Well-known in the extreme cinema community, Brian Paulin is a writer/director/editor/actor/key make-up effects artist for the film production company Morbid Visions in addition to playing guitar, drums, and singing for the black metal band Syoth. Specialising in incredibly gory splatter films, Brian is the mastermind behind such works as At Dawn They Sleep (2000), Bone Sickness (2004), Blood Pigs (2010), and the blood-splattered rollercoaster ride, Fetus (2008).

We were lucky enough to get the opportunity to chat with Brian about his work in extreme cinema, the formation of Morbid Visions, and his upcoming work.

Why did you decide to convene your film production company, Morbid Visions?

Back in 1990 my friend Rich George and I were obsessed with horror films. We were constantly searching for gore films we read about in magazines. It got to the point where watching was no longer enough. I had to take part somehow. I had already been learning how to do special makeup effects for 3 years and I figured making short movies would be the perfect reason to create more effects. It gave me a purpose.

How did you learn to make films?

I simply picked up a camera and started practicing. We borrowed a video camera from Rich’s cousin and went out in the woods and I would film Rich doing stunts. He would hurl himself into dead trees and take them down doing an action scene style fall. We would also reenact scenes from The Evil Dead. I would practice how to use the camera to create interesting shots and learn what type of shots were needed to tell a visual story. As far as editing back then, I was practicing by setting up two vcrs and putting together custom trailers of my favorite movies. Then I decided a short film about ten minutes long would be the best idea for our first attempt. That’s when we made Sacrificial Birth in August of 1990.

Brian Paulin in At Dawn They Sleep (2000)

Any favorite horror film directors?

John Carpenter and George Romero are my favorite directors. Romero’s work with Tom Savini is what inspired me the most to want to make movies.

Tell us about making one of your classic horror movies At Dawn They Sleep (2000). What was the production like?

At Dawn They Sleep was the first time a distributor asked me to make a movie for them. The company had picked up our action movie Soon to be Dead then told me if I could incorporate that style action into a vampire movie, that’s something they would want to release. I accepted the challenge right away. It was a chance to prove ourselves. Someone finally believed in our work. Aside from that, it was still made the same way we had been making movies. They did not give us a budget so it still took over a year to shoot. But we still tried to make the movie as ambitious as possible.

Do you write your own screenplays? Do you ever improvise when shooting?

I’ve written every story that I have directed. I always have multiple stories in my head. At Dawn They Sleep is actually the last full script that I wrote though. I was half way through writing Bone Sickness then started feeling like I was wasting time and said to Rich, let’s just start shooting and I’ll finish the story as we film. That’s how I write all my stories now. I write the outline and once I know where the story is going, we start filming. With each movie I wrote a full script for, the ending was changed anyways. So many times what sounds great on paper doesn’t work as well as you thought it would once you are on set. All my movies evolve naturally now as we film. Since we don’t have financiers we have the freedom to do that.

Brian Paulin and Nette Detroy in Fetus (2008)

Do you go to horror conventions?

We get vendor booths at local conventions near us. The main one we do now is Monstahxpo in Fairhaven MA. Unfortunately, we can not afford to travel and stay at hotels. I would love to do ones all over the country but it’s just not financially possible. I prefer to have a table at a convention rather than just go to one.

What is your favorite gore film?

The Evil Dead (1981) That’s by far by biggest inspiration. Another one for all out nastiness is the Guinea Pig film Mermaid in a Manhole (1988).

Brian behind the scenes on the set of Blood Pigs (2010)

Tell us about making Your most recent film?

Abysmal Purgatory started off as an extended version of the short film I made called Water for Marcus Koch’s anthology Symbolicus 2. But as the story expanded I decided not to use any footage from the short film and create a whole new story. 

It’s about a man trying to figure out who attacked and murdered his wife while she was driving with their daughter, who survived, but is now traumatized. But also fueled with extreme rage. The movie delves into the dark arts, astral projection, inter dimensional entities, parallel dimensions, Lovecraftian creatures and extremely graphic gore.

What attracted you to horror movies?

Since I was very young I was fascinated by Halloween and anything related to ghosts and the paranormal. Anything that related to the concept of fear of the unknown. I noticed that I was attracted to eerie atmosphere.  Scenes of fog rolling through a graveyard at night. Or the tension that would build as a character becomes afraid to go to a certain location. It’s the fear that those things create that attracted me. I love gore and have become know for it. But it’s actually eerie atmosphere that makes me love horror. 

This interview was provided to Grimoire of Horror by John Wisniewski

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