Interview - Geoff Klein

The Children of Samhain Exclusive:

The Pinup Dolls on Ice Interviews - Part Six with Geoff Klein (Co-Director)

If you haven't heard me raving about Geoff Klein and Melissa Mira's sexy homage to the slasher genre, Pinup Dolls on Ice, then you've been living under a rock. And if you haven't been following my nine part series of interviews with the directors, cast and writer, then you've been missing out. After I gave the film a stellar review (that you can read here) in which I describe the film as 'A cross between a traditional slasher movie and a drunken night at Jumbo's Clown Room… that works like a charm.' I jumped at the chance to speak with the people behind making such a brutal old school slasher. I would like to personally thank each and everyone who took the time to answer my questions, and a special shout out to directors Geoff Klein and Melissa Mira who just returned from Madrid attending Nocturna, Festival Internacional de Cine Fantástico, where they screened the film. So here we go. First we featured writer Michael Penning in Part One. Then we featured Karine Kerr in Part Two, Jordan Mae Antoinette in Part Three, Kyla Shinkewski in Part Four, and last week featured Ashley Almon in Part Five. So here is The Children of Samhain's Pinup Dolls On Ice Interviews: Part Six featuring Geoff Klein. 

Leo Francis: I first learned about your film when I was doing my research on all of the films playing at the Shock Fest Film Festival of Hollywood, which I covered back in January. So when I came across the trailer for Pinup Dolls on Ice I was blown away. It looked like so much fun, I was immediately on board. It was easily one of the two best films at the festival. And by happy coincidence I ended up sitting with you and Melissa during the screening. What inspired you to make this sequel to your 2009 film, Bikini Girls on Ice?

Geoff Klein: Well that’s a loaded question, my friend! It all started back in 2008, when I was sitting in a hockey locker room with a bunch of my buddies; we were having a few beers, the mood was light, we just had just won the game, when all of a sudden one of my teammates decided it would be the perfect time to let us all know what his ultimate sexual fantasy would be. Immediately, ears perked up! He starts telling us that he want to invite a prostitute over to a hotel room, put her naked in a bathtub full of ice until she freezes to death… and then fuck her back to life! 

The locker room erupted in laughter while I sat there thinking to myself, wow, that’s a great idea for a film… thus BIKINI GIRLS ON ICE was born! The film honestly started out as a joke amongst friends, and then just sorta evolved into this beast. It was never supposed to get seen by the mass public, it was never supposed to make it onto Netflix, and it certainly was never meant to get released is 10 countries worldwide. So when the reviews started coming out for BIKINI GIRLS ON ICE, it was being reviewed next to the likes of Rob Zombie’s Halloween, and Hatchet, and we were getting ripped a new asshole! And I was like “But this film was supposed to be a joke amongst friends, none of you were even supposed to see this film!”

So PINUP DOLLS ON ICE basically a visceral reaction to the poor review of the first film, and a chance for us to show that when we set our minds to something that we could really deliver an old school, violent, sexy slasher film!

LF: You co-wrote the original films script with Jeff Ross. Did you approach Michael Penning about writing the script for the sequel or why did you decide not to write it yourself this time around? 

GK: I didn’t want to write the script for PINUP DOLLS ON ICE because I’m not a writer. I wrote BIKINI GIRLS ON ICE simply because I never thought this film would see the light of day. Now that the ante was higher for the sequel, I wanted to get Michael Penning involved to make sure we had a script that made sense and that didn’t have major holes in the plot. Michael is a dear friend of mine, and he was one patient mofo during the process as Melissa and I changed our minds on certain scenes about a million times. But he’s a trooper and delivered exactly the script we were looking for. A simple, straight to the point slasher that addresses all of the shortcomings of BIKINI GIRLS ON ICE, namely the lack of nudity, violence, Moe’s motivation and overall cohesiveness.

LF: This time you co-directed with Melissa Mira, what were the major differences between working solo and working as a team in the directing role? 

