Zombie Movies are Less Scary at 9am

This summer, it’s a new menu for breakfast. My typical routine has been a cup of coffee and a little “Hostel”; eggs, toast and “Teeth”; and pancakes with a side of “Zombie Roadkill.” There’s something about sunlight pouring through the windows, birds chirping in the trees, and the drone of my neighbor’s leaf blower that helps make watching appendages get ripped to shreds slightly easier.  I’m also less apt to check all the closets and under the bed in broad daylight, and I’m less likely to take any zombies very seriously.  As a filmmaker deep in research for my next project, it’s my job these days to watch as many horror films as possible, and this is what works for me.

I grew up on horror films. I’m not sure why I was so fascinated with the genre, perhaps it was because these films were the “forbidden” ones, R-rated with lots of sex and violence and stuff young kids weren’t supposed to see.  Looking back, it puzzles me how the local video store clerk hadn’t a qualm renting, “I Spit On Your Grave”, “Halloween” and “Carrie” to an eleven-year old girl.  Films like “An American Werewolf in London” and “The Howling” left an indelible impression on me. I’d go see them numerous times in the theater and even played hooky to watch matinees. Forget about Sunday night’s “The Wonderful World of Disney,” I had discovered real movie magic—true blood, guts and gore—and the incredible special makeup effects work of Rick Baker, the genius behind David Naughton’s amazing transformation into a werewolf in “An American Werewolf in London,” and Michael Jackson into a werecat in his music video “Thriller”. I was so obsessed I even subscribed to “Fangoria”, a fan magazine dedicated to the making of splatter movies!  But, as I grew older, I moved away from horror (unless it was a midnight screening of “Rocky Horror Picture Show”) and shifted my focus to art films and documentaries.  I began making short films and eventually moved to Hollywood, where I’ve been writing and developing a number of feature scripts, and where suddenly, the horror film has crept back into my life.

David Naughton transformed in “An American Werewolf in London”

For the last two years, I have been working with the writer-producer of a horror script that I am attached to direct.  It’s a low-budget exploitation film (I like to think of it as an homage to the films I loved during my childhood) about a group of guys who road trip to Vegas for a bachelor party, but take a regrettable wrong turn out in the desert.  Think “The Hangover” meets “Faster Pussycat Kill! Kill!” with a little “Evil Dead” thrown in the mix. I’ve immersed myself in horror films once again, researching and watching everything from the classics, to zombie movies to torture porn.  The genre has become more technically sophisticated since the early days, but now it seems to be all about shock value and pushing the envelope with graphic violence.  Movies haven’t necessarily gotten scarier, just grosser.  For this reason, I’ll keep my gore-infested research to the mornings and will save classics like “The Shining,” or “Psycho” for the evenings.  Hitchcock, the master of suspense, knew how to creep you out without grossing you out!