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Attack of the Giant Brett Kelly

An Interview with Brett Kelly, Director of the Attack of the Giant Leeches Remake

by Avery Battles

Attack of the Giant Leeches (US-2008, directed by Brett Kelly)

Brett Kelly directs and acts in independent films made under the auspices of his own production company. Genre movies such as The Bonesetter, The Bonesetter Returns, The Feral Man, My Dead Girlfriend and Kingdom of the Vampires only scratch the surface of his ambition. Many more films are scheduled for production, with his remake of the 1950s B-monster "classic", Attack of the Giant Leeches, due for release in 2009. [See the Undead Backbrain article for more information.]

Kaiju Search-Robot Avery (otherwise known as Avery Battles) asked Kelly about the remake and about his ambitions.

Avery: Remakes seem to be rather popular among filmmakers these days. Why do you think that is the case? Why have you chosen to do a remake now after making so many original films in the past?

Brett Kelly: I was thinking about the glut of horror remakes out there and I would always say;"Why don't they leave the great movies alone and start remaking movies that could actually be improved on." I guess that's why I thought of remaking Attack of the Giant Leeches.

Avery: What attracted you to the 1950s Atomic Age monster theme of this film? Do you particularly like this subgenre? And why, of all the possible candidates, did you focus in on Attack of the Giant Leeches?

Graphic novel version of The Bonesetter

Kelly: I love the "classics" and was raised by a dad who loved movies of all sorts. I was weaned on the Universal Monsters and through the trickle-down effect, discovered the 50s monster/scifi flicks. I love them. Leeches is a fun movie with a different twist -- it kind of wanders into Tennesse Williams territory for a while, then comes back to being a monster film. It's a riot.

Avery: How closely do you plan to stick to the original or will you take it in an entirely new and different direction? Were there any parts of the original that you particularly liked or disliked -- and how have you dealt with those?

Kelly: The remake is loyal in many regards. It's set in modern day and many of the characters are similar, we improved on intercharacter relations, and of course, the creatures are better. It's sexier, and has many touches that fans of the original will dig.

Avery: The 1950s version had some strong sexual undertones. Should we expect the same here?

Kelly: Yup. Although Yvette Vickers in her prime is something to behold -- we also have a few fireballs in our movie.

Avery: Where is the production of Attack of the Giant Leeches up to now? When and where can we expect to see it?

Kelly: The movie is in post at the moment. It's in the can and ready to be edited. It's a slow process to get a top-notch professional movie for a small budget, so I'm expecting a public screening in 2009, hopefully with a DVD release not long after. We're still looking for a deal.

Avery: Has it been a difficult production so far?

Kelly: They all have their moments. Filming on water is always a pain but we pulled through. I always find post-production to be the more stressful, because I have to beg, borrow and steal to get things to look the way I want. Hollywood folks can throw money and problems, we indie guys don't have the same luxury.

Avery:What is indie film making like for you? How do you find the budget and crew for such projects? How do you make the necessary connections?

Kelly: It's an addiction. I can't stop. Finding budgets is tough but i never let people tell me that I can't do what I want for a living, so I always make it happen. I'm detirmined. Making connections is a gradual process of finding like-minded individuals.

Avery: Your filmography is very impressive. You've dabbled in various horror subgenres -- zombie films, vampire flicks, ghosts movies, and now the monster subgenre. Which of these would you say is your favourite?

Kelly: I love all genres of film and I'd love to take a stab at all of them, film-noir, western, sci-fi. Who knows? As far as fave movie of my own, that's a tough one. I seem to always be proudest of the most recent one. That being said, I'd recommend folks pick up Prey for the Beast when it comes out and go buy the Kingdom of the Vampire DVD from Tempe. Folks also seem to dig My Dead Girlfriend.

Avery:Does working in each of the different subgenres present particular problems or are the challenges pretty much the same no matter whatever the genre?

Kelly: Each one has their own set of challenges, but for me, I love a challenge.

Avery: What sort of films did the young Brett Kelly enjoy watching? Who were some of your favourite filmmakers? Who would you say has influenced your film making approach the most?

Kelly: I think my favourite films as a kid were the standard adventure films of the 70s: Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers, etc. As far as filmmakers, I really enjoy Billy Wilder, Sam Raimi, Sergio Leone. I'm not sure who has influenced my style per-se. I guess that's for the critics to figure out.

Avery: At what point in your life did you decide you were going to become a filmmaker? How long from that point did it take you to finally 'get your foot in the door', so to speak? How did it come about?

Kelly: I was a working actor for years in Ottawa when I realised that work was drying up. I decided to finally make my own films in order so that I could work as an actor. Now, however, my focus is primarily on directing. I guess I got my "foot in the door" when I met J.R. Bookwalter in Ohio, he's a great guy who has had a lot of faith in my work.

Avery: What's next for you? Are you going to try a different genre, or do you have plans to return to one of the previous ones? Given the positive media attention you've received so far with this project, is another "classic" monster an option?

Kelly: Sure, anything is possible. At the moment I'm in post on Leeches and a pirate film called Pirates: Quest for Snake Island. Next month I start shooting Iron Soldier, which is a hostage drama with a sci-fi twist and will star Joe Estevez. As for what's next, I guess we'll see. I'm open to suggestions.

Avery: In an ideal world, what would you like to see happen for this film and for the future?

Kelly: I'd love for folks who sit down with it and have a fun evening. It would be great if it got awesome distribution and opened doors for me to direct more films. That's what I really want- to keep going.

Check out the Brett Kelly Productions website


Avery Battles describes himself as "a big kaiju fan, obsessive completist, and animal/nature lover". As 'Kaiju Search-Robot Avery' he helps the Undead Backbrain to keep up-to-date on kaiju cinematic rumblings and to maintain the giant monster and zombie film lists. He also frequents RoboJapan / MonsterIsland News as a blogger where he's known as 'avery guerra'. "I love to help promote projects that I'm passionate about, no matter how big or small."
copyright©Avery Battles and Robert Hood 2008

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