Coming up this Sunday, July 27th at 5pm at Fantasia International Film Festival, is the premier of Bloody Knuckles. This is a kind of horror film I can watch; the funny kind! And it`s something we here at 9to5 can relate to…Offending people 😀

The main character, Travis, draws a crude comic book. It pisses off a rather violent business man who decides to cut off his drawing hand in retaliation. As Travis wallows in despair and tries to drown his sorrows in malt liquor, his severed hand returns and demands he continue his work! Hilarity ensues. From the clips I`ve seen and the trailer on the Fantasia page, it`s looking to be a super fun flick you can laugh at with your buddies, full of awesome practical effects, crude humor and needless gore!

I was lucky enough to arrange a short sit-down interview with writer/director Matt O’Mahoney this afternoon. As always I felt like a little girl sitting at the big-people table, but he was so friendly and genuine I managed to relax enough to stammer out a few coherent questions.

Bloody Knuckles

I saw a photo of you and your team with PBR all over the place… Is this how your concept was created? Sort of like a 2am musing?

Oh yeah haha! Lots of booze… That was actually a picture from our first script table read. It`s always nerve wracking, hearing all the flaws. You read it to yourself over and over again, but when you step away from it and hear it re-read by others, that`s when you see what needs to change. There was a lot of laughter in the room, so I took it as a good sign of ‘okay, we got something here.’ There`s a lot to fix, but we`re on the right track.

Oh that`s a good way to connect with your actors! Did you find your cast easily?

Well we did a week of casting. There was one guy, the character Ralphie, who was actually played by a friend of ours! I just wrote it out and everyone that read it was saying that`s Ken Tsui! That`s so him! So we had to put him in there. We had a lot of luck for the rest of the cast. The main character was actually the last one to be cast, it`s kind of a cliche, but he was the last guy that came in, and he did something that nobody else did. All these actors came in, and this read this one line in a really irritating fashion that drove me nuts. I even said to the casting director ‘If anyone reads that line like this again, just end it right there!’ So yeah he was the one guy that came in, did a great audition, and also didn`t read that line the same irritating way.

So from the trailer and the clips you sent me, I noticed there is an underlying theme there, dancing on how people overreact about comics and other things. People tend to blame or judge them harshly, so was this a message you were trying to get across?

Yeah! What you said is true, especially underground comics, which is what I`ve always been drawn to. I was never a big fan of superhero kind of comics, I was into the underground stuff loaded with sex and violence, you know, things young men really enjoyed hahaha! They explored themes and went places that most traditional comics don`t go to. And what you were saying about them being a kind of target, I mean look at Mike Diana who did a comic called Boiled Angel, he was the first comic artist ever to get charged and convicted for obscenity. He was prohibited from drawing comics. It`s a really disturbing case, and the conviction was never overturned. No one wanted to hear his case, which is ridiculous because it`s an open-and-shut free speech case. It`s really crazy how comics get targeted. Like in the old days with Tales From The Crypt being blamed for juvenile delinquency, it`s totally nuts.

This film sort of came out of the Mohammed cartoon controversy in Denmark and how people were getting so enraged about this stuff. There were riots all over the place, people were embracing censorship and self-censorship, that was so disturbing to me so that`s really where the story came from. I wanted to make a film that addressed that but I wanted to do it in my own style and reflect my own influences. So that`s how that came about.

So I take it you drew from some interesting comics as influences for the one in your movie?

Yeah well Boiled Angel was one, I used to read Hate as well. Robin Bougie is another artist I love. He does comics but also a zine called Cinema Sewer, which is all about sleazy exploitation films and 70s porno and horror movies. He`s a great artist, and he`s a buddy of mine too! I originally wanted to get him to do the comics for this film. He agreed to do it, and I was so excited because his work is so incredible and the kind of stuff he does went hand in hand with the comic I wanted in the film. Unfortunately he was working on a book and he was booked up with all the illustrations so he had to bail on it. I had to do it myself haha!

Oh wow so you did all the illustrations in there?!

All the comics I did myself yeah! And I`m not a comic artist, I mean, I used to draw when I was a teenager. I never did comics, but I`d always be drawing pictures and portraits. A lot of what I used to draw in high school actually made it into the film. There is a whole montage at the opening credits where there is like a cover gallery of each issue of Vulgarian Invasions, which is the name of the comic this character does… I did all those which was very time consuming. It gave me a whole new appreciation for comic book artists hahaha!

So what about Fantasia then, I read that you`ve shown a film in a previous year, was it a short?

It was a short film called Electric Fence. It`s a wild little film, I wrote and directed it, even produced it… it was a really no budget movie you know? Me and friend Scooter who`s a director as well were just cranking this movie out together on weekends. We`d be getting our friends together and throwing them in the movie and trying to make it happen. It took a long time, just me in the editing room piecing this thing together. At the end of the day, Fantasia was the one festival where I really wanted it to premier. It`s a great festival and it was a film I felt would fit in there. I remember I was working a job on a film set and I got the email telling me it had gotten into Fantasia. Everyone was like ‘No fucking way! Awesome!’ And it had such a huge response. It played as a small gauge program, and it was a full house, really packed crowd. There were a lot of films with bigger budgets and more production value and it was intimidating! I was thinking I hope this little film goes over okay. But everyone was applauding and cheering and laughing! It was a great feeling and it really took a life of it`s own after that. I mean there were people in the room booking it for other festivals right there. It snowballed from there, even played before a notorious documentary called Chickenhawk, made about 20 years ago. It was kind of an honor to play before that film.

Had you been to Fantasia before? And did you get to see any of Montreal while you were here?

I had never attended, but any kind of real horror genre fan knows Fantasia is amazing. It has really great crowds. More and more industry people are coming here and checking it out, but the cool thing is it`s not so inclusively industry people like other festivals, you know? Your intended audience is there for the screening, and they`re there because they love it. As for Montreal I`ve been quite a few times. I really love the city. It`s really kind of like Canada`s cultural beacon haha! There so much going on here that wouldn`t happen in other Canadian cities. I know Toronto and Montreal have a bit of a rivalry, and I love Toronto too, but yeah I think Montreal has always marched to the beat of it`s own drum, and I like that. Plus you can buy beer everywhere, which is nice!

In closing, what kind of fans do you think should go see your film?

I think anyone who`s a fan of horror comedies, like Bad Taste, Evil Dead 2, Re-animator and Street Trash. This film kind of wears those influences on it`s sleeves. I wanted to make a film that had a commentary to it, that was speaking about something I am passionate about and that angered me a lot, but at the same time I really wanted to make a fun picture that genre fans can go and watch. Basically, guys like me, who like these kinds of movies! That`s who I want to please with this film. I want them to walk out saying ‘yeah, that`s a fun flick’! And don`t think the message won`t fall on deaf ears with the crowd at Fantasia. I think the general target audience is pretty sympathetic to what I`m trying to say, because it`s about what I consider to be our fundamental freedoms, which is our freedom of expression. When we start limiting that, and allow other people to silence us, we really lose everything. That`s what the character goes through. He loses everything and gives up, becomes a shell of what he once was.


So there you have it folks, if you don`t already have your tickets I recommend you get to it! If you`re a fan of classic practical effects and 80s style horror comedy, check it out this Sunday.

A big thank you to Matt O’Mahoney and producer Daniel Domachowski for reaching out to us for this interview!


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