From The Exorcist to The Ring, bloodthirsty audiences have been captivated by the fresh savage imagery that cinema has offered for decades. Today these films reign as classics while a new seed of horror is being sown, and it’s clear Robert LaSardo is leaving his impression on the new school of movie macabre and its viewers. Recently, we were graced with the chance to catch up with him to talk about his involvement in Human Centipede 3 and his new film, Anarchy Parlor.
Are we to expect the "disturbing" and "unsettling" bar to be raised with HC3?
There are great expectations in the minds of many fans for the Final sequence. I would say to the devotees that are ready to riot over the franchise, get ready for a slight departure from the first film. This is not to suggest that part 3 will be any less potent, only that it was designed to have a commercial appeal so that it might reach a larger audience. Based on what I read and observed during the shoot, I feel the films scope will encompass more than just a series of barbaric vignettes.
How was working with Tom Six?
Given the tortuous nature of Tom’s vision within his films, I felt fortunate that he and his sister Ilona Six, the executive producer, were such a joy to work with. I am grateful for the experience of having worked with a man like Tom who is uncompromising in the execution of his vision.
Let’s talk about Anarchy Parlor, a film you recently starred in. It’s evident you found creative comrades in Kenny and Devon. It seems you're on the same page as far how you all view the true roots of the tattoo community. Do you feel Hollywood has tried to box and sell a certain faux portrayal of that community?
I feel Hollywood distorts and manipulates all aspects of human experience. It exploits certain qualities within inter personal relationships to produce an ideal that doesn't exist to sell a drug: Escapism. It's neither good nor bad. It's simply not real. A truly genius filmmaker can romanticize a human dilemma and convince the most rational minds that what their viewing is plausible in terms of reality. Many people are tattooed these days but the stigma remains. In Hollywood mythos, the tattooed character is often presented in a condition or circumstance of limitation. Intelligence is not communicated or is diminished by a flaw within the personality "type" of the tattooed person. What's left is a social pariah or deviant. Hollywood will certainly decorate its champions to exploit an element of danger or sex appeal but will never go deeper than that. As far as the tattoo community goes, I see more fragmentation than unity. I think this is partially due to reality television turning the expression of art into a contest. Some of the tattoo artist's seem to fall prey to the instant celebrity status the forum can induce. I feel this has damaged the integrity of an artistic practice that use to be very personal and even spiritual.
Were those observations a catalyst for the creation of this film?
Yes. After many conversations with writer & director team Kenny Gage & Devon Downs it was obvious we were all fed up with the limitations placed on us by the status quo within the framework of studio policy. Kenny Gage and Devon Downs are no strangers to the sub culture of the tattoo community long before it descended into a trivial trend. They embraced me with respect and without the usual prejudice that had me tip toeing through Hollywood for years trying not to offend the timid egos within the realm. They saw me as an artist, not a deviant, with an appreciation for my ink and the courage it took to wear it long before it became a reality show. Anarchy Parlor was conceived after many discussions with Kenny and Devon as a way to circumvent the frustration we all had being consigned to creative confinement knowing we could produce something more effectual than mediocrity. The idea was to introduce an element in terms of character that would be considered radical: Intelligence. After a year of compiling the necessary elements and resources to move forward, Kenny & Devon handed me a script with a fully developed character for me to play and two thousand words of dialogue to memorize. The buffoonery of management could not understand the value of what I had been given and barked a miserly mantra over my potentially bankable presence as an ex-convict on television. I ignored them and got on a plane headed to Lithuania with Kenny and Devon to film Anarchy Parlor on the cobbled streets of a world centuries-old.
Give us an overview of Anarchy Parlor’s plot.
A mysterious nomad known as the "Artist" practices a dark art form passed down through the generations.
Please elaborate on this radical character.
The Artist owns a tattoo parlor where he creates paintings for clients using an unorthodox method handed down to him by his forefathers from centuries past. The Artist embraces existentialism as way to communicate his beliefs to other characters in the film who find themselves trapped in a situation of their own making.
The violence in Anarchy Parlor may at times seem gratuitous but it is not without meaning. There is an ideology communicated within the act itself that places the responsibility in the lap of those who wander into situations governed by their own curiosity. Free will itself is examined by the Artist as the potential culprit in the DNA of humanity. He explains his methodology during a series of rituals & experiments to expose the individual to his her own choices. In this sense, every character in the film is accountable for their own actions.
Why Lithuania, and were Lithuanians accepting of the film and your purpose there?
The landscape of Vilnius, Lithuania, with its medieval character and centuries of stone looming over us, was probably the most valuable element needed to authenticate the mysterious realm of the Artist. Our collaboration with the Lithuanian film crew, despite the language barrier, proved to be a courageous undertaking as we embraced the tempestuous political nature of independent film making together. When the stability of the production was threatened and came under fire, we stood together as a team to complete our task regardless of the obstacles and succeeded. Outside the sphere of the film, I felt a strong connection to the spirit within the old city as well as the people in it. I was able to make friends with a local tattoo artist and found myself in his chair getting tattooed. My only complaint concerning the experience in Vilnius is that I had to leave. A poem to commemorate the experience: 'Through an ancient gateway along the streets of a dream I touched both Heaven and Hell. The fire was found not within the stones but in the eyes of the one who guided me.
I had read that while this is a gruesome gore piece, it's also perversely funny. Sounds like the makings of a cult classic, wouldn't you agree?
I hope so. If it can entertain some and inspire others I feel we've done justice to the art form of cinema.
How do you anticipate horror fans' reception of the film?
I think some audience members may appreciate the ideology communicated by the Artist that suggests the courage and strength of will necessary to claim ones true destiny.
Anarchy Parlor will be released to pre-theatrical markets May 12th, 2015 on 100 million screens across the US, followed by its US theatrical release, June 19th, 2015!
Horror fans please note that Richard Embree has taken Robert LaSardo to print as “Dante” in Forrest Publishing’s new horror graphic novel, The Keeper! Be on the lookout for that Kickstarter COMING SOON! (ForrestPublishing.com)
Also note, if you’re looking for a gore ride through Hell and back, you can check out my 5-tale horror anthology, Pieces of Madness! Now available on Amazon and RocketInkStudios.com