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  Malevolence may be just what the doctor ordered.  How many of you horror fans come back from Hollywood's latest fodder only to pine for the days when horror meant horror?  Well, Stevan Mena is right there with you.  A fan of the genre at heart, Stevan spent many years getting his baby into production and it's paying off in spades.  Stevan  won the best feature award last year at the New York Independent Horror Film festival and high praise at LA's Screamfest.  The attention did not go unnoticed and Malevolence was lofted to a limited theatrical release. 

Malevolence starts out as an action movie with 3 bank robbers taking a mother and daughter hostage.  After taking shelter in an empty house, the movie suddenly shows its horror teeth. 

We talked with Stevan about the film.

 

LMC: What were you going for with this movie?

SM:  I wanted to make a movie that went back to the 70ís style of horror.  Not a gory fan film, but more a Halloween style implied gore.  I've found, if you go too far with the gore, you sometimes lose the audience.

LMC: Has that 70ís style horror genre passed us by?

SM:  A lot of the current films are missing the point.  They arenít scaring people, they are just trying to be hip.  The genre never goes away, itís just that good ones are few and far between.  When something good comes back, people say, ďHey, horrorís backĒ.  Well, it never went away, just nothing was good.

LMC: Was the limited theatrical release planned?

SM: No, it definitely wasnít planned.  We shot on 35.  Because it was so low budget, we couldnít get any named actors and we really didnít want to go with named actors.  The indie scene is so different from what it was even 5 years ago.  Unless you have one or two named actors to hang your hat on, you really have a tough road to get distribution.  We got lucky and won a few festivals in NY and Screamfest.  That lead to a video deal and because we had so many companies interested in the film, we were able to procure a theatrical release.  It will be playing in a few key cities, but they are trying to expand it to play through Halloween and then a DVD release for Christmas.  It was supposed to come out in the Spring, but we had to wait for our MPAA rating and decided we didnít want to compete with the summer blockbusters, so we pushed it out to August.

 

LMC: How does the quality of the movie compare to the big budget films?

SM: Well, we did this movie for under 200k which is nothing.  We spent a long time casting and really lucked out in getting good performances out of our actors.  Of course looking back, you want to do so much differently.  I mean if we had a crane or rain towers, you know.  The cinematography is outstanding.  We picked up this guy, Tsuyoshi Kimoto from Japan who won a student academy award for one of his films.

LMC: What has been the reaction from test screens?                      

SM: We tested really, really high even with the female audience.  The test audience really liked the fact we had no humor, just a scary suspenseful movie.  Itís not kids going out and having sex and getting killed like so many slasher films.  We had people walking out in one screening and I was like, ďOh no!Ē.  So, I went out and asked them why they were leaving and they said they were too scared to watch the rest of the movie.  I said, ďYeah, alright, I can live with thatĒ.

LMC: Is it a straight forward slasher plot?

SM: No, not at all.  There is alot of inspiration from Psycho.  It starts out as an adventure film and then gets turned on its head and becomes a horror film.  There is a danger in doing that it would get confusing, but test audiences have just loved it.

 

LMC: Did you have to wear a lot of hats?


SM: Oh yeah.  Location scouting alone took about a year.  Money was coming off my credit cards, I was writing the script, finding the actors, loading the camera, even holding the boom.  I actually passed out at the end of one shoot.  It was in a basement scene and next thing I know Iím lying on the front lawn.  Probably for the best we didnít do a documentary on the making of the movie.

LMC: Did you ever just want to give up?

SM:  No, not at all.  There were a lot of trying times, but I never wanted to give it up.   Iíll give you one example which they wrote about in Fangoria.  When we scouted out houses, we found this guy owned the house and said we could do whatever we wanted to his house, he was going to rebuild and move soon.  Well, we went in and knocked down walls, aged tiles, tore the place apart.  It turns out he didnít own the house.  It was being foreclosed by the bank and he figured heíd get a little revenge on them.  The bank came and arrested me.  Luckily they had a sense of humor and when we showed them the deal we made with the guy, they went after him.  We had to spend a month repairing the place.

LMC: Where you always interested in a career in film.

SM: Oh yeah, throughout my teens I was the geek with the camera.  Iím dating myself here, but my first camera was one of those you had attached to your VCR.  My younger brother said if I ever make it big, heís going to blackmail me with some of those old tapes.  Send em off to Leno or something.  When I hit my 20ís, I went to film school and hated it.  It was really a kick in the balls to my confidence.  I never thought I could raise the money or get a script to do it.  So, for 6 years I was saying how I could never do it and one day I decided, use that negative energy and just do it.  A few things fell into place and I was able to get the film done.

 

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