Inspiring Scares (Day 21): Horror Writer/Director David B. Stewart III (“Friday the 13th Part X: To Hell and Back”)

We have discussed slasher flicks, old monster television shows, horror movies trailers, and supernatural thrillers so far on Inspiring Scares here at Slasher Studios. Today, we have horror filmmaker David B. Stewart III with a taste of the macabre and a little zombie action for you horror fans.

“I would have to say my obsession with horror films started sometime in the fall of 1986 when I was eight years old. I can remember sitting in front of my Grandparents’ console TV watching George A. Romero’s 1968 classic Night of the Living Dead for the very first time on a UHF channels Friday night horror feature. I remember being glued to the TV scared and fascinated, waiting for my parents to come and pick me up. I made them stay until the movie was over.

I knew I wanted to make a horror film of my own one-day. I read all about how they made that movie and in 1993 begged my Grandmother to drive a friend and I to Pittsburgh for the 25th anniversary Zombie Jamboree convention. To my surprise she did. At that convention my Grandmother wound up chatting with Russ Streiner’s Mother in the concession area, she was more than happy to drag him out of the convention to meet us. I was elated. I probably asked him a thousand questions that weekend about filmmaking and he told me everything I wanted to know. Toward the end of the convention he gave me his card and said that if I ever needed advice all I had to do was call. It would be about five years before I ever used that card (when I was in pre-production for Maplewoods aka Operation: Nazi Zombies) to ask for advice, to my surprise he actually remembered me.

In 1994 I had my first job working at a mom and pop video store in my hometown. I must have watched every horror film there. Some of my other muses back then were Bill Hinzman’s Flesh Eater, Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, Friday the 13th, Halloween and many others. In 1995 my friends and I collaborated and decided to make a movie. Still being in High School this was unheard of at the time, at least where we were from. I wrote a script and we decided to make a fan film feature continuing the then ended Friday series where Jason Goes to Hell left off. Our 97-minute S-VHS feature was called Friday the 13th Part X: To Hell and Back. It is available to watch on Youtube in its entirety.

In 2003 I had the pleasure of making friends with Bill Hinzman who was at the time helping me plan another feature (that is still currently on the back burner). I can remember sitting and talking with him about all his experiences in the business and listening to every lesson he had to give. He was an insightful man who deserves a hell of a lot more recognition for his work, at least as far as I’m concerned. I will forever remember the advice he gave me and appreciate what little time I did have to spend with him. Going from that little kid in front of his Grandparents TV watching him on NOLD to sitting with him in his living room watching it with him was something I could have never foretold and will always remember as one of the best moments in my life. We lost a great member of our community when he passed away this past February and my heart goes out to his friends and family. He will live on forever through his work, if you haven’t seen it, you must.

Currently I am in production on a Nazisploitation/Horror flick, inspired by the infamous films of Bruno Mattei and Lee Frost. I like to say it’s kind of a Hellraiser meets the Third Reich. So be on the look out next summer for previews. For those of you out there seeking to get into film, my advice to you is go for it. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t.

Happy Halloween!”

Make sure to like the Facebook pages for both Operation: Nazi Zombies and Friday the 13th Part X: To Hell and Back.


Inspiring Scares (Day 20): FX Artist Shiva Rodriguez on FRIDAY THE 13TH

As part of Inspiring Scares, Slasher Studios has taken a look at the work of various horror writers and filmmakers but we have for you a rare Slasher Studios first today. We are taking a look at the Inspiring Scare from FX Artist Shiva Rodriguez (because what is a horror movie without some great special effects?) and the horror movie that changed Shiva’s life forever…

The first thing I remember about Friday the 13th was that I wasn’t allowed to see it. I was about ten years old when it came out on cable, and despite the fact that I had already been exposed to a great deal of theatrical blood by then, my mother was very skeptical about letting me see this notorious film. Like any responsible parent would, she sent my brother and I to stay at our grandmother’s house for the night while she exercised “parental discretion” and watched the film herself. Of course, I was calling home every ten minutes to see if she’d let me watch it. After the first hour, I was told that I could not see it under any circumstances.

Fast-forward a few months later when my father presented his children with this new-fangled device known as a VCR and then proceeded to indulge his daughter in renting whatever films her heart desired. So at long-last, I got to watch Friday the 13th. Any fears that my mother harbored about how the film might affect my dreams certainly came true, but not quite in the way she’d anticipated. For the first time I got to see death scenes that looked very realistic when compared to the stage tricks I grew up with. I was absolutely fascinated by the idea of doing practical FX. From that day forward, makeup artist Tom Savini became my hero and my kid brother became my guinea pig. Although it came out long after The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Halloween, Friday the 13th is often credited for ushering in the slasher film genre. I’m guessing that’s because the 1980s gave birth to a swarm of killer-on-the-loose films that all tried to out-do each other with how many different ways they could knock off a cast of teenagers.

We start off with the obligatory first pair of victims before the opening credits, then on to meeting the team of counselors who are fixing up an old, run-down camp for its grand re-opening and presumably hoping that everyone has forgotten about the Voorhees kid who drowned and the two counselors who were murdered there in the not-so-distant past. Very shortly thereafter, the cast gets depleted down to a single survivor and a very angry killer. The film utilizes a beautiful blend of all things terrifying. An isolated setting, characters put into very vulnerable positions, showing us horrible ways to be murdered with whatever objects happen to be laying around, and of course, it all takes place during a dark and stormy night. There’s no doubt that this film was cleverly engineered to give its audience nightmares.

Of course, what I loved the most about it were the realistic and gory FX which really raised the bar to the point that many of the other films that followed its path simply couldn’t compare. We get to watch a girl get hit in the face with an axe. We get to view a gory decapitation in the POV of the character wielding the machete. We even get to see Kevin Bacon get skewered through his throat by an arrow. (By the way, that image really stuck with me a couple years later while watching Footloose.) The film paved the way for a long string of sequels by resurfacing the drowned child (Jason), and things eventually became a bit goofy as the numbers got higher and the writers started running out of plausible places to send Mr. Voorhees. Recently a re-make of the original film was done and I was very glad to see that Jason found his way back home to good old Camp Crystal Lake.


Inspiring Scares (Day 19): Horror Writer/Director Justin Russell (THE SLEEPER) on SALEM’S LOT

To start out the slasher weekend we have a brand new Inspiring Scares installment for all you horror fans. This one comes from horror writer-director Justin Russell who brought us the awesome 80’s slasher homage THE SLEEPER. Here he talks about the horror movie that changed his life forever.

“When I was around 10 years old, my brother and I were introduced to a film called, Salem’s Lot, which subsequently is now our favorite horror film. Stuck at our Grandparents house for an afternoon while the adults talked, my brother and I sequestered ourselves in the TV room. I remember my brother flipping through the channels and landing on the miniseries. For some reason, he left it on. Back then, there was no digital cable. There was no way to tell what you were watching without TV guide or waiting for a commercial break for the announcer to tell you what was on. For some reason, we hung on and began to watch the classic from ’79, not knowing what we were in for. At the time, I was terrified of horror films. I was easily scared and didn’t care for the “thrill.” My brother however had an early love for horror and the scare.

In Salem’s Lot there are several moments that I still consider horrifying. At the time, the images bothered me so much that it kept me up at night staring at my window. My brother now admits that several of the scenes in the film left him unsettled as well. For those of you not familiar with the film, it , by today’s standards, is a slow burn. In the late 70’s and early 80’s, horror films had an atmosphere. The feeling those films deliver is unparalleled. That is what made Salem’s Lot so great. The entire film is built around a town being taken over by vampires, done almost entirely behind the scenes. The first scene that truly horrified me was when Ralphie Glick disappears and comes for his brother at night. There is a low drone and smoke outside the window as the young boy approaches. He then scratches the window, putting his older brother in a trance. Danny Glick opens the window, letting his brother float in and bite him. After the scene ended I looked to MY brother. We both shared a similar response to the scene.

Because the film is so long, we fell asleep at parts, waking up for the horrifying moments that happen later involving more vampires. This included seeing the head vampire, Barlow. My brother quickly became obsessed with the film, purchasing it on Double VHS and watching the whole thing again. I was so terrified, that I stayed away from horror for as long as I could. My brother fell in love with the genre and when he got a license, headed to the video store to saturate himself with the classics. When I got a little older, I began to get tempted by his VHS collection. I would hang out in his room and watch his films when he was gone. Still scared of these movies, I would make sure to watch them during the day. Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, Evil Dead, and the list continues.

