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Two weeks ago I spoke over the phone with independent horror director Tom Costabile about his new film “VooDoo”, which was released on February 24th 2017 in select theaters nationwide. The project was initially supposed to be a Nollywood film (that’s the Nigerian film market), but the Los Angeles based writer/director, and former Chicago native pulled off a US release.

I sat down with Tom for an hour long interview over the phone, and his openness and willingness to answer questions made for a goldmine of information about this truly original and interesting horror flick. Including the film’s moral of the story, which he told me is that, “Sometimes, evil wins.”

Shawn Kinnear: “So Tom do you believe in any of this stuff yourself? Are you somebody that believes in the super natural, not even necessarily in a dark way, just any stuff like that, or you just like to write it?”

Tom Costabile: “Definitely, you know how I was talking about being from Chicago? When I was a kid we would go to Bachelors Grove every weekend, we would go to Archer Avenue to do the whole Resurrection Mary thing; I mean I was just all about that. My whole family is buried at Mount Caramel Cemetery we would go there a lot and were trying to do the whole EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon Recorder) thing when that became reality in the mid to late 90’s. So I’ve always personally been a spiritual-supernatural kind of guy. I believe in all of it.”

SK: “Good answer, because being a fellow Chicagoan myself, I know all the local myths and cemeteries you’re talking about. By the way, I came across another earlier film of yours called “The First Time”, but couldn’t find any more information about that, could you tell me about it?”

TC: “That was my last short film in film school, and our school didn’t have a regular thesis like they do in universities- so that was the equivalent of our thesis. If you go to my page on IMBD you’ll probably be able to find the actual short that’s like 6 minutes. It’s a music video, and while I was in college MySpace was still around. So he’s on MySpace, he tries to pick up a date, he does, and he scores. So he picks her up and all he wants to do is be like this Hannibal Lecter type of dude. So he shoots and kills her, has sex with her dead body and buries her. It played to Phil Collins’s “In the Air Tonight”.  It’s just a really dark song, so it went well. Just the morbidity of a film student.”

SK: “Speaking of morbidity, in the end, the cousin of the main character was eating someone and screaming something. What’s going on there? I found it a bit hard to hear in the theater.”

TC: “Yeah, she’s saying “You’re dead! You’re dead!” because Dani thought she had escaped Hell and was back in her vacation house alive.  Her cousin Stacy is actually eating Dani’s human body in the scene and   Dani realizes it was all real and she’s truly dead.”

SK: “And so what’s happening to the cousin on the beach, when she was by herself with the camera, while Dani goes to get a drink?”

TC: That was Seraphine starting to possess her- she starts possessing her on the beach- that was supposed to be the whole thing with the bum that walks by them. He was supposed to be a messenger from God because of the notion about homeless people being close to God, combined with the symbolism of the sun in the background. So it was like God saying I’m sorry for what is about to happen. When the homeless man tells her “I’m sorry” it reflects God’s apology for what is happening.”

SK: “Wow, that’s a lot deeper of an answer then I expected! It’s great to hear how much thought was put into that short segment. While we’re on the note of family, I’m sure plenty of viewers are wondering if Dani’s mother’s death was caused by the curse?”

TC: “She actually died before the curse, she died from natural causes. In life she was Dani’s back bone. They had a really dark story with their family past with her mother’s brother being Uncle Jake, so that’s kind of why they’re in hell together.”

SK: “Okay, so that actually answers my next question. Which was, should we be associating the rapist uncle with the beloved father, or the recently dead mother?”

TC: “Yeah, that’s Dani’s mother’s brother, and neither of her parents really did anything about it at all.  So because that was her brother she kind of dusted it under the rug. There’s this dark past, that’s also why Stacy mentions she won’t talk to her own mother, and we don’t bring it up explicitly, but it’s all there in the film. It’s very mild exposition, but people can go back and see it all.”

SK: “Interestingly the favorite scene I wanted to go back and see, is when Dani is in hell in the abortion room. What were the women screaming and chanting at her in Hell when she left the room?”

TC: “They were telling her “Do you remember when you killed your baby? We do!” and they just kept saying “We do! We do!” It’s a call back about her lying about her abortion. It proves she’s a liar, and we were actually going to do a video while the credits ran through and stuff, but then the ending came out so good that we didn’t want to do that because we picked the greatest organ music number ever. However, there was going to be a scene of Dani and Frank on a bed in New Orleans talking and being cute with each other, and then Seraphine walks up the stairs unbeknownst to them and hears their conversation, and Dani hears something and asks “Is that your wife?”  We just wanted to add a short 2 minute clip of them hanging out to show that she knew he was actually married, to emphasize the notion that she’s a liar and that she isn’t that innocent in all of this.”

SK : “Damn, well, before we get off the topic of plot, I have to know what exactly does Satan say to Dani after raping her?”

TC:  “Aeternum meus” which means “You’re forever mine.” in Latin.”

SK: “Are you working on any future films?”

TC: Yeah, I’m working on writing a picture, talking about Mt. Caramel, focusing on Mad Sam DeStefano. Frank Cullotta, who helped write Casino (who was best friends with Tony Spilotro), is helping me out with that. It kinda gets into the real deal of what happened in the 60’s with the mob, JFK, Marilyn Monroe, Fidel Castro, who the real boss in Chicago was, and how did they partner with New York to get into Vegas. Then it kinda gets into this character who in essence, was a madman. He was a torture killer, he killed his own younger brother, and his older brother killed him eventually. He forced his wife to have sex with another man at gun-point to punish her, and he even pissed on a guy in front of his family before making the guys brothers piss on him too at gunpoint. I’m working on the script, but not too much until I finish the promotion for Voodoo.”

SK: “Alright well before you head out, I gotta know, how and why did you include the pornstar Ron Jeremy? Why is that a thing in the film?”

TC: “I’ve been going to The Rainbow for years and I moved out here to LA in ’03, and I’ve been going to The Rainbow ever since. So I’ve known him for almost 15 years and he’s there all the time. He’s there almost every Thursday and Friday-Saturday-Sunday. So I’ve known him for a long time just from you know- default. And when I was writing Voodoo long before I even asked him to do it, I had actually written a scene where they come across Ron Jeremy at The Rainbow. Because I wanted it to be that the whole beginning portion of the film showed her coming to LA. Again, going back to the whole Nollywood thing, it was supposed to show people in Nigeria and places like that, what LA really looks like and what it’s all about. Not all the hype that you see, because you know there’s a real seediness to the city. If you come to LA and you’re around here for a couple days, or a week, especially if you know people here and you’re not by yourself just to  go on a tour bus you’re gonna see some seedy stuff. “

“But back to Ron Jeremy, one thing I wanted to show again is the celebrity encounter- it’s the one thing that tourists always come here for, what they want to see is celebrities. So I always had my own story to draw from because when I moved to LA, Ron was one of my first celebrity encounters. So right before we did principal photography I just told him, “Dude I wrote you in the script, I need you.’ And he said “Okay.” Then we just scheduled it about a week before we started shooting.”

Shawn Kinnear: “Alright my friend, well I’m gonna get to work on this article, but thank you so much for your time , It was a great to sit down with the director of a film I just saw. Let me know when the next one comes out and well do the same thing.”


Tom Costabile: “Hey man anytime!”

SK: “Alright man, talk to you later.”

A great conversation with a deep, and talented, director and story teller. If you’re interested in Tom, you can find out more about him at the following links.


VooDoo’s Official Site:

Link to Tom’s Production Company:

Access The Film Online with these VOD Links:

And Here’s The First Film Review I Wrote on This Great Movie:


“VooDoo” 2017’s Horror Phenomenon

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