It can be a real shock to the system when anyone passes away especially when it is someone you admire from afar. Necrophagia was the real deal. The ultimate combination of the two things I love the most, horror and extreme music and their frontman Killjoy aka Frank Pucci lived and breathed the stuff. His band burst out the crypt way back in 1984 with their Death Is Fun demo and embarked on a bloody career that was not without a few hiccups and stacks of line up changes along the way. During it Killjoy had the chance to praise his favourite films, from Ruggero Deodato’s Cannibal Holocaust 1980 to Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond as well as act in Toetag Pictures nefarious August Underground’s Mordum 2003, one of the most harrowing splatter films ever committed to celluloid. One of many side projects The Ravenous album Blood Delirium was it’s soundtrack which he decomposed along with the likes of Dan Lilker and Chris Reifert. He had also played with Viking Crown, Wurdulak and more recently Haxxan, the latter with the final line-up of Necrophagia. With the new Necrophagia album apparently finished I had the pleasure to sit down and have a beer with him last time the band played the Underworld, where he talked about it with enthusiasm as well as plans to hopefully write some more soundtrack music in the style of Enoch who he had previously worked on with Mirai of Sigh. His passing came completely out the blue and the tributes are pouring in, Killjoy was incredibly well respected and it has left many in shock. It somehow seems fitting to put up this interview in honour as it saw him talking about what he loved most apart from music horror films. This was conducted just before the band played the Underworld in London with Exmortem and Labrat in support 22/1/2005
R.I.P Killjoy you ungodly Warlock
With Necrophagia playing in town I really wanted to get an interview with Killjoy. Not only is he their front man but he also has a hectic schedule vocalising for Wurduluk, Viking Crown, The Ravenous and Eibon. There was one problem as he is rather fed up and bored of doing them. After a chat with Mirai of Necrophagia and Sigh about the possibility of doing an interview and on Killjoy finding out we were going to chat about horror films and not music I was promptly whisked off to the tour bus and here is what occurred.
Firstly as we are talking about horror films lets go right back to the first time you got to see one. What was it that got you hooked on the genre and what films made an impact on your eager young mind?
I would definitely say some of the first things I remember were the Hammer Films, principally the really menacing red eyes. Before that I think it was a couple of Universal films but they didn’t really have the impact of seeing the real fangs and the blood and the eyes. They left a real impression on me that wouldn’t go away and left me scared out of my fucking mind for 3 days. I was about 4 years old and after that I just wanted to see more and more and more.
As far as I am concerned horror films work on two levels. You have the scare factor, films that literally cause you to shit your pants and the shock value, films drenched in blood that viscerally challenge you. Would you agree that in recent times neither aspect is being competently catered for? Are there any films out there that you would consider deliver the goods on both levels?
On both levels no, nothing recently at all. Charlie’s Family would be the closest thing although not a proper horror film. The subject matters are horrific, really realistic because watching that film about the whole Manson cult family thing you literally forget that you are watching a movie. It looks like someone was there videotaping the whole thing as it actually happens. That’s the sort of thing that gives you a really uneasy feeling. Other than that there’s been nothing since Last House On The Left, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby. Those movies work very much on the level that scares the shit out of you but with gore. Of course through the 80s and the early 90s films were graphically violent and well done but I find not many combine the 2 elements well.
It seems to me that all the major studios are interested in are churning out teen infatuated slashers with potential sequel value. When the likes of the original Friday The 13th and Nightmare On Elm Street came out they shocked and challenged audiences with their brutal inventiveness. What do you think of the new breed of nu-metal soundtrack driven Jeepers Creepers style of movie?
I think it’s all garbage I’ve said all along that metal music, rap music, nu-metal, whatever shit does not belong in horror movies and that’s one the main reasons that they fail. I wouldn’t want our music in a real horror movie. They lack the real feel and the atmosphere. Compared to the likes of Riz Ortolani or Goblin? Exactly.
I would be very surprised if you haven’t seen Rob Zombies House Of 1000 Corpses. I was disturbed by all the studio interference in getting the film toned down to make it audience friendly. I still really enjoyed it and found it a step back to the 80s when films such as TCM were causing a stir. What did you think of it?