During sleepovers at my house, I would fire on a film I saw, acting brave to impress my friends as they revolted from the gore and blood. When I was 12 my dad gave me a camera and I began to shoot my own horror films. Copying what I saw, using phones like Scream and masks like Friday the 13th. At the time I still wasn’t truly into horror films. I liked watching them because they truly did scare me! I can admit that. But the love was beginning to develop. I just didn’t know it yet.

When my brother went to College, he joined Netflix and began seeing even more masterpieces. Lots of films that were unavailable at West Coast Video and Hollywood Video. Films that were making a resurgence because of DVD. He would send me some in the mail and say “watch this,” or “you won’t believe the GORE.” Most of the films were from the late Fulci or the master Argento.

The films finally began to sink in. I’d seen almost all the classics and was hooked. My favorites to this day have always been the early 80’s slashers. They are simply put, beautiful. I’ll never forget my first experiences with those films. Most of which I watched with the company of Joe Bob Briggs or through the tracking marks on the VHS tapes. Salem’s Lot, one of my first horror experiences, will always be my favorite. The experience of seeing it the first time in the middle of the day and still be scared is a true testament to the film. As a horror director, I have been chasing the dragon for years, trying to create something as beautiful as those early films. I hold them up as a reference point. These films from the golden age are still the greatest. Any horror fan’s list of greats will include a film from the late 70’s or early 80’s. I can only hope to one day create something that will scare a young 10 year old and keep him staring at his window at night.”

To buy THE SLEEPER: The Sleeper


Inspiring Scares (Day 18): Horror Writer Dave Kaye on BLACK CHRISTMAS

Welcome to a brand new Inspiring Scares here at Slasher Studios. Today we have a piece from horror writer Dave Kaye. Name sound familiar? Good! He’s one of the hosts of our podcast (Slasher Studios Horror Webcast) and he has contributed many of the best reviews for the Slasher Studios site. Today is taking a look at one of my all time favorite slasher films. Are you ready to celebrate Christmas a little early this year?

Released in 1974 Black Christmas has gained a massive cult following over the years and is now rightfully seen as a horror classic and while I hold the film in high regard I don’t hold it as high as some fans of the movie do. John Carpenter’s 1978 classic Halloween is often cited as the first slasher film and the one that paved the way for the slasher flicks of the 80s; the latter is fairly accurate, but not the former. There were other slasher flicks prior to Halloween with Black Christmas being one of them and one can even cite the Gialli as an inspiration for many slasher flicks since they two have a lot in common in the basic structure, but it was Halloween even if not the first slasher was the one that made a whole lot of money opening the door for the slasher flick.

Black Christmas and Halloween often get compared with some people calling Halloween a knock off film, which really isn’t true. Both films focus on suspense and tension rather than action and gore, but the truth is both films are actually quite different and any similarities aren’t that close for Halloween to be called a knock off film. Like I said they have a few things in common, but the basic style of the films are quite different. Bob Clark once stated he told John Carpenter about doing a sequel where the killer breaks out of an insane asylum, but it was Irwin Yablans who came up with the Halloween setting not Carpenter or Debra Hill and while I’m not calling Bob Clark a liar and even he’s gone back on what he said, but I don’t think Carpenter stole anything from Bob Clark.

Black Christmas is a style of film that sadly is mostly forgotten in the days of more violence and more gore and less on suspense. As much as I loved the 80s the decade started off great, but soon drifted off into mindless violence, but even with that the 80s was still an excellent era for the horror genre, but nothing can top the 70s. What I loved about 70s horror is not only were these movies horror flicks, but they also had a touch of drama and in the case of Black Christmas also a little bit of comedy.

The screenplay by Roy Moore is very smart and creative; the script has a simple idea, but is very well thought out and relies more on being subtle rather than spelling out everything for the audience. The “Billy” character is a mystery, which really makes things chilling. You can get some info based on the phone calls, but then again how much of this is true and how much are the ramblings of a lunatic? Billy’s motives are never made clear and sometimes that can slightly hinder a movie when nothing is explained, but when too much is explained the mystery is taken away, but Roy Moore gives just enough detail to retain the mystery of the villain.

