FILM: THE BUNKER
Debut film by Joseph M. Monks – World’s First Blind Feature Film Director
When Julia Jennings (newcomer Saskia Gonzalez) runs away from home on the eve her father announces his bid for reelection to congress, she gets more than she bargained for when a sadistic madman (Flesh For The Beast’s Terry M. West) snatches her off the street. Awakening to the nightmare of being trapped in an underground cell where every move is monitored by her maniacal tormentor, Julia begins to formulate a desperate, all-or-nothing plan to escape. While concerned parents Robert and Amelia (Ron Sheppard and Law & Order: SVU’s Teresa Vicario) try to keep the scandal from the media-even hiring an organized crime figure to help find their missing daughter-time has already begun to run out. Knowing that a date has been set for her slaughter, every second that ticks away brings the frightened teen closer to a grisly demise. Critically acclaimed author Joseph M. Monks makes his directorial debut and becomes the world’s first blind feature film director with The Bunker.
In early 2001, Joe had a few ideas for shorts, including a sketchy one about a congressman’s wild child daughter being kidnapped off the streets while her father pulled out all the stops to find her before she turned his reelection campaign into a scandal. So began the formation of The Bunker—destined not to be Monks’ first screenplay put into production, but his second.
During 2001 and early 2002, while Monks fought a losing battle with diabetic retinopathy (it would eventually blind the comic book author and would-be filmmaker), Monks returned on and off to the story, adding details; fleshing out the characters; developing the plot line, while trying to keep his day job between invasive eye surgeries and lengthy recovery periods. By April of 2002, when Monks both lost his job and his failing eyesight, the film project had been entirely shifted to the back burner. Monks shifted gears to focus his energies on a long-delayed horror anthology of short stories, Stuff Out’a My Head (2009), which he had been discussing with legendary comic book illustrator Bernie Wrightson, a frequent Stephen King collaborator.
In 2011, Monks received the Achievement in Cinema Award at the Gasparilla Int’l Film Festival. You can watch his inspiring acceptance speech here.
The film was plagued by a number of delays, including two hurricanes in Florida; a blizzard that wiped out shooting that January; two actors requiring emergency surgery the day of scheduled shoots; the suicide of the film’s original composer, and eventually, an attempt by a crew member to hijack the film and the theft of the master hard drives. Monks would eventually regroup, hire a new editor and composer, and was able to raise the funds necessary for Los Angeles reshoots when Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman put his Kickstarter project over the top with only days left in the campaign.
Score & Foreign Distribution
The score for The Bunker was composed by the late Robert Feigenblatt, and was released by Howlin’ Wolf Records. On June 21, 2013, The Bunker was released in Germany under the title Pray For Dawn.
—Joseph M. Monks