Director talks ‘Maniac Farmer’

Maniac-Farmer1

The idea behind retro slasher Maniac Farmer is born out of gore classics such as Slaughterhouse and Madman.
After sharing the first artwork and trailer recently, we got the chance to chat to Writer/Director Matthew Williams about the project.
Tell us where the idea come from for Maniac Farmer?
Maniac Farmer formed around my desire to write a film in which the audience would be conflicted as to who they rooted for. The story revolves around a murderous punk who calls himself Blasphemous Rex.
One night, he messes with the only person meaner than him: the Farmer. What follows is a gruesome and torturous ordeal that we experience alongside Blasphemous Rex, and emotionally, we either long for Rex’s ultimate escape, or for the farmer to keep him locked up tight.
Funny enough, Maniac Farmer started as an idea for a fake trailer. Inspired by Tarantino and Rodriguez’s Grindhouse, I originally planned for it to play before an early film of mine – a comedy/horror called Presidents’ Day Massacre.
As time went on, it grew into a short film, and then eventually into the feature film it is now, years later.
While I don’t consider Maniac Farmer a comedy in any stretch of the word, there is still a certain level of humor to it that I attribute to my style of writing that I’ve become more and more comfortable with over the last decade or so. I would even compare it to the likes of a Tarantino movie, whereas you know his movies aren’t comedies, but you still expect to laugh.
Can we expect some gory death scenes?
Inspired by horror films of the 1970s, Maniac Farmer operates mostly on dread and tension. However, there are definitely some stylistic ways that gore is used, fear not.
We guess the Farmer does use the full repertoire of the farmhouse to kill his victims?
The farmer certainly uses his fair share of weapons in the film. Trust me, the farmer can make anything dangerous, weapon or not.
How much of this will use practical effects?
I am a big advocate for practical effects and every scene of violence you see in the film is a product of my father and I sitting down and planning out these sometimes elaborate scenes of violence. One in particular that comes to mind involves a shotgun. I won’t say anymore out of fear of dipping into spoiler territory.
Was it hard to cast the role of the Farmer?
Not at all. Jake Roark – one of my best friends, earliest collaborators, and the actor who plays the farmer – was right there right alongside me the whole time during every step of the production.
The moment I wrote the first few words of the script, I knew that Jake Roark would be the farmer. It wouldn’t have been the same movie without him. Jake has been in every movie I’ve made so far, and I can guarantee he’ll be in every movie I make after this.
Besides the villain, which characters were the most fun to write?
Aside from the villains, my favorite character to write was Detective Lenhardt, one of the central characters who is following the trail of bodies that Blasphemous Rex leaves behind. Lenhardt is straight out of a 70’s cop movie, both in appearance and attitude.
We have to ask about the song in the trailer too, was this inspired by Madman?
The Maniac Farmer Theme Song was written and recorded by one of the actors in the film: Matt McNew, who plays the character called Sly. McNew is a good friend of mine who is in a really talented up-and-coming band called the Wrong Party.
The only direction I gave McNew for the feeling of the song was that I wanted it to sound like a Rob Zombie song, which I believe he achieved with flying colors. The song is also featured many times throughout the movie.
Why do you think horror needs Maniac Farmer right now?
Maniac Farmer is not your typical horror film. In fact, I sometimes even refer to it as a drama hidden inside of a horror story. It’s not full of jump scares and it doesn’t have violence just to have it. There are methodical reasons behind the movie’s beats, actions, and dialogue.
Maniac Farmer is not trying to emulate any particular horror film from the 70’s or 80’s; instead, I took inspiration from 70’s horror as a whole and, having grown up on a farm myself, used personal experiences to turn every day or mundane things into gruesome and sometimes frightening situations, such as hanging a deer carcass upside down or having to investigate a suspicious noise outside at night by yourself.
One of the main themes of Maniac Farmer is best summarized by one character toward the story’s end: “when evil is going up against evil, the best thing for good to do is sit back and watch.”
It’s no easy task to determine who the true villain of Maniac Farmer is. Is it the maniacal farmer, or is it the murderous Blasphemous Rex?
Both characters would be considered the villains in their own stories, but together, it’s difficult to decide which is the villain and which is the victim. This is actually a topic that I love to bring up to people after they watch the film for the first time: who are you rooting for? The question always divides the crowd and upon viewing, I think everyone will see what I mean.
When can we expect to see the film?
We had a premiere on March 30th in Lexington KY at the Lyric Theatre. It had a great turnout and fantastic reception. We then had an encore showing for an EKU film class.
Maniac Farmer has also been submitted to multiple film festivals, many of which are several months away. Aside from that, I’m looking into distribution at the moment and I am excited to eventually make Maniac Farmer available to the public.
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