*Slasher, comedy, creature feature… There are a zillion different subgenres that exist inside the world of horror cinema. I think the one that is overlooked the most is the rape/rape revenge subgenre. Besides The Hills Have Eyes, I Spit on Your Grave, and Last House on the Left, can you quickly think of a single other movie that mixes horror and rape themes exclusively? I thought so. I think the reason behind this – and I may speak for the majority of movie go-ers here – is because the subject matter is so brutal. Raping someone in a movie is the worst thing you can do next to animal abuse; it just doesn’t sit right with a lot of people.
Looking at it from an objective, reporter-like standpoint I was interested to see how the concept of rape/rape revenge is handled by the creators and directors who produce such “art.” One such director, Adam Ahlbrandt, has a particularly violent, no holds barred way of filmmaking. A lot of people will recognize him as the director of Cross Bearer, which is currently on sale through ToeTag entertainment. Ahlbrandt also has two new films on the horizon – Hunters and The Sadist. Both titles are brutal in nature and are centered around mind-damaging rape scenarios. So, obviously, he would be the best choice to chat it up with!
You can find my interview with Adam Ahlbrandt below as we discuss some of his thoughts on filmmaking and the world, details on his latest movies, and his insight into the world of rape/rape revenge in horror movie cinema.
H: Can you name five of your favorite films while growing up?
A: I have to say Pet Cemetery, The Exorcist, The Shining, Friday The 13th Part 2, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre [are favorites]. I feel like each of these films makes an appearance in a way in every one of my films. I am constantly revisiting these films in one way or another. I watch Friday The 13th Part 2 at least once a week!
H: Since Cross Bearer was so successful, you have a fresh batch of new fans following your work. Do you think going even further down a dark path with your films could be a double edged sword?
A: I honestly don’t make films to please anyone but myself. Filmmaking is a selfish act almost all of the time, especially narrative film making. Who cares if people don’t like something as long as the filmmaker is pleased? I feel no shame in wanting to tell dark and filthy stories as there is no difference to me as the core action of filmmaking is in many ways as inhuman an act as one can undertake. Instead of trying to help alleviate the world from its endless real problems of famine, homelessness, war, disease or oppression, filmmaking is what I am doing instead.
Generally speaking, film making is just people with expendable income pleasing themselves by creating entertainment that will in fact, cause those who indulge in it to also not be effecting any positive change at all while they do so. Unless they are getting laid, of course. So does this make porn more virtuous on some level than narrative cinema? Maybe some people will hate me. I hope they do. It’ll mean they care enough about me to. If they care that much to worry about me, then they give me power over every other thing they could be focused on in the entire world.
H: What is Hunters about? Can you give me a synopsis?
A: Hunters is pure filth and hate. It’s my answer to everyone who asks to see the vile trash. The film follows a family of killers making snuff films as they trap a group of film students in a remote and abandoned town they helped to depopulate. It has made people vomit, have panic attacks, and has had more walk outs than any film I’ve ever made. It asks you why you want to see it.
H: What makes people walk out or vomit: intensity, how realistic it is, the subject matter itself?
A: One of the first scenes in the film is a woman being sexually assaulted with a .44 magnum as her boyfriend is forced to watch while his toes are being sliced off.
H: …I’m not sure how to follow that up…I see Linnea Quigley is in the movie. She has a long, colorful career in horror. Did she have to do or witness anything in Hunters that even shocked her?
A: We went to dark places. I’d imagine the mother/daughter rape scene wasn’t pleasant. Nor could the castration blood water boarding scene have been.
H: Ok! Let’s move on to The Sadist. The sexual assault is more directed at men than women, if I remember correctly?
A: Hunters and The Sadist are centered around both, actually. I center the humiliation around my character in The Sadist to show I will never ask any performer to do something I am unwilling to do myself. I doubt many directors who so freely ask their performers to get naked in front of their camera would ever do the same.
H: Could you give a brief synopsis about the plot of The Sadist for the readers?
