:Dark Delights: Dustin Ferguson (The Amityville Legacy, Sleepaway Camp IV)
Dark Delights by Ladyaslan Presents:
Dustin Ferguson – Writer/Director
Ladyaslan: Welcome, Dustin. Thanks for joining me here on Dark Delights. What should our readers, or #Babybats, know about you?
Dustin Ferguson: I’m the director of 26 feature films and over 60 music videos to date. I’ve owned and operated several film production labels and even have an electro/breakbeat musical side project with E-Rocker called Dirty D.
Ladyaslan: Well let’s just ask the question….how did you get the nickname “Jesus Satan”?
Dustin Ferguson: “Jesus Satan” was a totally made-up name I gave myself during the conceptualizing of my 2013 film Doll Killer. It was a name used to garner attention to the project, and it worked. It’s so silly and over the top that people had to take notice. I only actually choose a fake name for that film after it was decided together with the distributor that the film would be marketed like a “lost” slasher movie from 1987. The film itself has a very dark, “Satanic” tone to it so the name seemed fitting for a guy who supposedly made this movie and then mysteriously died.
Ladyaslan: Summarize your movie rolls and music in one to five sentences as if you were speaking to someone unfamiliar with you and your work.
Dustin Ferguson: I’m the director of The Amityville Legacy; Silent Night, Bloody Night 2; Camp Blood 4 and 5; and editor of Sleepaway Camp IV. I’ve also worked with several bands like My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult, Lords of Acid, and The Egyptian Lover. I create low budget entertainment meant for a generation of cult horror fans.
Ladyaslan: How did you come to be working on Amityville Legacy? Are you a fan of the original books and movies? What is your opinion on Amityville; could it be a true haunting or a good urban legend?
Dustin Ferguson: The Amityville Legacy started as an idea to do a “mockbuster.” “Mockbusters” are films that have similar titles and/or story ideas as a current Hollywood hit, but are made on a fraction of the budget. They are often designed to confuse consumers into thinking they are officially related, therefore accumulating bigger sales than the average no-name indie production. Those films often boost the careers of the directors and get seen by a lot of people. The crimes that happened in Amityville are a subject that anyone can write a book or make a movie about. In order to make an official sequel or remake, you’d need to purchase the rights. Seeing how I am a huge fan of the original series AND I was searching for a good mockbuster to do, it made sense to do this. I wanted to make a stand alone film anyway, so it wasn’t like I needed the rights to make The Amityville Horror Part 15, but rather my own film centered around the true crimes that could also pay “homage” to the original movies.
I’m a really big fan of the older films, especially Amityville 4, Amityville 1992, Amityville: A New Generation, and Amityville: Dollhouse. Taking cue from those films I attempted to create a flick in a similar vein that could be embraced by fans of the official movie series while still being appreciated for being its own thing. The true crimes were proven to have happened, however, the supernatural stuff hasn’t. I have an open mind when it comes to that stuff, but my research leads me to believe most of it was fabricated for media attention and money.
Ladyaslan: Tell us about the 2013 remake of Die Sister, Die!; what did you add to this remake to make it as good or better than the 1972 cult classic directed by Randall Hood?
Dustin Ferguson: I consider Die Sister, Die! my first “real” movie. I had made several low budget features before it, but this was the first time I had a hired director of photography (Mark Thimijan), actual lighting, a celebrity name (Brinke Stevens), a little money, and a decent location. It was my first movie shot on a DSRL (the ones prior were VHS, MiniDV, and an HD flipcam) and a lot of work went into it. My goal with it was to do exactly what the marketing of the original 1972 film did: make it a horror movie.
While the original is actually a dramatic thriller with some tiny horror themes, I thought spicing it up from trying to get Amanda to kill herself to trying to scare Amanda to death would make for a more exciting picture and allow for lots of scenes of horror. It’s basically the same film, only with those details changed. We also explored the incest storyline a bit more. It was important to create an elegant, artistic film like the original. I didn’t want to make it “better” per se, because I’m a big fan of the original, but rather add some scarier elements while still paying tribute and respecting the 1972 movie. My remake has been out on DVD for a couple years now but goes out of print soon. It’ll be streaming on my Sinister Studios Vimeo page on August 1st to rent or buy!
Ladyaslan: How did you come to work with My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult (I saw them four times live; always a GREAT show) and with Lords of Acid and KMFDM? What is your favourite song from each band?
Dustin Ferguson: Everything seems to snowball off the last project. I started doing local music videos for free. Once I perfected my craft I started charging money. Once I made some real decent ones I started approaching bigger, signed bands about producing a cheap video for them. I think the first “big band” I worked for was Velvet Acid Christ in 2013. I directed four music videos from the Maldire album, one video from Subconscious Landscapes, and a whole slew of backing videos for their live shows. It was done as a “trade” for use of his music in an upcoming Giallo film I was doing (Gloved Murderess). Once I had done those, it was easier to get more gigs from bigger bands.
