Theatre Bizarre Interview with “Sweets” Director David Gregory
Out on DVD today from Image Entertainment is the horror anthology Theatre Bizarre. Its six directors, Douglas Buck, Buddy Giovinazzo, David Gregory, Karim Hussain, Jeremy Kasten, Tom Savini and Richard Stanley, were each given the same budget and time frame to make their own unique short film that together would form a complete anthology. In the likes of Creepshow, The Theatre Bizarre shorts are unified by a living puppet played by the always memorable Udo Kier. Humorous, gory, heart felt, and downright gruesome, The Theatre Bizarre truly is bizarre in the best possible way. We were lucky enough to have a conversation with “Sweets” director, David Gregory, and dig a little deeper into our favorite story in the bunch. In our usual Slash & Dine fashion, we’ve come up with some brutally sweet recipes to accompany your movie viewing experience.
S&D: Your segment in The Theatre Bizarre is obviously right up our alley. How did “Sweets” come about?
David: I wanted to do something theatrical and over the top to fit the mould of Grand Guignol that was the overriding theme of TB. I wanted it to be something colorful, stylish and grotesque. I love it when elements of beauty or taste are exaggerated or perverted so that you can feel attracted and repulsed at the same time. I would hope that people find it either funny, revolting or disturbing, but even better if all three. It’s a movie about the break up of a relationship based around addiction. And the addiction is food. And like a lot of relationships it starts nice and sweet but gradually goes sour.
S&D: Some of the scenes involving food were quite wonderfully vile. Did you have any issues eating those sweets after filming was said and done?
David: I think the theme of the movie and all the gross foodstuffs actually helped on the catering budget because a lot of appetites were lost during filming. Interestingly, most of the food in the apartment scene is artificial like candy and chips and such. And what happens is that the stench from that kind of shit under the lights and over time is more chemical than organic. It was like smelling toxic fumes or glue. Poor Lindsay Goranson (Estelle) had a dizzy spell at one point and I know that more salivary discharge came out of Guilford Adams’ (Greg) mouth than he gulped from the fake puke cup. Both of them were absolutely dedicated and I think did wonderful work in the film.
S&D: “Sweets” had some humorous moments & feelings in it where your past films, like Plague Town, were more serious in tone. We all know it’s not easy to balance gore with wit, but you definitely succeeded. Is that something you would like to do more of?
David: It is true that we were going more for a creepy mood in PLAGUE TOWN but I would argue that the Rosemary/Robin parts of the film have an element of dark humor. In fact, as I think about them together that whole subplot is about a girl, ultimately joined by her friends, slowly torturing a pathetic man to a violent extreme. Hmmm. Anyway, I do enjoy it when something can be considered unsettling to some, hilarious to others or even puerile to others. Again, depends on your taste. So it’s always fun to try and find a satisfactory balance for those elements.
S&D: What was it like watching Theatre Bizarre as a whole finished film for the first time since all of the segments were filmed separately?
David: It was one of the best nights ever for me, seeing it all together at Fantasia in Montreal where they really rolled out the red carpet for us. I’d seen it in various states at the mix and color correction etc before that but not until Fantasia did I feel like it had come together as I had initially hoped. By that I mean it was reminiscent of the all night horror festivals I used to attend in England where they’d have a wonderful mix of new movies, often low budget indies, from filmmakers with very different approaches to the genre. And friendly debate would break out amongst horror fans about what was good or not, you know, one guy would champion MEET THE FEEBLES while another would scoff in favor of MIRACLE MILE; two extremely different films but both playing the same genre fest. It was in that context that I first saw COMBAT SHOCK and HARDWARE and various films Tom Savini had splattered upon. To me, it illustrated what a wild and varied genre it is that we love and in the case of TB even with the same overriding concept you had filmmakers attacking that concept with very different sensibilities and creative approaches. And I was thrilled that everyone was so into it and gave their all to deliver their best possible work under the really tight budgetary circumstances, not just the individual directors but their entire teams who made these films happen because they believed in them. And not least the executive producers Daryl Tucker and Fabrice Lambot and Jean Pierre Putters from Metaluna who believed in making it all happen — I can’t think of too many movie companies who would endorse a “send the director money no questions asked and a few weeks later he’ll come back with a film” policy, even at the micro-budget level.
S&D: Was an anthology something you always wanted to do? Did you grow up watching anthologies of the past like Creepshow or Vault of Horror and think you would one day be involved with one?
David: Oh, absolutely. From Beyond the Grave was my first on TV then Monster Club at the movies when I was 8 or 9; it’s a form I’m very fond of in horror. I have a special place in my heart for the much maligned The Uncanny, too, all Milton Subotsky productions. Black Sabbath, Asylum, Creepshow, Tales of Terror, love ‘em. Dead of Night’s probably my all time favorite and also of particular influence on TB because it had multiple directors. I was pleasantly surprised how much the other filmmakers had a similar fondness for various anthologies they’d seen in their youth. Sales agent/industry types will moan that they’re a tough sell — “ooh nobody wants shorts oooh”, they’ll whine not really understanding the rich lineage that the horror anthology has — but it’s a testament to how many of us on the filmmaking side share this viewpoint because quite a lot of them have started to pop up over the last year or so, many with multiple directors, one general overriding theme, low budgets but complete creative freedom. I’m digging it.
S&D: Any chance for a sequel to Theatre Bizarre?
David: We have some amazing filmmakers committed. A few details to iron out before we can start though. Hopefully soon.
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tbsp nutmeg
2 tbsp butter, melted
2/3 cup milk
1 egg, slightly beaten
Heat oil in deep fryer to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, add flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix in butter until crumbly – it works best to use your hands. Stir in milk and egg until mixture is smooth. Transfer mixture to a lightly floured surface and pin roll into 1/2″ thick. Cut a circle shape or use two round cookie cutters to cut out middle. Cover and let rise until doubled (about 30 mins). Drop doughnuts into deep fryer until each is covered. Fry for about 1-2 minutes, flip once and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes or until golden. Let cool on paper towel and then serve.
Our hometown is known for it’s doughnuts on sticks. Try this to make yours a little fancier.
Heat half a stick of butter until melted and remove from heat. Stir in 2 cups of powdered sugar and 1 tbsp vanilla. Mix well. Gradually stir in warm milk until it reaches a smooth consistency. Insert sucker stick into doughnut. Pour icing over it and generously add sprinkles.
1 cup whiskey
1/2 stick butter, cut into pieces
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbs vanilla
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
Line 9-inch square pan with wax paper and butter the paper. In small saucepan, heat butter, heavy whipping cream, whiskey, vanilla and salt stirring frequently and bringing to a boil. Remove from the heat.
In medium saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup and water and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Continue boiling and gently swirling the pan until it reaches a light caramel color. Remove from heat and add whiskey cream mixture. Continue stirring and bring pan back to stove. Cook until candy thermometer reads 250°F.
Pour caramel into pan and cool completely for 2 hours. Cut into squares and wrap in wax paper for storage.
Whiskey Caramel Sauce-
Remove 1/4 cup of whiskey caramel mixture after heated, but before pouring into pan. Let cool for 10 minutes and then pour over vanilla ice cream. Ready to serve.
Thanks again to David Gregory & don’t forget to pick up your copy of The Theatre Bizarre today!
-Nicole & Megan