Bennie Woodell: Just Before the Long December with Fast Zombie’s Awesome Master. By Brian Kirst
Within the last two years, talented director and writer Bennie Woodell has unleashed the terrors of The Chauffer and Fast Zombies with Guns upon the eager horror community. While The Chauffer featured some twisted emotionality and underworld politics, Fast Zombies raised the bar even further with Woodall creating a world that almost rivals Romero’s. Currently helming the violent, femme centered The Long December; Woodell took a moment to answer some rapidly disintegrating questions for Horror Society.
Brian: Who were your first creative influences – John Carpenter teaching Kurt Russell how to catch some big trouble – Kane Hodder’s stampeding Jason moves – an agile 84 year old uncle with a home video fetish?
Bennie: I actually had this conversation with a friend of mine the other week when I we were talking about parents sheltering their kids from films. Sure, I watched the ninja turtles and stuff, but some of my earliest film memories were the original Dracula, werewolf and Frankenstein movies, as well as Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein, and Abbott and Costello meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. But aside from those horror classics, I would watch Rambo 2, the Terminator, Bloodsport, Young Guns, Puppet Master 1, 2 and 3, Stephen King’s It, and They Live sometimes on a daily basis and I think those films are what started my love for cinema. I wish I had one defining moment as a kid with one particular film/director/actor but I didn’t realize I wanted to be a filmmaker until I saw John Woo’s The Killer back in 2000. Action films are what I love to write and shoot, but I realized that when I was growing up I watched a hell of a lot of horror films and that helped explain why I was interested in doing The Chauffeur and Fast Zombies With Guns, as well as the other horror films that I’m kind of tinkering with. Action cinema is what I really love, but deep down I think the classic horror films were my first influences.
Brian: Cool! – The Chauffeur was a slasher type film with some deeper emotional elements. Was there a certain feeling or essence that you were trying to inspire in the audience with that film?
Bennie: I know it’s kind of cheesy, but I’ve always loved those moments in horror films where you sit there in amazement and say to the people on the screen “why are you going in there?” So I thought it was kind of interesting to base an entire movie around that feeling. Sure, why is that girl running upstairs in a Jason movie is said for ten seconds, but in The Chauffeur I was hoping the audience would be saying that the entire time. The characters know something’s not right, but they stay in the limo. I thought there was a lot of room for suspense in the film and that’s what I wanted to get the audience to feel in that regard.
Brian: Perfect! – What has been the most difficult part of getting your films done and what has been the most inspiring?
Bennie: The most difficult part of getting my films done has to be scheduling. We’ve been shooting The Long December now for five months because every time I turned around someone else came up with another conflict and we had to reschedule a scene here or there, and I can’t get mad because I can’t pay anybody so I have to be flexible with everyone (except for my lead actress Leena, she’s at the film’s mercy lol), but in all seriousness life happens and we have to adjust for it. Now hopefully there comes a day when I actually have a budget of more than 2000 and can afford to pay people and knock out the film in 10 consecutive days because when you’re shooting just weekends or one Saturday here then the next Sunday, etc. you lose the shoot’s momentum and you can’t have that when you’ve got enough odds stacked against you as it is. We need every card to turn our way to even have a fighting chance in this business. -I would say the most inspiring aspect of filmmaking is to sit with the actors or an audience, especially people who don’t act but just want to be in a movie somewhere as a walk on or something, and view their scene and I just see the sheer look of joy and happiness in their eyes to see what they’ve done. I don’t personally have that feeling when I view my work because I spend so much time on it that it kind of loses that magic, so I look forward to seeing the look of wonder in someone else; or being with an audience and hearing them enjoy the film, talking about it, loving it….those things are what keeps me going. And blowing things up!
Brian: Well, naturally! – What was the impetus behind Fast Zombie with Guns – was it a dreamed up fate for a loud mouthed ex – a true hatred of sluggish, limb flailing undead creatures – others?
Bennie: Actually Fast Zombies With Guns was originally supposed to be a joke grindhouse trailer for The Chauffeur premiere. My friend wanted to make a zombie movie and I asked if they were fast or slow zombies, he replied slow and I told him fast zombies are scarier. Then we continued talking about his idea and I slammed my hand down on the counter and said they’d be even scarier with guns, hell they could be fast zombies with guns! My friend burst out laughing and I filmed a trailer for it and the audience at the premiere loved it. I didn’t think of making it until a couple of months later people were asking me when it was coming out, so I got the script ready and the rest is history. But funny you should mention a fate for a loud mouthed ex….the main female character in Fast Zombies With Guns, and the bitchy girlfriend in The Chauffeur were both based off the same ex girlfriend.
Brian: I’m sure, when all is said and done, she was glad to be an inspiration! – What’s worse than a Long December – A Sweltering August – a Frigid Fall – Stupid questions from smart ass interviewers?
Bennie: A dry spring maybe?
Brian: Hate those!! – Lastly, any words of advice (IE: Never take a ride with a close scalped psychotic driver to the airport) or future projects that you’d like to tell us about? And thanks – this has been better than running into Lucio Fulci with an Uzi any season of the year!
Bennie: Take your vitamins, they are good for you! – But if you haven’t seen Fast Zombies With Guns, it’s available on our website (fastzombieswithguns.com) and coming up early next year, The Long December will premiering in March (hopefully). Please keep checking Jiang Hu Productions website for information (www.jianghuproductions.com). The film is a thriller with some pretty intense/gruesome killing scenes that I know will not disappoint.
And thank you so much for taking the time to check us out, I really appreciate it and hope that we can continue to bring you entertainment!