Sunday 13 December 2009

2002 Q&A with "Mutant" producer Igo Kantor...

Back in 2002 I put together a simple website for the horror movie Mutant ( otherwise known as Night Shadows.

The website is still around, but I haven't touched it in ages. It dates back to when I was having a brief flirtation with HTML coding, but when University came along I got too busy to really pay attention to the websites I had on the go. While the Mutant website was essentially finished, so didn't need any updating, my now defunct (because Geocities closed down in October) New Dimensions was left alone for very long periods of time.

Anyway - - that's the site in question. Don't worry, all this preface has a purpose. My favourite online haunt is Homepage of the Dead, the zombie forum, and it came up in conversation I was putting this site together - coincidentally one of the other members works in Hollywood and knew Igo Kantor (, the producer of Mutant.

As such, I sent him some questions and he passed them onto Igo to be answered. Now, I was supposed to have put these on the Mutant website itself, but I must have screwed up my HTML coding as I couldn't find a link to it on the site recently ... so therefore, for all these years, it's been online but not linked to properly and I never realised what with a busy start to my degree around the same time.

So therefore, at long last and without further ado, here's the Q&A...

Q&A with "Mutant" Producer Igo Kantor

Were there any difficulties experienced during the making of "Mutant"?
The main difficulty occurred during the first week of shooting. MARK ROSMAN ("HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW") was the director. He had brought in his own cameraman, TIM STURSTEDT. They were both very slow, and at the end of the first week of filming in Norcross, Georgia, MARK was 1 1/2 days behind schedule. I knew I was in trouble with a limited budget, so I had no choice but to dismiss MARK and TIM, and bring in BUD CARDOS ("KINGDOM OF THE SPIDERS") as a director and AL TAYLOR as a D.P. BUD was able to finish on schedule and budget, without sacrificing quality.

What do you think of the final film?
On a 1 to 10 scale, I rate it a 7. We could have done more with prosthetic make-up and special effects, but the budget was tight. Also, I was never too happy with the lead actress, JODY MEDFORD, selected by our executive producer, EDWARD MONTORO. Other than that, the acting was uniformly professional, with special kudos to WINGS HAUSER, BO HOPKINS, LEE MONTGOMERY and JENNIFER WARREN.

How did "Mutant" come about initially and how did you get involved?
At the time, I was head of production for Film Ventures International. I had just finished producing "KILL AND KILL AGAIN" with JAMES RYAN in S. Africa, and MONTORO, president of the company, said: "Let's do a horror show." We got some screenplays and treatments submitted, and we liked the idea of "MUTANT" (originally called "NIGHT SHADOWS") brought in by MICHAEL JONES and JOHN KRUIZE. I had my own production company, Laurelwood Productions, and I solicited one of the investors in my film "KINGDOM OF THE SPIDERS", HENRY FOWNES, who put up a portion of the budget for "MUTANT". The script underwent various changes, and I brought in another writer, PETER ORTON, for the final version. I went looking for locations in the Carolinas and Georgia, and fell in love with Norcross, Georgia. The conservative city fathers were a little apprehensive about a "horror show" being shot in their town, especially since we were planning to build additions. They finally agreed, as long as we would remove all additions and restore the town to the way it was. We built a picket fence and a cabin next to the local train station, and planted beautiful flowers. All I know is 2 years ago, when I revisited Norcross, all our additions were still there, because the fathers had agreed that they beautified the town.

What was it like for you to work on this movie?
It was a pleasure. The local townsfolk couldn't have been nicer, both as extras and spectators. The only negative memory was on Yom Kippur day, the Jewish day of atonement, in October 1983, when I decided to keep the company going instead of taking a day off, I jumped over a puddle and twisted my ankle, and was in a cast for several days. I personally sinned for working on a Holy Day and paid for it, but the shooting went on, unencumbered.

What did you think of the remake? (referring to Nightmare At Noon - which is considered by some to be a remake of Mutant).
The remake or sequel hasn't been shot yet, but there is a very scary contemporary script written by PATRICK DOODY and CHRIS VALENZIANO, which promises to be more frightening and exciting than the original. Plans for production are contingent on availability of funds, and various sources of funding have been approached and are considering an investment.

Do you think "Mutant" had any limitations?
As previously mentioned, the limitations were budgetary, but we spared no expense in post-production, including scoring in London with the National Philharmonic (72 instruments) under the direction of RICHARD BAND.

As I am pursuing a career in filmmaking, what is it like to produce a movie such as "Mutant" in comparison to perhaps a bigger production?
You have to walk before you run. As a fledgling filmmaker, you should either embark in a well-written, tight melodrama about the interrelations of 3 or 4 characters (dysfunctional families seem to work), or a horror film with a new wrinkle or twist that makes it commercial, as long as the characters are believable, no matter how implausible the story. In either case, good actors are vital.

What was the general feel on set between cast and crew during the production?
My legacy in producing has always been - get a good cast and a good crew that are compatible with each other, because one bad apple sours the whole brew. So I'd rather hire a technician or actor with a good work ethic and pleasant demeanor than a "temperamental genius". An important aspect of keeping everyone happy is "to feed them well", because a satisfied stomach leads to better work. The cast and crew of "MUTANT" got along great - they were very supportive of each other. When one of our stunt ladies got hurt and was in the hospital for a couple of days, most every one on the show went to visit her and made her feel appreciated.

If you had directed the movie instead of produced it, is there anything you would have done differently to John Cardos?
Every director has a different style. I've been directing a TV series, "SCOPE", and based on my experience as a film editor, one of my main priorities is ample but not excessive coverage. We could have had more coverage on "MUTANT" (more close-ups), but BUD was saddled with 1 1/2 days of catch-up, so he did the best he could to stay on schedule and budget. All in all, he did a very commendable job. And the results were quite satisfying - "MUTANT" was the first film of its kind to receive the Platinum Award for most videos sold (100,000 copies).


So there you have it, conducted in 2002, and finally posted in 2009.

It's been a long time since I've seen this Q&A, and it's a good one, both frank and informative. I recently re-watched Nightmare At Noon, which I'd only seen once, whereas I'd seen Mutant a few times, but I must rewatch that too and take myself back to my formative years when I first saw that movie - bought for £3 in our local Post Office.

Finally, a special thanks goes to Patrick J. Doody for helping me out back in 2002 with this Q&A.


-Alan D Hopewell said...

I just finished re-watching MUTANT (I have it in the MillCreek PURE TERROR set), and it holds up rather well after thirty-eight years

Nick Thomson said...

I first saw it on VHS after a random purchase, but then didn't see it again for many years until I stumbled across it on one of the streaming platforms and gave it another spin - as you say, it holds up. Great atmosphere with some solid 'zombie' sequences (e.g. the toilet scene, or the siege at the gas station). Have you seen the remake "Nightmare At Noon"? Quite different in many, many ways, but good fun as its own thing.