As any connoisseur of the extreme will attest, at some point you become pretty jaded. You feel like you’ve seen it all before. Nothing short of pure perverse brilliance moves you like those early excursions into the video fringe did. Hell, at this point my mind is like an uber-nerdy high school kid… getting blown is the rarest of rare occurrences. That’s why it’s so damn exciting when someone starts doing something new and different. When Stephen Biro from Unearthed Films gave me a copy of a film called Where The Dead Go To Die to review, I discovered that someone had charged headlong into a virgin extreme cinema frontier; hardcore independent animation. I had discovered the deranged, brilliant world of Jimmy Screamerclauz, and my mind was blown like it hadn’t been in ages.
That film went on to top my Best Flicks of 2012 list. I’ve watched it about 25 times throughout the process of exposing (subjecting?) as many of my friends to it as possible, and it never loses its power to punch me in the gut. Unlike a lot of “extreme” flicks, it infuses genuine emotion into the depravity. It’s also possibly the most fucked up feature visually that I’ve ever laid eyes on. Here, take a look at the trailer…
Pretty out there, huh? Well, you still have no idea. No trailer could do it justice. Screamerclauz’s music videos, as well as the “Clinical Sodomy” video he did for Butcher’s Harem, continue to show his aptitude for mind-bending visuals. His short film “Affection” (Google it) will either make you stand up and cheer, masturbate furiously, or cry for mommy depending on your level of psychosis. He’s one of the most exciting filmmakers out there today in my book, and he was kind enough to answer a few questions for Extreme Week. So, join me on a trip into the twisted brain of Jimmy Screamerclauz. Just make sure you leave that trail of breadcrumbs, ‘cause it sure as hell ain’t somewhere we want to get stuck.
SOC: First of all, I just want to state that you are a truly sick fuck, and I mean that in the most complimentary way possible.
JS: That's not a question! That's it, interview’s over. Take me home.
SOC: Where did the name Jimmy Screamerclauz come from?
JS: The short version is that when I was a kid my friend and I started a band and were making up stage names. I was like 11 and obsessed with aliens so I wanted to name myself "the alien screaming head" but my friend told me it was too long and started calling me Screamer. Fast forward a few years when the internet first started coming to homes and it was time for me to make an email address. Some how, even though a lot of people weren't on the internet yet, almost every email host already had a "screamer" so I would invent last names, such as ScreamerDeath, ScreamerAlien, ScreamerIceCreamSocial, ScreamerFailedPregnacyScare, ScreamerI'mRunningOutOfCleverLastNames.com.org.net, etc. and then one Christmas I changed it to ScreamerClaus, which eventually evolved (or devolved) into ScreamerClauz. Then for whatever reason I just stopped changing it. Fast forward a few more years into my teenage years and I started making electronic music with my friend Homie and I used ScreamerClauz as my music name. Fast forward another bunch of years after playing shows and releasing some albums under that name and people would start contacting me and calling me ScreamerClauz, which would make me feel weird. I'd always be like "you can call me Jimmy!" which is my real first name (well, James is). Then people just started combining the two into Jimmy ScreamerClauz. When I started making movies I didn't know whether to drop the ScreamerClauz or use my real last name. I decided rather than starting all over I'd just keep the name for the sake of consistency. But now I'm 30 and I'm starting to think "Do I really want people calling me ScreamerClauz when I'm 60?" I haven't really come up with an answer yet. Maybe I'll die first! But what name would I use on my tombstone? This world is flawed.
SOC: I’m sure you get asked this question all the time, but where do you draw your inspiration from?
JS: Sex, Drugs, and Electronic Music. Fuck Rock n' Roll. Its not made by aliens who encode hidden signals that only I can understand.
SOC: How is the creative process different or similar between music and film?
JS: Hhmm, well, I learned a lot about using sound to terrify people because I spent so much time making creepy music, so when I started making movies I based a lot of the scenes around what kind of music/noise I would use to make it more terrifying. So it’s similar in the sense that I'm trying to use sound to evoke a feeling of dread, but different in the sense that movies have like, pictures and stuff. And the pictures even move, like magic! With music I always found it difficult to collaborate with other producers; especially if you are using different programs or methods. Movies are a little easier because then you can involve actors/actress’ and other musicians to help bring your insanity to life!
SOC: Between your music and your films, you’ve been working in what could be called “extreme art” for quite some time. If we can get philosophical for a second, what role do you think boundary-pushing art plays in society?
JS: I guess it really all depends on the individual. To some people it’s a release and a way to explore the darker sides of their thoughts. Other people just like to test their limits and see how much they can endure. Then some people just like to see sex and death and people having sex with dead things. I think I'm guilty of all of the above
SOC: In your mind, what is extreme cinema? What makes a film extreme?
