If you love extreme gore and brutal films; the kind that makes most of the human race throw up or walk away from, then you know about Stephen Biro and Unearthed Films. Proudly bringing you the most over-the-top movies in horror, Stephen crashes head first through all the boundaries and presents horror fans with films that will take them to the depths of hell and back! In his online shop for Unearthed Films, you can find films books and music, all for the discerning gore fan.
I got a chance to screen Stephen’s latest project American Guinea Pig: Song of Solomon (click here for my review) and am working up the courage to watch Sacrifice– the newest bloody offering from Unearthed Films! Stephen Biro is a fascinating dude, and I am thrilled to share my interview with him here on The Blood-Shed!
Los Angeles Zombie Girl: Thanks for talking to me Stephen! Let’s start at the beginning: How did you get started in filmmaking?
Stephen Biro: I watched some friends do it and thought like, “HEY! I can do that.” Always wanted to but had slacker friends back in the day.
LAZG: You have been called an underground master of horror. What do you think of that title and why are you called that? Do you strive to have the most extreme films out there?
SB: Yes, extreme films is my home. I don’t know why I am called that. Like Tommy Chong once said, “I’m not into labels man.” All I do is try to work with the extreme people in the horror industry, and try to make films that stand the test of time. Massive special effects are my forte in producing films fans want to see. We will see if that works. IF people are calling me that, cool. Takashi Miike was an underground master of horror in Japan, but he chugged out 100’s of films and now, is making whatever he wants. Let’s hope I get there.
LAZG: Do you have a lot of people giving you a hard time about the subject matter of your films and what do you say to them?
SB: Sometimes, but not much actually. A little bit with Song of Solomon due to Christians and I usually tell them, “Shut the fuck up. I’m Christian as well and you’re saying all this bologna, not knowing it’s a Christian film, not having seen it and judging me and the film… not very Christian of you…” Usually shuts them up when they’re talking to another Christian that knows his theology, so it’s never too bad. They usually slink off and lick their internet wounds.
LAZG: Did I hear right that you wrote a book called Dead Baby Jokes (which I admit, I told those jokes to my friends when I was a kid) and The Dead Baby Cookbook? I can’t imagine that went well with the critics!
SB: Ha ha! It went very well…. because it was the Ultimate Dead Baby Joke Book. Adding ultimate to the title made it… you know… ULTIMATE! Kept my name off it due to an ex-wife’s insistence. Yeah, the death threats were kicking, and people were trying to figure out who I was. Talked about it on the BBC Radio and news broadcast, people took to the streets in the UK, Scotland and Ireland of all places, getting people to sign lists to get it banned on Amazon, FB and so on and so forth. It got really big, it helped with sales and all of my friends on FB knew it was me… so it was a good laugh. There was so much of a hubbub that I quickly wrote the cookbook and released it during the Irish Prime Ministers actual press release to get it banned on Amazon. When it was released… they realized they were doing all the marketing and advertising for it. So, they shut up. I do sort of miss the death threats. Those were nice. Made a person feel wanted in the world, ya know?
LAZG: OMG, that’s so funny! I remember my friends didn’t like me telling those jokes. I was considered morbid! So, you are the founder and CEO of Unearthed Films. How did you end up having your own production company?
SB: Strange chance… I was actually bootlegging the Guinea Pig Films back in the VHS days and I wrote this monster of history article about it and the films and everything that happened. So, I got hit up by the agent of the films at that time and we started a film company together. I was in the middle of going legit with a video store, so it was a very welcome change of pace.
LAZG: Your movies tend to push all the boundaries- extreme gore and subject matter. Why have you chosen that sub-genre of horror? Do you just want to shock people or is there more to it?
SB: My problem is, I have seen everything. Hit every video store for their horror films, got into bootlegging in 1994, was watching rare Fulci flicks before many even knew they existed. Datagory 3 films out of Hong Kong, Spain, Germany. So, an average horror film… can have some great stuff but for me… it’s not enough. I try to make stuff that would make 17-year-old Stevie Biro thrilled and happy. First time I saw Bad Taste… The Magnum release, the video store was ten miles away and I was driving a shitty motorcycle but… it was worth it, renting it and never returning it and getting hit with a 60-dollar fee. I was the guy in my stoner friends’ section that would let me take over the TV because they knew… I would show them some crazy ass horror film that was outrageous at the time. I was the horror fan of the school. I had the biggest library and I had friends come over and not want to leave for freaking days, cause I had the good stuff.
LAZG: Song of Solomon is the latest film of yours and I know you are proud of it. Can you tell me about it and why it’s called the film that out-gored The Exorcist?
SB: I Love possession films, seen them all. The Exorcist is amazing but now I find it really slow. I know, story, story, story… but there is never any real gore in any exorcism film and I want to change that. Just go balls to the wall and give horror fans what they love, lots of practical FX. I go heavy on the exorcism rituals cause all anyone knows is, “The Power of Christ compels you!” But that’s mostly all they say from the actual ritual. I wanted to show a lot more of the ritual, cause what horror fan in their right mind would NOT want to see that? It’s actually easy to out-gore The Exorcist and every other exorcism film out there. Antichristo does have a goat butt licking in it. But watched now… FX are really bad. Amazing sets though. As an indie film… you have to go balls to the wall to stand out from the crowd, it’s our forte and fans of special effects love it.
