Vampire Clowns, Buckets of Blood and ’80s Cult Movie Mayhem: An Interview with Mitchell Altieri, Director of THE NIGHT WATCHMEN, World Premiere at Buried Alive Film Festival Thursday Nov. 17

Posted on: Nov 16th, 2016 By:

night watchmenTHE NIGHT WATCHMEN (2016) Dir: Mitchell Altieri. Starring James Remar, Matt Servitto, Tiffany Shepis. Opening Night Feature, Buried Alive Film Festival. Thursday Nov. 17. 9 p.m. 7 Stages. $12. Trailer here. ]]

Put together vampire clowns, buckets of blood, four bored security guys and their corporate gal crush and a trippy ’80s-sounding soundtrack set in Baltimore and you have THE NIGHT WATCHMEN, which has its U.S. premiere Thursday night at 7 Stages as the opening feature of the 2016 Buried Alive Film Festival. Which is to say that we enjoyed the hell out of it.

We caught up with director Mitchell Altieri to go behind the coffins and see how something this crazy and retro got made in the 21st century. Oh, and what it was like working with James Remar of THE WARRIORS!

ATLRetro: How did you guys get the idea to mix clowns with vampires?

Mitchell Altieri: Hello Anya, thanks for having me at ATLRetro. When I was hired to direct the film, the script was already written. Ken Arnold and Dan DeLuca came up with the story and Dan and Jamie Nash wrote the script. The script went thru a few different drafts and incarnations and when I came on board there were no clowns in the script, but during pre-production Dan and Jamie mentioned that they had a version with clowns. And I was like, “yes, please.” It just really fit with the fun story we were filming!

Anything else you’d like to add about THE NIGHT WATCHMEN’s genesis?

Go see it! It’s a real fun ride, with lots of action and scares but I’d like to let the movie to speak for itself.

The movie has an ‘80s horror movie vibe down to the soundtrack. How intentional was that, and do you have a particular affinity to ‘80s horror movies, and maybe some favorites?

Yes, it was definitely intentional! I love those ‘80s horror films that you rented on VHS from the local video stores, films like THE NIGHT OF THE COMET (1984), FRIGHT NIGHT (1985) or KILLER CLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE (1988). And that’s what I wanted to do with our film, make it super fun and scary, even silly at points like those ‘80s films.  

Loved the soundtrack. Can you talk a little about it?

Our composer Kevin Kerrigan out of London, ate it up… he had a blast scoring the music! He was so excited to do such a retro score. And the guys who wrote the original songs, Fake Figures, loved it just as much. They are an actual band that wrote and recorded these songs while on tour, so it was a fun break for them. I really wanted the score and soundtrack to make you instantly get that 80s feeling, even though it’s a film set in present day, I want the audience also think that it can easily take place in the 80s.   

Mitchell Altieri with Tiffany Shepis, Diona Reasonover, Cheryl Staurulakus, Rain Pryor & Donald Imm. Photo credit: Herbert Mann.

Mitchell Altieri with Tiffany Shepis, Diona Reasonover, Cheryl Staurulakus, Rain Pryor & Donald Imm. Photo credit: Herbert Mann.

There’s a hell of a lot of blood in this movie. How much did you go through?

Let’s just say we ran out of blood like five or six times. We used a lot. I don’t think I’ve ever run out of that much blood before.

Hopefully this isn’t too spoilery but the main five characters could have just been stereotypical, they had little touches to them that both defied the usual tropes and enhanced the humor. And you scored a great ensemble with a real chemistry who seemed to be having a great time. Anything you’d like to share about that?

Yeah, I agree. I really value strong characters in films. Even if it’s a straightforward film, you can never go wrong with interesting, bold characters. I was very pleased with the cast. Ken, Dan and Kevin Jiggetts all have worked together many times before so it was dynamic when they worked against Kara Luiz who plays the journalist and Max Wilbur, the young rookie. I challenged them and they challenged each other and had a great time with it.

Again without giving too much away, the film is full of fun scenes. What was the most fun to actually film and why?

There were a few scenes I remember just laughing out loud and not being able to stop laughing. It was mainly when the actors just started riffing off each other, adlibbing, etc, The entire crew would be in stitches from laughing. Well, you can really laugh out loud during a take, so you would look around and people’s faces would be buried in their jackets or whatever they had in their hands so they wouldn’t ruin the scene. That was always fun. I personally ruined a scene or two from not being able to stop laughing but it comes with the territory I guess.

(L to R) Kevin Jiggetts, Dan DeLuca, Kara Luiz, Max Gray Wilbur, Ken Arnold. Photo credit: Robert Neal Marshall.

(L to R) Kevin Jiggetts, Dan DeLuca, Kara Luiz, Max Gray Wilbur, Ken Arnold. Photo credit: Robert Neal Marshall.

Did you face any challenges while making the movie?

A film is a challenge from beginning to end. It is exhausting work! But for this particular set, the most challenging thing I faced was I got sick. We shot in Maryland and it was their worst winter in 76 years. I never have been sick on set but I guess the cold got me this time. But as a director on set you don’t really get sick days, so I had to push through. It was brutal. I was very thankful for an amazing crew that helped pick up the slack those few days.

OK, being a big THE WARRIORS  fan, gotta ask James Remar shared any anecdotes on the set?

