Going “Satanic”: An Interview with Chelsea Stardust

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Chelsea Stardust is a lifelong horror film fan who got her start working as an assistant to the likes of Judd Apatow and horror producer extraordinaire Jason Blum. In 2015, she started directing short films and the hard work has paid off as she makes her feature film debut on the horror-comedy Satanic Panic, coming to theaters, On Demand, and Digital on September 6 from RLJE Films and Fangoria Films.

World Film Geek had the opportunity to talk to Stardust about the film.

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Thank you so much Chelsea for talking about Satanic Panic. I had such a blast watching this movie. Great story, fun characters, major insanity! Loved it!
Thank you so much! That’s awesome!

How long have you been a horror film fan?
All of my life (Laughs). My love for horror started out from my love of Halloween. I grew up in a family that loved Halloween so we every year we had this big party, homemade costumes. Then I got into horror literature like Goosebumps and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and Bunnicula. So that’s where it began. Then I got into the cartoons like The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Here’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown then graduating to the Universal Monsters. Then I got into Night of the Living Dead and House on Haunted Hill and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It just didn’t stop, and I knew this was my genre and I wanted to make films since I was ten years old. Horror films are my bread and butter. This is where I want to be.

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The crazed cult of Satanic Panic (RLJE Films/Fangoria Films)

Awesome to hear! So what inspired you to take on directing Satanic Panic?
When I first got the script by my agent, I was shocked to see that Grady Hendrix wrote it as I was such a huge fan of his work and I also saw Fangoria was going to be a part of it. I said, “What do I have to do to get this movie?” (Laughs) I read the script, loved it, and pitched my vision to Fangoria. I gave them all my film references, music cues, influences from other films. I showed my vision and they were looking at lots of female filmmakers. I had a very clear vision of what I wanted this to be, and that’s why they said yes to me.

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Pizza delivery girl Sam (Hayley Griffith) before the chaos in Satanic Panic (RLJE Films/Fangoria Films)

Well, you definitely have some big names in the cast, like of course real-life couple Rebecca Romijn and Jerry O’Connell, but there were also wonderful talents like Hayley Griffith and Ruby Modine. What was it like working with the cast on the film?
What a dream, right? Ruby Modine. Well, I was a fan of the Happy Death Day films and Shameless. Hayley Griffith, well, I saw her audition and I knew right away that I had to have her in the film. This role was hers and the producers agreed. She was great to work with and had this amazing energy. I mean, she was the lead and she would be carrying the film but surrounded by all these incredible actors.

Rebecca had never done horror before, but she did do genre films such as X-Men and working with her was so much fun because she brought this fierceness to her role of Danica. Watching her and Jerry work together was so much fun because I’ve been a fan of Jerry’s for a long time. That was so surreal that I watched Stand by Me and here I am working with him now. That’s one of the best things about being a filmmaker. You get to work with actors who inspired you to become a filmmaker. You watch the film and say, ‘one day I want to work with that actor’, and then you get to.

I feel it’s one of the best jobs in the world and that’s really fun. And getting to work with horror royalty like AJ Bowen, Jeff Daniel Phillips, and Jordan Ladd, getting to work fun was super cool. And Arden Myrin, who brings such comedy and energy to her role. It was very enriching with all the talent to this movie.

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Rebecca Romijn as the cult leader Danica Ross in Satanic Panic (RLJE Films/Fangoria Films)

That’s great! How long did shooting take and were there any times where you had to come up with a Plan B during shooting?
(Laughs). We shot it in 18 days which is not a lot. There’s a lot going in the movie. Every movie is a miracle, but all these things that can happen. Things that are out of your control and for us, it was the weather. We had torrential rain the first day of shooting and then, it was very cold! I mean it was 40-degrees and we had to shoot the orgy scene, so everyone was disrobing and it was f**king cold (Laughs). It’s sort of these things you can’t control, and it was like the weather was trying to f**k us, but we pushed on through, we got through it. I mean Sam delivering the pizzas in all that rain, but I will take the rain. It makes it more sympathetic towards Sam, but we did get through it eventually.

My favorite scene involved what I can say was an homage to one of my favorite slasher films, The Slumber Party Massacre. What would you put on your list of all-time favorite horror films?
Wow! Well, for classics I love Night of the Living Dead and Texas Chainsaw Massacre (above left and right, respectively). I also loved Frank Henenlotter’s Brain Damage and everything John Carpenter has done and the original Black Christmas. As for more recent films, I loved Jennifer’s Body. To me, that was one of the biggest influences of this movie. I love Deathgasm, House of the Devil. I thought It: Chapter 1 was amazingly done. I also love Leigh Janiak’s Honeymoon, American Psycho, and as of really recent, even though it’s not so much horror, but has that influence, I love Lords of Chaos. I absolutely loved Alex Aja’s Crawl. That is like of the best man vs. nature horror films today. I’m a huge fan of the genre and I try to see everything and every year, we get all these new horror films and I’m proud to be in the genre!

Finally, are there any new projects in the works?
Yes! I’m in the beginning phases of casting a project from the writers of my first movie. That will probably happen either at the end of the year or beginning of 2020. There are a few more projects in the works, it’s just a matter of what will come first. They are all horror projects and I’m excited to continue working in the genre I grew up with and love so much!

Excellent! Satanic Panic is coming out in select theaters, On Demand, and Digital on September 6. This is definitely a fun and wild horror comedy that genre fans should watch and once again Chelsea, I wanted to thank you for taking the time to talk about it!
Thank you so much!

A Special Thank You Goes to Katrina Wan PR and Chelsea Stardust for making this interview possible. You can follow Stardust on Twitter for more on her projects!

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