Monday, February 1, 2010

The Horror Press: Q&A With Writer/Director Frank Sabatella.

By: SweetReviewer

The Horror Press (Sweetreviewer) had the pleasure of Interviewing Writer/Director of Blood Night: Legend of Mary Hatchet, Frank Sabatella. He shared with THP when he started his whole “obsession” for horror movies and when his film career began. He also shares light about some trouble he had on location while filming the party scene in the film. We learned how it was like for Mr. Sabatella in working with known genre actors 'Danielle Harris' (‘Rob Zombie’s H2’) and 'Bill Moseley' (‘The Devils Rejects’) there’s a lot more questions that were asked including a hint on his next project, read on for the Q&A.

Frank Sabatella is a filmmaker from Long Island, NY. He mentions he loves “any creative outlet really, especially photography design and film making.” He has been obsessed with horror movies since he was very young. “Growing up in the 80’s allowed me to indulge in that genre to excess” mentioned Sabatella.

THE HORROR PRESS: How did you get into film making?
Frank Sabatella: I have always loved movies from a very young age, especially horror movies. In my adolescent years I used to make VHS movies with my dads video camera, just for fun really, and as I got older I got into photography and design. After high school I went to film school and began working on sets almost immediately. From that I just kept working my way up until I had the opportunity to direct my feature.

THP: Can you tell the readers about your recent Project? --- Tentatively titled 'Blood night: Legend of Mary Hatchet'.
FS: 'Blood Night' just epitomizes everything I have ever loved about the American slasher flick. It has everything I as a fan desire in a slasher, blood and guts, full frontal nudity, gore, gags and of course the killer who returns from the grave and is unstoppable. I love the clich├ęs of the classic slasher genre and I wanted to use them to my advantage in Blood Night.

THP: What are some inspirational elements that you used to move your project along?

FS: Blood Night was inspired by the true legend of Mary Hatchet. It is an active legend on Long Island and people have seen her ghost wandering Sweet Hollow Road at night. I based the story on her legend and added many details of my own to really define her character and give her some depth. Kings Park Psych center is also a real place on Long Island that is surrounded by haunting and ghost stories due to the alleged patient abuse when the hospital was functioning. Patients that died there were buried in mass unmarked graves. I have been there and it is extremely creepy. Combining those 2 legends with my own details just made for great slasher movie fuel and I love that the story is rooted in truth.

THP: We read somewhere that you had some kind of problem with the location you were using. Can you explain?
FS: I think you are referring to the party house location on Long Island. Basically we had to deal with a certain mayor of a certain town not wanting us to shoot the movie in his town for no reason other then the fact that it was a horror movie. We were shooting in a private residence with permission from the owners and the consent of all the neighbors on the block. The mayor had no legal reason or cause to prevent us from shooting there; we had all the proper permits and the permission of the town board. So in a petty act to display his authority, he had police show up to our set just about every night and fine us and the homeowners for ridiculous things, things having nothing to do with filming. Some of the fines included parking to close to the curb, blocking a mailbox, operating without a business license, pretty much a bunch of baloney. It was really just an unnecessary hassle that we had to deal with but in the end we finished shooting and settled the matter.

THP: You have great cast of actors in this film two of which are well known in the horror genre, Bill Moseley “ The Devils Rejects” and beloved scream queen Danielle Harris “Rob Zombie's Halloween 2”. How did you manage to get them game into this amazing project and how was it working with them?

FS: Our casting director contacted their agents, sent them the script and we waited to hear back with our fingers crossed. Fortunately for me they were both interested in the project and liked the script and their respective characters. Working with them was great. They are truly 2 professionals that know the business and know the genre very well. It was incredibly helpful to have them involved because their professionalism and good natures set a great tone on the set for everyone.

THP: Samantha Facchi stars as Mary Hatchet in the film. We definitely thought she was very believable as a character. How did you determine you wanted her specifically to play Mary Hatchet?

FS: Casting for Mary Hatchet was one of the toughest roles to cast. I saw a lot of different women during the casting process and none of them really stood out as much as Samantha did. It is very difficult to play a silent role and still convey emotion and energy, it is all physical and Samantha really just made it work on so many levels. She was able to be frightening, frail, aggressive, haunting ferocious and provocative all at once and with her facial expressions and body movements she just stood out from the crowd tremendously. She was also very comfortable with the level of nudity required for the role and that was another important factor. She was able to forget the fact that she was naked the whole time and focus on the character. She was incredibly professional and I am very much looking forward to working with her again.

THP: Have you been keeping up with foreign horror films? If so, was it a challenge for this film in trying to keep up and or compete with them? ---New French horror in particular, those that have recently come out these past years?

FS: When I was making this film I wasn’t really thinking about keeping up with any foreign films or any other films for that matter at all. During the process the only movies I watched were very old slasher movies from the late 70’s and 80’s. I wanted to put my own modern and unique imprint on the picture. To be honest I haven’t even seen many of these French horrors of recent. Not that I am not interested I just haven’t had the time to catch up on everything recently. The challenge for me was just making Blood Night the movie I wanted it to be, and that was a big enough challenge in itself.
THP: What draws you to the horror genre?
FS: I have always just loved horror, I don’t know why but from a very young age I have been drawn to it. I think there is just an excitement, and a thrill and a feeling involved that you don’t get from any other genre. I find it to be very therapeutic in many ways. A friend of mine put it like this to me recently, horror movies create an anxiety that you can control. I think that is a perfect way of explaining it.

THP:This film features a great amount of gore and does a great job in keeping one at the edge of their seat. In what state of mind were you in when writing it?
FS: I was just in a very “slasher” state of mind. I just wanted to have really great kills that would be fun on screen and also cringe inducing. We didn’t have a huge FX budget so we had to be creative and selective in what deaths we showed and how we showed them. At the same time I wanted to generate some suspense and have the gore be the payoff for the suspenseful moments. I was watching a lot of Friday the 13th’s when I was writing and other early 80’s slasher far to really capture those sentiments.

THP: What is one of your favorite scary movies and why?
FS: Wow, so many to name, but I think I will have to mention Friday the 13th here, because it was the biggest inspiration for Blood Night. I just love everything about it, the story of Jason and how he drowned; the twist at the end that his mother was the killer the whole time. The killer point of view throughout the movie and of course Kevin Bacon in short shorts doesn’t get much better then that.

THP: Will there be a next project and what will it entail?
FS: I am currently writing my next feature, it is still in the very early stages of development but it will entail a whole bunch of scares and grizzly imagery. That is all I will say for now.

THP: Lastly, where can readers purchase and learn more about this film?

FS: Blood Night is currently available from and In February it will be available on iTunes and netflix streaming and Cable on demand in the spring. Go to to purchase or download the movie and join our mailing list and facebook and myspace pages. Thanks for the interview!

You can Find THP  review for 'Blood Night' here.

(Photo credit: Frank Sabatella's Myspace page. )


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