Interviews: Cody Knotts - Director of Gore Orphanage

The Movie Sleuth recently had a chance to talk to Cody Knotts, director of the horror film, Gore Orphanage. 

TMS: Without spoiling anything, what can you tell our readers about your latest movie, Gore Orphanage? Give us some of the history.

CK:My wife Emily Lapisardi and I were driving back from meeting with a band Dead in 5 about music for Pro Wrestlers vs Zombies and we passed a road sign for Gore Orphanage. Emily was intrigued and it lead her to research the legend. She was so excited, she wrote a treatment and convinced me to write a script.

In addition, we included elements from the Mary Bell murders in England. We have many tie ins with the UK, including that the vintage teddy bear was bought in England during a promotional tour for Pro Wrestlers vs Zombies.

It is traditional horror not what horror has become. If you think about Rear Window and Hitchcock versus Eli Roth, you will understand what we were attempting to do. Today it is sometimes called a thriller, but I believe Gore is a horrific place and hence horror.

TMS: What inspired you to make this film? And was it hard to raise funding for a movie that’s left of center and focused on such a dark, reality based tale?

CK:My wife and I used our life savings to fund this film. We believed in it, so while that might be crazy, we wanted to make it. The inspiration is answered in the question above. 

A film that inspired us though was Argento's Suspiria. It was initially planned to be about children, but he was forced to change to adult actors. We were fortunate to find amazing children.
Odd films are hard to fund, but when you are making smaller films, they are the only chance of commercial success.

TMS: Where do you think horror is headed? The last couple years have seen a distinct forward progression for the genre as a whole. With movies like Starry Eyes and The Taking of Deborah Logan becoming such huge cult hits, do you think that horror is hitting a new high point?

CK: I think that horror needs to be about human emotion and not gore. For too long it has been dominated by blood and guts. The result is that many people were turned off on the genre. Human emotion is something we can all understand. We all liked to be scared and it is a primal emotion.

Horror is the most honest of genres. The BS of happy endings goes away and we are back to whom we are as a species, survivors. We all exist because our ancestors survived. They fought for us to get here. That is easy to forget in a world where all we need is a block away and instead of fighting to survive, we spend our time fighting each over hurt feelings and politically correct bullshit.

On that note, we’re seeing a lot of lower budget horror features getting major acclaim. What do you think has changed in the industry that allows this to happen?

CK: Inexpensive cameras, a lowering of the capital expenditure to compete. A great story costs nothing but emotional fearlessness. We have a world of dishonest and craven behavior. Everyone is afraid to say what they think or feel, horror gives us an honest outlet for what many people are thinking. 

So the combination of lower capital expenditures and an odd cultural system that values dishonesty has lead to a resurgence of the most honest of film making.

TMS: Movie making isn’t easy. What do you do to blow off steam after a long day of shooting? And are there any goofy on set stories you can share with us?

CK:I sleep for about four hours. I am a time tyrant. I spend all of my time focused on the product. I do make jokes but not for my own amusement, but to lighten the mood for others so they can focus. Internally, I'm all about the production.

I have no other choice because I take almost every role on myself to save money. I use skeleton crews. People on set think I'm focused but funny, but the sad truth is that the funny is a facade.

TMS: Who inspires you as a film maker and what is your favorite horror film? Why?

CK: William Friedkin and the obvious answer is the Exorcist. Friedkin is incredible and daring. Most important he is concerned with HUMAN stories and real decisions by individuals. We need stories that speak to humanity honestly and quit the b.s. of telling people what they want to hear.

The Exorcist shows that a big budget film CAN be done honestly and raw. We need truth and Friedkin is always trying something new. 

My greatest social media story is that he follows me on Twitter. I was so excited I danced around the room, because I consider him a kindred spirit, though I've never spoke to him. I wish I could achieve 1/10 of what he has.

TMS: Remakes are huge right now. Some are good and some suck. If you could remake one iconic horror movie, what would it be? And if you had that chance, what would you do differently to make it stand on its own two feet?

CK: I'm not a fan of remakes, but if I had to would the Exorcist. The reason is simple, I grew up in a world of religion. I have prayed over those that were tormented by evil spirits. I don't talk about it and we are not talking possessed, tormented. I believe in the church's stance on exorcism and I believe that a film that was theologically stronger (and I believe Exorcist was strong) than most of the exorcism films would be amazing. The Last Exorcism was a film that I thought should have been amazing if made by someone like myself that grew up in the evangelical traditions.

TMS: I’m a self-proclaimed horror junkie. I will watch just about anything in the genre. Do you have a movie that qualifies as a guilty pleasure? And what’s the worst one you’ve ever seen?

CK: It's My Party and I'll Die If I Want To Starring Adrienne Fischer (who I directed in Pro Wrestlers) and Tom Savini. It's silly and stupid and fun. I also love any film that stars my friends Jerry Pietrala and Nick LaMantia. They are great guys and have to work in some truly bad films. But they give it their all.

I watched a film made in Pennsylvania called Infected. The director is a great guy and working hard to get better, but the first film is awful. But heck it would be hard for me to argue against my own disaster in Breeding Farm. Breeding Farm is the worst film I've made and it was not the fault of the actors, it was mine. There is little redeeming value to it and i actually was so appalled that I made it, I gave up all ownership in it.

TMS: Where can people see Gore Orphanage and what would you like them to know about your film?

CK: Find us on Facebook Gore Orphanage-The Movie or at our company website:

The film was a crazy idea, child actors, period piece on practically no budget, all we needed was animals to break all the rules. I believe that we created a creepy world and if you are seeking creepy versus gory, you will find it in Gore Orphanage.


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