Quebec homemade horror is on the rise. That’s according to self-proclaimed gore addict Camille Monette, the man responsible for the majority of the practical effects in several upcoming independent horror shorts. Monette is always looking for new ways to make blood splatter and heads explode, and recently, he got to try out some new techniques in his directorial debut Termitator. The story of Termitator is described as “four douchebags head out for a weekend of debauchery in the woods, unaware that they’re disturbing the peace of a mutant humanoid-insect.” Imagine the final scene of Cronenburg’s The Fly set in Camp Crystal Lake, but low-budget and French Canadian. We sat down with Monette and Keenan Poloncsak, who played the dreaded Termitator and had previously collaborated with Monette in the zombie short Pro-Can. They recounted stories of filming in the woods and told me the secret ingredients of their gore molds.
You can watch Termitator in full (with subtitles) below, exclusive to Nightmare on Film Street. Warning: not recommended if you have a weak stomach.
Chris Aitkens for Nightmare on Film Street: How are you feeling after the world premiere of Termitator?
Camille Monette: I’m liberated! I’m really satisfied, it was a great experience. We worked with a lot of people who were stoked about the project, really willing to do everything. It was really great working with those people.
Keenan Poloncsak: Me too, I’m 100% satisfied with the whole movie and the evening at the Dollar Cinema. With all the time it took to make, I feel relieved. It’s like taking a huge dump in the morning. It felt good.
NOFS: How did the idea of Termitator first come up?
CM: For the first project, I was thinking of making something that wasn’t new, something with a base in horror, so I chose to do a slasher. Everything has been done with the slasher genre. I have a few inspirations like Street Trash, Bad Taste, Brain Dead and Evil Dead 2. Everybody’s trying to do new shit and get a clear image. They want to make something like Walking Dead, but I find it’s too clean. I wanted to do something more like the 80s style. It’s a free space, just to work with what’s already been made. It was also for the pleasure of reuniting a group of friends, having a good time making a movie and to make it gory as fuck.
KP: I was in it totally for the gore.
NOFS: Is there anything you wanted to do differently from Pro-Can?
KP: Well, Pro-Can was based on an old comic I made, and it was supposed to be symbolic and poetic. Some things I think a lot of people got, other things not so much, but I was very happy with that. For this project, the story is ridiculous, it’s cliché, it’s using all these things that are just accepted. Like, the main character turns into a termite for no explained reason, people are just so used to that thing. It was a real adventure too. We decided to do it in that cabin in the woods. We had no electricity, no water, and we had to bring people there and prepare all the stuff. We were camping there at the same time.
CM: We had to walk about 20 minutes each time we arrived on the spot with all the gear, we had props and food too. And the whole team was fucking amazing, they all brought something to the place.
NOFS: Was this your first time as a director?
CM: For me, yes. I worked on a couple of other movies, but always as the effects guy or makeup. But this is the first time I made a movie, with a couple of people, it’s not my movie, it’s our movie. But I was the official director and producer.
NOFS: Was that difficult for you?
CM: Yes, because I’m not the kind of person who promotes a project. I’m better in a workshop with my headphones on, listening to my music, with a beer and a joint, working on molds or sculptures. It wasn’t hard, but it was different, it was out of my realm and it was challenging. But it was a fucking great experience and people were very helpful. I was lucky to have a team like that.
NOFS: How long were you in the woods for?
CM: I think 6 months, but part-time. We would go based on the availability of people. We would shoot for two or three days, then the next week, it would be just for one day.
KP: For the summer of 2015, it was pretty much every weekend we were in the woods unless it was raining or if we had to some filming somewhere else.
CM: There’s a couple of shots, for the gore, that we filmed in Montreal. We didn’t have to be in the woods, we just needed some grass. For the head exploding, we could just do close-ups in Keenan’s backyard. Most of the time it was on location in the woods in that fucking awesome shack that our friend Louis-David built.
NOFS: How long did it take to put on the entire Termitator costume?
KP: Half an hour. It’s a three-piece mask
CM: But we also had to put makeup made of gelatin. Without using electricity, we had to melt the gelatin, using a wood stove in the shack.
NOFS: I definitely noticed the Street Trash influence when Keenan was turning into the Termitator. What did you use for the bubbling chemicals? Was it just paint?
CM: No, it was a mix of Xanthum gum, food colouring, corn starch, sometimes peas or lentils, corn syrup, sometimes coffee. Since we were shooting in the woods, we couldn’t have toxic products, we wanted to use environmentally-friendly ingredients. We didn’t want to leave a mark on nature, so I did some research on how to make semi-vegan gore effects.
