Interview done by:
Th Angry Princess
Eric Stanze is the Top Dog of leading independent motion picture production
company Wicked Pixel Cinema. Stanze is an award-winning and critically-acclaimed
producer, director, writer, and editor of multiple feature length independent
movies, all currently in world-wide home video release. Stanze has also shot,
produced, and/or edited educational videos, short films, documentaries, and music
videos. He has provided voice over work for various radio commercials and
independent movies. He has been a special effects creator for various independent
films. He is also an actor in various indie features.
Eric Stanze began producing/directing low budget movies for the direct-to-video
market in 1990 (he was only 18 years old at that time). Despite his "Roger Corman"
attitudes and techniques, Stanze slowly started becoming a standout name in the
indie/horror arena. Gory and hallucinogenic b-movies THE SCARE GAME, THE
FINE ART, and SAVAGE HARVEST were directed by a young Eric Stanze. These
titles set the foundation that Wicked Pixel Cinema would be built upon.
November 15th, 2007
HF: When I was young THE EXORCIST really scared me. What movies have you
seen in your lifetime that have had a lasting impression or impact on you?
Shocked or terrified you?
Eric: The first few times I saw THE CHANGELING it was all cut up on TV and it still
scared me. I’d probably call THE CHANGELING the scariest movie I saw as a
young lad. Other movies that I saw when I was young that had a lasting impact
on me include APOCALYPSE NOW, CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, EVIL DEAD, DON’T
LOOK IN THE BASEMENT, CREEPSHOW, Romero’s DEAD films, the STAR WARS
films, and the FRIDAY THE 13TH films.
HF: If you could work on a film with any director who would you choose and
Eric: If I was there to learn, I’d work with Francis Ford Coppola or George
Romero. If I was there to experience an interesting sub-current of world cinema, I’
d hop into a time machine and go work with Mario Bava. If I just wanted to
collaborate with a peer who I respect and I know I’d enjoy working with, I’d work
with Jim Van Bebber, Fred Vogel, or with Jason Christ again.
HF: The first movie I saw of yours was CHINA WHITE SERPENTINE. What made
you want to make a film about the seedy soul consuming world of drugs? You
see a vicious circle played out along with the deterioration of the three
characters; it’s actually sad in a way.
Eric: Yeah, that movie just kinda crept up on me. I was a producer on a movie
called THE SUICIDE ROOM, but the production fell through due to scheduling
difficulties with that movie’s director. CHINA WHITE SERPENTINE was a project I
had in my back pocket. Jeremy Wallace and I had developed it to a degree, just
for fun, but we had no specific plans to actually produce the movie. When THE
SUICIDE ROOM dissolved, I put CHINA WHITE into production as a replacement. I
started writing the screenplay for CHINA WHITE and something about it
connected with me. I asked Robin Garrels to help me fine tune the script. There
was no director selected for this movie at this time. I really wanted to direct it,
but my schedule was insane and I knew I would be unable to focus on it.
I fell in love with the project and I felt like I’d just screw it up if I tried to jam it into
my already overflowing workload. I asked Robin to direct and she agreed -
hesitantly. She had the same problem as me - too many projects going at once.
Eventually it was decided that we "tag team" direct the movie. I thought it
worked out fine. I’m proud of the movie. CHINA WHITE isn’t our movie. It was a
producer-for-hire job for me. So to go through so much effort and pour so much
passion into this movie says a lot about how emotionally connected to the
material I became. There was all this chaos, frustration, and anger brewing in me
from my intense work schedule (and its impact on my personal life). All this was
vented into that movie. That’s probably why CHINA WHITE is so chaotic, violent,
grating, and sad. It was good therapy.
HF: Where on Earth did you draw your inspiration from while planning and making
the film ICE FROM THE SUN? It is intensely graphic but somewhat confusing. The
storyline states: Alison must journey through this universe of chaos to search for
the architect of all this pain, horror and death.
