Mike Stoffels has managed to climb straight into the underground gore world and became a name for himself to those who know what they are talking about. With his first short "Amicus Mortis" no one had and no idea what he was about, but now, on his third film, we know that we can all expect the unexpected in terms of violence and gore, and a most likely enjoyable ride. We have here a short interview with the Dutch filmmaker, and hopefully you will all enjoy it.
Hey Mike. I'm gonna cut the crap and go straight on. You've already gotten a foot into the underground cinema. Do you feel that the road to where you are now has been going smooth?
The road was very smooth until “Heartless”, “Amicus” and “Goatriders” went smooth and in the time we made “Amicus” we weren't even thinking about the great response we got from the underground. We were just some guys killing some time in the backyard and the garage. By the time we filmed “Goatriders”, we were more aware about the underground scene, and for those people we made it.
Did you do anything prior to "Amicus Mortis" (except for "Hammered In Holland")?
Nothing. “Hammered In Holland” was my first project. The others from the VET-TV Crew (Frank van Kempen, Stefan Thoolen & Gerard van Kempen) already did some stuff and made "Oeger" (a short horror movie about 30 minutes long) and "The TV-Show", a 1,5 hour of sketches and jokes... One day Gerard showed me the stuff they already did and I was hooked! We briefly spoke about doing some stuff together and that became the 3 minutes long “Hammered In Holland”. That was around the same time Fred (from ToeTag) asked the community to do some fan base related stuff for “August Underground's” 10th anniversary DVD.
With "Amicus Mortis" you went the torture route, but with "Goatriders" you completely changed direction. Now with "Heartless" it seems like you've done that again. Which do you feel has been the most fun to make?
“Amicus Mortis” hands down! We knew almost nothing and just had fun with blood, chainsaws, knifes and steel pipes! It was just a torture sequence. We were just 4 guys having fun in an old garage. Frank (our sound-man) was chained down for 4 to 5 hours with real heavy chains and he kept complaining... that was fun, hehe. We finished filming the torture sequence around 2 in the morning and we were tired (we had been filming all day). So the next day we would clean all the stuff up... but it was summer and real hot, so the next day all the meat, sugar-blood and what not was infested by flies and insects… and damn it was hot in there! Luckily I was not in the cleaning crew.
|You've always had gore in your films, and "Heartless" seems like it will top all of your other works. Do you intentionally make them gory for the sake of gore, or is it just how the story turns out?
I'm a fan of gore (as you know, of course), so there will be some gore for the sake of gore... but it has to fit in the story. In “Heartless” we have some decent amount of gore, but it's all story based. It's a story about organ trade... so we will have some nice shots for you guys planned and we got one scene no has ever done before (as far as I know)... and I know for sure people will talk about this scene and some will be truly offended. Also in “Heartless” we got some kids and as you know little children in a death scene always works well. By the way these little kids LOVE acting/playing dead in these movies... only thing is that they can't sit still!
Have you had any specific films or directors as influences on the films, and did each film have seperate influences?
For “Amicus” it was “August Underground” for the gritty film style and “Irréversible” for the story telling. Love both movies. For “Goatriders” it was the cult movie we all know, “Evil Dead”, evil possessions and based in the woods. I was about 7 years old when I first saw that movie, never forgot the tree-rape scene... you know what I'm talking about ;) For “Heartless” the only inspiration was the French “Inside”.
Exclusive screenshots from "Heartless" (click for HUGE):
Seeing how each film has individual influences, do you have any idea what your next project will be, and what will be the influence there?
For the next one (we’re already working on it, and we have had already 3 days of auditions) I'm not working in script phase, only given some hints and tips. But I can only reveal that it will be again something completely different then we have done until this point. And if I give you some influence that will ruin the surprise for you, hehe.
Could you give us a brief description of what "Heartless" will be?
It's a story about two brothers, Tom and Danny, who lost their parents in a car accident so they have only each other. Tom suffers from a bad heart and the doctors in the hospital refuse to help Tom to get a donor heart. Danny sets off to find a new heart for his brother and he stumbles upon the clinic of Dr. Fernando Hennig who explains to him that the doctors in the hospital refuse to help Tom because it pays their bills as there are patients in the hospital, and they can keep buying cars and houses for their wifes and mistresses. The only thing Danny has to do is deliver Tom to Dr. Hennig and all be fine. At least that is what our good Dr. Hennig tells Danny...
And this will be sold through the VET-TV.nl site as well?
No, it can be bought from the official “Heartless” website (www.harteloos.nl), everything is in Dutch, we will air an English version some where in future I guess, but the pre-order site is also in English. It can be found at http://www.harteloos.nl/p_kopen_en.htm By the way the official trailer is also up there (released just a few days ago)!
How long has production on this one taken, compared to the other films?
Two days after we premiered “Goatriders” we started on the script of “Heartless”, so it’s about 1,5 years of work from many people, we have some new people joining the team because the work is beginning to get to much for only four people. “Goatriders” was about 11 months of work and “Amicus” was about 5-6 month's of work...
Will "Heartless" be feature length or another short?
“Heartless” will be around 50-55 minutes. Currently were editing the last scenes and then it's finished! Yeah, finally!
In "Goatriders" I remember liking the skeletons you had done for it, and I also remember you telling me that it was an easy thing to do. Maybe you'd want to reveal it to the good readers of Film Bizarro?
The skeletons were done by a good friend and FX artist called Hans Christian Smulders (www.hcworks.com). He just papermached some skeletons that you also have in a classroom. After the whole thing dried out he pulled the paper-mache mold from the skeletons and painted them. Easy to do! In “Goatriders” you never see the back of the skeletons/corpses, only the front, because the back is were he pulled the skeleton out of the paper-mache mold... he's a crafty motherfucker!
You mentioned "Inside" earlier. I'm personally not a very big fan of the current gore trend France is going through to be honest. Are you a fan of the other films they've released too, such as "Martyrs", "Haute Tension" and "Frontiers"?
“Frontiers”, not that much. But “Martyrs” truly blew me away, especially the ending. It’s a movie you love or you hate it, there is no way in between. “Haute Tension” was a real surprise for me when I first saw it, didn't expect that all. So yes, I’m a fan of the French horror based movies. French is gonna be the next Italy of the 70’s.
If you can choose one, and only ONE, person to have as a lead actor in a film of yours, who would it be? Dead or alive, mainstream or underground, doesn't matter.
Kevin Spacey. He's not into horror at all and it might be an odd choice coming from me but he can play a real evil fucked up villain and a real douche bag with the same face. That man got a million faces and all different. Really love his work and attitude.
Do you have anything else to add before we end this interview?
I would like to thank all the people who visit our website, support us in being a truly independent production team and of course you Ronny for doing this interview! Thanks to all!
Thanks again for doing the interview with us, Mike!
If you have no idea who Mike Stoffels is or just want to find out more on him, you can check out the following websites: