Photo by Mike Etoll
"Today we spilled about four gallons of blood," says Minnesota horror filmmaker Jon Springer ("Living Dead Girl") of The Hagstone Demon, currently shooting in the Powderhorn Park neighborhood of Minneapolis. "We stained the painted concrete in the building, splashed some on the walls. I just got my ass reamed out for half an hour by the landlord."
Most of Springer's film, his eighth to date, takes place in a brownstone apartment building whose caretaker (played by American Movie's legendary horror auteur Mark Borchardt) is being "dragged to hell" by a distaff demon in a suicide's body (Nadine Gross). Next week the director will move cast and crew to a secret East Bank location, where they'll stage an authentic Black Mass scene.
Sounding exhausted from four long days of shooting, Springer still can't help giggling over the phone as he describes the movie. But, like all of this devout Catholic's spiritually themed cinema, The Hagstone Demon is dead serious, too. "The caretaker is a man who participated in the failed ritual of a Satanic cult—so he's literally haunted by the demons of his past," says the director. "Because it's a story about Satanism, the style of the film seems honest. It's a bloody movie, and it's graphic."
Bloody and graphic? Like sexually graphic?
Is Springer praying sufficiently?
"I'm purging stuff," he says. "And certainly the film relates to my own beliefs. Mainly I want to portray Satanism as it is—not a Hollywood version, but the way it exists in the modern world. I haven't seen too many filmmakers tackle that without falling into clichés."
Another potential hazard is budgetary catastrophe, which Springer knows not first-hand, thank God, but through repeated viewings of Lost in La Mancha, the documentary about Terry Gilliam's almost supernatural failure to film Don Quixote. "Even on a big-budget film, things can go wrong—and we're on a low budget with no backup funds," Springer says. "There's that clause in the contract called force majeure, like in La Mancha. God always has the last word."