I personally believe that Roy Moore’s intention with the phone calls is to give the viewer some insight to the character of Billy and what he’s saying as incoherent as it is has something to do with his past and I think the final outcome is highly effective, but you can also simply see it as some lunatic that has such a warped mind and his rants mean nothing, but the script was really intelligent. Even though I think the things Billy says has some kind of meaning he’s still a mystery; where did Billy come from? Does he go from town to town stalking and killing people to recreate a murder from the past? Or does the sorority house have some kind of meaning for him and it’s obvious Billy is insane, but does he have moments where he can maybe sort of function in reality? Did he possibly escape from an asylum? You can let your mind run away with you while watching the movie and that makes things more effective, but Roy Moore also delivers just enough insight that we don’t feel as if it’s a cop out.

The characters each have their own identity and while they may not have the most depth they aren’t however faceless victims, which for me always makes a movie better since if we at least care for the characters a little bit it makes the suspense play out much better. Besides writing a solid horror flick, Roy Moore also is able to add some drama and comedic elements and they all work and never feel out of place.

I would hate for people to judge Bob Clark on his later flicks such as Baby Geniuses as well as The Karate Dog; there is no doubt these movies were horrid, but with Black Christmas and Deathdream, Clark proved himself a worthy filmmaker. Maybe he just got lucky? I don’t have the answer for that, but Black Christmas is prime example on how to make a chilling horror flick and sadly this is something we hardly see anymore. As much as I love the 80s that did start using nudity and gore to make up for weak filmmaking. From the very opening scene Bob Clark sets a tone and is able to deliver some of the best feel of tension in any horror flick I’ve ever seen; some people might see Black Christmas as slow paced, but I disagree. To me a slow paced movie is one where there are scenes in which the movie doesn’t move forward. Every scene in Black Christmas somehow moves the movie forward in either story, characters or suspense.

I’m not sure what happend to Bob Clark with his later movies, but with Black Christmas he hits all the right notes as the movie has this amazing sense of dread that is present through-out the entire movie and even if a scene or two might be a little slow it never gets boring due to the eerie feel. I’ve seen a lot of horror flicks in my life and very few have managed to be as chilling as Black Christmas. That’s why I go back to what I said earlier on how I’d hate for people to judge Bob Clark on some of his later films since at one point he made some classics of the horror genre. Tragically Bob Clark was killed in a car accident with his son in 2007 by a drunk driver, but his legacy will forever live on with Black Christmas, which is prime example on how to make a horror movie. I’d advise any filmmaker to study Black Christmas to learn how to structure a movie.

Unlike most films of its type Black Christmas has solid acting and cult Icon John Saxon delivers an excellent performance, Olivia Hussey makes for an excellent and sympathetic final girl and Keir Dullea is rather creepy in another excellent performance in Black Christmas, but it’s Margot Kidder and Marian Waldman that really stand out with hysterical performances.

Overall Black Christmas is one of the more chilling horror movies you’ll see and what it lacks in violence it more than makes up for with suspense and a chilling feel through-out and Billy makes for one of the most chilling villains in any horror film. Its movies like Black Christmas that reminds me why I love the horror genre as much as I do.


Inspiring Scares (Day 17): John Miller (“The Sleaze Box”)

At Slasher Studios we are joined by fellow filmmaker John Miller as he discusses the night that changed his life forever in a brand new Inspiring Scares edition of Slasher Studios.

“I can still vividly recall the final moments of my eleventh birthday party. My father swaggering towards his pickup truck, mullet swaying in the breeze and looking back to announce, “I’m goin to the video store to get some movies.”

Hard telling what I got as gifts that year, probably some dollar store action figures and a bunch of lame t-shirts that I never wore. But what I will never forget is the video store haul my pops unloaded on myself and a couple of unsuspecting friends that evening. In those days video stores were split between the pricier new release sections and the economically friendlier older titles that were broken up between genres. Because the craze was to watch the newest releases, our neighborhood store Westcoast Video ran a 3 for $3 gimmick to push the older videos. My father, the cheapskate that he is took the route of the $3 special. A brilliant move in retrospect. The selection that evening was RoboCop (which in itself is a fucking masterpiece), The Lost Boys and The Monster Squad.

One thing you gotta understand about my pops is that he wasn’t an educated man and he wasn’t a film snob, he was just a blue collar film buff that grasped the effectiveness of keeping tweens entertained with pizza, violence and monsters. We warmed up that evening with Robocop before creeping towards the midnight hour with The Lost Boys.

