One of the shortest chapters in the book about grindhouse movies is the chapter about Norway. And it probably only have two entries; The Whore and its yet unreleased sequel, Inside the whore, both directed by Reinert Kiil. Meet the set designer turned exploitation director in this interview.
Norway is so far removed from cool movies that up until 2009, no grindhouse exploitation film had been made that reached any kind of distribution worth the name. Directed by Reinert Kiil, The Whore (2009) became Norway’s first entry in the genre, after having had a horror film scene for only a little over 10 years. Nordic Fantasy spoke to Kiil about both the first film, and its upcoming sequel, Inside the whore.
Nordic Fantasy: Please tell us a little about your background as a film maker and horror fan.
Reinert Kiil: I started making short films at the age of nine. Mostly slasher films and some cartoons. This developed when I moved to Alta (in Northern Norway) to study acting and directing at high school. By then I had already worked on some films for Knut Erik Jensen as assistant, and filmed everything from auditions to shows and theatre plays. Later I moved to Tromsø and made some films there, a few short films and a feature called Fuck Norge. It was only supposed to be a draft for a movie I wanted to make, but it was sent to a film festival in Bergen and was later picked up by other festivals around the world. Then I worked a few years as production assistant and prop guy on various projects until I got a job in the production of the major [film and TV] project Kautokeinoopprøret, which opened up doors to international productions like Far North. After that I moved to Oslo where I have worked as a freelancer until now. Props, production design, lights, production assistant, coordinator, etc. I like everything about movie making, and have worked on everything from features and short films to commercials, TV, promos, theatre plays and also an opera once. During this time I have also worked on my own projects. I made a short film called Voice of concience which went around the world, with Morten Rudå and Geir Morstad in the lead roles. That was a multi-camera studio production. I have also made a documentary about Jorg Buttgereit whom I was lucky to meet again in 2010 at a Dutch film festival. I have also made [the exploitation feature] The Whore which was distributed by Another World, and its sequel Inside the Whore.
The reason why I really love horror movies probably stems from watching a specific movie as a kid. I just loved it, and watched it without my mother knowing about it, Child’s Play. I was 6 then and the movie really appealed to me. I had already seen many drama films from the US but none of them grabbed me as much as Child’s Play did. I had nightmares for several years after! Which I actually liked. To be moved by a film like that…. Later I grew to enjoy splatter movies like Bad Taste and Re-Animator, which later turned me on to trash films like the ones from Troma and films I ordered from the Netherlands. I was fascinated by how people could deal with themes that are so close and vulnerable, often with comedy and a straight narrative. Bad things could be displayed as positive and this provoked me so much that I got more interested in that. And then I was hit by a sexploitation wave, particularly movies from Spain and Italy but also Russ Meyer of course. I also like many mainstream movies but I guess my favourites among them are the same as everyone else’s. My top favourite film within horror is The Shining, but I also dig Re-Animator, The Changeling, Scream, Bubba Ho-tep and A nightmare on Elm Street.
Nordic Fantasy: Isabel Vibe is a porn star, is that why you cast her as the lead actress in The Whore, as there is lots of nudity in the film?
Kiil: I won’t deny that I was considering other actresses in the beginning, but that was before I knew about Isabel Vibe. When I learned about who she was and what she was doing, I got very sure about casting her. Isabel fit the Rikke character perfectly in my opinion, and I think nobody would have made Rikke better. It’s to do with both her charisma and because she’s so controlled in front of the camera in normal scenes as well as in less than normal scenes.
Nordic Fantasy: Generally, was it difficult to cast for both movies, as the genre has a certain reputation and people maybe didn’t want to be associated with it?
Kiil: No, on the contrary. Actually, it’s always a tough job with casting. But surprisingly there were a lot of people who wanted to join. What is difficult is finding someone who knows exactly what they are up against and are so self-assured that it won’t be a problem for the movie and for themselves after the fact.
Nordic Fantasy: Were there any differences in what kind of actors you needed for Inside the Whore, compared to the first film?
Kiil: Indeed! The first movie was shot almost in just one location near the homes of everyone who was a part of it. And there were only four main characters. The sequel has more or less 10 characters and it has been shot far away from anyone’s home. This also became a budgetary problem but we managed to stitch it together thanks to great actors and a great crew. The crew for the sequel is actually smaller than for the first film, but that’s because we’re using different equipment and the whole movie has a different style.
Nordic Fantasy: Jørgen Langhelle, one of Norway’s big acting stars, had a small role, almost a cameo, in The Whore and is also in the sequel. Why is he interested in starring in small budget grindhouse horrors?
Kiil: Jørgen is a fantastic actor and has proven time after time that he masters what is given to him. The reason why he acted in my films he’ll have to answer, but I think he sees the irony in them.
Nordic Fantasy: You funded The Whore with your own money. Did you even try to get sponsors or grants, and what did those possible sponsors say?
Kiil: The Whore was rejected everywhere and the same was the sequel. But when I met the distributor, then I found someone who believed in the projects. The Whore sold well and got good reviews and several awards. So the distributors has not been negative. But these movies I think were hard to fund in the past as well, you know, movies that were made to be trashy and almost with the purpose of tormenting the viewers. There are also small political comments in them too, and more so in the sequel.
Nordic Fantasy: The Whore was Norway’s first rape-revenge exploitation film. What gave you the idea? Why not a traditional slasher or serialkiller film?
Kiil: That question is easy to answer. I was tired of the fact that everyone who is going to make low budget movies choose the slasher or drama genres. Why not create a contrast in Norwegian films? Or something that provokes. At least with that, you have the first door opened for the audience to come in. I was surprised that The Whore wasn’t among the movies that audiences were allowed to vote on at the Amanda award (Norway’s Oscar), as I don’t think an elite jury should decide which movies viewers should vote for, no matter the genre or quality.
