27th Sep2015

Interview: Director Michael Steves talks ‘Clinger’

by Phil Wheat

Directed by Michael Steves, from a script he co-penned with Gabi Chennisi Duncombe and Bubba Fish, Clinger is a supernatural horror starring
 Vincent Martella, Jennifer Laporte, Julia Aks, Lisa Wilcox and Debbie Rochon. Paragon Releasing will debut Clinger in US cinemas on October 23rd. In anticipation of its release, we spoke to Michael Steves about his terrific new comedy-horror hybrid.

When her possessive high school boyfriend dies in a gruesome accident, Fern Petersen’s life is thrown into turmoil. Things go from bad to worse when he returns as a love-sick ghost to kill her so they can be together for eternity.

clinger-cast

In a nutshell, can you sum up Clinger?

Clinger is the story of your first love in high school. Boy meets girl. Boy gets too over-attached, and girl wants to break up with him. Girl breaks up with him, and boy is beheaded in an embarrassing accident. Boy comes back as a ghost to kill girl so they can be together forever. Also, there’s demon teddy bears. Stylistically, Clinger is a throwback to 80′s horror-comedies like Evil Dead II, the original Fright Night, and Re-Animator.

It seems to be an effective mix of genres, is that fair to say?

Yes! Clinger is a teen horror-comedy – a critic for Wicked Channel summed it up as “a John Hughes film written by a sadistic, cruel madman.” On one hand, it’s a bittersweet comedy about a relatable first relationship gone wrong. On another, it’s a gory horror film about a girl fighting for her life against an obsessive ghost-stalker.

What was it about Jennifer and Vincent that made them the perfect onscreen team?

Jennifer and Vincent (pictured above) – who play Robert and Fern, our teenage lovers and ultimately opponents in a battle of life and death – are much younger than most actors playing high schoolers. They were teenagers when we filmed, rather than being pretty 30-year-olds trying to pass for teenagers. Their performances are honest and real – they portray their relationship in a way that reminds everyone of their first loves, even though the film is populated by gory beheadings and supernatural horror.

Was it intentional to fill the supporting roles with horror icons like Lisa and Debbie?

Absolutely! I loved Debbie from her roles in Troma films like Tromeo and Juliet, and I’m a huge Nightmare on Elm Street fan. I wanted horror icons in the film to tip our hat to all of the deliriously fun horror movies that I watched at sleepovers in high school and that inspired Clinger.

Can you give the audience an idea of the level of scares in the film?

Clinger’s tone and approach to horror is that of 80′s horror-comedies like Evil Dead II, Gremlins, Dead-Alive, and Re-Animator. Those movies, like ours, have scares, action, and buckets of gooey-bloody gore, all to make an entertaining ride that you would watch with your friends at midnight. Best after a few beers and perhaps other substances.

How much did you let the cast and crew have input? Did you encourage improv?

The cast and crew came up with a lot of our favorite lines and moments – the set was improv heavy for sure.

Do you think the state of the horror movie industry is healthy at the moment? Anything you’d like to see less or more of?

I think it’s very healthy at the moment – lately I’ve seen a huge number of amazing, genre-bending indie horror films on the festival circuit especially. I would love to see more studio-funded horror films that aren’t reboots or remakes.
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Clinger is released across the US on October 23rd, courtesy of Paragon Releasing.

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