Chad Ferrin, Genre Auteur Goes Deep in New Cult Horror Film

Chad Ferrin has made seven feature films over the last two decades, each of them a celebration of the Grotesque. All of these movies shared a certain DIY ingenuity along with an obvious obsession with the limits of sanity.

Despite their collective preoccupations, no two of Ferrin’s flicks were alike. The director brazenly leaped from the no-budget social satire of The Ghouls (2003) to the festive revenge film Easter Bunny, Kill! Kill! (2007)

It was there, in a seemingly threadbare narrative with one primary location, Ferrin found his footing as a filmmaker. The tale of a disabled kid and his doting single mom provided the director the opportunity to explore difficult subject matter such as child abuse, Munchausen by proxy and more, all within the snug confines of the exploitation genre.

Not two years later, the promise on display in the bloody bunny pic would reach a new apex with Someone’s Knocking at the Door (2009). Produced, in part, by actor/star Noah Segan (Knives Out, Deadgirl), ‘Someone’s Knocking’ is a positively bugfuck psychological horror film about a group of med students who stumble upon a drug that resurrects two sexually voracious thrill-killers.

In the years since ‘Someone’s Knocking,’ Ferrin has seen several of his projects fall apart in various stages of pre-production. First there was the widely announced Dances with Werewolves which made it into the pages of Fangoria before financing fell apart.

The oddball horror western hybrid was ultimately retooled by other filmmakers and released to zero fan fare in 2017, by which time Ferrin had seen a number of other concepts collapse in his wake. After dealing with years of frustration and false deals from bogus money men, Ferrin decided to return to his roots.

In 2016, he took to the fetid streets of downtown Los Angeles to make what should have been the guerilla filmmaking triumph of the decade. Parasites was to be a gritty modernization of Colter’s Run with the action transplanted to the culverts, underpasses, back alleys and reservoirs of LA’s homeless population.

After facing down violent protest from real life street addicts and a flurry of problems typical of shoestring productions, Ferrin managed to successfully execute the film he set out to make. The result is a mean little picture with balls as big as the bone it’s got to pick with society.

Boasting a ferocious performance by chameleonic character actor Robert Miano (Donnie Brasco, The Funeral) as the central heavy, Parasites exemplified Ferrin’s talent for taking a familiar trope (the middle class take a detour and end up in a place they don’t belong) and amplifying it to 11.

What should have been a breakout hit for the genre auteur ended up going the way of countless other direct-to-DVD flicks when Ferrin discovered that his domestic production partners had gone behind his back, secretly releasing the pic on streaming platforms in the United States and quietly selling off International territories.

After he managed to wrest his film from the greasy hands of his rapacious partners, Ferrin found another distributor who had some ideas of their own. A full two years after principal photography was complete, Parasites bowed out on Amazon Prime under the uninspired title Attack in LA.

Situations like this one are hardly remarkable in the film industry where handshake deals are regularly reneged upon and distributors frequently betray a director’s vision by re-cutting a movie. What is remarkable is Ferrin’s perseverance. Lesser artists would have thrown in the towel, but Chad understood something that’s lost on others—keep yourself busy and, sooner or later, someone’s gonna be knocking on your door.

As a gun for hire, the man has been presented with many an opportunity to work from other people’s source material. In some cases, such as the Mexican investor who tapped him to shoot a B-movie south of the border before slashing his director’s fee in half without warning, things don’t pan out, for good or ill. In others, such as 2019’s Girls & Corpses-produced horror-comedy Exorcism at 60,000 Feet, things end up going another way.

Working from a script by Robert Rhine (son of famed All in the Family scribe Larry Rhine) and Daniel Benton, Ferrin used ‘Exorcism‘ as yet another golden opportunity to flex his stylistic muscles. As with Someone’s Knocking at the Door and Parasites before it, ‘Exorcism‘ illustrated the director’s knack for utilizing woefully underutilized actors and subverting genre expectations.

In 2020, he is poised to take this subversion one step further with The Deep Ones, the first of his films to be inspired by an existing intellectual property. The Deep Ones takes the tired framework of a couple on vacation among strangers with dark motives, and thrusts it into territory that has yet to be explored in cinema.

Fans of H.P. Lovecraft will be thrilled to learn that Ferrin has grafted the insidious influence of Rosemary’s Baby onto a plot revolving around the summoning of Cthulhu by a cult undergoing the Innsmouth transformation.

Many in the horror community have professed love for Lovecraft’s work and some, like Jordan Peele, have produced work that pays homage to said influence. What nobody has done is unleash the Cthulhu mythos on characters of their own creation.

