Location: Drive-In Kino
|Markus Koch (*18.03.1977) ist very talented FX-Artist und Director from the USA and was born in Dunedin, Florida.
Since his Childhood he is fascinated by the Horror-Genre and in 1997 he satrted working as an FX-Artist.
He was involved and did Special-FX and props for Movies like TOXIC AVENGER 4 : CITIZEN TOXIE, THE UH-OH SHOW, THE THEATER BIZARRE, SWEATSHOP, BLOODY BLOODY BIBLE CAMP or BODY IN A DUMPSTER - just to name a few.
Even as a Director he could impres the Horror-Fans worldwide with his Movies ROT, 100 TEARS oder FELL and also could prove his talent as a director.
Not long ago i reviewed his Movies FELL and 100 TEARS and it was time to do an interview with Marcus about his work as FX-Artist, how it all saterted for him, his recent work and even future projects.
Hello Marcus. Thanx for taking the time to do this interview with me for our forum. I am very happy it worked out and that you take the time to answer our questions. How did it all started for you with filmmaking? Was it the way like other movie directors went too? That you were a (Horror) Movie Fan and you wanted to shoot your own movies?
You first started doing Make-Up & Special FX for movies.
What do you prefer to do – directing or being responsible for the Make-Up Department and Special FX?
Marcus Koch :
I think for me it all started probably the same way as most filmmakers. I grew up on horror movies, from age 3 my parent started taking me to the Drive-in and when there wasn't a scary movie playing there or the move theater, we'd rent VHS tapes. But I absolutely love it, and was so fascinated with the Blood and Gore and monsters, I knew from an early age, that I wanted to be involved some how.
So first and foremost I am a huge fan of the genre, I love crazy low budget splatter films.
As far as what I prefer doing? I think it's a little of both, I love being on both sides of the fence, I'd like to direct more because that comes with a different sort of satisfaction, .. that you survived.
Your first movie that was released was ROT in 1999. Did you shoot any other movies before ROT, like shortmovies?Marcus Koch :
ROT was the first one to get a release, thru E.I. Cinema, we shot it in 97 and E.I. Put it out in 99. but before that I had shot 3 other features. Beween 8th grade and quitting high school . Yes I'm a high school drop out, tho I wouldn't recommend it for just anyone, but in my case its a decision I do not regret.
But the first 2 films are pretty bad, around 7 or 8 my dad got a video camcorder, and when he wasn't home I would steal it, and shoot, little animations, things moving around, or like shoes walking across the floor, i'd begin to experiment with flour and water, making a sort of pizza dough that could be used as skin, i'd cut and paint it, I used a lot of ketchup and red dye as fake blood (even thinking about it I can still smell it, its fucking gross lol ) and just video tape it to see what it looked like on TV.
Eventually I began writing little stories around each new Effect I would try out. And began using neighborhood friends as “actors”
all of it was trial and error. But as each short film got more and more involved, both with not only little story lines, but scheduling when to shoot, who would be needed , on what days, having friends quit, because they'd spend hours drenched in ketchup. But all of this was not only a great learning experience. This became my film school.
I finally got busted using the video camera and I thought for sure I was done for, but my dad watched some of the shorts I was making and really encouraged me to keep going. And gave me full reign over the camera.
All thru middle school, I would experiment with new techniques, I would watch a movie and try and emulate what i'd seen. From the flying silver sphere in phantasm. (in which I would video tape a background plate running through the house, or spinning the camera around on the tripod really fast, then I broke one of my mom's chrome soup ladles , would play back the first background footage on the TV, press a ball of clay on the screen, and it would be enough to hold the ladle on , and would video tape it with a blanket wrapped over the camera and TV so I wouldn't get a glare. And now I'd have an effect of a flying silver sphere zooming through my house.)
after 8th grade I decided I was done with short films and wanted to take on a feature. The first one was a 60 minute feature, called “White Massacre”, its' pretty unwatchable, the following summer in 9th grade, I wanted to focus, on better acting, using more locations, and of course more gore,
something called Lunch Meat ( I know there was also an 80's low budget film also called Lunch Meat,)
after that I would take on probably the biggest and most difficult movie to make, “ BAD BLOOD” again there are also 2 other movies with the same title. But it toook me almost 5 years to shoot. Script rewrites, actors quitting, or going away to college, more script rewrites. Etc. Lots of fun gore FX.