GK: The major difference working with Melissa is that we were able to deliver a better film! My strong point really is the technical side of things, so I basically worked hand in hand with the DP, lighting director and anything that had to do with the visuals of the film, apart from the set design which Melissa handled herself. While I took care of those things, Melissa was knee deep in blood as she did all of the special effects/makeup, she directed the actors on screen, she managed the production, and played a lead role in the film. I think it made for a better film because we were both able to focus on the things that we really like to do on set. 

LF: I said in my review that these films feel like an homage to slasher genre, particularly the films in the early 80's like Friday the 13th and Sleepaway Camp. Were films like these influential on you? Have you always been a fan of the genre? What was the first horror film you ever saw that left an impression on you? 

GK: Our goal was to make a slasher that felt like it could have been released in the early 80’s but with a modern day gloss to it. I grew up with Friday the 13th, Halloween, Sleepaway Camp and Sororrity House Massacre, so those films obviously influenced me a lot. But it wasn’t until I was nineteen when I saw my first film by Dario Argento, the wonderfully sick and twisted Opera, that I fell in love with the aesthetics of filmmaking. Argento was able to make these extremely violent deaths look beautiful. I was immediately in love. So then I watched all of Argento’s films and just couldn’t get over the beautiful colors, the fluid cameras, the wonderful lighting… it made me realize that horror films could be beautiful to look at. So when I started making film, I always stressed on having that mix of beauty and violence. A lot of our budget goes to the quality of lighting and camera equipment, because we want all of the toys necessary to make a film that looks amazing! It’s not enough these days to just shock the crowd, you need the overall package… you need to trick the audience into thinking that they’re watching a high budget Hollywood horror film, because that’s what they’re used to seeing. The second they sit down in the theatre and the first images come up, if they don’t “look” like what they are used to seeing, then they sub consciously detach themselves form the experience. 

LF: The film is definitely scary and sexy, but it also has a sense of humor about itself, and I think that's one of the things I really liked best about it. Has it been playing with audiences the way you thought it would? What has been surprising to you about the crowds reactions while watching the film at different festivals around the world? 

GK: The humor in the film is an interesting story actually, because up until one of the last cuts of the film, we had removed much of the Clay character because we felt the humor wasn’t working; that it was perhaps too silly. But then we had a private screening with the writer, Michael Penning, and his wife, Michelle, and they felt the film need more humor. So I showed them the scenes that had been cut involving Clay and they burst into laughter! So from then on, Clay was back in the film and the audiences at every festival simply love his character! At this point we can pretty much know when the audience is going to laugh or applaud, because every screening is generally the same in terms of reactions.

LF: I tend to prefer indie-horror films to the big budget studio releases, mostly because the indie film makers are able to take risks they normally wouldn't be allowed to take. I also think that the true test of a great director is what they can achieve on a limited budget, and you two seem to have achieved that. Do you feel budget restrictions forced you to be more creative, and do you think that yielded better results?

GK: We never want to use “restricted budget” as an excuse. I think it actually motivates us to show the world that you can make something that looks big budget without having the big budget. Melissa and I are very big on Production Value, so we spend a lot of the budget on the things that make the film “look” amazing. With a few more dollars we would have perhaps had a bit more on screen gore, but nothing drastically different. The violence in the film is very real, so I don’t think it would have added anything to the film if we added a shot of a prosthetic head being crushed… it would just end up being humorous and take away from the realism of the violence. 

LF: WIll we be seeing Moe return to the screen anytime in the not-too-distant future? Are you working on anything else at the moment, outside of promoting this film? 

GK: Moe will be back in the third installment! When I started making BIKINI GIRLS ON ICE I knew that this was going to be a trilogy. But with the way things are going, we may even extend the series by a few more sequels. I think there is much room to explore the MOE character in terms of what makes him tick; and we also want to explore new ways of story telling for the third instalment. We want to play with the different story telling conventions and find new ways to surprise the audience.

LF: I have to ask, since you named your dog 'Eddie' after Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam. What's your favorite Pearl Jam song? Favorite Pearl Jam record? 

