Here’s another great “7 Questions with” interview from EvilQueenB. Enjoy!!
B.Harrison Smith has been working his way through the horror industry for quite sometime now, with horror films such as Camp Dread, The Fields, and 6 Degrees of Hell. But, it’s his newest movie, Death House that has horror fans buzzing. I got a chance to have a chat with the director and discuss, his horror beginnings, what it was like working with so many horror icons and much more!
How did you get started in the horror genre?
I’ve loved the genre since a boy as my grandmother watched Saturday afternoon creature feature type shows. That’s where I knew of Karloff, Chaney, Lugosi, Lee, Cushing and the greats. By the time I was eight I knew all of these people by name. I was also an early Godzilla nut and still am. I played Godzilla, collected the old aurora models and loved giant monster movies as well. Jaws also played a major influence if you count it as a horror film. I’m not so sure I do, as it’s more adventure to me but I know it is usually classified as horror. I saw that film in theaters in 1975 when I was eight years old and when I walked out I knew I wanted to make movies.
You had a lot of influences when it came to Death House, such as Assault on Precinct 13, Saw and even Jurassic Park. How did the initial concept come about?
Gunnar Hansen wrote the original script but had trouble getting it made. Gunnar’s script was about a group of college documentary film students who descend into the basement of an abandoned asylum and find it’s not abandoned. I was approached by Rick Finkelstein and Steven Chase of Entertainment Factory to work with Gunnar on a revise.
There was another draft after Gunnar’s by some other author before me that basically turned it into torture porn. Gunnar hated the draft, giving rise to the false internet rumor that Gunnar somehow left his own project. Not true. He hated that draft, that I can confirm as he told me that personally, but he came to me to try my attempt at it.
Looking it all over, I wanted to do something a little more fresh than the usual slasher. Gunnar agreed. I did want an 80s vibe and tone as this is where almost all of the horror names in the movie hail. I looked more to Escape From NY and Assault on Precinct 13, and then I saw the trailer for Jurassic World during super bowl season and it hit me: why an asylum? Why not make it a prison of the world’s worst criminals? Something happens and the monsters get out. That’s the basic gist: it’s Jurassic Park without the dinosaurs.
This is a risky thing to do, because horror has turned into middle school, jump scare product. Shadows, shadows, boo! Check the boxes entertainment and we also have a movie going generation that doesn’t know much or anything about this film’s stars. Many don’t know Friday the 13th was made in 1980 or there was an original Nightmare on Elm St. Then add in the streaming factor glutted with too much product, much of it mediocre, and film reduced to product to be consumed. The art of it has been removed. I’m not sure all films are meant to be seen on phones and tablets. When the medium is no longer seen as art, and basically disposable, we have lost something as a culture.
Death House has you working with Kane Hodder, Tony Todd, Dee Wallace, and Sid Haig, just to name a few. How was it working with such a group of amazing horror icons?
It was very real. They are some of the nicest people I have ever worked with. Professional, funny, nice and humble…they are just genuine and I mean that. There wasn’t a single unpleasant experience working with any of these actors. And while they are “icons” they are truly artistic performers with work that transcends the horror genre.
When will we see Death House released?
The film producers are vetting offers now. It will definitely be 2017 and soon but I don’t have specifics as that is the producer’s realm.
A few years ago you had proposed a Friday the 13th film, that would have Jason battling Tommy Jarvis (Corey Feldman). Is this a project you are still looking to become involved with?
No. I suggested it knowing it will never happen, at least not with me involved. New Line may steal the idea as I posted it publicly. Here is the link: http://horrorfuel.com/horror/
The rights to the film series are so convoluted and plus they’re all hooked on remake garbage so it will likely never happen. Corey was the one who suggested there be a spinoff and I expounded on it. It might be better as a tv series but I know he F13th tv show has been up and down as well. To me it sounds like no one is interested in making something good and fun except Corey and I.
What advice do you have for those looking to break into the horror genre?
It’s advice to anyone trying to get into this field: do it, don’t talk about it. Too many people talk. The internet does not need another film review YouTube channel or website. Get out there and write, act and shoot. Don’t talk. Do.
What’s next for you?
We just wrapped my first comedy, “Garlic & Gunpowder” in Los Angeles and that is heading into post production. There are a number of things in development, but I never list them until they are secured. Otherwise it’s just all talk and there is way too much of that in this industry.