But those were the movies that came before ROT, maybe I might do something with Bad Blood, because it's actually got some pretty fun FX work in it. The first 2 are only reserved for close friends if I trust them enough to laugh with me, and not at me.
How was the Feedback when ROT was released?Marcus Koch :
ROT was a lot of fun to shoot, I really liked the word ROT, and was surprised no one had used that as a title yet. So when I was 18, I made that, Punks Puke and Necrophilia. We shot it over nights and weekends, for a little under a year, with my friends, and I brought in Joel D Wynkoop, because I was a fan of some of the B-movies i'd seen him in, and turned out he only lived 4 hours away. So I got in touch with him told him the idea, of having him play the mad scientist who created the ROT. And the rest is history. Had a lot of fun shooting that,
the Immediate response was really good, we started making our own VHS copies, and selling them at conventions, I’d hit up the local blockbuster video stores to haul away their used clamshells , print the box art at kinkos. And then shortly afterwards, E.I. Cinema wanted to pick it up. It's got some really great reviews, its got some really bad reviews. I wouldn't call it a good film, but its' a fun watch
Before ROT you directed segments for SNUFF PERVERSIONS and I read a review once that said “disgusting, disturbing & shocking”.
What was the intention of SNUFF PERVERSIONS?
Was the intention to make it look like a real Snuff Video or was it obvious that it is all faked?
Marcus Koch :
Oh Boy,... Snuff Perversions. It was really only a matter of time before this skeleton in the closet was seen again. Its' actually a really terrible film, the concept seemed like it would be the next big shocking thing, but ultimately its an epic fail. I've always loved the extreme side of cinema, and wanted to do something like that, and when this opportunity came around, I jumped on it.
It was a bunch of short “snuff” films from all different directors, then a wrap around story was going to be made to tie them all together. I was offered the story of a double suicide, seemed no one else wanted to do do that short. So I had 2 teens hang themselves, not really a snuff film persay, but I tried to make it have some heart. So it would seem like a very tragic video to watch. I heard some of the other ideas they the other filmmakers were shooting , and I wanted to make something a little more rough, and hard core. So they let me shoot another segment they called “Thrill Rape Kill” keep in mind this is a few years before August Underground. We didn't have any nudity to spice things up, but if you look at the bottom of the screen you can see the date that we shot it on. Valentines day. Which seemed fitting in a demented kind of way. The director of the entire anthology has some sort of obsession with strangulation. So that was one of the criteria, is that someone gets strangled. It is what it is,
a funny side note, because the second segment lacked any kind of gore. I decided to send them a clip from one of my early films called Lunchmeat ( its the entire opening sequence where a kid is being cut open, and has his tongue and eye cut out. Because I thought they needed some gore. Its' a cheesy sequence. Looking back its also rather bad. But. The funny thing was they deemed it too graphic. And actually trimmed it down a bit and edited out the eye removal. Because it looked too gross. ( keep in mind this was something I shot when I was 13) so that's sorta funny. A film billed as “shocking” and “graphically violent” editing out a gore gag I did when I was a 13 because it was “too much”
Snuff Perversions is an embarrassment. Because it missed the mark on so many levels. There is really only one short that I think is really well played, and it involved 2 kids playing Russian roulette with a semi automatic gun....
After ROT it took 8 long years till you directed 100 TEARS.
Why did it take so long till you directed a movie again?
Marcus Koch :
After ROT was finished, I was trying to get another film off the ground, with each film, I wanted to move into bigger and better films, and a friend and I wrote a movie called Pack .44 we worked on this for a few years, and in 2001, shot a trailer for it on 16mm. To try and shop around to find funding. I've never been good at that side of the business. But we have a pretty sweet trailer.
Also wrote a script for something called Babydoll : the afterlife and misadventures of a dead girl and the mob. My romantic gore comedy. And in 2003, shot a teaser trailer on 35mm in hopes I could shop that around and find funding... still no dice. But In the meantime. I kept busy working on little independent films, handling the special effects. And learning new things as I went.
In 100 TEARS the clown murders his victims with the biggest meatcleaver in movie history(laughs).
Who came up with the idea of that monumental and oversized cleavers?
