Thursday, March 4, 2010

SHOCK FESTIVAL DVD Interview with Adrian Santiago

Interview by Joshua T. Gravel

The director of the visceral and phantasmagorical TENTACLES IN A TWISTED DEATHDREAM, Adrian Santiago, fills us in on his newest film, GRIM and his involvement with Stephen Romano Presents Shock Festival.


Can you give us some background information on your career in film or the arts in general?
I most recently wrapped on my first self-written, self-shot, self-directed, self-edited, self-financed feature film GRIM (produced for on about $5,000us). I was also a lead videographer for the 2009 AFI Dallas International Film Festival, worked as an extra in seasons 2 and 3 of FOX's “PRISON BREAK", Lifetime's "INSPECTOR MOM", and many years ago as a child, CBS' "WALKER TEXAS RANGER".

When did you first meet Stephen Romano, and what drew your attention to TENTACLES IN A TWISTED DEATHDREAM?
We were at a horror convention promoting a movie for another independent studio, and just before getting kicked out of the booth for (gasp) giving my business card away and networking, I walked past Stephen Romano and his booth promoting the (at the time) unreleased book SHOCK FESTIVAL. I sat around, shot the shit with him and fell in love with the project! I remember saying something to him like "You should think about doing some fake movie trailers to go along with the book", and he smiled and said "Funny you should mention it..."


A couple of weeks later, Stephen sent over a PDF for the "TENTACLES IN A TWISTED DEATHDREAM" entry... and about a month after that I called him up to tell him it was ready. Good thing he's such a nice guy, because when he heard the good news he sounded like he couldn't believe it: He was excited, but I could swear he was trying to say "Holy shit, someone actually followed through!”

After that, he altered the poster for "TENTACLES" to include my name, our actors and crew which is way cool. He also stole a picture of me and inserted it into the "SATAN INSIDE HER" where he listed me as Italian Director "Enzo Castilliano". Very lulzworthy.

Adrian Santiago "SATAN INSIDE HER"

The monologue in the trailer appears to be shot specifically for a trailer rather than part of a film used for a trailer, much like how filmmakers such as Hitchcock and William Castle would shoot separate trailer material. Were there specific trailers which influenced you?
I wrote everything the night before we shot the trailer while I was pissed off at my girlfriend... I tend to do my best stuff when I'm either crazy angry or crazy depressed. Anyway, I got on Youtube and looked up a bunch of authentic grindhouse trailers (which, post-Rodriguez/Tarantino'cide were hard to find). Of all things, the one that spoke to me the loudest and most effectively was the trailer for DOLEMITE. It was action-action-action all the way through, accented by Rudy Ray Moore's stylized promo. I decided that was the best way to go, as we could establish a wide range of details (historical, political, and maniacal) and soak 'em in blood to show they're all equally futile.


I'd love a chance to take the concept behind TENTACLES (as Stephen wrote it) and translate it to a feature film. Make it real chatty, see if I can't get people to nod their heads in agreement with the guy who ends up being the craziest motherfucker of the bunch moments before he goes on a killing spree... see if the experience does anything to change their perception of right and wrong.


Can you tell us a little about the actors you worked with?
The only actor by trade out there was Christopher Dimock (whose name now appears on the TENTACLES poster in SHOCK FESTIVAL). At that point we had worked with him on a short film we did for Fox’s "On the Lot"... urp, excuse me: I always vomit a little when I mention that show. Other guys out there (the victims) were Garrett Wilkerson (the guy who gets the funny little "floating" animated bullet hole in his neck), a couple of his friends, Mike Peters (been with us since the first short film I ever made), and Tomas Santiago, my younger brother. Poor guy, everyone else gave us quiet deaths, but when Tom gets shot in the knee he was crying, cussing... all good stuff, but by then I figured we could save some time and just NOT record audio!


Who worked on the technical end of the production, specifically cinematography, music, and special effects?
Garrett Wilkerson handled all the sweet blood hits (that was actually the first time they had been used), Cinematography was co-op between myself and Daniel Patterson. Surprisingly I get asked this question a lot, and I'd like to take this time to put the rumors to rest: Yes! You're SUPPOSED to see the boom pole! We planned out a lot of deliberate bloopers/flaws... some shots are in focus, none of the gunshots follow any kind of realistic trajectories, and so on. I had wanted to have the reflection of the crew in a car window as a guy stepped out of it, but we didn't have any vehicles from the era and the camera would've been too modern.


Are there any current or future projects you would like people to know about?
Yes, dammit! Be on the look out for "GRIM", a film by Adrian Santiago at a film festival near you in 2010! Test audiences (who have seen only clips) find the movie immensely troubling to watch... one person summed up the opening of the film best when they said, "It’s tough, it’s brutal, it’s unsettlingly realistic, you find yourself wishing it was over but it only gets worse. If they can get away with staging something like this in a film in broad daylight, imagine what a real-life sicko can get away with when there are even fewer people around."

I'm no asshole... feel free to reach out and touch me!

You can “reach out and touch” Adrian by email at or follow him on, or

SHOCK FESTIVAL is available on DVD Now!

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