In 2018, Pioneer Media provided production services for Troma Entertainment President, Lloyd Kaufman’s “#ShakespearesShitstorm.” The titular sequence required not only a studio backlot unit in the Albanian capital of Tirana, but also a sea-faring unit off the coast in the Adriatic Sea.
Last October, “#ShakespearesShitstorm” made its Balkan debut at the Festival of Serbian Fantastic Film in Belgrade. We (digitally) sat down with makeup FX artist and festival co-founder, Miroslav Lakobrija, and discussed the rise of genre films in the region and where the future is headed.
(As with a lot of our work, the questions and answers have been translated to and from English multiple times, it comes with the territory)
You run the largest science fiction/horror film festival in the region. Can you tell us about your experiences running the festival? How has the popularity of these types of films grown in Serbian culture?
“With the writer, Jovan Ristic, in 2006, we launched the Festival of Serbian Fantastic Film. We first made a review of all the movies made so far. I was collecting works done by amateurs, students, and independent filmmakers and the festival eventually managed to attract the attention of young future directors, fans of genre movies…
Afterwards, we introduced a domestic competition program, as well as foreign films, and awarded many awards in various categories.
The festival has made its way from a small underground festival to one of the country’s most important festivals, as well as the region, whose guests are now big world names in movie industry such as Mick Garris, Lamberto Bava, Sam Fisrstenberg, Costas Mandylor, Sergio Stivaletti…
As an integral part of the festival, in the meantime, we included an event called Zombie Walk, which we have now held for the 7th time, despite the pandemic.”
What are some of your influences as an effects artist and filmmaker?
“The person who had a great influence on my work and that I think of as an idol is Tom Savini. As a child, I fell in love with some of his work such as ‘Friday the 13th,’ ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2,’ ‘Romero’s Creepshow,’ and ‘Dawn of the Dead.’ On that list, we can also put Savini’s remake of ‘Night of the Living Dead.’ It’s fascinating how, even in that time, he had some remarkable movie tricks and effects for killing with cool weapons.
Besides Savini, I also admire Rick Baker and I think of him as remarkable too. I loved, and I still do love Peter Jackson’s ‘Bad Taste,’ Sam Raimi’s ‘Evil Dead 2,’ and Lamberto’s ‘Demons’ – I’ve watched them many times and every single time I enjoy it.”
What is your favorite movie and a dream project you’d like to work on?
“There is a long list of the movies I like, but these are some of my favorites: ‘Bride of Re-Animator,’ ‘Return of the Living Dead,’ and ‘Pumpkinhead’ by Stan Wintston (in that movie, you can find my most favorite monster of all monsters from the movie industry).
Some projects that I would like to work on the most are sequels of ‘Friday the 13th’ or the sequel of Lamberto’s ‘Demons,’ along with maestro Sergio Stivaletti, famous master of special effects. On that list of projects, you can also put a new sequel of Kaufman’s ‘Toxic Avenger.’”
How do the films from the Yugoslav-era differ from films made in Serbia now?
“Horror movies as a genre have developed and progressed in every aspect in Serbia in the last couple of decades, more precisely since the breakup of Yugoslavia. It went from a genre that was not popular among the audience to a genre for whose films an extra ticket is always requested. Simply put, some young directors grew up watching foreign horror movies and they wanted to do something like that on their own. That is how it is today in the whole of the former Yugoslavia, in Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia…
And therefore, I must point out to your readers some of the directors of the younger generation who are very good in genre movies and who have greatly contributed to the popularization of the genre in this area. Thanks to Milan Todorovic, Mladen Djordjevic, Srdjan Spasojevic and Dejan Zecevic from Serbia, and also to Predrag Licina and Kristijan Milic from Croatia and many more we have movies that we can be proud of.”
How does the future look? Do you have any projects you can talk about?
“I just finished work with special effects on English horror/thriller movie with hikers called ‘The Ledge’ directed by Howard J.Ford, known for his work, such as ‘The Dead ‘ and ‘The Dead 2-India.’
Right now, I’m planning to start the post production of my short horror movie ‘Demonic House.’ It’s a supernatural horror film about a group of teenagers that want to make a documentary about the haunted house where occultist and director, Opulus, has stayed and murdered his whole film crew, just so he can make a haunted movie.”
You were a special effects supervisor of one of the most controversial films in the last 20 years. What do you think of the place that “Serbian Film” has in the history of the horror genre?
“That was the greatest accomplishment in my career because that movie has opened the door to Hollywood. There I showed my work through convincing special effects, especially through Savini’s machete that cuts off the victim’s head. This movie was banned in many countries, just because of those special effects. In Spain, we needed to send a process of making these special effects so they could prove to the court that everything was actually made and not real.”