Interview With Director Of ‘PG: Psycho Goreman,’ Steven Kostanski

One of the best movies to come out in the last few years is the 2016 indie gem, The Void. Written and directed by Steven Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie and members of Canadian film production and directing company Astron-6, The Void took the horror community by storm and catapulted to cult favorite status quite quickly. So when I heard that Kostanski was making a new film called PG: Psycho Goreman, I was beyond excited and needed to see it as soon as possible.

And holy shit. PG was everything I was expecting and more (read the PopHorror review here). Chock full of practical effects, gore to the max, and a very funny breakthrough performance by young newcomer, Nita-Josee Hanna (read my interview with her here), PG is the exceptional creature feature we needed to jump start the new year. I was lucky enough to chat with Steven, and we discussed what inspired the film, what he loves about the genre, and of course, horror movies.

PopHorror: Hi Steven! So I watched PG: Psycho Goreman a few weeks ago, and I loved it. It’s so funny and witty, and I loved the gore. I thought it was a lot of fun.

Steven Kostanski: Oh, thank you!

PopHorror: Absolutely! Huge fan of The Void.

Steven Kostanski: Thank you very much. I appreciate it. That’s great! I’m happy to hear people that like it.

PopHorror: Psycho Goreman comes across as a passion project for you, combining comedy, gore, and fantasy. What inspired you to create such a unique story?

Steven Kostanski: I’d had images from this movie rolling around in my head for a long time, and I kind of felt that, over the past few years, I was not flexing my creative muscles the way I wanted to be doing. The Void was a really punishing project. There were tons of problems with that production. It was a real downer of a movie to make regardless of the outcome, which I’m very happy with.

Leprechaun Returns was basically a job-for-hire that I did. I had a lot of fun making it, but I mean… I didn’t write it or anything. I just came in as the director. So, I wanted to do something that I could actually go back to like my Manborg days, and just make a fun, crazy thing that speaks to my sensibilities. Something that I felt like where I wouldn’t be restricted by any sort of expectations in terms of what people think the current market is looking for at the time, like what kinds of movies are in right now and trying to tailor a script to accommodate that. I just wanted to make a thing that was very true to what I’m passionate about, which are the movies of my youth, stuff from the ’80s and early ’90s that I grew up on. Specifically, movies I watched when I was way too young to be watching them.

I have very vivid memories of watching Terminator 2 and being a little horrified, but also that movie sparking my imagination because it was so horrifying. I think there was something about that experience as a kid, watching a movie that you’re not supposed to be watching, like something that’s for adults that you’re getting to view. There’s something special about that experience that I wanted to try to capture with PG. I wanted to make a movie that maybe some cool parents somewhere would let their kids watch, and maybe some of the violent shocks horrify them but also spark their imagination and makes them want to grow up and make monster movies for a living. That was my main inspiration for making this movie.

PopHorror: I love that, so much! This isn’t your first foray into horror. What draws you to the genre?

Steven Kostanski: It’s funny, because horror movies specifically I couldn’t handle as a kid. They really traumatized me. I would watch mostly sci-fi and action/fantasy stuff. Anything that was straight horror, I couldn’t handle until I got a little bit older. I was having a sleepover with some friends in grade school, and we were watching Army of Darkness, and that movie… I mean, it was labeled as a horror movie. It had a sticker that said horror on it, so I was a little concerned, but then I watched it, and it was fun and goofy and crazy. This is what horror movies are?

And so I worked my way backwards through the Evil Dead trilogy, and by the time I got to the first one, I was completely hooked because I realized the amount of creativity on display in these movies was at the level that I wanted to be making movies. I don’t know if I will ever be able to make a movie where it’s just two people sitting in a room talking; I don’t know if I can do a chamber drama unless it was like a chamber full of monsters, I guess.

I like the variety in genre cinema, and it’s not just horror but it’s also sci-fi. I love the crossovers. I love stuff that plays in multiple genres. One of my favorite movies is Ghostbusters and I do feel like a lot of that movie works as a horror movie. It’s a pretty intense movie at times, but it’s also the funniest movie I have ever seen. The fact that it straddles that line is a real testament to the talent that’s on display there.

That’s what I want to achieve with movies, to make things that have horror, that have sci-fi, that have fantasy, that have kid adventure tropes that service the story, and not just being like, “This is one thing, so stick to this thing.” But I’m also a big supporter of movies that are about quantity. One of my favorite movies is John Woo’s Hardboiled, and that is a movie that feels like three movies’ worth of stuff crammed into one action movie, and so that’s my goal post for this stuff. Try to make something that crazy.

I’ll never reach it, because that would be impossible, but I just feel like you’ve got to go as big as possible, and be as ambitious as possible with your storytelling, especially to compete in today’s market where there’s just so much stuff out there and there’s so many options. You need to really shoot for the stars if you want to get any kind of attention. I’m sure there’s filmmakers out there that have different attitudes about that, and they’re making subtle, lowkey drama movies, and that’s great. But that’s definitely not the kind of playground I want to be operating in. I want to make stuff that’s big and crazy and crammed full of monsters.

PopHorror: I have to say that I like what you’re doing, so you’re doing something right.

Steven Kostanski: Thank you.

PopHorror: I know that Covid has really stalled a lot of things and projects have been cancelled and pushed back, but what’s up next for you?

Steven Kostanski: I work as a director but I also work as an FX artist, so right now, I’m just working in FX. I work over at MastersFX Toronto doing creature FX for a few shows and makeup FX. I’m working on Umbrella Academy—Season three, I think we’re on right now—and also working on The Boys Season three right now. And until I get the next directing gig, I’m just focused on just doing makeup FX. I like going back and forth between the two because directing is a very taxing job and it takes a lot out of you mentally. I like to mix it up and work in the shop and sculpt some things. It just works a different part of my brain, I think. So I like to mix it up.

PopHorror: That’s really awesome!

Steven Kostanski: Yeah, that’s what my day job pretty much is, prosthetic FX. That’s how I pay the bills, working in the shop. The directing stuff, though it does pay sometimes, with stuff like PG, it’s more of a passion project where I’m not exactly paying the bills but I’m satisfying my brain creatively.

PopHorror: That’s really awesome! I love that. I just have one last question for you. What is your favorite scary movie?

Steven Kostanski: My favorite scary movie? I don’t know. I have too many that I like and love. The movie that I think is the scariest movie is The Blair Witch Project. I think that it’s hard to compete with that movie. It’s a movie that doesn’t feature any creature FX but it just scares the hell out of me every time I watch it. I go into it thinking, “You won’t get me this time!” And then it does, and I’m creeped out for the rest of the night.

I also am a big John Carpenter fan. I love Halloween; I love The Thing. I also think Alien is one of the top horror movies. That movie is just so unnerving, it’s hard to beat. I’m also a huge fan of Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Cure. That’s one of my favorites.

Thank you so much to Steven for taking the time to speak with us. Be sure to catch PG: Psycho Goreman, now in theaters and VOD!

About Tiffany Blem

Horror lover, dog mommy, book worm, EIC of PopHorror.

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