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“I don’t use drugs – my dreams are frightening enough…”
– M C Escher
What is the most absurd dream you ever had? Just this last week, I dreamt I had a random article published in National Geographic and it was full of embarrassing typos – but I had to get a picture to share it online, so I whipped my phone out to take a picture, lost the page, and could not find the article again no matter how many times I looked. Frustrated, I decided to go for a walk, and apparently I was in some kind of park and all of a sudden some random voice said “Look, that’s David Letterman in that moving truck!” – and holy shit, it was!? Absurd, right?
Jimmy ScreamerClauz, on the other hand, sees this –
Enter ‘Where the Dead go to Die’ – a three-part anthology from the warped mind of one Jimmy ScreamerClauz. The demented world he has created and put on display for us is the closest vision of another person’s absurd dream we will get – and it is fucking beautiful!
The film starts off with “Tainted Milk” – the first chapter of this trifecta of debauchery – and centers around a little naive boy named Tommy who blindly listens to a demonic talking dog named Labby. Labby informs Tommy that – due to a combination of a shadow person and the fact that his mother’s breast-milk was tainted – his unborn brother is in fact the Antichrist and must be destroyed…oh Tommy!
After “Tainted Milk” is done raping your senses, “Liquid Memories” kicks in and takes you on the most cerebral mind-fuck since that time you watched “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” on 1.5x speed (thank you Playstation 3) while on salvia. From the bedroom of Tommy’s parents we move (transcend?) to the inside of a cathedral – “I killed myself today…” we hear from the internal monologue of a shameful man. It turns out, he knows about a certain chemical that is extracted after death (Zydrate comes in a little glass vial!) that contains all the person’s memories. Our protagonist is trying to eliminate the fear of death by injecting these memories, but the shadow people want some of that action too. Suddenly, a knock on the door, a badly beaten woman pleads for her life…what do her memories look like?
BrundleFly’s tip of the day: Every time you say “What the fuck?!” out loud during “Liquid Memories”- do a shot.
If your mind did not melt completely from “Liquid Memories” you will at least need to take a shower after the third installment – “The Masks the Monsters Wear” – a long one. This time we follow childhood friends – one with the sometimes-alive face of his brother growing out the side of his, the other a victim of child pornography – and the beautiful love that blossoms between them. Along the way, especially in this installment, we can see how everything ties together and get the full perspective of this twisted enigma – did you catch everything? …Was I right about needing that shower? Too bad you can’t wash your soul…
The most astonishing aspect of WTDGTD is the fact that, besides the voices, one man is largely responsible for the entire project – a surreal and amazing accomplishment, especially considering the fact that the DVD commentary revealed Jimmy (Mr. ScreamerClauz?) has no formal training in animation, but rather just “picked stuff up off of tutorials,” – my god man!
Frequent readers of this column know I like to break a film down into symbolism and allegories and all that, but quite honestly, this film is basically what insanity looks like – with no layers of symbolism bogging it down, no, this is insanity at its PUREST – a pound of uncut pure cocaine. That, and even during the DVD commentary Jimmy said most of it was just done because it was weird, or funny, or fucked up – unlike a Jodorowski commentary where EVERYTHING symbolizes SOMETHING – which can be rather exhausting – like too much paint on the canvas – I’m looking at you Jackson Pollock.
I’m actually speechless – this film is an experience, and cannot be articulated through these blocks of texts – like “Enter the Void” or “Dear Zachary” – no words can describe this trip, one has to ride this roller coaster in the dark, just remember to hold on.
I had an opportunity to speak with the deranged conductor of this crazy train – Mr. Jimmy ScreamerClauz – here is how it went down –
BrundleFly – First off, tell me a little about yourself – how you got into art, what are your aspirations, and what scares you?
Jimmy ScreamerClauz – When I was young lad I was really into weird music and horror movies and decided that I wanted to make them but didn’t know how. My high school was not at all geared towards people like me, if you stood out they hated you there. All my art teachers hated me, and all my English/writing teachers hated me. I was really lazy and hated school so I ended up in the lower level classes where they spent most of their time telling us not to bother trying because we were only cut out for low paying labor jobs, and if we were luckily we could maybe manipulate our way into community college. It took a long time to realize that it was all bullshit and work past all that stuff. In 2008 I decided to start taking filmmaking seriously and attempted to make my first feature film, even though I wasn’t completely happy the end result, I really learned a whole lot and a lot of the stuff I learned is what lead to the making of “Tainted Milk”. The only irrational fears I have are airplanes, I don’t like flying, even though I have many times with little to no problems.
