Co-stars Clint Howard (left) and Charlie O'Connell on location in San Francisquito Canyon. Photos courtesy of Real TV Films and Windchaser Pictures.
Independent filmmaker and media company owner Gordon Vasquez and his production partners have wrapped principal photography on “Huff,” a horror-thriller feature presenting a bloody twist on the tale of “The Three Little Pigs” and filmed entirely in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Directed by Paul Morrell and costarring Charlie O’Connell, Natasha Alam, Elina Madison and Clint Howard, “Huff” had a 13-day shooting schedule. Principal photography kicked off on location in San Francisquito Canyon on Dec. 5 and wound up there Sunday. Producers are aiming at a theatrical release by September 2012.
In this dark, allegorical adaptation of “The Three Little Pigs,” Virgil “Huff” Huffington (Charlie O’Connell) is an abusive stepfather to three teenage girls living in poverty in rural Southern California. Huff is on the verge of a lucrative drug deal that will finally give him the money to escape his miserable life and retire to Mexico in style with his sexy mistress, Laci (Natasha Alam).
Huff’s plans begin to unravel when his battered exotic dancer wife, Lorelei (Elina Madison, AKA the “Scream Queen”), secretly gives the money intended for the drug deal to her daughters and tells them to run away and seek better lives for themselves. This triggers a chain of rage-induced asthma attacks (yes, the villain “huffs and puffs”), violence and murders as Huff goes on a killing spree attempting to locate the three runaways and recover his money.
“The story is the ‘Three Little Pigs’ remade into a horror thriller sick turning movie,” said Vasquez, the film’s co-producer. “So the fairy tale of the Three Little Pigs where you huff and puff and blow the house down — we’ve re-done that and it’s a pretty good thriller. When you find the correlation of the story from the old fairy tale to what we’ve done, it’s pretty amazing, because it hasn’t been done yet.”
“We’re combining the dramatic story elements of a thriller with the kills of a horror film, so don’t expect campy dialogue in this pic — this will be disturbingly real,” said Morrell, whose previous credits include writing, director or producing short films and videos (“Tupac Is Not Dead,” “Texas Chainsaw Musical,” “Love Entangled”) and reality TV series (“Most Shocking,” “Most Daring”).
Morrell’s first dramatic feature was “Filth to Ashes, Flesh to Dust,” released independently earlier this year after he connected with Vasquez, who helped him get it completed, into theaters, and promoted via Facebook, Twitter and other film-related social media.
O'Connell (left) takes direction from Paul Morrell.
“I own a company called Real TV Films and we cover films all over,” said Vasquez. “We’ve been going to all the film festivals for about the last three or four years, and we have about 4,000 interviews with celebrities, filmmakers, composers, musicians and actors. I crossed paths with Paul Morrell a couple of years ago and came in on ‘Filth to Ashes’ as a producer right after the film was done shooting.
“Less than two years later we premiered it, and it opened up on 11 screens around the country. It did $200,000 in ticket sales in about 10 days,” Vasquez continued. “So taking a small film that had an $18,000 budget, we thought, ‘Well, we can do this again,’ and that’s when we hooked up with Cort Howell of Cort Howell Productions, which is based in Santa Clarita, and created ‘Huff.’”
The “Huff” script is credited to one “Sydney Corpuscle,” actually Cort Howell, whose Cort Howell Productions is based in Santa Clarita. Howell also served as the film’s executive producer.
O’Connell, younger brother of Jerry O’Connell (“Stand by Me,” “Jerry Maguire”), is best-known as “The Bachelor” (Season 7, 2005) and makes a departure from his handsome charmer persona by assuming the role of the manipulative, volatile, asthma-stricken, reptile-loving stepfather who adeptly uses Bible scripture to oppress, manipulate and abuse his wife and three stepdaughters.
July 2010 Playboy cover model Natasha Alam (“True Blood,” “The Bold and the Beautiful”) shows up as Huff’s mistress and his source of funds for the big drug deal.
Brixi (Amber Bollinger, “Hell-o-ween”), the eldest and smartest daughter, must fight for survival as she attempts to protect her sisters Styx (Jenna Stone, “A Haunting in Salem”) and Shay (newcomer Elly Stefanko) from their beastly stepfather.
The crew on location in San Francisquito Canyon.
Mayra Leal, fresh from her memorable role in 2010 action-thriller “Machete” by filmmaker Robert Rodriguez, stars as a strung-out neighbor who befriends the young girls until her addictions get the best of her.
Multi-talented fan favorite Clint Howard (“Apollo 13,” “The Dilemma,” “Evilspeak”), brother of director Ron Howard, appears as Karl, an unwitting accomplice to Huff’s rage-induced brutality. The Howards’ father, Rance Howard, plays a significant role as well.
“Rance plays the drug kingpin, and he has not played a role like this before,” Vasquez said. “His name is Scotty and his girl is Scotty’s girl, and she actually handled a snake, a live python, in a shot. He looked good — with his hat on, he looked like a drug kingpin.”
Rounding out the “Huff” cast are James MacPherson and Johnny D’Agostino, who appear as Huff’s diabolical accomplices.
For “Huff,” Morrell reassembled key members of his “Filth” team, including producer Terry James, cinematographer Royce Allen Dudley, production designer John Nasby and co-producer Vasquez.
“Huff” is the first feature film project for Windchaser Pictures, a privately funded independent feature film company. Howell, friend of the Howard family, is a principal.
“What we’d like to do is get investors, get investment, and create more films,” Vasquez said. “I think we have a good process for creating films and these are SAG (Screen Actors Guild), lower-budget films, and I think we can do a good quality film and make investors’ money back on these projects. So we hope to put out a couple films in 2012.”
Find out more about “Huff” at www.huffmovie.com.