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Jeff Thomas
Horror Interview by The Gravedigger

Q: Your primary location for the setting is Mansfield State Reformatory, the same prison where THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION was shot. In your previous feature, 13 SECONDS, your location (an old mansion) was pivotal and very much one of the "characters" of the movie. When you write, do you usually think of the location first?

Great question, unfortunately the answer stems from necessity of budget as opposed to artistic merit. Typically when I write I am concerned about narrative structure and the attempt to tell as good of a tale as possible. Whether or not location is key depends upon how the story meanders onto the written page. Writing for independent cinema is another matter completely. This isn't to say that finances dictated the creative process, but going into 13 SECONDS and to a lesser degree FALLEN ANGELS, I knew there would be restrictions on money which meant fewer locations and less time.

But even with both projects, I wanted them to be more than just a haunted house film and a haunted prison film. 13 SECONDS was conceived as a haunted house film to really play with many of the traditions of the genre. Also, the location was meant to be a psychological stand in for one of the character's mind. When written, there was no predetermined location of where the film would be shot and I was faced with the arduous task of making eight different locations look and feel like one. With FALLEN ANGELS, I knew going into the film that the Mansfield State Reformatory would be the primary location, but again I did not wish to make a prison film. So, instead the prison almost became the canvas that this mystery story was painted across. In many ways the prison is the catalyst for the action and the denouement of the film, but it is still a story about demons, both personal and literal.

Q: What is FALLEN ANGELS about?

Fallen Angels is about a decaying 150 year old prison that is about to be demolished. As the demo crew is planting the explosive charges, a sub-basement structure is discovered that contains the bones of brutally slain children and a few artifacts that hint to the room being a reliquary of sorts. A CSI team descends upon the prison and as the mystery unravels a legion of demons is revealed along with their chilling origins: each demon is responsible for one of the seven deadly sins.

Bill Moseley described the film as "the DaVinci Code with monsters." In many ways it is a hybrid horror film that is equal parts a terrifying demonic tale with great effects and a dramatic CSI mystery. I worked very closely with special effects veteran Bob Keen to come up effects that could rival anything from the SAW and HOSTEL franchises. Plus, Bob delivered a fantastic menagerie of demons, and other surprise creature effects, that rivals his work from HELLRAISER. But as much time was also dedicated to the story and how the narrative would unfold. I think horror fans will not only appreciate seeing many of their favorite icons together all in one film, many for the first time, but also how the film delivers on the effects, the gore, the atmosphere, and the great story.

Q: How did the movie come together, with your producers?

I had met Robert Rowland, one of the film's producers, at a film festival a few years back. When by chance we happened to reconnect, he asked what I was working on. A few weeks prior to this I had spoken with Myron St. John, another of the film's producers, whom I had met while scouting locations for 13 SECONDS and who also happened to have great connections with the prison. I shared with Robert the prison location and my concept of the story. He then relayed all the information to Derek Zemrak and Leonard Pirkle, two California based producers. After a few meetings, both Derek and Leonard agreed to produce and we had our team assembled.

Q: You have a great, horror movie cast, which includes Kevin McCarthy, Michael Dorn (Worf!), Reggie Bannister, Michael Berryman, Bill Moseley and Kane Hodder. How was it working with each of them?

Really, it was an honor to work with so many genre greats. Everyone went above and beyond, delivering very compelling and dramatic performances, many of whom were cast against type. For instance, everyone recognizes Bill for his awesome performances in DEVIL'S REJECTS and TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2, but in FALLEN ANGELS he portrays a very serious and driven CSI detective. His performance brings a strong logic and methodical intelligence to the character that is quite the antithesis of his work in the Rob Zombie films. Michael Berryman brought such a sense of intellectual and emotional dread to his character, again quite the opposite of his visceral portrayal from say THE HILS HAVE EYES. Kane Hodder is a phenomenal actor and you will see much more of him out of make-up and out from behind a mask doing more dramatic portrayals. Reggie Bannister is another accomplished actor who brought a great edge to the film as well as bringing us the only moments of levity, truly a very talented actor. Honestly, the list goes on and on, with every actor bringing something special to the story. It was awesome seeing the actors deliver award winning performances that show an additional range that I know the fans will love seeing their favorite icons explore.

Q: This is also the feature film debut of Adrianne Curry. What made you decide to cast her, as she's done just Reality TV?

Adrianne and her husband Chris are actually close friends of Derek Zemrak and Leonard Pirkle, the film's producers. When I first got the call from Derek that Chris and Adrianne had read the script and agreed to do the film, I was very ecstatic about the commercial possibilities and how it added a pop culture quality to our horror heavy cast. However, I was only familiar with Chris's Brady Bunch work and Adrianne's reality TV work. Honestly, the two are very professional and talented actors. In fact, I believe both will easily surpass the reality TV work and have major success in features. Adrianne and Chris are easy going and enjoyable to work with, focused, and hard working. Plus, both display a great range and have a truly remarkable on-screen presence.

Q: Bob Keen designed the various creatures. Did he come up with the designs or did you have something specifically in mind and he worked from that?

Bob is truly a gentleman of gentlemen and I have to admit he was like a father figure to me on the set as he himself has directed so many films. Plus, he is so talented and creative, just an incredible bloke. In the script, all the demons were described in great detail, but Bob brought such a strong vision to their depiction that breathed new life into their formation. It was great always bouncing such gruesome ideas back and forth. I think his first words to me were that he did not want them to be anything like the cenobites. His work is truly haunting, horrifying, beautiful and will very much leave an incredible impression.

Q: How do you want horror fans to react to the movie?

I hope horror fans strongly embrace the film. LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT's Davis Hess said that the film is a love note to horror fans. The creatures are awesome, the performances superb, the violence and gore chilling, and the story is moving. Plus, everything is completely wrapped up in the ending that does not leave the door wide open for a sequel; there is a true legitimate ending that ties together all the loose ends. There is no CGI, only organic make-up and mechanical effects, and the film is not water downed PG-13 "horror." In fact, Warner Bros. stands behind the film and is releasing it unrated. I hope that the fans will find here everything that they love and embrace the genre for, plus much, much more.

Q: When is the movie available?

The film was released into a limited theatrical back on October 5th and has been doing well enough to warrant more screens, even past the street date for the DVD which will be on November 13th. Be sure to pick a copy at your local Best Buy or Walmart or anywhere videos are sold.

find information about Jeff Thomas at imdb.com find horror stuff by Jeff Thomas

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