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David DeCoteau

David: "The business of smut is the
cleanest business I've been in".

Conducted by Phil Davies Brown
July 2nd, 2004

I once read somewhere that the horror genre is only a step away from pornography. How fitting that my next interview is with non other than King of horror or some might argue Queen of horror David DeCoteau.

Read on for all the gossip on how David made the leap from Porn to Horror and for his very honest opinion on his critics, his films and the ups and downs of life in Hollywood.

When did you first become interested in the medium of film?
I love movies. I have since I was 8. I also enjoy making them.

How did you go about breaking into the industry?
I started writing to Roger Corman and his assistant at the time Gale Anne Hurd. He took my phone calls and I met with him when I was 17. He is a great man and very inspiring. I owe three people to my "so called" success in this business. Mr. Roger Corman, Mr. Terry LeGrand and Mr. Charles Band.

Is it true that you started out making Gay Porn?
That part of my past is so much less interesting than you'd think. I started in porn when I was 19. I worked as an assistant, then sound man, then cameraman, then editor etc. This was back in the days when porn was shot on film and I learned every job on a movie set. Back then porn had to look like a real movie with dialogue, story, many locations, etc. These features were shot in 2 or 3 days. I wrote a script and a wonderful man, producer Terry LeGrand bought it and let me direct it. He called me on my 21st birthday and offered me this job. Great birthday present! The people in that business always treated me very well, and were all professional, generous and totally reliable. The business of smut is the cleanest business I've been in. My first film was Making it Huge. It was slick, fun, sexy and profitable. After that I worked for every company because I had a reputation of quality, reliability and care in the work. I directed 32 adult movies in 3 years and I made a hell of a lot of money. Enough to make a horror film.....

Do you feel that film school is important for aspiring filmmakers?
Sure. Why not. Success in this business is certainly not an exact science. There are many roads to success. I just bulldozed my own road. I am fearless and adventurous and have 3 balls. I love a challenge and am very impatient. I wanted to retire at 40!

Do you agree that you can only study so much in film theory, and then you pick the real tricks of the trade up on set?
It’s all important but working on a set is crucial.

Your first major success was with 'Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O- Rama' in 1988. The film had an amazing cast of B-movie stars. Can you tell us how you became involved in the project and what it was like to work on including any funny stories or mishaps?
Oh boy. I can't remember back that far but it was a hoot and the experience covered in other interviews ad nauseum.

A major part in your career was spent producing and directing the 'Puppet Master' films. Can you tell us how you became involved in the franchise, and plans for the series to continue?
I was hired to direct PM3 because it was designed to be shot in Romania. At that time it was a real pain in the ass to shoot in Romania and I was the only fool who would say yes. I am happy with the end result even though it was shot faster and cheaper than any of the first 5. We shot PM3 in LA after checking the weather report in Eastern Europe during a particularly brutal winter there.

Evil Never Dies in 'Talisman'.

Which of the films in the series are your favourite and your least favourite?
My fave would have to be PM3 and my least fave is Curse (PM6)

Who is your favourite Puppet?
Oh Leech woman of course.

You worked continuously within the genre and then in 1997 you directed ‘Shrieker’ which was the forerunner to your Rapid Heart films. Can you tell us a bit about the project and if indeed this is when you first noticed that these movies were going to be favourites with fans?
I shot that picture in 6 days for Charlie and it turned out to be a big hit. SCREAM had re-energized the teen horror movie so we followed that formula and it sold well.

’Talisman’ also demonstrated the teen influence creeping into your work. How was that project?
Nice. But I had a bad accident in Romania half way through the shoot. I fell down some stairs and dislocated my elbow. I was medivact to Vienna Austria for emergency surgery. I was bed ridden in Vienna for 3 days and then tried to sneak out of the hospital and head back to Bucharest to continue shooting. I had to sign a form with the hospital for an early release. They didn't want me to leave as I was on heavy medication. The 2nd half of the shoot I was in a wheelchair jammed packed full of pain killer and drinking liquid caffeine from the drug store to stay awake. It was horrible. I barely remember the last part of the shoot.

