The movie Toxic Lullaby was released on 28.02.2011 in DVD format with english subtitles in Germany.
Trailer with english subtitles: http://www.youtube.com/user/spontitotalfilm
Toxic Lullaby on IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1640193/
Award: "Best internatinal Horror Feature" at New York Independent Film Festival 2010: http://nyfilmvideo.info/2010-summer-ny-awards/2010-summer-ny-awards.htm
Synopsis Toxic Lullaby:
It’s the story of Eloise, who wakes up in a destroyed, life-threatening world after a bad drug trip. Separated from her friends, she learns to survive in a bizarre reality. The world around her is chaotic. She learns that this situation originated in a financial crisis and the following speculations about the last food recourses – and the complete destruction of the latter. In addition, the use of biological weapons spread a virus among the human species – causing them to become dangerous mutants (sleepers). In this desperate situation, she joins a group of people, who, like her, are motivated by the longing to flee this nightmare.
TBHM: Ralf, you are the writer and director of your very first independent film. what inspired you to get started?
Ralf Kemper: In 2003, I did the short “Moving” with friends and students from the local acting school Schauspielschule Kassel. My inspiration was Danny Boyle’s “28 Days Later”. It took us four days of shooting. In the end, we had a short about a heroine called Eloise, who suddenly finds herself in a parallel world that is completely turned upside down after she’s taken drugs from a corrupt company. Three years later, I stumbled across the old script and wanted to expand the little story about Eloise and Bretoria. So I started rewriting the script. It took me another three years to write the version that would finally become Toxic Lullaby. During that time, I had many new ideas. In the end, we went without the strange company but kept the drug theme as a frame story. Eloise would now be an actual resident of the destroyed world, believing it was a drug-induced nightmare. That makes the story even darker.
TBHM: How long was the production for the film? Did you encounter any problems in the making of the film?
Ralf Kemper: Shooting took us half a year, from January to June 2009. I needed one year for editing. The biggest problem was financing the whole thing. My co-producer Stephan Haberzettl and I had to pay for everything out of our own pockets. All film subsidies we applied for were denied. Fortunately, we had some sponsors that provided us with in-kind support. That made it way easier for us to choose locations or props. Another problem was the time schedules of the cast and crew. They all worked for free and spent all their spare time on the project. Then there was the weather. I wanted all the outdoor scenes without any green on the trees and bushes in order to show the desolate and destroyed nature of “Toxic Lullaby”. But in this one year we had as much snow from January to March, as we hadn’t seen in a very long time. We had to reschedule the dates constantly and kept on shooting indoor scenes much earlier than planned. As a result, we had to replace one or the other actor. In April, first blossoms restricted the locations we could use. I’m afraid that had a strong influence on how we did the showdown. We didn’t have enough time and ease for such an important scene.
TBHM: How difficult was it to find the right actors (cast) to play the characters in the film?
Ralf Kemper: We started the casting process in September 2008. We approached some of the better known German actors but none of them wanted to do a zombie horror story. Then there were reading rehearsals with actors from our casting pool. We kept on trying different variations. In the end, we couldn’t cast some characters as we’d wanted to. That was due to the time schedules of some of the actors. I feel quite comfortable with the cast anyway.
TBHM: Looking back from when you were growing up in Germany. Did you ever see yourself as an aspiring writer/director of your very own horror movie?
Ralf Kemper: I got into fantasy films at a very young age. Back then, there was no internet, no DVDs, not even video. TV was the only thing available. Once a month, every Saturday night, they showed a programme called “Der Phantastische Film”, which basically means “The Fantasy film”. There I saw the Dracula movies with Christopher Lee or classics like “The Andromeda Strain”, “The Thing” and “Night of the Living Dead”. When I was 14, I did my first vampire flick on Super 8. That was fun.
TBHM: What was your favorite horror movie growing up? Did it inspire you in any shape or form to get into horror?
Ralf Kemper: When I was 16, I saw "Dawn of the Dead" in cinema. Since that time, I’ve been fascinated by the zombie film genre above all. My next efforts with the Super 8 were already heading in that direction. We used green water colour for our zombies and ketchup as blood. It got so bad that I couldn’t eat ketchup for a long time. Even the smell of it made me sick. Since then, I’ve been trying to do a zombie film again and again, in 2000 for example, “Ein Weihnachtslied”. It was shot in Blair Witch Project style. We shouted keywords to our actors and tried to capture their reactions on camera. That was a complete flop. The pictures and sound were just too bad. Also, the actors never reacted like we’d expected them to. Solely the splatter scenes worked out.
TBHM: I know that you did not just one day decide to get into the horror genre just like that...so what motivated you to get into this ever growing genre?
Ralf Kemper: I love to get the creeps. I started reading ghost novels very early in my life. Later there were the films I just mentioned and of course my first Super 8 camera. You can even see the latter lying around in the background in “Toxic Lullaby”. For the film we used my last Super 8, which was a high-tech product when I bought it back then. We used it for the nice and clean world from Eloise’s memories/dreams. It’s strange. Looking back, I never tried any other genre, although my first passion as a kid was cowboys and John Wayne.
TBHM: I brag about it all the time, I love Stephen King, he is my favorite horror author because he knows how to deliver a deep scare. I got to ask...who is your favorite horror author?
Ralf Kemper: Oh, same here. I just finished reading the “Dark Tower” series for the third time. Right now, I’m reading “‘Salem’s Lot” yet again. So there’s one of the main characters from “’Salem’s Lot”, Father Callahan, appearing also in the “Dark Tower” saga! It’s stunning how King linked many of his books to others and even plays a role as a writer in the saga himself. Now they want to turn it into a trilogy. I wonder how they will manage to squeeze seven books with such complexity into three films. I guess I won’t really like them. But I’m looking forward to seeing Roland and his ka-tet, nevertheless.
TBHM: "Toxic Lullaby" is an award winning independent horror movie but is closely similar to the viral pandemic movies such as "The Crazies", "Dawn of the Dead", "Carriers" among others. Were you inspired by George A. Romero's themes in this genre to write such a provocative and controversial tale?
Ralf Kemper: Yeah, sure. Particularly the first three parts of Romero’s “Living Dead” series were an inspiration, as well as the original version of “The Crazies”. With those films, Romero gave excellent examples of how horror can change society. He knows how to expose the weaknesses of people, which make it impossible to survive. More contemporary films like Danny Boyle’s “28 Days Later” and the sequel, or the Spanish “Rec” were also an influence. I’m a huge fan of post-apocalyptic films in general. From “Mad Max” to “The Road” – I watch everything I can get my hands on.
TBHM: Any Horror movie suggestions to fans?
Ralf Kemper: Ok, here some of my favorits: Dawn of the dead (1978), 28 days (weeks) later, The others, The thing (Carpenter), Hills have eyes (Remake), REC (1), The blair wich project, Don`t look now (1973), Alien, The walking dead.
TBHM: We love your work and we hope to see you continue to prosper in the industry. Any last words?
Ralf Kemper: I hope people enjoy my work and I can take on any movies in the future.
Thank you very much.