The Gore Spotlight

HMS Q&A with Dustin Mills

Dustin Mills, the mind behind twisted titles such as Her Name Was Torment and Kill That Bitch, and the lighter yet equally entertaining Puppet Monster Massacre took some time away from giving people the axe and sat down to answer my questions. Keep reading to learn more about Dustin, his movies, and more!

HMS: Firstly I want to say thanks for being an interview victim for Horror Metal Sounds. My first question is one I'm sure you've been asked more times than you'd like. How did you get into the film industry, and what drew you to the horror genre?

DM: I don't know that I really am in the film industry. I'm sort of just a weirdo who films his friends naked in his garage. What drew me in (in a nutshell) is a love of storytelling. There's nothing like spinning a yarn. As for horror? I love monsters, I love special fx, and I love batshit insanity. Horror has all of those things.

HMS: Well there is nothing wrong with any of what you's all art. So how did you come up with the ideas behind your first project?

DM: I had just read Reel To Deal by Dov Simens and had convinced myself I could make a movie. So my friend Josh Eal and I started brainstorming things at my mom's kitchen table and one of the ideas was The Puppet Monster Massacre. 5 years later I decided to actually do it.

HMS: What were some of the other ideas behind PMM? HMS recently reviewed the film and I'm curious as to why you decided to combine CGI with puppetry. Were there budget restraints or did you feel the combination better helped to create the world?

DM: It’s sort of both things really. I had to operate in a realm that I could afford. The total budget was something like $3,500 and most of that was the computer and the camera. I think it does help with the aesthetic though. As it is, it sort of looks like a demented kids show. I'm cool with that. Thanks for the review by the way.

HMS: Oh no problem, PJ really enjoyed it. In fact, here's a question straight from PJ, who reviewed your film for HMS: There are a lot of house on haunted hill elements in the film, was that a sort of inspiring piece when you were writing the story?

DM: Yeah. The truth of the matter is that a lot of the 80's horror movies that I love were really in actuality throwbacks to the horror movies of the 50's and earlier. So in referencing those movies I couldn't help but also reference their respective influences.

HMS: So while we are on the subject of PMM...what was it like working with voice actors rather than live action?

DM: It was actually really easy. I mean you can record someone's entire role in a couple of hours, or in the case of a few of our actors, you can have them record the part at home and just send it to you.

HMS: What was it like working with Steve Rimpici, the voice of your Wolfgang Wagner? We interviewed him not too long ago for HMS here.

DM: I've never met Steve in person, but I am awfully fond of the guy. I'm really thankful he decided to be a part of the film. I mean... basically Steve nailed the character in his audition and what's in the movie is really close to that character. He pretty much just nailed what I wanted.

HMS: Was that the case with all of your voice actors or did you have a bigger struggle filling the other parts?

DM: I didn't really have any trouble at all. I did have one prima donna (one of the male leads) who thought he should get movie star treatment because he sat in a recording session for 3 hours on a film that took me nearly 2 years of my life to complete. Other than that turd, it went really smoothly. The other actor I had send in his performance was Bart Flynn who is a total pro and just an awesome guy. He and Steve elevated the film for sure.

HMS: Well I hope Bart and Steve get a chance to read this and feel some love. I read recently that amazon accepted Her Name is Torment. Tell me a little about the film and why you were apprehensive about them selling it.

DM: Yeah. I mean... it’s not like anything super special happened. I submitted it for DVD sales and Amazon Instant through Createspace, and it passed the test “so to speak.” I wasn't apprehensive really. I was just nervous that it would be too graphic and not be acceptable by their standards.

HMS: Well what's a horror movie without graphic content? Tell me about your point of view on extreme horror. Do you feel the gore and shock are more important than story?