BF – Your art showcases a world of insanity – both visually and through audio – one can’t help but wonder – where do you find your inspiration?
JSC – Hmm, I don’t really know, I find inspiration from people, places and weird things I’ve experienced. I’m also really inspired by old religious scare films and alien agenda conspiracy theories. My frequent daily use of Marijuana is certainly a contributing factor, as well as previous mushroom and LSD experiences (both good and bad). I don’t know inspiration comes from everywhere I guess. As far as the audio goes, I started making dark electronic music when I was 16 years old (which is where the “ScreamerClauz” originated from) and after doing it for almost 14 years I learned how to use dark sounds and music to my advantage.
BF – There is a very surreal, dream-like aura to your work – almost like we are watching your nightmares unfold – what is it that YOUR nightmares consist of?
JSC – The most vivid nightmare I can remember was over the summer. I have a lot of problems sleeping so for a short period of time I started taking melatonin before bed. I didn’t read the directions closely enough and didn’t realize you weren’t supposed to take it every single night. So after about a month and half of taking it every night (sometimes double doses) I started to enter this weird state of mind where I was always somewhere into between dreaming and being awake and I was having random anxiety attacks. During the peak of it I had this dream where a group of us were hunting the devil – who was hiding inside of a cave. We all went in and he started murdering everyone in horrific ways. I eventually found where was hiding and when I looked at him he was nothing more than a large glowing orb of colorful light that changed as he talked. He told me all the things I had done wrong and that it was too late to save my soul and showed me horrific visions of the current and future world. I don’t remember much after that, after the intense part he sent me on an elevator with a monster that was sending me to fight for my soul in gladiator battles. I started laughing on the elevator when I realized how ridiculous it was and I woke up. It doesn’t seem all that terrifying looking back on it, but dreams are weird like that sometimes, even the most ridiculous non-sense becomes terrifying – I try to use that concept in my work fairly often!
BF – ‘Where the Dead go to Die’ is rife with psychological overtones – not just shock for the sake of shock, but rather a message – what was your message to the world with this film – or was it all just a psycho-sexual acid trip?
JSC – There’s not really a message, other than “child abuse is bad”. Each chapter I had a different goal. During the making of ‘Tainted Milk’ I was under the impression I was making a dark comedy, it was supposed to be a parody of Lassie, which is why the kids name is Tommy and there is a well and talking dog named “Labby”- it used to have a laugh track and everything. Then when I was finished the first edit I realized it worked more as a horror film and cut some of the goofier stuff out, which left it with some weird bio-polar balance, just like real life! ‘Liquid Memories’ was my attempt to make a straight horror short with dark religious themes about man who was about to lose his soul and his journey through his memories to understand why. He then ends up in the memories of a street prostitute with a dark past. In the third chapter ‘The Masks That The Monsters Wear’ my goal was to tell a dark complex love story about two emotionally crippled children who are too young to even understand the feelings they are experiencing and the dark world that surrounds them that forces them to seek out that form of affection. I like to create alternate worlds and characters that unknowingly have personality disorders to wander through. But I try not to have a specific message or a statement like “this is how you should feel about stuff because the world is fucked!” I instead to try to set up complicated scenarios involving broken people with their own opinions and motivations and the audience is supposed to watch it unfold and decide what they think is right and wrong and which characters they relate to most. Then people tell my film is “immoral” or “promotes child abuse” and I usually respond with “then you’re not paying enough attention”
BF – Throughout watching both your feature-length film and some of your shorts, I couldn’t help but think – this guy’s visions could single-handedly revive the ‘Silent Hill’ games – a perfect blend of emotion and insanity – if you could tap into any existing franchise, and add your vision to it, what would it be, and why?
