Filmmaker, film producer and martial arts expert, Paul Logan, can now add writer to his impressive list of credits. His new film, The Horde opens this weekend.
“I can tell you ten ways to sink a battle ship, but I can’t ask one single question…”
So laments the film’s hero, and retired Navy Seal, John Crenshaw when we meet him. He is facing one of his most difficult tasks: adjusting to civilian life. A marriage proposal has him beside himself. No matter how he tries, what opening line he chooses, even running them past his best friend (played by Batz, Logan’s dog, in of the film’s quirkiest scenes) the words just fall out in a confused jumble.
Then things get really bad: his fiancée reminds him that he has promised to co-chaperone a weekend camping trip with her high school photography class. Yeah, nothin’ can go wrong there, right?
Aside from a minor kerfuffle with a couple of local hooligans encountered in a greasy spoon along the way to their remote location, the outing starts out fine enough. The class enjoys an idyllic hike in the forest where they photograph the wildlife. “Remember,” Selina reminds her students before she sends them out on their photographic safaris, “There is beauty in everything.”
Things suddenly take a very dark turn when they run afoul of the locals who live on the mountain.
“Think of it as The Hills have Eyes meets Die Hard,” Logan says of his film.
As a youth in New Jersey, Logan loved the low-budget gore fests of the early 1980’s as well as the big budget action films with Van Damme, Willis and Ah-nold.
However, a few things bugged him. “They always followed the same plot. Always with characters thrown out in isolation, and one by one, they’re picked off, until only one – maybe two – survived.” What bothered him was that rarely did we see the characters fight back. “I wanted to see what would happen if you had a John McClane (hero of Die Hard) in the mix.”
Logan’s hero, Crenshaw, does pretty well for himself, and metes out some pretty fierce asskickery. But he’s got his work cut out for him. We’ve also got a deep-woods meth lab run by some escaped convicts and it’s all orchestrated by the evil head convict, Cylus Atkinson, played to a scenery-chewing turn by the phenomenal Costas Mandylor.
Cylus is a real bad dude, a total A-number one first class douchebag, the kind of A-number one first class douchebag who would join forces with the local cannibalistic humanoid mutants and use them as his own private army of enforcers, and if that’s not bad enough, Cylus has taken a shine to Crenshaw’s girl.
The films most chilling scene takes place when one of the teenagers in the photography group, meets his end at the hands of a particularly seedy character named Earl played by veteran Australian character actor, Vernon Wells. Trust me, you know Vernon Wells, he’s been in everything, including Mad Max and Weird Science, and has the kind of face that makes you say, “Yes! I know that guy… I saw him in…”
Not only is Earl a bad dude, he’s a gourmand of what is commonly referred to as “long pork” and he’s got a play room/kill floor where he and his creepy little mutant daughter can indulge their decidedly Atkins friendly diet.
”I can tell you,” he says to the squirming, soon-to-be-liver-pate high school student he has strapped to his carving table, “fear makes meat sweet…” Unlike most hunters, who want one solid kill shot to take down their prey, lest too much adrenaline sour the meat, Earl likes to torture his victims as he carves them up. He likes tasting his sadistic handiwork, and he makes one mean tongue sandwich, too. He also has a taste for twelve-year-old girls, but not if they’re too muscular.
It’s also one of Logan’s favorite scenes because it’s just so over the top and full of dark humor. “When I was casting the film, I contacted all of my buddies like Costas and Mosely, and I had ideas for who they’d be even as early as when I wrote it. Although, I didn’t really know which character I wanted Vernon to play. I sent him the script and he called me back in hour saying, “I want to play Earl.”
It was perfect casting, but it posed a small logistics challenge for Logan.
”Originally,” he explains, “the entire scene played very differently. Earl was a mute, and he just went about torturing this poor guy in complete silence. Of course, the guy being worked on was freaking out. Now that Vernon was in the mix, I felt that approach to the scene wasn’t going to work. Vernon’s personality, his screen presence, pretty much needed something different. I rewrote the entire scene just for him.”
When asked what he’s most proud of about the film, Logan is thoughtful. A hero, he says, is only as good as his quest. And Logan’s hero, Crenshaw, harkens back to a time when action film heroes were valiant and noble. Crenshaw is no sarcastic, ironic hipster with his man-bun and skinny jeans. Instead, he’s a steady, reliable everyman, albeit an everyman who can bring the thunder when the love of his life is threatened by unspeakable evil.
More projects are on the way from Logan – he’s not one to rest on his laurels. Two more films are ready to be green-lit, and they promise to be as action packed and full of quirky humor and heart as The Horde. Watch this guy, he’s going places.
The Horde (starring Paul Logan, Batz the Pug, Costas Mandylor, Bill Moseley, Vernon Wells, Nestor Serrano, Matt Willig, Tiffany Brouwer, Sydney Sweeney, and John Omuhundro) premiers on VOD in the US and Canada on May 6, 2016 and will be available on iTunes, Vudu, Google Play, YouTube, AmazonVideo, Microsoft, Playstation Network.