From the moment I heard Echo and The Bunnymens “People Are Strange” playing over scenes of punks and carnies I was hooked. Although familiar with horror at this point I had never really gravitated towards it, preferring comic books, cartoons and demented Fox Television comedies instead. The Lost Boys could almost be considered my gateway drug into the genre. Moreso, it was the moment I said to myself, “damn I wanna do that!”

Although my taste have matured a bit with age, having discovered the likes of Fulci, Argento, Hooper, Carpenter, Craven, Cronenberg, Romero, etc. I still find myself rediscovering The Lost Boys all these years later. I still wish I had made cool friends like The Frog Brothers and the scene inside of the subterranean hideout with the maggots still gets to me. Hell, despite all of the gory, outrageous shit I’ve seen over the years one of my favorite cinematic moments of all time will always be the initiation scene, which is about as poetically violent as you could ever wish for in a horror film.

I view The Lost Boys as being the type of crossover film that can be enjoyed by a cult movie buff or an average Joe in search of 90 minutes of escapism. That type of appeal isn’t lost on me. As an artist, writer and filmmaker I try to be just artistic enough to get my point across but never push it so far as to overreach or come across as heavy handed. The point is to have fun and entertainment value should always come first.

On a side note. Filmmaking isn’t the only part of my life that this film has influenced. My dream has always been to find the love of my life in similar fashion as Michael and Star. Gazing across a crowd, smiling, chasing, etc. It’s never come to fruition and likely never will, but I did come close once having met stripper in a dive bar called Durty Nellys. Unfortunately had she been a vampire it would have been an upgrade, she even attempted to stab me after a Vodka and Oxycodone binge. But that’s a tale for another day.

In the mean time check out my own vampire film, Hennessy x Red.”

Latest episode of The Sleaze Box Halloween special

Vampire Short Film


Inspiring Scares (Day 16): Shawn Burkett (Writer & Director of PANTY RAID)

We have for you horror fans a brand new short but very sweet Inspiring Scares story from horror filmmaker Shawn Burkett. Burkett is the director of the “Panty Raid” segment on a brand new “Theatre of the Deranged II” due out next year. He also wrote and directed the thriller “The Sleeping Soul.”

“Ti West’s “The House Of The Devil” is the film that gave me the push I needed to switch from music to film making. Touring in a band was an amazing experience, but after ten years and not feeling like I had accomplished anything, I needed a change. I was completely torn, and couldn’t decide what to do. I came across The House Of The Devil @ a Blockbuster and figure I’d give it a shot “since I had never heard of it before” I went home and watched it, and as the credits rolled I knew what I truly wanted. Every time I watch this film, I appreciate it more and more. It has a strong story line, and an epic 80’s look and sense of cinematography. It’s minimalistic and suspenseful but at the same time, gritty and raw. This was the first Ti West film I had seen but not the last, and I have yet to be disappointed.”

Shawn Burkett on IMDB:


Inspiring Scares (Day 15): Gordon Bressack (KEEPER)

October is now half way over which makes Slasher Studios both excited for Halloween and sad that winter is right around the corner. For our brand new Inspiring Scares edition we are taking a look at filmmaker Gordon Bressack (writer of Pinky & The Brain and Animaniacs) who has a new thriller coming out soon entitled KEEPER. Check out his classic tale before one one of the very first horror movies released.

“The horrors of childhood are the horrors that stay with you for the rest of your life. We remember nightmares we had when we were five years old and though the images no longer frighten us how well we remember the sheer dread of those sleepless nights. I first saw Frankenstein as a young child and I don’t think any subsequent horror in my life could match the sheer terror of that first encounter with unimaginable horror. The scene when the monster appears in the doorway back to camera and slowly turns around to reveal Karloff in that amazing makeup, the half-lidded eyes that could only be the eyes of a dead man, the silence of the moment unembellished by any musical underscoring. sent shivers down my five year old spine.

When you would have your nightmares your mother would comfort you and make you feel safe, but there is no safety for children in Frankenstein. I watched with abject fear and terror as the little girl, Maria, is killed, however innocently, by the monster. No happy comfortable end of the nightmare for that kid!

Finally, the scene when the drugged monster is lying on the slab about to be dissected and he slowly regains consciousness and his hand begins to move toward the throat of the old doctor is nothing short of nailbiting. This same effect was used a year or so later in The Mummy when Karloff comes alive. The slow building of suspense and horror is unmatched by any of today’s forays into the macabre.