JSC – Haha I get that a lot! I liked the second game a lot when I was a kid, then I tried to play the one where you have to crawl through the hole in the wall and it confused me. Then I played Homecoming and it sucked. So yeah, someone should give me a bunch of money and I’ll fix it and/or break it all over again! I’m really not trying to “get a job in the industry” though. A lot of filmmakers seem to be making their own films in an attempt to get the attention of Hollywood so they can get big fancy jobs, I really don’t want a job, I just want to make my non-sense, I really don’t like working on other peoples things unless it’s something small and fun (like doing voices for other peoples projects and such). That’s probably why I’m poor and don’t have many friends within the industry. But if the ‘Silent Hill’ people came to my door and offered me a bunch of money to work on their game I’d totally do it, but then just use that money to fund my next movie. It seems like a lot of filmmakers get rich and then stop making their own films and just continue getting film directing jobs directing schlock that nobody seems to enjoy anyway, none of it really makes any sense to me. I have no desires to tap into already existing franchises, but if I could remake one movie it would ‘The Pit’ from 1981. I would take it super seriously and make it so over the top terrifying that nobody will know whether to laugh or shit themselves, or both!
BF – Tell me a little about your writing process – do you see a scene before you write it, or does it evolve as you create it?
JSC – Typically I write a script and then rewrite it a bunch of times until I’m happy with the dialogue. Then I record with the actors so that I can no longer altar the dialogue and have to just continue on. A lot of times I end up moving dialogue and shift scenes all around. I try to play at least one character so that if I have to altar the story in some way 10 months down the road I can base it around that character and re-record all I want. I like to continue trying to evolve it until it’s finally done and out of my life! Then I start all over it. For example the current feature I’m working on is on draft 11, with drafts 10 and 11 written after all the dialogue was already recorded.
BF – I was blown away with your film, and the fact that you did so much – how long did the entire process take – from conception to final product
JSC – Roughly three years, but only because I would stop animating for many months and then pick it up later. Plus before ‘Tainted Milk’ I had never animated anything before. I watched a bunch of tutorials and taught myself how to animate one shot at a time, until eventually it was done. I originally was trying to make more of a web-series though, I had no idea it would become a feature film at the time. After I made the second part – ‘Liquid Memories’ – I was randomly sending discs around to reviewers and industry people, one of them being Unearthed Films. One day Stephen Biro called me and said “Your shorts are awesome but only equal 45 minutes, you got anything else?” I told him I was currently working on the third part. A year later I sent him a hard drive with the master on it.
BF – How did Linnea Quigley get involved with ‘Where the Dead go to Die’?
JSC – After ‘Tainted Milk’ I did a ‘Chainsaw Kiss’ live screening with Victor Bonacore, Ruby Larocca and Joey Smack. Victor is good friends with Linnea and flew her out to host the event. At the time I was working on ‘Liquid Memories’ and during the downtime I asked if she wanted to record a couple of lines for my new cartoon and said agreed! During the recording I did an interview with her that I have gotten more hate mail for then the film itself, I really don’t understand why.
BF – What are some of your favorite movies?
JSC – I’m always bad at this question because at this point in life I’m not even sure what I like. New movies don’t seem to interest me and all my favorite movies from childhood I’ve seen too many times to have much desire to watch them again. I really like 80s and early 90s horror films like ‘Brain Damage’, ‘Maniac’, ‘Nekromantik’, ‘Hellraiser’, etc. I also like really retarded comedies from the same era like ‘Clifford’, ‘Bio-Dome’, ‘The Wizard’, ‘Garbage Pail Kids’, etc and really obscure films made by real cults like the ‘SOS video collection’ from the ‘Children of God/The Family.’ I really have horrible taste in everything honestly, haha. I usually get bored during heavy dramas or romance movies and I don’t typically like the movies that people hold in such high regard, like I’ve never been able to get all the way through the ‘Godfather’ movies. I don’t really even pay attention to what comes out anymore, everything seems to be a remake and if it’s not a remake then it’s just a rehash or throw-back of the same movies with a different title. Any time I read a Kickstarter or article where the director says “It’s a totally original movie that’s a throw back to 80s slashers blah blah blah,” I stop reading and secretly wish the movie never gets made. I’m a pretty terrible person when it comes down to it, haha.
BF – What’s next for you, what does the future hold?
JSC – I am currently animating my next feature film ‘When Black Birds Fly’. My goal is to have it done by December 2013 but we’ll see what happens! During the animation process I am also writing the sequel to ‘Where The Dead Go To Die’ that centers around the same group of kids who are a little older now, I hope to get pretty much everyone back. I’m trying to make it an actual feature though instead of an anthology film this time around.
A VERY SPECIAL THANK YOU TO JIMMY SCREAMERCLAUZ AND DRUGS.