Richard Stanley is a unique, visionary filmmaker whose work, like mnay of his talent, has unfortunately had an often painful road to the screen. Fearless, intelligent, well-read and provocative, his films, whether they be features or documentaries, are never less than challenging and mind-expanding. Stanley, following some well-received music promos, had a successful debut with the claustrophobic, effective sci-fi horror HARDWARE (1990). True to form, he used hs sudden clout to get his dream project, DUST DEVIL (1993), financed. It's one of the most memorable, startling and imaginative cult movies of its decade.  I spoke to Richard about the making of the movie.  

How did you get the idea for DUST DEVIL?

Well, DUST DEVIL was pretty much the first idea I ever had for a feature film. I was living in South Africa at the time, and I was just trying to think what would be the simplest and most economically viable film we could shoot. The notion of having two characters, one of them a woman driving a car, and the other a crazy hitchhiker, was the simplest thing I could think of. We had an interesting landscape, and we had to figure out how to make use of what was close at hand. Obviously over the years it got a great deal more complex! I should also say that Ray Bradbury had an influence too. He recently passed away and I was very sorry to hear it. There's an awful lot of 'Something Wicked This Way Comes' (1962) and a short story called 'The Town Where No-one Got Off' (1958) which are floating around in DUST DEVIL's psyche. I sometimes think it's the sellar of lightning rods with the storm clouds following just behind him which might have been one of the first manifestations of the idea. There is also a bit of NIGHT OF THE HUNTER (1955) in there too, with the scary preacher. 

How much of your childhood is in the film?

Fair amounts of it, in shreds and tatters. I picked up bits of the stories from my mother, who was an anthropologist, and wove them into the screenplay. The first accounts of the Nightwalker and the Vanishing Hitch-hiker were taken from my mother's book, 'Myths and Legends of Southern Africa'. She was working purely in Africa and she wasn't aware that the mythology was actually mirroring stories that are frequently reported in Australia and the US. I didn't become aware of it until only a few years later when I read a book by an American Mormon folklorist named Jan Harold Brunvand. It was entitled 'The Vanishing Hitchhiker' (1981), and compiled different accounts of people picking up hitch-hikers who had disappeared out of their passenger seats. I then came to learn that such things happen worldwide and tend to happen in flat countries where the landscape is dry and monotonous. I like to think that it's because people start to fall asleep at the wheel and slip into a state between dreaming and being awake, which is when demons or ghosts can actually reach you. The most direct translation of my childhood that you can see in the movie is the scene with the school shooting team, which recreates the team I was on as a kid, right down to the Marist monk in charge. In reality we had a straight-up Marist monk named Brother Michael who was teaching us how to fire guns. I found out later that the actor playing the Marist monk arcanely had a record for child molestation.

You first made DUST DEVIL as a short film. Can you talk about it?

It was my first attempt at a 16mm movie, but I had made Super 8's before. I was fifteen years old at the time. Too young! It was going to be about forty-five minutes long, but we never succeeded in completing it. We basically ran out of funds. The rushes still exist, although we lost some of them in a fire. (My short film 'Season of Soft Rain' was totally destroyed at the same time.) We managed to cut a short trailer out of the surviving rushes. During the making of the film, the cast members went a little psychotic on us. Being out in the desert was just too much for the lead actor. He got too far into character and had a tough time getting out of it again. Russell Copley was the actor playing the Dust Devil at that point in time. He was the lead singer in a local band called Youthanasia. He  recovered sufficiently to return on the feature film version, where he plays one of the psycho cops. 

How different is the feature film version to your original conception and the short film?
Some of it is extremely close and a direct translation, and in some cases we simply reproduced the same set-ups. We opened it out a bit obviously by including the character of Ben the cop who is chasing the Dust Devil, and also brought in some subplots to bring it up to feature length. 

Did the passage of time between the two versions make you look at the material in a different way?

