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'Cyrus' Creeps Out Viewers

17 Jun, 2011 By: Ashley Ratcliff

Cyrus: Mind of a Serial Killer

Vadik delves deep into the 'Mind of a Serial Killer'

Writer-director Mark Vadik spent nearly seven months researching various serial killers and their diabolical habits. The result of his character analysis comes to life in Cyrus: Mind of a Serial Killer, in which the title character represents an amalgam of murderers.

Anchor Bay Entertainment releases the film on DVD on June 28 at $26.98.

The gruesome story of Fritz Haarmann, in particular, affected Vadik. Haarmann learned his butchering skills while serving a prison term. When he was released, he and his killing partner, Hans Graf, would pick up orphans at train stations in Germany, and while raping them, Haarmann would chew through the back of their necks until their heads were severed. He then would sell the “meat” on the open market.

“I really wanted to bring those horrific elements out. … That was probably the most repugnant serial killer for me, which, maybe in a strange way, drew me to him,” Vadik said.

The film’s villain, Cyrus (Brian Krause), is a tormented man who had an unpleasant childhood in which his prostitute mother berated and neglected him. When his wife cheats on him, he snaps and sets off on a killing spree, starting first with her, her lover and the couple’s baby. Through flashbacks from his youth, viewers begin to understand what provokes Cyrus to kill.

“Hopefully there are times when the audience will actually empathize with him as they would a protagonist, despite the fact that he’s done these horrific things,” Vadik said. “I think that’s what sets him off from a lot of the more modern horror villains, so to speak.”

“It’s sort of hard to feel sorry for Jason (from the ‘Friday the 13th’ franchise) or Michael Myers (from the ‘Halloween’ series). … I really wanted to bring humanity to him and kind of create a world of gray, as opposed to the black and white,” he added.

The man behind a string of mysterious disappearances in a small Midwestern town, known as the County Line Cannibal, intrigues tabloid TV show host Maria (Danielle Harris). She’s eager to get the scoop on the best story of her career, and drags her cameraman Tom (Tony Yalda) to visit Cyrus’ friend Emmett (Lance Henriksen), who divulges the details of his buddy’s savage exploits.

Cyrus, a butcher, grinds his victims’ flesh into patties and grills them up as “Roadkill” burgers at his diner. The killing commences with three college girls — Vicky (Anne Leighton), Chloe (Shawna Waldron) and Tina (Aris Mendoza).

As a horror film director, Vadik said the gory things that typically scare viewers don’t faze him (save for needles). However, he did have a moment of terror during filming, when mixing the sound for an intense scene in which Cyrus kills one of the college girls. A very slow, Delta bluesy song is playing in the background, adding to the film’s eerie tone.

“I had to take a little break,” Vadik said with a laugh. “We were mixing on a full sound stage with surround sound, and the effects in that, if they’re turned up, especially if you have a home theater with a surround, are really disturbing. There are a lot of little subtle nuances.”

While Cyrus: Mind of a Serial Killer has earned numerous accolades on the film festival circuit (including Best Director and Best Feature Film at several festivals), the movie has been banned in six countries, including the Middle Eastern nations of Dubai and the United Arab Emirates.

“[Those countries] released Saw and Hostel,” Vadik said. “I was like, ‘C’mon!’ … I don’t think it’s more gory or
offensive by any stretch of the imagination.”

“Basically, we offended the moral standard of those specific countries,” he added. “It’s tough. Quite frankly, I was taken aback that [Cyrus was] banned, but I also felt good that the movie obviously did achieve what it set out to achieve, which was a very visceral, disturbing, dark feeling in the audience.”

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