Marcus Koch :
Oddly enough, the Japanese use cleavers just as big when cutting meat. And I saw one on a Japanese cooking show, showing them chopping down sides of beef. And I thought. “Man wouldn't that be fucked up if you saw a CLOWN running at you with one of those things”? So I think that started the idea of the clown with a giant cleaver.UkF :
Not long ago you posted on facebook a cover of 200 TEARS and the clown is armed with 2 cleavers.
The day you posted that pic was the first of April.
Are there any plans to make a sequel or was it just a April Fool?
Marcus Koch :
I did post it as an april fools joke, but the past few years Elmar Berger and I have been discussing a sequel, orginally I never wanted to do a sequel to it, but over the past 5 years i'm always getting asked when will part 2 come out, a few rough drafts of scripts have been written but it really boils down to the right story. I just havent had an idea that I like. Making it double as gory isnt the problem, its just got to have the right storyline. And something to make it a stand alone movie. But maybe one day soon. I'm, working with new writers, and so far i'm liking their ideas. So we'll see. Also the next step would be to find funding.UkF :
Do you already have plans for a new movie? If so, you want to tell us a bit about it?Marcus Koch :
I have a few scripts I want to get made, Babydoll is one I really love, and would love to see become a reality, its a fucked up romantic comedy. Of course with a lot of gore. And pitch black mortuary humor.
Coming up I'm going to shoot a short film for Hi8, which sounds like a lot of fun, to be asked by the same group of micro budget filmmakers that I grew up watching, and the same people who inspired me to really just make movies. The anthology is a great big middle finger to V/H/S, mainly because none of the segments in V/H/S were shot on VHS. So with Hi8 part of the requirements is to shoot on Hi8. Which is what ROT was shot on. So I'm very comfortable going back to basics and just shooting something simple and having fun with it.
You did Special FX for H.G. Lewis THE UH-OH SHOW .
How was it to work on a film with the “Godfather of Gore”?
I read a lot that H.G.Lewis is a very kind and funny guy, can you confirm that?
Marcus Koch :
Hershell is a riot, he was 83 when we shot UH-OH show. And still sharp as a tack. I was so nervous when I first met with him, but he's really laid back about things. The first FX meeting I had with him, I brought a silicone arm, with fingernails, and hairs punched in. to show him my skills as an FX guy . He took one look at the arm, and frowned. And handed it back and asked me “can you make the body parts look fake?” that is not a joke. I had no idea how to answer that. Here I sit with the godfather of gore, and hes' asking me to purposely make things look fake? I was caught off guard.
Since the whole film is a very satirical comedy about the reality game show business. It works. We made lots of silicone body parts and just tinted everything peach colored. With no attempt at shading. And He absolutely hated my blood. He wanted me to make it brighter and pinker! So we did what we had to do to make him happy.
Also the rumors are true, he really only likes to take one take of something. Thankfully they had 2 cameras rolling the whole time. So there was at least a second angle. But if an actor would fuck up a line, they'd ask him for a second take and his response was “its doesn't matter, its going straight to radio” or if setting up was taking too long, he'd yell out “Roll Sound” just to light a fire under everyone to get them to move faster. It was a lot of fun. Over all.
You also did FX for NIKOS THE IMPALER, a movie from the german director Andreas Schnaas.
How do you think about the German Independent Gore Scene?
Is there a difference to the US Indie Gore Scene when you compare them?
Marcus Koch :
I grew up watching the violent shit series, and the films of Olaf Ittenbach, and Jorg Buttgereit. So I was very big into the german gore films as inspiration to get off my ass and make some fun splatter flicks of my own. So when I got the call to work with Andy, I was super excited! Fuck yeah! I was going to get to work with the guy who made the violent shit series!!! score.
Nikos was his first film shot in the USA, and in English.
Had some good times on that set, had some very stressful times, it was a very very low budget. Really if someone today asked me to make the amount of gore fx that were in that movie for the budget I was givin. I would seriously tell them to go fuck themselves. It was litterally 2 months of day and day out stress. The upside is, it was hands down the best learning experience I could ever ask for. If I could survive Nikos, I can survive any low budget gore film !
Every day was a new surprise, Andy was famous for changing things In the script at the last minute.
