Five FrightFest Facts From Matt Mercer and Mike Testin directors of Dementia Part II

1. Tell us about your film?
Dementia Part II is a horror-comedy about an ex-con, Wendell (Matt Mercer), who, in order to keep his parole in good standing, takes a job helping an older woman (Suzanne Voss) with some handiwork around her house. Wendell starts to realize the woman may not be entirely stable, and that she also hides some dark secrets that turn his day into a total nightmare.

2. How did you get into making horror movies?
Matt: Having grown up loving horror and ingesting horror cinema rabidly, I always wanted to make genre films. I specifically pursued this genre and I broke in as an actor at first. When I first moved to Los Angeles, I targeted auditions for independent horror films and I think the first role I landed was in the movie Madison County. That got the ball rolling. So a few years ago I asked if I could Co-Produce a horror film in which I was also cast, a movie called Contracted (on which Mike, my co-conspirator on Dementia Part II, was the Cinematographer. We’ve continued to work together on genre films in various capacities.) Contracted went well and got me started behind the camera. Over the last few years, I’ve continued to act in many independent horror films and I’ve directed a couple, too.

Mike: As a youngster, I was obsessed with horror films. All of the usual suspects like Halloween, Texas Chain Saw, The Exorcist, Friday, A Nightmare on Elm Street and the various grimy ones. Though I didn’t get around to having a desire to work in film for another 20, that initial impact stuck with me. I went to film school to study cinematography and waffled around for a bit after that looking for projects to shoot and suddenly Contracted came out of nowhere for me. That was my first genre experience and I started to see the possibility to play with ideas within severe budget constraints. Since then genre has generally been, to varying degrees, embedded in everything that’s followed.

3. What film would you love to see screened at FrightFest and why?
Matt: If it were a retrospective screening, I’d love to see Ted Kotcheff’s Wake in Fright on the big screen. I have the blu-ray but I’ve never seen a print. Or, since we’re in the UK, there was a spectacular, really frightening Canadian slasher I saw a 35mm print of a few years ago called Visiting Hours that was branded a Video Nasty upon it’s release in the UK (so I don’t know that it ever got properly seen there theatrically? Maybe it was only banned on video?) It’s a dynamite diamond in the rough and really gets the audience going. So scary. Michael Ironside at his most intense. Lee Grant. And William Shatner in it doing his Best Shatner.

Mike: Wake In Fright is a good choice, I have seen it on the big screen and nearly had my ex break up with me for having taken her (she walked out at the kangaroo scene and didn’t come back in). Otherwise, I’d love to see something like Tod Browning’s West of Zanzibar or Freaks. Powell’s Peeping Tom is another fun choice as would the original The Vanishing if you really want to haunt some festival goers with a beauty of a ending.

4. If you could create your own award to give at the FrightFest, what would it be and why?
Matt: Oooo, tough one. I want to say Best Practical Effects simply to glorify the use of practical effects and condone it and support that art… There’s nothing better than a REAL gore effect or sublime practical creature. BUT… let’s get ridiculous here… I’d want to also give an award for Best REACTION to An Onscreen Death By Another Character. People don’t realize how tough that is and how easy it is to overact that shit. Most people have not seen, for example, their pal’s head split in two right in front of them, so you’re totally drawing on your own imagination and you can go wildly Big or Small with the reaction, but either way, you have to keep it real. One of the best I’ve seen that delights me to no end is John Heard’s reaction to JC Quinn getting eaten by a radioactive sewer mutant in C.H.U.D. If you haven’t seen C.H.U.D., take note of that moment. Heard’s reaction is just priceless. Also, all of the guys tied up during the testing scene in Carpenter’s The Thing when Palmer (David Clennon) starts to transform and split apart. Those are great reactions. Especially Keith David.

Mike: Eesh. Uh… Since I know Matt will likely select “Best Kiss” as his usual award wish list/disappointment, I’ll go in a different direction. How about best use of the worst CGI, the winner is handed an invisible trophy.

5. If your life was made into a horror film, what would it be called and who would play the starring role?
Matt: Hmmm. In trying to think of an angle, I’d have to base it on a real fear I have perhaps? I fear failure a bit, and I’m a people-pleaser to a degree… I like everyone to be happy, especially on set when we’re all working. So, the title would be: “A Bloody Disappointment”. And I guess I’d cast Graham Skipper because he’s just so goddam sexy and watchable. 😉

Mike: Let’s base it on the fear of public speaking and call it “Bad Day at the Podium”. Shot in real time as a man’s head continually builds internal pressure over the course of a single 90 minute take as the audience eagerly waits for something clever to come out of his mouth, finally the man’s head explodes Scanner’s style. The end. Starring Bobcat Goldthwait.

Dementia Part II plays at CINEWORLD DISCOVERY 7.00 PM SATURDAY 25 AUGUST find out more HERE


Alex Humphrey

Alex studied film at the University of Kent and went on to work for Universal Pictures in their Post Room gaining an inside look at the movie industry from the very bottom. Constantly writing reviews in everything from local magazines to Hip Hop sites Alex honed his critical skills even spending a brief period as a restaurant critic. Read more

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