Premiering at CINEMA WASTELAND: Splatter Movie: The Director’s Cut is finally available on Blu-Ray. When people ask me what my favorite movie of ours, I always demure, do that “which of your children do you love best?” Invariably, the answer is “the youngest,” and they press me again for an answer. Demanding…
The truth is, I loved working on Splatter Movie more than any of our other productions. Mainly because I’m lazy and since this was a “movie about filmmakers making a movie about filmmakers making a movie”—and we did this years before that goddamned Abed on Community—it didn’t matter if we left a light in the shot. Or a prop. Or if the boom dipped. It was all verisimilitude.
Splatter Movie had the biggest crew, too. Since we were shooting during the extremely hot summer construction period at Hundred Acres Manor in South Park, PA, we had the run of the place, and most, if not all, of the workers and employees of the haunt made it on screen at some point. The only drawback was, sometimes we’d need to return the next day for a pickup and the room we were shooting in was gone. Not just redressed, gone. We’d find it moved halfway across the property!
Eric Molinaris was our effects lead and he brought with him I think the entire graduating class of the Douglas School for 2007. We had more effects folk on this show than ever—usually it’s just Bill Homan, or just Amy, or just Don Bumgarner—at one point we had 17 effects students (and Amy conducted a tour of high schoolers through the entire property while directing). During the axe-murder scene, over seven gallons of blood was used. The owners of the haunt thought it added to the décor and didn’t want us to clean up.
On Splatter Movie, it was generally Amy, me, and Jeff Waltrowski as the three-person crew. Jeff was the DP, in charge of a half-dozen others with cameras shooting B- and C- and D-roll. One morning, Amy and I arrived early to find that end of South Park without electricity. There were workers in a bucket truck fixing the line. A soccer mom of indeterminate authority came shrieking out of nowhere demanding the workers get everything going because she had a kid’s party at noon. It was about 9:30 in the morning. Amy and I brought water and doughnuts up the workers, apologized for the crazy, inquired as to how long we’d be dark. “Five minutes,” the guy said.
And in exchange for the doughnuts, these awesome utility workers gave me a ride in the bucket—200 feet into the air—so we could have our incredible opening crane shot. The moral: don’t be an asshole.
The crane shot also finished the script, which was open-ended and surreal and originally circled back to something different. 200 feet in the air—cursing Jeff because I lost the coin toss—the shot revealed the massive black maze built for the climax of the haunt. Once established, we had to use it. It was then Chekhov’s Maze. In the end, the Grendel villain forces Amy into the maze. That didn’t happen originally.
Tom Sullivan’s involvement also cemented the surrealism we were going for. If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll get the gag.
There is a sequence involving Alyssa Herron and her severed head that was actually a milestone for Happy Cloud. Alyssa’s headless body was our first composite shot and it was a m-f’er to accomplish. Patrick Desmond, who also shot our steadicam footage, composited the shot where Grendel is holding Alyssa’s head in profile. The rest is an homage to a sequence in Donald Cammell’s Performance.
This movie allowed us to exorcise some aggravations we had with the horror industry and community, it gave us the weird opportunity to pontificate on the importance of horror, the feasibility of filmmaking as a career, and ultimately a straight-faced Spinal Tap for indie horror. It was a true playground of creativity.
Amy got amazing performances out of both pros and first-time actors. She gave everyone the leeway to come up with their own gore gags and asides. (Jeff’s “I’m about to walk down a dark hallway with a faulty flashlight in a horror movie,” was a bit they were doing at lunch.) In addition, she had the lion’s share of the monologues and voice-overs which provided the connections to the very loosely-plotted scenes. This was one movie that refused to edit following the script.
The grip who gets his jaw torn off… The grip is played by Bill Hahner, one of my oldest friends. The gag was inspired by our other Bill, Homan, who talked about wanting to do something like that in The Resurrection Game. The dialogue Hahner has about being excluded from the nude scene set actually happened the day before we shot this. One of the crew threw a fit that he was asked to leave a closed set. The next day, we shot Bill’s Death and the crew guy asked a number of people if we’d written that bit to call him out. This scene was always in the script. Particularly because, this always happens.
I found the hay-hook prop recently. It’s nasty.
The original DVD has the greatest menus of any of our disks, thanks to Aaron Bernard (2nd Unit DP). I was unable to replicate that particular witchcraft for the Blu-Ray, but it’s still pretty nice. Matt Gilligan designed all the various posters and I utilized those for the menus.
We did a new commentary for this with Tom. Between his phone, our phones, and a vicious feedback that waltzed through the room 30 minutes in, sending me into the edit, we managed to get something pretty entertaining. Plus, I found a bunch of outtakes I’d forgotten about and tossed those on there too.
Order Splatter Movie on blu-ray here. Order before May 10 and get it for just $19.99 ($3.99 shipping – U.S. only).