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Tim O’Leary previews Demonhuntr screenings ahead of Soho Horror Film Fest

We have previously covered Tim O’Leary’s LGBT horror series Demonhuntr, and we caught up with the creator ahead of the UK premiere of episodes 3-5 at the Soho Horror Film Festival: Pride Edition.

UK audiences have already had a sample of Demonhuntr from previous Soho Horror Film Festivals, what can we expect from the triple bill in store this time?

The first two episodes that screened last year set up the world of Demonhuntr, so that by Episode 3, which is the first of the three eps that will screen this year, we’re all systems go. Natalia has joined the team as manager, and her monetary contribution has allowed Jeremy and Daniel to improve their business. So in a way, episode 3 is kind of a re-set. You don’t need to see the first two episodes to follow what’s happening (though it helps!)

As the season progresses, we also move a bit away from the monster-of-the-week format and into a more serialized narrative.

Episode 3 is probably the steamiest episode of the season, as there’s a full-on orgy happening in the background of one of the scenes. There’s also my favorite fight in the whole series, when Jeremy and Daniel take on an incubus, played by Zach Nycum (who pulled triple duty since he also wrote an episode and served as producer.) The fight is scrappy and messy, much less balletic than the kung fu-esque fight from the pilot. This episode is the debut of Robert Rice’s Harold, a morally questionable telepath and love interest to Daniel, and Jason Caceres’s Alejandro, a go-go boy with emerging psychic powers.

Episode 4 is the most light-hearted and funny episode. It features Cara Mitsuko as the lesbian stoner private eye Quinn and LaTanza Britts as the jinn, Yara. They are so awesome together on screen, there’s a queer female love triangle, and there’s even a dance number!

Episode 5 is the season finale, and it takes us to the darkest place in the whole series. I wanted to take all the absolute joys of gay sex – feeling naked bodies pressed against you, body parts going into various other body parts – and flip it on its head, turning the pleasure into horror (it is a horror series after all.) This ep also features a very special guest appearance by the legendary Darryl Stephens!

I’ve seen some of the reactions on social media, this must feel great for something you’ve had such an input into?

Thank you! Yes, seeing how people have responded so positively to the show has been really cool and extremely rewarding. When I first came up with the idea of Demonhuntr, I honestly wondered if I’d be the only person in the world interested in seeing something like it. There isn’t exactly a wealth of shows in the action-horror-comedy genre featuring diverse casts of queer characters, that unashamedly celebrate queer sexuality, that don’t shy away from male nudity, and that take their inspiration from world mythology, the 90s WB lineup, kung fu films, and Power Rangers. You know?

Turns out there are actually a lot of people who are really into that! Getting messages from the people who’ve enjoyed the show has been amazing. I’m so glad we’re in the era of social media that we are so people from all over the globe can reach us and let us know how they feel about the show. It’s really warmed my cold, dead heart.

Is it the case of seeing how the series continues before deciding on long term plans?

Yep. As of now we have our complete five-episode season. Whether it will be a mini-series or just season one of a longer show is up to the Fates to decide.

Have you been conjuring new demons for the team to tackle for new episodes too?

Since all of our demons come from real world mythology, there’s an almost bottomless well of creatures to draw from. We actually have a bestiary on Demonhuntr.com that includes some creatures that don’t appear in the series yet, but do pop up in some of my other films. I like to think it’s all a shared universe, but yes, there are plenty more potential baddies for the demon hunters to fight.

How important is it to have an LGBT fronted supernatural series?

I think it’s important for there to be queer leads in every kind of story. Just the very existence of shows like Heartstoppers or Love, Victor is so incredibly important, it can’t be overstated.

But I’m a nerd, so I always tend to gravitate to supernatural shows for the wish fulfillment aspect, and I’m certainly not alone. Everyone desrves to see themselves as a hero, but queer people rarely ever do. So I wanted to make something that queer people (or anyone who’s been othered) can watch and see a host of LGBT people being not only heroic but super-heroic. They’re physically strong enough and good enough at martial arts to beat up monsters, and they use their supernatural abilities to help people, which is something we don’t see nearly enough of.

Do you think the industry is finally making headroom where we are getting more diverse LGBT content?

I do. I really do. We’re not where we should be, but we’re getting there, for sure. Nowadays, it’s newsworthy if a show with a large ensemble doesn’t have queer representation, which it should be. We’re taking baby steps, sure, but we’re moving in the right direction.

Is the plan to continue to crowdfund, and how difficult has this been during the height of the pandemic?

Oh, no, our Demonhuntr crowdfunding days are behind us. People so magnanimously gave us the budget out of their own pockets to create this first season, and I will be grateful for that for the rest of my days. The sheer generosity is overwhelming. I still get choked up when I think about it. If we do end up making more episodes, it won’t be on our friends and family to foot the bill.

We’d finished filming right before the pandemic hit, and editing was done during it. That was a challenge, let me tell ya. Fortunately, we live in the age we do, when all communication can be done virtually.

Are there any plans to expand the cast for new episodes?

I have plenty more Demonhuntr stories I’d love to tell, and all of them include new guest stars. But if we do make future episodes, I’m more excited about deepening the relationships between our core cast and seeing them interact more. When you have six very different lead characters, it’s fun to throw them together in various combinations and see how they behave.

For example, the last time we saw Yara interacting with the boys, she was electrocuting them with magic lightning. I’d imagine that might create a little tension when they’re working a case together, and it would be super fun to write that scene.

I also have big plans for some characters we only see a little of in the first season, like Alejandro, Anansi, and the Grey Brothers. And of course, I want to continue the love story between Daniel and Harold. So fingers crossed!

Demonhuntr episodes 3-5 screen at this year’s Soho Horror Film Festival: Pride Edition between 24 and 26 June 2022.

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