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    Home arrow Interviews arrow Directors arrow Interview with Nico Mastorakis
    Interview with Nico Mastorakis PDF Print E-mail
    Written by Mr Wrong   
    Wednesday, 12 July 2006

    The Temple of Horror speaks with director, Nico Mastorakis.


    Nico Mastorakis


    From beginnings as a scriptwriter in the early 70's, Mastorakis' directorial debut came in 1974 with Death
    Has Blue Eyes
    . With a full
    tapestry of projects to his credit his focus has been on action/thriller type films
    with departures to the comedy and science fiction genres.


    Mr. Mastorakis' works include:


    .com for Murder (2002)
    "Kalinichta Mama" (1998) TV Series
    "Horismenoi me paidia" (1995) TV Series
    Hired to Kill (1992)
    The Naked Truth (1992)
    In the Cold of the Night (1991)
    Ninja Academy (1990)

    Nightmare at Noon (1988)
    aka Death Street USA (USA)

    Glitch! (1988)

    The Wind (1987) (V)
    aka Edge of Terror (UK)

    Terminal Exposure (1987)
    aka Double Exposure

    The Zero Boys (1986)

    Hamos sto aigaio (1985)
    aka Blown Sky High (USA)
    aka Sky High (USA)


    The Next One (1984)
    aka Taxidiotis tou chronou, O (Greece)
    aka The Time Traveller (USA: DVD title)


    Blind Date (1984)
    aka Deadly Seduction

    Koritsi vomva, To (1976)
    aka Death Has Blue Eyes (UK)
    aka The Para Psychics (USA: VIDEO title)


    Pedhia tou dhiavolou, Ta (1975)
    aka A Craving for Lust (USA)
    aka Cruel Destination
    aka Devils in Mykonos (USA)
    aka Island of Death
    aka Island of Perversion (Australia)
    aka Psychic Killer 2 (UK: VIDEO title)


    Mr. Wrong
    : Firstly I'd like to thank you for taking time out to answer a few questions regarding The Zero Boys.
    I'm going to jump right in with the question that really has been burning in my brain. Of course, I was a kid when I
    originally caught it on its cable rounds in the 80's and was too young to really make a connection. Years later it really
    seemed that the horrific case of Leonard Lake and Charles Ng has some influence in the setting. Did that have any
    influence on creating the setting?

    Nico Mastorakis: Yes, your connection had a foundation as the movie's foundation was in reality. Without even realizing
    it, we usually get an idea rooted in the news, even if they are not news anymore.

    MW: Another element that seems glossed over is the aspect of the snuff films that are being made at the house. I'd say
    we were still a few years from this becoming something of a mainstream element in suspense films. Did you get a lot of
    attention about this aspect at the time the film came out?

    NM: Like all semi-prophetic movies, Zero Boys unintentionally included trends to surface later and this was also based on
    reality. It seems that such facts are sensed before they become facts, proving later that there are no prophecies, just
    subliminal messages embedded in our subconscious.

    MW: Despite this film being generally bloodless in the visual aspects it's still decidedly brutal in many aspects. Really,
    The Zero Boys left more to the imagination rather than lopped limb prosthetics being tossed around at the time in the
    slasher genre. Was there still any elements that gave the censors difficulty at the time?


    NM: Strangely enough, the movie had no censorship problems anywhere, not even in the UK where the censors are
    antiquated and one-track minded. I intended from the beginning to deepen brutality without the gore and I fought
    against my instincts (on the set) to succumb to every horror movie director's temptation... a slasher scene.


    MW: It seemed by cross pollinating the genres of suspense and action you had two effective groups of hunters facing off.
    Did this really give you any difficulties during writing or shooting? Normally a film like this would have a hunter(s) and a
    group of victims until only one stands to become the actual protagonist. You actually turned the genre on its ear a bit by
    having protagonists smarter than the average slasher genre hero. Was any of this due to being sick of watching the
    helpless and dim witted victims of other films and wanting to make a statement about it?


