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Anybody in the world of extreme cinema, and Charlie Sheen, can tell you that the Japanese Guinea Pig films set the status quo for faux snuff – and that was back in the 1980s! The second film of the series, Flowers of Flesh and Blood is the most notorious entry – and the simplest – a man, dressed as a samurai, ritualistically dismembers a women for almost the entire length of the film. It is a film that stares right back at the viewer questioning ‘Who are YOU for watching this?’
Fast-forward to 2014 and Unearthed Films CEO Stephen Biro has obtained the rights to make the next installment – American Guinea Pig: Bouquet of Guts and Gore – the first of possibly eight (!) new installments in the Guinea Pig saga.
GoreZone was invited to speak with the cast and crew about this, probably the most highly anticipated movie in underground film in over a decade. In addition to Stephen Biro, actresses Ashley Lynn Caputo and Caitlyn Dailey, actors Eigh8t the Chosen One and Scott Gabbey, special effects maestro Marcus Koch, and musicians Jimmy Screamerclauz and Kristian Day joined GoreZone for a very special round-table discussion about this highly anticipated film.
GOREZONE – This first question is for Stephen – The Guinea Pig films are notorious in the world of horror, and many horror fans have a knee-jerk negative reaction to anything resembling a ‘Remake’ or ‘Reboot’ – while this is distinctly AMERICAN Guinea Pig, a creature of its own and NOT a remake, how would you describe and sell Bouquet of Guts and Gore to the gore-hound who in fact just sees this as a remake?
STEPHEN BIRO – Hard question… I’ve loved the Guinea Pig films for decades, and I’ve always dreamed of releasing them in the States, when I got my hands on them with my business partner Paul White, we tried to get the rights to start a new series they didn’t even want to sell us the rights, but eventually they did. I would have to say look at is as a continuation of the series, Bouquet bridges the gap between the new and the old – with as many sharp teeth as we can stick into its smiling face.
GZ – For Caitlyn and Ashley – did you have ANY idea what you were getting yourselves into? Is this a movie you will be talking to the family about during the holidays?
ASHLEY LYNN CAPUTO – I had somewhat of an image of, but the entire experience was intense. Every day is an awesome day to talk about this movie! It’s amazing!
CAITLYN DAILEY – As for myself, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Stephen said he needed another girl and I said I was down. My mind instantly thought of the violence in Hatchet 3 but what I didn’t realize is that this goes beyond it. This takes everyone out of their comfort zones and makes them feel insane for the length of the film. I was not prepared for this, but I am glad I did it, and honestly, I don’t think my family could handle it!
GZ – For Eigh8t – Rob Zombie distinctly told Malcolm McDowell NOT to watch Carpenter’s Halloween prior to playing Dr. Loomis in the remake, so as not to have any prior influence, were you a fan of Flowers of Flesh and Blood prior to starting this project, and if so did you channel any inner-samurai for your performance?
Eigh8t the Chosen One – I am a fan, but I did not re-watch it for this. When going through Stephen’s script, it was a very gripping and grinding and slow tortuous read. I wanted to bring something like I was reading, and it did not scream samurai, if you know what I mean.
GZ – For Marcus – Your effects in this film legitimately made me want to take a shower after it was over – what was the most difficult scene/shot to pull off in Bouquet of Guts and Gore? How much of the red stuff did you use?
MARCUS KOCH – The effects were a huge challenge because let’s face it, this was the end all-be all gore film of its time, and this should be no exception. It was some seriously big footprints to try and follow in without just rehashing what was done before, and trying to figure out the best way to take it to the next level, we knew that this was going to be no easy task. With a very small budget, it was going to have to hit the mark that we set for ourselves, come hell or high water.
SCOTT GABBEY – I’d like to say that one of the highlights for me, personally, was watching Marcus work his FX magic.
Marcus – The most difficult thing I feel, was that in most films, an effect or gag will only last a few seconds on frame, whereas with Bouquet everything was happening on camera, very slowly, and outside of cutting to another camera, there were really no cut-always at all, just switching between VHS and 8mm film. Everything is on screen as its happening.
Stephen – That was the hard part for Marcus and the FX team, it was done all in order, and so once a leg is sawed off you can’t stick it back on for another take.
Marcus – When I first saw the Guinea Pig films, back in high school, it was of course on a bootlegged VHS, and it blew my mind. After that I always said ‘I want to be able to do that – I want my FX work to be that amazing!’ Who knew that 10 years ago I would meet Stephen? Who knew that 10 years later, we would not only become good friends, and he’d get all his ducks in a row with the producers of the original series and start the ball rolling on creating the next series of new films, and that I’d get to handle the FX? It’s crazy how things come full circle.
