"TROPES" are devices and conventions that a writer can reasonably rely on as being present in the audience members' minds and expectations. On the whole, tropes are not clichés. The word clichéd means "stereotyped and trite." In other words, dull and uninteresting. We are here to recognize tropes and play with them, not to make fun of them. -- www.tvtropes.org
Brian Gallagher breaks The Fourth Wall in 6 Degrees of Hell, in a scene that functions as a tribute to classic horror and William Castle style filmmaking of the 1950's
SUBVERTING GENRE EXPECTATIONS
6 Degrees of Hell was described in recent test screenings as a "horror film with Easter eggs." The film is packed with classic horror inspiration and references without going the route of self-reference or parody. 6 Degrees is straight up horror but owes its soul to the Golden Era of Universal, 60's Hammer and the best of 80's horror. The 1985 classic Fright Night played a major influence in 6 Degrees of Hell in both style and tribute to previous days of of the genre.
We want and need our audience to know their horror genre as this film is chock full of references and inspiration from the genre's long and diverse history.
I had so much fun seeing horror films as a kid and teenager. Audiences screamed, applauded, cheered and shouted at the screen. I remember the terror of Alien as a packed house shrieked and I almost bolted from my seat when John Hurt gave "birth" at the dinner table. I laughed my ass off in the James Brolin Amityville Horror (the puking nun is classic) and saw John Frankenheimer's Prophecy, the mutant bear monster movie at least three times in theaters just for that kid in the yellow sleeping bag scene.
The late, great Dr. Shock, horror's gentleman host of Horror Theater out of Philly
I ate up Dr. Phibes, The Tingler, Frankenstein, Dracula, The Werewolf, Creature From the Black Lagoon, The Pit and the Pendulum and knew the names of William Castle, Roger Corman, Sammy Arkoff and others before I hit my teens. Dr. Shock on WPHL-17 brought Universal monsters, Lugosi, Lorre, Godzilla and so many Saturday afternoon treats from Horror Theater and Creature Double Feature.
In writing 6 Degrees of Hell, I wanted to bring that same fun of being scared back to the genre. While we went for scares in 6 Degrees of Hell, we also wanted to pay homage to so many of those great films that made up such an important part of my life. George Romero and Stephen King's Creepshow so moved me in 1982, I left the theater and went home to write in my journal about the movie going experience. Creepshow embodied fun and yet delivered the scares in the uneven anthology.
1982's Creepshow played a major influence on style in 6 Degrees of Hell
SOME OF THE HORROR EASTER EGGS YOU'LL FIND IN THIS BASKET: How we bend the tropes...
FRIDAY THE 13TH & OTHER SLASHERS: The opening scene with our four young stars is a direct reference to those camp counselor introductions in the Friday the 13th series. That forced dialogue and the lame sexual innuendos are all there. This is a direct tip of the hat to the venerable slasher franchise as our star, Corey Feldman stole the show in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter.
The young cast of 6 Degrees of Hell (left) in a direct nod to Friday the 13th and other slasher films like those randy, oh so carefree camp counselors from the 1980 slasher classic (right).
NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, THE EXORCIST: We focused our makeup effects to reflect iconic images from specifically these two films. Our undead girl was modeled after George A. Romero's game changing 1968 zombie classic:
Left: The iconic zombie makeup from Romero's Night of the Living Dead. Right: Our "dead girl" patterned on the photo to the left
Our makeup for Jeff Wilde (left) is a nod to the "strobe face" demon in 1973's The Exorcist
HAMMER FILMS: I educated my young director of photography, Charlie Anderson and director Joe Raffa on the lighting for the film. I wanted specific attention to be paid the graveyard scene which is a turning point in the film. The lighting, the fog...everything right down to the size of the hole dug in Kelly's grave had to be done to reflect the great style of classic 1960's Hammer horror.
The graveyard scene in 6 Degrees (above) designed to reflect the style of classic Hammer Films (below):
A Hammer Films mortuary scene (L) and a scene from 6 Degrees of Hell:
POLTERGEIST, CREEPSHOW, BURNT OFFERINGS, THE MONKEY'S PAW AND MORE:
6 Degrees of Hell draws heavily from Creepshow in its lighting and set design while the pacing of 6 Degrees of Hell reflects the frenetic last 15 minutes of the 1983 classic, Poltergeist (above). Below : scenes from 6 Degrees of Hell illustrating the influence of the aforementioned films on its design and lighting
Lighting style and the random terror chaos of the film's climax in 6 Degrees of Hell
The Hotel of Horror is very much a character, much like the house in Burnt Offerings, The Legend of Hell House or even the Amityville films. Inanimate objects take on a life of their own, lending a tip of the hat to Trilogy of Terror and the killer Zuni Doll that plagued Karen Black.
June's incident at her front door in the dead of night evokes the dread of the classic short story, The Monkey's Paw while the chaos that erupts at the conclusion of 6 Degrees is like the roller coaster ride conclusion of Poltergeist. Perhaps even closer, the startling events inside the Hotel of Horror in the third act recall a Grand Guignol style as it plays out before an unsuspecting audience.
GOTHIC HORROR: HUSH, HUSH SWEET CHARLOTTE, WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE?
Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte: The Bette Davis thriller is invoked in our main female character June who could easily be compared to the mental anguish Charlotte Hollis endured in the famous film. June's plight is long and tortuous having been stalked by something sinister for her whole life...chipping slowly away at her...
Poster for the classic Gothic film and Nicole Cinaglia as the long suffering June in 6 Degrees
MUSIC: There are so many references to classic scores from great horror: Bride of Frankenstein, Fright Night, Psycho II...too many to mention but the horror score fan will be in heaven listening to this film's soundtrack.
The true horror fan will pick up references to Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, The Abominable Dr. Phibes, The Monkey's Paw, Psycho II, Rosemary's Baby, Dracula, The Tingler, The Haunting, The Last Man on Earth, Fright Night, Ghost Story, The Werewolf, The Creature From the Black Lagoon, Mad Monster Party, Beetlejuice and so much more.
Will 6 Degrees of Hell be "the scariest movie of 2012?" Who knows? Who cares? However it will be a blast--the perfect scary movie date picture that evokes a time missing from present day horror. Top quality production value, fantastic acting, a fresh supernatural story and scares played out to do just that: scare.