Well, I had grown up a bit of course. We had tried to get the film made in South Africa but no-one would give us a dime to shoot it there. I had to get myself a career in the UK, and then come back to it after HARDWARE (1990). The difference is that in the meantime THE HITCHER (1986) had been released. It forced us to change the focus of the film slightly because it made us realise we could no longer make a straightforward psychopathic hitchhiker movie. I removed a lot of the hitchhiking elements from the script and de-emphasised the killings. In the finished film he's scarcely a serial killer at all. He only kills one person in the movie. 

Why did you choose to make the film in Namibia?

Apart from it being an extraordinarily beautiful place, it is a very weird part of the world. I think it's got the lowest population density on the planet. It's very quiet and inhospitable to human life. There's virtually no water. It's like shooting on the face of Mars. I like being in landscapes where humans have no sane reason to be there. There is virtually no genuine indigenous population. The bush men who are there are only there because they were chased out of the rest of South Africa and fled into areas where no-one would follow them. 

Had you been to Namibia before?

I had been to Namibia repeatedly as a child. My mother was an anthropologist and my father was a writer of travel guides. He came up with the first listings guide for hotels and caravan parks in Africa so I spent most of my childhood in the passenger seat of the car, noting the mileage while we drove from one town to another giving star ratings to different caravan parks and hotels. I think the first time I went through there was when I was about four years old, so I was used to being in this ghostly part of the world where anything could happen. It's filled with strange stories and has had a lot of bad luck. Terrible things seem to happen to people in Namibia. I remember a guy from the diamond company keeping an eye on us when we there to make sure we didn"t pick up any diamonds. He explained to us that “a guy could wake up stone cold dead out here and no-one would ever know why. It happens!” It had that sort of vibe about it. It's a place where there were random murders and major car accidents and where people tended to go a little funny.

Did the decision to film in Namibia affect the script at all? 

Not particularly, but we did focus on a couple of real places that still exist. One could pretty much drive the same route now. We didn"t really fictionalise it. There was a real serial killer whom we roughly based the film on. He operated in the Bethany area during the time of the elections when Namibia became independent. He was never actually caught but he was known locally as Nadiep. I don't know what that means. There's actually another movie about the case. A guy called David Wicht made a film called WINDPRINTS (1990) with John Hurt and Sean Bean. It's not terribly good. It takes a very different approach to DUST DEVIL. It explains that it was a political conspiracy by the police to devalue the land and put the fear into people. The film fails to really come up with a serial killer, and the choice of locations are a bit strange. It makes Namibia look greener than any other movie I've seen – a stark contrast to the landscape presented in DUST DEVIL where trees and water have been almost completely banished.

Were you influenced by Spaghetti Westerns when you were making the film?

Yeah, hugely. Spaghetti Westerns were one of the staple genres that played in the Sub-continent when I was growing up. For some reason the Eastwood/ Leone and Terence Hill/ Bud Spencer Westerns were terribly popular in Africa. There was a tendency in the apartheid years for the drive-in circuit to pick up low-rent European exploitation product rather than regular American mainstream movies so fare like Dario Argento's THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE (1970) or the old Hammer movies like THE LEGEND OF THE SEVEN GOLDEN VAMPIRES (1974) or weird Antonio Margheriti movies like COMMANDO LEOPARD (1985) or KILLER FISH (1977) floated around the drive-in circuit over there. 

Was the work of Donald Cammell an influence on the film? 

Funnily enough, I didn't know Donald's work until many years later when I came to Britain, thanks to the vagaries of international film distribution. It was pretty much around the time that he killed himself that I started paying attention. Then I realised that DEMON SEED (1977) ran a parallel to HARDWARE, and that WHITE OF THE EYE (1987) ran a parallel to DUST DEVIL. Donald had spent years trying to develop a project with Marlon Brando called 'Jericho', and this also runs a parallel to my experiences with THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU (1996). The only difference between us essentially is that Donald succeeded in making PERFORMANCE (1970), which is a genuine masterpiece. And of course he is dead and I am still alive, which kind of evens it out a little! 

How about Andrei Tarkovsky?

He influenced the film to a huge extent. Tarkovsky's MIRROR(1975) remains my favourite film of all time. He was the closest we've ever had to a Da Vinci or Michelangelo working in the film industry. I like the sense that his films are really inspired and that they are going after something spiritual or ephemeral, which is beyond the reach of most of the British and American movies. I had seen STALKER (1978) when I was very young, and loved it. 

