Slash & Dine: Welcome to Stake Land, Kid
“Welcome to Stake Land, kid.”
Director Jim Mickle and co-writer/lead Nick Damici have gone beyond the “horror” and “vampire” genre cliches to create a post-apocolyptic road movie that kicks major ass. Stake Land builds you up with scenes of laughing, ice cream and dancing that give the characters and audience hope of a New Eden and then literally comes crashing back down to the reality of vicious, blood-thirsty vampires. It’s bleak, promising, horrific and beautiful all at the same time. We’ve heard a lot of people say that it’s one of the best new films of the year and we couldn’t agree more. Since we knew Jim Mickle was a bit of a foodie himself, we asked him a few questions about the film, his favorite meals and somehow had a whole conversation about chicken coops (did you know chickens have earlobes?) So, do yourself a favor and pick up the DVD and Blu-ray and try out these tasty recipes to really top off your night.
Slash & Dine: You tackled zombie rats in Mulberry Street and vampires in Stake Land. Did you grow up a big fan of monster movies?
Jim: Yes, very, very big fan. I fell in love with movies through monster movies.
Slash & Dine: Did you have catering on the set of Stake Land and if so, what was a typical day’s meal like?
Jim: We did. We had two shoots- one in Pennsylvania and one in Upstate. In Pennsylvania, there was this really cool catering company that did a very good job. I’ve worked on a lot of low budget indie stuff and the food can be quite terrible, but they did a good job of mixing it up and having the staples and the fun healthy stuff. And then in Upstate, the resort where we stayed had food that was pretty amazing. It was a pretty upscale golf resort and it was off season so I think they were just happy to even have customers at the time. It was pretty good.
Slash & Dine: So, we know you have a green thumb. Can you give our readers any tips on starting a veggie garden or greenhouse?
Jim: Start ahead of time and start indoors. This year I started a ton of stuff indoors underneath lights and then moved that stuff out when the weather started to get better.
Slash & Dine: What kind of veggies do you grow?
Jim: A lot of lettuce. A lot of greens. Those do really well where I am, especially since I have a little makeshift green house. I’ve had a lot of stuff growing in there pretty early. And then I sort of did tests of growing stuff in there and also growing stuff outside and the stuff that’s in the green house is three times as big. It’s pretty amazing. I literally planted them the same day and they’re within five feet of each other, but some are outside and some are inside. The stuff inside is huge- like a giant cucumber plant while the one outside is just starting to get blossoms. It’s pretty interesting. But yeah, a lot of greens, lettuce, different kinds of peppers, a lot of winter squash, which is kind of fun. My peas and broccoli have done really good, too.
Slash & Dine: Since you’re in New York and it’s known for its pizza, what pizza place would you recommend to any visitors?
Jim: Lombardi’s. It’s actually right around the corner from Nick’s (Damici) place. We had that when we were making Mulberry Street with the whole crew. It’s in Little Italy. Very awesome.
Slash & Dine: What’s your go-to movie snack at the theater?
Jim: I don’t go to the theater very often, unfortunately. When I do, I’m just kind of coming around to popcorn again. I worked at a movie theater in high school and when I would get home from work, my hair and my clothes would smell like popcorn and popcorn oil and it grossed me out for so long that if I ever got near it or got a whiff of it, I would just want to vomit. I just saw Super 8 and I wanted to have a typical movie experience and get a giant bucket and soda and it was one of the first times I could have popcorn again. There’s a spot in Brooklyn at the reRun Theater and they do this awesome thing where you can get popcorn with different kinds of fat, so you can get duck fat, butter, bacon fat, and then you can do herb seasoning or paprika or garlic- you can choose your topping and that’s pretty badass.
Slash & Dine: You travel a lot for film fests. Do you have a favorite place to go because of their cuisine?
Jim: Probably Sitges (Spain). Not only do they treat you really well, but it’s surrounded by good restaurants. Everywhere you go they have paella and fish right out of the ocean. And it’s very celebratory- they sort of stop and say “OK now. Let’s have a three hour meal”. All of the food is pretty amazing. I highly recommend it.
Slash & Dine: Do you cook often? What are your favorite meals to make?
Jim: I do cook a lot, but not as much as I’d like to. One thing I’ve really gotten into is going to this butcher upstate where they have organic meat. I’ve quickly found that it makes an amazing difference in quality. So I’ve been cooking a lot of pork chops and summer stuff. I guess one thing I really like that I make is this chicken breast in a breading of ground up pistachio nuts and that’s done in a dill, honey mustard sauce. It’s somewhat quick, but still kinda gourmet. Now, I want to get into canning. I want to be able to save all of this stuff I’m growing for winter consumption.
Slash & Dine: If you were on death row, what would you request for a last meal?
Jim: Probably a really good woodfired, thin crust pizza with a good bottle of red wine.
Slash & Dine: If you could have us cook or bake one thing for you, what would it be?
Jim: Bread pudding!
Slash & Dine: What’s in the future for you?
Jim: First, getting chickens. Second, we’re working right now on a Joe Lansdale adaptation called Cold in July, which is a very dark, violent thriller. We’re putting it together now and hoping to shoot by the end of this year. So that’s in the immediate future and then there’s another book adaptation that Nick and I are hoping to get cracking on very soon. I’d love to do another horror thing and if we do Cold in July, it’ll be a little bit of a step outside, but I think it still would feel like a horror movie in a lot of ways.
Jim’s Pistachio Crusted Chicken
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup shelled raw pistachios
1/4 cup panko
2 tbsp mustard
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp mayonnaise
1/2 tbsp chopped fresh dill
Salt & pepper to taste
Remove pistachio nuts from shells and grind in processor. Add panko and blend until fine. Transfer to baking dish. Pour mustard, honey, mayonnaise and dill into medium dish. Dip chicken breasts into mixture, coating each side. Remove chicken breasts and place in baking dish with the nut mixture making sure to coat evenly. Add salt and pepper.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Over medium heat, oil small sauce pan and cook chicken 2 minutes on each side. Transfer chicken breasts onto baking sheet and cook in oven until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Ready to serve.
8 slices raisin bread
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup raisins, optional
2 cups milk
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Break bread into smaller pieces and add to 8 inch square baking pan. Melt butter in saucepan and pour over bread. Add raisins. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla until well mixed. Pour into baking pan, making sure that the bread is fully covered. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until set.
Scamp Kiddie Cocktail
1 oz grenadine
6-8 oz 7-Up
splash of cream
Add grenadine to glass. Fill with 7-Up and splash cream on top. Garnish with marachino cherries.
Be sure to pick up your copy of Stake Land here. And a big thanks again to Jim Mickle for the interview! We can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.
-Nicole & Megan