Confucius once remarked that those on a journey for revenge would need two graves: one for themselves and their intended target. After seeing Gary Ivey Turner’s short film A Devil in God’s Country, premiering Saturday night at the Atlanta Horror Film Festival, you might wonder if Confucius created that quote after his own run-in with a pair of circus freaks.
The film introduces as to brothers Francisco and Miguel, who are out for blood against Skinny Bill, the man who killed their brother. The hunt leads them unsuspectingly to a freak show carnival where they must fight for their lives against a psychopathic evil clown and a bearded lady.
Ivey sat down with BeatsBoxingMayhem to discuss how he made this outlandish gumbo of humor and violence work.
BeatsBoxingMayhem: We’ve seen evil clowns before, but an evil clown and a bearded lady is quite the killer combination. How did you come up with these two antagonists?
Gary Turner Ivey: I just thought about the characters of Francisco and Miguel being outsiders so I wanted their adversaries to be even bigger outsiders so it could match them in. So naturally, I went to circus freaks. So with circus freaks, you have to do a clown, and I just got tired of seeing bearded women as old crusty ladies so I thought it would be a neat spin to have a young, made up bearded lady.
I haven’t seen the film yet, but from the description, Francisco and Miguel seem like two guys who can handle themselves and won’t scare easy. Did this present challenges in terms of creating scenarios where terrorizing these characters came off as believable?
Francisco and Miguel are two guys who can handle quite a lot physically, but I think the way to getting them to their lowest point was to really put them at odds with each other as brothers. As such, they can’t really work as a team as they delve deeper and deeper into the wilderness.
Considering our adversaries, I’m sure this film will have a lot of dark comedy elements. And we don’t often see horror elements combined with westerns, either. Once you got deep into the writing and filming, did you find combining these elements easier or harder to pull off than expected?
Well, I had done the western/horror/comedy before in one of my previous films A Fistful of Fangs. So I knew where I was going with it, I think the key is to make it a western at its core with one element of horror and let all the comedy come where it feels natural. I think it’s a lot easier to shock or scare people when the film starts out as a western and slowly the elements of horror come into play. The film has a lot of outlandish violence and unusual scenarios that come out of that, that end up being slightly humorous.
Metal fans will catch the title immediately from the Lamb of God song which speaks of merciless vengeance with a dash of Southern Hospitality. Any additional symbolism you can disclose without spoiling the plot?
Yeah, the main theme of the film was all about revenge, so as a fan of the band the title popped into my head immediately. And then I started thinking about the devil as a metaphor for revenge and the south being God’s country, it just all clicked so I lifted the title.
What’s next for you after this film’s run?
I’m working on a new script right now, I hope to start shooting by the end of the year and get it out in 2020.
A Devil in God’s Country screens Saturday, September 14 during the 7:45 p.m. Shorts #7 Block (“Devil Inside”). Tickets are available at http://www.atlantahorrorfilmfest.com/tickets.html
Follow Gary Ivey Turner’s work at GTI Film!