Sweetback (SB): Thanks for taking some time to chat with Daily Grindhouse, Peter. Let’s start with some of the more controversial elements of BLOOD SOAKED – specifically the Nazi iconography. It’s obviously an essential part of the story you’re trying to tell, but was there ever a concern that you were going too far? I’m thinking – specifically – about the holocaust footage used in the opening credits.
Peter Grendle (PG): No. Let’s face it, Hitler’s mustache is hilariously ugly. Goebbels’ name is a sexual innuendo. If you can’t laugh and have fun with the worst things in our seriously fucked up human history, you’ll die of depression at age 30.
SB: Aside from a gruesome opening scene, the first twenty minutes of the film are quite sedate. In fact, they could almost be mistaken for a set-up of a straight comedy. How important was it that there was a clear delineation between the set-up, and when the true horror begins?
PG: I wanted the crowd to fall in love with the main characters before the shit hit the fan. The best way to truly scare someone is to make them feel empathy for a character. If you care about their happiness, then fear for their well being sets in very easily. In addition, the shock factor needed to be high for the rest of the film to work. Setting up a normalcy before destroying it was key.
SB: Another signifier that things are flying off the rails is that the film switches to stark B&W. Was this something you and (Cinematographer) Tyler King planned from the beginning, or was the decision made later in production?
PG: Definitely. For three reasons. One: black and white is wonderful and scary when done right. Two: black and white make-up and effects are much cheaper. Three: there are millions of indie horror films out there. We needed something to make ours pop.
SB: This might be an odd question, but it’s something I always wonder when I see a low-budget production that requires a lot of potentially offensive props. Where did you get the Nazi flags and other props that pepper the background of the bunker scenes? Army surplus? Ordered online? Or did you make them yourselves?
PG: We had to order them from white power groups. There are many out there, currently making props and historical souvenirs to support their bigotry. A Google search and a few shopping carts later, we had it all. Scary how easy it was. The worst part however was after the film, when I realized we had been signed up on all of the KKK contact lists and started getting mailings and catalogs.
SB: The film’s success relies heavily on Laina Grendle and Haley Derryberry’s unhinged, imposing performances as Sadie and Katie. How did they feel about their own characters, and what instructions did you give them to help them walk that line between believably psychotic and campy?
PG: Haley is like that in real life, that’s why we cast her. No one got along with her on set so Laina’s reaction to her behavior comes out naturally on screen. Luckily the script has a few jokes, so that calmed them down a bit.
SB: BLOOD SOAKED began its life as a short film. What were some of the biggest difficulties you ran into trying to expand it to feature length?
PG: It was a lot easier than I thought it would be. The short (which you can see on the DVD) is the middle of BLOOD SOAKED. I just sat down to the script and wrote the before and after. Then when I got bored I threw in a Nazi, zombie, or lesbian kiss.
PG: No, but I should find them and tell them all their movies suck. Hopefully they get all of our hate mail accidentally. I just finished writing our next film, a psychotropic home invasion film that we’ll shoot as soon as BLOOD SOAKED sales make us a budget.
SB: For those looking to pick up a copy of BLOOD SOAKED, or check out your other work, what’s the best way to do so?
SB: Anything else to plug?
PG: Wild Eye Releasing, our distributor, is the best company around. Period. Buy all of their movies and your life will instantly change for the better.
SB: Finally, BLOOD SOAKED was your second feature – and there was quite a break since the first. What advice would you have for a young or inexperienced director looking to tackle their first feature length project?
PG: Treat it as practice. Its guaranteed to be crap. Learn from it and don’t take yourself seriously. You’re not an artist yet, I promise.
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