Q&A With Writer Director Paul M McAlarney
Paul M McAlarney (IMDB Profile)
I am a white-skinned, politically incorrect, impatient, radically liberal writer, director, and producer from Massachusetts, and the president and co-founder of Ungovernable Films (www.ungovernablefilms.com). Born and raised in Melrose, just a few miles north of Boston, I have always been obsessed with and passionate about writing. I started writing books before I could even spell. As time went on, I focused more on writing scripts, and by the time I was in my mid-twenties I realized that nobody was ever going to produce any of the scripts I wrote. So I decided to take on producing and directing my scripts on my own. I recruited my friend, co-worker, and former roommate Nick Norrman to being my cinematographer, and the two of us have worked together on everything I’ve written ever since. I never went to film school and instead relied almost entirely on Nick to show me the ropes of filmmaking, so I am an alumnus of the Nick Norrman Film School. I am also an alumnus of UMASS Boston, where I graduated with a degree in Sociology after being expelled from UMASS Amherst where I was studying Sociology and Psychology. In addition to film, I love music, specifically punk, Spaghetti Western film scores, 1960s psychedelic, and lots of other genres, and I often incorporate my love of music into my films. Since independent filmmaking doesn’t pay the bills, I spend my days working at a mental health clubhouse south of Boston.
1 – How did you come up with the title Honky Holocaust?
Originally the film was called White Genocide, then Albicide, which essentially means the killing of white people. I wanted the title to be instantly offensive because the subject matter, all jokes and entertainment aside, is a serious issue that is constantly watered-down and sanitized: racism. And, more specifically, racism against blacks. While I wanted the film to deal with the issue of racism more straightforwardly and equally, I wanted the publicity around the film, which of course begins with the title, to be explicitly racist against whites. I wanted this because I was so sick of anti-racist films coming out that made people think, but not act. I wanted to make something that white America would fear and hate. So much of what comes out of American culture is feared and hated by blacks and other minorities (Jim Crow laws, stereotyping in the media, racial profiling by the police, Donald Trump, segregation, discrimination, witch hunts for black criminals and Muslim terrorists, etc), but American culture is set up by and for white people, so I wanted something that would go against that grain. Rap music was probably the last time American culture produced something that terrified and angered white America, but now even rap music has been appropriated and sterilized by white people. The only problem was, “White Genocide” wasn’t catchy and nobody knew what “Albicide” meant, so it wasn’t very exploitative. I was driving around with Thomas Delcarpio, the art director for Honky Holocaust, and we were trying to think of a new title. He suggested we play off a well-known film’s title, so I suggested we try playing off Cannibal Holocaust, which was and still is my favorite film. Combine “Holocaust” with all the racial slurs for white people, and obviously “Honky” sounds the best, so we instantly fell in love with “Honky Holocaust” and the rest is history.
2 – What is Honky Holocaust about?
Honky Holocaust is an examination of what might have happened if Charles Manson’s “Helter Skelter” prophecy had come to fruition. In other words, if the race war he had attempted to ignite had begun and the Manson Family had successfully burrowed beneath the ground to wait it out. Except in Honky Holocaust, the prophecy doesn’t quite pan out the way he had expected. Honky Holocaust follows Manson’s daughter, Kendra Manson, and Manson’s successor, Dan Masucci, as they lead the Manson Family out of their bunker and back toward civilization to “take over the world”, as Manson had prophesied. However, the world they find is much different than the one they had expected, and Kendra is forced to re-evaluate her morals, values, and beliefs about race, all while experiencing racism herself.Honky Holocaust is an anti-racist exploitation film that borrows from action/adventure, horror, comedy, Spaghetti Western, and many other genres and condemns racism in any form, warning that a seed of hate will bring society crashing down.
3 – How many days did the production take?
Production lasted about ten months, and we filmed on many of the weekends during that time, so I’d estimate that our schedule included about twenty-five shooting dates. But obviously, the majority of the ten months was spent building sets, rehearsing, casting, raising money, preparing special FX, promoting the film, etc.
4 – How did you do the penis FX stuff? Was it just a dildo?
The scene where the Manson Family member’s penis is shot off was a lot of fun to shoot. First, we rigged up Rick Weir, whose penis was being shot off, with blood tubing aiming out from his ass. Dedric Beverly, the actor whose character was shooting Rick in the ass, simply pressed the gun against Rick’s butt and we applied massive pressure to the blood reservoirs, spraying Dedric with several pints of blood. Meanwhile, during the shot of Rick’s front side, we had a dildo in his pants with his fly undone and fishing line tied to the dildo. On action, we triggered more blood to spray through tubes out of his fly while we pulled on the fishing line as hard as we could, which sent the dildo flying out of his pants fast enough that the fishing line was barely visible. For the shots of the dildo flying through the air, Nick Norrman and I stayed behind on location while the rest of the cast and crew took a break for lunch. I threw the dildo up a dozen or so times while he filmed it until we got the arc right, then in another shot, I held the dildo just below the camera and spun it on an axis parallel to the camera’s lens to make the dildo appear to be spinning while flying through the air. So yes, the entire FX was just a dildo, some fake blood, fishing line, tubes, and an immature sense of humor!
5 – What movies influence your work?