GK: Ha! Fav Pearl Jam song? That’s like asking “What’s your fav horror film?”  Really tough answer because it really depends on my mood; I for sure have a spot for BLACK, REARVIEWMIRROR, COME BACK, YELLOW LEDBETTER, STATE OF LOVE AND TRUST… I actually just recently bought TEN, BACKSPACER and LIGHTNING BOLT on vinyl, so I’ve been listening to those albums a lot. SIRENS is a great track… as is GETAWAY. Man, I could go on…I just love Pearl Jam because they do things the way they want to. They write songs that they feel like writing, not songs that the studio wants them to write. You never hear about them in the news; they’re class acts all around. Eddie Vedder is extremely talented, but you’ll never sense that he’s pretentious or that he takes his success for granted. I just fucking love the guy!

LF: What scares you? We're all scared of war and disease and things like that. But when it comes to horror films, what genuinely scares you? 

GK: When bad shit happens during the day. It scares me because it’s so unexpected. In most films, when the sun goes down, you prepare yourself for bad shit to happen. But when the sun is out, kids are playing on the street, and bad shit happens you’re like “Oh fuck, I’m not safe anymore”. Found Footage and Torture Porn just don’t have any effect on me, it’s more the hauntings/possessions that tend to scare me because of the tension in those films… speaking of tension, holy shit the film The Descent scared me simply based on the claustrophobic side of the film… I’m never ever going spelunking, that I can guarantee you. Plus. there’s apparently scary monster in caves, so screw that!

LF: Name a film you walked out of at the theater.

GK: Jackie Brown. I friggin’ hated that film. Probably because when I saw it I was pretty young and I just didn’t “get it”… I should probably re-watch it to make sure though.

LF: If you could punch one person in the face, who would it be? 

GK: Oh boy, there’s something you need to know about me… I hold grudges that last seven years, so in the past seven years there are many people that I want to punch in the face. Once the seven years is up though, you’re free to go and I no longer want to punch you in the face. But like anything else, there are exceptions to every rule. When I was nineteen, I played Junior AAA hockey here in Montreal for the Lachine Maroons.  Anyways, it was second year, so I was considered one of the vets on the team. We had an exhibition game in Valleyfield, and they were always known as the toughest team in the league. So there was about three mins left in the game and the score had gotten out of hand, and whenever that happens in Junior hockey, that’s when people start dropping their gloves. Even though I wasn’t  fighter, my coach put me on the ice in the last minute of the game. I lined up at the face-off on left wing, and doesn’t their big fighter line up right next to me. In my head I’m like “Fuck”. He taps me on the pads and says “Ca va?” which translates to “How ya doing?” which basically means, “are you ready to drop the gloves?”. And well, me being a vet on the team, I had to show the rookies what it takes to play in this league. So once the ref dropped the puck, I dropped my gloves and it was game on! Long story short, I got my ass kicked and held on for dear life… it was an exhilarating affair and my adrenaline was going a mile a minute. But in hindsight, my only regret was that I didn’t even get a punch in. So for me, the one guy I’d like to punch in the face, is the tough guy from Valleyfield who kicked my ass when I was nineteen. 

LF: Has anyone ever made you feel 'star-struck'?

GK: Yes. Dario Argento. I met him for the first time last week in Madrid as part of the Nocturna Madrid Fantastic Film Festival where we won the Madness award for BEST FILM. Dario congratulated me and wished me the best of luck in my career. I have it on video, and will be posting on Facebook very shortly. But I honestly look like a five year old kid I’m so giddy! I just couldn’t help it. There I was talking to my idol and he had his hand on my shoulder congratulating me on PINUP DOLLS ON ICE. Just writing about it gives me goosebumps, what a feeling!

LF: What's your favorite horror film of all time and / or the scariest movie you've ever seen? 

GK; Again, tough to choose just one, but I gotta say that I love WOLF CREEK, HAUTE TENSION, THE DESCENT, OPERA… and I have a really soft spot for RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD 3 simply because of Mindy Clarke. Hottest zombie ever!

LF: Thanks again, man. Cheers. 

GO CHECK OUT BGOI FILMS ON FACEBOOK. PART SEVEN COMING NEXT MONDAY!!!

- Leo Francis