Lords of Acid happened around the same time. I reached out to them online and stated my experience, my fandom, and the fact that I would do it cheap. This led to me directing the video for “Long Johns” off the Deep Chills album. It was an insane shoot inside a now gone gay nightclub. We probably had around 100 extras in it and a handful of topless strippers…not to mention the beefcake we hired as the lead. The video was banned from Apple TV. It was eventually released on adult streaming site Xtube, and most recently it’s appeared on YouTube.
After that, the KMFDM video was a result of a conversation I had with Sascha K about producing a low budget video for something off the Kunst album. We both decided on “I (Heart) Not.” After some of the extreme stuff I did in the VAC videos and the banned nature of the LoA video, my intent was to “top it off” with something crazier. I was in a dark place at that time, leaving a long-term relationship, moving, changing jobs, so I channeled it all into an angry story about a jealous lesbian who stalks and kills her bisexual girlfriend and her new boyfriend. It was brutal, shocking, and the twisted emotions were very “in your face.” Needless to say, it was met with a lot of criticism from fans and eventually the band deemed it as “unofficial” only a few days after officially releasing it on their page in order to put out the fire happening amongst fans online. However, it quickly went viral, with big websites running stories on the video. To date, it’s still got the most views out of any of my videos on YouTube. I talked to Sascha later about it at a show and we were both cool with the decision. It’s still considered “official” to most fans and the band has publicly expressed their appreciation for it.
These days I do a lot of videos for trade. Having more mainstream music in my films gives it a lot of production value. So since it’s become pretty easy for me to whip up a music video, I’ll usually do that for a band if they give me music to use in a movie. We both benefit this way. Much was the case with the Thrill Kill Kult video. I was able to attend a nearby live show and film some footage of them and create a video. In exchange, I got to use the song “Spooky Tricks” in The Amityville Legacy.
Favorite Songs? That’s tough because I consider myself a “lifelong” fan of these bands, having been listening to them since I was a young teenager. But if I had to narrow it down, I’d say:
Velvet Acid Christ: “Malfunction,” “Disflux,” “The Dark Inside Me,” “EyeHateU,” and just about anything from the HexAngel album.
My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult: “The Devil Does Drugs,” “Final Blindness,” “Hand in Hand,” “Spooky Tricks,” and “Fhantasi Luv’r.”
KMFDM: “Megalomaniac,” “Anarchy,” “Waste,” “Blood: Evil,” and “I (Heart) Not.”
Lords of Acid: “Rough Sex,” “Long Johns,” “Nasty Love,” “The Power is Mine,” and “Acid Queen.”
Ladyaslan: You have owned and operated several film distribution and production companies such as RHR Home Video, Shock Sinema, and 42ND street films. What can you share with audience regarding these businesses; what it’s like to actually run these entities? Most people just want to say they own production companies for the glory, but what is it really like?
Dustin Ferguson: Each “label” really just represents a stage or era of my filmmaking. Before I would do movies for hire, I would release them myself. RHR Home Video was first. RHR comes from “Retro Horror Remix.” Before directing, I started as an editor. I did “fanedits” and made “composites” of over 100 retro horror movies that I released for free online to the fans under the name Retro Horror Remix. My work as Retro Horror Remix got me the gig of editor on Sleepaway Camp IV. Then that led to my first feature film in 2010, Terror at Black Tree Forest, to be released by the SCIV distributor. When I decided to start directing my own movies, I created the name RHR Home Video as sort of an homage to the Retro Horror Remix days.
Shock Sinema was a VHS-only label I ran for a short while that released new and classic “shockumentaries” I was creating. Bootleg Death Tape was probably the most famous release. It’s still sought after by many collectors, going on eBay for crazy prices. I’ll be re-releasing it streaming on my Vimeo channel later this year. Next (and most currently) was 42ND street films. Once I amped up my films in experience and production value, I gave it this name. Seeing that most of my films are naturally “grindhouse” in their style and presentation, it seemed to fit.
Recently, I launched Sinister Studios, my own online distribution company. Sinister Studios is now the Grandfather of all 42ND street films, RHR Home Video, and Shock Sinema releases. Most of my prior work was mishandled by certain distributors and I’ve been ripped off many times. Sinister Studios is my attempt at finally getting my work out there, under my name, with the profits going directly to me. I’ll be re-releasing all my old titles, one per month with new additions and special features to encourage my fans to re-visit them and support me directly. It’s all a lot of work, on top of actually directing all the time, but in the end, it’s the most worth it.
