Wednesday, July 4, 2012

In The Dark - The Return of the Horror Anthology

Coming this autumn from David Buchert and Chris St. Croix is an anthology film that has set it's sights firmly on delivering the goods.  R-Rated horror comes back in the form of 4 bite sized nuggets of visceral horror.  In The Dark started life as Night Terrors....a web series that was immediately banned from YouTube and Vimeo for nudity and violence.  Thanks to some help from the fine folks over at Dread Central, The Keeper and The Dummy both had a fantastic web run.

In April of this year, a Kickstarter campaign was launched to help complete the final two stories of the film.  For a donation of $25, you could not only pre-order the DVD, but you also were sent links and passwords to watch the first two stories.  If you are ready this, I truly hope that you are one of the lucky few who took advantage of this.


I'm not going to give away too much of the first two stories here, but I will say that if the second two stories are even half as good as the first two, then In The Dark will be whispered in the same breath as films such as Creepshow and Tales From The Crypt.  This is the return of balls to the wall, gore soaked, full frontal horror anthologies.  Midnight Cinephiles rejoice!


I was able to catch up with the busy filmmakers, who have just returned from the Fright Night Film Festival in Louisville, KY where both The Keeper and The Dummy were nominated for Best Short Film.  The Keeper took home that prize.   Here's what they had to say about the project:


In the Dark started life as a web series called Night Terrors.  Can you tell us a bit about the transition from web series to feature film?



CHRIS
The transition was simply because we couldn't' keep the schedule of making a web series with no money and still maintain the quality we strive for. We talked about the possibility of an anthology film at the beginning of the process because we both love Creepshow. 

DAVID
Tales From The Darkside was a huge influence on me because of timing. Darkside aired when I first started getting into horror and then Tales From The Crypt aired when I was already obsessed with horror. We love the idea of a creating a horror series and we'd be open to doing it again for sure. 
"The Keeper" is a great take on the mysterious-drifter-in-the-night type of story and hits on some points of redemption and ultimately morality.  What were the influences of this tale?

CHRIS 
Thanks. I meant for it to be an old school comic book story. The idea came about because I had just come off directing my first feature, a drama disguised as a thriller with some heavy themes that took a lot out of me and I just really wanted to have fun. I had never been a big horror fanatic, but always loved films like Aliens, Re-animator and The Hidden and when you're friends with David, who has seen and owns everything, ya kinda get the horror bug whether you want to or not. I also wanted to do something with practical effects, have a creature and something that had action. It was a lofty goal as we didn't have any money at all when we started talking about it. But eventually we both got a job producing someone else's movie and took every penny and poured it into our films. Ultimately, no matter what film I'm writing to direct, I always like to have some other layer to it. I didn't set out to make any grand statement about good and evil or heaven and hell, I just wanted to entertain people, but the philosophy behind what the Keeper does and the way the world, and good and evil work in the film came from a real place and sometimes I wish the world worked that way. And with movies, you get to create any world you want. Or at least the world you can afford to create.
The Creature in this episode had kind of a "Ghost of Christmas Future on Acid" feel to it.  What were your thoughts on it while creating?

CHRIS
I always loved the look of Terry Gilliam's Death creatures in Meaning of Life and Baron Munchausen. They are always so beautifully art directed and textured. But they are all thin skeletons at their core and I really wanted a much bulkier, bad ass "Reaper" creature. Something that no matter how big or bad ass you are, no one on earth could kick its ass. Doom was a shitty movie, but the practical creatures were amazing and I kept referencing them for bulk and size. I basically wanted a cross between a Grim Reaper and the biggest wrestler ever. And yes, I always loved the Ghost of Christmas Future from Scrooged, so there's a bit of that in there too. We did it with very, very little money and I attached every shred of fabric to the costume myself by hand in my dining room.
As a slasher fan, "Dummy" was my favorite of the two.  What was the genesis of this episode?

DAVID
I'm glad you enjoyed it. The genesis? I have no idea why but getting out of the shower one morning I had the image of the last shot in my head and it made me laugh. Since I knew the end of the movie I just wrote it in reverse. It kind of worked like Memento. What do I have to do to get the story to this conclusion? I've always loved/been afraid of inanimate objects with expressions so a ventriloquist doll seemed perfect for my first episode. 
The Dummy's mask was one of the creepiest slasher masks I've seen in a long time.  How did you come up with that specific look?

DAVID
The film relies on the mask being creepy and it relates to a certain plot point. I knew before I started writing that if I couldn't find the right mask that I wouldn't make the film. I simply researched "ventriloquist masks" and luckily found what I needed. I contacted the creator, wrote up a contract and got the rights to use the mask. I think the fact that some people literally ran away when we premiered the trailer at Full Moon Horror Fest last year proves that this mask was a good decision.
I understand that the third segment is called "To Be Loved" and stars Playboy model Gwendolyn Sweet.  What can you tell us about this story?

CHRIS
Each of the stories in the anthology are totally different and don't tie together so we both can pretty much go anywhere we want. We both love all different genres and sub genres of horror and this gives us a chance to try any one we want. After the full on action/horror of "The Keeper", I decided I wanted my next one to be weirder. Not sure why. It just felt right. I was drawn to this story and it came together quickly. I don't want to give anything away, but it's a very twisted and sexual story, very Cronenberg-esque. It takes place in a nondescript place and time. A combination of past and future. I'm completely changing my shooting style for this one too. I usually favor longer lenses but this one will be all wides. I met Gwen at the Full Moon show in Nashville and we hit it off. She's fearless, gorgeous and up for anything. And in this film, I'm not holding back at all and neither will she. All bets are off. It will still have an underlying method, or reason to its madness, but it will definitely be the wildest thing I've ever done. Lets just say you'll never looked at canned ham the same way again.
What can you tell us about the fourth story in the film?

DAVID
This could change because I have a few ideas I'm working on but as of right this minute, the fourth story is titled "Dropa". It's sort of a psychological horror film with sci-fi overtones. Chris and I were in the middle of nowhere location scouting for another project and we started talking about a low budget sci-fi movie and by the time we got back to my house we had the basic story. The strange thing is that we were discussing specifics of the script and a particular symbol and when I went to research them I discovered that what we thought we were making up actually exists. It's a little creepy.

How long have you been making films?

CHRIS
I grew up shooting Super 8 films in my backyard when I was a kid. Then I was a musician for a long time and finally in 2003 I did my first short. I haven't looked back.

DAVID
I got my first VHS camera around '89. I tried to convince my teachers senior year of high school to let me shoot video projects instead of writing assignments. It worked sometimes. The first "real" film I shot was By The Slice:The Pizza Murders. There were FX(blood and stop motion), multiple locations, costumes, stunts and some really bad acting.
Have you always been a horror fan?  

CHRIS
I have no problem being honest and answering no to that question. As a kid I had zero interest in being scared. I was a Sci-Fi/Action guy. When I was really little I used to cover my head when the trailers for horror movies would play. But when I was in a band, everyone used to want to rent horror flicks. Eventually I got into them but I was always partial to the more fun/action ones like Evil Dead 2, Deadly Spawn, Return Of The Living Dead or Aliens. I still don't like to be truly scared. Inside was incredible. Loved it.  But its odd what scares me and what doesn't. Ju-on scared the shit out of everyone I know and it made me laugh so to each their own. In the end, like I said, when one of your best friends has a huge horror collection, you end up watching a lot of horror movies and they grow on you. I've caught up and can hold my own against most horror buffs. Though, I still don't like Exorcism flicks. Can't watch 'em. I don't believe in any of that but it still creeps me out for some reason. 

DAVID
No. As a kid everything scared me. I had friends on the school bus who had older brothers and sisters that would take them to horror movies. They used to tell me all about them and they would totally freak me out. Around 11 years old I started to watch horror but I was still scared. I remember setting the cable box between stations(and sticking a credit card in the dial) so I could get Cinemax to watch Friday the 13th 3. I kept a trashcan beside me in case I had to throw up. Kids on the school bus have a way of embellishing how violent/bloody a movie is. I got a VCR when I was 13 and it was game on. I rented every horror movie I could get my hands on. I memorized the horror shelves in Action Video and Mr.Video when I was a teen.
What is your favorite horror film?

CHRIS
Tough one. Alien is up there for sure, though some say it's Sci-Fi. Let The Right One In is a masterpiece. Aliens.... Well clearly I can't choose one. Maybe Jaws since I haven't been in the ocean since watching it. That's gotta count for something. Oh shit, The Thing, the original, my vote for best practical effects ever. Ah, screw it. Sorry. Can't pick just one.

DAVID
The Evil Dead. It basically started everything for me.
What are your long range plans?  Do you want to stay in the genre or are you looking to expand into other genres as well?

CHRIS
To do nothing else but direct and write. I'm a fan of directors like Danny Boyle and Steven Soderbergh. Guys who jump from genre to gene. Not many directors get to do that, but it's something I aspire to. I do a lot of commercials and they are all comedic and it's  really making me want to do a comedy next. Something dark of course. But they're a bitch to cast. And I will definitely do more horror. It's so much damn fun.

DAVID
I really only want to do horror. I think I have a great sense of humor but I'm not sure that I have a comedy in me. If my career doesn't take off soon I might go to the Valley and make some horror porn parodies. 
What's next after In The Dark?

CHRIS
Hopefully, what we've done with these films will turn some heads and we can do more work. Ultimately, we are writer/directors and that's what we want to wake up every morning and do.

DAVID
Honestly, I couldn't give you a better answer than Chris. The ability to say "Action!" on a film set paid for by someone else sounds great to me. 
If you had unlimited funds, and access to every director, actor, producer, etc, what would your dream project be?

CHRIS
Unlimited funds? Obviously I'd spend 250 million to make a Lone Ranger movie. But seriously. First I'd rent Jennifer Love Hewitt. Then a month later I'd come back and start a studio and do whatever films I wanted not caring if they made money. I mean, if we didn't have to worry about making a living or money from a film, or how to get the money to make them, how freeing would that be? Pure creative motivation and freedom. And I'd pay everyone well. Make the hours more reasonable (the French got it right). Pay the PAs more. And let other filmmakers I liked make their films. Like Corman did. On the other side, if I had a chance to direct properties owned by others, my dream project would be to direct the Motley Crue movie. No one, and I mean no one is alive that could direct that movie better than me. I lived that shit and they'll get some boob to do it and it'll be all about Tommy's dick and drugs and stupidity. I have a vision for that movie and who knows, maybe the planets will align and I'll get to do it. In the comic book realm I'd kill to do the penultimate Wolverine movie. The last one broke my fucking heart. Either that or Luke Cage: Hero For Hire. And lastly. I'd love to be the one responsible for bringing Andrew Dice Clay back to the movies. Either another Ford Fairlane or a family comedy. Yup. Rated PG13. I'm telling ya. I've put thought into this shit. Watch the end of Casual Sex. He's great.

DAVID
Wow. How do I follow up Chris' answer? I have a few big budget scripts of my own that I would love to make but my dream project is to direct a Friday the 13th movie. Around '98/'99 my production partner Robert Ziegler and I wrote a Friday the 13th movie titled F13:Hell Freezes Over. It took place in the snow and brought back all of the "final girls". The script is a F13 fan's wet dream.  Each of the girls dies the way they tried to kill Jason in their movie. There are tons of inside jokes and characters that would have thrilled fans. It was actually pitched to Sean Cunningham before Jason X came out and he had really positive things to say but there was no way the film could have been made since so many people and companies owned the rights to the characters in our version. By the way, Jason goes into a wood chipper at the end of our script 10 years before the Friday remake did it. The difference is we liquified him like in Fargo. 
I would also love to make Joust(yes, the video game) and Moon Knight(yes, Moon Knight). 
Random Questions:


It's three in the morning and you can't sleep.  What are you going to watch?

CHRIS
Scrambled cable porn.

DAVID
Barry Lyndon

What's your favorite movie snack?

CHRIS
Haribo Gummi Bears. Accept no substitutes. 

DAVID
At the movies, I have to stick with popcorn with tons of layered butter product. At home, I try to snack on something that has meaning in the movie I'm watching. If I'm watching Friday the 13th V I'll eat a chocolate bar because I don't want to be "out of line".
What is your favorite film of all time?

CHRIS
Easy. Star Wars.

DAVID
The Evil Dead is my favorite film period. If I had to pick something not horror, I would say Jaws and Raiders Of The Lost Ark are runner-ups. Boogie Nights and Billy Madison are also near the top. They all put me in a great mood.


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Stephen King once made a comparison of short stories to a quick kiss in the dark.  I rather like that.  I think it sums up nicely how I feel about these short films.  King goes on the describe a full length novel (or film) as a long passionate affair.  After watching The Keeper and The Dummy, and after being able to chat with Mr. Buchert and Mr. St. Croix, I am very much looking forward to seeing what cinematic affair this talented duo will whip up.

Both completed films are currently making the festival circuits with the second two still in production.  Keep it tuned to Midnight Cinephile for all your In The Dark update needs.  

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