By Steve Biodrowski • March 3, 2009
PARASOMNIA – the new independent horror film from director William Malone (HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL) – screens at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood as part of a tribute to the late artist Zdzislaw Beksinksi, whose work inspired the movie’s dreamscape imagery. Before the screening, there will be a panel discussion with Malone, Tobe Hooper (TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE), Wes Craven (A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET), Stuart Gordon (RE-ANIMATOR), and Mick Garris (MASTERS OF HORROR). Director Richard Elfman (FORBIDDEN ZONE) will moderate. Valdemar Plusa, Beksinksi’s friend and agent, will introduce the program.
The tribute is part of an attempt to promote PARASOMNIA, which takes much of its inspiration from Beksinksi, even translating some of his paintings into three-dimensions – as film sets. Malone concevied the film while watching the 1919 silent classic THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI, which famously translated the aesthetic of Expressionistic art into the cinematic medium. The story involves a mad doctor who hypnotizes a somnambulist into kidnapping a young woman.
It just occurred to me that nobody had done a movie about a sleepwalker in a very long time,” Malone recalls. “That’s prime material for horror. There have been actual cases of people who sleepwalked and murdered people and actually were able to get off because they didn’t know what they were doing. Watching that, I thought that was a good concept. I started doing research on the Internet and came up with Parasomnia, which is a catch-all for a number of sleep disorders, including night terrors and sleepwalking. I read an article about a girl who had been asleep twenty years and suddenly woke up. I thought that would be a good premise for a film. It snow-balled as I started putting the story together. As I did research, I wondered what her dreams would be like. Where does she live in her head? What is her life like in her dreams? While making FEAR.COM, I had seen a book on this guy, Zdzislaw Beksinski, and I became fascinated with is artwork. I had wanted to use his stuff ever since then, and this was the right way to use it.”
In a sense, this is similar to the approach that director Alfred Hitchcock took in SPELLBOUND, hiring surrealist artist Salvador Dali to design the dream sequence. Malone himself has worked on two unrelaized projects in which he hoped to utlize the work of Swiss artist H. R. Giger (ALIEN), but this is the first time he has managed to realize his goal of taking an artist’s work and realizing it as a motion picture.
After writing the screenplay, Malone financed the film independently, hoping to sell it to a distributor once it was finished.
“Sadly, our timing was appallingly bad,” he laments. “As we were finishing the movie, the whole independent film thing just collapsed. Someone wrote an article titled, ‘Independents: The Sky is Falling – Really.’ Probably stupid of me: at the time, I thought when we were done with the movie, it wouldn’t be that much of a problem if it was a cool, weird movie, but – wrong!”.
Taking the route of many low-budget horror films seeking U.S. distribution, Malone hopes that exposure on the festival circuit and at special events could lead to a U.S. distribution deal (the film has been sold in some foreign territories). PARASOMNIA already played at Screamfest last October; the Egyptian screening (courtesy of the American Cinematheque) is the next step in the process – which is also designed to raise awareness among horror fans. Although the film lacks the kind of mega-wattage starpower that appeals to distributors, PARASOMNIA is a cult movie fan’s dream. With Dylan Purcell and Cherily Wilson in the leads, the supporting cast is filled out with Patrick Kilpatrick (MINORITY REPORT, REPLACEMENT KILLERS), Jeffrey Combs (RE-ANIMATOR), Kathryn Leigh Scott (DARK SHADOWS), and Sean Young (BLADE RUNNER).
“This is a movie that, because it’s kind of an unusual film, I think audiences have to see it,” says Malone . ”We have to build a groundswell of interest in the film, which is what we’re doing with the festivals – although we actually have only been to Screamfest at this point. I don’t think we got enough promotion to let people know it was out there; actually, we had a good turnout, but it would have been nicer if we had more. Right now we’re trying to do most of our promotion on the Internet, and we have this event, which is part and parcel of our [effort to] generate interest from U.S. distributors. It’s interesting because we haven’t had the [Egyptian tribute screening] yet but we’ve already been contacted by a number of distributors. So – so far, so good.”