Exclusive Interview: Director Tyler MacIntyre Talks Frankenstein-ish Splatter Flick PATCHWORK

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Filmmaker discusses his new mad science shocker PATCHWORK.

If you’ve been sitting in your basement, experimenting on cats waiting for someone new to pick up the syringe of green ooze from RE-ANIMATOR, well, PATCHWORK might be the film for you. The feature film directorial debut by Canadian Tyler MacIntyre is mentored by none other than Stuart Gordon himself and follows in the maestro’s energetic splatter-comedy footsteps (right down to that green ooze). It’s FRANKENSTEIN from The Creature’s perspective, as PATCHWORK follows two days and two nights of vengeance-soaked violence unleashed by – here’s the twist – a trio of women sewn into one shambling body (with three minds!).

It’s a weekend night and three female archetypes walk into a bar. There’s Jennifer (Tory Stolper), the fit, financially successful, emotionally frustrated workaholic; Ellie (Tracey Fairaway), the bubbling princess looking for love in all the wrong places; and Madeleine (Maria Blasucci), the shy oddball with esteem issues. Unaware of each other’s existence, all three are promptly hit on, annoyed and misused by a series of bar star pick-up artists. This mix of male bozos includes an art school egotist with a serious Jian Ghomeshi vibe, a coterie of frat house bros, and Jen’s boss and lover, the adulterous Dan (Mark Hapka), a Matt Damon lookalike who makes love wearing his Bluetooth earpiece.

By night’s end, all three women are battered, beaten and presumably dead, until waking up on an operating table cut and sewn together into a lurching (but somewhat sexy?) abomination played by Stolper in some pretty great make-up, compositing all three women’s faces with stitch-lines (the monster is actually known as “Stitch” in the script). It’s an ambitious horror-comedy with a novel premise that cops a cue from 80s sitcom HERMAN’S HEAD with the three fully functioning personalities occasionally halting the narrative to hash it out inside Stitch’s mind. This technique was a bit jarring at times for this viewer, but if you can roll with it, it’s a unique device that serves the episodic chapter structure, intercutting Stitch’s rampage with each woman’s backstory (en route to some major late act plot twists).

PATCHWORK has its world premiere on Saturday, October 17th at SCREAMFEST in Los Angeles and follows this up with a closing night screening and Canadian premiere at the TORONTO AFTER DARK FILM FESTIVAL  on Friday, October 23rd. SHOCK chats with director/co-writer/editor Tyler MacIntyre about his wacky Creature revenge splatter romp.

SHOCK: How did co-writer Chris Lee Hill and yourself work out how to cinematically show the three leading ladies’ functioning brains in one lurching Frankensteined body?

MACINTYRE: We kind of backed into the premise; Frankenstein stories are usually about power and general megalomania, but it seemed to us that the main conflict of a Frankenstein story was integrating different parts of different people into one body, which is a pretty obvious metaphor for teamwork. Since Chris and I knew we wanted to keep the point of view with the monster, rather than the victims as in most horror films, we came up with the mechanism of seeing an actual embodied version of each personality talking to each other in the same environment. It was a surprisingly complicated thing to ask the audience to follow, so the real obstacle was making those first few jumps into her head, setting up the rules and helping people understand what was happening.

SHOCK: The lead role is very physically demanding. Did Tory Stolper, who plays Jennifer/Stitch come up with that crickity, lurching gait that keeps having her compared by other characters to a particularly spasmodic meth head?

MACINTYRE: Tory was amazing! Before shooting we worked on the walk, voice, and mannerisms of Stitch (which is what we called the monster in the script) for quite a while. I know she drew from a lot of physical comedy references for the movement, such as the two-brained Steve Martin in ALL OF ME, and then weaved some more typical undead tropes into her performance. For the voice, we looked at footage of people with severe schizophrenia and tried to pull in some of the randomness of their speech-patterns to help illustrate what was going on in our monster’s head. Tory was the first actor cast and we basically assembled the rest of the team around what she was bringing. Once we had Tracey Fairaway and Maria Blasucci onboard as the other two leads, Tory started bringing in elements of their performance when she was playing Stitch, which helped round things out. Thinking back it was pretty crazy how she was going in and out of heavy makeup every day, with long hours and lots of crazy stunts, heavy comedic and dramatic moments back-to-back – she essentially had to carry the film and really became my main collaborator through production.

SHOCK: The word is that you have been mentored by a plethora of celebrated filmmakers. Can you elaborate on who they are, how they helped and what direct input or influence (if any) they had on your film or working method?

MACINTYRE: When I was at the American Film Institute I was lucky to work for Roger Corman during the summer, mostly editing and a little directing, which really helped me learn to keep things frugal and respect genre while carving out your own voice. After that I was Peter Bogdanovich’s assistant, who actually started his career with a great horror movie for Corman called TARGETS, and then went on to become a quite legendary director. He is a good friend, a fascinating person to talk with, and he pretty much knows more about film than anyone alive. For this project in particular we had the good fortune of working a little bit with Stuart Gordon, who really is a master of horror and was very helpful for me, providing feedback on the script and viewing cuts to help us shape the movie.

SHOCK: PATCHWORK is overloaded with various types of sleazy “bros” and bad pick up lines. Do you know these characters well? Is that why so much of the movie is dedicated to murdering them in cold-blooded revenge?

MACINTYRE: Haha – I don’t think I know these characters that well, but I think they are definitely indicative of some pretty common ways of thinking, exaggerated for comedic effect. Sleazy bros can be kind of low-hanging fruit to make fun of, so we tried to focus on slightly different tactics and behaviors to hopefully help these parts ring true. Since the perspective of our story is with the three women who make up the Frankenstein monster, I think it is actually pretty satisfying to see a lot of these asshole characters meet their ends, even though the objective morality is a little skewed.

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SHOCK: IMDB lists a short named PATCHWORK from 2014 produced by most of the same team behind the PATCHWORK feature film. Was this a short version of the same story expanded to feature form?

MACINTYRE: Yes and no. The short was actually a tone test for another project I wrote and was developing with (PATCHWORK producer) John Negropontes called THE DISSECTIONS, but with an original story about three girls waking up together in a Frankenstein-like body. People liked the short and kept asking if there was a feature version, so as Chris and I were kicking around ideas for a new writing venture, we had a premise to expand on, and it evolved into a slapstick horror-comedy. Even though the tone of the short isn’t a lot like the feature, they are essentially the same idea, which made it easier for me to bring on Aaron and Ethan Webman who put together the resources to make the feature PATCHWORK a reality.

SHOCK: I love the opening Saul Bass-influenced titles with the Bernard Hermann/Richard Band-esque title theme by composer Russ Howard III (HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN). Can you discuss this?

MACINTYRE: So glad you liked it! Chris and I are huge Saul Bass and Hitchcock fans, and I think Russ did a great job calling back to, but not imitating, the style we wanted. This is actually the first animation sequence I’ve directed, but I originally had a totally different idea for the opening that involved a lot of super slow-motion stuff on macro lenses, and followed the surgery sequence. Once we had a cut of the film it didn’t seem appropriate anymore, so John reached out to Eevolver, and I worked with Stacy Burstin, Arron Ingold and their team there to design the sequence within our means. I’m very happy with the result.

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