By The Riz
SASKATOON — What do you get when you take a set of demon possessed instruments, latex make up, a camera crew, and more willing Saskatoonians than a narcissist themed love-in? The Saskatoon produced, written, directed, filmed, and acted comedy/horror classic Instruments of Evil, a movie of vignettes following the exploits of unwilling saps who come across demonic instruments. From Hip Hop Zombies, Viking folklore, rock and roll dealings with the Devil, a flabbergasted cop teaming up with a strong-sensed hooker, and the worst Christmas dinner ever, Instruments of Evil is a clever contribution to the canon of independent horror movies.
Creating a list of questions for writer/director/actor Huw Douglas Evans to use as a basis to construct a well-worded, thought-provoking article, I received, using Evans’ own words, answers “like those rambling manifestos mass murderers and bombers leave behind.” In that vein, after cutting over 3,000 words, is Evans’ own “rambiling manifesto” regarding his non-government funded, self-produced, written, directed and shot (except for the one-quarter that was written, directed, and shot by the brilliant Curtis Anderson) independent film Instruments of Evil. (Spoiler alerts will be kept to a minimum.)
BeatRoute: Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. First off, what were your biggest challenges creating IOE?
Huw Douglas Evans: The effort required to create a feature-length film, even a low-budget B-movie like Instruments of Evil turned out to be staggering, and the fact I had to do so many tasks myself compounded the difficulty, as did my woeful lack of experience. My OCD and inclination to micromanage didn’t help either, but the experience has at least partially cured those tendencies! Although I did do most of it myself, it’s important to mention that Curtis Anderson entirely wrote and directed the “Gratuitous Violins” segment – essentially one quarter of the movie – and I also had incredible support from my sons, Dylan and Douglas, who ran cameras and helped in too many other ways to mention. Douglas also assisted with some of the writing and Dylan did all our editing. Without these three guys, my dear wife Brenda a.k.a. “Sugar Momma” bringing in a real paycheque, and about 150 other people who helped out, I would not have succeeded.
BR: How did the casting call work? Did you have auditions or tap specific people?
HDE: Every which way you can imagine. Some people we knew, some responded to audition calls, some I called, some called me, many are professional actors but just as many are not.
BR: The main cop character is named, and acted, by Henry Savage, a great local reference! All the performances seem natural. As a director, how did you get inexperienced actors to buy into their characters so well?
HDE: We had planned to audition Rich Belhumeur, who plays Sgt. Henry Savage, before shooting but something came up, so we went into that two-day shoot in the cop shop location totally cold. I had no idea if Rich could act or not. Fortunately for me, he was fantastic and he and Anna Mazurik (who played Nadine the hooker) had excellent chemistry and really carried the ending of the film. I am grateful to all our actors and crew; everyone gave much, much more than I could reasonably have expected.
BR: As a side point, I contacted Rich Belhumeur a.k.a. Savage Henry, Saskatoon shock rock aficionado, and asked how he received the role in IOE.
Savage Henry: I got drunk and BS’d Huw about how good my acting was, and he ended up giving me a part!
BR: How important was it for you to have local references in your movie, such as local musician Savage Henry, local noir-punk band Shockflesh and the iconic 8th Street Books and Comics, with owner Pat Thompson right in the front row of the rock concert scene?
HDE: I want the film to be entertaining to anyone in the world, but I also like having some Saskatoon references and jokes. You might have noticed, for example, that the cop who catches the dildo is called “Dirks,” which is a reference to “Dirty Dirks,” the sex shop that used to be on 20th Street. I was oddly thrilled when someone at the test screenings actually got that obscure reference!
BR: Who was in charge of your effects and how difficult was it to pull off?
HDE: We had excellent makeup people throughout the three years of shooting. They were often sweet, innocent-looking young ladies who just happen to love creating gruesome, bloody effects! For that face-pulling effect, the artist was Amanda Ashdown who was only 15 at the time. In a classic Saskatchewan story, I reconnected on Facebook with a guy I’d ridden the school bus with 45 years ago in my hometown, happened to see some Hallowe’en makeup his daughter Amanda had done, and hired her!
BR: How was IOE received, critically and by fans?
HDE: Astoundingly well! I’m honestly starting to worry about people’s taste and sanity! Of course “B-movie” or “grindhouse” films represent a niche market that will never appeal to some people, but we’ve been amazed at how well that target demographic (weirdos like me, basically) has received the film. Paul Corupe, who runs Canuxploitation.com, and who is as knowledgeable about this type of film as anyone in this country, called it, “An absurdly funny horror anthology that hits all the right notes!” I can’t ask for more than that! It’s also interesting to see family and friends who would never normally go to an exploitation movie like this, watching the show and enjoying it.
BR: Now that IOE is released, what are the audience options for Canadian made, independent horror flicks?
HDE: If you find out, let me know! I am relying on reviews and articles like this to spread the word for now before attending trade shows. We have DVDs for sale through www.eyecat.com (or just contact Instruments of Evil on Facebook) and the good people at Videonomicon are distributing limited edition VHS tapes for the retro collector market. We are also looking at the possibility of more theatrical showings around Saskatchewan. If it isn’t obvious yet, I am making it up as I go along!
Check out eyecat.com to order Instruments of Evil on DVD.grindhouse, Instruments of Evil, Saskatoon, SK