A conversation with Big Biting Pig Productions

Initially I planned on watching the film It Lives in the Attic with the intent on enjoying a schlock-filled, low budget and incoherent horror flick. My friend and collaborator Will had 'recommended' this picture based on a late night dive into some of Amazon Prime's lesser viewed features. When he wrote me some of the following, I decided it was too intriguing not to watch myself. Will sent me some of the following:

WILL: It Lives in the Attic is one of the most messed up, cursed, and straight up “what the f***” movie I’ve ever watched. This movie captures the idea of sex in such poor taste; apparently, people have insanely weird kink fantasies that only the strangest people could have... this might have been the point of the movie.

Steve Hudgins, director of titles like Goatsucker and Hell is Full directed and starred in this 2016 release. He is accredited as the writer and director of at least seven feature films (according to IMDB) along with multiple mentions of his work involving make-up, sound design and other contributions to his films. The company that put out this feature, Big Biting Pig Productions is said to have made

the film for just $1,000. The two founders of the production company are Steve Hudgins who is also known for multiple books in a macabre series, and PJ Woodside who has been awarded for her work on stage along with screen. I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to speak with Hudgins starting with information on the founding of Big Biting Pic Productions.

Steve: PJ Woodside is my movie making partner. I used to do a lot of acting. We were both in a stage play together. That's how we met. I had made a movie with a couple acting buddies of mine. PJ had some minor editing experience, so I was able to get her on board to help edit the movie. When it was over, the guys I made the movie with were burned out, but I felt like I was just warming up. So I created Big Biting Pig Productions, asked PJ if she wanted to be part of it and the rest is history.

My intent when I reached out to them on Instagram and Facebook was following up on the bizarre nature of Attic and some of their other titles, along with the ambitions the team has had over their many years of work. I got the opportunity to communicate with Steve Hudgins, who I reached out to via his Patreon:

Paul: I was recommended It Live in the Attic by a friend who dragged the film. He's actually a contributor to the site. This made me interested and I quite enjoyed it.

Steve: Cool. I'm glad you enjoyed it. It might be my favorite of our movies.

We discussed the film's narrative. It Lives in the Attic explores a series of interwoven encounters triggered by the presence of an evil nature belonging to an attic. The narrative plays out backwards in a Memento style that exists as a theme of some of his other works. The sequence that most intrigued me, and divided my co-critic, was a long drawn out kink-club sequence, in the vain of a very absurd Eyes Wide Shut reference. Will discusses the sudden introduction of this scene:

Will: ...(then) we get to the bizarre kink club made out of Wal-Mart props. This takes up a good 30 min of the movie which left me watching with a confused stare the entire time.

Paul: I really enjoyed some of the kink-friendly scenes. Added a bizarre nature to the story.

Steve: I believe you are speaking of "Club Fun" - Some of the funnest scenes we've ever shot.... Handled the wrong way, those scenes could have been uncomfortable for people, but I kept the mood on set light and fun those days and everyone had a good time in that bizarre world.

With so many other titles under his belt, I decided to put on another Big Biting Pig Production feature called Hell is Full. Hell is Full of amateur actors, cheap jump scares and some shoe-string camerawork. It's also an undeniable treat. With a gamut of zombie films and an unfortunate time to watch a movie about a viral infection, on paper it's difficult to sell Hell is Full, which relies more on its modest film-making and a cast of actors that probably filled in break-times from their 9-5 jobs to make this production. It's clearly a work of vision beyond means of production, which would be a trend of ambitions based on the director's repertoire of work.

Hell is Full is shot in a small-town setting in Kentucky, between exteriors and a lengthy sequence of interiors in a hospital setting.

Paul: The hospital set in Hell is Full really brings the tension quite a bit.

Steve: That place was creepy. And that's another thing we tend to do as no-budget filmmakers. We write around locations we have access to. So when someone who had access to that hospital, which was mostly no longer functional, I made a point to make it a big part of Hell is Full.

In these interiors we seem to bump in between conversations of local shop owners, custodians and nurses. These conversations somewhat pertain to the town flavor and relationships between the various residents, some in mourning and some very sick. We get a few ho-hum jokes cracked by the locals, but the real amusement comes from the script's (unintentional?) dips into natural banter. It's these moments between the humbly shot action scenes containing jump scares by the various zombies that really kept me interested and smiling.

That being said, there's a lot of interesting attempts at low-key visual shots and flairs of style in some of the sequences of tension. The hospital setting makes a really good environment for chases. There's some genuine uneasiness in moments of coughs and blood spurts on the residents that actually made my skin crawl. One of my favorite shots in the movie came after an attack in one of the beginning scenes, where one of our many characters is surprised with a kiss, which the camera fakes out as a jump scare. There's some creative tracking shots and quick scares.

What it comes down to mostly is the format and structure of the film, which is perhaps the most unique aspect of the feature. I didn't instantly latch on to the way the movie flows between the zombie attacks and outbreaks, but when I did it became a more intriguing venture. sums it up well with the following quote:

"The most difficult thing about Hell Is Full is that, deep down, it’s a really interesting take on the genre. It’s a reverse chronological order film (think Memento with shitty acting and direction), and, hell, any film that brings something new to horror is worth exploring."

Before the conclusion of our interview, I wanted to talk about one more film of his, and perhaps my favorite production, Spirit Stalkers. This film also plays with structure between two evolving narratives, one of an ever haunted house, which eventually crosses paths with a schlocky and slowly irrelevant ghost haunting show called Spirit Stalkers.

Paul: I want to talk about Spirit Stalkers for a bit... There's a lot of creativity in taking apart the "typical ghost hunter" show. Was this one fun to work on? There's definitely some solid humor.

Steve: Spirit Stalkers was a lot of fun to shoot. Most of it was shot in one location, which made things easier. It was a very solid cast and crew. And we saved a bunch of worms to boot.

Whether you're a fan of It Lives in the Attic like myself, or approach it with a more dissenting opinion like my friend Will, its clear that the ambitions towards story structure, the modesty of the production company, and the cast of amateur actors all contributed to a very unique feature. This is a production company which put out '10 features in 9 years of work' and wrote a book about it titled Cheapskate Movie Makers. In an over-saturated market for films involving ghosts, zombies and haunted houses, it's admirable to follow a company with such a modest approach to their features and ingenuity on a shoe-string budget.

Steve Hudgins and PJ Woodside can be found on Instagram, Patreon, Facebook and Twitter. Their website features links to Steve's books which can also be found on Amazon, and information about their newsletter. You can also find merchandise for the company and most of their features on DVD. Consider becoming a Patreon which supports the company and writers. I'm a $10 dollar member and have access to early content and signed copies of any of their future books.

And of course:

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