I thought it was really good, I thought it was well done. The main thing I liked was the cinematography throughout the film. It was very disjointed almost like you said a throwback to the 70s and maybe early 80s horror films. It reminded me almost of a proper Texas Chainsaw Massacre sequel minus Leatherface. It really just played on the whole family thing that was created in the TCM Part 2. I found it really entertaining, scary, violent and gory.
Lets get away from the mainstream stuff and onto the sort of films we really like.
Loading up Necrophagia’s website we are taken into the intro music from Jorg Buttgereits Nekromantic rather than your own music. You are obviously a fan and I remember being blown away on first seeing the movie at the now defunct Scala Cinema. Everything he directed was breathtaking but since falling foul of the powers at Warner Brothers his artistic creativity has been cut off. Do you think we will ever get a new Buttgereit film?
I’m not sure its one of those things that has left me wondering as well. The last film of his that I saw was probably Schramm or The Death King, which I thought was rubbish.
Your own Through The Eyes Of The Dead video is without doubt the most blood soaked music video ever made. You worked with Jim Van Bebber on this. How did this come about?
Oh well we were actually really good friends well before that. I was a big fan of Deadbeat At Dawn, My Sweet Satan and especially Roadkill, which is one of the few movies made in the 90s that captures the essence of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It’s just so overly violent, exceptionally brilliant and simply so disturbing. Any director that films anything now that I like I pretty much am in contact with. As far as Jim is concerned I have a total respect for his films and his attitude towards filmmaking.
Did Jim come up with the narrative ideas for the videos or was this something that you actively collaborated on?
Oh yeah him and I actively collaborated on it. Some of the ideas I came up with some him. We really had a good working relationship as he’s very open minded and if I had an idea he tried to make it happen. On that video he is the director, cinematographer and the makeup artist.
I hear that Van Bebber has a bit of a volatile temper and strives for 100% perfection. What was he actually like to work with?
Yeah he is very much a perfectionist but we pretty much gave him full creative reigns and there was no kind of conflict. It just went from A to B with no problems.
Do you think we are ever going to see a release of Charlie’s Family and am I ever going to be able to replace my old worn down working print of it?
Absolutely, I was chatting to the guys from Blue Underground about a week ago and they’re financing the finalisation of it so I’m guessing September we will see it on DVD and prior to that its going to be playing festivals.
The video features your homage to the great man himself (and one it is high time to mention) Lucio Fulci. And You Will Live In Terror is a wild pastiche of scenes from my favourite film of his The Beyond? I was completely numbed by the great mans passing and find this the ultimate tribute. I also was very pleased to find the video turning up on Anchor Bay’s definitive release of The Beyond. Give me your thoughts on Fulci and what are your favourite films of his?
Well for me personally, Fulci took my love of horror and gore to another level. On first seeing the film Zombie (I believe it is known as Zombie Flesheaters over here), I had seen extreme violence and gore before that but never to the level that he took it to. The zombies themselves looked that much more believable. I know a lot of people watch his films and want to criticise them but for me it’s the opposite. I like the raw crude attitude, the look of the zombies, the total decay of them with the maggots coming out of their eyes. One of the turning points for me was really the scene with the splinter, when you’re watching and waiting for when it goes straight into the eye. Not over here it doesn’t! (Laughs) when I saw that I was just fucking completely amazed. It’s probably the single most stunning scene I’d ever witnessed up to that point. The only other thing up to this day that really had that impact on me was Anthropophagous by Joe D’Amato when the cannibal reaches in and pulls out the foetus and takes a bite out of it. It was a dead rabbit dude. Yes totally but fucking realistic. Fulci himself was very much a pioneer testing what had previously been done. Zombie Flesheaters, The Beyond, House By The Cemetery and City Of The Living Dead all of them combined great atmosphere, horrific effects and really over the top gore. Seeing a little girl’s head get blown to bits and seeing another girl throw up her entire intestinal tract, seeing a priest hang himself, for me there’s very few of his films I don’t like. Maybe some of the more recent TV stuff but New York Ripper, Don’t Torture A Duckling, Lizard In A Woman’s Skin and even Demonia with the quartering scene, for me it just doesn’t get any better than that. It’s the combination of good stories (although sometimes disjointed and hard to follow), which makes them impossible to stop watching along with the really great music adding to the atmosphere.
