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Interview: Filmmaker Christian Grillo talks ‘Apocalypse Kiss’

'Apocalypse Kiss' poster
Potent Media

In the futuristic thriiler, “Apocalypse Kiss,” which releases to DVD on April 8, Jerry Hipple (Tom Detrik) hunts down the city’s most notorious serial killer, The Red Harvest Killer.

At the same time, two lovers, Katia (Carmela Hayslett) and Gladys (Tammy Jean), enter the city as the body count rises, and an accidental killing by the two ladies gets credited as one by The Red Harvest Killer. This upsets Adiran (D.C. Douglas), who is the actual killer, and he attempts to fix his reputation. Meanwhile, the people of this futuristic city are unaware that the world will suddenly end.

The Chico Movie Examiner recently conducted an over-the-phone interview with “Apocalypse Kiss” director Christian Grillo to discuss the film; the noir style of filmmaking; and the nickname he has given himself.

Check out the full interview below.

David Wangberg: One of the things I noticed was that for Jerry’s story, we hear voiceover narration, but for every other story, we don’t. What led you to make the decision to just have Jerry do voiceover narration and not everybody else?

Christian Grillo: Well, if you’re familiar with any noir detective films, or any films that feature a noir-style detective, there is always voiceover. There’s always narrative that goes with that scene, and that’s why I did that.

DW: Yeah, I’ve seen plenty of noir films before. Even in “Sin City,” they did that to where Bruce Willis narrated, and Mickey Rourke narrated as well. But I was just kind of curious why you didn’t have it for any of the other characters?

CG: Well, because, in “Apocalypse Kiss,” Jerry Hipple is the only person who exists in the noir world.

DW: Ah, gotcha!

CG: Which is why his color scheme changed, and there’s the whole turn in the music and the narrative. He is a noir detective, and only his world existed in that.

DW: Another thing about Jerry is he smokes an e-cigarette, which breaks that cliche of smoking a regular cigarette while working a case. What made you want to give him an e-cigarette, instead of a regular cigarette?

CG: Well, you saw at the very end that he goes back to smoking a regular cigarette, right?

DW: Yeah, I saw that.

CG: Well, the whole e-cigarette thing… Carmel Hayslett, who is my wife, and I were both smokers who had quit. We never went through the trials and tribulations of trying to actually stop smoking. So, I imagined Jerry as this complicit character, who is in the futuristic world that is forcing non-smoking, which is why he smokes the e-cigarette. And during the end of the film, when he sees that all else has failed, and it’s sort of a “Hey, why even bother anymore?” type of world, he goes back to smoking a real cigarette.

DW: There’s a scene where the rookie driver asks for some advice from Jerry, and he tells him to find a new role model. You’ve probably received a lot of advice from veteran directors, but what’s the one piece of advice that has stuck with you since your career began?

CG: Actually, Tom Savini – many, many, many moons ago – told me to go make my own movie.

DW: And that was it?

CG: That was it. I’ve never had any advice from any director in my entire life.

DW: One of the biggest obstacles for the story of Katia and Gladys is dealing with Plex’s body and trying to hide it. What was the biggest obstacle for you, when it came to making “Apocalypse Kiss?”

CG: The biggest obstacle with any film is raising the budget, and that exists for independent filmmakers, as well as Hollywood filmmakers. And getting the cast you want in a film is very difficult. Other than that, everything came quite easy with “Apocalypse Kiss.” It was a lot of fun for me.

DW: If you had a bigger budget, would you want to alter anything to the film or change things around?

CG: I would have made two movies.

DW: You would have made two different movies?

CG: Yes. If I had a bigger budget, I would have made two films.

DW: Noir has been around for many, many years. What do you think has been the biggest difference is now, in the way it’s presented, as opposed to how it was presented in the 1940s and 1950s?

CG: Well, back in the 40s and 50s, it was something new. [laughs]

I would say that this is the post-noir phase with films like “Sin City.” It’s sort of geared more toward comic book style that sort of carried it over.

DW: If you had the opportunity to work on a comic book film, which comic book would you want to bring to the big screen?

CG: Wow! That’s an interesting question. I would say “Godzilla,” but they’re already doing that. That was one of the only comic books I ever really enjoyed collecting. My next pick would be “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” but they made a movie out of that.

[Person in the background yells “Aquaman!”]

“Aquaman!” There you go. Nobody wants to touch “Aquaman.” I would definitely direct “Aquaman.”

DW: Oh, god. That episode of “Entourage,” where James Cameron said he was going to do it, and then everyone on the Internet thought that he was going to do it. And then he came out and said, “No, I’m not.” So you do have a chance to do “Aquaman,” if you wanted to.

CG: “Aquaman,” starring D.C. Douglas as Aquaman.

DW: That’d be awesome.

CG: But he’s gotta dye his hair back to blonde. [laughs]

DW: Adrian gets upset that the mainstream media has given him the nickname, The Red Harvest Killer. And he sits and tries to come up with a creative nickname for himself. Right now, if you look at all the films you’ve done, what kind of nickname would you give yourself – based on your style and storytelling and everything else?

CG: I’ve already given myself that name; it’s The Dollar Store Director.

DW: The Dollar Store Director?

CG: Yeah, you saw the Dollar Store Samurai in the movie, or the One Credit Samurai, as he’s called. That’s me. It’s sort of a motif I’ve kept with myself for many years. I do everything for a dollar.

DW: So, you kind of drew that from “RoboCop?”

CG: Yeah, I guess. I watched that as a kid. “I’d buy that for a dollar.” So, yeah, maybe that does come from that. We’re all influenced by something, right?

DW: So that commercial you had for the One Credit Samurai is pretty vulgar. Do you think we’ll have those kinds of commercials in the future, where they say: “If you can’t find it here, then f*** you?”

CG: F*** yeah!

DW: [laughs] I’m actually looking forward to seeing one of those commercials air on national television.

CG: Give it time; the cable networks are just catching up to that.

This concludes the interview, but the Chico Movie Examiner would like to thank Christian Grillo for taking the time to talk about “Apocalypse Kiss.”

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