Movies are a collaborative medium, but if you had to place just one face to THE NAIL GUN MASSACRE (1985) – everyone’s favorite 80’s nail gun slasher film (by default!) – it’d be writer/producer/director Terry Lofton. Terry took some time during the 20th Anniversary to answer all our nitpicky questions, for which we’re grateful.
Retro Slashers: Who were you, and what were the hows and whys you set out to make a slasher movie?
Terry Lofton: I had worked for Warner Brothers, on their Dukes of Hazzard TV show. That got me interested in movie making. I never had any film making training or experience before I made Nailgun Massacre.
Retro Slashers: You share co-credit for directing with Bill Leslie. What’s the story there?
Lofton: Bill had a production company, I hired him and his equipment package together to help make the movie. I also had gotten my own arri package also. We each directed diff parts of the movie.
Retro Slashers: Walk us through writing the script for Nailgun Massacre.
Lofton: It was originally about 80 pages, then it was cut down to about 25 pages, with allot of ad-libbing to be added to it.
Retro Slashers: The movie certainly was “cheaper than a chainsaw”. How much cheaper?
Lofton: Around 50 thousand give are take a few thousand.
Retro Slashers: Assuming the cast were non-actors, what was it like directing performances out of them?
Lofton: They were in kinda a bad situation, they got the shooting script the day of the shoot, they had no time to rehearse, plus they had to ad-lib very much.
Retro Slashers: Regarding the killer’s identity, a woman is used in most of the kill scenes yet a man is revealed to be the killer at the end. What the!?
Lofton: Actually there’s a man, which is her brother, who is killing people also, he had a stunt double for a few scenes. You have to look closely, but there’s a diff person in there.
Retro Slashers: Several scenes feature multiple gun shots in the background. It gets so bad that one actor says “I wish those assholes wouldn’t shoot so close to the house.” Did you film during hunting season or near a rifle range?
Lofton: There actual was a private gun range behind us across a river were we were at. Those were real shots, you could hear the bullets fly by. It went on for hours, but we had to continue, so I told them we’d write it into the movie, that people were shooting close by.
Retro Slashers: Could you dish on any of those goofy locals that appear in the film? Like the old woman at the country store, the fat truck driver that finds a guy nailed to the road, all the women that go topless, etc.
Lofton: The old woman was my grandmother, she actual owned and operated that store. She’s in the movie because the actor for that store scene got lost on the way there. And we had to continue shooting, she did ok till the camera rolled, then she’d freeze, we finally got a shot, and we had to go with it. The fat truck driver was me. everyone said I should do a cameo, so I did. I made up the lines. I had too many other things to do behind the scenes.
The topless ladies were dancers from diff gentlemans clubs. I hired them myself.
Retro Slashers: What kinda formula and tricks did you use for the blood and FX?
Lofton: Blood was professionally made, you thin it and thicken it, I made the nails, they were real.
Retro Slashers: What was the process of getting the movie distributed on VHS?
Lofton: Screened it for diff distributors. Magnum had a great add campaign idea. Magnum was the off-US video dist.
Retro Slashers: Tell us about the special edition DVD…
Lofton: The 20th anniversary edition on DVD is the directors cut, uncensored, all-out t&a and blood. Director’s interview, special scene selections. Trailer, outtakes, some cool stuff on it. It looks great, and its very informative about the nailgun saga.
Retro Slashers: Many have said that it doesn’t work as an intentional horror movie, nor as an intentional parody. But it does work as an unintentional comedy. So we just have to ask, what were you thinking?
Lofton: Ran into a lot of problems early in shooting it. Saw it couldn’t be serious or scary, so I decided to let it all go. Shoot, ad-lib, make boo boos by accident, then realize it was stupidly funny, so I kept shooting.
You’re a good sport,Terry. Since this interview when the DVD was being independently produced/sold by Terry directly, it was later redone and mass-released in Special Edition Format by Synapse Films.