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Aaron Mento director of ‘Ugly Sweater Party’ on fearless directors and dangerous insect encounters

AiPT! talks with the star and director of Ugly Sweater Party, Aaron Mento.

Writer/director Aaron Mento is at it again with yet another indie horror comedy film. Coming to Amazon Instant Video on November 23rd is Ugly Sweater Party, an absurd story about two guys looking for sex at a bible camp party, only to come across a sweater that possesses its wearer, making this strange party even stranger by turning it into a bloodbath. Adventures in Poor Taste! got the chance to talk with Aaron.

AiPT!: Now to begin, what first inspired you to begin a career writing and directing films?

Aaron Mento: My parents recorded a bunch of movies off HBO in the mid 80’s, three to a tape, and I watched them about a million times. It was a random mixture of Howard the Duck, Little Shop of Horrors, Poltergeist 2, Aliens, and many more that made me want to create films of my own.

AiPT!: What are some writers and/or directors that have influenced your work. Who do you look up to most?

AM: Fearless filmmakers with uncompromising visions, like David Lynch, David Cronenberg, and John Waters continue to be huge influences. They all revel in “trashy” subject matter, and have very dark senses of humor. When I first saw their work, I was exhilarated that they had the courage to go “there,” and it inspired me to never be safe or middle-of-the-road.

AiPT!: Ugly Sweater Party was full of jokes. What is the funniest thing that happened on set?

AM: The night before the last day of shooting, I was up all night problem solving and creating an insane shot list. This was inside a big unfurnished cabin on location. When it came time to finally go to bed, a black widow dropped on my sleeping bag and then disappeared. I was stumbling around with a flashlight trying to find the black widow, certain it would bite my face if I fell asleep. I eventually saw the spider disappear into a crack in the wall. I got an hour of sleep. It’s funny now…AiPT!: What is your favorite memory from working on this movie?

AM: This was a micro budget movie, and on one day we had to shoot 25 pages, which is absolutely nuts. This was shot in Idyllwild, CA at 6,000 feet elevation, so just breathing was difficult. But everything went perfectly smooth that day, all of the actors were so on point, the small crew were just crushing it, and we conquered every obstacle in our path. I’ll always remember us all coming together, facing down those 25 pages and finishing early!

AiPT!: Give us a fun fact about Ugly Sweater Party

AM: Literally a day after we finished shooting, thousands of mosquitoes hatched and were all over the woods. Clouds and clouds of mosquitoes. They attacked us like crazy as we were cleaning the location. If we had scheduled to start shooting a week later, we would have never been able to make the movie there.

AiPT!: How do you feel your audience will respond to  Ugly Sweater Party?

AM: I’m hoping that they are constantly surprised, and can never predict what craziness is coming next. The movie is supposed to be a blast, so I want the audience to have a fun time, the whole time! I’m especially excited to hear the reaction to Felissa Rose’s performance, because she’s back at camp, and she completely kills it as Mrs. Mandix.

AiPT!: I did some research and found that a majority of the movies you work on belong to the horror genre. What is it about that specific genre that intrigues you, and do you think you will venture out from that later or strive to perfect this skill?

AM: I love that there are no rules in horror, that literally anything can happen. The idea of creating a shared nightmare that we can all experience together is just intoxicating. I’ll always lean towards horror and dark comedy, but would be open to exploring other genres.

AiPT!: Last but not least, what can we expect to see from you in the future? Are you currently working on any other projects?

AM: Felissa Rose and I are re-teaming for Survival High, my new feature about an evil teacher who unleashes a curriculum of death and torture on a group of captive students. This one is really dark and twisted, and Felissa is gonna blow you away as the wicked Mrs. Temple!


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