JS: The craziest, most vile filth you never thought you'd want to see but can't get enough of! When I first discovered extreme films it was really exciting because I never knew what I was going to get and just how far it was going to go. It was magical, disturbing and heart warming! But after watching all that I possibly could I kind of hit a dead end. Now newer extreme films just don't do it for me anymore. That's why I had to start making my own!
SOC: What are some of your favorite extreme cinema flicks?
JS: Cannibal Holocaust, Nekromanik, Blood-sucking Freaks, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, a couple of the Guinea Pigs, Maniac, and a bunch of other ones.
SOC: Do you set out making a short or feature with the intention of shocking people, or do you just make the films you want to make and let people take them however they will?
JS: I always know going in that I'm dealing with disturbing subject matter, but I'm always shocked when people are actually offended or disturbed by it. When I look at it I just see silly little cartoons. Tainted Milk is the best example of this. It started as me just wanting to make a silly parody of Lassie. The video I did for Butchers Harem was another one I had no idea people were going to be actually offended by! I think I just don't know anything about the world
SOC: Your first flick was an animation/live action hybrid called Reality Bleed Through. I’ve seen the trailer, but never seen the film available anywhere. Has it been released?
JS: It played in a few film festivals, but was never formally released. I never considered the festival cut of it the final version so I decided to teach myself some new animation techniques and that's where Tainted Milk came from. That eventually evolved into WTDGTD, which ended up eating up three years. Then it just felt like I was at different point in my life and Reality Bleed-Through didn't seem the direction to go. Now it just seems like too much time has passed to really do anything with it. There's parts of it I can go back and re-animate and make much better, but it just seems like a waste of time to do that and the other half of the movie that isn't animated can't really be altered. The whole film was really just an excuse for me try things out. I basically went from no experience in filmmaking at all straight into making that. I learned so much from doing it and I'm really proud of parts of it, but its not something I would really want to show people or do promotion for. I also started making another live action/animation hybrid called Dogshit, but pretty much the same exact thing happened. Now I have two half finished movies that I have no idea what to do with!
SOC: As you know, I loved Where the Dead Go to Die. Could you tell us a little about the flick for the benefit of those unfamiliar with it?
JS: Where The Dead Go To Die is an anthology film about emotionally disturbed children existing in multiple realities haunted by talking dogs and disfigured demons. I animated the entire film by myself using a variety of software over the course of three years. It stars my best friends, my heroes, and my loves; Ruby LaRocca, Brandon Slagle, Victor Bonacore, Joey Smack, Devanny Pinn, M dot Strange, Trent Haaga, Bushpig and lots more! It was the first thing I ever animated, and I learned how to animate one shot at time starting with the first chapter, "Tainted Milk". After I made the second chapter, "Liquid Memories," Imailed copies of both shorts to Stephen Biro at Unearthed Films on a whim. He said he wanted to release them but they weren't long enough. I already had a script for the third chapter, "The Masks That The Monsters Wear," and told him that I would animate it and then we could release it as a feature film. And here we are today!
SOC: In WTDGTD’s commentary track, you say that you originally envisioned Tainted Milk (the first segment) as a comedy. At what point did you realize that it was more effective as horror?
JS: The thing about Tainted Milk is that I made it when I started doing marijuana. I avoided it completely through my teenager years. It was 2009, I was 26, my girlfriend and I had just broken up, and I was living completely alone for the first time in my life. I already had a morbid view on life and a twisted sense of humor, and the weed just made it worse (or better, depending on your opinion of the film!). So that movie was a complete stoner accident on every possible level. It used to have a sitcom laugh track and I recorded all the voice actors doing goofy voices on purpose. When I was editing it I realized that if I dropped the laugh track and the sitcom score and played it like a horror movie, it gave it this really unnerving bi-polar feeling. Then once I made the other two chapters I tried to take it a little more seriously, but my weird sense of humor still crept in now and then. I blame the weed and “under God” being taken out of the pledge of allegiance.
SOC: What has the reaction from critics and the general public to WTDGTD?
JS: It seems to be one of those “love it or hate it” films. On a scale of 1 to 10 it got either all 9 -10s or 1 - 2s. Rarely does it get the 3 - 8 range.
SOC: Have you gotten any funny/interesting responses from people your films have offended?
JS: Honestly not really, which disappoints me slightly. The closest I got was when WTDGTD was released. It was put out by a big distributor, so when it hit all the illegal streams people thought it was just a new regular horror movie released in 2012. It got mixed in with all the current mainstream films. So a bunch of people who aren't into extreme or underground films watched it thinking it was some new studio movie and posted lots of angry comments about me being a pedophile and/or Satan. Oh, and one time a German guy emailed me a death threat in German. I used google translate but it was still hard to tell if he was threatening to fucking kill me or just fuck me, though either one would be a weekend spoiler.