GZ – Not only full circle, but word is you will actually be directing the second installment of American Guinea Pig?
Marcus – As far as directing goes, well, as Bill Murray once said, ‘Baby steps…,’ but yes, it might be the next installment, or it might be a later one, but at some point, I’ll tackle directing one. What I love about the Guinea Pig series is that with Bouquet of Guts and Gore done, it really is the only film to tie the two films together – they are bookends, and the perfect springboard to jump into a new set of films. Now we can explore wild and strange new stories that don’t always necessarily have to be pure torture and gore per-say, but now we can move into more fantastical story lines – of course with a heavy hand in some extreme splatter along the way!
GZ – For Scott – as president of Ultra Violent it really is only appropriate you are a part of this team – how did you initially get involved with Bouquet of Guts and Gore?
Scott – I’ve known Stephen for a very long time. In fact, he got me an interview with Hideshi Hino in 2004 for Issue 6 of Ultra-Violent, so I’m definitely not a stranger to the series. It’s amazing that everything has come full circle ten years later being a part of Bouquet. Stephen and I worked together on Jim VanBebber’s short film Gator Green, and after that, he asked me to be a part of American Guinea Pig, and of course, I accepted the offer.
Stephen – I thought Scott got me drunk and whispered in my ear over and over again… “Put me in the new Guinea Pig… Put me in the new Guinea Pig.”
Scott – I did get you drunk and whisper in your ear, Stephen, but I think you misunderstood what I was saying. [Laughs]
GZ – For Jimmy and Kristian – Was there a process when it came to composing the score – was there a specific mindset you found you were able to tap into or did it just kind of come more naturally?
JIMMY SCREAMERCLAUZ – Stephen and Marcus just gave me a general direction that they wanted me to go with and I recorded something like 18-20 tracks over a 3 week period, which were mostly a combination of noisy sound collages and more minimal drones I played on my USB keyboard. Then I sent it to them and they cut it and mixed it with Kristian’s music and layered it over their visuals.
KRISTIAN DAY – Anxiety, pure anxiety! I worked with different sounds that created tension without any release – like in the trailer when you hear all these mechanical noises as if it will lead to a climax and then it just sort of breaks and disjoints. I messed around with a Buddha machine as well as chopped up some Japanese folk tunes. At one point I got really into it and I felt I was texting Marcus several times a day and was like “I got something else!” I built a microphone out of a beer can, contact mic, and sink drain and used that to capture a lot of “tinny” sounds.
Eigh8t – You can really see during a live show how much those sounds irritated the audience. I love those sounds from beginning to end, they just suck the viewer in even deeper.
GZ – For Caitlyn and Ashley – You are both lying on the beds, in character… what goes through you minds, or rather, what mindset did you find helped with the more difficult scenes – and what in fact was the most difficult scene for you both? And for Scott and Eigh8t – Conversely, what mindset helped you the most when it came being on the other side and ruining these beautiful women’s days?
Caitlyn – Stephen had said he wanted us drugged and so I put myself into that mindset – the idea that I was in a nightmare that I couldn’t escape, move or even express emotion in. I tried to use my eyes to expose what I was feeling.
Scott – I didn’t realize the connection to Last House on Dead End Street until we were on the set, and I was looking at the beds from the balcony. From that point forward, I was channeling my late friend Roger Watkins.
Eigh8t – For me, just being in the moment. Being on the set, the “creep factor” was already at 100% so I was running with that, and I was lifting weights to keep the blood going between takes. Putting that mask on and being covered in blood while hacking off limbs will get you in a zone you have never felt before.
Caitlyn – As far as the scene that was the most difficult, I would say it was probably the initial waking part. It was like a ‘this is it’ moment, this is where it really begins. It was the moment I asked myself, “Are you ready?”
Ashley – The most terrifying scene to shoot was the gas mask car scene. No one could see, the ride was scary, and I had my feet right next to the gas pedal with my ribs in front of the shifter and my shoulder on Caitlyn with her in the passenger seat. The creepiest part was being in a warehouse with all of this going on at night. There was a moment when Eigh8t first sliced my arm – it felt so real, then someone in background asked if it was a real blade so Eigh8t had to show them, and me it wasn’t! Posing as victim, I had seen other the Guinea Pig movies, and secretly, my back was in pain that weekend, so it was easier if I squished a little pillow under back. I couldn’t move at all.
