Sci-fi and horror are a tricky mix, but when the recipe is right, it’s – pardon me – stellar. For Maine filmmaking mainstays Christian Matzke and Sarah Tarling Matzke, this year’s “Damnationland” Maine-made horror anthology (the sixth) is the perfect place to show that, when done right, space is truly the place where no one can hear you scream.
I talked with Christian Matzke about their upcoming short “Last Flight of the Freya 7,” which will premiere as part of “Damnationland” in October.
Without spoilers, what is “The Last Flight of the Freya”?
A spaceship has been missing for four years, floating out there. A smaller rescue or salvage vehicle picks up a distress signal and goes to find out what’s happened. There’s a small group of films in the late ’70s and early ’80s that understood the concept of a used future, and that’s what we’re doing.
The original “Star Wars” movies were better than the sequels because of the feeling that the story was happening before we see it. It’s all in the dirty, oily, patched up look of the Nostromo (from 1979’s “Alien”). If it were on the shelf at (recently defunct Portland video store Videoport), it’d say, “Imagine if ‘Alien’ and ‘The Thing’ had a love child in the Overlook Hotel.” (Matzke also credits cinematographer John Dearnley and editor Aaron Langley for the film’s look – both Maine natives living away.)
Tell us about your cast.
(Portland musician and actor) Samuel James is the lead, and he’s a phenomenal, understated actor. It makes perfect sense: He’s a great stage musician – he’s a very fascinating presence. George Dalphin (director of upcoming “Damnationland” film “Neurophreak,” also starring James) says Sam is our Harry Dean Stanton. In addition, we’re very lucky to have Trevor Steedman (British actor-stuntman from “Aliens,” “Snatch” and a lot more), who’s playing the owner of the company that sent them. He channels Ben Kingsley in “Sexy Beast” or Bob Hoskins – a London, not very polished, sort of gangster guy.
What was the experience of your second “Damnationland” film like?
We did our first “Damnationland,” the zombie comedy “Last Call” in the first one, and I don’t want to say “Damnationland” was thrown together then – but it was thrown together. Sarah’s done makeup on at least two or three more since then, but to come back and see how the process changed is so amazing, To come back now – here are the guidelines, deadlines, screenings – all that stuff, you sense it was learned trial by fire. It’s such a great group. And, honestly, the amount of women involved is fantastic – I’m excited by that. Women sometimes come up with way creepier stuff.
Keep tabs on “Last Flight of the Freya 7” at its Facebook page.
COMING TO LOCAL SCREENS
NICKELODEON CINEMA (patriotcinemas.com)
Friday: “Phoenix.” A critical favorite for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, this German thriller sees disfigured concentration camp survivor Nina Hoss receiving a new face and then going undercover in her own life to find out if it was her husband who betrayed her to the Nazis.
SPACE GALLERY (space538.org)
Tuesday: “The Look of Silence.” SPACE, following up on last year’s showing of the searing Oscar-nominated documentary “The Act of Killing,” brings us director Joshua Oppenheimer’s equally stunning sequel. Again focusing on the perpetrators of the Indonesian genocide (most of whom remain in power), “The Look of Silence” follows the quest of an optometrist as he sets out to confront the men who killed his brother.