Cinematically and aesthetically speaking, Spaghetti Westerns are my biggest influence. I am absolutely in love with the extreme wide shots, extreme close ups, and the epic storytelling done with the camera, which is so perfectly done in Sergio Leone’s westerns, especially The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly and Once Upon A Time In The West. I am also in love with Spaghetti Western scores, specifically those done by Ennio Morricone and Bruno Nicolai. I could, and often do, listen to Spaghetti Western scores for days on end. I also love films that seem to have broken free of their shackles, if that makes any sense. For the same reasons that punk is my favorite genre of music, these nihilistic, gritty, anarchic films are some of my favorites. Films that feel that way to me are ones like Suburbia for rejecting moral conformity, Cannibal Holocaust for being so perfectly and seamlessly obscene, and anything by Walerian Borowczyk for treating sexuality and nudity no different than any other imagery or subject. The list goes on and on; I love classic films, silent films, films by Martin Scorsese, Stanley Kubrick, Roger Corman, Jack Hill, Dario Argento, Sergio Corbucci, Larry Cohen, Lars Von Trier, Woody Allen, Tarantino, Frank Henenlotter, etc. Troma was also a huge influence and inspiration, for embracing, exploiting, and even parodying their b-movie roots, audience, and genre, and while I have no desire to watch his films, Bill Zebub’s approach to filmmaking was eye-opening to me, specifically his pure exploitative understanding that people watch movies to watch, so why not embrace their voyeurism and give them exactly what they want (sex, violence, etc) and nothing else? With that approach in mind, I decided to try and fill every frame with something either pleasing or shocking to the audience.
6 – How did you hook up with Troma Films?
Our relationship with Troma has been such an awesome experience and they have been so supportive of everything we’ve done since hooking up with them. But how it all began is actually a pretty funny story. When Return to Nuke Em High, Vol 1 was playing at the Coolidge Corner Theater in Brookline, MA, Nick Norman suggested we go and try to get Lloyd to let us record him screaming and yelling so we could use the audio in Honky Holocaust and then be able to honestly say that Lloyd Kaufman was in Honky Holocaust, even if it was only his voice and even if it was only for a total of five seconds. That’s exploitation at it’s finest, right? So we went to the theater, watched the film, and then afterward we cornered him in the line for autographs and asked him to do the recording, which he agreed to do without hesitation. The only problem was that Nick was shitfaced and spent the next five minutes harassing Lloyd and trying to convince him to watch the teaser trailer for Honky Holocaust on his phone. Lloyd refused a dozen or so times until finally he begged Nick to “tweet” at him instead, and promised that if Nick would just leave him alone he would shoot an introduction video for us for Honky Holocaust. Nick obliged, we recorded Lloyd screaming, and then we all went on our merry ways. We took Lloyd up on his offer to shoot a video for us and we tweeted at him and the relationship began. Lloyd also appeared (in the flesh, this time!) in The Ungovernable Force, our next feature, and filmed another introduction video for that film. We submitted Honky Holocaust to TromaDance and I received an email from a Troma employee named Gibson Merrick, who asked if we’d be interested in having Troma distribute the film. It was a no-brainer. After all, the whole time we were filming Honky Holocaust, we were treating the film as if it was a Troma film; everything we did we did as if we were trying to recreate The Toxic Avenger or Tromeo and Juliet, only with a different plot. After all, we had all grown up on Troma films. Since then, we’ve enjoyed every minute of working with Troma, and Dave Sullivan, Nick, and I even got to appear naked in some of their promo videos while we were at the Troma office in New York. Their PR girl, Elizabeth D’Ambrosio, has been incredible and has given Honky Holocaust so much of her attention and energy.
7 – Any more horror projects in the works?
Similarly to Frank Henenlotter, we identify as producers of “horror” films because so many people don’t understand what “exploitation” films are, and since our films do include many elements of horror (blood, guts, gore, graphic imagery, etc), we tend to identify as such. So, with that said, here are the other films we’ve done and are doing since Honky Holocaust. We did The Ungovernable Force, which was a punxploitation film full of neo-nazis, bums, monsters, punks, sex, drugs, and gore, back in 2014, followed by Gay Jesus, which was a b-horror-comedy satire of homophobia in some Christian groups and is available for free on YouTube and Vimeo (http://www.ungovernablefilms.com/films/gayjesus.html). Then we did two shorts for two different horror anthologies out of the UK: we did “Maul My Children” for Grindsploitation 2 and “Smoothie” for 60 Seconds To Die. Finally, we just finished another feature horror film, The Streets Run Red, which is now in post-production, and should be hitting its festival run sometime in 2017. It’s about a serial killer and the two detectives hunting him down. It is, without a doubt, our most obscene film yet, and our closest to the traditional horror genre.
Check us out and follow us on facebook (http://www.facebook.com/ungovernablefilms), twitter (@UngovernableFlm), Instagram (“ungovernablefilms”), Tumblr (http://ungovernablefilms.tumblr.com/), youtube (http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLPlLpEGxxik-kjtY3qnZSu3YnVhosWAlM), and on our website (http://www.ungovernablefilms.com), check out Honky Holocaust on TromaNow (http://watch.troma.com/) and keep an eye out for screenings of The Ungovernable Force in festivals near you!