14th Jan2015

Interview: Director Justin Timpane talks ‘Ninjas vs. Monsters’

by Phil Wheat

The wise-cracking ass-kicking small town ninjas of Ninjas vs Vampires are back with the action-packed horror film Ninjas vs Monsters; and this time the ninjas take on an army of traditional horror movie fiends in order to save mankind…

Dracula has called upon Frankenstein’s monster, The Mummy, Werewolf, and a coven of Witches to wipe out the Ninjas, but our pizza-loving heroes – tougher and wiser after their battles in the 2011 film Ninjas Vs Vampires – now have their own supernatural powers as well as awesome kung fu skills to counter the threat. What follows is non-stop combat with plenty of laughs and gore along the way in director Justin Timpane’s latest horror adventure, which is Executive Produced by Eduardo Sanchez (director of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, LOVELY MOLLY and EXISTS).

With Ninjas vs Monsters set for a UK release on January 26th and a US debut on February 3rd, we sat down with director Justin Timpane to discuss the film and the entire “Ninjas vs” trilogy:

NVM-cast

Justin, for those who haven’t seen any of the ‘Ninjas vs.’ movies, can you give us a quick rundown?

Well, we really did try to make each film stand on its own. We thought a lot about great third parts that are great standalone films: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Army of Darkness spring to mind. Certainly they finish out trilogies and resonate more with fans of the first two, but they give you what you need early on to enjoy it on its own. We do the same. Within 5 minutes of the start of NINJAS VS MONSTERS, you have the basics you need to really enjoy the rollercoaster. But, to bring you up to speed: Our heroes were once regular folks who found themselves gifted against their will with powers of the NINJA and drafted into a battle against ZOMBIES, then VAMPIRES, and now the motherload of classic MONSTERS!!

Was it always intended to make a trilogy… or did success pave the way for the sequels?

We put a stinger at the end of the first movie (NVZ) that teased Vampires as a next step, but it wasnt really until we were halfway through the second one (NVV) that we had a real sense of where the characters might finally go…

I guess it goes without saying that each instalment had a bigger budget to play with?
Nope! The first was the most expensive. We just wasted a ton of time and money not knowing what we were doing yet. One of the lessons we really learned was how to stretch the budget to make sure everything was right there on screen… so this one definitely looks like it costs ten times as much, but that’s more to the credit of our artists than the cash (or really me, even)

This latest one, Ninjas vs. Monsters, seems to have extra special appeal because you’ve got the  classic movie monsters doing battle with the Ninjas. I take it all those characters – Frankenstein, The Wolf Man etc – are all in the public domain?

Well, Frank and Dracula certainly are. We have a “werewolf”, and we wanted to be very clear that we did not have a “Wolfman”. Same thing with our Mummy – he is not “THE Mummy”. And with Drac and Frank, we really made a point to make them our own. I think it is safe to say that you’ve never really seen them like this before. Certainly these are classic monsters, but we went through a lot to make sure they didn’t step on any toes.

Was there a character you wanted to include but couldn’t for some reason?

Not really, from a legal standpoint or anything… I mean, it would be great to have a battle royale with the 80’s slashers, but they’re off limits – so we never really considered them.. but Freddy vs a Ninja would be truly dope! (Also, I have a dream that jay and Silent Bob could show up like in Scream 4, but its just a dream)

When casting a movie like this, do you hold open auditions? And how important was it to find actors that knew how to fight or do martial-arts?

We did hold open auditions for the new characters in this film (the cast from the first two return as well). With a cast this large, we had a fairly exhausting process of getting just what we wanted… it was both wonderful and difficult because we got a TON of great DC actors at the auditions. We did cast a lot of Martial artists, and yes, it was something we looked for (and Got! Some of our new cast members are pro-level stunt guys) – but even our returning cast spent a lot of time training under our lead fight guys PJ Megaw and Daniel Mascarello.

How do you think the movie would’ve differed had it been made by the Hollywood studio system?

I’m sure it would have been very different, but also great. It’s a great idea and if you can make it fun low-or-high budget, I will come see it. What our film has is heart. There’s an energy there that I think is pretty grabbing. Its a fun little adventure, and I like to think that part of the fun is that more grounded indie vibe (there’s more than a little Clerks or Blair Witch in our flick).

Is there a fourth film in the works or are you changing gears now?

Ninjas will rest now as a trilogy I think. We are starting the editing process on the film we shot last year: TREKOFF: The Motion Picture (trekoffmovie.com), which is based on the TREKOFF podcast (trekoffpodcast.com), of which I am a co-host (its a foulmouthed STAR TREK podcast, and its really funny, you should add it to your podfeed!). And there’s another project we are just starting to imagine… BUT.. for now, its all about getting the world to see MONSTERS. Really, if you loved Buffy or Army of Darkness or just think the idea of a lightning throwing Frankenstein is cool, throw a couple of your hard earned bucks at this flick. We promise we will do our level best to make it worth it!
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Ninjas vs Monsters is released on iTunes, XBOX, Playstation, Comcast and other VOD outlets, as well as on DVD from Ninjasvs.com on February 3rd in the US. In the UK, it’s released on January 26th via Amazon or VOD, courtesy of Left Films.

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