Q&A: On the Offensive With the “BLOODY KNUCKLES” TeamFearful Features,Home,Movies/TV,News Michael Gingold
There’s something to offend—and amuse—everyone in the horror/comedy BLOODY KNUCKLES. FANGORIA spoke to the team behind the shamelessly entertaining flick, just out on Blu-ray, DVD and VOD from Artsploitation Films.
Written and directed by Matt O., a.k.a. Matt O’Mahoney, the Vancouver-lensed BLOODY KNUCKLES (initially titled SICK PUPPY) stars Adam Boys as Travis, a cartoonist who tweaks political correctness with his determinedly offensive underground comics. When he pokes fun at a Chinatown crime boss, the villain has Travis’ hand severed—but the appendage takes on a life of its own, seeking vengeance and prodding Travis to man up. Along the way, Travis is joined and empowered by Homo Dynamous (Dwayne Bryshun), a bondage-gear-clad avenger who leaps to life from the pages of his comics (see our review of the film here). Fango spoke to O., Boys and producer Christena Zatylny following BLOODY KNUCKLES’ world premiere at Montreal’s Fantasia festival—where the hand itself also made an appearance to greet fans…
FANGORIA: How did BLOODY KNUCKLES grow out of your previous short films?
MATT O’MAHONEY: I’d made a couple of shorts, including ELECTRIC FENCE, which premiered here in 2008, and an entry for the ABCs OF DEATH contest called ADJUST TRACKING. It didn’t make the cut, but it got a good response, and I’d been itching to make a feature. We were able to kind of scrounge some money together as a result of the success of those shorts.
CRISTENA ZATYLNY: We chose to shoot in the beginning of the year, when it was quiet in town, so we would have access to things that would normally cost a lot.
O’MAHONEY: Yeah, there were a lot of good crew who weren’t working, and they were willing to come help out.
FANG: I noticed in the end credits that you had a very large crew for an independent film.
O’MAHONEY: Yeah, and that’s a tribute to the number of technicians in Vancouver and the timing of when we shot. We got started right after Christmas, and things are pretty dead at that time. Pilot season starts up around March, and we shot over the month of February, so we were able to get a lot of people who normally would have been busy, and equipment. We had kind of a rotating crew; some people were picking up days on other films. Karen Lam had EVANGELINE going on at the same time, and we were kind of trading crewmembers.
FANG: So, why a severed hand?
O’MAHONEY: Well, it came out of the Danish cartoon controversy [involving caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad], and things like that. I was angry about all that stuff that was going down, and I’ve always been a big fan of underground comics. I thought it was a fitting way to explore that—an artist loses his hand and it comes back, which is not the most original idea, but I thought I could take it somewhere different. I’m also a huge fan of films like EVIL DEAD II; BLOODY KNUCKLES kind of wears its influences on its sleeve.
FANG: Are you a fan of the Michael Caine movie THE HAND?
O’MAHONEY: You know, I had never seen it; I was aware of it and had kind of seen bits and pieces. That was more of a true psychological horror movie. I knew there were going to be comparisons, because the similarities are obvious, but I wanted to take my film in a totally different direction, and that’s where we got into all sorts of craziness, like Homo Dynamous and so on.
FANG: The movie is not only a comment on censorship, but also challenges it with all the politically incorrect elements.
O’MAHONEY: Yeah, I had to have the film practice what it preached, and make it offensive and politically incorrect, because that’s what its message is. It’s about the right to be politically incorrect. Everyone has a right to be offended, but I think that unfortunately, what’s happening now—and we put it on the poster—is that people feel they have a right to not be offended, which I don’t think is compatible with freedom of speech at all. If everyone has that right, that means everyone’s speech will be severely limited, because people have the right to not be offended by it. If you have that right, then no one can say anything, you know? We wouldn’t be sitting here at this festival, watching these movies, and FANGORIA would have a lot of problems!
FANG: How did you find your leading man?
O’MAHONEY: Adam was actually the last guy who came in to read for Travis, and unbeknownst to us at the time, he was living next door to my friend and editor of the film, Scott Belyea, and Scooter Corkle, the DP. They were like, “Hey, you’re auditioning for this movie? That’s our buddy’s film!”
ADAM BOYS: It was, like, the first week of the year, and nobody was working. My agent was away, and I saw this post from the casting director, saying how excited he was about this film that he was working on, SICK PUPPY, and I thought, “Why the f am I not in this film?” [Ed. note: That was Boys censoring himself, not us!] So I posted and said, “Hey, good luck,” and he popped up immediately saying, “Are you coming in? Come on over to this audition.” So I went in, and these guys said, “All you have to do to get the role is fondle Matt’s balls…” [Everyone laughs] So I reached under the table and pretended to fondle Matt’s balls, and I’m pretty sure that’s the reason I got the gig.