I also really enjoyed ‘Witchouse’, how did the project come about?
I love the Night of The Demons franchise produced by my friends Jeff and Walter at Blue Rider. I made that movie as an audition for them so they would hire me for NOTD4. They didn't hire me but the shoot was great and I love working with Ariauna Albright. Jeff and Walter eventually hired me for Wishmaster 3 and 4 but that is a whole other story.

One of the stars of the film Dave Oren Ward was very sadly stabbed to death shortly after the movie was made. This would mark the second time that one of your colleagues had died the first being Robin Stille. Do you feel that when something like that happens, especially in the entertainment world, it is even more shocking because Hollywood is perceived to be a magical place?
I have worked with hundreds and hundreds of actors. Dave and Robin were special. Life is so fragile. I have lost so many friends in Hollywood. Too many to count. I loved Dave. He was beautiful. When we'd get together he would give me a kiss and call me "Baby doll". I miss him.

I know from personal experience that the entertainment world is not an easy place to work. What do you think has helped your career longevity?
Adrenalin. Pure and simple. This is the most desired profession in the world. Isn't the joke "what I really want to do is direct”. I am soooooooo lucky. Even as an atheist I feel blessed.

I was pleasantly surprised by ‘Ancient Evil Scream of the Mummy’ which was released here in the UK as ‘Bram Stoker's Legend of the Mummy 2’. Can you tell us about the shoot?
4 day shoot and very successful world wide. It played on HBO at 8pm on a Friday night!

In 2000 you entered a new phase of your career with the movie ‘The Brotherhood’ where you set out to make low budget teen oriented horror movies. Did you have any idea how popular the films would become?
In a way yes. Because I knew there was an untapped market out their for homoerotic horror that kept teen girls interested too. I think there are about 450,000 DVDs of The Brotherhood out there in the US. Unbelievable.

Last One Alive Wins in 'Final Stab'.

’Final Stab’ is another movie that was so popular that it was included as part of another series of films, receiving the bootleg title of ‘Scream 4’ in America. Do you feel honored that people want to pass your work off as sequels to established movie series?
Hell yes! If you only knew how cheap these films are made.

We are a little behind here in the UK often having to wait longer for your movies. Can you tell us a little about your upcoming projects from Leeches to Witches of the Caribbean?
They'll be out soon in the UK.

You often use an alias, is it because you are ashamed of some of your work or is there an ulterior motive?
Union reasons really.

From 2000 onwards you very bravely decided that your films were going to feature naked men instead of naked women. Has the response to this been very positive? It is such a simple trick but no one would ever have been brave enough to make a horror film with a guy in the shower until you thought of it!!
Very simple. I'm glad I thought of it!

Who are your favourite Directors and how have they influenced your work?
John Waters, Irwin Allen, Roger Corman and Joel Schumacher.

I have reviewed many of your films and am the first to admit the similarities; however I applaud your work as you take a low budget and produce decent little films that always manage to entertain. Do you feel that a lot of people unfairly criticize you for being unoriginal when they are failing to see that you are not claiming to be the next M Night Shyamalan, you are merely trying to make a decent movie with the required conventions and clichés for entertainment purposes?
Cruel criticism is such a sad waist of time on the critic's part. If you don't like it just give it a one star and move on to something you like. The critics should use this time writing a script, if they are such experts, and actually make a few bucks selling that script, rather than giving the review away on the internet. It’s silly and sad, especially when they get so damn personal. I have to laugh that their lives are so empty that they have the time to write the review after they see the movie. The ironic thing is that my worst reviewed films are financially the most successful. I get some wonderful reviews as you can see on my site www.rapidheart.com.

"Thank you ever so much for taking part in this interview David.
And we wish you the very best of luck in the future."

You can visit the official Rapid Heart web site here: www.rapidheart.com

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