SOC: In WTDGTD, there is a strong, recurring eyeball motif. Is there a meaning behind that?
JS: I wish I had some intelligent thing to say about life and love and physics and pumpkin pie, but the truth is that I just think eyeballs look cool and I have a tendency to over do things so everything becomes eyeball central!
SOC: There is a strong religious undercurrent to both WTDGTD and your more recent short, Affection. Are you making a specific statement about religion or just intentionally courting controversy?
JS: Not so much a statement. I'm just really obsessed with religion, especially extreme religion. My movies are never meant to be mocking or criticizing God. I'm mocking and criticizing the way people perceive these sorts of things. I try and create characters who either have the wrong idea about God or no idea at all. That's why they act the way they do and do the horrible things they do. I think that turning your mind off to the possibility that life isn't meaningless and that there is something after death is just as dangerous as the people who preach it too hard. People just get too crazy about it and everyone seems to believe that they know one way or the other. The truth is, nobody actually knows shit about dick. Religious people claim they know because their Bible says so, and atheists claim they know because the Bible has too many holes it. Everyone's religion should just be converted into "I should try my hardest to stop being an asshole because it directly affects my current life, not because the sky monster might get mad."
SOC: When I showed WTDGTD to some friends, one of the things I heard was “I’m way too sober for this movie.” Is there any particular drug or combination of drugs you would recommend to put the viewer in the right frame of mind for one of your flicks?
JS: The chemicals in juice boxes that turn kids gay. Watch
SOC: I’ve always said that horror lends itself well to animation, but outside of anime it hasn’t really been explored much. Through WTDGTD, your music videos like Butcher’s Harem’s “Clinical Sodomy,” and Affection, you’ve done more with it than anyone else. Do you ever see independent animated horror being a viable genre?
JS: It wasn't until I released WTDGTD that I realized not many people were making animated horror films. M dot Strange (creator of We Are The Strange and Heart String Marionette) makes creepy horror-ish samurai films, but they aren't exactly horror. David Firth (creator of Salad Fingers) also makes some scary ass shit. I guess his would be closer to horror films. But as far as studios go I can't think of a single animated adult horror feature film. I guess that means I'm cornering the market! Why aren't I rich???
SOC: You seem to be pretty adept at freaking viewers out. What freaks Jimmy Screamerclauz out?
JS: I don't like airplanes. I just flat out don't like it up there! I feel like the sky people are going to find out I'm defying nature and take me away. Every time I fly somewhere I come back slightly less sane than when I left. Sleep kind of freaks me too. It’s a really fucking weird concept to think about. You close your eyes and your soul leaves earth to view other worlds were there are no rules. No matter how rich or poor you are, everyone is given godlike powers for a few hours a night that nobody else can ever witness. Then you wake up back into this world and everything you did has no direct effect on your regular life. Eventually we will all come to the point where you don't wake up at all. Almost every night when I go to bed my brain tells me it’s going to be the night I die and I'm not going to wake up again. Plus, I can never cum in sex dreams. What kind of crock of shit is that?
SOC: Your next movie is called When Black Birds Fly. Can you tell us a little about that flick and any other projects you’d like to make the readers aware of?
JS: I made this page to send to potential voice actors. It basically sums up the first 15 pages of the script and has some screenshots and stuff. I never publicly posted it anywhere, so I guess that makes this an exclusive or something!
SOC: Finally, on your website you offer to autograph orders for free and even include a unique little story written by you. Would you be willing to write a short story for us?
JS: NO!!!! Well ok sure…Once upon a time there was this women who had fish sticks instead of breasts. All the local boys and girls lined up around the block to try and feed upon them but all ended up disappointed when they bit them to discover that they were hot on the outside but cold on the inside. The town was outraged and dragged her out into the street and burned her at the steak. Not a wooden one, but a large pile of meat that smelled funny. While she burned, all the local children rolled around in the meat to gain the scent of their master and then ostracized each other for smelling funny. After the whole town was collectively relegated to the time-out corner they realized that the woman had been burnt to a crisp, thus making the fish stick tits even less editable. Now the town was without food again and everyone smelled like rotten meat… I never said they were good I said they were free!
Nathan Hamilton is your average "slightly eccentric" horror movie junkie. At the age of 32, he’s already been involved in “horror business” for 20 years as a haunted house actor, ghost tour guide, and genre blogger/critic/journalist. He currently writes the horror movie blog Son of Celluloid. Nathan is also quite proficient with a chainsaw. You can decide for yourself if you’d rather experience his writing or chainsaw wielding talents. He’s happy either way.