DM: I generally find myself hating movies that are labeled "extreme". I think most of them boil down to being over-serious rape-sploitation films with little heart and even less brains. However... there are a few that I think I are absolutely brilliant. Those that lean more to the experimental side or have a legitimately interesting or important story to tell, oreven those that have enough style and visual creativity to lend weight or interest to the atrocities being committed on screen. I think the films of Eric Stanze are examples of good "extreme" films. Especially Scrapbook, which I think is a very important film for several reasons. One of my favorite movies ever made is Thriller A Cruel Picture because of the cinematography and dream-like atmosphere. I think when a filmmaker sets out to make a rough or hash picture they need to reach inside themselves and try to do something different. There are too many low budget movies (extreme or otherwise) that are just bad remakes of films we have already seen.

HMS: What do you think sets your films apart from other horror films?


"I generally find myself hating movies that are labeled 'extreme'."

DM: I don't really know. I think I just attack them from my own personal angle. I'm not exactly innovating, but I am trying to make films I haven't seen before. Films I would want to watch.

HMS: I like that approach. Do you think that with bigger budget films, especially in the horror genre, that filmmakers are limited in their creative control? And do you feel that with being an indie filmmaker you have more to offer and newer ideas to bring to the table since you don't have anyone telling you "no, you can't do that?"

DM: As far as bigger budgets are concerned I think it depends. I think some directors still manage to have the freedom they need. I do think that with that kind of money there is usually a limitation on what kind of story you can tell. At that point you have to be marketable. You can't just make art. Yeah. I don't answer to anyone. Not even myself sometimes. It’s nice. I enjoy it. I like working within my means and my budget. It’s an interesting challenge. I definitely have ideas that would require more money, but if the decision is between creative freedom or massive budget I will take creative freedom any day. That's not to say I wouldn't take a high paying director's gig, because I would. Then I'd use the spoils to make my own movies. I'm an artist, not a dummy.

HMS: Nicely said…What projects are in the future for you that you can dish on? I've been reading your posts as of late about maybe dipping your feet into a zombie movie?

DM: I actually have 2 movies that are shot that nobody knows about. One is kind of a big action adventure kind of thing. Not exactly family friendly, but not as harsh as Her Name Was Torment or Snuffet. Probably on the level of PMM. The other is a bit of nastiness that I don't want to spoil here. It will be a big surprise. Pretty soon I will start shooting Her Name Was Torment 2 and then hopefully when that is done I will try to make my zombie movie. My goal with that one is to make something scary and old fashioned. Zombies are so played out and the formula is wearing very thin. It’s time to remind people that the undead are scary as fuck.

HMS: So when you say you mean make the people dumber so the mindless dead can feast, or are you talking about Kenyan Runner Zombies running wild?

DM: I don't mean either of those things. I like running zombies, but these zombies won't run. The characters won't be dumb either. Well... no dumber than any of us. It’s all about atmosphere. Less World War Z, more Let Sleeping Corpses Lie. It’s possible to make them scary again. I am certain.

HMS: What do you aim to accomplish with Her Name Was Torment's sequel?

DM: As for HNWT2, I don't want to give anything away. It will just be a direct continuation of the first film. The audience will learn more, but more questions will be raised. I am hoping to amp up the sickness of this one as well, so we can explore just how damaged Torment actually is.

HMS: Well awesome! Where can people find your films?

DM: For anyone who is curious, you can get my films here, they are pretty cheap. I can't guarantee people will like them (they are really weird) but I can guarantee they haven't seen or heard any of these stories before. In a climate of mockbusters, sequels, remakes, and rip-offs, that ought to mean something.

HMS: And now, it wouldn’t be a Stevie Kopas interview without the following question… The zombie apocalypse has just happened and the undead are at your door, ready to eat you. The object directly to your left right now is your only means of defence, what is it?

DM: Phillips head screwdriver...

You’ve heard it here folks, make sure you stay up to date on Dustin’s upcoming adventures in the world of horror and check out his films that are already out!

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Stevie Kopas, Managing Editor HMS

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