Few would have the guts, but it would seem that Ferrin has intestines for days. Something smells fishy at the Solar Beach Colony when Petri and Alex arrive at the Air BnB of Russell Marsh, a charismatic naturopath with a powerful hunger for clams.

What follows is a terrifying 24 hours beside the dark depths of Cthulhu’s oceanic abyss. Filming for The Deep Ones begins this month in several seaside locations with Robert Miano returning to play the picture’s villain and Deadgirl‘s Jim Ojala on board as makeup effects coordinator.

 

Robert Rhine, Johann Urb and Kelly Maroney (Night of the Comet) will also star with Underworld‘s Kurt Carley appearing as none other than Dagon.

After a sneak peek at the shooting script, I can definitely tell that this will be Ferrin’s most ambitious project to date. As with everything else he’s directed, I have no doubt that he’ll knock it out of the park.

And I’m not the only one, actor Johann Urb (Resident Evil: Retribution) is also confident. “Super excited to be working with this team of talented people and to explore the depths of darkness,” he says.

The cast’s enthusiasm is understandable given the meatiness of each role. It’s one salty or sinister character cropping up after the other, many of them receiving the rare chance to deliver their lines in a particularly obscure tongue.

The plot itself and the turns it takes may seem hackneyed to those who grew up on Polanski and Larry Cohen flicks, but suffice it to say that this one is going to take some gnarly turns. The fundamental theme is freaky enough in and of itself.

As cast member Silvia Spross (Someone’s Knocking at the Door, Mysteria) says, “The horror of brainwash is that good people do horrible things, thinking they are doing something great!”

The Deep Ones was developed from an original screenplay by Ferrin himself. What this tells us is that Ferrin is back where he belongs, behind the keys and at the helm. Veteran actor and frequent Ferrin collaborator Robert Miano is inclined to agree. As he puts it, “Nothing can stop an idea that’s found its time.”

Keep your bloodshot eyes peeled for more on The Deep Ones as news oozes in.

Bob Freville

Books That Will Open Your Brain Basket, Part I

By Reverend Bob

As an ordained minister in the Universal Life Church, I feel comfortable saying that we are living in especially godless times. Everyone is a heathen nowadays…except for me. I am pure, for I soar with the owls and humbly acknowledge the felines.

Of course, it takes more than Bible thumping or kneeling and standing to make yourself righteous. If you want to be truly righteous like I am, no amount of church-going or back lashes will get you right in the eyes of the Lord. Particularly because no one knows what lord we’re even supposed to be talking about.

Is it the New Zealand songstress Lorde or that gloomy egoist Lord Byron? Your guess is as good as mine.

It’s a tough one to answer because there are just so many lords to choose from. The raw balls of it should be obvious—there is more than one way to become truly enlightened. Despite what your parents told you, atheists can be good people too. Or, like their Christian counterparts, they can be cunts.

But when one familiarizes themselves with the poetic passages of books like The Gnostic Gospels, it becomes more difficult to practice routine cuntiness. As you will soon discover, the right reading material can really blow your lid back and once it has, it will root around in that musty attic you call a brain until it straightens some things out.

A person’s moral character may, in some ways, be determined by inherent factors, but external stimuli plays a vital role in our development as sentient bipeds. The following volumes are but a few examples of literature that has the power to open our minds, expand our horizons and contract our sphincters with the full breadth of its collective wisdom.

Read on for all the answers to the meaning of existence, my brothers and sisters!

The Dhammapada

Unlike so many poor fucks in this country, I never had religion thrust upon me like an uninvited cock. I was raised in a relatively secular household by two non-practicing Protestants. While my cat-lick friends were getting pelted by rosaries and learning to resent the God that was shoved down their throat, both figuratively and literally (see: body of Christ), I was free to discover shit on my own.

As such, I went through the obligatory angsty stage where Antichrist Superstar was the official soundtrack of my day-to-day life and the only god I concerned myself with was the self-proclaimed God of Fuck.

Then one day I was in a used bookstore and came across a little pocket size book bound in green leather, its yellowed pages meticulously folded and annotated by whichever crunchy theology major owned it first.

Soon, I was turning to the book’s many concise aphorisms whenever I needed some reassurance. The Dhammapada is ostensibly the collected works of the Buddha, but it also functions as a guide to living in general. Its messages are delivered in a simple and easily digestible fashion, but this doesn’t take away from their substance. What one finds when reading it is that all world religions share fundamental values and messages of love in common.

Where The Dhammapada differs from other religious texts is in its bedrock compassion for all human beings, regardless of faith or lack thereof. An agnostic can read its words, and find meditation and purpose in them just as any monotheist could.