A: The Sadist is the story of a fuck junkie whose mother is dying, putting him in a financial bind to try and settle out her estate. He meets a dominatrix and is drawn into S&M prostitution. One of the clients takes an interest in him; a true sadist whose fetish is ruining people’s lives.
H: Have you ever been arrested for committing a violent crime?
A: I’ve never been arrested.
H: What do you have to say to those who would say you’re a sick/violent person for writing rape/torture scenes in your movies?
A: I am a violent person.
H: In what way?
A: In every way. Nature dictates that we are all violent, it’s a survival instinct.
H: Is creating such violent films therapeutic for you in a way?
A: It is, but I try and focus my attention on things that will provide me with the most positivity in my life. I agree in many ways with Rand on trying to do things that will effect only positive outcome.
H: What, in your opinion, is a positive outcome of rape in cinema?
A: There are many reasons that someone may choose to show rape in their film, none of which are nobler than the other. In fact, if we are discussing morality and cinema in the same breath then I see a grave problem. Consuming entertainment is the opposite of moral behavior. When we chose to ignore the real problems that plague the world in order to entertain ourselves, isn’t that the opposite of morality?
H: So, not only do you peddle smut but you make rape movies for the morally corrupt. If you look down so negatively on both, why do you continue to make movies? It doesn’t sound too gratifying to you.
A: That couldn’t be further from the truth. I tell stories and enjoy doing so. I don’t care about the morality of that, only that I get to continue to be a story teller. I don’t look down or up, I simply try to tell the truth of things to myself and others as I see it. I find film making to be immensely gratifying. I live to create my work. I don’t make any film, sexploitation or otherwise, for anyone personality type, I make it for the story. I am trying to manipulate emotion with sounds and images, I use all themes at my disposal to do so. Moral obligations are only to be held within the confines of the mind of the one who chooses to obey and honor them. I am a story teller, not a politician, I don’t care to justify my fictional creations.
H: Speaking of gratification, the rape-revenge subgenre exists where the rape victim gets revenge – and usually kills – their attacker. Would you classify any of your two upcoming films as a rape-revenge movie?
A: There is an element of that within both Hunters and The Sadist.
H: Why do you think viewers – myself included – are quick to condemn rape/rape revenge movies?
A: Some viewers condemn it, some don’t. There are many who see it as a plot device or shock tactic, I honestly (again) don’t really care about the morality of fiction. If people are going to resent me or hate me I am perfectly fine with it. I think everyone who plans to spend any time lambasting and slandering my name should devote that time to charity instead, however that may require getting off the computer and actually creating positive change in the real world.
H: I assume that you work with and are friends with a lot of women. Have they ever expressed their views on your material from a female perspective? And if so, what were they?
A: The gamut. Some of them hated it, some loved it. Much as anyone would I suppose. I try to strike the nerves of all genders. It is funny when people assume I care about them having a bad opinion of my work, I’m just happy they have one. As a story teller sometimes you decide to take a risk or tell a filthy story, it’s entertainment after all. No one will like every form of it, so knowing your audience is important. I warn people about the nature of my work right off the bat. I don’t want people to not be informed about what it is they are about to watch. The world is hungry for blood anyway, always has been.
H: Of course there are always people who jump the gun, especially in a world where everyone looks to blame others for their problems. What do you have to say to everyone who insinuates that you, as a director of rape flicks, are promoting violent behavior to the masses?
A: Maybe my films do inspire violence, hatred, intolerance, vulgarity, impropriety and indulgence but what inspired the world to inspire me? Also, go outside, don’t watch the TV, don’t listen to the news, try and effect change in places and times of need, raise your children to be kind, tolerant, intelligent and understanding people. Please.
H: Going forward with your career after Hunters and The Sadist, do you think you’ll stay in the rape-torture genre or will you experiment with something just as sinister?
A: I don’t try and make the same film twice. Hunters and The Sadist are both very different stories. I want to make all types of horror films. I want to terrify. I love scary stories so until I die I’ll be telling them.
*Thank you for taking the time to chat with me Adam Ahlbrandt. It’s certainly been an interesting experience!