Movie Review-All Hallows’ Eve–and a talk with director Damien Leone

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Review-I am kind of pissed off. It is Halloween, and we get slm pickings in terms of what is at the Movie Theater and coming to home video this week. Now that being said, All Hallows’ Eve does come out at Halloween time and it is a horror film that could in the upcoming years become a cult film in the vein of a Trick ‘r Treat, Hills Run Red and Satan’s Little Helper. Hallows’ is an anthology type film, that canters on a babysitter Sarah who is babysitting two kids named Tia and Tommy. Tommy discovers a VHS tape in his bag, and after a lot of begging Sarah puts it in the VCR (kids this was the technology your great grandparents had back in the cave day, that got taken over by the Laser Disc craze of 1842). The VHS tape at first is all fuzzy but when it comes clear, it seems that it is 3 short films about the cover clown. As the stories on tape start to unfold Sarah feels like they are more than just films, that they could be actually happening. All Hallows’ Eve is far from perfect, but it has such a cool old school horror feel that I feel this film could really be a surprise for horror fans this season. It is creepy and effective at times that will keep you on the edge of your seat, and it is also very smart and tries to give us familiarity with little hints at creativity here and there to create a balance that works. I really dug this film so much so, that this review is going to morph into a interview with the director…enjoy and rent this film, buy it…just support it…

8 out of 10

I felt that this review would not do justice to the film, so I wanted to talk to director Damien Leone…and found out that he can not only hang with us, but is pretty fun..enjoy

1. For people who see this interview and wonder who Damien you are, you want to give people like a little rundown on who you may be? (For the record, this interview was supposed to take place before the review..just to clarify this question)

Hey, James! Thanks for the interview. I’m a writer,director & make-up fx artist from Staten Island, NY. Currently, I have a little movie coming out about a really psychotic killer clown called All Hallows’ Eve.

2. What was the first film to inspire you to do this? And was it always your plan to direct? I mean you have a background in almost every aspect and job behind the scenes.

My mother literally named me Damien after The Omen so I guess I was born to this. But the movie that first got me interested in movie magic, which is technically not a movie, was a documentary/instructional video called Scream Greats about special effects artist, Tom Savini. I first saw the trailer to Scream Greats on my vhs copy of Jason Lives when I was about five years old and it completely fascinated me. I would frequently rent it over the years until I finally got a copy of my own. Eventually, I startedtrying to imitate what Savini was making in the video and
I’ve never stopped.

3. You have a background in makeup and effects, you ever thought about going on that show Face/Off? Also do you think shows like that are rigged? (I mean, I do not see Glen or McKenzie emailing me and asking me for prospects so you may be safe with the answer. )

Lol Everyone I know tells me to get on that show but I’m actually a little camera shy and wouldn’t be comfortable working under those conditions. I actually submitted a work Idid to an online contest they had during season one. I came in the top 3 and won one of those big make-up kits that all of the contestants use on the show. Before that I was using a tackle box to lug my supplies around in so that was awesome! I’m sure a ton of shows like that are rigged, but I never got that impression watching Face/off. Of course there are many contestants that have no shot of winning but either way I give them all so much credit for going on the show and creating some truly awesome make-ups in only three days. It’s really quite remarkable.

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4. Let’s talk about this debut film All Hallows’ Eve. What was the bigger task for you, directing, writing or editing? Also, before filming started how much of the script was already written? Did you trust the actors and actresses to go off the page if needed in the moment?

4. Definitely directing. Directing is the hardest part because the clock is ticking, all eyes are on you and if it doesn’t work, it’s your fault.

All Hallows’ was a unique process because two of the shorts were already filmed years before. The 9th Circle was shot in 2007 and Terrifier was shot a few years later. Jesse Baget, the producer, came to me with the idea of turning them into a full length anthology but it all had to be done in a really short period of time. Immediately, I wrote the alien and babysitter segments and we went right into production. This all had to be written, filmed, edited and delivered to the distributor in about 3 months. It was nuts.

I have no problems letting actors change dialogue. We do it constantly. Most of the time it works and it sounds much more natural for the actor but sometimes there’s a line they want to change that I’m adamant about keeping the way it was written.

5. You know with a first film what that means, those damn critics. Let’s be fair, not everyone likes the same things. Are you surprised so far that most of the feedback has been positive? Also, do you personally read all the reviews? And if so, does the negative ones if they come or have come hurt you or effect you?

I do read every review I can find and I gotta say, I think most of the reviews for All Hallows’ have been spot on. It’s far from perfect but at the end of the day I think it delivers the goods and Art the Clown is an awesome villain who people will want to see more of.

Honestly, the negative ones do not bother me if they’re legitimate or the reviewer has actually seen the movie! There are people out there giving the film one star because Terrifier was taken off of youtube and now they have to pay for it. These people are giving my film the lowest rating and they haven’t even seen it LoL That rubs me the wrong way but you’ve gotta accept the trolls.

