by Jeff Niesel
When director Gary Jones was growing up, he always loved the old campy horror movies.
“I grew up in front of the television watching King Kong and Frankenstein,” he says. “I had an artistic background and used to draw and paint and did comic books as a kid. I ventured into sculpting and painting and started creating special effects. I got the Super 8 camera and shot a bunch of shorts. I always did a lot of stuff with special effects. That was my way in. I figured I could get on the set if provided a miniature or spaceship. I did special effects and props throughout the ‘80s and that was my entrance into the business.”
He then started making low-budget horror movies (the first was 1995’s Mosquito) and hasn’t let up. His latest movie, Axe Giant: The Wrath of Paul Bunyan screens at 9:30 p.m. tomorrow at the Capitol Theatre and Jones will drive up from his Crestline, Ohio home to attend the screening and answer questions afterward. The film centers on the legend of Paul Bunyan and depicts a “big guy with an axe,” as Jones puts it, who sets about dismember the people who live in a small Minnesota town. Essentially an old school slasher flick, the film benefits from its primitive use of lo-fi special effects.
“Everything today is all CG and those films have lost a lot of charm,” Jones says. “To me, you always felt like there was something there with miniatures. I felt like that was lacking today. We shot Bunyan as a big guy in a big suit and used special effects to put him into scenes with miniatures. The idea was to try to do with it without spending a million dollars.”
And without million of dollars to spend on marketing, Jones is also trying to get people to see his movie the old-fashioned way: by hosting special screenings like the one tomorrow night at the Capitol.
“I always have great ideas,” he says. “The struggle is always the financing and the next struggle is how to compete in today’s market. The film is a throwback to another era. I hope a lot of people come to the screening because it always plays better with a full house. It's not The Avengers but I'm excited. We had a few screenings at places where you could grab a beer and it's always better if you can grab a beer.”