Venerated film critic Roger Ebert gets the credit with coining the phrase "Dead Teenager Movie" for the slasher sub-genre. When the time came around to doing a new film on the heels of 6 Degrees of Hell, the Friday the 13th, Sleepaway Camp type of killer film was the last thing on my list.
Our financier wanted a Friday the 13th kind of movie. There was the demand for gore, nudity and all the hallmarks that go with this type of picture. The knee jerk response was, "that's not the kind of picture I want to write, let alone make." I was then told I would be expected to direct it as well or there would be no deal. Since any indie filmmaker worth their salt will tell you, the goal is to continue working, I agreed to the project, if anything to keep the bills paid and the lights on.
It's all been done: the nudity, the over the top splatter murders, the hulking masked maniacs or reverse sex killers...power tools, machetes, chicks smashed in sleeping bags...nothing new under the sun or on the camp ground. As with 6 Degrees, I also did not want to move it into misogyny. I sat down at the computer and tried to do something else but keep the main things the fans of the genre want.
The goal was to go more mainstream this time. The Fields, my first film, while successful could not be classified as mainstream. Even with Cloris Leachman and Tara Reid, the film was not quite horror and not quite drama. The second film, 6 Degrees of Hell with Corey Feldman stepped firmly into horror territory. If you read our blog entry on the kind of film 6 Degrees is, again I could not call it mainstream. 6 Degrees appeals to the real horror fan who is familair with names like Vincent Price, Lugosi, Universal Golden Era, Hammer, Lee, Cushing, etc. Leanly directed by upstart young director Joe Raffa, the film hits every mark I could have hoped for, but will not be the mainstream thousand theater type of horror. It's for people who "get it" and will be lost on much of a generation force fed CGI-laden remakes.
Sleepaway Camp killer, Felissa Rose all grown up and now a counselor with her campers onset of Dead.tv
There had to be real characters, people with backgrounds and some you're gonna root for and others you hope get it in the worst way. There had to be solid character development and most of all a good story instead of the "kids gather at a camp/cabin in the woods and die one by one." It was not going to be Ten Little Indians with blood and boobs.
I wrote the film for Felissa Rose, the cult actress best known for her mind bending ending in Sleepaway Camp. I saw that film when I was 15 and it so freaked out my date, she had to rethink our relationship if this was the kind of horror movie I thought was fun. Since then I wanted to put Felissa Rose in a movie and I wrote the part of Rachel Steele solely for her. Thanks to associate producer Joshua Emerick, I got the script into her hands and she took the part and was Rachel in every way I could have hoped.
Felissa Rose as Camp Sunfish counselor, Rachel Steele in a scene from Dead.tv
Casting was important. Danielle Harris is a strong female figure in the horror community. Her role as sheriff Donlyn Eldridge was something different for her and it was hoped that would appeal to her. It did and we locked her in. While there are female victims in Dead.tv, the guys are up for slaughter as well and the killer(s) may be both sexes. This is NOT a "Binders full of women" horror film concerned with degrading females. In fact it's one of the things we turned on its ear.
Danielle Harris with Eric Roberts in a scene from Dead.tv
Eric Roberts rounds out the cast as horror director Julian Barrett. His legendary status as an Oscar nominee for Runaway Train, his roles in The Pope of Greenwich Village, The Dark Knight and The Expendables...he was at the top of the list for the role. Roberts laid back LA style, his light Southern twang and his silver fox appeal brought a legitimacy and uniqueness to a horror film like this.
Oscar nominee Eric Roberts in a scene from Dead.tv
Dead.tv works. If you're a fan of blood and gore, relax...Cleve Hall, SyFy Channel's Monster Man designed and executed the makeup FX. No CGI here, folks. Real, practical makeup gags, lots of blood and violence and all the things fans of the slasher want and will expect.
Cleve "Monster Man" Hall did the makeup FX for Dead.tv
All of the expected things are here but there's more. The slasher film has grown up, this isn't your father's 80s killer movie. Instead it has a slamming take on the reality TV obsession and the Cult of Celebrity and the voyeuristic society we have become. The line between entertainment and reality has never been more blurred...bloody.
Yep...the quasi homoerotic lesbian suntan lotion scene is in Dead.tv and lots more hijinks...and terror.
The film's website: www.deadtvmovie.com Follow it on Twitter: @deadtvmovie
A smart script, solid and detailed performances and top notch makeup effects makes Dead.tv a more mainstream and wide appealing horror that dissembles Ebert's Dead Teenager Movie and approaches the sub-genre from a whole new angle.
So what would you do for your fifteen minutes of fame?