KP: The film is almost vegan except for the crickets and the gelatin.
NOFS: Oh, so that’s what you used for the termites!
CM: We bought them at the pet shop, about 1000 crickets. And the week after, when we came back to the set, we could hear all the crickets at night. I think we might have fucked up the natural equilibrium, there were too many crickets. We were sitting around the fire and we were hearing frogs getting closer and closer. It was a free buffet for them!
NOFS: I noticed the gore in this movie was really over the top. You have fireworks coming out of someone’s ass, you have someone getting their dick chainsawed off, you have melting breasts. Are there any other deaths that you had in mind that you couldn’t do?
CM: Yes, but I won’t say. Because there might be a sequel.
NOFS: So if you were to make a sequel, is there anything you can reveal?
CM: Normally in a sequel, it doesn’t resemble the original at all. The monster will be different, it’ll be a different genre, it won’t be a slasher. It will have just as much gore, maybe more, especially if we have the budget. But I want to do something very random. For Termitator, I wanted to do a shitty movie, an exploitation movie, because we had a small budget. If I don’t have a big budget for the second film, then it’s impossible to make.
NOFS: I’m also interested about the horror movie inside the horror movie, Chainsaw Cow Hookers. Where did the inspiration for that come from?
CM: It was an homage to Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers. I forget the name of the actor in it, but he died last year. It’s not a good movie, it’s a B-movie, it sucked, honestly. But whenever you watch a horror movie, especially a slasher, it’s always a man who plays the villain, and he’s always in a power position. So I wanted to reverse the gender roles. But it’s still very sexualized. It’s probably the only regret I have with Termitator; I wasn’t able to achieve the vision of equality between the sexes. When it comes to B-series or Troma movies, it’s always gratuitous with nude scenes, but if you show a naked man, it’s a travesty, it’s a joke! It’s very dude-oriented. I wanted to make a villain who was a woman attacking a handsome man with a big dick. Yes, she’s naked, you can see her breasts covered in blood, so I won’t get any feminist points for that. Zero. I shot myself in the foot, it was a bad attempt.
KP: I didn’t see it that way at all. I thought it was hilarious.
CM: But at the premiere, there were a lot of people who were angry and left. I didn’t say bye to them. I was happy with that. I didn’t want only compliments, that’s boring. I wanted people to have real reactions to the movie.
NOFS: Other than Termitator, what other projects have you been working on?
CM: There’s Crucifix, Yersinia Pestis, Cosmic Pendant, which will be coming out next year, and previously, there was Pro-Can, Banshee, Push Up the Daisies, Mascouche, Superfunk and Sleazy Pete. That’s all I can think of now.
NOFS: Did you have any training in gore?
CM: No, it’s a hobby. I learned by myself, in my apartment, through trial and error.
KP: He’s a Mr. Fix-it kind of guy, he’s always creating stuff and building contraptions. He’s good at cooking too. So most of the gore stuff is edible. He’s good at following recipes and creating recipes to get certain colours and consistencies.
NOFS: So where are you showing the movie next?
KP: I’m going to try to get into festivals as much as possible, but it always pisses me off the fact that I have to pay a festival for them to show my movie. Personally, if I was organizing a screening or a film festival, I wouldn’t charge anything to show someone else’s film. I’ve been trying to find some free festivals around the world, I might fork over some money if I think they are worthy, but I’ll still be reluctant.
CM: Recently we teamed up with Frank Appache of Sleazy Pete and Gabriel Claveau of Punk Fu Zombie, and we organized a mini-tour. The next screening will be in Sherbrooke for the Cabane à Sang, it will be our three movies.
KP: Then Quebec City, Rimouski, then maybe Spasm Festival. If they’re cool, they’ll take it.
CM: But just to have the premiere screening was significant enough for the people who were involved. But we don’t want to make money. We just love making horror movies. We love the experience of working with a dream team.
KP: That dream team is what it’s all about. Counting everyone who participated, that makes 16, and one of them was a dog. Termitator was a milestone in my life, and as a team, I think we’ve come to a new stage in our evolution. I just want to say, if you see the movie and you like it, show all your friends. You can do a screening at your house for Halloween or something. I don’t want to see people showing it at a bar and charging 10 bucks. But if people want to show it at the local punkhouse and make it by donation for next week’s food drive, we have no problem with that. Make Termitator grow!