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An Interview with Keith Hammer Print E-mail
Written by Elaine Lamkin   
Tuesday, 30 August 2005

Keith Hammer may not be a name most horror fans are familiar with…yet.  Currently working on his first horror film, “House of Dolls” with Suzy Lorraine and possibly Bill Moseley and Steve Railsback, among others, Hammer is a passionate horror fan and a talented artist, bringing his creative abilities in composing, writing and art with him as he tackles this latest challenge.  Severed Cinema spoke with him recently to get possibly the first interview with someone to pay attention to in the horror genre.

How about telling us The Keith Hammer Story to date?

Let's see, I was born near Philadelphia, PA on November 6, 1969.  I grew up with a somewhat "normal" family...Started with a love of film very early. Around the age of six, I think. Just like many other kids dreaming of becoming a Director, I made goofy short films with my dad's 8mm camera. Sound familiar? Then about the age of ten I became interested in music. Started with Guitar and eventually moved to synthesizers. It wasn't until 1996 when I recorded my own Electronic/Ambient CD titled "Nocturnal". Followed by "Dimensions", "Stonehenge" and "Cydonia". In 2001 and 2002, music from my "Best Of" CD "Dark Ambience" was aired in Philadelphia on 88.5 WXPN radio making the top 20 of the month and the top 100 most significant artists of the year. After that, I slowly moved away from making Ambient CD's and went into composing film music for low budget filmmakers.  All this time having making my own films in the back of my mind. Then I finally wrote the script for "House of Dolls". Been working on it a little at a time while doing other things.  That's the short story.

Where did you receive your film training?

I mainly learned by watching movies...and listening to all the DVD commentaries from my favorite directors. I studied every frame and camera angle

Have you always been a horror fan?

Absolutely, One of the first movies I can remember that really gave me the creeps was the TV movie “Trilogy of Terror”, with the Zuni Doll.  Then at the age of nine I went to see “Halloween” and “Alien”. I was hooked from then on.

How did you start up Dementia Films?  And is the title any sort of reference to the film “Dementia-13” by Coppola?

I was simply looking through the dictionary for something cool.  I think “Dementia” fits well

Tell us about your latest film, “House of Dolls”?  I have read that you have already cast Suzy Lorraine and are hoping for some other genre favorites to join the film.

It’s an homage to the late 70's early 80's horror films. A little “Texas Chainsaw” with some “Tourist Trap” thrown in. I’ve mentioned it to Danielle Harris who I really want to work with, I think she’s great and very underrated. She needs a good lead role. Bill Moseley, Steve Railsback, Marc Singer. It’s my first big deal movie.  I have mostly been interested in composing film music. Now I want to start doing my own thing.

What about your other film-to-be “Da Jui”?  Even though it will be set in the Philadelphia area, how much Asian horror influence will be seen in the film?

My friend got me into the Asian horror scene, but he was extremely into it...and I liked how they were made. I love the creepiness of them. Not much into the sudden cheap scares. It’s based on an actual Chinese ceremony called the Hungry Ghost Festival. Where people put out gifts and food for the dead. I want to make it look and feel like it was shot by Takashi Shimizu.

You are also a composer.  How did you get started in that field and whom have you worked for?

I have always been influenced by John Carpenter's scores. Ever since the age of nine when I saw "Halloween".  I really love the simplicity and atmospheric tone he sets. Have all of his soundtracks on CD. So I went out a bought a Korg synth. I have worked on several movies for Ryan Cavalline of 4th Floor Pictures. I worked on "Serial Killer", "Demon Slaughter", "Day of the Ax" and "Dead Body Man 2". FX Artist Jerry Constantine introduced me his friend, Mike Gutridge, who was also a big Carpenter fan and needed some music for his short film "Loretta" starring Billy Lenk from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and Traci Savage from "Friday the 13th 3". I have a few more coming up.  I really wanted to do the music for "The Fog" remake and "Land of the Dead". And even “Halloween 9” since the original got me interested in this biz.

Aside from film and music, you are also an accomplished photographer and artist.  Are there any aspects of the creative world you haven’t yet attempted?

Acting, and singing but I’d like to give it a try sometime...I will be working on some more original music CD's soon. Three Ambient and one heavy NIN type where I will do some vocals. So I guess acting will be next.

Who would you say has been the biggest influence on you in each of the various mediums you work in?

Film and Composing, of course John Carpenter. Photography, not sure, I pretty much just did my own thing. But there are a few celebrity photographers I like. Art, H.R. Giger...He is amazing. Goes back to "Alien".  Ambient music artists, Robert Rich, Steve Roach, Klause Schulze, Red Shift...And any heavy music artists like NIN, Rammstein, Tool and Rob Zombie.

What are some of your favorite horror movies?

In addition to the obvious...there are many.  Any JC movie. But the latter hasn't been his best. "Seven", all the "Dead" films.  I even enjoyed the "Dawn" and "Texas Chainsaw" remakes. "Ed Gein", "Chainsaw 2", I can’t think right now...Too many to mention.

Do you have any favorite horror authors?

Stephen King and H.P. Lovecraft.

Who are you hoping to be able to work with one day, as a director?

Wow...still too many to mention...but here goes a few:

Christopher Walken, Steve Buscemi, Natalie Portman, Brittany Murphy, Kurt Russell, Liv Tyler, Harry Dean Stanton, Gene Hackman...I’d love to work with anyone. There is so much talent out there.

What does your family think of your work and your obvious passion for being creative?

They are behind me and proud of what I do. They get a kick out of it. Everyone loves horror films.

What is your long-term goal as an artist?

 Just to have fun doing what I love to do. I have many interests so there is a lot for me to do.

Is there anything I haven’t asked that you would like to tell me 

Nothing I can think of at the moment.

What is one thing people might not know about Keith Hammer that you think they should?

I’m a fun down to earth guy and easy to work with, so let's make some movies.

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