Excerpt from The Dhammapada:

“Those who have high thoughts are ever striving; they are not happy to remain in the same place. Like swans that leave their lake and rise into the air, they leave their home and fly for a higher home.”

The Quran

Hey kids, it’s not just for terrorists! You, too, can become a Muslim…or, ya know, just dig on the gorgeous language used to compose this handsome tome. Conceived as the final, definitive iteration of the Bible, The Quran is said to be a revelation from God or Allah.

Despite what sensationalist news outlets have led you to believe, The Quran is not an incitement to violence, rather it is a list of guiding principles divided into chapters of ornate verse. Far from a terrorist manifesto, the book actually proves that all or, at least, most monotheistic religions believe in essentially the same god, they just call him by different names.

The Quran has been demonized by the Western world because radical extremists have used its Sword Verses to indoctrinate suicide bombers and the like, but the wrath of those verses is small taters compared to the far flung carnage and near-pornographic imagery of the King James Bible.

Consider this: The Sword Verses account for just 149 of a whopping 6,236 overall verses. To stigmatize an entire book for such a small portion of its text is like banning all obese people from a food court just because a couple fat guys loosed their bowels at the soda dispenser one time.

The Book of Lies

Speaking of shitty people, Aleister Crowley is arguably the reigning king of the cunts, having fleeced celebrities and easily malleable morons with his magick theory and Tarot card sleight of hand. Still, there’s no denying his influence on pop culture and modern literature.

The English poet and occultist earned the title of the “Wickedest Man in the World” through no small amount of effort. A spy, a turncoat, a nympho and a drug fiend, Crowley was what apologists would call a renaissance man but what former acolytes would likely call a douchebag.

A notorious egomaniac, Crowley wrote many volumes about magick and masonic rites, but it was two particular volumes that most closely defined his persona. First, there was The Book of the Law, a Satanic treatise that formed the basis for his religion, Thelema. This book deconstructed the morals and values of Christianity, reducing them to one single principle: “Do what thou wilt, this is the whole of the Law.”

This simple rule exemplifies Crowley’s self-centered and self-serving philosophy, one that reflects his character as a man perfectly. After all, this is a guy who would flip on colleagues on a dime and piss off anyone who got too close to his inner sanctum.

The second volume is The Book of Lies, a gleefully pedantic and contradictory collection of rules and poems that serve as a sort of Complete Idiot’s Guide to Thelema. The book’s fallen idol, Frater Perdurabo (a stand-in for Crowley himself), is indicative of the Thelemic elders.

“The Universe is the Practical Joke of the General at the expense of the Particular, quoth FRATER PERDURABO, and laughed.

But those disciples nearest to him wept, seeing the

Universal Sorrow.

Those next to them laughed, seeing the Universal Joke.

Below these certain disciples wept,

Then certain laughed.

Others next wept.

Otherst next laughed.

Next others wept.

Next others laughed.

Last came those that wept because they could not

see the Joke, and those that laughed lest they

should be thought not to see the Joke, and thought

it safe to act like FRADER PERDURABO.

But thought FRATER PERDURABO laughed

openly, He also at the same time wept secretly;

and in Himself He neither laughed nor wept.

Nor did He mean what He said.”

Of all of Crowley’s published confessions, this one stands out as, perhaps, the most paramount to those considering the Thelemic religion. It appears to admonish the rube that Crowley and, by extension, Thelema is a shameless huckster peddling truths which he does not believe in.

As a teenager with what junkies used to call an “ice cream habit” or “chippie,” I would snort a bump of dope while waiting for my dealer to return from picking up and as the warmth hit me, I’d read from The Book of Lies as if its dictates were actually applicable.

Needless to say, you don’t want to have a head full of junk when you read something like, “The Abyss of Hallucinations has Law and Reason; but in Truth there is no bond between the Toys of the Gods. This Reason and Law is the Bond of the Great Lie. Truth! Truth! Truth! Crieth the Lord of the Abyss of Hallucinations. There is no silence in that Abyss: for all that men call Silence is Its Speech. This Abyss is also called ‘Hell,’ and ‘The Many.’ Its name is ‘Consciousness’, and ‘The Universe’, among men. But THAT which neither is silent, nor speaks, rejoices therein.”

It would be impossible for anyone to observe each of the rules the book calls for as they clash with each other on every page, and that was likely the point Crowley was trying to get across. If the whole of the law is that one should do what they want, so long as it does not hurt or encroach upon another person’s will, then of course a book of lies would try and say otherwise.

The Book of Lies holds up today, functioning both as an introduction to Crowley’s silly religion and a sterling example of his sinister wit.

Keep your eyes peeled for Part II…

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