A couple of weeks ago, I had an extensive chat with Adam Bhala Lough about his upcoming movie "Splatter Sisters," starring Marilyn Manson, Evan Rachel Wood and others who have yet to be named. Then the 2010 MTV Movie Awards happened. Now that the madness is over, I'm excited to bring you more about what sounds like an exceptionally cool movie. The best place to start, I think, is the idea's inception-- it's an amusing tale.
"The story was conceived by me and my friend Seb, who manages Lee 'Scratch' Perry," Lough said. "We first conceived of the idea in 2005. The week of the Independent Spirit Awards, my film was nominated. I flew out to LA and Seb... was living in this ranch two hours north of [the city]. It was just a recording studio; it had no furniture and no lights and just a fridge filled with beer. I spent 13 days on the floor in this house and we basically conceived of this whole idea during that trip. And then I spent the next four or so years just crafting the script and putting together the whole story."
It's quite a concept too. We previously learned a fair amount about the story from producer Edward R. Pressman, but Lough elaborated even further. "It's about two 18 year old beautiful drifter girls who go on a murderous rampage across California, killing scores of teenage boys. And they're under mind control by the leader of this death metal band, this underground death metal band," he said.
The death metal band leader in question is Lars, which is Manson's role. He's not just a rocker though. Lars also knows how to swing a sword! "There is a lot of samurai s--t in [the movie] too because Lars is a samurai," Lough said. "There is a lot of decapitation, a lot of arms getting chopped off, blood gushing, but in the beautiful way of a Japanese samurai film."
The rest of the cast isn't set yet, but Wood will play one of the titular Splatter Sisters. Lough is quick to point out that the duo isn't actually related. "The media just starts calling them the Splatter Sisters because all of these reports are [about] two girls who are committing these heinous murders and they sort of look alike," he said. "It becomes an urban legend in a way. There are a number of fake urban legends that come out about it, but the real reason [the two commit their murders] is sort of kept a mystery until later into the film."
Lough cites Japanese filmmaker Takashi Miike as a big influence on the film, as well as Oliver Stone's "Natural Born Killers" and the older Pressman-produced movie "Badlands." "What these movies are that I'm trying to grasp is sort of like this quintessential American story of serial killing lovers on the run," Lough explained. "So this is also a road movie in that sense because it's constantly moving. It goes all up and down the west coast. There is that aspect of it, the lovers on the run. The girls are lovers as well as [being involved] with Lars himself. So it's like a menage a trois. That's our new twist on the whole 'lovers on the run' thing-- there's a whole menage a trois aspect to it."
Lough hopes that production will begin soon. "We'd love to be shooting by the end of the year," he said. "Both Manson and I kind of need to do this by the end of the year. Next year, I'm sure we'll be editing for the better part of the year. I guess timetable-wise, we'd have something by next fall."
Another cool element in the plans for "Splatter Sisters" is Manson's musical background. His work as a musician will inform his role as a death metal band leader. In fact, the plan as Lough has heard it is to assemble an actual band.
"That's what he hopes to do. The music is death metal, and Marilyn doesn't usually play death metal," he said. Manson told Lough that he wants the movie to feature authentic death metal, "late-'80s death metal to the core." This potentially means putting a band together and touring it to coincide with promoting the movie. "I'm not exactly sure what it is yet and how it's going to play out, but that's kind of the central idea. We've got to get [Manson] trained on that voice."
The most unusual element to "Splatter Sisters" -- and also the most potentially intriguing -- is Lough's big picture plan to foster a new sub-genre, Skinemax as he calls it. "It's like an aesthetic, really," he said. "It's not exactly based on those [old soft-core porn Cinemax] movies as it is the idea of the late-night direct-to-cable film. Capturing that vibe. It has elements of the soft-core porn with the gratuitous nudity and the non-sensical plot structure, but at the same time being able to throw in other things like horror and comedy-- just basically being able to throw in everything."
Lough was in part inspired by Dogma 95 and in part inspired by a desire to see more indie film that speaks directly to him and those who share his interests. "Something different that's not boring... just people in their late 20s sitting around talking for 90 minutes about their problems. White people I should say. I don't want to see that. I want T&A in the first 20 minutes. If there's gonna be a rule to Skinemax Cinema, it's that there's T&A in the first 20 minutes and some type of gore in the first five."
"I've been talking to [producer David Gordon Green] a lot about that too. He and I are huge fans of Steven Seagal films. We would kill to make a Steven Seagal film, that type," Lough continued. "You know, tons of bullets and shootouts and tons of blood and T&A. Totally just fun. ['Splatter Sisters'] is a little bit different than that. I love the name Skinemax, and I love the reference to those films and that world of late-night direct-to-cable. Skinemax, I want it to be the next step of grindhouse. It was done the day they made a movie called 'Grindhouse.' And it was a huge inspiration for all of us. I want to see something new."
Hearing Lough talk about it, it's hard not to get caught up in the fervor. It sounds like a beautifully twisted, insanely gratuitous crusade. "Right now it's just the seed of an idea. What I would love is to have something where filmmakers that I'm a fan of... can go make a Skinemax movie. That's my dream," Lough concluded, adding, "David and I are sitting down and putting this Skinemax manifesto together."
Do you hear that, David Gordon Green? We're all waiting now for you and Lough to bring on the Skinemax Manifesto!