Tearful Surrender – an interview with creator Cassandra Sechler

Portmanteau horrors are enjoying something of a revival and the Hothouse is getting pretty excited by one movie in particular. Currently in pre-production Tearful Surrender is a trilogy of erotic horror stories from San Francisco based artist Cassandra Sechler, which is due to start filming in the USA and the UK soon. The three stories in Tearful Surrender feature: the legendary siren; a haunted bed and breakfast and a demon buried in box

We were pretty impressed with this trailer so we tracked Cassandra down to her California lair and gave her a grilling. The first thing we wanted to know was just who is Cassandra Sechler and what does she do? ‘Cassandra Sechler is a conceptual DIY artist, filmmaker, and curator based in San Francisco who operates a low-budget production team, Dreams For Dead Cats Productions, with musician and filmmaker Craig Jacobson. Her passions are horror, Sci-Fi, fantasy, psychology, dark art, and morbid tales. Dabbling in everything from photography, graphic design, spfx makeup to writing, directing, and assisting with other film projects, curating film nights, and more, Sechler’s heart lies in bringing low-budget, high concept films to life. I draw inspiration from many different places when it comes to my art. Above all I am influenced by my dreams and criticisms of modern society, but I am also greatly influenced by art movements, fellow artists, masters of horror, and pop culture icons such as H.P. Lovecraft, Clive Barker, David Cronenberg. Francis Bacon, and Jean Rollin. Classic horror films such as Frankenstein, King Kong, and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari had a profound effect on me as a child. I used to want to be the actress screaming in the film but eventually decided I wanted to be the person behind the camera. I grew to be obsessed with 70’s and 80’s horror and science fiction/fantasy films and will never forget the first time I saw The Evil Dead and Suspiria when I was in high school. Those two movies convinced me that I needed to be making films.’

Concept at by Cassandr Sechler
Concept at by Cassandr Sechler

So now we are introduced would you like to tell Hothouse readers what Tearful surrender is al about ‘Tearful Surrender is an erotic horror trilogy that explores the fantastical facets of love, sex, death, eroticism, and the unknown. Filled with lust, the hunger for blood, and the mysteries of immortality, Tearful Surrender is a psychosexual onslaught of morbid brain candy, titillating and complex characters, bizarre situations, and gore. Each tale builds off the last, united by elements of the occult, mother nature, and pure evil. Inspired by various cult horror films from the 70’s and 80’s, mythology, and classic Gothic literature, the movie is to be filled with witches, ghosts, vampires, demons, sea sirens, succubi, monsters, necrophilia, zombies, and more!’ The siren is an interesting and seldom used creature in horror what made the siren appeal to you? ‘I grew up in a household filled with books on mythology, art, and faerie tales, and one concept that has always gripped me is immortality. I was always fascinated by stories about vampires, mermaids, nymphs, and sea sirens. What specifically appeals to me most about a Siren is their overpowering sexuality, spellbinding beauty, hypnotic vocal presence, and of course the perpetuating doom that follows the embrace of a new mate. While I find the idea of what it is to be a siren quite haunting, sad, and lonely, there is also this allure to a fatal embrace and succumbing to danger in a pure and exotic form. With Tearful Surrender, I want to explore this idea of the inner horrors of what a life filled with torment, loneliness, innocence, death, and fleeting moments of sex and happiness must be like (for both the siren and her victims).’

Blue Noon concept drawing by Cassandra Sechler.
Blue Noon concept drawing by Cassandra Sechler.

The Hothouse is excited to hear that you will be coming to the UK to film part of Tearful Surrender, what is it that draws you to our home country? ‘There are so many gorgeous locations in the UK that are perfect for Tearful Surrender—so rich with history, beautiful landscapes, and ambiance. Some of my friends, some of whom I actually consider my best friends, live in England (including my assistant director for Tearful Surrender, Salem Kapsaski), and I’ve wanted to work with and meet them all for so long. Many of my cast and desired crew for the production live in England, so it only makes sense for me to get out there and make movie magic! I can only hope that while I am there I can squeeze in some quality time with my artist friends and do some pub crawling, sightseeing, and castle tours.’

Concept art by Cassandra Sechler
Concept art by Cassandra Sechler

So What next for dreams for dead cats  once Tearful Surrender is finished?

 ‘After Tearful Surrender is complete, here at Dreams For Dead Cats Productions, we’ve got a few more features in the pipeline. One project is a dark comedy revolving around sex addiction and the internet called Acrotalk (along the lines of Coffee and Cigarettes), and the other is a Sci-Fi film in development (top secret for now, but fans of William Gibson and Neal Stephenson will dig it). There are also a few web series that we’d like to collaborate with other artists on; both are continuing series, Proof That it Happened (a travelogue series) and Windows (an adult erotic fantasy series). We’d also love to expand our studio space and be able to continue having total control over our projects and keep the budgets low but have more storage and shooting areas within our own live/work space. This would also help us help others with projects and keep our mission of DIY filmmaking alive. It would also be nice to have more time to curate a few art shows and maybe get a cat or something. Possibilities are endless, ideas are always popping up, and dreams are always growing!’

Well the Hothouse will certainly stand you a pint in one of our favoured Soho hostelries we are very much looking forward to meeting you Cassandra Sechler

Find out more about Tearful Surrender

Find out more about Cassandra Sechler

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