Cheap Thrills and American Muscle, that's who.
The movie comes out in the UK on June 6th, I hear … I think that it's a simultaneous theatrical/VOD/DVD release, but don't quote me on that. In the meantime, the UK distributor released these promo images. Not sure if they're character posters or trading cards or what. Nice to see the extra effort either way!
And it looks like the DVD and Blu-Ray comes out in the U.S. in just a few weeks (May 27th, to be exact). There's an audio commentary and all kinds of bonus materials including a making of documentary that I have yet to see (I hear that there's even some footage of the elusive screenwriter in there). Here's the box art:
And HERE is Drafthouse's CHEAP THRILLS Blu-Ray page - if you order it from them, there's a cool bundle option with soundtrack download and a limited edition retro press kit!
That's it. Gotta go and make more movies instead of promoting the old ones … no paycheck in that!
… I was invited to screen my directorial debut, CHOP, at the 15th Installment of a festival called 2300, Plan 9 - The Strange Nights of Cinema in the beautiful city of La Chaux De-Fond, Switzerland. Of course I said yes, thrilled to have the movie play anywhere. I was even more thrilled when they then invited me to attend the festival and be a jury member for their shorts competition. So I hopped on a plane to Zurich and spent an awesome 6 days watching movies, eating good food, and checking out Switzerland.
The festival itself was really amazing, well-run, and had a great atmosphere. It took place in an old temple in La Chaux De-Fond, a relatively small city in the French province of Switzerland. The fest took place nightly from about 5pm until 4am and every single screening of every single night was packed full of enthusiastic film fanatics. What I really loved about the fest was the three-ring circus atmosphere … The temple was decked out in amazing decor, they had a couple of bars in the theater itself to keep the crowd lubed up, and all of the festival workers, volunteers, and organizers got dressed up and made up into elaborate characters … It was kind of like a 6 night-long Swiss Halloween party. No pretension, no competition, just a supportive atmosphere of film lovers.
I was so busy enjoying the festival each night that I didn't take a ton of pictures of the festival happenings themselves, but there's a pretty great Flickr page set up that really captures the anarchic, great spirit of the festival right HERE. Check em out, it's pretty cool.
The other filmmaker guests this year were writer/director/FX guru Ryan Nicholson and my mentor (and the guy who gave me my entree into film), Lloyd Kaufman. It was really great to meet Ryan and to get a week to re-connect with Lloyd and his lovely wife, Pat … Also a pleasure to get to see both of their new movies with a crowd on the big screen.
Switzerland itself is like something out of a storybook. I understand that the weather there can be largely overcast, but it seems that California came with me, because for a good portion of the time I was there the Swiss enjoyed blue skies and unseasonably warm weather.
I managed to get out of La Chaux a couple of times. I took a day trip to the city of Lausanne to hang out with my good buddy Olivier, who lives there. Olivier played "Dolphin Man" in Citizen Toxie and it was great to catch up with him after an almost 15 year absence. Here are some shots from Lausanne:
The festival organizers were kind enough to plan several day trips for the guests of the festival. We went to this weird old mansion that had been turned into some kind of bizarre museum/interactive horror collage/serial killer's den called The Phantom Train.
The place was 5 stories crammed to the gills with horror movie memorabilia. I was disappointed that after all the years of work, I couldn't find anything Trent Haaga related … then I went into the bar/lounge, and was rewarded by seeing a framed postcard for DEADGIRL hanging on the wall:
Ha ha! I made it into The Phantom Train!
On another particularly beautiful day - my last in Switzerland - we went to the picturesque town of Gruyere (where the cheese comes from):
While in Gruyere, we visited the H.R. Giger Museum, where (unfortunately, because it was pretty amazing) photography is prohibited. But there were a few sculptures outside that were photo-friendly:
After the museum, we grabbed a drink at the H.R. Giger Bar, which you could take pictures in as long as you were buying:
I don't drink liquor, so I had a coffee, but there were all sorts of Giger-themed drinks available. Here's a look at Megan Nicholson's Alien Blood shot (although, technically, Alien blood should be green, right?):
As if the Gruyere day trip couldn't get any better, we then were treated to the best fondue lunch that I've ever had.