Eric: I probably could have answered that question better ten years ago. I was a
very different person then compared to now. Even I look at ICE FROM THE SUN
today and find it completely bizarre. I don’t remember what inspired me to write
ICE FROM THE SUN, but perhaps a lot of personal demons poured into the script
(as they often do). Honestly, I don’t remember feeling angry or somber or
confused when I wrote ICE, but to look at the thing today, it would seem I had
some seriously dismal personal issues back then!
My memory of writing ICE FROM THE SUN does not include any attempt to make
profound statements about death and evil. I just remember being an irresponsible
kid, typing up that script, thinking, "this will make a cool movie!" …maybe my
mind is blocking out some darkness in my past, but I really don’t remember being
in a somber or angry state of mind when I wrote ICE FROM THE SUN.
HF: Now when I reviewed your film SCRAPBOOK, it really took a hold of me. I
kept thinking "What if that was me?" I kept thinking about it after the movie was
long over. There is a book called "Found" that Leonard uses as his scrapbook. Is
that an actual title that readers like me can get a hold of? Or did you just make it
Eric: We just made up the title "Found" as something Leonard would have put
there on the book. I loved that title because it could mean so many things. It
made you think. Was it in reference to the "found" items in the book? Or the
"found" victims who wrote in the book? Did it mean the victims had "found"
Leonard? Or was it in reference to Leonard’s goal to become famous… as in, the
scrapbook would eventually be "found" by other people? I really liked having that
interesting touch of ambiguity in the movie, stuck ight there on the scrapbook
prop. For about a day, we considered changing the title of the movie to FOUND,
but it was better left in the background.
HF: I SPIT ON YOUR CORPSE, I PISS ON YOUR GRAVE was wild! This is one movie
in particular where you push the limits and show things other producers and
directors wouldn’t let the audience see. Sandy was meant to be a victim but
instead ends up the tormentor. Watching it, I was disgusted yet excited she was
making them pay. Were you hesitant at all about showing some of these
Eric: Oddly enough, everyone associated with the project was enthusiastic about
how extreme the movie would be. This was another producer-for-hire job for
me. This was not one of our movies. We were making SPIT for companies in New
York, the UK, and France. The producers in France asked us to push the limits and
take the movie as far as we could. I felt inclined to follow these instructions
because these guys were writing the checks. But it was also something I was
really interested in doing. I’m a fan of exploitation movies, epecially Joe D’Amato
films. I thought it would be cool to make a movie like that …and my cast and
crew were shockingly eager to follow me. I do regret making that movie for one
reason. We were very rushed. I knew when I was sending it out the door that it
I knew it sucked. I’ve said negative things about the movie in the past, and it is
always misinterpreted I believe. People think I’m embarrassed about making a
sleazy exploitation film. Or they think I’m angry because the French investors
pushed the movie into such extreme territory. None of this is true. I only have
negative feelings about the movie because the filmmaking is bad. You can have all
that nasty stuff in there and still make a well executed movie. I did not make a
well executed movie. My shooting schedule was too short (only 8 days) and my
post-production was extremely rushed. I should not have blasted through it. I
should have taken more time to make a better movie when I saw it was coming
together poorly. I was under a lot of pressure to finish fast I should have ignored
Earlier this year, I was given an opportunity to "fix" I SPIT ON YOUR CORPSE, I
PISS ON YOUR GRAVE. I re-edited the movie and I took the time to make it
much, much better. It was re-released as "The Official Director’s Version" of I
SPIT ON YOUR CORPSE, I PISS ON YOUR GRAVE. It was wonderful to have that
opportunity. It was great to go back and improve an inferior work. But when a
movie is made like SPIT was made, you’ll never get it back one hundred percent.
It’s not a "great" movie now… The Official Director’s Version elevates the movie
up from "bad" to "competent" perhaps. But it will never be "great." Oh well. Live