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INTERVIEW: Maurice Devereaux

Hello fellow horror fans, Slayer here and I'm back with another exclusive interview for UpcomingHorrorMovies.com! Today I talked with Maurice Devereaux, the director of the newly released film End of the Line. Maurice is no stranger to the horror genre as he has directed Blood Symbol, Lady in the Lake and the cult favorite Slashers.

What were some of your influences that made you want to become a director within the genre?

Maurice: Nothing really original to say here, I’m like most other fans in that ever since I was a kid, I loved horror films…The Exorcist, The Shining, Dawn of the Dead, The Evil Dead, Halloween, Suspiria, Scanners, Videodrome, Salem’s Lot, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Repulsion, Hammer films, The Howling and tons more all had a huge impact on me. Stephen King was also a great influence. And of course Fangoria magazine, which taught me that movies were made by real folks and that I could be one of them.

You started your career with the movie Blood Symbol in 1992. How was that experience of shooting your first feature?

Maurice: Nothing was planned, I was a teenager with a bunch of friends, and I didn’t know what the hell I was doing, we were in film school but it was more an academic course with no real hands on experience that the teachers could give us. So I basically learned the hard way on the set making many, MANY mistakes. The shoot dragged on and on, due to lack of funds and know how. So this film was my extended film school, and the one good thing I learned was that don’t quit when the going gets rough.

Also did you know that a VHS copy of Blood Symbol can fetch up to 50+ dollars online? Will it ever receive a DVD release?

Maurice: Really?!? I thought I saw some for way cheaper on E-bay…Oh well whatever the amount, I pity the poor unsuspecting buyer, it’s really bad and amateurish and it was shot mostly on Super 8 (the rest in 16mm) so it looks awful. As for a DVD release, I doubt it…As there’s really not any demand so it would not be viable financially, and I have no idea where it stands legally and who owns the rights now. There was a guy on-line selling a bootleg homemade DVDR (from the VHS) with a DVD cover and all…So I asked him for a free copy (being it is my film and it would be indecent for me to pay for it) and he was nice enough to send me a copy.

I found your 2001 movie Slashers to be one of the most entertaining entries in the slasher subgenre ever. Can us fans ever expect to see a sequel that throws some new “Slashers” in the mix?

Maurice: I have the storyline for the sequel and I wish I could make it and do it right this time! As I feel I really dropped the ball on the first one for many reason. Low budget, cheap sets, pacing problems and the acting…Well in defense of the very dedicated amateurs I had cast, the knocks they get for their performances are mostly my fault as I wanted to do a “one take” film like Hitchcock’s ROPE. I painted myself into a corner because that took away an essential element for a low budget film which is EDITING. If I had shot the film in a normal manner, the performances would have been greatly enhanced, as it was almost impossible to get so many actors to be at their best in one single take. Also the photography would have been much moodier as well since we had to light 360 degrees to shoot those long takes, and the FX would have also looked much better, with better lighting and quick cuts. Oh well…

Unfortunately the rights to a sequel are tied up with the original distribution company that went bankrupt and it would be too complicated to try and wrestle them free.

Quick follow up question, who was your personal favorite “Slasher” from the movie?

Maurice: Chainsaw Charlie…And I think he is the fan favorite as well…And if I had made the sequel I would have brought him back to life in a starring role…J

A lot of your films have religious themes or tones to them -- what do you like about the mixture of Horror and Religion?

Maurice: Well the stories in all religions are just chock full of horror and the supernatural, so they are very close bedfellows. And when I was a kid, religion scared the shit out of me. Just look at the images of crucifixion, the tortures of the inquisition, Hell, Satan, Pedophile priests…Need I say more.

Can you tell us your inspiration for End of the Line.

Maurice: Well after 9/11 I felt lots of people were bashing Muslim fundamentalists, but seemed not to realize that all religions breed fanatics. I felt it was important to show that anyone could be brainwashed into doing horrible things for their “beliefs” even sweet old Grandma’s. Of course history as shown that such events can and will occur again (Jim Jones, and the Aum Shinrikyo cult in Japan that attacked the subway, being perfect examples).

End of the Line was released in Canada and other countries last year, what took it so long to reach distribution in the US?

Maurice: Since I was selling the film myself, I was just trying to get a “fair” deal with a minimum guarantee cash advance + royalties. But this is increasingly difficult, even big companies like MAGNOLIA offered me nothing up front and since I got screwed in the past from such deals I could not risk it. It seems to be because there are so many low budget horror films being made now (of very variable quality) so distributors can just get them for nothing; as most are done by first time filmmakers who aren’t business savvy and are just happy to have their films released. The problem is, since they accept sucker deals that will screw them out of ever receiving a dime, It makes it harder for the rest of us who want to make some money back, to actually keep making other films.

I noticed that in your films you like to keep the special effects old school -- what do you prefer about practical effects as opposed to computer-generated ones?

Maurice: I think it always depends on what’s best to “sell” the specific shot, sometimes it’s best to go practical, sometimes CG, and sometimes a combination of both. In the end it’s the result that counts and the hardest part is planning the shots out and knowing what technique to use. There are many seamless CG shots in END OF THE LINE, no one ever realized they’re CG and I’m real proud of that.

The film has won several awards while passing through festivals and received a lot of acclaim from critics – after completing the movie did you ever think that any of this would happen?

In my dreams yes…But seriously no I never looked that far ahead, I knew it would play festivals, as my previous films did too. But I never expected to premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival and then have the film play in 39 other festivals around the world and win a bunch of prizes. As for the reviews, it’s been really nice to have so many people appreciate the film.

What’s next for you? Any projects you’re working on now or plan to?

Maurice: Well I’ve been delayed over the last few years on starting a new film by the fact that I was selling END, and working on commercials to pay off my debts on the film, so I didn’t have much time to write.

But now I have three scripts I’ve been working on that are at various draft stages, and we’ll see which one ends up being my next film. I don’t want to elaborate on what they are about yet, but in a nutshell one’s a survival flick, the other will again be “religious horror” and the last is a sort of blend of the bogeyman myth with an all too real pedophile. And one day when I have millions of dollars I might dust off my huge epic Sawney Beane script I wrote years ago about the Scottish Cannibal family, actually if anyone reading this is involved professionally in the comic book field, I would love to do that script as a graphic novel.

Anything else you want to say to the readers out there?

Maurice: In finishing I’d just like to mention that End of the Line is available now on DVD in the US filled with lots of cool extras. The film is also available in Australia, Canada, Japan, Germany and Sweden, so please go out and rent it or even better, buy a copy and help me make another film.

As we little guys are really hurt by illegal downloads, and unlike musicians who can at least play live to offset the loss of CD sales, for small indy films like mine that have no theatrical release and go straight to DVD. If no one buys the DVD, we make no money at all; it’s as simple as that.

Thank you very much for your time Maurice and us fans will make sure to support you through any and all of your projects. We can’t wait to see what you have in store for us in the future.

Maurice: Thanks for the support and stay scary!

Just like Maurice said, End of the Line is now out on DVD. Buy/rent it today at a store near you…..or else!