By: JOSHUA “PROMETHEUS” SCAFIDI
We recently had the chance to chat with the writer-director of the new horror-comedy, SEWER GATORS, Paul Dale! Paul is a funny guy, and he opened up about his inspiration for the film, the cast, and much, much more. Be prepared to laugh.
Hi Paul, how are you doing?
I’m doing pretty good, all things considered. The days winding down. How about you?
I’m good! So you have a new film out, SEWER GATORS. Now you wrote and directed the film?
I did! If you can call what I do that. [Laughing.]
Okay, what can you tell us about it?
So, SEWER GATORS is a horror comedy about a very small town in Louisiana plagued with a, uh – infestation – if you will, of alligators who seem to be coming up through the toilets and eating people – ass first.
It follows the trappings of basically every creature feature, post-Jaws, in that there’s a big event that the mayor doesn’t want to shut down, and the sheriff is trying to stop these horrible creatures before it’s too late.
So I’m hearing the creature feature trope, but I’m also hearing a little bit of Ghoulies in there, too!
Yeah, there’s a little bit of all that in there! I grew up in a small town in Louisiana, and there was nothing to do. So during the summertime, I and my friends would drive to this pawn shop that had all these bad horror movies for sale for like a buck. We would just buy crappy horror movies and watch them non-stop.
I get it. I grew up in the ’80s and ’90s, so bad horror movies were my bread and butter. How did you come up with the general premise of the film?
My grandmother is from Brooklyn. So, as a kid, there were always the alligators-in-the-sewers stories. She would also show us all kinds of crazy movies and crack up laughing. I was traumatized by that, and the many horrifying stories of, you know, how alligators were going to come up through the sewers and eat you by the ass.
Yeah, that makes sense.
Basically … in terms of writing, I wanted to see if I could do something goofy and silly with this. I cranked it out pretty quickly, and then COVID happened, and it sat on a shelf. Then I woke up one day thinking I hadn’t made anything in a while, and that’s sort of the genesis of it. I called up a few friends, and we just went for it.
So it all sort of started with your grandmother’s stories. It’s interesting what we take and then make things out of. SEWER GATORS stars Manon Pages, Austin Naulty, and Kenny Ballou. What was it like working with everyone?
Oh, man. It was great. I’ve known all these cats for a while now. I met Manon a few films ago. She responded to a Craigslist ad looking for actors. That was back when people still responded to Craigslist ads. There were fewer murders.
Before the whole Craigslist killer thing.
Yeah. So this was when I was in college. I was passed out drunk at my parents’ house from the night before, and [Manon] showed up promptly at 6:00 a.m., in hair and make-up and ready to actually do things. I’m like, “Oh, yeah. We’re supposed to make a movie today. [Laughing] She turned out to be a trooper and stuck with me. She’s legit a great actress. I don’t know why she keeps doing my crappy movies.
I have a short list of people I call up. I like to work with the same people because they have all become my friends. Austin, I met him on the same movie. It was called Silent but Deadly. It’s about a killer mime. It’s very ridiculous and silly. He’s a funny dude. He plays the Gator Hunter in SEWER GATORS.” The trunk of his car is like Mary Poppin’s bag, man. Half the props from the movie came out of Austin’s trunk. I don’t know why he had so much crap in his trunk. The dude’s a beast.
Kenny, I met him on a commercial I was doing a few years back. He’s a real stand-up guy. He used to be a professional bicyclist in his wilder and younger days. They’re all awesome. Then I round out the cast with a bunch of random people I went to high school with.
It must make the experience a little different, too, right? Like, you show up on set, and it’s a bunch of professionals. That’s great. But, it’s different than when you show up and it’s a group of your friends, and you all know each other, and you know each other’s limits.
Absolutely, man. I liken it to when I was a kid. My brother and I would take the family camcorder in the backyard and remake, well, whatever – even original stuff that we would come up with on the fly. In my mind, that’s the thing that made me fall in love with movies. That experience of having that family camcorder and just joking around with my brother in the yard. That’s what I’m always trying to get back to, and I feel like that’s the closest you can get to that – getting a group of friends together and being silly, and stupid – and it’s always a blast.
So, what would you say sets this film apart from other killer gator flicks?
It’s the only one, that I’m aware of, with severe gator attacks on the toilet. [Laughing]
I would say what sets this film apart is the sense of humor. If you go into this movie expecting a very serious creature feature, you’re going to be very disappointed. This is a movie you should go into a few drinks deep.
I love silly and campy. Horror comedy? Bring it on!
Yeah man, the tongue is firmly planted in the cheek with this one.
I saw you’re releasing a collectible VHS version of SEWER GATORS.
Yes, and that’s a really good deal because if you watch the movie past the credits, you get half a Disney movie that we taped over! [Laughing]
So, is it random? Like you don’t know what Disney movie you’re going to get until you watch it?
Oh, yeah. You’re going to get a random one! That’s part of the fun! If you buy two copies, I guarantee, it won’t be the same Disney movie.
Okay. As long as it’s not like your fifth birthday party or something. Then I would feel bad.
I actually did think about, like, splicing in home footage from family video tapes at the end.
Okay, I’m just going to come out and say this so they don’t send you a Cease and Desist notice. We’re joking, Disney!
Yeah. [Laughing] There will be no Disney movie on the back end. Sorry, guys.
So what’s next for you, Paul?
I have two things in the pipeline right now. Both are in script mode, and I’ll see which one lands first. One is Killer Kites. Imagine Christine, but swap out the car for a child’s kite – that lops off heads. All I can say without really spoiling anything is that at one point, to try and destroy the kite, they set it on fire. Then, they just end up with a kite on fire – that lops people’s heads off.
The other thing I have – I’m working on a title, so I am open to suggestions – but it’s a horror-romantic-comedy-musical- sing-a-long drinking game. It’s about Frankenstein’s assistant, Igor, finding love. It’s one of the most ridiculous things I have ever written, but it makes me laugh. Hopefully, we will get to shoot one of those this summer. The idea of making a musical drinking game is communal; it’s about bringing people together. Like strangers watching a movie together, and all yelling at the screen.
That could work, man! Now, before I let you go, if you had to sum up SEWER GATORS In one sentence, what would it be?
Alligator ass attacks.
Oh, my … I really appreciate your time, Paul. I’ll be keeping my eye out. Keep us updated!
Thank you so much for having me!
Be sure to check out SEWER GATORS, available now from By The Thorns Productions on VOD, DVD, Blu-ray and collectible VHS (Really. We’re just kidding. No Disney movies will actually be attached to the end of the film. Honest.)