The Devil’s Carnival

By Bob Gourley | Published on June 25, 2012

UPDATE: The initial tour (discussed below) has ended, “The Devil’s Carnival” is now out on DVD! The soundtrack is also available.  Check out the official site for details. In addition, a trailer has been released for part 2 of the series!


After “Repo! The Genetic Opera” only got a limited regular theatrical release, the horror rock opera was given second wind when its creators took it out for a ‘road tour’ of one-off late night screenings and personal appearances. For their latest project, “The Devil’s Carnival, ” Darren Lynn Bousman and  Terrance Zdunich have decided to actually make this format the focus. Starting in LA on April 5, “THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL” will travel the country with screenings followed by Q&A sessions. And if all goes well, new installments will be created and toured. The following is an email interview with Zdunich explaining a bit more about the project.

The “road tour” concept was used for “Repo!” after its original theatrical release. But was it something planned or considered all along, or did the idea come about as a reaction to the initial response?

Due to horrid early reviews, “Repo!” was given a very limited theatrical release and was heading straight to the bottom of DVD bins.  The filmmakers and I knew that the project needed to be experienced loud, in theatres, and with a late-night audience (it’s an industrial opera for Christ’s sake!).  The Repo Road Tour was our way of getting “Repo!” in front of that audience.  The tours were so successful they proved to us that you don’t need to follow traditional distribution models to find an audience for your movie, especially if your movie’s as untraditional as “Repo!” or “The Devil’s Carnival”.  With “Devil’s”, we decided to lead with a tour, giving folks a cinematic experience that can’t be downloaded.

Was “The Devil’s Carnival” conceived specifically for the screen, or does it have roots in live performances like “Repo!” did?

We knew from day one that “The Devil’s Carnival” was going to be a film.  That said, the aspect of live performance is an important part of the world.  The movie features singing carnies, and what are carnies if not live performers?  The live performance aspect is definitely a huge part of the Road Tour experience as well.

This is being referred to as the first part of a series – ideally, where do you see it going? A regular series of tours? Feature films? Web series? TV? etc.

In a perfect world, if the tour’s a success, I’d love to release a new episode every few months and then tour it, making “The Devil’s Carnival” an ongoing concert/film event.  I love the idea of a music driven serial where the songs and story grow over time, almost like the issues of a comic book.  This approach would also open the door to having a rotating cast of rad actors and musicians.  As an audience member, I would want to see this, and I don’t believe there’s anything like this on the market.

From what I understand, this is a short film supplemented by Q&A forums and screenings of ‘Repo!’-related ‘bonus’ material. How long is the film exactly? What were the motivations for using this format as opposed to making it a full-length feature?

The first episode of “The Devil’s Carnival” is just over an hour.  It features twelve original songs and has tremendous production value so I don’t think short film is an accurate descriptor… at least not compared to any short film that I’ve seen.  “The Devil’s Carnival” feels like a cross between a movie and a concert, and the entertainment surrounding the Road Tour screenings will make every evening on the tour an event.  We’re not trying to fit “The Devil’s Carnival” into a box so it’s a hard project to label, but short film is definitely too narrow (and small) a sticker for what we’re up to.

I see that many of the cast members also appeared in “Repo!” Would you say that any of the characters were written specifically with the performers in mind?

When writing, I generally try to find the character first and then worry about who might play him or her.  In the spirit of independent art, we brought “Repo!” alumni into “The Devil’s Carnival” because we like working with our friends, insofar as they are right for their particular roles.  If there are future episodes, fans of “Repo!” can expect to see more familiar faces popping up in “The Devil’s Carnival”.  But there are also a lot of exciting new faces, like Emilie Autumn, Ivan Moody from Five Finger Death Punch, Clown from Slipknot, and Sean Patrick Flanery from “The Boondock Saints”.

Are there plans for a soundtrack release? Any idea as to how long after the tour we can expect a DVD release?

The future of the film and the series is wholly dependent on the success of the tour, so if you find what we’re doing intriguing, I invite you to get your tickets and experience “The Devil’s Carnival” firsthand: http://thedevilscarnivaltour.eventbrite.com/.  The soundtrack will definitely be released prior to the tour.  We’re looking at the 3rd of April.  Details will be released shortly at www.TheDevilsCarnival.com.

Be sure to also check out our interview with Terrance about “Repo!” as well as cast member Ogre interviewed in 2008 and 2011.

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