Nordic Fantasy: Why do you think nobody in Norway has made a hardcore exploitation film until now? We’re at least 35 years behind the Swedes.
Kiil: It’s related to how the movie business is controlled. And the fact that nonprofessionals around the country has not had the opportunity to make their own films until now, with everything being digital. And it also takes a bit of knowledge and contacts to sell a movie professionally. I guess there have been made hundreds of no budget movies out there that we don’t know about, so maybe there are more Norwegian exploitation films out there. Would be cool to find out about them.
Nordic Fantasy: Were there things you wrote in the script for the first Whore film, and even shot, that didn’t end up in the film because it would be going too far?
Kiil: There were two extreme scenes that was cut. Not because the movie would have gone too far with them in it, but because of money. One shot to the head was too extreme. A killing of a character who isn’t in the movie had to be cut because of lack of time and money, and this created a plot hole in the film about Rikke’s mother and the girls in the beginning of the film. The other cut scene was a sex scene which was supposed to be filmed in detail. However I could not afford to build a full body pupped so the scene had to go.
Nordic Fantasy: Do you think Norwegians understood the grindhouse aesthetics of missing reels and worn-out, faded film segments that you edited into the film? We never had drive-in and cheap grindhouse cinemas here.
Kiil: I hope and think they get it. Most of them anyway. Many have been to village cinemas in the 80s and 90s where the film reel had to be replaced, or the reel rewinded on screen. I experienced these things as late as with Jurassic Park in 1993 in Honningsvåg. So I can imagine that many Norwegians get this. On the other hand I am not sure that everyone understood why I chose to use “degraded film” effects in those particular places and why images pop up where they do. It’s more fun if they can work that out by themselves in stead of me telling them.
Nordic Fantasy: What gave you the idea to make Inside the Whore as a mockumentary?
Kiil: The reason is that I had planned to make one mockumentary, one slasher and one exploitation film. A trilogy, except the movies are coming out in the wrong order. The idea for the sequel came from several movies. Everything from Lars von Trier’s Dogme to Cannibal Holocaust and Dead Set. Inside the whore is more a reality mockumentary comedy in a rape revenge setting, or a “kill film” which is my term. The movie is about ruining the mood for the actors in real life so that this can be projected in fictional scenes in a particular universe.
Nordic Fantasy: The Whore is probably the most graphic film ever made in Norway, in terms of visual gore and explicit violence. How can you go even further in Inside the Whore?
Kiil: I’ll do everything more real but also more surreal. Wait and see!
Nordic Fantasy: Has it been easier to fund Inside the Whore, or is it still your own money that you spend?
Kiil: The budget is more or less the same as before, and it’s still my own money. No help this time either… But we have newer and better cameras, and better sound. We have put more money into make-up and effects.
Nordic Fantasy: Can you reveal any gory details or “money shots” from Inside the Whore?
Kiil: One scene includes a sex scene with a corpse that has no skin on the face, and this man is obsessed by his own film in which a man is shot in the head and dies in front of a naked woman. And not least a big penis hanging across the screen. All this in a shot that takes almost a minute to watch.
Nordic Fantasy: What was the most elaborate and complex scene to shoot in either movies?
Kiil: Several scenes in Inside the whore were difficult because I act in it myself and had to act and direct at the same time.
Nordic Fantasy: Did you meet any resistance when shooting your Whore movies?
Kiil: One angry woman called me from a newspaper and badmouthed me for promoting these kind of movies. And I have heard rumours about some people not accepting what I do. But I do nothing wrong the way I see it. What you can see in the daily news is 10 times worse, and it’s for real! What I make is fiction. My only objective with these movies is to shock the viewers into thinking, “what the f….”. And to entertain.
Nordic Fantasy: Do you think a grindhouse film like yours could have been made on a budget of one million euro? Or are low budgets, fast shoots and improvised solutions important to exploitation films?
Kiil: It depends. I did like Death Proof but you can see it cost quite a lot of money no matter what, which was the downside to it. In the old days grindhouse movies could cost a million euro because they shot on real film, and they could do that because producers saw the potential in the market. But if you had given me one million euro, I would have made the sickest movie you’d ever see! Just let me try!
Nordic Fantasy: In terms of gruesome violence and mutilation, are there any things you will not touch?
Kiil: I think if you want to shock audiences, you have to go into taboos. There is only one thing I would not want to touch on screen and that is anything related to pedophilia in real life. I mean, dramatizing events that really happened.
Nordic Fantasy: Why have you chosen a grindhouse exploitation genre for these two movies, and not a more mainstream horror feeling?
Kiil: Because I felt that grindhouse exploitation is what The whore really is. Real grindhouise. Nothing else. It has everything that genre takes and lacks everything that could make it mainstream. It’s simply a sleazy dirty trashy film.
Nordic Fantasy: Do you think rape-revenge films have a mission and a message, or are they just about making audiences disgusted?
Kiil: I can’t answer that because I can only answer from my own viewpoint, and my my movie is only about a woman who gets raped and takes her revenge. It’s nothing more than that. But it’s possible others have thought about something else. What’s good with rape-revenge movies is that often you get to see a woman do a cool part, and be something else than the weak lady in the kitchen.
Nordic Fantasy: Outside horror, are there any films or genres you’d like to try later?
Kiil: I have made short films in other genres, but would very much like to make an actioner or sci-fi. A few years ago I wrote a sci-fi script called Tigerstaden (Tiger town) which is about a virus that changes the human population into crazies. A selected group of people must get to the centre of Oslo to find something that can end the horrors. But it’s in Oslo the plague is hitting hardest. But my next movie will possibly be a slasher film!
Inside the whore gets a limited theatrical debut in Oslo in October 2011. See our preview here.