Interview with ‘Hellstone’ Director Andreas Lützelschwab

Recently, I had the chance to talk to Andreas Lützelschwab, the director of the upcoming film, Hellstone. When I first saw the trailer for Hellstone, I was immediately intrigued. It has the classic ’80s horror film feel that originally attracted me to the genre. Andreas and I spoke about his upcoming film, the difficulties of finding a distributor and, ultimately, how being a foreign director affects getting a film to the United States. 

PopHorror: First off, could you give us a brief synopsis of what Hellstone is about?

Andreas LützelschwabHellstone tells the story of a dark, mystical stone which has the power to open up a temporary gate to Hell, as long as it’s being fed with the blood of the human possessing the stone. An occultist, satanic covenant is trying to summon a demon and open a permanent gate to the underworld. This would merge the dimension of Hell and our reality as we know it, which would lead to Hell ruling the earth. Between this remorseless covenant and the literal gates of hell stands one man who becomes a witness to a violent, satanic ritual. He’s the only one who will be able to stop the forces of evil by using the infernal powers of the dark stone.

Carolin Pfaeffli as a cultist

PopHorror: I noticed on one of Hellstone’s posters that it was The Evil Dead meets Hellraiser. How much did those film’s influence Hellstone?

Andreas LützelschwabI saw the original Evil Dead when I was 12 years old and I loved it right away. My parents didn’t want me to watch such movies, but I knew exactly where my dad hid the “forbidden VHS tapes.” One day when they were away, I watched it from start to finish. Since then, I think I’ve compared every movie I watched in the horror genre to my first love, The Evil Dead. I think that The Evil Dead is a masterpiece and a perfect example of how horror movies should be made. It has the right amount of tension and twists, and, of course, it has a shocking amount of blood and gore, which suits the story very well.

I don’t like horror movies like Hostel that are only focused on maximum violence and gore. I prefer monsters and the darker side of storytelling. Hellraiser is a prime example of that, in my opinion. I am a big fan of ’80s horror, and I wanted to create something that I would love. I wanted to make a movie that would be like something created in the 1980s. I think that the level of influence is not only measured by the different clothing or the lack of modern technology – cell phones, for example – in Hellstone, but by the way that the story is being told throughout the film. It’s very similar to The Evil Dead or Hellraiser in that sense. I believe that the horror films in the ’80s were more fantasy driven. There were dark undertones in every ’80s horror film that I don’t seen in the modern horror films.

PopHorror: Were there any other things that influenced Hellstone? Or was it purely just The Evil Dead and Hellraiser?

Andreas LützelschwabMainly my love for 1980s horror, mixed with creature elements and an occult direction.

PopHorror: The trailer for the film has this really old school, ’80s VHS feel to it. Personally, I love that style and it’s refreshing to see director using it with newer horror films. Was your goal always to create a film that had that retro feel to it, or did that come along later?

Andreas LützelschwabThe movie itself actually looks like an ’80s film in terms of set decoration, clothing, and usage of practical effects, but not to the amount that this particular VHS style trailer looks. For example, the VHS trailer is in 4:3 format, while the original film is in 2.35:1 widescreen with a much better resolution. The idea for this retro trailer came from the old trailers on VHS tapes back then. As the movie was finished and the first high definition trailer was completed, I thought to myself, “I want to see how near the movie material could be brought to a VHS style effect.” I even considered to edit the movie for some kind of special edition, like the trailer you mentioned.

Michael Glantschnig as Ben

PopHorror: I’ve read that you’re still working on getting the film distributed. Has there been any word on a potential release date yet?

Andreas LützelschwabFor now, we have three interested distributors, but we don’t have any word on a potential release date yet. As soon as we know more, we will post about it on our Facebook page and website.

PopHorror: You’re located in Germany. Has being in a foreign country made it more difficult to find a distributor?

Andreas LützelschwabFor German-speaking Europe, no. For international distribution, yes! Our first movie, FPS – First Person Shooterwas released two years ago in German-speaking Europe, but we could not find a distributor for the States, for example. I think that’s pretty crazy, considering the film was produced in English, and our main voice over actor, Stephen Weyte, is American. Stephen Weyte is the voice of Caleb in the computer games Blood and Blood 2: The Chosen.

In comparison, Hellstone was shot in German with English subtitles. I’ve heard that Americans aren’t as fond of movies that aren’t in English. In Germany, we are watching movies in English 99% of the time. We have a huge dubbing industry over here, focused on professional voice actors. The language is surely one point. The other is the way that contracts are formed in America. For example, if I want to distribute a movie in the United States, I would have to negotiate an errors and omissions insurance. You won’t get a distribution deal in America without this insurance, and it costs thousands of dollars a year.

Let’s look at some figures. Imagine a distributor in America would give you $20,000 for 10 years of exploitation of the rights for a movie. That would be $2,000 per year, while your E&O insurance could cost you $3,000 per year for those 10 years. Even if you’d get that $20,000 from the developer as some sort of buyout contract, you would still end up making -$10,000 after the license period. I think this is one of the reasons that smaller, independent films are becoming rarer and rarer.

Klemens Niklaus Trenkle as the monk

PopHorror: Yeah, that’s definitely not going to be bringing in the foreign indie films, that’s for sure. Are you currently working on any other films? If so, could we get a few words about those?

Andreas LützelschwabI am not working on any other films currently, although I would love to. The next movie will be possible once Hellstone is distributed and we’ve earned enough money off of that to produce another film. If we’re lucky enough to get a new movie budget out of the release of Hellstone, there are some possibilities for new films that I’ve thought about. One possibility is a sequel to FPS – First Person Shooter. I already wrote the treatment for that. You know, every now and then, a story comes to mind and I’ve got a little notebook where I write such stories down. When the possibility to produce another movie comes up, there are five different possible movies that could follow HellstoneTwo dark comedies, a body horror film, FPS 2 and a home invasion film. Time will tell which one will be the next.

PopHorror: Andreas, I want to thank you very much for your time. I’m looking forward to Hellstone.

It’s pretty obvious that Andreas Lützelschwab is not only a fan of the horror genre, but a student of it. He’s looking at what made those ’80s horror films so special, and he’s attempting to recreate that in Hellstone. The film stars Michael Glantschnig, Klemens Niklaus Trenkle and Carolin Pfaeffli. As soon as PopHorror gets more information, such as a release date, we’ll be sure to let everyone know.

About Matt Stumpf

My name's Matt, and I love all things horror. Books, movies, video games; you name it, I like it. Martyrs is my favorite horror film, and everyone should watch it. I also have a soft-spot for those cheesy 80's slashers. I'm still slightly convinced that Faces of Death is real.

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