‘House of Bad’ Exclusive Interview: Jim Towns

House of Bad
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Indie horror flick House of Bad has just been picked up for distribution by Osiris Entertainment. The movie tells the story of three sisters on the run with a suitcase full of stolen drugs, yearning to break free from their sordid pasts and end up in their childhood home where they are haunted by the ghosts of their parents.

We had a chance to talk with House of Bad director Jim Towns, who talks about his movie’s release plans.

Congratulations on the film being picked up by Osiris.  Did you get a lot of interest from distributors? How did you settle on Osiris?

We had a few companies that were interested. We liked Osiris because, while embracing new media, they’re still very dedicated to physical DVD distribution, whereas some distributors will tell you it’s practically a dead medium. I’m an avid movie collector and I look at my DVD’s/Blu-rays as my library, so I’m glad we’re with a company that appreciates that film – especially horror – is also a collector’s medium. Plus they’ve been great about promoting the film and getting word out for its December 3rd release.

How long ago did you shoot the film?  Has the release been a long time coming?

We shot principal photography back in 2011, then a few pick up days spread out throughout the next 12 months while my editor Nina and I were cutting the footage together. Then it suddenly became a mad dash to finish sound, score, color and VFX at the end of last year – so yes, it’s been a long time to live with one project. There’s a point where it stops being fun and really becomes work, and that’s where your dedication to the project is truly tested and you decide you’re going to knuckle down and push on to the end. It’s nice to be at this point here promoting the film, I can tell you.

The film has scored a lot of good, early reviews.  Did most people see it at festival screenings? And do you recommend going to festivals, if you’re an indie film?

I think that’s one way to go, for sure. We did the Big Bear Horror Fest this spring and managed to walk away with the Fan Favorite award, and that definitely helped us just as we were submitting to distributors. Festivals can help, but it’s expensive for a small film to submit to a lot of them and some could be accused of being popularity contests in the end anyway. My producers and I focused more on getting screeners to well-established critics within the horror genre, and it’s been amazing how overwhelmingly positive the reviews of the film have been on Film Threat, Ain’t it Cool News and others. I was really proud of how the film came out. I think it looks great and the story works and the acting is stellar – but it’s encouraging to hear that kind of praise from people who really know horror and see a whole lot of it.

The cast are relative newcomers.  How did you find them?

Heather Tyler (Teig) came via my producers who had seen her totally kill it in a one-woman play in Los Angeles. Sadie Katz, Cheryl Sands (Sirah and Lily) and Clint Jung (Tommy) had all auditioned for past projects of mine and I’d been totally impressed with all of them, so they were my first calls when this project got going because I was dying to work with them. Jim Falkenstein (Greif) is primarily a prop-master on a ton of TV shows- we met years ago on my first PA job on the Reba McEntire sitcom- Jim’s the funniest guy ever but also huge and terrifying, so that was an easy choice. The idea of the ghost of their mother being pregnant came late in the game when I cast my actress/producer friend Lisamarie Costabile as Danielle. She was like eight months pregnant when we shot the film and came back for a day of pickups like FOUR DAYS before she gave birth. She’s a trooper. Her unborn baby has a credit on our IMDB page, haha.

And I guess we cast right, because everyone has exploded since the film- Sadie is starring in Chavez Cage of Glorywhich just opened in like 800 theaters nationwide, Heather was in FX’s The Bridge, Clint (who’s been in 24 and tons of stuff) was just in Jobs.

Was there ever any talk of bringing in bigger names, if even for the supporting parts, to help bump up the budget a bit?

If I were making the film now, I probably would have considered it, as it would have increased our chances of getting a great distro deal. But, at the time, I just wanted really talented actors who looked fantastic on camera, and who I’d enjoy working with- and that’s who we cast. Doing a film is like being married to a bunch of folks for a year or two- your fates are completely intertwined whether you like it or not, so my theory is you might as well pick good people and make that relationship a rewarding one.

The movie would seem to be quite a thrilling, emotional ride. How did you all – especially the actors – come down from the gloom and doom of the movie at the end of the day?

You know, the more intense the work, the more goofy it seems everyone on set behaves, in order to relieve that tension. We had a blast shooting House of Bad – it was intense, of course, we had a really tight schedule and all- but offscreen I remember trick buzzers, the whole crew walking around with black gaff tape mustaches, spontaneous dance parties, smiles and hugs all around. Like I said, find good people to work with- it’ll make your film all that much better.

If you had to compare the movie to another film.. what would it be?

That’s really tough. The film is such a hybrid… I think it has a lot in common with some of the Japanese supernatural stuff like Ringu and Ju-On, as well as a strong film noir element that goes all the way back to films like Petrified Forest… that kind of nihilistic story where you know no one in the film is getting out totally clean.

Do you do a ‘Hitchcock’ – do you cameo in the movie?

You know, I didn’t- and I’ve done that in all my other films… either a cameo or an actual role. This film got rolling so quickly I guess I never had to time to scheme about it. There’s newspaper all over the windows of the house the girls hide in, so I guess I could have done the Lifeboat gag of having my pic in the paper- but that would have been a whole lot of effort and honestly this shoot took pretty much all I had to keep the train on the rails. Next one.

Can horror fans pick up the movie online, as well as in traditional stores?

December 3rd is the release date for both DVD and VOD, so people can pick up the film at major retailers or watch it online on a variety of platforms. The DVD has some cool extras, though, haha (you can purchase House of Bad here from Amazon)

What are you currently working on, Jim?

There’s a few things going on right now- a supernatural western I wrote and am producing called A Man with a Gun, about a gunfighter who travels to hell to rescue the souls of his dead wife and child. It looks like the next thing I’m directing will be 13 Girls, starring House of Bad’s Sadie Katz as a troubled detective investigating the group suicide of a class of Catholic schoolchildren, and finding herself fighting against a demonic plot to destroy the world of Man. Both of those should be filming early next year.

Thanks for the interview. People can follow the film on twitter @houseofbad and like us on Facebook at facebook.com/badhouse2012.

House of Bad is released December 3

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About the Author

Shawn S. Lealos
Shawn is a film critic with over 25 years of experience in print and online media. He is a member of the Oklahoma Film Critics Circle and loves everything from critically acclaimed movies to B-level action flicks.
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