To be from the Bay Area and be called The Butcher Brothers might mean you get mixed up with purveyors of grass fed meats for foodies, but the team of Mitchell Altieri and Phil Flores, aka The Butcher Brothers, taps into an equally deep Northern Californian tradition in indie filmmaking. Their new feature The Violent Kind, is a nightmare-with-bikers-in-the-woods fantasy that was shot in Petaluma, Cotati and surrounding areas (as was their vampiric first feature, The Hamiltons), and definitely fits their collaborative moniker.
The Sundance film notes call The Violent Kind “gleeful, insane exploitation,” a description that sounds irresistible to filmgoers with grindhouses in their psyches. I interviewed them via email as they prepared to leave for Sundance.
"We took this film to a place where…I honestly don’t know that there exists a raw comparison,” says Mitchell Altieri, one of the two Butchers (who are not related by family blood). “And I hope that’s what people understand with our filmmaking, as both writers and directors, that we want to push everything beyond its comfort zone. If I had to compare it to anything, I would say that it’s classic ’70s horror meets David Lynch."
The latter mention comes through in their use of vintage American music–1950s and 60s–as well as indelibly freakish characters. "The comparison to Lynch definitely speaks to where we are as filmmakers. He is one of our biggest influences, which is to say that he inspires us–and by ‘us’ I mean a number of filmmakers, both established and new–to push our material outside of the norm.” There are other thinking persons’ horror misters in their inspiration file: David Cronenberg, Stanley Kubrick, David Fincher.
“It’s great directors like these who have successfully broken down the walls of defining a film to a point where it’s undefinable. That’s what pushes us to want to create great films from a vision that is uniquely The Butcher Brothers," Altieri admits. Unique enough to attract producers with recent Hollywood horror pedigrees, with figures who had their hands in Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Halloween.
In a way, The Violent Kind seems as though it might be more Slamdance material, but Altieri has a good sense of why the other festival was interested for a Park City at Midnight slot. "It’s definitely Sundance material because we created a film that is uniquely our vision,” he says. “I think that’s really why we have film festivals, and to be a part of this festival in particular feels great. With The Violent Kind, we wanted to go back to the ’70s when people were doing films from their own vision, from Easy Rider to other genre films, and I think that encompasses what makes a film ‘Sundance material.’ Our film is what the spirit of the festival encompasses, which is to push the boundaries of filmmaking."
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