I’m a huge fan of THE WARRIORS as well, so yes it was very cool to have him on set. I mean he was Ajax! He would tell great stories about different films, and how the sets were, or working with different people. We all got a good kick out that.

What’s next for you?

I’m attached to a couple projects right now that I can’t really talk about, but I also did five feature films in a row, one a year basically, so I’m also enjoying taking a little time off, traveling and just plain relaxing!!

 And finally, your favorite flavor of cannoli? 

Question should be which flavor don’t I like. Thank you for the interview. I appreciate it.

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A Lot More Fear and Loathing: 2016 Buried Alive Film Festival Expands to Five Days of the Best Global, US and Local Indie Horror!

Posted on: Nov 15th, 2016 By:

buriedalive2016The 2016 Buried Alive Film Festival is bigger than ever, expanding to five days (November 16-20) with 10 features and 75 short new independent horror films from the around the globe at 7 Stages Theatre in Little Five Points.

“Everything about this year takes Buried Alive to a new level–the same high-quality horror movies but more of them, and our move to 7 Stages means a whole new level of entertainment, dining and bars for attendees and filmmakers alike,” says Blake Myers, Buried Alive’s festival director and ATLRetro Kool Kat. “We’re excited also that Atlanta Pro AV will be supplying the most pristine image quality of any projectors on the market today.”

The 11th annual festival features nine brand new movies, including two hit films from SXSW, Bobby Miller’s THE MASTER CLEANSE (starring Johnny Galecki and Anjelica Huston) and ANOTHER EVIL directed by Carson D. Mell (screenwriter, EAST BOUND AND DOWN and SILICONE VALLEY). The opening night feature is the U.S. premiere of vampire-clown-’80s-cult-homage (ATLRetro got a sneak and we loved it!THE NIGHT WATCHMEN from director Mitchell Altieri (THE HAMILTONS) featuring James Remar (THE WARRIORS), Matt Sevitto (THE SOPRANOS) and Tiffany Shepis (TROMEO AND JULIET). (Read an exclusive ATLRetro interview with Mitchell here). Other feature films include HERE ALONE, a survivor’s story of a quiet and bleak existence in a decimated future directed by Rod Blackhurst (AMANDA KNOX Netflix Series), and FOUND FOOTAGE 3D, which provides a great new twist on the found footage genre from director Steven DeGennaro and producer Ken Henkel (TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, EATEN ALIVE).

night watchmenThis year BAFF features will go beyond the usual horror narratives and also include a documentary and an animated sci-fi movie. SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL: THE TRUE STORY OF THE PROCESS CHURCH OF THE FINAL JUDGEMENT  is a documentary about “one of the most dangerous satanic cults in America” from director Neil Edwards, featuring interviews with John Waters, George Clinton and original cult members. NOVA SEED is a fully 2D hand drawn science fiction  adventure directed and animated by Nick DiLiberto.

Buried Alive also continues to show its love for the Georgia horror scene. This year’s festival also has more local films than ever with six shorts and two features James Bickert’s 35mm Grindhouse epic FRANKENSTEIN CREATED BIKERS and Tim Reis’s amphibious werewolf BAD BLOOD: THE MOVIE which will be our closing night feature on Sunday.

New to this year’s festival will be the BAFF Sinema Challenge, a challenge for local filmmakers to make a horror film in 13 days. Production starts on November 1 and the films will screen on the festival’s opening night, Wed. Nov. 16, at 8 p.m. We’re super excited to have Mindy De Chiciro, co-creator and exclusive programmer for Turner Classic Movies (TCM) weekly late-night cult movie showcase TCM Underground, as our Kool Kat of the Week. Read our exclusive interview here.

sympathyOne of the real strengths, and our favorite part, of Buried Alive Film Fest is the shorts program. This year brings seven shorts sets presenting 75 new films that will enlighten and disgust you to the fullest extent. A few highlights from the selections include Calvin Reeder’s THE BULB about two strangers experiencing an alien phenomenon through the public access in a motel room, the American premiere of Finnish animator Tomi Malakias’ VOODOO RIGHTS and the award-winning THE STYLIST by director Jill Gevargizian making its Atlanta premiere. The festival also includes a few animated shorts such as the stop motion masterpiece, UNDER THE APPLE TREE, by Erik van Schaaik, and the amazing strangeness of James Siewert’s THE PAST INSIDE THE PRESENT.

Finally, no respectable horror film festival would be complete without screening a classic, and ATLRetro loves the one they picked. On Saturday night at 10 p.m.,  BAFF will be showing the 40th anniversary digitally remastered bluray of Brian DePalma’s CARRIE, the 1976 classic adaptation from Stephen King’s novel starring Sissy Spacek, William Katt and P.J. Soles. The screening will be hosted by Atlanta’s award-winning Blast Off Burlesque, who will stage one of their signature TabooLaLa events including a performance inspired by the film before the screening. With a ´70s photo-op and costume contest…let’s just say, there will be blood.

foundfootageThe 7 Stages Theatre is located at 1105 Euclid Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30307. Individual program tickets are $12, and five-day festival passes are just $120.

For more information and the complete Buried Alive Film Festival schedule, visit www.buriedalivefilmfest.com. View the official BAFF bumper here.

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