Bronx Horror Filmmaker Takes Strong Political Stance With The Wicked
Written by Jon Minners
The Bronx; it is the birthplace of Hip Hop; it’s the home of the New York Yankees; it’s my hometown and it is also the scene of a burgeoning new rise of independent films. Yes, filmmakers are seeing the beauty of the Bronx and are using it as inspiration for their latest works of art. One such filmmaker takes a look at the sorry state of affairs in today’s political scene and is now filming a horror film around The Wicked world we live in with the Bronx as its backdrop.
The Wicked, by Bronx resident and Little Italy native Sal Ciavarello, is about a modern war between the descendants of the Knights of Templar and a Satanic cult. Don’t you hate it when that happens? It sounds like a decent premise for what could be a very interesting film, but what is even more admiring is the filmmaker’s decision to use the borough he calls home as one of its ‘stars.’
“The Bronx is where I live and it is where most of the film takes place,” said Ciavarello. “Not enough recent films portray the Bronx in a ‘normal’ light. It’s always shown as a place where some kind of crime is taking place and I’m sick of that.”
Filming is taking place until October with Locust Point, Arthur Avenue, Throggs Neck and Morris Park being highlighted among the Bronx communities showcased. Ciavarello is also planning on acquiring a location within the grounds of Fordham University. “The Bronx is a great place to film,” said the Christopher Columbus High School graduate. “There have been quite a few talented people who have come from this great borough and I personally know of a few more people who can be added to the list. Only time will tell. There are a lot of talented people here just waiting to be discovered.”
Ciavarello is hoping he is one of those people. His first feature, H.P.E., was shot in 2000 and received critical acclaim within the horror circuit. That success led to his latest film, which involves a power struggle in the government. The Wicked focuses on the Templars, who have achieved power in the government in the form of Senators and other high ranking officials, and they are using that power to try and silence another group of religious extremists: the Satanists.
If something sounds familiar about the plot, Ciavarello agrees. “There is a message in the film,” he said. “Religious extremists can be extremely dangerous individuals, especially to those who oppose their views. What inspired this motif happens to be based on real life events. If these types of highly religious people happen to hold high positions in the government, their views may come to be imposed on us all.”
Ciavarello compares this belief to a situation involving popular media figure Howard Stern. “Now, you can say what you want about Stern, but the fact of the matter is that these individuals are attempting to silence not only this man, but creative freedom itself,” he said. “I, as an artist, am extremely disturbed by this, because where will it end? They are essentially robbing us all of our creative freedom. If these types of restrictions are placed on all forms of art without us speaking against it, then this can easily escalate to ridiculous acts of censorship like burning objectionable books. That sounds familiar, doesn’t it? That is the true horror and that is what the Templar represent in my film.”
Despite a poignant message, Ciavarello knows exactly what his film is supposed to accomplish. “I want people to be entertained,” he said. “That is my first priority. You can say whatever you wish to say in a film, but you must realize that in the end, you are in the entertainment industry. I want people to be blown away by the visuals and the story.”
The approximately 90-minute film should finish shooting in October, followed by an editing process. Ciavarello is still looking for a distributor for the film upon its completion and does not have an approximate release date, but interested parties can follow the progress of the film by going to www.profoundimages.com and view the latest news, including teaser trailers. When all is said and done, Ciavarello, who worked on the film with fellow Bronxite Antonio Fariello, producer, and Christi Chaiapetti, makeup and wardrobe, hopes to leave a mark in the industry that will take him to greater heights in filmmaking.
“I love the entertainment business, but it is extremely difficult to break in to, even if you have talent,” said Ciavarello. “I have been a student of film for over 15 years. I shot my first film with my grandfather’s super 8-mm camera at the age of 13, I believe. I’m now 32, so it has been a long time getting to this point, but I am ready to move on to the next level. I hope The Wicked takes me there.”
Now you have a chance to find out what the hype is all about. Sal Ciavarello has announced the New York City premiere of HPE: Hardcore Poisoned Eyes at the Two Boots Pioneer Theater in The Village. A new and digitally enhanced final version of H.P.E. including CGI enhanced scenes, new scenes, improved visuals and more Satanists digitally added to bring the film closer to the original vision (Isn’t that the George Lucas route? This guy doesn’t waste any time. Kudos) will be screened only at Two Boots Pioneer Theater on October 20th 2005. As part of the premiere, the theatrical exclusive look at one of the opening scenes for Sal Ciavarello's upcoming The Wicked will be presented.