Whilst in Italy lets move onto Dario Argento! I got a bit frustrated with his output post Opera but think Non Ho Sonnno is a return to form. I would love to see a conclusion to his supernatural trilogy (Suspiria, Inferno). Do you think he is ever going to deliver the goods?
I personally would really love to see him finish off the trilogy but I honestly don’t think it’s going to happen because the financial backing isn’t there. He is just such a perfectionist that I don’t think he will settle for anything less than he did with the first two. I think Non Ho Sonno was a great return back to stuff like Deep Red and Tenebrae. You know he is working on a new one that will be called The Card Player. From what I hear it’s supposed to be really violent about a serial killer who plays poker with the police over the internet and every time they are wrong he takes a limb or a finger from one of the victims and sends it to them.
It sounded a bit like Strangeland to me.
That’s what I thought too with a bit of Se7en. A return to the style of violent well shot films with great cinematography. Trauma and Phantom Of The Opera were bullshit and I am really pleased he is back on form.
You are putting your money where your mouth is and have signed a new deal with Red Stream Inc to work on some new DVDs with some rather well known names. Tell us what we can expect from that?
Well I just got back from Brazil where I was doing some stuff with Coffin Joe. He is a really amazing guy, 67 years old and so creative. We shot stuff that pretty much typifies what he is about, torturing women, children and being the ultimate monster. He doesn’t care about anyone or anything only about continuing his films bloodline.
We are also working with Alex Chandon on one. I’m not sure about the time frame, as we want to get one DVD out by Halloween. We are also going to work with Argento Gunnar Hansen and Mike Mendez who did the Convent. We are going to do a really fucked up animated video for Parasite Evil, a bit like a demented version of Nightmare Before Xmas. We will use animated zombie creatures and spiders, worms and ghouls it should be really good. I am also going to do one with my 5-year-old son Damon, he’s a total horror fiend and we will put in whatever he wants in it. Zombies, monsters and blood are what he says so I will have him draw down what he wants and I’m sure it’s going to be the bloodiest video ever.
One name missing from the list that I think would be a great asset is Eric Stanze are you familiar with his films and have you seen Scrapbook?
Yeah I’ve seen it and to be honest I didn’t find it really disturbing, it was very drawn out and it just didn’t do anything for me. There’s a company called Toetag Pictures who have a film out called August Underground and August Underground Mordum, which are what that movie tried to be. These are realistic and the most depraved violent series of films dealing with supposedly real serial killers. Watching Scrapbook I just got bored so no I guess we wont be working together.
Well we disagree with something but I am definitely looking out for August Underground. The annoying thing was Killjoy had a copy and tried to show me some of the film but there was no power on the bus VCR.
Another name mentioned is Alex Chandon. I consider him the best of the underground British filmmakers and have always thought the man would be lethal with a decent budget. What did you think of Cradle Of Fear and should Dani Filth stick to singing and give up acting after it?
Well (laughs) I loved Cradle Of Fear and definitely given a proper budget he’s going to do a brilliant job. I would like to see him move onto 16mm film stock and the whole idea of Cradle just reminded me of what Amicus used to do. For me it was really good and for Dani I think for what he was asked to do, I’m sure he would be the first one to say that he was just having a good time. Power to him.
Speaking of the new album I have to bring up Flowers Of Flesh & Blood and change hemispheres as far as the questions are concerned. I am hooked on Oriental cinema but find some of it rather difficult to watch. The Guinea Pig films in particular are harrowing in the extreme. Do you actually question yourself watching unflinching misogynistic scenes of torture and dismemberment or do you look upon it as harmless fun and pure fantasy?
Absolutely, I always look on it and anything like it as entertainment. It doesn’t bother me or upset my moral values. If you were talking about some of the mondo films especially where animals are tortured or real people then I don’t have any desire to watch them. Flowers Of Flesh And Blood and Mermaid In A Manhole and the Guinea Pig Series are not my favourite style of films. It’s just outrageous gore but it is very well done. The same with films like Ichi The Killer, Asian cinema is as extreme and violent as it gets. For me it enhances what was going on in Italy in the 80s. It isn’t just the gore, there’s a movie called The Eye, it’s really slow building up but it’s what shitty films like the 6th Sense and stir Of Echoes should have been. It really sends shivers up your spine and Asia for me really is the top dog for films. Either with gore or the scream factor no one competes with them.
As far as the UK is concerned I saw a movie called Dog Soldiers, which was interesting and well done and was great to see good mechanical props, as I particularly dislike CGI. The werewolves were really hideous and it reminded me of a mixture of Predator meets Night Of The Living Dead. It had the feel of Predator when they are in the woods with the very claustrophobic feel of NOTLD.
I found it really tongue in cheek and didn’t really think that much of it but have you seen 28 Days Later?
(I explain that America has still to get a release date and talk a bit about the film).
Where can I find it are there any DVD shops nearby?
Killjoy is just about off the bus when I have to break the news that the video release is a couple of weeks away.
Has Mirai been sending you stuff over and keeping you up to date with all the latest releases and is he a fan himself?
No the bastard never does. (Laughs with Mirai grinning sheepishly beside him).
The Orientals also seem the only ones who are capable of actually putting that scare factor I mentioned earlier into their films. The obvious reference points are the likes of Ring and Dark Waters. They also fascinate with glimpses of a totally different culture and have some mad fantastical ideas. One I saw recently that blew me away was Uzumaki. Do you agree that the Far East is indeed the place to look toward for worthwhile new films and what is your opinion on Hollywood pillaging them for remakes?
Well I guess I agree that Asia in general (Japan, Hong Kong, China) have all developed superior films in the last 10 years. I don’t mind Hollywood remaking stuff if they do what they did with The Ring. I was really surprised it was actually well done.
Although Romero is apparently involved in a new Dead film and a sequel to Return Of The Living Dead is also planned it seems that it is only filmmakers in the Far East that are actually still active in making good old fashioned Zombie flicks. (I refuse to consider Resident Evil in this category). Would you agree and have you seen the likes of Wild Zero, Junk and Versus?
Yes I have seen all of those and all of them had some redeeming values. I thought that none of them were really that great though. Versus had some very good special effects but was really boring. Junk had some very good scenes but had some really silly CGI in it but at the end of the day I haven’t seen a proper zombie film come out of America for ages. It is a travesty that they are going to do another Dead movie unless Romero is involved with a proper budget but I can’t see that ever happening.
I think we could probably discuss horror films until the dead actually start to rise but I think it is time to wrap things up with one final and very ugly theme, censorship. The Internet has definitely broken down the barriers and leaves everything available to those that want it. Here many of the films we have discussed will never legally see the light of day. How are things over in America and does it effect you when you are actively involved in making films?
No I don’t think it does because taking Rob Zombies film for example, he made it the way he wanted to and it will get a proper release on DVD as the directors cut. I don’t see it as a problem as you can have the 2 versions of a film, one for theatrical release and the other as the director intended. As far as the UK is concerned with the BBFC that really sucks but you have to be really thankful for a company like Blue Underground who push everything to the absolute limits, like in terms of what they did with Last House On The Left (totally rejected by the BBFC). Yes but they nearly won and like you said the Internet makes things available. When Last House does eventually come out it will be slightly cut but you will be able to go to a website and view the scenes that were cut out. Sure it’s not ideal but at least it’s an alternative.
I have to say that it seems like madness that a film like Irreversible can get through uncut with a 9-minute rape scene whilst Last House remains completely banned.
Yeah I don’t think a lot of people understand it and how Irreversible got through with that scene unless it was passed by a load of old geezers who had fallen asleep and woke up at the end of it. From what I understand of the UK they are getting a bit lighter as far as the gory scenes are concerned but what they don’t want is the sexual violence. To some degree they seem to think that there is the sexual maniac running around the UK watching films like Last House and sadistic scenes of violence and masturbating to them and getting off, which is absolutely ridiculous.
Interview and photos Pete Woods