LAZG: Do you do your own SFX on your films? Where do you get the ideas for all the effects and do you have any special training? I do SFX makeup and love all the crazy gore!
SB: I don’t really do the FX on my films. I have worked on some of the stuff like molds, cleaning up clay of blemishes before casting, some occasional gag that needs emergency fixes or just things done. Oh, I did make the edible body of Scott Gabbey for VanBebber’s Gator Green. Almost forgot about that. Made of pure red gelatin and meats, hearts, intestines and such… went amazing, the massive gators ate the Hell out of it. Was told that it was the first time, a real animal ate a prop for any movie. For the most part… and I do mean most… is all Marcus Koch. But we brought in Jerami Cruise for Solomon because our lead, Jessica Cameron was in LA and so was Jerami so they got to work on her stuff while Marcus made everything else in Florida. The perfect meld of two amazing FX masters. I’ve learned a LOT in my time over a lot of films. I can do some stuff… but would rather have FX artists doing everything because it is one less thing to worry about.
LAZG: I haven’t gotten to read your autobiography, Hellucination yet. (Love the title- I’ve actually used that “word” in a review before) Can you please tell me about it?
SB: It was that section in life when you’re having fun, but a nagging feeling comes over you… Why are we here? Who are we and what am I going to do for the rest of my life. This was back in the day when I had a comic book store, but I partied rather heavily. I’ve had some crazy ass trips on LSD and nitrous oxide and I thought… why don’t I take a major amount of both and try to find out the secret to life? I did… found people possessed around me, telling me secrets I shouldn’t know as a human, dealt with angels and demons on the other side, experienced Hell and a lot of other things too numerous to explain. Think of it as if Hunter S. Thompson went to Dante’s Inferno.
LAZG: Which do you like doing better writing books or screenplays? How are you able to go back and forth- they are so different?
SB: They are… love screenplays, easier to write. A book takes a year, Hellucination was 3 actually. Was very hard to write out what happened to me without sounding insane, so that was a fine line but screenplays… are fun just because you have to write the setup, locations, dialogue, and action but you don’t have to write the internal dialogue or explain too much of the surroundings. That’s for the director to envision, not the writer.
With a book, a rewrite will take you a month, a screenplay, a couple of days. Screenplays are supposed to go back and forth between writers or director or the production company and they give you the spots they want to be changed or fine-tuned. A book… that’s all up to you until you hand it over to an editor.
LAZG: Everyone seems to be making a film these days. I am amazed at the sheer amount of indie film festivals and how many new films there are. Do You have any advice for folks wanting to do indie films? What should they do or not do and what is the best way to get the funding?
SB: Don’t make a film. Worst business to be in. 95% of all movies DON’T make their budget back. Talking all movies though. Then you add in the sharks, backstabbers, liars and rip off schemes… Do it, if you’re nuts, don’t want to make any money, it’s a passion project… but realize, you’re not going to be overnight famous and you’re not going to be rich… at all. Don’t try, if your desperate for fame, fame doesn’t pay the electric bill. Especially via social media. Making a film is expensive, I prefer the micro-budget, so we can actually make money. If you don’t get into Redbox… word of mouth is all you got and the bigger sites get paid by studios so they don’t review or give much of a heads up on indie unless you got a guy.
Write a book… it’s free, it’s your time and not others. I see so many desperate to make films, but people are getting screwed over left and right. Why are you trying to make films? Know the actual business end to it. Cause if you study making films for 5 years and you make one… guess what? Now it’s a whole other fact of business you have no clue about. Let’s say this… say you made a slasher film. Spent 20 grand, looks like a million bucks but… do you know, how many copies of like-minded films have sold? No, you don’t! It’s called Show Business… not, I made a movie give me all da money now.
LAZG: Do you have a favorite crazy story about an experience on a film set? Funny or not funny, either or both.
SB: Ummm… almost got into a couple of fists fights on Bouquet… that was fun, not. FX guy on Gator Green kept falling asleep on set so luckily, I made all the shit. Had a comic book creator go freaking nuts on a film I was supposed to direct but freaked out I was getting the kudos and such. Would tell me one minute, his famous rich uncle in Hollywood who produced Shrek 1 thru 4 gave us the budget for the film and then the next, he got a loan for 30 grand from the mob and they were going to kill him soon. That was fun, at least they paid for the script, unlike another company I am dealing with.
LAZG: What projects do you have coming up for yourself and Unearthed Films?
SB: Well, we had American Guinea Pig: Sacrifice come out Sept 11th of all dates. Then The Unnamable in a rare slip sleeve in November and then House of Forbidden Secrets directed by Todd Sheets for December and a ton more I am not allowed to mention but will be in a week or two.
LAZG: If you sit down to watch a movie that isn’t yours, what kind of films or TV shows are your favorites?
SB: Superhero movies and fucked up comedies. I just watched, “Look who is Back” and that was amazing cause Hitler comes back from the beyond and makes too much sense. LOL Black Mirror was cool, but I don’t like to watch series anymore… not much time for TV. I work, get hungry, cook dinner, watch something and then back to work.
Check out Unearthed Films for all the latest and craziest gore-filled films out there. Do it now!
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