O’MAHONEY: It is, yeah. It’s the only reason, really.
BOYS: I identify with everything Travis says about freedom of speech. I have no filter myself, and will often push people and test people and say off-color things. Not because I have any prejudice, but because I just want to see how far I can take something.
O’MAHONEY: That decision was made for us by the effects people, who said, “We need someone with a very small hand, so it will fit in the prosthetic glove.” Otherwise, if we’d used a male hand and built up this whole thing on top of it, it would look ridiculous. That’s when we had Krista come in; she was a friend of our producer Danny Domachowski. It was weird doing little hand auditions; I had to be like, “OK, what would you do if the hand was afraid, or angry?”
FANG: Adam, how was the experience acting opposite the hand?
BOYS: It was cool, because it absolutely became a character on set, and it conveys its own independent thoughts and feelings. There was one moment when Matt’s direction was, “Grab the balls harder!” All the attention was on, “Christa, are you OK with this? Are you comfortable grabbing there?” and there was not much care for the guy getting his balls wrenched! But it was a lot of fun. She was great to play off of, and made the hand a true antagonist to help Travis get to that place.
FANG: How about Homo Dynamous and all the other crazy characters?
BOYS: I felt, when I read the script, that there was a bromance between Travis and Homo Dynamous, when he goes into action and takes Travis under his wing and protects him. Dwayne was a lot of fun from the get-go. Ralphie [Travis’ stepbrother] was a standout too, as played by Ken Tsui, who had not really acted before. I felt a true bond with him.
O’MAHONEY: Dwayne was such a trouper, too, because there were some days that were very long, and Dwayne would be sitting around in his Homo Dynamous gear, basically wearing nothing. We were like, “Oh, this poor bastard”; he just had on little man panties and a harness, eating craft services.
ZATYLNY: We’d finish shooting at 6 in the morning, and just send him out into the world! [Everyone laughs] Businesspeople were arriving and would be like, “What is happening here?”
FANG: I imagine it was quite difficult not only pulling off the makeup FX on your various locations, but cleaning up all the bodily fluids afterward as well…
O’MAHONEY: Absolutely! Oh my God, how many paper towels did we go through? It was mostly just us because there were usually no PAs, and even when there were, we felt bad, because everyone had worked a long day and was tired, so the writer, director and producers would mop up all these pools of blood because we felt so bad for everyone. It was like, just let everyone go home, we can clean this stuff!
FANG: Was there anything you considered putting in the movie that you decided was too offensive?
O’MAHONEY: Not really. Like I said, I wanted the movie to practice what it preached, so there were some things in there where I was like, “This might ruffle someone’s feathers.” Also, I knew people would get a feel for what the movie was about from the comic-book opening-credits sequence. When I was creating those comics, I was kind of scratching my head and thinking, “OK, who can I offend now?” I tried to be an equal-opportunity offender.
ZATYLNY: According to our lawyer, you offended everyone! She was like, “I’ve read the script. We really need to talk!”
O’MAHONEY: Apparently, the only one we offended was Larry Flynt Publications. I wanted Adam to wear a “Larry Flynt for President” T-shirt in the opening scene; I thought it was very fitting, so we contacted them and sent them the script, and they said, “We don’t think you’re going to get away with this,” because there was a Sarah Palin reference…
ZATYLNY: The lawyer was like, “You’re going to have to take that out!”
O’MAHONEY: That got cut, really more for pacing reasons, but yeah, they had a problem with that. And I was like, “You guys made a Sarah Palin porno movie,” called WHO’S NAILIN’ PAYLIN? “How can you guys, of all people, be the holdouts?” Let’s be honest: Larry Flynt is one of the reasons why I feel the way I do about freedom of expression. It’s because of the battles guys like him fought; hell, he’s in a wheelchair for the rest of his life because he pissed somebody off.
FANG: Adam, were there any especially memorable moments for you during the shoot?
O’MAHONEY: Getting the finger up your butt?
BOYS: Yeah, for sure, getting a finger up your butt is something you don’t forget, and then having that finger in your mouth.
FANG: I assume they washed the hand in between?
ZATYLNY: Not really. Weirdly enough, we didn’t really do that…
O’MAHONEY: No, it was a tight day…
BOYS: Have you washed the glove since, before you brought it here to Fantasia and everyone’s been playing with it?
ZATYLNY: Of course! It’s a whole new glove.