GZ – For anybody – certainly the tone of this film not a light one, were there any moments on-set that stand out – be it pranks or jokes or anything – that helped liven up the mood?
Ashley – It was scary that Caitlyn and I had no interaction with Eigh8t before we were all in scene together.
Caitlyn – I have to agree with Ashley. Although, he was super awesome and always asked to make sure we were comfortable between takes.
Ashley – Someone stole a cast of my head!
Stephen – Yeah, someone stole Ashley’s head the first night of shooting. It was an actual prop. The guy who did it probably doesn’t know what he has.
GZ – Did you want that cast of your head for yourself?
Ashley – Yes, Eigh8t was an angel. I certainly thought it would be melted and reshaped, so no, I didn’t want it, but it was very creepy and gave me an odd violated feeling.
Stephen – We would tell amputee jokes now and then, they knew better then to bring up dead baby jokes!
Eigh8t – Also someone lost a necklace and cross that was very important for the film. I won’t say any names though. [Long pause] Yep, it was me.
Marcus – A quick nod to my crew who helped me – Melanie Dean, Chris Polidoro, and Shelby McIntyre. They were a huge help when it came to casting up the bodies, and pouring silicone. Even Stephen got involved with the FX side of things and got to see how the other side lives – he’s got a good understanding of what it takes to make these types of films, and with that I think he knows the special effects are just as much a key player as the actors. Actually, I think the audio and soundscapes that Kristian and Jimmy did are also its own character or entity that demands you listen to it. It’s unsettling and luring, all at the same time – it gets under your skin and stays with you,
Scott – The entire film was an endurance test. Making it was an endurance test – as we shot it in a warehouse in the middle of summer with no air conditioning. Even getting through the script wasn’t an easy task, and certainly for the viewer it’s a major test of endurance. The whole thing is a big, “I dare you.”
GZ – Another for anybody question – – what was the most difficult part about making this film for you, personally – be it mindset/mental, physical, or emotional – what was the hardest hit you remember during it all, if any?
Scott – The hardest hit for me was going to the dollar store with Stephen to buy underwear for the girls.
Caitlyn – Because nowhere in Lakeland did they seem to have grey underwear!
Scott – It’s true! We went to more than one value store.
Jimmy – The hardest part for me was modeling the underwear for girls.
Stephen – For me it was when we made the announcement and the internet drew a collective big sigh – as in ‘America is going to screw up a beloved franchise that is historical in the horror industry!’
Eigh8t – For me, I can easily say the most difficult part was at the end when I am holding the ‘you know what.’ That absolutely scared of shit out of me! All I kept thinking was – ‘Don’t drop this! Don’t drop this! Don’t drop this!’
Caitlyn – I think the only difficult parts about making the film were the late nights. I am not a night owl so I think that was the hardest, but nothing else truly vexed me.
GZ – Also, for everybody – and remember, this is for GoreZone – what was your favorite part of the film?
Ashley – Watching Caitlyn being dismembered! [To Caitlyn] Sorry, girl! – as well as the secret to her bed!
Kristian – The rib cutting gag! Because that is when I turned it off. I was like “Well I’m done.” I tapped out on that part. It was so raw and got into my stomach. Bravo!
Jimmy – The look and feel of horribly disgusting gore FX on grudge 8mm and VHS – that aesthetic.
Stephen – For me it was writing up all the gore effects. What haven’t we seen done to a body yet? That was fun. I’m an old school gore-hound and I am confident in saying there is a lot of gore in Bouquet that hasn’t been done before. My favorite part of the film was the bleed-out – the thought of the killers just casually hanging out over the dying victim while her life drains away is crazy.
Caitlyn – My favorite part would probably be the jaw-scene, although the kidnapping scene is a close second, but that was just because of the car we got to ride in.
Eigh8t – I’d say either when I cut Caitlin’s face in half with the tongue effect afterwards, or me ripping off Ashley’s leg skin are my personal favorite moments in the film. But as for the film as a whole, the feel of it as a whole is truly creepy, disgusting, foul, twisted, & beautiful all at once.
Caitlyn – Or when he got the cops called on us.
Scott – Luckily, they came as we were setting up. If it had been a few hours later, it would’ve been an entirely different story!
Eigh8t – Who accidentally dialed the police? I won’t say any names [Long pause] Yea, it was me again [Laughs]
Scott – Again, for me, personally, the most exciting part of the shoot was watching Marcus pull off the FX. Nothing seems to affect him! The chainsaw was especially exciting too, because it was around 4am in a garage in a suburban neighborhood, and we had already been visited by the local police, and had a few nosey neighbors milling around.
