Wrestling with a Demon: An Interview with David DeFalco

What type of guy has the gall not only to bark back at Mr. Movie himself, Roger Ebert, but then rebut the Pulitzer Prize winning critic’s responses? A big guy, a very big guy. David DeFalco takes a moment to speak to Egregious Gurnow of the Horror Review about body building, the director’s highly controversial film, Chaos, the Chicago critic’s feelings about the “the most brutal film ever made,” and what the director has in store for us next.

Egregious Gurnow: Seeing pictures of you during the filming of The Back Lot Murders, you have bulked up quite a bit in the last few years, which becomes a paradox in that it is reputed that you left wrestling for film. However, you have an extended history and background in production and writing even prior to this time. So, which came first, the wrestling or the film?

David DeFalco: My appearance from The Back Lot Murders to Chaos changed dramatically, almost like two different people. A lot of it was inspired by pro wrestling and certain wrestlers, like Dave Bastista. But, film definitely came first.

Egregious Gurnow: Your scripts for Gangland and Point Doom were action-oriented while your writing for The Back Lot Murders and Chaos is obviously rooted in horror. Is there a DeFalco musical anywhere in the future? What other genres are you interested in entering before everything’s said and done?

David DeFalco: My career started with action movies but horror is what I was born to do. It has been in my blood since early childhood. I was making Super 8mm horror films when I was twelve years old. I have a feeling that is the genre I will be sticking with for a while, but I never rule anything out.

Egregious Gurnow: It is rumored that Chaos was initially conceived as a remake of Wes Craven’s The Last House on the Left. Is this true?

David DeFalco: Chaos was never conceived as a Last House remake. It was our [DeFalco and Chaos producer, Steven Jay Bernheim] idea to do a modern horror film modeled after the ’70’s drive-in horror movies. Of course, Last House was the main inspiration, but I felt since it was taken from the Virgin Spring story that I could do my own modern take on it.

Egregious Gurnow: With express mention of famed horror icon Freddy in The Back Lot Murders, the implementation of Craven’s use of red and green lighting as a color indicator in the film, atop the work’s Scream resonance, you obviously wear your Craven proudly upon your sleeve. What other directors do you consider to be an influence?

David DeFalco: I was also influenced by Tobe Hooper. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was another ’70’s drive-in movie that was a major favorite of mine. Other directors I like include Sam Raimi, George Romero, and Oliver Stone.

Egregious Gurnow: How long did you spend writing the script for Chaos? What challenges were involved that you had to, for lack of a better word, wrestle with?

David DeFalco: It took about eight months to write the Chaos script. We constantly were going through it to try and keep it as realistic as possible. Especially the dialogue. I think if the dialogue is cheesy or corny, it will lessen the realism of a movie.

Egregious Gurnow: In Chaos, we don’t wind up with a Hollywood, spit-polished happy ending. Come to think about it, you do the same thing with The Back Lot Murders. What gives Dave? Are you a glum guy or is this your interpretation of the times?

David DeFalco: I guess due to my deep involvement with horror and death, it has given me a bleak outlook on life. After hanging out in the coroner’s office and seeing how everything ends up, its hard not to let that affect you.

Egregious Gurnow: Speaking of serious, how come you place such an emphasis on race in Chaos?

David DeFalco: I felt the race issue in Chaos would make the story more dynamic.

Egregious Gurnow: What are your opinions concerning Roger Ebert’s treatment of the film and his subsequent communication with you and the film’s producer, Steven Jay Bernheim?

David DeFalco: I was grateful that Roger Ebert just took the time to review the movie at all. I think he gave the movie a lot of backhanded compliments as well as a lot of publicity. I think that will only benefit Chaos ultimately.

Egregious Gurnow: Have you read any other reviews of the film?

David DeFalco: There are so many reviews on Chaos and they all vary greatly. In a lot of ways Chaos is bulletproof to reviews. Because even the critics that didn’t like it were mostly repulsed by it. And that is the appropriate reaction for a movie that is supposed to be the most brutal movie ever made.

Egregious Gurnow: You’ve rubbed elbows with some pretty heavy hitters in the past with your films, too many to name really. Barring money, politics, yadda, yadda, yadda, if we decided to change the name “Planet Earth” to “Sphere DeFalco,” who would you work with at a drop of a hat?

David DeFalco: There is no one that comes to mind that I would want to work with at the “drop of a hat.” My main concern at this time for my next project is to get a larger budget and studio backing. Once you have achieved that level, it is a lot easier to work with whomever you want.

Egregious Gurnow: You have made mention in the past of your next project. Would you mind commenting upon it, especially its genesis in relation to methamphetamine?

David DeFalco: My next project is an extension of Chaos entitled The Devil’s Doorway. It is based on the true life story of L.A. county coroner Michael A. Cormier. It is the story of a Los Angeles county coroner that discovers a demonic connection between the city’s most brutal murders and crystal meth. I discovered in making Chaos what true evil looks like and the havoc it is capable of. Doorway will show you how there are different devices or “doorways” that you can expose yourself to that can cause real evil to enter your life. Crystal Meth being the number one doorway. I feel that Chaos was just the beginning and The Devil’s Doorway will be the next step in understanding real evil. It has definitely had a major impact on my life.

Roger Ebert’s review of Chaos

David DeFalco and Steven Jay Bernheim’s Response to Ebert

Ebert’s Rebuttal to DeFalco and Bernheim

Egregious Gurnow’s review of Chaos

Horror Bob’s review of Chaos

Official Chaos website