Was the scene in DUST DEVIL where Chelsea Field's husband is beaten up in a bar inspired by a similar scene in THE NINTH CONFIGURATION (1980)?

It may run a strong parallel. I love THE NINTH CONFIGURATION, and I like the fact that the two thugs beating up the astronaut are named Richard and Stanley! It always puts a smile on my face every time I see it! The fact of the matter is that Rufus Swart, who played the husband, really antagonised the big, bald stunt guy. They had a colossal argument in the car coming from the airport to the location. Basically, the black cast members really hated him. The scene was pretty much pulled together to take advantage of the tensions that already existed in the unit. One blow actually connected, which was the shot where he gets kicked in the face. In the rushes, he gets struck, collapses to the floot, gradually woozily turns and looks at the camera and says "Why are you still rolling? What is this, a fucking snuff movie?". There were a few tensions, and most of the dialogue in the scene was taken from the guy playing the second of the two psycho cops, who was sitting in the back seat when Rufus had his row with the stunt guy. I actually wrote down most of what they said, and I was able to recycle it into the script. 

Was the shoot in any way enjoyable?

Shooting is always enjoyable, but this one was extremely difficult and turbulent. Mostly it was the clash of the personalities involved, but taking a First World film crew and sticking them in the middle of the desert is always going to present problems. I found that the British and American component of the crew had a much harder time fitting in than the South African and Australian personnel. They were basically afraid of the location. There was a tendency of the British and the Americans to run back to the nearest town at the end of the day and barricade their doors whereas the South Africans and the Australians would generally make a camp fire and sit outside and have a pretty good time of it. 

Were there any disasters or freak occurences that occured during filming?

Yeah. Lots of creepy little things went wrong. The edge numbering machine stopped and accidentally numbered the first week's rushes 666 again and again. The editing crew were too superstitious to mention it at first. The second-unit crew that was out in the desert in a truck shooting time-lapse claimed to have had a UFO encounter but nobody believed them, mostly because the Norris motor on their time-lapse camera broke down and they didn't actually produce any evidence. The engine in their truck got weird and kept turning itself on and off. We all thought they were out to lunch and that nothing had happened.

One of the second-unit cameramen was John Gaeta, who became famous for creating the bullet-time special effect for THE MATRIX (1999). So maybe he really did have a UFO encounter! 

Chris Cunningham, who later became a promo video director, also worked on the film. He was in the back seat of the car when we were attacked by locals. On one particular rest day we drove out to a Khoisan sacred site to spend the night on a beautiful rock formation named Spitzkop – literally 'spike head' in German. There was a full moon, and we got ourselves into a situation. A group of local psychos were waiting to catch anyone who was stupid to come down the road heading towards the tourist attraction. A beaten-up car appeared behind us and tried to ram us off the road. It managed to screech in front of us and cut us off. A whole bunch of people piled out and basically attacked the car. I remember Chris sitting in the back seat chanting "Nightmare!"in a soft sing-song voice. Fortunately, we were saved by our car stereo. It was an old-fashioned tape player that took forever to turn to the other side. As we were hitting the locks, the B-side suddenly started playing and the speakers blared out 'Suzie Q' by Credence Clearwater Revival. This jolted the driver, my assistant Mike Jay, who was previously frozen with fear, to floor the accelerator and drive through them! They all screamed and jumped back into their car and followed after us in a high-speed pursuit down the switchback road. It seemed more amusing than it was because of the rock 'n' roll playing! If they had succeeded in running us off, I don't know what would have happened. They probably would have killed us or tortured us.

Have you had any similar experiences on other movie shoots?

DUST DEVIL is a Devil movie so it is to be expected! Also, it was an inhospitable part of the world. DR. MOREAU of course takes the biscuit, but that is a long story! 