GZ – For Marcus – what was your favorite effect of American Guinea Pig – what was the most fun? The most rewarding – the biggest payoff?
Marcus – Oddly enough, I was wanting so badly for any eyeball trauma gag to stand toe-to-toe to the first film, but I took more of an Un Chien Andalou approach to the eyeball gag – but I think the stuff that will really hit home with the audience is what happens to the jaw.
GZ – It’s funny you mention Un Chien Andalou, as that scene needs to be lumped with the greatest in horror, right next to Fulci and Corridori. Didn’t they actually use a real horse eyeball for that scene?
Marcus – I actually thought the same thing. I think it was a cow’s eye. The last time I saw it was in high school art class. I went back and revisited it, and I was like ‘Wow, how am I going to replicate that -the clear goo and everything – yuck!’
Jimmy – Yeah I think it was a cow’s eye too.
Marcus – There were times as I was editing the film that I had to walk away. It really started to stress me out, and I felt awful and sick. I can’t watch real gore – I’m a big pussy when it comes to the real videos, but this, this was just hours of it, non-stop. Just sitting in front of the monitor really started to affect me in that Clockwork Orange-kind of way, when he has the eye clamps on and is just forced to look at the screen. For the average viewer, they see it all in 73 minutes, but for me, this was a month of straight soul-crushing, mind-breaking trauma unfolding before my eyes.
Stephen – Marcus was editing Caitlyn, and I was editing Ashley, and we both had to stop a bunch of times – it was gore overload – and we were the ones who shot it!
Marcus – There are no screams, but the look in the girl’s eyes are equally as loud as a violent gut-wrenching scream. I think for those who indulge in extreme cinema, it will whet their whistle, but it’s not a film for just anyone, it’s not a popcorn film. It’s not fun, it’s not a ‘leave your mind at the door and enjoy yourself’ kind of film – it’s grim. It’s bleak. It’s just so fucking dark and full of utter tragedy that people and films like this can and do exist.
Stephen – I remember when Marcus and I both sat down to watch the first edit and were both squirming around like little schoolgirls watching Halloween for the first time [laughs].
Scott – After the premiere in Texas, this guy came up to me and said, “Man, I had so much dialog in my head throughout this thing. I kept thinking, “Do I like this? Should I get up and leave? Wait, I’m not a pussy!”
GZ – For Stephen – There is a LOT of hype around this film, in fact, – there is an IndieGoGo campaign for Bouquet of Guts and Gore with a goal of $2,000, and as of this moment, you have raised 545% of that, $10,545 – which just proves there is a LOT of anticipation for a film that could very well set the new status quo for faux-pas snuff films – just as Flowers of Flesh and Blood did back in ’86 – as well as almost unanimous praise from those who have seen it already, I guess the big question is, what do you see in Guinea Pig’s future?
Stephen – I see a series of unrepentant gore and atrocities all with unique storylines, as well as up and coming and established horror directors stepping up and working with me to bring this new series to disgusting life. If all goes to plan, we make five more in the series to make a total of eight – if we’re really lucky. I will then book-end the series by directing the last one.
GZ – Has there been many walk-outs or any other strong reactions from showings that you’ve seen?
Stephen – About 20 people for the first showing walked out. The second showing at Housecore Horror Film Festival, one person barfed and more than half of the audience had to walk out at the halfway point when they figured out it was just going to keep going. The fest promoters were loving it that it made so many people sick.
Scott – During the premiere at the Housecore Horror Film Festival, Steve and I were standing at the entrance, so I think people were intimidated, because if they were to walk out, they had to walk directly past the director and a cast member. I saw a lot of people squirming, and looking around for the exit, and of course, there were several who walked by us staring at their shoes.
Stephen – We set up a camera to show crowd reactions – a lot of the viewer’s told us that they wanted to leave, but no way did they want to be videotaped leaving. [Laughs] Hence the mass exodus during the second showing that we didn’t know about.
Kristian – I tell people the movie is alive and it doesn’t like you. So if you go into it knowing this you might make it 3/4s the way through. It’s tough, it’s brutal, and it has no hope.
Stephen – I think we all got lucky. Everyone came together for a perfect storm of guts and gore..
Buy your copy of AMERICAN GUINEA PIG: BOUQUET OF BLOOD AND GUTS HERE