Sunday, March 28, 2010

Dollar Bin Horror Spotlight - The Landlord (Screener Review and Interview)

Tyler Czarnecki is the owner of an apartment building haunted by a pair of flesh-eating Babylonian demons who eat the tenants and treat Tyler as their slave. While he clearly resents his lot, Tyler limits his rebellion to grumbling to Rabisu, the lesser of the demons and, from all appearances, Tyler's only real friend. Tyler's sister Amy, a police officer, is indifferent to his plight - or at least too distracted by her shady dealings with the local gang of vampires to get involved. However, the status quo is upset when an attractive young woman named Donna moves into Tyler's building. While Donna is clearly on the run from something, Tyler takes a liking to her, and decides to save her from becoming the demons' next meal.

For me, The Landlord proves that independent, low budget indie films can be amazingly good. This film is funny, witty, and fun to watch. My favorite part of the whole film is the Demon Rabisu (artistically portrayed on the amazing cover art). His character is well acted, funny as hell, and likes infomercials and jerky almost as much as I do (although I'll stick to beef thank you). The special effects aren't bad for a low budget affair, and are effective in what they do. The acting all around wasn't too bad and wasn't over the top like a lot of other indie horror comedies, it was just right for this film. The camera work is very good, and I loved the make-up of the demons. The only thing I didn't like was that the story got a tad confusing with all the other flesh eating undead demon folk running around hired by 2 crooked cops, one of them being the sister of Tyler and partial owner of the building. But I think the pure enjoyment and humor of the film overcomes this small obstacle and the film turns out to be a fun time and a very good film. I would absolutely recommend this film to horror fans and indie fans alike.

Producer, Editor, Writer, and Director Emil Hyde took the time to answer a few questions about the film for all you little reaplings out there, so enjoy!

Q: How to you come up with the story/plot of The Landlord?

A: The story for THE LANDLORD began with an idea for a Web series about a stoner with a demon roommate. We were just trying to come up with the most bizarre sitcom premise possible ts an excuse for my friends Rom Barkhordar, who plays the demon, and Derek Dziak, who plays Tyler, the human protagonist, to riff off each other, because the two make such a great comedic pair. Over time, the scenario mutated until Tyler became the landlord of an apartment building full of demons who keep on killing the other renters, and all the crazy things Tyler has to do to cover it up.
Eventually we decided that the most subversive thing to do was to take the situation seriously... how would someone be affected by living with supernatural creatures and dealing with horrible death all the time? And how the Hell did he get in that situation in the first place? Those questions form the basis of the plot for THE LANDLORD.

Q: The dvd cover art is amazing! Could you tell us a bit about the artist?

A: We wanted the artwork for THE LANDLORD to have an old-school, painted look, mostly because that's how the covers looked on the 80s VHS classics that got us into horror in the first place. We hired Scott Jackson, a Chicago artist who did covers for ROCK N' ROLL COMICS and some Megadeth t-shirts back in the day, and asked him to blend elements from the covers of FRIGHT NIGHT, PSYCHO III, NIGHT OF THE DEMONS, and a few other movies. Scott took that idea and ran with it, and the end result captures the feel of the movie perfectly - this slightly silly, slightly sinister demon offering the audience the keys to this creepy apartment building.
You can view - and buy - Scott's paintings at

Q: What was it like shooting this film and working with all the special effects?

A: Shooting THE LANDLORD was a mixture of magic, chaos, careful planning, and incredibly hard work. Rom, the actor who plays the demon, is a fairly successful theater and television actor - you may have seen him in commercials or on the show THE BEAST or heard his voice as Subzero in the video game MORTAL KOMBAT - and he was able to convince many of his other actor friends to get on board. That's really the secret weapon that sets THE LANDLORD apart from most no-budget indies - great actors working with a good script.
On the other side of the camera, we managed to assemble a crew of film students and total amateurs, all doing their jobs for experience and fun. The only real professionals we hired were the people overseeing the weapons and stunts, because you don't want to mess around when it comes to safety.
As for the visual effects... there are over 270 visual effects shots in THE LANDLORD, as many as most Hollywood action blockbusters. And unlike Hollywood, we couldn't afford to hire a bunch of people in Asia to do the grunt work for us. So I wound up doing 90% of it myself, adding the animations frame by bleeding frame. But looking at some of the things we pulled off - demons teleporting and portals to Hell opening and vampires getting shot point blank in the face - it was worth it.

Q: What future projects are you working on and where can we learn more?

A: I've written several new screenplays, and we hope to shoot at least of them by 2011. In the meantime, we're working on a graphic novel adaptation of THE DOG CAGE, a screenplay I wrote about a cop who gets bitten by a werewolf and locked up in a state-run asylum for monsters. The best way to keep up to date with the new projects is to visit WWW.THELANDLORDMOVIE.COM and friend us on Facebook.

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