I know younger fans poo poo the older films first of all because they’re old, in black and white and the acting is rather arch, but seen through the eyes of a child, these are great films, ultimately creepy and actual scary films and Frankenstein is the very best of them.

If the hallmark of a horror movie is how much it scared you I don’t think I’ve ever been as scared watching any movie since. That may be because I’m older now or it may be that director James Whale captured the perfect horrific image in that 1930 movie.”

Gordon Bressack’s IMDB


Inspiring Scares (Day 14): Ian Messenger (CatchMeKillMe Productions)

Think the slasher heyday is over? Horror filmmaker Ian Messenger from CatchMeKillMe Productions argues that this might not be the case in a brand new Inspiring Scares.

“The slasher boom stopped dead in its tracks in 1993 after the release of Friday The 13th: Jason Goes To Hell. Don’t get me wrong, we had a few slasher’s here and there (Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer) but they honestly just didn’t stirke me the same as the slasher’s of old. The sub-genre attempted to revive itself with the dreadful Jason X and then again with Freddy vs. Jason – both attempts seemingly failed to get the public interested in the darkest corner of cinema’s basement, the slasher film.

After Freddy vs. Jason’s release in 2003 there was real movement from our beloved slasher’s until 2006, enter Adam Green and his film Hatchet. When I first saw the preview for Hatchet, a swamp in New Orleans, a creepy little song played in the background and some letters faded onto the screen “Old School American Horror”, then a quick glimpse of a screaming Victor Crowley and the preview ended. My knee-jerk reaction? I laughed. I knew it was going to be a slasher film and I thought they should just let the dream die.

I’m so glad they didn’t let the dream die. Hatchet renewed my faith in slasher films, I wanted more when the film ended. All of a sudden I had an insatiable thirst for blood, guts, and gore again. It’s everything the movie’s in the 80’s and early 90’s were, but this film KNEW it was campy.

They poked fun at the excessive amounts of blood, one shot shows a tree off in the distance and all of a sudden a gallon of blood splashes against it. Adam Green knew these films shouldn’t be overly serious but he also knew how to make his monster scary.

Victor Crowley took fans by the throat and ripped them along for a ride we hadn’t been on in years. The film was so successful at doing it’s job properly it has spawned two sequel, one of which is currently in post-production.

If you want some good old fashioned American horror look no further then the Hatchet series. Boobs, blood, and guts – It’s all here. Upon my 4th or 5th viewing of the movie, I thought to myself that maybe I could do this. I’d never really considered film making as an option before this. When the movie finished I turned on the “Making Of” feature and I was stunned to see Adam Green, a guy like me, talking about movies the same way I did. He explained the route he took to horror film glory and I decided right then I would do the same thing.

I shut off the DVD and opened up my laptop and started consuming all things horror. I was overloading my brain hoping that a monster would come lurking out of the dark recesses of my brain. He didn’t. No monster, no slasher. I went for days spinning the ideas in my head but honestly they all sucked. Then finally I brought the idea up to a friend, we sat down and began discussing what scared us and it started to happen. We began piecing together a horrible creation – his mask, his weapon, his tale, and then he was born.

The Hog was created (4 or 5 variations of the same script) and we went out and filmed. Not a film class between us but we did it and I owe it all to Adam Green and Hatchet.

A side note to this story, I would later go on to propose to my now wife at the premiere of Adam Green’s premiere of Chillerama which resulted in us (my wife and I) meeting the man himself.”

Check out the awesome Catch Me Kill Me Films at the Youtube link below:


Inspiring Scares (Day 13): Lucas Masson (Writer & Director of BABY-SITTING)

“Slasher fans, are you ready for a brand new Inspiring Scares from Slasher Studios? Today we are featuring award winning writer-director Lucas Masson (BABY-SITTING) and the influences that have played a role in his life to shape him into one of France’s hottest up-and-coming horror filmmakers.

The two things that really drew me into the world of horror were JAWS and horror movie trailers.

I was around 4 when I first watched JAWS. That was one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen (I only watched disney movies at that age…). But it also was the most exciting experience ever. There was something so thrilling about this huge monster that could appear at any time and cause absolute chaos among human characters. I was pretty lucid and knew that it was a movie and that the shark and death scenes were fake. I then realized that nothing else in life could give you such extreme sensations and make you live so many adventures, all the while being in absolute safety, than a movie; and more specifically: a horror movie.