How was DUST DEVIL financed?
Miramax were involved from the top. Palace had some kind of co-production deal with them in those days, and they had made some money out of HARDWARE so they jumped onto DUST DEVIL in the mistaken illusion that they were getting a serial killer movie. They wanted something closer to THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991), which they weren't going to get. Fortunately for the movie it was a patchwork of different financial sources. Channel 4 Television had some money in it as well, and so did the Berliner Bank of all people. This worked out well for us because when Palace went under, the only way I was able to get the movie released was by going to David Aukin at Channel 4 and telling them that a clause in their their investment meant I could act on their behalf and make a cut of the film and deliver a master print. Thanks to working with them and the Berliner Bank I was able to act with some authority once Palace had ceased to exist. This eventually enabled me to get the negative and the cutting copy and put the film together. If the film had been solely owned by Palace and Miramax, I doubt that the movie would have ever been released. 

How aware were you of Palace Pictures falling apart back in the UK?

 It was very unfortunate. That was something that we didn't realise until 3/4 of the way through the shoot. Palace kept their cards close to their chest. We only started to realise because things we needed just weren't turning up and equipment like our Steadicam would suddenly go missing and we would never be able to figure it out. Gradually the crew was diminishing. There were about eight people on the crew by the time we were done. 

Were you getting a lot of pressure or notes from the two studios whilst filming?

A fair amount, but we were so far away and the political situation with the collapse of Palace in the UK was so dramatic that I don't think they were paying too much attention to us. We did have one man on the crew, Steve Ernhardt, who officially was Miramax's Executive In Charge of Production and was our Line Producer on location. The situation got extremely complicated for Steve. A situation arose where Miramax pushed hard to have an extra murder in the film. They rightly pointed out that the murderer couldn't be a serial killer if he only killed one person.I was resisting the idea that the Dust Devil just went after women, so I decided to have a scene where he would pick up a man and murder him, a little gay interlude halfway through the movie. This wasn't what Miramax had in mind! As we had no money to fly out another actor, we got Steve to play the victim. Most of that sequence has been omitted from the film - we very briefly see the guy in the bar but not the killing. The footage still exists, but when Miramax saw it they completely freaked out. We shot a beautiful set-up in a single take. It started with a tracking shot in on the victim with his back to us, and then the Dust Devil steps into the frame and takes him into his arms. They share a passionate kiss, with the setting sun right between their faces, and then the Dust Devil slices and dices him. Our protagonist stalking our Executive In Charge of Production and kissing him in close-up with the setting sun in such a romantic way caused Miramax's blood to boil! I left the scene out of the film because it never felt as if it needed it. It always felt like the sequence with the camper driver was tacked onto the rest of the movie. We kept the bit with the finding of the body. We had to make a lot of tough decisions. There were about three characters that hit the cutting room floor (the camper driver, the fate of the psycho cop and the motel clerk), . The film was simply running too long. 

What made you cast Robert Burke and Chelsea Field? What was it like to work with them?

Robert was the result of a very long search to find the right guy. We did talk to Nicolas Cage but I think the money wasn't right and we weren't really convinced by him. This was shortly after WILD AT HEART (1990) and it might have been a Dust Devil closer to Elvis than Clint Eastwood It was very tricky to find someone to fit into the Devil's boots!. There is a deadpan quality to Robert that was completely right for the role. Not to mention the spooky eyes! Hal Hartley's THE UNBELIEVABLE TRUTH (1989) was the film that brought him to our attention. Robert did an amazing job. 

Chelsea was more of a political issue. For some reason, Harvey and Bob Weinstein really wanted her on the movie and thought she had more star power than anyone we wanted to cast. She'd just been in a film called THE LAST BOY SCOUT (1991) with Bruce Willis. Originally I was very keen on a lady named Kerry Fox from AN ANGEL AT MY TABLE (1990). Chelsea fought against us a little bit because she could never quite play it as mean as the character was meant to be, go to some of the extreme places we wanted her to go or quite get the South African accent. 

Robert was very cool, a real sweetheart to work with, and I am absolutely staggered that his career didn't take off afterwards. Of all the American people on the crew, Robert adjusted to the environment the best. He would go off and sit in a tree or on a rock and play his flute in between takes! He has a very Zen approach which worked extremely well. 

