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Monday, December 22, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 35.0° F  Overcast with Haze
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There will be blood: Massacre (The Musical) drinks your milkshake
Horror-comedy slashes into hearts around Madison
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With such a small budget, everyone was working for free, often putting in long, overnight hours not only to get it done, but to make it as entertaining as possible.
Credit:Will Gartside

The body count will be high, guts will be spilled, and songs will be sung. If you haven't already heard the news, consider yourself warned: Massacre (The Musical) is coming, and it aims to blow, or maybe just sing, all other horror musical comedies out of the water. At least, that's my opinion. Admittedly, I might be a little biased, as I had a hand in helping to create the movie.

Directed and adapted for the screen by Will Gartside, with the original story coming from Madison playwrights Rob Matsushita and Morey Burnard, Massacre is an ambitious, campy and very bloody project, filmed last summer. The original release date was to be around Halloween, but as it is with many creative endeavors, things took a little longer to finish than initially anticipated.

In addition to writing the original play on which the movie is based, Matsushita also had the daunting task of editing the film… alone. Now that it's finally done, he took some time to talk with me about the editing process.

"It's really easy to lose your perspective," he says. "Especially when you do it in all-nighters like I've been pulling, or going in on my days off and editing for five to six hours, sometimes more."

The editing can often make or break a film. "When you edit," Matsushita notes, "it's not just putting the thing together based on the best takes. A bad editor can kill a well-acted, well-directed movie. Admittedly, there's a lot of 'flashy' editing in this -- cuts that draw attention to themselves -- but there's just as much 'invisible' editing, too.'

There was a timeline to contend with, too, as Gartside wanted to submit the movie for consideration in the Wisconsin Film Festival, which had a deadline of Dec. 31. Matsushita says they finished just in the knick of time and are anxiously awaiting word on whether or not it will be accepted. They also plan to submit it to a number of other small festivals around the country, and have already drummed up interest with movie buffs and some industry types in various states.

While everyone involved with the movie is excited to see it premiered and hopefully run the festival circuit, they're also trying to stay realistic about its future.

"As far as where we hope or think this'll go, well, we've all got our fantasies," says Matsushita. "I keep telling Kelly Kiorpes (who plays the lead role of Discordia) that someday she's totally going to be sitting at one of those tables at a Fangoria convention right between Debbie Rochon and Adrienne Barbeau. Obviously, we want this to have a cult following, and we want it to get accepted and noticed at the festivals and stuff. But there aren't any guarantees, here, and we're all staying realistic. At the end of the day, it's a low-budget horror movie, and those fade into obscurity all the time."

In Madison, at least, it is hard to avoid hearing about Massacre, as, in addition to the big premiere, it's also enjoying attention from various publications around town this week. Gartside also has written a series of pieces (No guts, no glory, Recipe for a gory good time, and Killing babies with Rob Matsushita) about the making of the film.

Gartside mentions the large amount of hustle that goes into promoting a small, super independent film, noting that it's important to try for every opportunity that comes along. He has already sent letters of inquiry to Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton and others involved in the Film Wisconsin initiative, in the hopes of securing one of the much touted screening runs with Marcus Theatres.

In the end, though, everyone involved with the production (myself included) seems happy enough to have participated in and finished the thing. Matsushita recently left a gleeful proclamation on his website that he'd finished the final cut of the movie just as he'd "run out of money, gasoline and coffee. I'm totally like the Bluesmobile right now."

That's been the spirit of the thing all along. With such a small budget, everyone was working for free, often putting in long, overnight hours not only to get it done, but to make it as entertaining as possible. This is definitely what you would call a labor of love.

This low-budget flick is singing and slashing its way to its world premiere at the High Noon Saloon on Sunday, Jan. 27 at 8 p.m., followed by live music from the acoustic rockers Aporia (that's my band!). Most of the cast and crew will also be in attendance. Tickets are $5 at the door, with a portion of the proceeds being donated to Second Harvest, so, as we proclaim, "you can feel good about getting dirty with us."

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