An Interview with Filmmakers Dan West and Rick Popko
by Timm Carney
 

Do you like poo? If you do, I have the movie for you. Monsturd is a silly movie that never really takes itself seriously. Set in Butte County which looks an awful lot like Sonoma and Marin Monsturd is a about a monster that is created in the sewers by a series of messy events. The monster results from an experiment-gone haywire. Dr Stern and his toady assistant Timmy pour the results of the experiment into the sewer system of Butte County unleashing a poo monster. The FBI and Butte County Sheriff’s department become involved. The first quarter of the film is straightforward but it takes a turn for the absolutely insane and then becomes a non-stop riot!

To be honest I am in the film. I play Timmy the toady assistant. Therefore, I won’t review the film but I did have a conversation with Dan West and Rick Popko the creators.

PG: Who are your influences?
Dan: Roger Corman, Herschell Gordon Lewis, John Waters, William Castle,
George Romero, maverick filmmakers like that, who are independent and
intentionally, or unintentionally push the envelope. It's nice to get a rise out of
people. I also love Laurel and Hardy and The Marx Brothers and W.C. Fields
RICK: Everything Dan said plus Mark Pirro, Michael Bay, Stephen
Spielberg, Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson
PG: What is your favorite movie?
Dan: Favorite of all time? Jesus, odd one's like "Journey to the Center
of the Earth" or "The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad"..."Monty Python and the Holy Grail" would top my comedy list...and I will never get sick of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre"(the original of course) or "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre part 2". "2,000 Maniacs" is also a favorite...I can never pick just one.
RICK: My favorite movie changes all the time. But, I suppose if I was
stuck on a desert island somewhere and only had one movie I could bring with me, it would probably be Armageddon. I just love that movie. It’s so over-the-top you can’t help but to laugh along with it.
PG: How long did Monsturd take to make?
Dan: About two years to shoot and edit. Rick and I said we'd never go
Through that again....so the sequel took three.
RICK: Yes, it was a very long and painful two years.
PG: How much did it cost to make?
Dan: Rick would have to answer that, but his standard answer is $3,000.00, not counting equipment...it was probably more like $8,000.00
RICK: When all was said and done I think we spent about $8,500 on the
movie. The camera (a Canon GL-1) was $2,800. The boom mic was $250. The actual production(cop car rental, Monsturd costume, props and other misc. food and stuff) was about $3,000. And how much has the movie made since it’s been out? A whopping $2,000, all of which has come from our international distributor who sold us into UK, Ireland and Thailand.
PG: Describe Monsturd in one word
Dan: Sarcastic.
Rick: Shitty.
PG: What is your favorite scene in Monsturd?
Dan: Probably the dummy beating scene because it's so out of left
field, I'm also pretty fond of the vomit scene. The whole diapers on the head and Pepto Bismal in the super soakers makes me chuckle. The prison scene was my favorite feat of indie filmamking, but it's not really funny, it was just a little miracle we actually pulled it off with out getting arrested or asked to handover the footage.
RICK: My favorite scene is probably the scene towards the end in the
Sheriff’s office, when we’re donning diaper armor and loading up with plungers, and rolls of toilet paper. We have Sam Raimi to thank for inspiration on that one.
PG: If you could get a big name celebrity in one of your films who
would you want and why?
Dan: Funny you should say that. For years I have wanted to work with
Herschell
Gordon Lewis, I even went so far as to write a script with Him and
David Friedman through e-mail about their exploitation filmmaking adventures. I got as far as having them both record narration for this. The movie was never made, but the upshot is, the day after I had "Blood Feast" tattooed on my arm (because I'm apparently mildly retarded), I got Herschell Gordon Lewis' permission to use a piece of narration to open up the sequel, sort of a voice of God type of thing, like Charlton Heston did for Armageddon. He's even allowing us to give him an end credit. That made me about the happiest exploitation filmmaker around! I'm trying to get Dave Friedman's permission to use a bit of his filmed bits, but I've not heard back as of yet. If I was to put someone in one of my movies, it would be John Waters. For years I wanted towork with Jim Siedow from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but he passed away a few
years ago. I'd also LIke to work with Sid Haig or Bill Moseley, or Mink
Stole. Bruce Campbell would be fun too. I'd love to make a movie for Roger Corman as well.
RICK: I’d love to work with Peter Weller. I think he’s one of the
Greatest character actors of our time.
PG: What has been your favorite review of Monsturd?
Dan: The Rue Morgue review is my favorite because I love and collect
That magazine. I recently read one on NetFlix, I think it was, that said "Everyone involved in the making of Monsturd should be shot!". That was pretty good.
RICK: Cine-Schlock-O-Rama gave us a really great review. We ultimately
ended up on his ten best DVDs released that year. I was really honored by that.
PG: What in your next movie about?
Dan: It is a bizarre comedy that at first might be mistaken for a
string of bad jokes about retarded people combined with a cheap zombie movie. The title is a bit misleading as the "RetarDEAD" joke is pretty minimal and the zombie outbreak does not occur until well into the movie. I think it's a bit more akin to a John Waters or David Lynch movie. It's a lot stranger than Monsturd. A bit more perverse. It begins exactly where Monsturd left off. Same cast, same characters, no shit jokes.
RICK: Basically, I describe it as Flowers for Algernon meets Night of
the Living Dead.
PG: When will it be out?
Dan: Probably later in 2006. We're finishing up now. The climax is
going to be a tough thing to pull off, but we're getting there. The rest of the movie is done.
RICK: We’re gunning for a Summer release.
PG: What do think is the most shocking scene in your next movie?
Dan: Well, they may be legion, given your gag reflex. I don't want to give anything away, but the gore factor in this thing is very, very high and some of the footage has upset some people who aren't jaded to that sort of thing. I like to call this movie, "very Italian" in it's delivery of gore.
RICK: Let’s just say it involves an eyeball and a straight razor and
leave itat that.
PG: What do you think people will say about this next movie?
Dan : Hopefully that it's a much better movie than the last one and
that we are developing in our technique. We've not cutting any corners making this next one, hence the three years in the making shit.
RICK: Hopefully this movie will start to get us on some people’s
radars. Ideally, we’d love to have Hollywood approach us with a larger project. But, if that doesn’t happen, we’re still happy playing in the space we’re in now.
PG: What’s next?
Dan: Probably another sequel, but it will be shot in High Def and
contain a lot fewer characters, so far this next one has something like 130 people in it. We're tossing around ideas.
RICK: What’s next is that we’re upgrading to HD for our next
production. We’ll probably do a few sketch comedy shorts to get up to speed on the new gear, and then dive into another feature. As Dan says, we’ll probably go back to Butte County, where some other crazy shit happens to the town. We’re not exactly sure what that will be yet.

So, if you love a good poo movie check out Monsturd. It is available on Netflix and at Blockbuster and in indie video stores nation wide and apparently in Thailand as well. They’re website is www.4321films.com Keep an eye out for the next one and these guys!

 

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