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Raising Hell: How Jorge Delarosa Made His Hell Van a Reality

The indie horror film Hell Van brings the apocalypse to a small Texas town in gory glory. In this low-budget thrill ride, writer/director Jorge Delarosa unleashes demonic forces and raw mayhem on an unsuspecting community. 

When a possessed fire department van begins slaughtering all in its path, it’s up to the local sheriff and a defrocked priest to stop the spread of evil. But can anyone stand against the will of the Devil and his chariot of the damned?

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We at Horror Facts were fortunate enough to chat with Delarosa ahead of Hell Van’s screening at this year’s Shock Stock Film Festival, where we discussed the blood, sweat, and gears required to transform his hellish vision into a nightmare on four wheels.  For horror fans seeking a wild ride into the mouth of Hell, the “Hell Van” awaits. Just be prepared for the violence and bloodshed ahead!

Horror Facts: What inspired you to come up with the concept of Hell Van?

Jorge Delarosa: My dad’s love for vans turned into my love for vans. And then I fell in love with the horror sub-genre of the killer automobile. BOOM! I should make a killer van movie!!! 🤣

HF: Did you draw inspiration from any other horror films? If so, which ones?

JD: I did my homework. I watched the obvious: Christine, The Car, Duel, Maximum Overdrive, and Creep Van. But I’ve also incorporated elements from The Warriors, Vanishing Point, and Mad Max. Hell Van plays off more as a grindhouse-style film than true horror.

HF: What was the budget for Hell Van and how did you finance it?

JD: Hell Van cost me an estimated $75,000 over five years, mostly self-financed. I worked my a** off for this movie, and I dedicated 75% of my income to it. I’m feeling it now, I had to donate plasma last month!!!

HF: What were some of the challenges in making an indie horror film?

JD: I wrote a movie that was out of my budget: maintaining and blowing up vintage cars isn’t cheap! Working with animals was tricky, we had to film the nighttime junkyard scene twice because our first killer dog was more of a happy puppy. The rooster was surprisingly well behaved, just very loud. But right now the most challenging aspect of Hell Van has been finding a distributor willing to gamble on the movie and its sequels! Intellectual property, baby!

HF: How did you go about casting the film? 

JD: The cast was mostly people I knew that fit the part. Some were non-actors, but everyone gave it 100%. I like the idea of torturing other directors with dirty parts, and I’m proud to say Nathan Hine put a live worm in his mouth, Jim Roberts stumbled around blind for a few scenes, and James L. Edwards and Tim Novotny had blood blasted in their faces.

HF: How did you create the special effects for the film? What were some of the effects you were most proud of?

JD: I tried my best to keep the special fx practical: real fire, real cars, and real stuntmen. I had an armorer on set when we used guns and he took that job very seriously. The Ohio Burn Unit handled the fire stunts and that team is just awesome. We used miniatures and models when money, time, and practicality called for it.

HF: What was the most difficult or challenging scene to film? How did you overcome those challenges? 

JD: Just about every scene in Hell Van was a challenge. We had to build sets in my garage. When we filmed the DJ there was no heater in there, and you can see her breath in her opening scene. The logistics of dropping a meteor onto a pick-up truck at a Drive-In theater didn’t go according to plan, and we were forced to call the fire department. Our old Native American sheriff, John Martin, fell ill with Covid and it knocked the legs out from under him. So there were last minute re-writes. Let’s just say I wasn’t supposed to be in the movie. The good news is he recovered and we were able to film more scenes with him so the story made sense.  The “fleet” of vehicles kept breaking down. The ’87 Crown Vic, the ’90 F-150, the star of the film the ’89 Chevy g10. Even our vintage tow truck broke down! I’ve certainly looked in the mirror and asked myself “What the f*** are you doing and why?”

HF: Hell Van incorporates elements from the Book of Revelations and the apocalypse. What interests you about end times mythology and incorporating that into a modern horror story?

JD: I was raised Catholic, and I’ve always been fascinated by His wrath. Spectacle films always get me, and DeMille’s “The Ten Commandments” (1957) is one of the greats. Just wait til you see the end of Hell Van 2.

HF: Hell Van also incorporates elements of horror, suspense, and dark comedy. How did you go about balancing those tones throughout the film?

JD: I’d been doing stand-up comedy for 10 years. In fact, most of Hell Van was written at an open-mic over a pitcher of beer. I guess the comedy bled through, unintentionally. Casting comedians like Marv Conner, Anthony Savatt, Chris Harvey, and Justin Cash also helped lend a sense of levity to our preposterous premise: a van from Hell.

HF: What do you see as the central conflict in Hell Van? How does that reflect the key themes and ideas you wanted to bring out in the story?

JD: I wanted to show a conservative utopia thrown into turmoil with anarchy. It was fun to film personal “Hell” sequences for the good guys.

HF: How did you go about finding and selecting the bands to contribute music for the soundtrack? What was the process like collaborating with them?

JD: The synthesizer score was recorded by Sean Carlin, who did the Killer Nerd soundtrack. The rock songs that play during the kill scenes were recorded specifically for the movie. My friend Bryan Wolbert recorded 10 bands in 7 days in my basement studio. It was a real party. Most of the bands were from North East Ohio, but False Positive came out from Pittsburgh. Some of those songs were written specifically for Hell Van. I’m pretty proud of the soundtrack. Hopefully, one day it’s pressed to vinyl.

HF: What directions or inspirations did you provide to the bands for the style of music you wanted for Hell Van? How much creative freedom did you give them?

JD: I’d give the bands a scene from the movie and say “Make the song rip.” I was actually surprised when some of them added spaghetti-western elements, not knowing that other bands were also doing that, and somehow it locks in really well with the film. I’ll pat myself on the back for a track titled “Worm Eater.” I recorded that goofy monophonic melody myself, and it compliments the escaped inmate’s scene perfectly!

HF: Do you have plans to distribute Hell Van to a wider audience? If so, how do fans go about getting a copy of the film?

JD: As of right now the only way to see Hell Van is to buy a physical copy at a convention. I gave myself 1 year to find distribution. With luck, it’ll end up on a streaming service soon, and my goal of making a nationally known cult film will have been realized.

HF: What other horror projects do you have in the works? Do you plan to make a sequel to Hell Van?

JD: I’m shooting the first scene for Hell Van 2 tomorrow! Our DJ, Meredith Hillard, is back and hotter than ever. I’m playing with the titles: Hell Van in the Hood, Hell Van Takes Houston, or just simply Hell Van 2. I like that last one because I can abbreviate it to HV2.

HF: Is there anything else you would like viewers to know about Hell Van or your experience making the film?

JD: Hell Van is a party movie. Don’t take it too seriously, it’s about a van from Hell!

Speaking with Delarosa about crafting his doom-fueled thrill kill on wheels, one thing is clear: Hell never looked so good or spilled so much gas.

Now Shock Stock attendees have the chance to bear witness to Delarosa’s four-wheeled harbinger of doom at this year’s film festival in London, Ontario, Canada.

So, make sure you visit Shock Stock’s official website and purchase your tickets to the festival and also for your opportunity to see Hell Van and find out that the highway to Hell is paved with blood and gasoline.  

Then after the film, be sure to stop by the official Hell Van merchandise table and pick up your very own copy of the gasoline-soaked thrill ride from Delarosa himself.

So don’t miss your chance to hop on board as Delarosa’s Hell Van brings the inferno to Shock Stock. At the end of days, you’ll want to say you rode shotgun into the mouth of Hell. The road to damnation awaits – what are you waiting for? Buckle up!

Joey
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