Filmmaker Interview

by Anthony Picerno

James Cullen Bressack

The Bloodiest Film Reel

Already with over 150 credits in various roles of filmmaking at the start of his career, indie horror writer and director, James Cullen Bressack delightfully pummels audiences with a signature display of gore, suspense, and a bit of twisted humor.

 

 

“I’ve loved movies my entire life, ever since I was a small kid,” says the young filmmaker. “When I was a teenager, my father became ill…all we could do was stay home and watch movies, so that’s what we did. Thankfully he got better, but when my parents got divorced a year or two later, my mom moved to Culver City, and I lived a block away from the movie theater. I remember walking to that movie theater all the time and I got to know all the people who worked there, so I started seeing movies all day…and sneak into R rated movies…I realized film was the highest art form, and that’s what I decided to do.”

 

 

Depicting violence onscreen quickly became a mainstay of Bressack’s films as he gravitated toward the horror genre, and continually begged the question, ‘What is insanity?’

 

 

“Is anybody really crazy?” asks the filmmaker. “Or is it just their perception of their reality? I like to ask that because I like to dive into how the human mind works and what drives people to commit violent acts. In real life, I’m not a violent person at all, and it fascinates me to see how others can become so violent towards one another.”

 

 

 

Already with over 150 credits in various roles of filmmaking at the start of his career, indie horror writer and director, James Cullen Bressack delightfully pummels audiences with a signature display of gore, suspense, and a bit of twisted humor.

 

 

“I’ve loved movies my entire life, ever since I was a small kid,” says the young filmmaker. “When I was a teenager, my father became ill…all we could do was stay home and watch movies, so that’s what we did. Thankfully he got better, but when my parents got divorced a year or two later, my mom moved to Culver City, and I lived a block away from the movie theater. I remember walking to that movie theater all the time and I got to know all the people who worked there, so I started seeing movies all day…and sneak into R rated movies…I realized film was the highest art form, and that’s what I decided to do.”

 

 

Depicting violence onscreen quickly became a mainstay of Bressack’s films as he gravitated toward the horror genre, and continually begged the question, ‘What is insanity?’

 

 

“Is anybody really crazy?” asks the filmmaker. “Or is it just their perception of their reality? I like to ask that because I like to dive into how the human mind works and what drives people to commit violent acts. In real life, I’m not a violent person at all, and it fascinates me to see how others can become so violent towards one another.”

 

 

Having always been a fan of dark comedy, and showcasing a morbid sense of humor in general, Bressack often finds himself unable to resist peppering films with sick zingers and macabre punch lines. “I was raised by two really funny people,” says Bressack. “My parents worked in animation so they did a lot of comedic based stuff, so I’ve grown up with and have always liked comedy.”

 

 

The gruesomeness of Bressack’s films, however, are the product of having a vividly twisted imagination. “I actually have an ‘Elite Hunting’ tattoo on my chest from the movie ‘Hostel’—so I’ve always loved really gross stuff [laughs].” Noting disturbing films as “Schramm,” “Nekromantik,” and “Premutos,” Bressack believes his interest in the ultra gore of the 1980’s and underground German splatter to be of particular influence to him. “I just think of whatever grossest thing comes to mind,” he states, “and if I’ve seen it somewhere else. If I haven’t, then it makes its way into my movies.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remaining true to the horror genre, Bressack also makes conscious efforts to explore the various style differences found within—marking a distinct stylistic shift from one film to the next. “One of the obvious reasons would be that my budgets are getting bigger [laughs]. Another thing I would say is that I try to do a movie in each subgenre of horror. I tackle home invasion in ‘Hate Crime,’ I tackled the road movie with ‘To Jennifer,’ I did a serial killer film with ‘My Pure Joy.’ Then with ‘13/13/13’, I did your crazies story with…monsters running amok. And then with ‘Pernicious’ I did a supernatural version of ‘Hostel’ and now my next one, ‘Bethany,’ it’s more along the lines of something like ‘Insidious.’ So I’m kind of trying each of the different subgenres of horror.”

 

 

One such subgenre earned Bressack some criticism. “That’s the one thing people didn’t realize about ‘13/13/13’ which is why I got a lot of flak for it. It’s actually like—generally my most hated movie that I’ve done amongst most people. At least amongst the internet. I mean a lot of people didn’t realize that 13/13/13 is my movie with [the production company,] The Asylum. And looking at all the other Asylum movies like ‘Sharknado’ and stuff like that, I was trying to make something really darkly funny. It was supposed to be like a ‘Shaun of the Dead’-esque thing, fun and silly…so I was surprised that people thought I was trying to be so serious.”

 

 

Looking back on the beginnings of his career, Bressack views each new film as a necessary challenge to ensure the success of the next. Having just finished shooting upcoming film, “Bethany,” Bressack remains excited for fans to see what he considers his hardest hitting project yet. “I promise you it’s going to be a wild ride and it’s gonna be really scary. You’re gonna be freaked out, grossed out, and you’re gonna jump a few times. [It’s] kind of like ‘Insidious’ meets ‘Mommy Dearest.’ … I remember watching ‘Mommy Dearest’ and thought it was one of the most terrifying f*ckin’ things I’ve ever seen. I said, ‘Let’s capture that in a horror movie.’”

 

 

With great chemistry on set and what Bressack considers to be the best cast and crew he could have asked for, ‘Bethany’ was a joint effort between Bressack and co-writer, Zack Ward, with whom Bressack describes as having an organic collaboration. “We thought of it like doctor and surgeon, where I’d prep the patient and he would do the surgery. We’d talk [about story] and then I’d put a bunch of words on the page, and he would make those words look good. I’d write, he’d rewrite it, and we’d go back and forth just improving it together.”

 

 

Supernatural horror, “Pernicious” comes out on DVD August 25th. To get more news and updates, follow James Cullen Bressack on Twitter: @JamesCullenB.

 

 

Be sure to check out our reviews of Bressack’s films here:  PERNICIOUS    TO JENNIFER

 

 

 

“Is anybody really crazy?” asks the filmmaker. “Or is it just their perception of their reality?

For inquiries or scoops please contact us.

Dark Comedy Productions, LLC   ©2015  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED