Experience The Devil’s Carnival

“Step right up and don’t be shy. Because you will not believe your eyes.”

The classic line that begins an old Tubes song is also the perfect introduction for The Devil’s Carnival, a musical movie-going experience unlike any you’ve ever seen.

Director Darren Bousman (“SAW” as well as the upcoming “Mother’s Day” remake) along with writer Terrance Zdunich (“Repo! The Genetic Opera“) are literally taking their demonic show on the road stopping at various locations across the United States. It’s a horror-musical experience not to be missed.

Featuring three stories based on familiar Aesop fables but set in the fiery pit itself, the movie includes such stars as Briana Evigan (“Step it Up 2”, “Mother’s Day”), Paul Sorvino (“GoodFellas”), Bill Moseley (“The Devil’s Rejects”) and J. LaRose (“SAW”).

But “The Devil’s Carnival” is much more than just a movie. It’s an interactive experience for fans to be a part of. Complete with live entertainment, celebrity sightings, give-aways and a question and answer session with the creators themselves.

I was fortunate to be able to speak with Darren and Terrance as they made their way into Atlanta for yet anther stop on the tour. I also had the opportunity to speak with the amazing Briana Evigan, (who plays Ms. Merrywood) and get her thoughts on what people can expect to see from “The Devil’s Carnival”.

Darren Bousman (Director):

gJg: Darren, what’s the reaction from The Devil’s Carnival Tour been like so far?

DB: It’s great. There’s really no way to describe it. It’s part rock concert, part side-show and part movie-screening. By doing it in this way you get such a great reaction from fans. Much more so than if you were doing just a regular movie screening.

gJg: What makes the experience so unique?

DB: Every night there’s some sort of live performance, whether it be burlesque or freak or men juggling knives. It’s just crazy and the crowd goes wild for these things.

gJg: Why did you decide do it as an “experience” and not just a typical screening?

DB: The market has been so over-saturated with film makers, directors and movies that it’s become so hard to find a release for anything. When I started off doing “SAW” I had 3,000 – 4,000 screens. Then with each subsequent release I lost more and more screens. My last movie only saw something like 6 screens.

So you spend years of your life working on something and it’s basically shown on a half-dozen screens. It makes you want to just sit in the bathtub with a bottle of vodka and cry yourself to sleep.

But instead, I just said, “Screw It!” I wasn’t going to allow myself to follow the trend of making movies that go straight to DVD or movies that no one ever sees. If I don’t get the reaction I want out of the people who put my movies out then I’m just going to do it myself. So we just decided to get in a van and do this tour.

gJg: So what’s the premise of “The Devil’s Carnival”?

DB: That’s a hard question to answer. The Devil’s Carnival asks the question: “Can you get people to get off their couches and go experience something that is undefinable?”

The entire Devil’s Carnival is a 2 1/2 hour experience. Part of it is the movie, part of it is a live show, part of it is give-aways and part of it is a behind the scenes “Repo” documentary.

Now if you ask what the movie is, it’s a hybrid of “Tales from The Crypt” meets the anti -“Glee”. I’ve always been fascinated with the macabre. I love dark stories and I also love musicals. So it’s kind of like mixing the dark macabre stories in a musical based format. It’s actually three different stories that are being told in hell. The wrap around is these crazy carnies and Lucifer himself.

But unlike “Tales From The Crypt”, this film has a linear structure. It’s a modern retelling of Aesop fables set in hell. We’re doing the classic “Scorpion and the Frog” but its done in a modernized, over the top, grandiose kind of way.

gJg: What are your plans for it after the tour is over?

DB: We’d really like to start work on episode two. This is the first part of many others we hope to be doing. We really want to make an impact and get people talking about it. If that happens, we’d love to start filming part two right away.

What’s really exciting about this project is that there’s instant gratification for me as a film maker. Take “Mother’s Day” as an example. I LOVE that film. I made it three years ago and it’s still sitting on a shelf somewhere. It’s finally going to be released but it just killed me that for years it just sat on a shelf. 

What’s great about this is that I control my own fate. We booked the theaters.  We booked the hotels. We bought and printed and sell the merchandise. We did everything. There’s no one out side of us who’s doing anything and that’s awesome.

So if it fails it’s because of us. If it fails it’s because we did not do our jobs correctly and I’ll have no one to point the finger at. I can’t blame the big, bad studio or anyone else. It’s our fault. By that same token, if it succeeds it’s also because of us. It’s because of our passion and our drive.

It’s a scary position to be in but i love it.

gJg: It’s total control.

DB: Exactly.

gJg: You’ve also brought back a lot of people from “Repo! The Genetic Opera” for this film as well.

DB: We did. We brought back Paul Sorvino, Bill Moseley, Alexa Vega, Ogre from Skinny Puppy. Oh, and my favorite by far is J LaRose who plays “Major” – he’s in the car with me right now and just reminded me that he was in “Repo!” too.

What’s cool is that I find people who I like to work with. We’re like a family. A very dysfunctional family, but a family none-the-less.

gJg: “Mother’s Day” with Rebecca De Mornay is finally being released. Is there anything you’d like to say about it?

DB: Yes, it comes out this Mother’s Day on a handful of screens and then on DVD the following week. I also have “11-11-11” which is going to be released on DVD so watch for that was well.  

Terrance Zdunich (Writer)

gJg: Hey Terrance, it’s great to speak with you.

TZ: You too. Sorry for the way I sound. Darren and I are literally in a van driving across the country right now.

gJg: How did the story for “The Devil’s Carnival” come about for you?

TZ: I wrote the screen play and co-wrote the music with my writing partner Saar Hendelman. As a fan, I like to write about things that I’d want to see and especially with the shortage in the dare I say, sophisticated “horror musical” market.

For me, It was inspired by amusement park dark rides. As I kid I really enjoyed hopping on those rides that also involved music. That’s sort of where “The Devil’s Carnival” began. Then it just grew on that over the last couple of years to what it is now.

gJg: What’s your musical background?

TZ: Music has always been a big part of my life. My Dad played guitar. When I was in grade school and high school I was in the marching band. I’ve also played in rock and roll bands and did some musical theater for quite a while.

I guess in a way you could say that I’m returning to my marching band roots with “The Devil’s Carnival” because it involves primarily a sort of demonic marching band. There’s no electronic instrumentation in it what so ever.

gJg: I asked Darren this question so I’ll ask you too: Why is this an “experience” and not just a film?

TZ: It came down to the fact that we really wanted to do it and projects like this just aren’t getting green lighted. We didn’t want to wait or ask permission and get approval for it so we decided on this road tour idea instead.

Right now, we’re doing what we like and the fans are responding to it! It’s pretty exciting. The film stands well on it’s on but the experience of it is really the main event.

gJg: And you get to play the ultimate bad guy in this one.

TD: Yeah, but I think in some ways Lucifer is the good guy in a round about sort of way. <laughs>

gJg: Really?

TZ: He’s not passing judgement because that’s already been made by Heaven. He’s really just holding the fun-house mirror up the sinners who’ve arrived at his gates and giving them a chance to learn and change.

Certainly the games are rigged but he’s not necessarily the ultimate bad-guy in this story.

gJg: What’s the plan once “The Devil’s Carnival” tour is over? Will the movie be released on DVD?

TZ: Eventually. We’re trying to determine the best way to release it. Ideally, we want it to be just as unique as the project and tour are. We really want the format we release it in to be an experience as well.

We’ve also written the second episode and do envision having it as an ongoing series. Whether its like a concert tour a few times a year where we unveil a new episode or sort of like a small Lolapalooza or Blue Man group….Well, a RED man group in this case..<laughs>

Briana Evigan (Ms. Merrywood)

gJg: Hey Briana.

BE: Hey, what’s going on?

gJg: I wanted to get the scoop about this movie because it looks so good!

BE: I’m so pumped about it. I love it.

gJg: Tell me a little bit about how the role of Ms. Merrywood came about for you?

BE: Well, Darren had called me up. I had loved working with him in the past so immediately said yes. I didn’t have any insecurities or confidence issues going in which was very cool. It just left an open book for me to play.

And of course, once i saw the wardrobe I pretty much knew what I was going to do. <laughs>

gJg: You get to sing in the movie too!

BE: I do! I started off my career as a musician and a dancer and actually do music on the soundtracks for each film that I’m a part of. What’s cool about this project though is that I actually get to sing in the movie as well as on the soundtrack. It was so much fun to do a bigger than life kind of song and character. It’s definitely different from anything I’ve ever done before.

gJg: What’s your favorite part of the movie?

BE:  With my character it’s got to be the whole singing part. Of course, watching Terrance as the Devil was pretty amazing too!

gJg: How has the whole “experience” of “The Devil’s Carnival” been for you as opposed to a typical movie premiere?

BE: Really cool. It’s busy because you’re meeting people left and right. It’s almost like being on auto pilot. Very surreal. You get the whole carnival kind of vibe too. It’s a lot of fun.

gJg: Putting you on the spot here: If you had to describe “The Devil’s Carnival” experience in three words, what would they be?

BE: Twisted, Exciting and Fun!

For more information on “The Devil’s Carnival” experience and tour click here.

Article first published as Experience The Devil’s Carnival on Technorati.

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