4/20 Massacre (2018)

EXCLUSIVE: Interview with 4/20 Massacre Writer/Director Dylan Reynolds, 2 of 3

Smoke ’em if you got ’em because it’s time for the interview with 4/20 MASSACRE writer/director Dylan Reynolds.
House of Tortured Souls: What I really admire about 4/20 MASSACRE is that it has a lot more depth than one might expect, were you afraid of alienating fans expecting just a mindless slasher?
Dylan Reynolds: Yeah- that’s always been a bit of a concern. In many ways the movie is a “Trojan Horse” and we sneak in elements of an indie drama within the framework of a campy slasher flick. I wanted to do that because I knew it would be something “a little different” and therefore it might be more memorable. On the other hand — the audience we’ll probably attract may not be into those elements — and the audience who might actually appreciate what we did wouldn’t necessarily watch a movie called 4/20 MASSACRE.
HoTS: I read in an interview where you had some nice Easter eggs for die-hard slasher fans?
DR: Yeah- there’s a number sprinkled throughout- including some shots/sequences that mirror The Burning and Friday the 13th Part 2. Jamie Bernadette’s character is named Jess — who is the Final Girl in Black Christmas. There’s a line where they say they are going to “Higgin’s Creek”— which is a nod to the location in Friday the 13th Part 3 [“Higgin’s Haven”]… plus a number of others — I tried not to be too blatant.
HoTS: Would you say this is homage to holiday horror, 4/20 being a holiday of sorts?
DR: Most definitely — this was my contribution to the long and proud tradition of “holiday slashers” lol.
HoTS: Let me ask about your process as a director for a moment. How open are you to suggestions from cast/crew and do you allow actors to improvise lines?
DR: I try to give a general framework/ blocking and allow the actor’s the freedom to “play”. The best thing I figure I can do is create the atmosphere for creative people to do their thing. I encourage what I like to call “improvisation between the lines” — meaning, of course, there’s written dialogue but I like to allow takes to go on a little longer or give them a little head — I think this gives the scenes a more natural flow and feel. I also try to encourage actor’s to “give me some options” so I can cherry pick the moments in the edit.
DR: I of course have a shot list — some storyboards- an outline etc. but often you have to be flexible on a low budget film. I think the old adage is that you spend months making a plan only to get to set and have to throw it all out the window. Therefore a production is ultimately a collaborative effort with the crew. I try to communicate what I envision and we all collectively try to accomplish the goal — which is to tell a story and get all the shots we need to tell said story.
James Gregory in 420 Massacre (2018)

James Gregory in 4/20 MASSACRE (2018)

HoTS: How hands-on are you as a director, for example do you give them much guidance or do you allow them to find the character themselves?
DR: For this film- after we secured our cast I met with each of the actor’s individually to discuss the character… a general discussion of what I was thinking- what ideas or questions they had etc. Then like I said- I just tried to allow them the freedom to be creative and bring the character to life.
HoTS: What was the most difficult or challenging aspect of this production?
DR: It was a low budget film shot in 10 days out in the middle of nowhere… so about all the stress, you can imagine with no budget — no time — and the all-around lack of resources would create. But those negatives were countered with a lot of positive… namely it was a bunch of adults who went camping and “played make-believe” during the day and drank and shared some laughs at night.
HoTS: The stuntman coordinator James Gregory actually taught the actors to do their own stunts is that correct?
DR: Yeah, and James also played the killer (The Shape) and designed the costume. We did a “stunt rehearsal day” where we brought in all the actors to go over their individual “falls” and/or “taking punches” and what the game plan was for the scenes involving their “stunts”. Jamie Bernadette had the most work because she had some extended fight sequences during the film.
HoTS: Was it fun directing a stunt-heavy feature such as this?
DR: For sure- there’s a lot to plan out and it’s ridiculous how much coverage you end up having to get just to cut an “action” scene together. And truth be told we weren’t doing anything super complicated in 4/20 MASSACRE — and even then it got pretty involved. Therefore the experience did give me a stronger appreciation of directors who can direct action well… it’s probably the most “director reliant” form of filmmaking.
HoTS: What would you say was the weirdest or most surreal moment during this shoot?
DR: Hmmm… I can’t think of any one “surreal moment” really. I guess there were times after a long day of shooting when I was walking around decompressing and/or thinking about the next day’s schedule and I would have a “moment of clarity” and realize how awesome the whole experience was. We were all out here making a movie, and I was fulfilling my dream. I can’t think of anything much cooler than that.
HoTS: Any scenes that didn’t make the final cut? If so, I’d love to hear about them.
DR: I don’t think any full scenes got axed actually. For the most part. the cuts came “within the scenes”… usually because I wrote too much dialogue that needed to be trimmed back or “tightened”.
HoTS: Do you plan on hitting any of the conventions this year and if so feel free to plug them?
DR: I don’t have any plans for a “horror convention tour”! That may change… I was thinking of going to Monsterpalooza in April and try to hand out some postcards… maybe bring some 4/20 MASSACRE DVDs along with me.
HoTS: Can you at all hint or talk about a follow up to 4/20? Also, what are you working on at the moment?
DR: I have ideas for a 4/20 MASSACRE Part 2. I have a general plan to do a different slasher sub-genre with each installment. Part 1 was a “backwoods slasher”, and with Part 2, I wanted to make a Gialloesque “slasher mystery”. Hopefully, this film will do okay and I can make some money back and “flip it” to make another one… we’ll see.
And that’s the word on 4/20 MASSACRE from writer/director Dylan Reynolds. Don’t forget to check out my review, and stay tuned for the final part of my 4/20 MASSACRE article triolgy.



Posted by Mike Vaughn

Michael Vaughn is a cult film historian and has been featured in magazines such as Scream (UK) and Fangoria as well as websites like Films in Review –Currently he has a book coming out entitled The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema. Instagram castle_anger https://www.amazon.com/Ultimate-Guide-Strange-Cinema/dp/0764354280

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