Your new webseries Seven Dorms of Death - in a few words, what is it
Seven Dorms of Death is an original nine part webseries that was
written by Matthew Jason Walsh, and it's a loving tribute to the shot-on-video horror movies of the 80s like Blood Cult, Video
Violence and Boarding House. And as much as it's a
satire, we also like to think it shows great love for and respect of the
Why did you decide to release Seven Dorms of Death as a
webseries - and in what ways (if at all) does shooting a series differ
from making a feature film?
Well, it was originally written
to be a webseries, but when we were in production, we decided to shoot it
just as if it was a feature film. It runs exactly 90 minutes, so it was
really no different than making a regular feature. In Matthew's original
screenplay there were three commercial breaks, but we decided to expand on
that and not only created more commercial breaks, but also added the
horror movie host Baron Von Blah (played by Michael Thurber) to tie it all
How did the project fall together in the
I had written an outline for a straight horror
feature titled Grand Guignol, and being a huge fan of
Matthew's writing, I asked him to write the screenplay. The funny thing
is, he thought it would work best as a satire of 80s horror, and not
played straight. I was a little apprehensive at first, but when I received
the first few pages, I knew Matthew was right!
What can you
tell us about your writer Matthew Jason Walsh, and what was your
collaboration with him like?
I actually had very little input once
Matthew started writing the screenplay. We made some very small changes as
the shooting went on, but for the most part the movie is almost exactly
what Matthew wrote. It was honestly one of the funniest screenplays I have
ever had the pleasure of reading, so it required very little in the way of
I do have to give a shout-out to writer
Michael Varrati, who wrote all the hysterically funny Baron Von Blah
bumpers. Michael is a dear friend, and a very talented screenwriter who's
penned our movies Flesh for the Inferno and The Sins of
With Seven Dorms of Death paying tribute to
80s horror hosts, shot-on-video movies and slasher flicks - what do you
personally find appealing about these?
I was born in 1970, so I started really
getting into horror movies in the early 80s. And at that time there were a
lot of horror movie hosts on the air. For me, it was the Son of Svengoolie
which was syndicated to my local UHF channel. It was where many of us of my
generation -- pre VHS and pre cable TV -- would first see horror movies.
And around 1985 I rented Blood Cult from
my local mom and pop video store. I was totally hooked. What was so cool
about that movie was that it looked like something me and my high school
pals could have made! It's just so charmingly threadbare, but there's a
real innocent charm to it. It's cinematic comfort food.
A few words about Seven Dorms of Death's brand of
Seven Dorms of Death has a really fun mix of
both Matthew's knowing sense of humor, especially his spot-on observations
about the sub-genre of 80s shot-on-video horror movies, and my more
absurdist sense of humor. The trick really was to make sure certain
elements of the movie - especially the visual style -- was played
perfectly straight, and a LOT of credit for that has to go to my brilliant
director of photography Jill Poisson [J.
Poisson interview - click here].
My main inspiration for the movie was the
original Airplane! film, which everyone in the cast was playing their
roles like they were in a serious disaster film. Also, it was a complete
blast coming up with some of the sight gags in the movie, and it was very
liberating to know that if a mistake was made in a scene in terms of
continuity or mismatched eye lines, it would work perfectly in context of
the humor of the final piece!
What can you tell us about your overall directorial
approach to your story at hand?
Directing Seven Dorms of
Death was a fun challenge, because it was all about balance. The movie is
supposed to be terrible, but you don't want to make certain elements bad (the sound, especially) or you'll just end up alienating your audience.
One of the main responsibilities I had directing was to help each actor
find their own unique bad performance. It was a real challenge, because a
good actor has a certain resistance to unlearning everything they've
learned about their craft, but everyone really got into it and it was a
Do talk about your key cast, and why
exactly these people?
It's hard to discuss just one actor
in particular, because it's an ensemble cast. But everyone really brought
their A game, and outside of their professionalism, they were just a
wonderful group of people to spend the 14 days of shooting with. It's very
rare for me to break up laughing during a take, but there were several
times, especially with any scene Aaron Andrade was performing in, that I
just couldn't keep it together and a few good takes were ruined by my
uncontrollable laughter. I have to give them all so much credit, because
of the sheer amount of trust they must have had in me. As I said before,
it's not easy for a good actor to deliver such beautifully terrible
performances, but they all went out on a limb and delivered some extremely
entertaining lousy performances!
What can you tell us about
the shoot as such and the on-set atmorphere?
directed 20 features over the past 13 years, and I'll tell you... I have
never laughed so hard on a set. Everyone just had a complete blast. We
pride ourselves on having very fun, light sets... but at the same time, we
like to get our work done to the best of our budget.
$64-question of course, where can Seven Dorms of Death be seen?
can see the series right here on Scorpio Film
Releasing's YouTube page:
on the success of the series, could you ever be persuaded to shoot more
episodes? And/or other future projects you'd like to talk about?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
the story of Seven Dorms of Death wraps up perfectly at the end of this
series, but who knows? Maybe we'll make another entirely original web
series down the road. As for now, we're focusing on pre-production on our
most ambitious production to date... a feature length adaptation of
William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, which
will go into production in July.
Seven Dorms of Death's
website, Facebook, whatever else?
for the interview!