He'd want to change a death scene to something more graphic and gory, and tell me the night before. And my partner Jesus Vega and I would spend all night scrambling to try and make whatever crazy idea he wanted, into a reality. Like the girl who dies I nthe shower, Nikos was suppsoed to smash her head and her brain pops out. So we mad the smashable head. But the night before he came to us, asking if we could rip one of her tits off. Lol what ? The actress was only going to be onset for her scene. There was no way to get a life cast of her, and that night the only female around to be able to get a life cast of her boobs, was the first AD , who informed me she was not only a lesbian., but as I was applying alginate to her chest. Told me, I was the first man to ever tough her breasts... I can't thank her enough for making my night any more akward then it already was.
Aside from all the many death scenes, and long hours, and some shots reaching up to 47 takes ( that is not a fucking lie..no joke. One scene made it to 47 takes!!) I met some really awesome people. I got to work with Felissa Rose, who is Angela, in Sleep Away Camp , she was fucking awesome!! so many great stories from that set.
We ran out of fake blood at one point, and pretty much depleted the local supply of kayro syrup form all the near by grocery stores. So we wound up buying large cans of tomato soup. And adding red dye to it. The set, smelled so horrible on those days. Like rotten spegetti-os .
But I learned a lot, like how to really stretch a dollar, some fx had to be made out of paper mache because we had run out of materials. The experince taught me how to think on my toes, and roll with the punches.
For TOXIC AVENGER 4 : CITIZEN TOXIE you did FX for a Troma Movie, but uncredited.
Whats the reason you didn’t got credits for this work?
Marcus Koch :
Again, another learning experience. My first in a long list of Making things, then not getting paid. Thank you Troma for that life lesson. I'm sure a lot of other FX artists made things for that film with no pay or credit.
Thats just how uncle Lloyd rolls, but I made some of the Charred body parts. more or less just 2 part foam chunks painted black and bloody, for when the school blows up and its raining down chunks of charred tards. And some of the debris laying around after the explosion. Didn't even get to go to NY. Just sent of box of crap I was told i'd get reimbursed for. Then that never happened.
Just recently you did some props for GATOR GREEN, Jim van Bebber’s new short movie.
Would you like to tell us a bit of GATOR GREEN? Will it be as gritty and bloody as Jim’s other Movies?
Marcus Koch :
Jim shot 2 scenes from the feature film he plans to make , its definitely got some gore and its definitely gritty, I recently got to see the film screen in front of an audience last week, its truly a VanBebber classic in the making. For that short, I did all the life casting, and body parts and a neck prosthetic. But I was unable to be there on set. But everything looks great on film. So I was happy.UkF :
Which was the first Horror Movie you watched and which movie in generaly had the biggest impact on you and made you want to work in movie business?Marcus Koch :
The first horror movie I saw , my parents took me to the drive in to see HELL NIGHT, of course I was too young to remember , but they still laugh and tell me to this day, how I was glued to the screen, completely mezmorized, and there is a scene where a hand reaches out of the darkness, and they tell me I damn near jumped out of my skin! Also when my mom was going into labor with me, my dad was watching a cheesy TV horror movie called KILLDOZER. So horror movies have really always been a part of my life. UkF :
What are your Top 10 All Time Movies?Marcus Koch :
Bride of Reanimator
Little Shop of Horrors
The Forbidden ZoneUkF :
Who is your favorite Director?Marcus Koch :
Thats a tough question. So i'll name a few I really love.
Frank Henenlotter, John Waters, Stuart Gordon, Brian Yuzna, Richard ElfmanUkF :
If you could do a remake of a Horror / Exploitation Movie of your choice, which one would it be?Marcus Koch :
Remakes are a tricky subject, its not like remakes are anything new, even the wizard of Oz, that we all know and love was actually the 3th time it had been remade. I think in the 80's when They Fly, The Thing, and the Blob, got a remake. Technology and special effects had progressed leaps and bounds. And so it was a good time to revisit those older films with a bigger budget and a gory FX. Todays remakes just doesn't feel like studio executives even give a shit. And I think CGI has improved over the last 15 years, but now I feel like im watching a video game. Special effects dont seem special any more. Case in point, orginal nightmare on elm street, when freddys head pushes out of the wall, i'm still more creeped out at a real face pushing out through a wall of spandex. Then I am at a fully CGI freddy face morphing out of the wall.
