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MRH :    Did Desecration enjoy an extensive theatrical run, and did that help in getting a home video label interested in distributing the film? And secondly, because this was early into DVD, did you find Desecration benefited in being among the first crop of horror films to be distributed on DVD, since it was a few years later when stores would begin a slow purge of their VHS inventory?

DT : It made its World Premiere at the 1999 Fantafestival in Rome Italy, and then about six months after that it came out on DVD through Image Entertainment, one of the pioneers of laserdisc. While all the other horror films were being released straight to video, straight to VHS, Desecration did benefit from being the first new horror movie to debut on DVD. This was 1999... a different time. Everything that was coming out on DVD at that point was established and already released either theatrically or on VHS.  Desecration was a DVD debut, it was a new concept. Now you see it all the time, but Desecration was actually the first.     


MRH :    During a film's pre-production phase, do you have a specific marketing plan set up, or do you get your inspiration from the footage, the realized concept, and specific images that resonate after the first assembly edit? (Your first two films used particularly arresting campaign art, and made them stand out.)

DT : So far, with all my movies... it always starts with poster art. With Desecration it was faceless nuns... and the tagline... ”You will burn in Hell”… With Horror, it was a black satanic goat in a priest's outfit.  Satan's Playground... the image of woods... and dried blood. And the tagline... ”Enter if you Dare.” Of course, you've seen the preliminary poster art for The Ocean... it has a child drowning.  “A new wave in terror.”   


MRH :    Have you found over the years it's been difficult to convince producers and distributors that it's worth funding projects that strive to go beyond the familiar concepts and stories that assault the horror fan on home video?

I ask this because there's a number of indie labels catering to the gore market; sub-labels by secondary and major labels wanting to cash-in by making cheap, disposable films; and Hollywood studios who fund incoherent films that use loud sound design and fast editing to get around the problem of badly written scripts in place of striving for anything original.

DT : It's a complete nightmare out there for independent filmmakers. It's a swirling mess. I hate film markets. I hate film festivals. Some directors love that stuff. Not me. You just have to be your own riptide, follow your own path. I can't really complain too much because all of my feature films got made and found distribution. My early films were extremely bizarre and low budget... and the labels … Image... Elite... especially Anchor Bay... they all did great work releasing them. 

I've been quietly chipping away, making the movies I want to create. I guess I force these films into existence. It's kind of a do or die mentality. Life is not worth living if I can't make the film I want. And I'd rather live... so I'm relentless. I'm a slave to the creation of these films. There's nothing else.


MRH :    Did aspects of Deren and Ito's work influence your approach to realizing your nightmares on film?

DT : Yes, I learned of a kind of trance film. Ever since I was a little boy, I was a starer, always staring. I was kind of out of control sometimes. My mother would have to say, "Stop staring!"  My eyes did exactly what they wanted, though. I understood the idea of looking at something, one thing... for an unusually long period of time, becoming fixated on it... hypnotized. I think that's what I've tried to do with my films so far. They're ambient horror films. Trance films. I want the viewer to stare.

When I met Cherel Ito, she was editing and distributing Deren's final film, Divine Horseman, a fascinating stream-of-consciousness documentary about Haitian Voodoo. Of course, Maya Deren's non-linear masterpiece,  Meshes of the Afternoon, was a big influence, especially on my first film, Desecration. I loved the idea of a time/space dislocation. I understood it.  


MRH :    Most horror filmmakers tend to fixate on familiar icons, stylistic conventions, and what's in vogue (which of late, has been torture and sadism). While mainstream horror fans might regard your interest in and application of surrealism and experimentalism as too demanding, do you feel the genre needs a bit of jostling, and audiences should be accepting of films beyond the predictable studio product?

DT : Oh I definitely felt the wrath of experimental film haters on message boards, so I know.

A large segment of the mainstream audience... they want to be spoon fed, they need to know what's going on in a movie at all times. I'm the opposite; I like a film to take me by surprise... I love to get lost in a movie; I love to have no idea where it's taking me, something like Jacob's Ladder or Don't Look Now or Alice, Sweet Alice. I love to feel perplexed. I guess that's why my films tend to operate on a more internal dream logic. 

My detractors will always be there, waiting in the wings to pounce on my movies, saying they make no sense. On the other end of the spectrum... there are people who really defend my films, enjoy them... and crave more. Some of these people are pretty fanatical. I know...because I get their emails, letters and gifts. This has been happening steadily since Desecration. This intense love-hate, this extreme polar opposite type energy... it's the ingredients for a storm. I feel it brewing. I do. I'm like Damien looking in the mirror at my 666 scar. I know my time will come.     


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