Ginger Nuts of Horror
I was taking massive amounts of LSD and Nitrous Oxide to find God. Not only did I find him, but I also found the Devil
If you're a fan of extreme horror cinema, the name Stephen Biro will doubtless be well known to you. As one of the founders of Unearthed Films, as well as a producer and director, Stephen has been a hugely influential figure in the field for many years and has recently written and directed the first of what will be many American Guinea Pig movies. We spoke to Stephen in the latter part of 2015 about all things Unearthed, the revival of Guinea Pig in the US and much more.
Alex: Unearthed Films has been running since 2002, and you've been an integral part of that from the very beginning. How did the concept for the company come about?
Stephen: Well, to be honest, back in the day, the VHS bootleg day, I was selling the Guinea Pig Films and was hit up by the agent who was handling the sales of the films with a cease and desist notice. I surprised him, and gave him a call. His name is Paul White and produced Bride of Re-Animator, Society and The Unnamable to name a few. We talked, he picked my brain, I picked his and we decided to start a company and call it, Unearthed Films.
Alex: A lot of your early releases were from the realm of Asian Cinema – do you feel the quality of film from that region gets underestimated?
Stephen: I do but back in 2002 to 2005, it was a different time and people were going nuts over the Japanese horror films. Some amazing films were coming out due to the rampant DVD influx... but everyone was hitting up older libraries, new films were massively expensive and people got used to the crazy Japanese movies so the genre trailed off a bit. Even now... some of the newest Japanese films, with outrageous gore are losing major money, due to the torrents and piracy that a lot of people think is okay to do. I love Japanese films of all genres... wish I could release more but it's a losing business venture now.
Alex: How do you go about finding the movies to release? There's such a range, both in terms of style and international scope.
Stephen: Some I track down, some come to us and others... we work with the producers and/or directors to make. If you saw my list of films that I wanted to release, I think the horror fans would start a Kickstarter just to get me the money to release what we want to. LOL I myself, love the gore, old time Gorehound here but I love films that have something to say, hidden meanings and visually intoxicating.
Alex: You were the first to release the Guinea Pig movies in the US, which we've just finished watching and reviewing at Film Gutter. Do you have a favourite in the series?
Stephen: Flower of Flesh and Blood is my favourite. Mermaid in a Manhole is my second.
Alex: The American Guinea Pig series is another of your innovations. How has the reception for Bouquet of Guts and Gore been so far?
Stephen: Quite amazing so far. At first announcement, the whole Internet sighed and some people got pissed off. Then we announced the names I was working with, then some sighed some relief while others were still pissed off and then the reviews started to hit. Some film festivals wanted it, others were afraid of it but all in all, I am proud that so many people have enjoyed the film. A lot of people thought I was nuts to not only restart a new series, but to write and direct the first one. Needless to say, the fans are speaking and luckily, people are loving it.
Alex: Next up in the series is Bloodshock, and the first trailer looks incredible. What can you tell us about that movie?
Stephen: I worked with Marcus Koch as the FX wizard for Bouquet. He's been a great friend for over a decade now and I knew he directed 100 Tears and FELL. I wanted him in the directors' chair again so I pitched him the story for Bloodshock and he loved it. So I wrote it while editing Bouquet and we began to bring in the actors. Dan Ellis from Gutterballs, Hangar, Famine. Andy Winston, a local actor with the right look and panache to play the Doctor, Lillian McKinney who has worked on many films as the costume designer but her look and feel made her our top priority to get as an actress. Gene Palubicki, Guitarist from Angel Corpse and Perdition Temple had the perfect look and feel for the deranged Orderly and Alberto Giovannellii as the 2nd orderly. Bloodshock is premiered at Housecore Horror Film Festival #3 in October 13th to 15th.
What else can I tell you about the film? It has to do with blood and what chemicals are produced during surgical, mutilation and extreme psychological torture. It is totally different then Bouquet... as it should be.
Alex: Are there plans for more American Guinea Pig movies?
Stephen: Very much so. Working with another set of producer/directors for the third in the series and pitching the new treatment for the 4th and taking pitches for the next 2 films in the new series. The hope is to get a total of 8 films in the new series. No one is doing an ultra gore series of movies and no one has since the original Guinea Pig Films. I'm putting my pesonal stamp on all of the stories and screenplays and if luck is with us, I will jump back into the director's chair for the last one, bookending it.
Alex: The next batch of films through Unearthed looks superb, including the incredible Flowers, the only film we've scored 10/10. What are you particularly looking forward to putting out?
Stephen: Flowers, for sure. Phil Stevens really hit this one out of the park. Creeper was out on Sept 29th, my birthday actually. We just released Revenge is her Middle Name by Anthony Mathews and that's a real pot boiler of a grindhouse film. Faime De Morte hits the same release date as Flowers and then we have Madness of Many from Kasper Juhl coming out in December.
But then... we will be announcing Unearthed Classics soon... that should get the fans excited.
Alex: The company has certainly been expanding of late – can you tell us a bit about Unearthed Books and Unearthed Music?
Stephen: Unearthed Books... is me personally. LOL I wrote Hellucination which is my memoir. I know, sounds a little crazy to have a 40 year old guy writing a memoir but... a certain time in my life, I was taking massive amounts of LSD and Nitrous Oxide to find God. Not only did I find him, but I also found the Devil, went to Hell and dealt with all manner of atrocities. Needless to say, a lot of publishers found the book wonderful but were actually afraid to publish it... so I started UF Books. Released a number of books but... the market is flooded right now so we're taking out time releasing new books.
Unearthed Music was an opening I saw since the horror-core rap was not being distributed much less the speed-core techno music. I tried to get some metal, death and thrash but a lot of bands were afraid to sign contracts and were not really into it wholeheartedly so we just stuck with the amazing speedcore DJ's and vicious rap artists who had a drive to push beyond the simple shows and build a fanbase to move ahead.
Alex: Can you tell us anything about what you're working on next?
Stephen: Writing more screenplays, producing more American Guinea Pigs, releasing more titles thru Unearthed and starting up the new Unearthed Classics label.
For the very latest from Unearthed Films, check out http://www.unearthedfilms.com/