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Interviewed by Josh Pasnak, staff writer of The Video Graveyard.

In the world of no-budget filmmaking, Canadian director Brian Clement is one of the best. Using budgets of under $5,000 a movie, Brian has managed to increase the production value so that it looks like he spent twenty times that much.

His first film, Meat Market, was released in 2000 and achieved notoriety in for it's combination of zombies, action, lesbian vampires, nudity, sex, gore, and a Mexican wrestler named El Diablo Azul. This was followed up the next year with Meat Market 2. Brian slightly changed direction in 2002 by turning his attention to cannibalistic supermodels in Binge & Purge but returned to the undead in 2003's anthology entitled Exhumed, which combines samurai action, 40's noir, and a battle between vampire mods and werewolf rockers.

With a new movie, The Dead Inside, soon to be available we figured now was a good time to talk to Brian. Here is what he had to say:

Let's start with your current movie, The Dead Inside, what's it about?

The Dead Inside centers on a pair of paranormal detectives in 1940's Victoria, Canada who are called in to investigate disappearances at a 19th century house. They call in aid from two other specialists and try to uncover the reasons behind the unexplained phenomena at the estate. Each one of them experiences hallucinations relating to their own repressed feelings or past traumas, and the influence of the house causes them to turn on one another. The main character relates to the feelings he experiences in the building because it reminds him of what he felt in WWII, and it metaphorically represents how he has become "dead inside".

I have noticed that in your current film and in your last film, Exhumed, there is a major influence of 1940's noir style. Is there a particular reason that you have chosen to go in this direction?

I enjoy the challenge of creating a period look on a very limited budget, and I hope it helps to "sell" the story by making it look less like a typical backyard underground movie, because we clearly took a lot of time to polish the look of everything from the costumes, to the sets and props. Also all my favourite films, with a few exceptions, are from the 1930's through the 1950's era, chief among them being The Bride Of Frankenstein, The Day The Earth Stood Still, Sunset Blvd., Murder My Sweet and Gun Crazy.

He looks innocent enough...

You have a great way of developing characters in your films and a sense of how to make the audience relate to the protagonists. Who are some of your influences as a writer?

In terms of storytelling I most admire the work of John Sayles. His films take their time to unfold and he doesn't seem concerned about playing to the modern music-video style of filmmaking. In literature I enjoy the work of Charles Dickens (in particular A Christmas Carol) and George Orwell's non-fiction biographical writing.

Many indie filmmakers begin with short films and progress to features but your first film was a political feature called El Corazon De La Memoria. Tell us about why you started with that and if we will ever be able to see it.

Actually I did do a series of shorts; it's just that none of them have ever been released! (It's probably better that way...) They were all crime-themed stories about assassins and corrupt government agents working to crush third-world independence movements. El Corazon was something of an extension of that because I wanted to put those political ideas into an historical perspective and relate them to a larger set of social themes. Unfortunately I was short on experience and long on ambition so it didn't turn out quite as epic as I had hoped, though I am still very happy with some of the work done on that picture, particularly the scenes set in 1930's Spain. [ed. Clement has stated that the movie is not likely to see release anytime soon].

After making a film like that, why did you then decide to explore zombies and lesbian vampires in Meat Market 1 & 2?

My friend Nick Sheehan steered me toward the horror genre by getting me to watch the trashier European zombie pictures, and my girlfriend Claire made me sit down and watch the entire Evil Dead series with her one weekend. So from there I set out, again with lofty ambitions, to do a genre satire intended to be a bizarre mish-mash of horror elements (Mexican wrestlers, lesbian vampires, gunslingers...) set in a zombie apocalypse. Meat Market 2 went on to be a more straightforward picture though the satirical elements were still intact, but in a less self-reflexive way. I think the idea of an over-the-top intestine-humping morgue attendant should have removed all doubts about my comic intentions in Meat Market 2.

Binge & Purge seems to be the least known of your films. Is there a reason that it did not receive as much attention as the others?

I think it didn't have quite the "hook" of the zombie pictures, because cannibal movies aren't the most recognizable genre, and it probably wasn't perceived to be as exciting as the other movies. It also had an intentionally more cold and grey look to it, which some may have found off-putting. I think part of the problem as well may be that people who want women and gore in movies tend to want to see the women being the victims and subject to the goriness, rather than have the women being the perpetrators of the gore.

An example of the Noir style of Clement's The Dead Inside

Will you ever be returning to the sex and gore mayhem of the Meat Market movies?

In the unlikely event that some investor comes along with a couple million dollars so that I can really do it right I'm sure I'd bite. I'm not holding my breath for it though! I've recently been re-editing the soundtracks of Meat Market 1 and 2 for SRS Cinema to sell to foreign markets and they hold up surprisingly well despite the amateurishness of them at times. I think there were a lot of good ideas that if I had more money I could explore better in some future Meat Market 3. ha ha ha.

What do you think of the state of the horror genre in today's cinema?

Honestly I haven't been paying much attention to modern horror. The last new horror movie I saw was the Dawn Of The Dead remake, which was a surprisingly good action movie. But generally I only watch older horror movies, and recently I've been going through Mario Bava's filmography.

Your films use a lot of practical makeup effects. How did you come to work with Jason Ward?

Jason had been bugging me to work on makeup since Meat Market. He came around and helped out a lot on Meat Market 2, then took over completely for Binge & Purge, Exhumed and The Dead Inside. He was extremely enthusiastic and really wanted to get into working on horror and sci-fi makeup, so he got his hands dirty doing the DIY route with me, and now he's in Vancouver working on higher budget features.

What can we expect next from you? There was once talk about a heavy metal movie, is that still a possibility?

The heavy metal-themed movie was the one I was thinking of doing before I went on to The Dead Inside! So it's unlikely I'll revisit the idea. I'm just not a metal head so I should leave that up to someone who has a greater passion for the music I think. The next story I'm working on will expand on some of the themes in The Dead Inside, including sleep disorders and lucid dreaming, with battles being fought on the astral plane between rival factions in an alternate 1950's, where magic exists and dream-espionage is commonplace. Like with The Dead Inside, I want to make sure to minimize any use of CG effects and have as many on-set practical effects as possible. I really like the use of smoke and mirrors (if you'll excuse the cliché) and I want to make sure to have a character-driven story.

KNIFE FIIIGHHHTTTT!! (from Binge & Purge)

If you'd like more info on Brian Clement and his career visit Frontline Films.

Images are © by Brian Clement.