By Luke Barnes
February 28, 2021
Hey Everyone! I recently had the chance to sit down and chat with The Tell Tale Heart director McClain Lindquist, and we chatted all things horror- Poe, Hitchcock and of course the horror films of the 1970s and the 1980s. Be sure to check out my review before reading this, for further context- it is on the site now. I hope you enjoy!
Q: How important were practical effects to you with the Tell Tale Heart?
A: Practical effects were critical to our film. Using tangible special effect makeup was a decision we made right from the beginning. Our love of 1980s horror/Sci-Fi would be the impetus for this nostalgic approach. Respect for the modern masters would be the driving force in their inclusion. The late 70s and early 80s were the high-water mark of practical special effects and influenced us immensely. We harkened to the heady days of amazing films like American Werewolf, The Fly, Alien, The Thing, Howling, Evil Dead 2, and The Blob to achieve a realistic yet surreal tone. Chris Hanson tasked with the special effects department is a wizard and we were blessed to have his expertise and creativity involved from the earliest stages of preproduction.
Q: What is your favourite horror film and who are you influences?
A: I have such a long list! It’s so hard to narrow down to one film. But here are a few… The Exorcist, The Shining, The Omen, Rosemary’s Baby, Psycho, Deep Red, The Beyond, Shock, Hellraiser, Texas Chainsaw, Halloween, Train to Busan, Night of the Living Dead, Jaws, REC, Descent, Funny Games, Carnival of Souls, The Skin I Live In, Cape Fear, Devils Backbone, Jacobs Ladder, Poltergeist, Babadook, The Ring, Let The Right One In, Carrie, Suspiria, The Others, 28 Days, Dead Alive, but if you had to pin me down and say one movie it’s… Evil Dead 2!
Q: Sequel ideas?
A: I have already parlayed or rewritten the (sequel) full length version into two distinct screenplays. I have no interest in doing a follow up film for The Tell Tale Heart. So I pilfered my own ideas and applied unused aspects from my original script to the new stories. Both of the scripts are also based on Edgar Allan Poe short stories. The Cask of Amontillado and The Black Cat. This trilogy of short films (including Tell Tale) would work splendidly within a movie anthology of Poe shorts. My full-length film fit perfectly amongst those two intense stories. So I just transplanted settings and characters to fit the narrative. It worked surprisingly well and came together very quickly and easily.
Q: How did you get into filmmaking?
A: I was tasked to write, direct and produce the music videos for my band Bass Mint Pros. We shot our first music video in beautiful Death Valley National Park. I took to the entire process of filmmaking very quickly and shortly thereafter I was shooting local commercials, musical/political spoofs and then web based serials. Being a cinephile and film buff, making a movie was the next logical progression.
Q: What are your thoughts on modern horror?
A: I have a deep love for the genre of horror. My favorite horror movies are the Universal Monster classics. As time passes sadly even the amazing genre films I grew up on are now considered outdated and vintage. Like all art forms it must change and grow, or it becomes stagnant and then dies. In my opinion modern horror is incredible. It’s the next logical step. I find this new wave of heady horror hounds to be most invigorating. It’s really refreshing to see the next batch of filmmakers having a sense of cinema and apply elements of art house to their films. Watching new perspectives has been eye opening. I want to see films from all cultures that represent a new and yet unseen viewpoint. I am also pleased with the style and bold experimentation in their vibrant films. I love the depth and emotional power of these trailblazers. Elevating the art form could never be (and should never be) seen as a negative element when it comes to the evolution of scary films around the world.
Q: Which do you value more when making a horror film, scares or atmosphere?
A: Atmosphere without a doubt! Ninety percent of horror is generated through atmospheric dread. The vast majority of atmosphere in cinema is created by gaffe or lighting. Pace, setting and tone are all vital to instil a spooky ambiance as well. As strange as it seems being “scared” is not critical. Everyone has different responses to fright. However I personally love jump scares and want the audience of my films to most definitely feel fear and become afraid. Fear is such a fascinating response to me. Fight or flight can be achieved without cheap scares if you carefully take the time to build up to the intense moments. Let the audience create the ambiance within themselves. It’s a litmus test of sorts. Don’t undercut the imagination and creativity of the viewer. They might just surprise you!
Q: Do you have any fun production stories?
A: Too many to count! Fun is the perfect word to encapsulate our production. If you aren’t having fun why even create art? We have three rules to our film productions. 1. BE SAFE! (No one should EVER get hurt making a movie) 2. Work hard! (Duh!) and 3. Have FUN! It’s hard to think of any element that wasn’t incredibly fun while making this movie. It was very upbeat and jovial on set. Lots of light-hearted inside jokes abound. I was usually the butt of everybody’s joke and was pranked endlessly each and every day on set. I got them all back, however. When we watched the trailer at the wrap party I purposely had the file slow down and go into buffering mode. It was hilarious to watch them all squirm. Revenge is dish best served… COLD!
Q: If you were to describe the production in one word what would it be?
Q: If you could meet and chat to any living or dead filmmaker who would it be?
A: Living – Martin Scorsese / Deceased – Alfred Hitchcock.
Q: If you won an Oscar who would you thank?
A: I would have the shortest speech in the history of the Oscars and beat Joe Pesci by one word. I would simply say… “Thanks!” However… I dedicated this film to my two beautiful daughters. I love them more than words could ever express, and they would be first and foremost on my mind.
Q: How important was Edgar Allan Poe’s influence over the film as a whole?
A: Edgar Allan Poe’s immense influence permeated throughout the entire process of the making of this film. From my brother nailing his voice in the dialogue to Janelle Corey’s costume design which we used Poe as the model. All the way down to Nikki BreedLove’s hair style which was styled in the vein of Edgar. Hell even Lyndi Bone’s set design was also inspired by the venerable Mr Poe. We wanted to respect him and his vast influence completely in our short film. This is his story. We are just tourists merely visiting his macabre world. I hope he would approve and appreciate our deference to his lasting legacy.
If you are interested, you can check out The Tell Tale Heart on the festival circuit right now! Or own in on VHS tape by ordering it from Telltalemovie.com
Review can be found at: https://anothermillennialreviewer.wordpress.com/2021/02/28/interview-with-mccain-lindquist-director-of-the-tell-tale-heart/