Exclusive Interview with "Freaky Phil" Cruz

Exclusive Interview with "Freaky Phil" Cruz
The director of Andre the Butcher sounds off on porn, cheerleaders, Ron Jeremy, and dead meat.
Updated: 05-01-2006

Staci Layne Wilson/Horror.com: What was the inspiration for Andre the Butcher? How did the script come about? What was your contribution to the script?


Phil Cruz: [pictured, with Ron Jeremy] Well Stace, I was sitting around downloading porn and watching horror DVD’s one day and it occurred to me that if these two worlds were to collide in one movie- then we would have unbeatable kung-fu!...  Seriously though, its obvious that horror is the hot genre right now.  Every month there’s a handful of horror flicks released in the theaters and on  DVD.  Unfortunately, the majority of these films are remakes, sequels, rip-offs, or low-budget fan turds lacking some original thought, fun, and lesbian action for that matter.  We just basically set out to do a movie our way- with lots of laughs, babes, boobs and  blood.  I collaborated once again with my partner in crime since high school, James Hyde.  We weren’t popular or attractive guys back in high school, so it was easy for us to slice and dice cheerleaders in a script.


How was your cast assembled? Had you worked with any of them before? Of course, we're all curious about how Ron Jeremy was cast... no "casting couch"... I hope!


HAHA!...  Casting is the most important process during pre-production so we tried not to skimp.  We auditioned hundreds of actors of all caliber in Los Angeles, Florida and also via video submissions from all over north america.  We ended up casting talent from L.A., N.Y., Texas and Florida!  But man it was a pain to lug that casting couch all over the country.

We had worked with a few before - Heather Budner (Cookie), Justin Capaz (Jimbo), and Alan Fessenden (Tober) on our previous feature THE BIG BANG.  They are great examples of hidden gems amongst local talent.  And it’s important to dig deep and discover these gems.  It can be tedious, but I really hate it when I see low-budget productions where they just cast their non-actor neighbor or cousin just to save themselves some work.


For Ron Jeremy - we definitely aimed to have a big reveal once the killer’s mask is knocked off.  What bigger shock to have than Ron Jeremy as the killer underneath the mask?!  RJ was nothing but brilliant throughout the production.


What was the biggest challenge about balancing gore and horror with comedy and satire? Was there a lot of conscious effort to do that, or did it pretty much come naturally?

Dude, it like came naturally Staci, sheesh...  Our biggest challenge was NOT going overboard with the comedy.  We didn’t want to make a satire or spoof, but we pushed that boundary pretty close to the edge I think.  We always tried to play it straight- kept everything grounded in reality, with high stakes for the characters.  Hence, the deleted scene.  It was the only instance in the film where we crossed the boundary into being self-aware, as one auspicious and lovely red-headed movie reviewer recognized in her critique.


Were you guys really getting liquored up for the commentary? (By the way, the jumpsuits are still PINK!)              


Hell yes!  James and I were honestly just trying to get the two Aprils drunk so they’d make-out in front of us.  But I think the vino made us all a bit drowsy halfway through the commentary.  Next time we’ll serve up mojitos with a big splash of spanish fly!


What's your proudest moment in connection with Andre The Butcher? What makes you cringe when you see it?

I think my proudest moment is my fiancee April Renee stepping up to lend her breasts to the production, when we didn’t have any brave souls to do so.  It was a beautiful  gesture, and her bodacious ta-tas were such a presence in the film that I decided to give them their own screen recognition during the final credits...

What makes me cringe is some of the sequences we rushed to shoot due to our obnoxious shooting schedule and incessant weather interruptions. We shot the film in less than two weeks and a majority was exterior shooting.  And we had unpredictable thunderstorms that would frequently stop in and say hi. I think the biggest victim was the cheerleader fight sequence.  Emotionally I think it still works, but technically I think it looks like that old episode of “CHiPs” where Erik Estrada has a goofy karate fight with Danny Bonaduce - but a little better cuz its hot cheerleaders duking it out.


There have been some complaints that the front cover the DVD is not indicative of what's inside. Of course, they do that in the porn world all the time (ah-hem... or so I'm told). Did you have any input of what was to go on the cover of the disc?


Oh man - thank you for bringing this issue up, Staci.  I really hate it when the boxart shows a hot chick slobbin a knob on some PORN DVD, and then when you buy it and watch it, that hot chick on the cover is not even in the movie!  Boner kill!  Wassup wit dat??


But in regards to Andre, the final artwork was NOT OUR CALL!  We’ve received numerous comments about this issue, and all we can do is refer the callers to the marketing department.  Their cover art is obviously designed to give the film a darker, more mainstream horror feel.  Which, in a marketing sense, is a smart move.  But I agree: the boxart does not reflect the true tone of the film.  Our original cover art prominently depicts a sinister Ron Jeremy in a bloody apron missing one arm- which pretty much tells you what the film is about.  Once we sold the film, the powers-that-be wanted to take another approach.  Don’t get me wrong, the final cover art looks damn slick and very appealing!  But time will tell how effective this strategy was....


Why was the title changed to Andre The Butcher from Dead Meat?


There’s another horror flick out called Dead Meat, which is a fun zombie movie shot in Ireland.  I think that film was also picked up by Velocity, which posed a legal conflict.  Our back up title was FRESH MEAT.  But once THINK/Velocity found out that Ron Jeremy starred in another film called, ahem- Fresh Meat, all bets were off.   All parties decided to just go with our movie villain’s name.


What's next in the exciting cinematic world of Phil Cruz?


Bunch of stuff!


Well we got a martial arts movie featuring lesbian assassins called CARPET NINJAS.  “They really tear it up”...


James and I share story credit on a horror anthology called HEARTLAND, which was co-written by Hollywood scribe Ron Osborn (Meet Joe Black, Moonlighting).  My segment features the lore of Filipino vampires.  And James offered a story about a child with an evil imaginary friend.  From what I hear the script script is very close to being produced. 


And weez gots a redneck action flick in development about two bikini-clad, dynamite stick wielding, bank robbin babes called LICKETY SPLIT.  Yee-haw!


What are some of your favorite horror movies? (Classics, and new stuff)


Well the first horror movie I saw was HALLOWEEN.  I was six years old and it scared the living piss outta me.  I couldn’t walk past open windows at night, or ride my Huffy past large hedges during the day...  I also dig TRILOGY OF TERROR, that one where Karen Black gets attacked by the evil Zuni doll that resembles the evil trinket in The Brady Bunch that Greg Brady wore when he went surfing in Hawaii and wiped out hardcore.



My favorite one recently is THE DEVIL’S REJECTS.  It’s a brazen, unabashed tale told from the point of view of these violent maniacs done with visual flair.


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Be sure and read Horror.com's review of Andre the Butcher by clicking here!

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