It started one year ago with a prison riot. A mysterious man in an eye patch elicits the outbreak of violence to take out a rival. I am, of course, referring to the lead off video and single from Slayer‘s latest album, the title track “Repentless.”
Several months later, returning director BJ McDonnell brought back the man in the eye patch to tell his prequel story in the “You Against You” clip. Now, he rounds out his story with the brand new sequel music video for “Pride In Prejudice,” which debuted this week online. Combined, the three videos tell one brutal, intense and violent story of a former neo-Nazi that left that life behind for love and suffered the consequences.
We caught up with McDonnell to talk about how his first video for Slayer evolved into this elaborate 3 part mini-story, with the possibility of a feature length adaptation also in the works!
Blumhouse.com: The new video is great! And we’ve chatted previously about “Repentless” and “You Against You,” so I wanted to round out the trilogy with a chat about the latest video for “Pride Is Prejudice.” Going back to “Repentless,” did you get a sense, looking back in retrospect, that you would go on to do a few more videos with them and expand upon the story that started in “Repentless?”
BJ McDonnell: I never thought we were going to expand it, honestly. I wrote the one treatment about a guy in a prison that starts a riot so he can get to where he needs to go to get what he wants, which is Derek Mears’ head. And then go back to his cell. It was a simple concept, but my whole pitch to selling it was that there’s no more avenues like MTV to air music videos these days. You don’t really have to deal with censorship, so why not make something that’s completely bloody, gory and violent, and fun to make! Something that people would see and say, “That’s an awesome video!” Compared to the guys playing in a spooky abandoned stairwell or whatever. So that’s what it really was. The band was awesome when I first met them. It was Gerardo Martinez at Nuclear Blast that came to me and said, “Look, the guys really liked Repentless, it did really well, and we’d like to make something from that first video concept.” At first, I thought well let’s not do the same thing. The more I thought about it and the more we spoke about it, it got more interesting. So I had to come up with a story that would be both a prequel and a sequel revolving around what happen in the “Repentless” video with Jason Trost’s character.
BH.com: Did you know at that point you’d be doing two videos? Did you shoot the prequel & sequel video simultaneously or back to back?
BJ: Yeah, we shot them back to back. After I wrote the “Repentless” treatment, then I went in depth with the prequel story, and then the sequel. I thought why not do different types of films for each? So why not make one an action film? Let’s make one more of a dramatic piece. The action piece ended up being the video for “You Against You.” I called in a lot of buddies to come in and do the stunts, and we wanted it to be nothing but bad-ass action, like JOHN WICK style. There’s no dialogue in any of them, so it’s really playing off the emotions in people’s facial features. You need to be able to read what’s going on in people’s eyes, which I thought was a good challenge! So “Pride In Prejudice” is more of the dramatic story with a bit of action in it, but it wraps everything up in a nice bow. Each one has its own theme – “Repentless” is set in the jail. “You Against You” has got the hot, desert environment. And “Pride In Prejudice” has a Christmas theme, with the Nazi family and Slayer in the snow. That was the first thing we wanted to do was put Slayer in the snow, because snow just looks black metal and awesome.
BH.com: Slayer in the snow does look bad-ass!
BJ: We had these huge crucifixes we were going to put upside down in the snow with blood coming out of the ground. But the crucifixes showed up on the day, and the ground was frozen and there was no way to bury them. They weren’t what I really wanted. They were supposed to be these charred black crucifixes with barbed wire wrapped around them, in upside down snow. When that didn’t work out, I just took red food coloring and sprayed the snow underneath the amps and the drums.
BH.com: Each video definitely stands on its own with its own unique story, but it’s fun to watch the latest video and really see a full arc for Jason Trost’s character in it. Was it fun to look at this mysterious eye-patched loner that started a prison riot and to flesh out and figure out who this guy was?
BJ: Yeah, it was. That’s why we wanted to put little hints in each video. The picture in “You Against You,” you don’t see again until “Pride In Prejudice,” which links it all together. Basically, Jason’s character used to be a neo-Nazi asshole in this group, but he defected and met this woman and fell in love. He’s on the run from his old group, and in the end, they find out where he’s at. He kills Derek Mears and that’s the leader’s henchman? Son? We don’t know. But that’s why he’s ordered back to the house with Danny Trejo and forced to show his loyalty to the Nazi group. He doesn’t do it because he chooses not to kill Trejo and all shit breaks loose. Tragedy at the end!
BH.com: What you’ve done with all of these is bring familiar faces to horror fans. The Nazi family in this is Bill Moseley and Caroline Williams, with Felissa Rose’s kids as their kids! Was that a no brainer considering the previous videos featured horror icons?
BJ: Yeah, it became a thing where we brought in a bunch of faces for “Repentless,” so we figured let’s try to do the same for “You Against You,” and keep this thing flowing. We wanted the same feel and same layout, but wanted to try different things aesthetically. The band always looks the same, but we always use the crane on them, and for “Repentless” and “You Against You,” the camera is constantly moving and moving. “Pride In Prejudice” is more contained, and smooth crane shots on the band. Most people won’t be able to tell the difference, but we wanted to maintain the same vibe and keep the horror nods. There’s a shot in the new video where Trost is in the van and has the bag on his head with the one hole in the eye, which is my call back to FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2. A lot of people picked up on that!
BH.com: I’m the type that never reads comments, and for the most part the Slayer videos have gone over well with the fans. But I have read some that are offended by just how violent and gory your videos for the band are. Which is ironic, considering this is a band that made an album called “Reign In Blood!” How do you feel about the strong reaction that Slayer fans have had to your videos, both positive and negative?
BJ: The covers of their albums are super graphic! But you know, I used to get stressed out about all the comments, but I don’t care anymore. It doesn’t offend me. I’ve read people say that I should die, or someone should die for making these videos. You see people talking shit about Kerry King, and it’s like, guys, we’re all only human and we’re just trying to make cool, fun stuff. Don’t wish death upon people! Come on. The comments to me? You’re going to make something and not everyone is going to like it. I don’t think there’s ever anything that’s been made that everyone agrees is perfect. Someone will always have something negative to say, and to each his own. I actually think it’s hilarious when I read comments that someone’s pissed off about the gore, or mad about this or that. If you don’t like it, go out there and show us what you’ve got! Get out there and do it! Then we can comment on your stuff. But in all honesty, I welcome the comments – good and bad. I think they’re hilarious and so far people have been pretty great. I hope you enjoyed it. It was a hard thing to make. And literally, blood, sweat and tears went into these videos. They were difficult to make. I just want people to enjoy it and have a good time watching it.
BH.com: Well, now people can watch all 3 in a row and get the whole story!
BJ: Yeah, actually, I’ve been talking to Gerardo and we’re trying to do a version that puts them all together and has some animation between the segments. There’s even more story we have to link them all together, which goes even deeper into Jason’s character that goes long before he turns. And so, we’ll see what happens with that. There’s definitely more story there. And who knows? There’s been talk of doing some movie stuff with this whole thing, with this character, and having Slayer and the guys do the score for it. We’ll see. It’s all talk right now, but anything is possible!
And now, without further ado, here’s the latest video from Slayer for “Pride In Prejudice” from director BJ McDonnell!