A multi-genre hybrid that blends romance, supernatural, horror, and thrills, Avenged (or Savaged as its titled in some territories) tells of a gang who brutalize a deaf girl (Amanda Adrienne, in an excellent performance) only to see her lifeless body return by way of an Apache warrior’s spirit - one with revenge in mind. The film is getting a U.S release in March.
Director Michael S.Ojeda spared time to talk to us about his delicious desert ditty.
So, the question needs to be asked : Do you have to be a horror movie fan to make a horror movie?
I think the more you enjoy and understand the genre, the better chance you have at appealing to the horror fan base. Especially as a screenwriter, you really have to understand what horror movie goers enjoy watching, and be willing to delve into the dark side of human nature and allow yourself to go there. Where Avenged is concerned, yes, it is a horror film for commercial and marketing purposes, but I see it as more of a Supernatural/Action/Love story. Yes, I did say love story.
Where did your fondness for horror and thrillers start? Any films in particular that influenced you?
I watched a heavy dose of horror and action films as a child. My father would pick me up every weekend and we would go see midnight showings of horror and cult films and it became this cool exciting ritual I always looked forward to. I was actually under age, maybe 13 or 14 at the time, but my dad would sneak me in. Maybe it warped me a bit, but I loved it. Off the top of my head, I remember seeing Phantasm, Dawn of the Dead, Enter the Dragon, Christine, just very cool movies at the time. We’re talking mid 80’s.
How did you get involved in this wonderfully fun project?
I was toying with ideas for a film, wanted to do something that could take place in the desert on a modest budget. Generally, ideas come to me from a void in the marketplace. Something I want to see, that hasn’t been created. I loved Zombie films, revenge films, female driven action films, and wanted to fuse those elements together. With those elements in mind, the story of Avenged came to me.
And the lead character is essentially a female Eric Draven, right?
Kind of yeah. Zoe is a woman who is murdered, then her body is possessed by the spirit of a legendary Apache warrior. Her attackers are the racist ancestors of the military general who killed the Apache a hundred years ago. So, both she and the spirit share a mutual agenda. The only difference here, which I think makes the concept original is that - unlike “The Crow” her body of flesh continues to decay. So, as the film draws to it’s conclusion, she’s a grotesque mess. Basically, Zoe is a Zombie protagonist.
Did you have fun crafting cool ways for her to kill?
It’s not so much that I enjoy cool ways for her to kill, but rather I love good brutal, hardcore action. The men Zoe kills in so many creative ways deserve what they get in Avenged. I like the carnage to be motivated by the characters determination and the drama of the unfolding story. So, yes, I love good, creative, bloody, action sequences where the bad guys get what’s coming to them. Would I create a movie like Saw, or Hostile, movies that play only two basic primal chords, fear and disgust. No. I like to make films with good stories, even if they are basic on the surface. I want to impact the audience on a broader emotional spectrum.
The movie is already out in some territories; why is the U.S the last to see it?
It wasn’t a part of the strategy. It just so happened the foreign markets jumped on Avenged first, releasing it by it’s original title “Savaged.” The U.S. is a tough market right now, there’s a glut of horror product out there (most of it pretty bad) but sometimes even good stuff never sees the light of day. Now that it’s here, I believe it will find it’s audience.
How important are reviews to you? Are they still as important as they used to be in this day and age of social media madness?
For a filmmaker, reviews are incredibly important and any filmmaker who say otherwise is full of bs. A movie can live or die by reviews. That said, you don’t need 100% of the critics and audience to give it a 10 either. You need a strong fan base who loves what you do, including critics. Enough to warrant your making another film. Because if your not making it for them, who are you making it for. Yourself? Making movies is too expensive. I like to believe you need: 33.3% to love what you do. 33.3% to like what you do. And the remaining 33.3%, well, to hell with them. We can’t all be Steven Spielberg.