Ladyaslan: Tell us about the viral marketing hit Doll Killer; how much work went into it going viral? Please explain what “going viral” is for those who know the term but not necessarily the meaning.
Dustin Ferguson: The intention with Doll Killer was to create something on very little money that could become as popular as any mainstream release. One night at 2 a.m. I came up with a story for a movie called Doll Killer and the idea to shoot it on VHS, fabricate a story about it being a newly discovered, but badly damaged “lost” film that was “found” and “restored.” I gave myself a fake director name, we made sure everything in the shots (dialogue, sets, clothing, styles, etc.) was all circa 1987 or before, added fake tape damage and had several people plant “fake” reviews around the internet about a creepy VHS they found and watched called Doll Killer. It was all in good fun, even if it upset a few hardcore collectors [laughs].
We revealed the true nature of the film after it was released. But we kept up the story all through production, which led to it being a “viral marketing hit” as stories of the “lost film” were written on several horror sites and the early clips and trailers were being spread like wildfire. I shot this right after finishing Die Sister, Die! I wanted to do a movie a little more low key and relaxed. I just had fun with Doll Killer and went crazy with it. It was of course released to VHS which quickly went out of print and is really hard to find, sort of fulfilling the prophecy it created for itself in the first place. This movie is what gained me what some people might call “cult status.” It’s a movie with a certain style, a certain low budget charm that from that point forward runs rampant through all my productions. It’s the movie that perfected my style and pushed me in the direction I went.
Ladyaslan: Tell us about working on and coming up with Silent Night, Bloody Night 2: Revival (NOT to be confused with Silent Night, Deadly Night from 1984 which is a gem as well). Is there a correlation to the 1972 cult classic directed by Theodore Gershuny?
Dustin Ferguson: New Wave Pictures hired me to direct that film in 2014. I didn’t write it, only edited and directed it. It was an exciting film because I actually really enjoy the original and this movie was directly connected, referencing events from Part 1 throughout. I also got to work with Jennifer Runyon Corman, Roger Corman’s niece. She was in Ghostbusters, Carnosaur, and one of the ORIGINAL Christmas slashers, To All A Goodnight. It was horrible weather (the dead of winter) but I worked with a lot of new faces on that one and have a lot of great memories…mostly killing Jenni Caroline with a snow shovel in the middle of a real blizzard. Fun times.
Ladyaslan: You’re throwing a party in a magical world where anyone, living or dead, real or fictional, will show up if invited. Who are the first 10 people you invite?
Dustin Ferguson: Probably all the people I find inspiration from, in no particular order:
Fred Olen Ray
Charles B. Pierce
OhGr from Skinny Puppy
Ladyaslan: If you were interviewing me, what’s the first question you’d ask?
Dustin Ferguson: What lead you to interviewing people?
Ladyaslan: I have been reviewing and interviewing bands for the past 20+ years in many different forums. I love to share new artists and amazing quality indie artists! I have to admit it runs in the family; my parents ran a successful and infamous pub in the mid ’70s to early ’80s (I saw the second British Wave hit the East Coast Shores—can’t get NO BETTER than that) and you never knew who or what would saunter in the doors [evil grin]. One night it could be anyone from a Warhol to a Rolling Stone to supermodels of that era from Twiggy to Janet Dickenson….
Ladyaslan: My last question for you, the obligatory but always fun…WHO inspired you and who did you look up to as a youth?
Dustin Ferguson: I answered it for the most part with my list, but to reiterate: John Carpenter was the first director to really affect me as a kid. I steal so many elements from Halloween in just about every movie I do it’s not even funny. Dario Argento was my introduction to Euro Horror, where I learned to appreciate films on an artistic level. Rob Zombie, because pretty much everything he’s done from House of 1000 Corpses and before is mind-blowingly good, and he does it all on a low budget. And Roger Corman, simply because he can pump out so many movies on no money and make a career out of it. I want to be the next Roger Corman. With the amount of work I’ve done in only the last 10 years, I’m slowly getting there. 😉
**About Ladyaslan: She is a published gothic poet and horror erotica novelist. Ladyaslan’s second book was recently released on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and other established book retailers internationally. Check out Lipstick & Absinthe and her other books at the link below:
Official Website: http://www.lipstickandabsinthe.com/
Tags 42ND street filmsAnitra DeLorenzoDark DelightsDie SisterDie!Dirty DDustin FergusonKMFDMLadyaslanLords Of AcidMy Life with the Thrill Kill KultRHR Home VideoShock SinemaSinister StudiosSleepaway Camp IVThe Amityville LegacyThe Egyptian LoverVelvet Acid Christ
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