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On Friday the 13th, we celebrate the red-carpet premiere of the blood-soaked Night Butcher 2, the feature film sequel to the horror short The Night Butcher.
The Night Butcher 2 is a modern, gory grindhouse hell ride. After performing a blood ceremony, binding them for life, Butcher (MrJ) and Vee (Victoria Venin) head to Las Vegas for their blood-splattered honeymoon. On their way, they torture and shed the blood of any human trafficker they come across, closing in on the most horrific trafficker of them all, Reaper (Robert Mukes).
MrJ is the multi-talented filmmaker and leading man of this bloody mayhem, following in the indie tradition of masting multiple aspects of filmmaking for this film, including director, writer, leading man, executive producer, SFX, SFX makeup, and editing. Daniel Monclova is the film’s executive producer, cinematographer, and associate director.
MrJ and Monclova share with us their filmmaking influences, how this film came to be, and the importance of indie filmmaking.
How did you become interested in horror?
MrJ: I’ve been watching them since I was five, I think. And it just started from there, writing little stories. Using my sister as a victim. Then my dad ended up buying me a little VHS camera. And just since then.
Monclova: I myself have been watching the horror genre, [since] probably about the same age, back when there’s the original Jason, Halloween, and whatnot. My dad had one of those large camcorders that you actually strapped to the side of your waist with the big VCR attached to it. So we used to make many movies out in the backyard. So it’s always been a passion of filming.
MrJ, what films or filmmakers were inspiration for you for the style of this film?
MrJ: I like Sam Raimi, Quentin Tarantino, and Peter Jackson’s first movie, Braindead.
Daniel, as the cinematographer, were there any particular cinematographers or cinematography styles that influenced how you shot the film?
Monclova: When I was in school for this particular field, Quentin Tarantino was a big, big influence on my filming style. You’ll actually see a lot of similar movements in this movie. The way he shoots on 35-millimeter lenses. It gives it that certain look that’s kind of a little different from the rest of the cinema world. It’s grungier. It’s just more intimate. So that’s a big influence on the way I shoot film. Even if it’s not a horror film, I still use a lot of those techniques that Tarantino uses. You’ll see a lot of [the] grindhouse look in there as well.
This story has two parts; did you come up with the story for the first film?
MrJ: For the first one, it started off as a fan film. But once we got like a crew together, I thought, “Why make a fan film, when I can use one of the stories I already wrote?” So we turned it into a small scene from part two to get it going. So then part two is the full movie where part one can be plugged in.
Monclova: Part one is a short. With credits, and I believe it’s rated at 52 minutes, but I don’t think it’s that long. The difference with part one and part two is that part two is the full feature film. So we took the concept from part one that was kind of, almost not a teaser, but there was a lot that wasn’t answered. Then MrJ wrote the full movie for part two, that answers a lot of what was included in part one. So it became a full feature movie.
You have multiple roles in the film, MrJ. How important is it for you as an indie filmmaker to have the ability to do so many different roles?
MrJ: I just had a vision and I just wanted to make sure it went from my mind directly on to what we see. That’s why I kind of try to do a lot of this stuff.
What was your favorite thing to film?
MrJ: For me, it was trying to get the special effects across without making it look too cheesy. So putting it together without ever doing it before at this magnitude was fun.
Monclova: I’m always into the gore. So I liked that side anyways, but I liked that we incorporated some fight scenes into this movie, and that’s a little different from our first one because we didn’t have anything like that in our first one.
Where did you shoot the film?
Monclova: Yeah, it was all in California. There are four different locations.
MrJ: Santa Ana and Montclair.
Monclova: Montclair, Santa Ana, Rancho and […]
MrJ: And Tustin.
What do you hope audiences will take away from this film?
Monclova: The whole purpose of the film is to kind of expose the underground. And I’ll let MrJ take it from there, because I think that’s what he wants the audience to see.
MrJ: It’s about the human trafficking and the dark web where you can sell people, you can sell body parts. I just think it’s not talked about enough and [people] haven’t really seen it in movies. So that was the whole story.
How important is indie horror cinema, considering many of today’s films are recycled or at times regurgitated established properties?
Monclova: Yeah, you’ve kind of hit it on the nose there because the way MrJ stories are – and I have two films that I’m writing currently on my own – that is the whole purpose of what we’re doing. Instead of regurgitating and going back to, like, a film that was filmed, let’s say, in the 1980s and doing a re-spin on it, we’re coming in with creative, unique visions that are that were translated into film.
There’s something that you’ll see in this film that I don’t want to give […] away. But there’s going to be a moment where you’re like, “Wow! Okay, they went there.” The purpose is to highlight the dark side of what’s going on in society. With the human trafficking, it’s real. You’ll see in this movie that we’re not glorifying it at all. We’re just bringing it out.
I’ll have my time to speak on my movies on another time, but the things that I’m writing [are] just a whole different approach to cinema, because, like you said, everything’s just regurgitated. It’s the same storyline, different actors, more special effects. Whereas with indie film, you’ve cut all the special effects, but you get straight to the point. You get to the storyline. I think it matters now, these days.
MrJ: I don’t even know what to classify this as. It’s hard because it’s gory, but more like how Tarantino does his movies, and they’re gory, but they’re not considered horror. I feel like it’s an action gory movie. I think we’re trying to do something totally different than the same, boring, “somebody’s following a bunch of girls killing them” or “somebody stalking somebody.” It’s more like a back-and-forth kind of movie.
Was there anything about this film that surprised you?
Monclova: We were talking about that the other day because we got to see a pre-complete cut of the film. It’s not in post any longer. It’s finished. But at that time we wanted to make a couple edits.
We watched the film with the cast and we’re like, “Oh, wow. This is a Latino film.” It wasn’t done purposefully. It was just, that’s how it came together, with an exception of Robert Mukes, who’s in our movie. He’s from House of 1000 Corpses, so he probably wouldn’t qualify for that.
For more information about part one and part two and where to see them:
The Night Butcher 2 screens Friday, October 13th.