The festival was awesome and Switzerland was amazing. The 2300 Plan 9 festival is a hidden gem of the international festival circuit and the organizers really took great care of me. I want to extend my warmest thanks to everyone involved … now I just need to make another movie so that I can go back!
… But there is no rest for the wicked, as they say. I flew out of Zurich directly to the East Coast of the U.S. to do a week's worth of writing on a massive top-secret project that is … NON-FILM RELATED. I signed non-disclosure agreements, so I can't really talk about it, but I can say that the project was awesome and I am thrilled to be a part of it. Stay tuned, because once this thing hits the streets, I'll be telling you all to take a look at it.
… Finally, after two weeks in hotels in two parts of the world thousands of miles apart (and thousands of miles from my home), I returned to Los Angeles and the rest of the Haaga family rested and invigorated …
… Where I locked myself down for a week and finished the first draft of my new Lifetime Channel movie, which I turned in Friday.
And that's why I've got a moment to do this big-ass blog update: I find myself in the rare position where I don't have an immediate deadline. Don't worry, this break won't last long … and there are ALWAYS personal deadlines that I create for myself, so I'm not gonna be sitting around and sipping smoothies poolside … too much to do!
As always, thanks for visiting my little corner of the interwebs …
But this blog is still going to remain my home on the internet - my comfy couch where all three of my hardcore fans can get to know the real scoop in many, many more characters than 140.
In the meantime, you can follow me: @Trent_Haaga.
@TrentHaaga is gone forever - got squatted on a few years ago and is now verboten on Twitter, so I had to add the underscore.
CHEAP THRILLS opens in the UK on June 6th. They just released the UK Quad-style poster today:
CHEAP THRILLS is such a strange movie - part comedy, part tragedy, part horror movie - that it's really hard to convey the tone correctly in a trailer, much less a poster. I understand how difficult it is to market a film like this, but this poster … I mean, what is going on here? Why does it look like everyone is attending a party on a cleaver while wearing leather pants?
Whatever. I'm not a graphic designer nor am I a marketing specialist. Hopefully they know what they're doing over there.
As always, thanks for visiting!
It was a good run, CHEAP THRILLS. Now you're off to the rest of the country. Hope you keep that great per-screen average up!
David and I doing the required "marquee" shot:
On stage for the Q&A:
David and I with David:
That's it for now. As always, thanks for reading!
By all measures, the film seems to be a success considering the kind of movie it is. If you go by a "per screen average" breakdown, CHEAP THRILLS was #4 at the box-office this weekend behind GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL, GOD'S NOT DEAD, and DIVERGENT. No, seriously. Take a look:
Yep, it's pretty crazy. I've been largely absent from the promotional train on the movie, but I did go out to the theater on Friday night to see what the crowd was like at the Cinefamily:
I did my only post-screening Q&A for the small crowd that showed up for the 7:20pm screening. I didn't stick around for the Q&A after the sold out 9:50pm screening. But I hear that the film played very well and the "Twittersphere" backs that up. By the end of the weekend, #cheapthrills was going bonkers and amazingly positive Tweets were put out by diverse celebrities like Edgar Wright and Morgan Spurlock among others.
People seem to dig the movie, which is a great thing.
While I was reading the Tweets about CHEAP THRILLS, I foolishly decided to search the phrase "Trent Haaga" out of curiosity. The results were interesting and show a common theme:
So I'm a guy that's apparently done a lot of stuff that people think is cool, but they had no idea that I had anything to do with it. One part of me wonders of it's simply because of my bizarre career path … I mean, I've got to be the only guy who has written a Toxic Avenger movie, played a killer clown for Charles Band, written some movies for the Lifetime Network and also a few indie festival hits like DEADGIRL and CHEAP THRILLS. I've pretty much made it impossible to put me in a box of any sort … Which, as far as I'm concerned, is a good thing.
Another part of me thinks that this general state of confusion is because I'm not out there TELLING you that I'm involved in this stuff. It's as if one doesn't even exist unless one has a Facebook and a Twitter and spends an inordinate amount of time screaming about their accomplishments into the ether … Well, shit, man, if I spent all my time talking about things I already did, I wouldn't have the time to do more things … or at least that's how I look at it.
