Allen Wilbanks: Manning the Wheel with Motor Home Massacre's Bloody Auteur by Brian Kirst

I totally loved 'Motor Home Massacre'. I thought it was a fun, bloody throwback to the 80's slasher films and I had a blast watching it. I had almost as much fun interviewing 'MHM's talented writer and director Allen Wilbanks. Wilbanks provides entertaining background information on the making of 'MHM' and clues us into his latest project the awesome sounding 'Evil Keg' ( ). So, to get the full on gory 411, I suggest you buckle up and read on, below.

  Brian: You obviously seem to be very inspired by the slasher films, but is there some wacky genre of movies that no one would imagine influenced you that has? - Blake Edwards' comedies? John Cassavettes' flicks? - Doris Day Musicals?

Allen: Wow! How did you guess? Seriously, I like all the above. I can remember watching Doris Day as a kid and thinking, "She's Hot!" In one of my short films (which was never released) I used a couple of Doris Day tunes for the soundtrack. She was always so fun loving and even if she was in the biggest mess always had a smile on her face. Who doesn't want to be with a girl like that? - Blake Edwards' writing is classic. His 'Pink Panther' movies are fantastic; I love his vaudeville approach to Inspector Clouseau's character. Clouseau was always serious but the audience is skillfully let in on this poor guy's shortcomings. He's a master. - I think that every movie I've ever seen has inspired me in some way. When I see a fantastic movie like 'Forest Gump' I say "Wow! That was a completely amazing experience. Why did I like that so much?" Then I may see a movie that's not so great and say "Hmm... why didn't I like that? What could have made it better?" I'm not sure if every filmmaker does this but that's the way I use movies, like a research tool you know.

Brian: Now, speaking of the slasher flicks - which ones rock your boat right out of the water - 'Prom Night' , the 'Friday the 13th' series or some more obscure ones like Trish Everly in 'Madhouse' or Barbara Bach's 'The Unseen'. Fill us in, man!

Allen: That's easy - 'Scream'. Wes Craven did an amazing job walking the tightrope between comedy and true horror. The characters are so cleverly written and then directed by Craven. Today's audiences know all the tricks of the trade so instead of patronizing them Craven uses the cynicism to scare the pants off you. - Brilliant movie in my opinion.

Brian: What inspired 'Motor Home Massacre'? Did the title come to you first? Was a bad break-up part of the mix?

Allen: There's a lot of stuff that inspired MHM mainly the fact that I had just bought this vintage motor home. I had foolishly thought my live in girlfriend and I would have some fun in it together traveling around and going camping together. Another couple friend of ours had the exact same year and model and the idea was that we would all go on vacation together. Well, as it turned out once I bought the damn thing the girl decided she wanted a wedding ring instead of a cool 1975 Airstream motor home. She subsequently left and there I was. I now had a 30-year-old motor home, no girl and plenty of time on my hands. Several years earlier I had made three short films which my friends and family really liked. I was always interested in movies and as I wallowed in my situation it came to me. I'll fulfill my dreams and turn this very crappy time in my life into something incredibly positive. That's when I decided to write the screenplay for 'Motor Home Massacre'. - I included a lot of relationship stuff in the movie because it was on my mind at the time. I pulled from not only that relationship but from many others that I had had along the way. It was very cathartic to be able to turn such a bad experience into an extremely positive one. The cast and crew of MHM helped me bring to light many low points in my life and make them funny. For this I will always be grateful.

Brian: Was it an uphill battle to get financing for the project and then to get people involved (who were obviously going to be working for very little, monetary-wise)?

Allen: Luckily I had some extra cash on hand so I took the big leap of faith myself. I own an Internet company, which allowed me the flexibility to make MHM. With that said, I think filmmakers get a little too wrapped up in raising money for their projects. The main thing is to write a script around stuff that you have or can get very easily. If you can do that and it's entertaining then you can't lose. Filmmaking is not about spending millions of dollars it's about shooting interesting stories that will entertain your particular audience. So I kept it simple with MHM. I had the motor home and access to the woods. The hardest part was convincing people to be in the film. There was a lot of acting on my part before the camera ever started rolling. I had to believe in MHM. I knew it was a good script and I knew it would be successful. So I just told everybody else what I had told myself, that we were making a movie. Who doesn't want to make a cool movie?

Brian: The atmosphere on the set for 'Motor Home Massacre' seemed amazing - like everyone came together and had a blast. Did you find that everyone really did come together and had a great attitude throughout?

Allen: The cast and crew were AWESOME!!! It was a true labor of love. The cast was hysterical. The stuff they would do behind the scenes was funnier than what I wrote for the movie. Most of the time they stayed in character and our behind the scenes camera caught a lot of that silliness which we included in the DVD extras. There was one time that I can remember where Roger (Nelson Bonilla) and Benji (Justin Geer) went off about setting Benji up with a girl. Poor Benji's not too good with the ladies so good ol' Roger sets him up with Siamese twins which are joined at the vagina. Roger said that it was "... awesome, they have like double orgasms and sh*t.... " How funny is that?

Brian: You seem to have an affinity with the performers in MHM - RAWKED! Do you come from a performing background yourself?

Allen: The actors in MHM did RAWK!!! I loved all of their performances. Shan Holleman, the lead, is a very talented actress as is Nelson Bonilla, Justin Geer, Tanya Fraser and the rest of the cast. We all live in the Atlanta area, which has a wealth of talented actors and actresses to choose from. It was hard making a decision on who to include in MHM but I think I made the best choices. - I personally don't have any talent when it comes to acting. However, I did take an acting class before I shot MHM. I thought it was important to know how it felt to be on the other end of that big camera. If I'm going to ask anyone else to do something I want to have at least some knowledge of how they might feel. I would never put my actors in harms way or ask them to do something that I myself was not willing to do.

Brian: (Okay, folks! This is a SPOILER Question! Watch out!) Allen, I loved how you tied up the ending of 'MHM' with the running bad boyfriend gag and how there seemed to be no pretense - that you were just make a fun, bloody, good ole slasher film. Was that your intent - or do you hate me now - cause I missed your whole point?

Allen: Well, you're kind of giving a little of the movie away bro but hopefully you'll be able to put a "SPOILER" note on this one question. (Ed. Note: Duly noted. - Done Above!) You are totally right! It was the end of a long journey for Sabrina and I felt she needed closure to the relationship. Who hasn't wanted to run over there ex in effigy? Shan pulled it off in spades with the grin and the silly love story music as she runs over him.

Brian: How hard was it to negotiate the deal with Lionsgate who released the DVD of 'Motor Home Massacre'?

Allen: I lot of people ask me this question and the answer is not hard. They called me and wanted to release the film. So after a few negotiations we were able to sign the deal. I'm very happy that Lionsgate is our distributor for MHM.

Brian: Lastly, any future projects you'd like to let us know about or words of wisdom (IE: Don't shoot your film in the dead of night in the freezing woods!) that you'd like to leave us with? And thanks, man! It's been a blast!

Allen: We will be releasing our new movie 'Evil Keg' ( ) in the very near future. It's about a psychotic Evil Beer Mistress who unleashes "bad beer" on an unsuspecting town turning the townspeople into flesh eating freaks. It's up to Marcus Colby the owner of the brewery to stop her, save the town and fall in love. We have a sneak preview in Atlanta on June 14th (2007) at The Plaza Theater. MHM sold out the place twice and we are expecting the same for Evil Keg.

Brian: Cool! I can't wait to see it! And thanks again, Allen!