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Rated: 5.00/5 | Votes: 3 | Views: 482 |Submitted: 03/13/09

My Chat with Director Josh Eisenstadt & Star Rena Riffel

By Heather Wixson

In the recent DVD release DARK REEL, we meet fanboy Adam Waltz (Edward Furlong) who wins a walk-on part in a blood drenched horror film produced by Connor Pritchett (Lance Henriksen). Detective Shields (Tony Todd) tries to unravel the mystery behind a slew of real murders that haunts the cast and crew before the murderer can strike again.  At the heart of the mystery? The death of 50s starlet Scarlett May that could end up being the key force driving the murders.

I recently had a chance to catch up with the film’s director Josh Eisenstadt and one of the stars of the film, actress Rena Riffel (SHOWGIRLS, CANDYMAN 3).

Eisenstadt will be the first to tell you that he honestly isn’t sure what drove his career path towards directing, he just always knew that he belonged behind the camera.

“I would never say that I chose to be a director, it was more like directing chose me,” explained Eisenstadt. “There’s even video of me when I was six years old stating that when I grew up, I was going to be a director.  My whole life has been about shooting things and making movies.”

Eisenstadt’s feature films career has centered on his love for mystery, whether it’s on the big screen or in reality.  A lot of that fascination played out in the story for DARK REEL.

Eisenstadt said, “Part of my inspiration for the story was this wave of unsolved crimes in Hollywood in the 40s.  Something about that time period, like with Black Dahlia, just really piqued my interest.”

“I really think mystery is what life truly is.  The fact there’s always this big question mark about everything really fascinates me and I have always been interested in the extremes of humanity, especially quirkiness,” Eisenstadt added.

Quirky is definitely one way to describe Riffel’s character of Detective LaRue (who is partnered with horror legend Todd’s character of Detective Shields) who teeters on the edge of police professionalism because of her fangirl tendencies towards the B movies at the heart of the DARK REEL universe.

Riffel discussed her character LaRue by saying, “I sort of saw LaRue as someone who viewed B movies as true works of art.  She secretly reveres these “Scream Queens” that it’s hard for her to contain her excitement when she ends up on a case that involves her hero, Cassie Blue (played by real “Scream Queen” Tiffany Shepis).”

“When I was trying to figure out how to play LaRue, I asked Josh (Eisenstadt) if he wanted her angry and uptight, like the Shields character, or a bit more on the quirky side.  He said to go quirky and that was just so much fun for me to do,” Riffel added.

In DARK REEL, one of the featured B movies is called GNOME KILLER.  Eisenstadt and some of the cast (including Riffel) got together to give fans a fun little extra on the DARK REEL DVD, THE MAKING OF GNOME KILLER 2 featurette.  It’s a short film mockumentary that puts Riffel’s character into the set of the newest GNOME KILLER film and gives LaRue the chance to play the Gnome Queen alongside her B movie idols.

“It was a fun idea for me to see the character of LaRue live out her wildest dream as part of the cast of GNOME KILLER 2,” said Eisenstadt. “I’ve always had an appreciation for B movies, ever since I was a teenager. A lot of that influence came out in DARK REEL and when you’re making “mock” B movies, you walk a fine line between good/bad and just plain bad.”

For Riffel, having to deliberately act badly was a bit challenging too. “It was hard enough playing a character within a character but then when you have a character that needs to be a bad actor on top of it, you have to fight your instincts to want to do well in a scene,” Riffel explained.

With DARK REEL hitting DVD shelves this week, both Eisenstadt and Riffel are looking towards future projects, some of them together in fact.  This year, both have teamed up for an upcoming psychological thriller INNER BALANCE.  Also, Riffel will be releasing the two-disc DVD set for her first feature TRASHERELLA which is campy, horror musical send up based on bad 60s/70s horror movies.

Riffel described it as, “Something very campy and bizarre.  It’s definitely influenced by Ed Wood’s PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE and I honestly set out to make the best bad movie ever.” Eisenstadt came on board the project to help Riffel finish out the post-production work and serves as the film’s executive producer.

Also, Riffel is gearing up to work with genre-legend Todd for a third time (first time around she was a victim of Todd’s in CANDYMAN 3) on his film EERIE, PA.  It seems that DARK REEL left those involved with the project having some very close ties to each other.

“It’s sort of amazing to me that DARK REEL turned out to be this ‘family,’” said Eisenstadt. “I mean, I knew that the making it was going to be a great experience, I just never expected all of this after.”

DARK REEL will be playing this weekend’s Paranoia Fest on board the Queen Mary ship on Sunday, March 15th.  Click here for more information and tickets. 

Also, the trailer for TRASHERELLA will be shown before DARK REEL and the newly finished 2-disc versions of TRASHERELLA will be available for purchase at the fest.

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