    NM: We (directors), often underestimate the audience, we see it as if in a right-hand mirror of a car, forgetting the label
    "objects in the mirror may be closer than they appear to be". The audience is breathing down our neck and at the time I
    made Zero Boys, the breathing got heavier as the cliche had overtaken the purpose. It's always risque to reverse the
    cliche but when it's done with guts, it's appreciated by generations as yours!


    MW: I've seen the film marketed as an actioner, a suspense film, and a slasher. Really it's all three in one but what would
    you say is the dominant theme?

    NM: I like to call it 'a suspense thriller'. All other terms will fall short in one segment or the other. I believe that, in its totality
    and especially at the very end, ZB is a clean cut suspense thriller indeed.


    MW: Was the reason for limiting the onscreen violence part of the film crossing genres? The film could have become a
    gore shocker as was typical of the time but it seemed you restrained yourself.


    NM: For all the reasons I explained and for one more: I had experienced an overkill of perversion and violence when I did
    Island Of Death, my second film, back in 1976. Toning down the gore in ZB was an attempt to redeem myself!

    MW: The film has been in circulation for twenty years now, is there anything that really stands out that you wish you had done
    differently in the film now that so many years have passed and you can reflect on it?

    NM: Watching it again recently, when I did the digital 16:9 transfers at Technicolor in London, I found it unbelievably young
    for its age. I shot it in 17 nights and one day and I can't think of anything I could have done better for the shoestring budget
    and the miniscule schedule. Of course, if I had five million bucks and sixteen weeks, boy would I have done a better job!

    MW: A criticism I've heard occasionally is that the killers in the film are a little too faceless. Keeping them without firm identities
    increased the terror level but did you ever have plans to explain them more?


    NM: Nope, I love faceless killers, unseen villains, lurking threat. It's either that (when your focus is on the protagonists) or you
    focus on the killer(s) and flesh them out properly. I prefer to side with the audience, and in this case the audience sided with
    the protagonists.

    MW: There was also the character with her foot in the cast. I assumed the actress just happened to have a broken foot and
    you ran with it. Was there any back story involved?

    NM: Wrong. The actress was just fine (and, by the way, had great legs). I added the cast as an additional peril. It proved itself
    to be a good tool in the chase scenes, going up and down stairs etc.

    MW: By far my personal favorite scene is the trap door in the roof and the following five minutes of screen time. Any favorite
    scenes that you really feel went over the top for being effective?


    NM: That scene is also one of my favorites but I would add the one where Joe Esteves (Phelan) walks on the wooden platform
    near the deserted shack and the kids are below, trying not to scream when a rattle snake crawls all over them.


    MW: It honestly seems a lot of people spring boarded into entertainment careers from just this film alone. It's obvious people
    had good experiences working under your guidance and learned something. Any thoughts?


    NM: Love to work with new talent and love it when, later on, I'm proven right in my choices when the talent makes it big, as in
    the case of Kirstie Alley and Valeria Golino (Blind Date), Hans Zimmer (Terminal Exposure) and so many others.
    It's simply wonderful to see them at the top and be able to say "hell, I gave them their first break".

    MW
    : What are your thoughts on the current state of the horror genre?

    NM: Too much Avid, no real feeling. Could anyone duplicate the delicious simplicity of the great Alfred by doing freeze-frames,
    strobes and slow mo?

    MW
    : In reflection was there anything that sticks out at the time The Zero Boys was released? Critical reviews?
    Critics thoughts on the film?


    NM: We had great reviews all over the world, best review that of The Hollywood Reporter.

    MW: Is there any directorial style you feel was dominant in the filming of The Zero Boys? Any particular directors that you like
    for their style?


    NM: From Hitch to Carpenter and Brian De Palma, I love them all and they have certainly influenced my visual choices and
    my style.

    MW: Any current projects planned for the horror genre?

    NM: Perhaps Same Island, Different Death, a sequel to my 1976 cult horror.


    We thank Mr. Mastorakis for taking the time to talk with us.

     
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