The two South African actors, John Matshikiza and Zakes Mokae, really saved the day. Miramax didn't want them on board and would have preferred a fully American cast. There was much resistance to their casting. 

How did the studio feel about the level of sex and violence in the film?

I imagine they probably felt there wasn't enough violence. They were worried about there being too much sex. We were trapped inside an iron-bound nudity clause, particularly when it came to male nudity. Miramax really didn't want to go there. No penises allowed! It was pretty annoying. They forced us to put a pair of boxer shorts on Robert during the truck accident sequence, which we fought over quite hard. The entire sequence of the crashing truck and the Afrikaans family freaking out would have been funnier if Robert was actually naked. 

For you, how does the film function as a prequel to HARDWARE?

In many respects, DUST DEVIL feels like a pre-holocaust movie, rather than a post-holocaust movie. It's full of dire omens and bad things which are about to happen. There's a storm which is about to break, and there's children learning how to use guns, terrifying-looking war machines further up the road. The general sense is that these are events happening before something terrible takes place.

Have you written the third part in the trilogy?

During the period around HARDWARE and DUST DEVIL I wrote a script called 'Ground Zero'. It's not a very popular title post-9/ 11. It is a combined sequel to both movies, and is set 20 years after HARDWARE. There is a much older version of Stacey Travis's character, Jill, and John Lynch's character, Shades, is reprised. Shades is forced to retire from the space program because he has become a health risk. He has spent too much time in orbit and taken too many drugs. He returns to Earth to try and find some kind of life for himself. The Wandering Hitch-hiker, who is still trying to complete his Polaroid collection, is also part of the story. I don't think it will ever get made because it has major legal problems. We have had a hard time trying to figure out who owns the rights in order for the sequel to happen. It has come up several times that we could get it made if we severed all ties to the other two films, but it would be a shame to have to do that. That said, it could quite easily be changed. The Wandering Hitch-hiker doesn't have a name and is an easily recognisable figure, so presumably outside of copyright. The only thing that we would definitely have to change would be the M.A.R.K. 13 cyborg from HARDWARE. We would have to change the brand. It's a 110 page screenplay and it's out there on the Internet. I'm quite proud of it. The last 60 pages of it are amongst the most intense and hysterical I've ever written. 

How do you feel about DUST DEVIL now?

I like it a lot more now than when I first made it. Now that it's further back in time and I appreciate how difficult it is to make a movie with the film industry having become more corporate. You're not allowed to take as many chances now, particularly to go to such weird places narratively as we did on DUST DEVIL. It's got a very non-Hollywood  plot structure, and goes after a dream-like ambience which is a lot more surreal than anything they would let me get away with these days. 

Do you regard it as your best film?

It depends on which day you catch me on! They've all got their different strengths. HARDWARE plays much better to a younger audience, 12 or 13 year-olds, especially if the volume is turned up! DUST DEVIL is a kind of weird 'message in a bottle' from an extremely strange place and a country where very few films emerge from. I know that things like the events in the film are still going on out there. I've got a cover article in this month's issue of 'Fortean Times' of some very similar events that were going on in the Carou last year with a shape-shifting serial killer type of character terrorising the town. The mythology is still active out there. 

Why do you think the film is still being celebrated and is a cult film?
Well, it has a very unique flavour to it and is unlike anything else. It's a South African Devil movie. I don't think another one exists! It possibly says something that no other movie does. I put in a lot of things that I think were real issues in South Africa such as the gender warfare and the extremely bad relationships that exist between husbands and wives out there. There are quite a number of people who come home and shoot their families and dog and TV set. The extraordinarily high number of car accidents. South Africans drive really badly. White South Africans in particular have a suicidal tendency. I think that's because everyone is aware that the country is in trouble and have been brought up to believe there is no future. There's a kind of nihilism out there that DUST DEVIL tries to define. 

How happy were you with the theatrical version of the movie?