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6. If this all failed, and you never got a foot in the door or made your first film, what was the back-up plan? Please do not say blogging, because I am still looking for my back-up plan.

LoL I swear to you, I have no back up plan. Never did. I’ve been doing this since I’m twelve years old and working odd jobs in between. People have been telling me my whole life to get a real job, have a back up plan, it’ll never happen, etc. Screw that, I truly believe if you really want something to happen and you work harder than you ever, it will happen. That’s what I’ll continue doing. But to answer your question, I delivered flowers for a long time and I didn’t mind it so I’d probably continue doing that.

7. What was the last horror film you watched (beside yours) that scared you?

I don’t usually see new horror movies and the old ones don’t really scare me anymore. The last new horror movies I saw were The Lords of Salem and The Evil Dead Remake. Before that I think it was the first Paranormal Activity. If I saw a couple in between they didn’t leave an impression.

Anyway, I didn’t find those films I mentioned frightening. New horror movies don’t really click with me. Everything seems to be found footage, too polished, or possession movies. So boring.

I think when I re-watched The Exorcist a couple of years ago, it scared me more than it probably ever did. I think that’s the scariest movie ever made. Hands down. Although I generally dislike all new horror films, I’m looking forward to Eli Roth’s The Green Inferno. I think that can be really disturbing.

8. You know piracy is this big deal. It has been for years. Do you think the Government is doing all they can to stop it? If so or not, what would do you to stop it? Do you think you should go to jail for downloading a song or movie?

8.I’m sure the government isn’t doing all it can but I don’t really know the logistics of a such a thing. It seems absurd that the sites that harbor the movies are somehow always up and running. Isn’t there a way to track down the people constantly putting that site up? It’s the government, they can do anything. LOL

But should people go to jail for downloading a film or a song, definitely not in my opinion. I don’t think a guy who downloaded Machete Kills should share a cell with a guy who actually killed people with a machete.

9. When was the last time Damien..
a. Bought or read a full issue of Fangoria Magazine
b. Bought a film based on a review he read on a website other than the one selling the film
c. Went to the movie theater, and what film
d. Went out first day and bought a new blu ray and dvd, and what film was it.
e. During filming of All Hallows’ Eve wanted to quit or was frustrated

9. a. Probably 7 years ago when a picture of my work was featured in a issue for a low budget horror film I worked on but I do go to Barnes & Noble regularly where I skim through every issue.

B. Never

C. Last week. Gravity. I thought it was one of the most visually mind blowing films I’ve ever see.

D. I think the last Rambo.

E. When I realized the alien puppet I built was never going to work. What a nightmare.

10.Finish the sentence�

a.The biggest misconception of me is_________
b. I cannot believe how overrated _______is
c._________should be legalized
d.__________ would solve all America’s issues

A. That I must love real violence.

B. Inception

C. Marijuana

D. Listening to John Lennon

11. If you had to sum up the whole period of filming your first movie in one sentence what would it be?

Arduous

12. Now you know we cover music on this site as well. What would be in the ipod of Damien?

I have such eclectic taste in music. The Gin Blossoms, Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin, The Smiths,…lots of music that a 47 year old guy going through a divorce would probably be listening to.

13. If a young kid came up to you and said, I want to do what you do when I get older what advice would you give them? Also keep in mind, we have a ton of young people who read this stuff and would love to get a push in the right direction.

Never ever stop doing what you love. If it’s make-up, buy a kit and start practicing immediately. Make a cut on your friends’ faces and send them home to their parents. The reaction of fear and panic will only drive you to work harder.

Take pictures of everything, put together a portfolio and if you can’t get yourself in front of big shots, get in with the film school crowd. If you’re work is good, they’ll keep referring you to friends until your name gets around. Some of these people will go places and make big films and they’ll remember you.

If it’s directing, make a film that’s going to grab people’s attention and throw it on youtube or into festivals. If it’s good, people will find it. Don’t waste your time on a movie that’s not going to grab people’s attention. There’s to much competition out there and people’s attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. Filmmaking is too difficult and time consuming. The last thing you want is for your work to just get lost in the shuffle. Most of all, watch every movie you can.

These are all the things that I did personally.

14. What would be the dream gig for you? Also who would you love to work with? Do not say Farrah Abraham, Danny Bonaduce or Octo Mom.

My dream gig would be to film this epic zombie script I wrote with the actors I have in mind and with a considerable budget.

LoL I’m such a huge film fanatic that I could go on forever with people I’d die to work with. Honestly, more than working with a specific actor, I think I would want to have Rick Baker work on one of my horror films. Unfortunately, with the budgets I’m working with now, he’ll be dead by the time I can afford him.

15. This was not so bad, take a deep breath I was not too hard on you, was I. Anyway, thanks so much and this is your chance to tell people about you and all that fun stuff, thank you so much sir.

LOL NO, man. This was really fun! I enjoyed answering every awesome question. I felt like I was having a real conversation. It was a pleasure and I hope you enjoyed All Hallows’ Eve. Stay in touch for my upcoming flicks and more Art the Clown!