Instead of watering myself down into sound bytes and 140 character re-tweets, I have simply made this blog the place to go if you want to know what's going on with me. There's nothing wrong with that, right? And if you're bothering to come all the way here, I know that you already know that I co-wrote CHEAP THRILLS and that I'm also KILLJOY and wrote a TOXIC AVENGER movie. We're all a big, happy family here … that would be myself and the three of you. And there's nothing wrong with that!
Just so it's not all about CHEAP THRILLS, I found this pic from last year but I'd never seen it before. The promotional poster for THE PACT 2, which I have a small role in. Dig it:
Future tweet a few months from now: "I had no idea CHEAP THRILLS co-writer Trent Haaga was in THE PACT 2! And also a Troma vet! WTF?"
Several years ago - around 2006 or so - I wrote a script entitled POOR THINGS for an independent film producer. It was a black comedy about two elderly female career con artists who decide to do one last score by murdering a homeless junkie that they've taken a life insurance policy out on. I dunno. Seemed like an interesting idea at the time.
Anyway, I wrote a script, got some rent money, and promptly went on to other things. A few months after turning POOR THINGS in, I got a call from a Producer on the project telling me to go look at the day's copy of Variety … And there was my name on the front page, announcing that Academy Award winners Shirley MacLaine and Olympia Dukakis were on board to play the leads.
I was completely shocked and amazed as I watched the project turn into a genuine Hollywood "thing." All of a sudden, directors were attached, more stars came on board, meetings with major studios were happening. There are all kinds of stories out there on the internet about the film's development if you care to search them out. Here's a typical story from Slash Film about the project … and the typical journalistic response to the idea:
… Yeah, at this time there was no DEADGIRL, no CHEAP THRILLS, no TALHOTBLOND. I was just the fucking idiot who had written CITIZEN TOXIE. How could a dumbass from Troma write something that attracted actual talent? Something had to be amiss …
Anyway, re-writes were requested, meetings were taken, money was raised, parts were filled. They even made me turn a 70-plus year old character into a 23 year old so that they could up the "sexy factor" and cast Lindsay Lohan (who was veering off the tracks at the time, but hadn't quite crashed the train yet).
A production office was established. The DP of CHILDREN OF MEN was onboard. Locations were rented along with equipment. The cast fluctuated, but at one time or another included Rosario Dawson, Channing Tatum, Giovanni Ribisi, Christopher Walken, and James Woods in addition to the three female leads. Millions of dollars were in the bank with hundreds of thousands being spent on pre-production …
Hell, here I am at Shirley MacLaine's house for a script meeting. We actually got along famously. She even made me lunch:
But as you know, there never was a movie called POOR THINGS. Less than 48 hours before we were to begin shooting, Lindsay got busted for cocaine possession and DWI and immediately went into rehab (her first of 6 stints), which pushed production … and eventually the money ran out and everyone went home. While the Lohan meltdown was a contributing factor in the death of POOR THINGS, there were many other things that prevented the film from becoming a reality. I could fill a whole book about how Hollywood greed and avarice and stupidity jettisoned the project. A series of terrible decisions and a ton of massive egos were the real problem and the film died a horrible death before a single frame was shot.
Here's a Variety story when things were still trying to be put back together again.
Yep, it was disappointing to say the least. I think that my life might be a little different now if this thing had been made. But it wasn't …
Nevertheless, people seemed to really love the script and it got me some meetings and my first Manager and Agent. I made a little bit of money from it by doing the re-writes and stuff (but my big paycheck, which I was supposed to get on the first day of production, never came), and - most importantly - I learned a valuable lesson about how this silly town can be when the stench of money starts to waft around. There were non-monetary benefits to the whole experience, I suppose, but I would have loved to have seen the movie made.
In lieu of that, I'm doing the next best thing, which is making the script available to the public (and by "public," I mean you three). Now we have made a movie together - a movie in your minds. So here it is, for your reading pleasure:
This is an earlier draft of the script before some of the changes were demanded of me … Maybe a "purer" version of it. In this one, there is no sexy 23 year old … Lohan's character is as I originally intended her to be: an addled 70-something woman (the character of "Phoebe," just FYI).
Enjoy and thanks for visiting the site, folks!