But if I could have a go at a remake, i'd probably pick something from before my time. Something like the Tingler , that'd be a lot of fun I think.
:Which movies have a bigger influence on you, the US or the European Horror Flicks?Marcus Koch :
Growing up it was primarily the 80's slashers from america, but the older I got the more I was exposed to foreign films. I love german splatter, but I think splatter films and slasher films would probably be my biggest influence for why I got into making splatter films.UkF :
Which of your own movies do you like best; which one you like the less?Marcus Koch :
Not a question I am usually asked, but truth be told, i'm not a fan of my movies. I see every flaw, every mistake, every plot hole, I had fun making them, and with each film I try to focus on things I see where I;ve failed in the past, but really my movies are more like the Portrait of Dorian Gray , every time I watch them they get worse, and uglier, and just seem to degrade, (which is weird, because I watch other peoples films, and they seem to look the same as the first time I watch them.) maybe its just me being a crazy artist. Even my own artwork, has the same affect. Over time it just looks worse to me, even tho it has never changed.
But the flip side is people seem to love it. And I love that they love it, and bring hard to find VHS tapes of ROT to a convention to have me sign it. And tell me stories about how they bring it to a friends house and make them watch it.
As far as a favorite. It would have to be Fell. Which is totally crazy. Because it's a drama, and there isn't any gore. But each time I burn someone a dvd of it, I check the disk to see if it plays properly and I end up sitting down and watching the whole movie, and it still affects me, and I get chills watching it.
Fell, is a film that I feel totally removed from making it, when I watch it, it's as if i'm watching someone else's indie film, and I’m totally lost in it. It's a film I would watch and run out and tell other people they need to see this film. It packs a punch, but only if you hang on for the ride on the downward spiral of Jeff's Character. So far its only been 2 years, but I think we hit all of our marks on that one, its not going to be everyone's cup of tea, its not a fun film, its not a fast paced film. Its actually quite grueling and dull to sit through. Its redundant, it loops in circles at times, but all of those elements were needed to to form the unfolding story. Nothing is laid out in front of you. Its about a man losing his mind, and I wanted to drag the viewer down and make them feel like they are with the character Bill as he's trapped in his own thoughts.
Maybe its like an ugly baby, where everyone else knows it but me? I don't know, for me to love something I’ve done, is a crazy thought, but I love everything about Fell.
Are there any plans to may team up with other Indie Directors to make a movie?
I think about Directors like Jim van Bebber, Timo Rose or Matt Farnsworth?
Marcus Koch :
Timo Rose and I have talked and joked about teaming up, would love to work on a gore film with him. UkF :
Which Movie did you recently watched?Marcus Koch :
The other night I finally got to see a movie I have been searching for , since about 1997, a weird film called LOVEGOD. Its every bit as amazingly weird and perverted as I could ever want. Such a great little movie that fell through the cracks, UkF :
What do you think about the Horror Movie Remake Madness of the last couple years?
Which Remake you like best and which one you didn’t like at all?
Marcus Koch :
Not a fan of remakes, but there are a few I enjoyed, recently just saw the Evil Dead remake. And really loved it., its different. But its very gory. Had a lot of fun watching it. UkF :
Are there any Actors you would love to work with?Who is your favorite actor?Marcus Koch :
I would love to work with Patty Mullen or James Lorinz , both from Frankenhooker.UkF :
If you would win 1 Million $ in a Lottery, what would you do with the money?Marcus Koch :
Either shoot a sequel to 100 Tears, or try and get a movie i've been trying to make for about 15 years called Babydoll.UkF :
I thank you sooo much for doing this interview for our forum Marcus! It’s a great honor for us to have an interview with you for our forum! I wish you good luck and that you keep making independent movies for the next decades!
I really do hope that you do 200 TEARS and if not next Aprils Fool Day you will get payback for that scam (laughs)
You can say some closing words now (if you like);)
Marcus Koch :
I think the next film I am going to make is going to be in the same vein as Fell, only with Gore as an added bonus, but I like shoots that involve one location, minimal cast. And creative story telling. So I'd like to work like that again. Less stress and more fun.
"Are you gonna bark all day little doggie, or are you gonna bite?"