The Trylon presents “Made in Berlin” and “The Tiki War”

Jackie Renzetti



This Thursday, March 12th, the Trylon will feature two films from Minneapolis filmmaker John Ervin: “Made in Berlin” and “The Tiki War.”


“[The event] is partly just an opportunity to show ‘Made in Berlin’ again,” Ervin said. “I made it so long ago before it was even on the internet, before DVDs and streaming and all that. It’s a good debut movie so I wanted to give it another screening again.”


Ervin also sees the event as a fundraiser and opportunity to promote his upcoming third film.

Auditions for his third film, “Group Sessions with Satan,” will take place later this month, with shooting in May and an expected release sometime Spring 2016.


Ervin began his professional career with “Made in Berlin,” which premiered in 1998. He designed it to be a tribute to the “Weimar period” of 1920s German expressionism, but it takes place in modern times. Some scenes were shot in the hallways of Ferguson Hall at the University of Minnesota, which Ervin chose for the lighting.


Since then, Ervin has released four more narratives for a total of five – “Vixen Highway,” “Proinhibition,” “Citizen ‘Caine” and “The Tiki War,” which he released in 2014. He has also made two documentaries.


As a child of about 8 years old, Ervin’s brothers introduced him to horror movies and the Hollywood excitement that surrounded them. The lure of Hollywood first drew young Ervin in, and he started reading monster movie books and magazines, such as “Famous Monsters in Film Land.” Though he was too young to understand everything, Ervin said “Famous Monsters” first introduced him to the genre of German expressionism.


He also recalls watching “Horror Incorporated” on KSTP, which showed movies such as the original Frankenstein and Dracula. He enjoyed attending movies at the Walker Arts Center, because they sometimes offered German films like “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.”


“I was probably like the only 9 or 10 year old in the audience. I probably brought a friend with me that had no idea what they were going to,” Ervin said.


Later in life, Ervin pursued film as an art form. After firstly pursuing a degree in acting, Ervin went on to obtain a B.A. in film from San Francisco State University.


Though scary movies inspired Ervin to pursue his interest in film as a kid, he says his films today are dark comedies rather than horror films. And though the films deal with Satan, Ervin doesn’t consider himself a Satanist, nor is he concerned with sending a message to the audience – he is more interested in providing entertaining dialogue and a good story.


Aside from some minor IMDB comments, Ervin said he hasn’t received any negative feedback to his films concerning their involvement with the idea of Satan.


“I sort of like the idea of doing something sort of edgy. I think that puts off a lot of people, but it puts off a lot of people that I’m not interested in anyway,” he said.


Though he has never intentionally tried to incite commotion, he sees a silver lining if it happens in the future.


“I wish there were people picketing my movies,” he said. “That’s always the best publicity.”