I also found amazing the fact that an enormous robotic shark was created for a shooting (and I had no Idea all the trouble it caused to Spielberg at that time). That’s the aspect of the movie that really got me determined to make my own ones, because I wanted to understand and reproduce all the tricks they used for the action and death scenes (how to film them, how special effects worked, etc.).

A few years later, when I was 9, my parents (whom let me watch JAWS at 4) forbid me to watch SCREAM and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. This wasn’t a smart move, as it only made me want to see the movies even more, and at a point it almost drove me crazy. We had a Channel on which we could pay to watch movies one or two months before they were released. And it had SCREAM and WES CRAVEN’S NEW NIGHTMARE. Movie trailers were hence played all day long to promote the films. As they were the only things I was allowed to see, I was constantly watching them. They were made-for-tv trailers and probably weren’t really good, but the frustration of seeing some images but still not enough was exquisite. The preview from NEW NIGHTMARE was particularly creepy. You saw Freddy materializing inside a bed from which he ripped the sheets with his claws… it could seem normal when you already know the series, but as a kid, it gets you really curious and excited to know what the hell is going on in the film. I think seeing so little of both movies helped me be more inventive. I was trying to mentally recreate the scenes from every shot I saw in those trailers until my brain hurt.

I was then sure I wanted to do genre films. And it got me really passionate about movie trailers too. I actually edit trailers in addition to making movies now and I’m really happy about it.”

Lucas’ film BABY-SITTING is currently making the festival rounds and the trailer for the short horror flick can be viewed below.


Inspiring Scares (Day 12): Brad Sykes (Writer & Director of the CAMP BLOOD TRILOGY)

To start off the weekend, we are taking a look at independent horror filmmaker Brad Sykes (writer and director of the CAMP BLOOD trilogy as well as many other horror films) as he looks at the film that changed the way he looked at horror and how he continues to make horror today.

“In 1989, at the tender age of fourteen, I experienced two life-changing events: I got my first video camera (a Chinon Hi-8 to be exact) and saw Peter Jackson’s splatterific horror-action-comedy BAD TASTE. Up till this point, I had digested all the 70’s American classics, most of them multiple times: DAWN OF THE DEAD, HALLOWEEN, TEXAS CHAINSAW, etc. but none of those could have prepared me for this over-the-top gore epic from New Zealand of all places. I first read about the film in the pages of the late, great Gorezone (who of course showed plenty of bloody photos) and it wasn’t long before I found the VHS on the new release wall at my local mom and pop – featuring the famous alien flipping the bird on the cover.

After that first viewing, there was no turning back – this was not only my favorite movie EVER, it was the movie that really made me start thinking seriously about going out and shooting my own stuff. Like THE EVIL DEAD, BAD TASTE was technically accomplished, but still had that homemade charm that encouraged you to go out and try to make your own horror movie. It was truly inspirational film for me, with its improvised camerawork, handcrafted effects, and utterly original plotting, and the general devil-may-care attitude of the whole project. For me, BAD TASTE was the movie that screamed: “Yes, if you get a group of like-minded (i.e. crazy) friends together and work really, really hard, you too might be able to make something as demented and entertaining as this!”

So I did, or at least I tried. One of the first projects I attempted – mostly in my backyard – was a shot for shot remake of BAD TASTE. Though that remained incomplete, I also announced a sequel: BAD TASTE II : THE AFTERTASTE (I’m still hoping Peter Jackson will go back to his roots and make this one).

I kept shooting, though, eventually turning my backyard hobby into a Hollywood career. Ironically, in 1999, less than 10 years after that first viewing of BAD TASTE, I found out that my microbudget slasher movie CAMP BLOOD was going to be distributed by Dead-Alive Productions (wonder where they got that name?), who had just a few years earlier released Peter Jackson’s second feature, MEET THE FEEBLES, in the US. Talk about being in good company! At that moment, I felt everything had come full circle, and nowadays, having fans tell me that some of my humble horror epics have inspired them to pick up a camera makes me feel that in some way I am continuing the BAD TASTE indie tradition myself – even if I have yet to top that classic alien puke-drinking scene.”

To check out some of Brad’s films: