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Gore and Loathing in Phoenix I: Conceiving "One Bloody Night"


"Why are you making a horror movie?" I get that one a lot here lately, and my pat answer is I've always liked horror movies and I've always wanted to make movies so it seems natural that I'd be cranking out horror flick. Yes and no, I actually always wanted to make little independent drama-comedy kind of films like Clerks, Repo Man or Desperate Living; eventually I thought I would be discovered and I could make any number of a variety of films including horror, sci-fi, etc. so let me give you a bit of back-story.

Years ago I went to school taking classes on filmmaking and screenwriting to discover film is expensive. But video was becoming more accepted, the quality was getting better and it was cheaper. Computers were just coming into the film industry and it looked like anybody would be able to make a movie, but I was wrong that would still be some years off. I had thought years ago that film would eventually be over taken by digital video (at the time commercial art and music were already becoming highly digitized), so I decided to augment my knowledge of filmmaking with video production and computers. These, skills, not filmmaking, would lead me to several paying jobs and eventually land me to where I work now as a TV director.

DVD had really changed my perspective on the viability of making a horror movie; there is something of an opportunity now, and much like there was in the VHS boom of the early to mid eighties, when video stores started popping up and desperately needed content to fill their shelves. Even Hollywood is embracing DVD, for many of their films make more profit on DVD sales than on the big screen.

I had spent the past year or two watching many of these straight to DVD horror flicks and discovered many were shot on video and still made it to Blockbuster shelves, as well as many other outlets. These movies were obviously (to me) done on shoestring budgets, many with makeup effects straight from a costume shop.

The guys I work with are movie fans and we discuss films all day long. I have for years owned a multi-region DVD player and bought forgotten horror movies off of eBay or several sites on the web, as I was starved for real horror content that many American (especially Hollywood-made) films have lacked over the years.

I have been into Japanese horror for years, I had seen all of the Ringu series (1, 2, 0, and the TV series, Ring Virus) before the American remake was even produced. I would share these movies with my friends and we were amazed at the quality and variety of horror flicks coming from over seas often shot on very little budgets.

On the polar opposite side of things are the American-made independent, very low-budget, often shot on video, horror movies that were beginning to make inroads onto the shelves of Blockbuster and Hollywood Video. These flicks are shot on shoestring budgets and are often nothing more than excuses for some rather tame violence and a spattering of nudity; though, again, some of these have some genuinely good ideas and are at least not another Scream remake. And in between both of these extremes are Troma and their films, which are another story entirely.

I had spent half a day at work again discussing these sorts of flicks and it dawned on me that I do work in TV, I have shot several things over the years and I have access to some equipment, I have access to many professional crew members, all I needed was a location, a cast that's willing to get naked, lots of fake blood, and a little bit of cash and I couled make one of these little independent shot-on-video-straight-to-DVD-horror-flicks.

I went home that night sat down at the computer; a bottle of vodka and 5 or 6 hours later I had my first draft (in all honesty it could have been 7 or 8 hours, I was kind of hazy on the time after the first half of the bottle). When I sobered up I reread the script and over the next few weeks punched it up. The movie was to be simply a T & A, blood splattered flick. A flick that was designed from the outset to be simple to shoot a small cast, loaded with enough nudity and sex that I could sell it overseas or maybe even domestically as something Cinemax would put on after midnight.

Oh, what a plan it was. But, then I thought, I must have a little bit more of a story going on. If I have a movie that is nothing but nudity, sex, and blood, when I cut much of it out to make it to the shelves of Blockbuster, I will have little left of a movie. Initially, this didn't bother me - I knew some of the s**t that was on the shelves of mainstream video stores I only need compete with them. At night, though, I would lie awake and think, "I want my flick to be different."

I thought, initially, that I would make the movie different by making it visually stunning - tough to do when you're shooting on video, but with some interesting special effects, and editing, a lot could be achieved. Then there was the script, it needed at least a few good lines for the trailer, and hell it should have some dialogue that people, not just watching to see T & A, might enjoy.

This is how it all began, where it went from there is for next time...