Slasher genre fans have perhaps benefited most from the rash of recent horror remakes. Though these remakes have, for the most part, been far inferior to their predecessors, it has been intriguing to witness the return of iconic madman such as Michael Myers, Jason Vorhees, Leatherface, Freddy Krueger, and Harry Warden. Certainly there has been enough slashing gracing local theater screens to keep fans content. However, what has been sorely missing from the recent onslaught of horror films is a good old fashioned monster movie. Sure, there was Cloverfield, but it was far too slick and polished to allow any nostalgic feelings to swell. Instead, monster movie fans will be better off reverting to old school films like The Creature from the Black Lagoon and The Blob to experience the nostalgia of a good creature feature.
Cue independent filmmaker Jason Horton. With his most recent film, Monsters in the Woods, he attempts, despite working with an extremely tight budget, to give genre fans the type of monster movie that they might have witnessed in theaters during the 50's and 60's, but with a modern, more hip and self-referential twist. The result is an enjoyable, fun throwback that also succeeds in being unique and ambitious.
Horton was gracious enough to chat with us about Monsters in the Woods. Read below for our interview with this talented up and coming filmmaker.
First, thank you for taking the time to chat with us. For horror fans who may be unfamiliar with you, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I'm from the Midwest. Movies have always been about the most important thing in my life (besides family.) I went to collage and made my 1st movie RISE OF THE UNDEAD in New Orleans. After Hurricane Katrina I moved to LA and spent a few years working as an editor and DP on a slew of micro-budget movies.
How did Monsters in the Woods come about? Any particular inspiration?
Monsters in the Woods was born out of frustration, both in with my career and personal life. I had just finished TRAP, which I still think in a lot of ways is my best work. Anyway, I had no trouble selling my 1st two movies, ROTU and EDGES OF DARKNESS, but I was getting zero interest from distributors for TRAP. This was doubly upsetting since the quality of TRAP both technically and creatively was superior in spite of it being made for even less money than EOD. Different distributors said pretty much the same thing, "..not enough sex and violence." One even suggested I insert creature/horror scenes into this gritty noir/drama. Monsters in the Woods was my answer to that. If they wanted more blood and titties I was going to give it to them.
From the various reviews and comments I have read on the film, much has been said about the film's abrupt shift in perspective and point of view. What was your reasoning behind this decision?
I've always been excited as a movie goer to watch movies that confound expectations. To me, as a writer and director, it's boring to follow set guidelines. On paper, Monsters in the Woods isn't exactly original. Basically it's about a group of people stalked down in the woods by monsters. Granted that's what I set out to make, but when it came time to write it boredom with the cliche kicked in and I decided to get creative. I thought it would be fun to do my entire 1st act as found-footage, using the behind the scenes crew to actually introduce the characters, then switch over to regular movie footage at a critical juncture. I also thought it was cool to have my 1st and 2nd acts running concurrently, so they come together and move into the 3rd act.
What were some of the most difficult aspects of filming Monsters in the Woods?
Shooting movies for no money is never fun. Sure most of the people that are there are there for the love of it. But when you're paying little to no money you have to temper your expectations for certain things. You also have to take on multiple roles, which can take away from your primary role. I felt that I was too busy sometimes as a producer, PA, camera op, whatever to give my full attention to the directing.
The monsters in the film have quite an interesting and unique look. Of all the different directions you could have went with creating the creatures, what made you go with the final design?
Honestly, the creature design was all Robert Bravo and Tom Devlin's 1313 FX. Robert Bravo conceived and drew some designs and 1313 brought them to life. I gave Bravo very general direction. I wanted them spider like with a touch of Geiger.
The actors look like they are quite enjoying themselves during the film and really having fun with the material. What was the atmosphere like on the set?
Everyone got along swimmingly. I had worked with a lot of the actors before and the new ones fit in nicely.
Looking back at the finished product, is there anything you would change about the film if you could?
Somebody once said, "Regret is a wasted emotion." I think they're right. Sure, I could point out flaws and say "if I I made the exact same movie today for the exact same amount of money I 'd make a better movie," but that can never happen. I did all could with what I knew and had to work with at the time.
Why should horror fans see Monsters in the Woods?
Monsters in the Woods was created and delivered by real horror fans. It gives you familiar material in a fresh, fun and clever way. We used 100% practical effects.
What's next for you? Any upcoming projects we can expect?
It's all up in air. Every project I've ever had green lit was unexpected. I have over 10 finished scripts spanning various genres. I have some strong interest in CHOPHOUSE, a cannibal siege flick, and TRAPS, a spiritual sequel to TRAP about a pair of vetrinary technicians that moonlight as hitmen. It's kinda like a surreal and violent Weekend at Bernies. But, chances are I'll end up making something completely different. You never know.
Thank you again for taking the time to chat with us. Any final comments?
Monsters in the Woods has a rather weird release schedule. It's initially hitting dvd on Feb. 21st but it's availability will be limited to Amazon, CD universe and a few other online outlets. It's kinda like a limited release. Then it will open up in other markets over time, Netflix, walmart, Blockbuster, ect. So if you can't find it, keep looking. I'll continue giving updates on my blog http://www.mylifehasalowbudgetmoviemaker.com/ and our FB page http://www.facebook.com/MonstersintheWoods