I'm pretty happy with it. It was the best we could do in the circumstances. We had problems in post-production. We couldn't afford to bring back cast members for ADR. We had to drop some sequences because of generator noise because we literally couldn't revoice the actors. We were able to get John Matshikiza into a sound studio in Johannesburg to record the voice-over narration and get the tapes sent over. I was literally directing him over the telephone. There was no money for special effects or opticals and we had to cut around scenes that demanded them. We lost all the licenced tracks too. There should have been a lot more music in the movie. The film is full of car radios and jukeboxes but we couldn't afford the music licencing. Any music we wanted in the movie we just had to harden our hearts and forget about . I still think there is a great album out there that pulls together all the songs about The Walking Man. You could have The Doors''Riders on the Storm' alongside Bob Dylan's 'The Man in the Long Black Coat' and Nick Cave's 'Red Right Hand' on the same album. 

Is the film equal parts fantasy and attempt to show people the reality of South Africa?

Yeah, I got so used to people constantly asking me what I thought about the country and what my view was on apartheid that it made sense to make a film that would pretty much encapsulate that. Also, thanks to the fact that we shot it on 35mm with dollies, cranes and helicopters and we're using a bunch of old-fashioned tools that people don't have access to anymore (everyone is shooting on videotape now and doing things digitally), the film has a very different look from modern movies. 

Did the film make its money back?
I don't know. Probably. The accounting is too Byzantine for anyone to follow it. It's often the case that movies don't make a profit in film distribution. George Romero never saw any money from NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968) and Tobe Hooper never saw a dime from THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974). Both films have been in continuous distribution since they came out. HARDWARE must have made money by now but none of us involved have ever seen any points off the film. The only movie that I have worked on that I have seen points off is THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU (1996), which is meant to have been a disaster! It's called 'creative accounting', especially when it comes to powers such as Miramax, MGM and Buena Vista. It would be quite difficult to find where the money went if anybody looked. 

How did the fall-out from the film affect you personally?

We were all bankrupt basically. I got through the second part of my fee and I went pretty  far into the red trying to finish the movie. I ended up getting massacred financially. I lost my flat ,and for a while I was staying in the spare room above the ticket office of the Scala Cinema. It was a pretty dark period considering the cinema itself had run into troubles and was shortly to close down. The film effectively had no distribution and there was only one copy of the movie. We managed to get it as far as a married answer print but the experience was a bit like Francis Ford Coppola's TUCKER: THE MAN AND HIS DREAM (1988) - if we could just get one copy off the assembly line then the film would at least exist. The whole mission was to get the negative cut and to produce a digital master of the film, so it could survive. Polygram owned the UK rights but they had no idea they owned it! They had gotten the rights when they took over the entire Palace back catalogue. Absolutely no-one at Polygram would take responsibility for it. I lobbied them for years and years telling them that they owned this movie and they should put it out.

Do you feel the film's influence in popular culture?

I like to imagine that the combination of HARDWARE, DUST DEVIL and the Fields of the Nephilim promo videos I made helped introduce the longs coat, and the boots to the Goth scene. Before the Nephilim videos, all the goths were looking like EDWARD SCISSORHANDS (1990) or the Cure! I think we helped to cross-pollinate the Spaghetti Western and Goth genres. Since then there have been any number of folk dressing the same way. 

We took The Man with No Name mythology and put a slight supernatural spin on it and took it into demonic territory. So now we see bizarre situations like the opening sequence of GHOST RIDER (2007) where we see Peter Fonda stepping into his Dad's shoes playing the supernatural gunslinger, and guys in long black coats sent back to Earth by the Devil to harvest souls. The scene is set in Monument Valley, so it is a complete fusion of the Dust Devil mythology with ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST (1968), which is nice to see. I know that Don Coscarelli cut together BUBBA HO-TEP (2002) with Simon Boswell's DUST DEVIL score as a temp track. He confessed, after I told him that I had gotten the idea of the guy putting his head on the white line  from PHANTASM (1979). The shape-shifting demon when he appears in BUBBA is wearing proper Durango originals and Cuban heels, and looks more like a cowboy. There is no explanation why an Egyptian demon should be dressing that way! 

The DUST DEVIL has found his way into people's dreams. I hear from a lot from a lot of folk who still see the guy in their sleep. I think the film has added something to the mythology. Maybe it has crystallised the Tarot card in some way and has given people a sense of what that particular manifestation of the Devil looks like. 

Are there any plans for a Blu-ray release of DUST DEVIL?
Yes, DUST DEVIL will have an incarnation on Blu-ray soon. It will find its way back into Walmart again. The five-disc DVD set is a fine box set. It's another example of the Curse of Dust Devil. Norm Hill of Subversive Cinema managed to put that together and put it out, and sold every single copy of it. Subversive still went to the wall anyway. 

If you were to go back in time and meet the younger version of yourself about to make DUST DEVIL, what advice would you give him?

I'd probably advise him not to do it! Career-wise I would have been in a much better place had I just made a HARDWARE sequel or done something a bit more commercial like the JUDGE DREDD (1995) movie I was offered. Doing something as uncommercial as DUST DEVIL at that point in my career was probably arrogant. On the other hand, it was probably the only opportunity I would have ever had to make that particular movie. 

How does making feature films compare with the documentaries you have directed?

The documentaries are the work that I am proudest of. When it comes down to it, it is probably VOICE OF THE MOON (1990) or WHITE DARKNESS (2002), both of which feature on the Subversive box set, that I like the best. The documentaries usually come across as background studies for films that I cannot afford to make. I'd like to make a movie about the war in Afghanistan, just like I'd like to make a Haitian zombie movie but the chances of me ever doing so are pretty slim. With the grace of God or whatever the hell it is that's really in charge of this place, we should be shooting another film next year. For some bizarre reason, 'Mother of Toads', the little short I did for the anthology film THE THEATER BIZARRE (2011) for about $20, 000 (the price of a music video in the old days), has been received much better than anyone expected. The same backers have come back to us and asked us to do an H.P. Lovecraft-style movie. We  are now onto the second draft of the script and it is looking very good indeed. It's a sci-fi horror movie with very strong Lovecraftian overtones, with one foot, or tentacle at least, in the world of quantum physics. 

I am shooting a documentary now, here in Montsegur in the Midi-Pyrenees, called THE OTHER WORLD (L'AUTRE MONDE).concerning parallel worlds and the practise of modern day sorcery here in the south that will play in French cinemas. It's very much a study for the Lovecraft movie. I'd like to see it as an extra on that film's DVD eventually. 

What recent movies have you enjoyed?

I liked KILL LIST (2011) and THE WOMAN (2011). Those are the only two horror movies I have seen in the last year which actually surprised me or went somewhere unexpected. I was particularly impressed with KILL LIST. It was nice seeing the attention to character and the way the film is built. It does THE WICKER MAN (1973) much better than Robin Hardy can do it now. THE WICKER TREE (2010) was very disappointing. I spent some time with Robin at the Fantasia Festival and he's a very nice guy but KILL LIST was more like the film I wanted from THE WICKER TREE. 

Where are you based now?

I am based full-time in Montsegur in the Pyrenees. I have been here for four years now. It's makes some kind of sense to be outside England and America. Strangely, it's been quite good career-wise because I am shooting films again. It's easier to shoot out here than in the outside world. 

France has a very bad track record when it comes to horror movies. They are referred to as 'films d'horreur' out here and are something almost unheard of. Apart from Jean Rollin and people, very few folk have been making horror films. This area is absolutely filled with bizarre and terrifying stories, but they just haven't made it to the screen. At least not yet.

Richard was interviewed by telephone on 9th July 2012. I would like to thank him for his generosity and candour.

The 5 disc R1 limited edition DVD set of DUST DEVIL can be ordered here. It features the Final Cut and Workprint of the film, commentaries, booklets, the soundtrack CD, and three excellent stand-alone documentaries. it can be ordered from private sellers here.  The UK R2 of the Final Cut, with an exclusive commentary by Richard, can be ordered here.

Paul Rowlands is a Japan-based writer. After completing a BA Humanities course (majoring in English and Science) at the University of Chester, he moved to Japan in 1999. He writes for the James Bond magazine, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, has had articles published on Press Play and has had an almost lifelong obsession with cinema, something the advent of DVD only increased. Paul is also a writer of so far unpublished short stories and novels, and is planning his first short film.

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