Exclusive Interview: Larry Fessenden Has So Much to SEE
Editor’s Note: This was originally published for FANGORIA on April 5, 2009, and we’re proud to share it as part of The Gingold Files.
New York genre stalwart Larry Fessenden has been a very busy man as of late. The writer/director of the much-praised Wendigo and The Last Winter has become a veritable East Coast Roger Corman in recent years, producing a string of low-budget genre features for the Scareflix banner of his Glass Eye Pix production company. One of them, the psychedelically tinged I Can See You (pictured above), will soon have its premiere theatrical engagement in Manhattan—with a special added bonus.
I Can See You, the feature writer/directing debut of Graham Reznick (sound designer on Scareflix’s The Roost, Automatons and Trigger Man), will be playing at the new hi-def Cinema Purgatorio theater at KGB/Kraine. Cinema Purgatorio, part of a distribution concern run by Ray Privett (a veteran of NYC’s late, much-missed Two Boots Pioneer Theater), will present with the feature a new 3-D short called The Viewer, also scripted and directed by Reznick.
“Yes, Glass Eye is getting into the 3-D business; we won’t be outdone by Hollywood,” Fessenden says. While he prefers to keep The Viewer’s story details secret for now, he does add, “Let’s just say we had Brian Spears [a makeup FX creator on Scareflix’s I Sell the Dead] on the case, so obviously there are some ghoulish delights in there. But it’s typical of Graham’s work; it’s very trippy and heady, wonderful stuff.”
I Can See You itself follows three advertising guys as they trek into the woods to develop ideas for a new cleaning-product campaign, and the trip takes a scary, hallucinatory turn. “It’s one of the more concise and artful of our Scareflix,” Fessenden says. “I’ll certainly acknowledge that it may be a bit obscure to the average audience, and it’s a little bit more of a treasure that you have to carefully unfold.” Beyond its big-screen play, he’s looking forward to more people seeing See You on DVD. “It’ll be out on Amazon and also through the Cinema Purgatorio label in late May,” Fessenden reveals. “We’re very happy to be one of Ray’s debut titles, and we’re gonna continue partnering with him because Ray is a great, hard worker. He has helped us on a lot of movies, and it’s time for us to team up in public instead of him just slaving away in the dark.”
The filmmaker further reveals the extras we can expect to see on that disc: “We’ll have a lovely making-of, and a great commentary which should be enlightening, since the film is a bit of a mystery. It will be great to hear what Graham has to say, to whatever degree he reveals his intentions. The movie is so carefully crafted with so much great sound design, and editing rhythms we haven’t seen since Nicolas Roeg. It’s very provocative and quite mysterious, and even though we’re looking forward to its theatrical run and hope people will come, it’s also a movie that will work great on DVD, where you can really spend some time enjoying it.”
Also poised to greet a wider audience soon is the aforementioned I Sell the Dead, a horror/comedy about 18th-century graverobbers written and directed by Glenn McQuaid, and starring Lost’s Dominic Monaghan, Fessenden and genre favorites Ron Perlman and Angus Scrimm. “I hate to be mysterious,” Fessenden says of the movie’s distribution, “but we’re in negotiations on a couple of fronts, and we hope we’ll be able to make an announcement within a week or two. Whoever we go with, we’re hoping for a fall release in theaters—however large that release is, that’s part of our conversation—and then obviously VOD and DVD. It really is a charming film that belongs on every shelf.”
Regarding the sequel McQuaid is scripting, Fessenden adds, “I’ve read 100 pages, and it’s totally delightful. Glenn actually does want to make another film first and get something under his belt. I just want Glenn to make more movies sooner rather than later, and The Further Adventures of Grimes & Blake will hopefully be among them, but not necessarily the next thing he does.”
And then there’s The House of the Devil, Ti West’s third Scareflick after The Roost and Trigger Man, in which a babysitter (Jocelin Donahue) makes the mistake of taking a job in a home run by a diabolical couple (played by genre stalwarts Tom Noonan and Mary Woronov). The movie will have its world premiere at this month’s Tribeca Film Festival in NYC. “We’re so excited; everybody’s coming to town for the event,” Fessenden says. “It’ll be so great to finally get that out in public. We’ve all been laboring away, once again with Graham Reznick working hard on the sound.”
There’s plenty more on the Glass Eye Pix horizon too, including a deal with Dark Sky Films for a series of new fright features. “It’s a matter of days, if not hours, before that deal is inked,” Fessenden reports, “and then we’ll be making three very exciting movies in the next year. We’ll call them Scareflix; the fact that they’re being financed by an outside company is merely a relief rather than a change of approach. These are low-budget films by some of our favorite people: Jim Mickle of Mulberry Street is making Stake Land, James Felix McKenney is doing Hypothermia and we have a very interesting filmmaker making his first movie for us, and our most contained film.
“I’ve deliberately gone to a non-horror guy and invited him to sort of step into the genre,” Fessenden continues. “He’s a great, smart director I’ve known for years, and he’s gonna make a great little movie. We’ll announce that when we have it all squared away.” (The Woodstock Film Festival recently spilled the beans about his identity, though, reporting that “director Joe Maggio [Paper Covers Rock] confirms that he will in fact be shooting his next feature film in the Hudson Valley this coming May. We can’t reveal much about the still untitled project, other than the fact that it is being produced by horror maestro Larry Fessenden and Glass Eye Pix, and that it will feature a menu of culinary delights with a side order of horror.”)
And finally, there’s Satan Hates You, McKenney’s latest feature (modeled after the “Christian scare” films of old, with a cast headed by Don Wood, Christine Spencer, Scrimm, Reggie Bannister, Michael Berryman and Fessenden) and his third collaboration with the Glass Eye Pix chief after The Off Season and Automatons. “There’s not much I can say—it was for my eyes only—but I finally saw Jim’s first cut of Satan Hates You, and I’m extremely excited,” Fessenden says. “This movie is gonna be truly, unfathomably strange, and it’s wonderful. It just confirms all my belief in Jim’s voice as a filmmaker, and Angus is outstanding in it. It’s just a crazy romp filled with truly eccentric characters.”