Shot on multiple formats, characters talk direct to camera and have their inner thoughts expressed as subtitles. It had dream sequences, black and white, flashbacks, gruesome body horror, nudity and even Darren Day wielding a samurai sword – what more could you want?
Well, distributors wanted a hell of a lot less actually. All of the craziness had to go – nix the talking to camera, cut the voice over, bin the multiple formats – but leave in the gore, the nudity and Darren Day wielding a samurai sword. Add in a new scene explaining the whole plot (to be fair it was pretty confusing). Then create some artwork that gives away the only surprise in the movie (the killer clown) and you’re onto a winner… well actually a bit of a stinker.
I have a lot of fond memories of the shoot for Hellbreeder; shooting non stop on a 48 hour slog, taking French actor ‘Dominique Pinon’ to ‘The Dungeon’ night club in Southampton and filming an exploding car with a clown on fire – now there’s something to tell the grandchildren about. It was our sophomore feature and we literally threw everything at the screen… but none of the good stuff stuck, it was ultimately cut down or cut out so we could get distribution.
But I should accept some responsibility – something reviews force you to do, although it turns out the more time that passes since you made it, the better it feels and the easier it is to face up to the bad stuff.
When you’ve just made a film its still very raw, you’ve put so much time and effort into it you don’t want to hear all the reasons someone else thinks its shit – but later down the line you can appreciate those mistakes, impartially judge if they actually matter and if they are big clunkers then learn from them.
Here’s a couple of video reviews for Hellbreeder I found – both spot on – both made me laugh and had me nodding along with the reviewers.