Dustin Mills is the director of the wild and crazy film “The Puppet Monster Massacre”. Dustin took out some time with Media Mikes to chat about that film as well as his new film “Zombie A-Hole”.
Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about what the inspiration was behind “The Puppet Monster Massacre”?
Dustin Mills: It’s the same with every film idea I come up with. I am just trying to make films that I would want to watch. I look for holes in the B-Movie universe and try to fill them.
MG: Are you surprised with the response this film has gotten?
DM: The response has been rather mixed, and honestly the only places it sells well are Horror Conventions. I think my surprise came from seeing it featured in magazines and websites that I had read for years. We were in HorrorHound, Fangoria, and there was a review on AintItCoolNews. That was wild. That’s the stuff that makes my heart race.
MG: When can we expect the sequel to this film?
DM: I really want to make one, but so for we haven’t had a ton of luck with raising the funds. I have the outline, I have started the screenplay, but now it just boils down to hard numbers. I’m not going to make the film until I can give it everything it needs. My plan right now is to produce some low budget exploitative short films to sell with the sole purpose of raising money for PMM2. It will happen… its just a matter of time.
MG: Tell us how it was going to puppets to “Zombie A-Hole”?
DM: It was much much easier. Production was smoother because I wasn’t playing every single part (we had no puppeteers for PMM) and post was easier because we had real locations instead of a greenscreen that required keying and or matte paintings and 3d backgrounds. The only thing that is more difficult about a live action film vs something like PMM is that you have to be willing to relinquish control and improvise and let your actors help build your world. Making a virtual backlot puppet film allows you to have a much narrower mind, but working with people and weird conditions forces you to be a resourceful soldier.
MG: What was your biggest challenge besides the budget of $1K?
DM: The budget was never actually a hindrance. I like working with nothing. A low budget like that forces you to be a renegade and I like that. there is something really exhilarating about shaking your camera while your actor’s wife blows fog over your car with a $20 fog machine and a fan that barely works and a couple of your buddies bounce the trunk up and down so it will kinda sorta look like the zombie hunting cowboy is driving at night. I live for that shit. The biggest challenge I guess was just time. Its hard to line up schedules, and we had a medical emergency with one of our actors that set us back for a month or so (not an onset injury mind you). That’s really it. Once we got folks together there was never really anything that held us back too much.
MG: Sticking with the horror genre, who are your idols?
DM: Thats a hard question because I have two sets of idols. I got my mainstreamers like Robert Rodriguez, Guillermo Del Toro, Sam Raimi, Dario Argento, and Fred Dekker. But then I also have my indie heroes. People like Eric Stanze, Bill Zebub, Fred Vogel, Jason Eisener, Kevin Strange, The Kuchar Brothers, and a few others. These are guys with true vision who know how to make their budgets and indie status work for them. I may not even like every movie they put out, but I respect the shit out of them. My grandaddy idol at least for right now is Jim Wynorski. I’m not sure the world will ever truly appreciate his genius.
MG: Favorite horror film?
DM: My favorite horror film and probably favorite film of all time is “The Monster Squad”. It embodies just about everything I love about horror and the magic of the movies.
MG: Tell us about your upcoming “Theatre of the Deranged II”?
DM: Well James Bressack is spearheading this wacky anthology and on it I have an animated short that is sort of inspired by anime and the sushi typhoon films called Girl Girl: Mutant Lesbo Vengeance. Its going to be quite strange and extremely bloody. I am pretty excited about it, and I am in good company on that collection. James really gathered a good group of filmmakers and I am pretty honored to be rubbing shoulders with them.
MG: What else do you have set on the horizon?
DM: I am putting the finishing touches on Night of the Tentacles. It will be out early next year probably. I am shooting a film called Kill That Bitch which will be out early next year as well. I am shooting a puppet porno music video for a Las Vegas band called The Fat Dukes of Fuck that is perhaps the strangest thing I have ever done. I recently did a video for one of their member’s other band called Demon Lung, check it out here. I have two other projects; one of which is already filmed and the other I am filming currently. I’m honestly not sure how much I can say about them so that might be a tale for another time.