The Road to Death House Pt. 3

July 25, 2016

Written by Capt McNeely

Georgia Division ZADF Twitter: @ZADF_ORG

“Please don’t let this be full of jump scares like The Conjuring movies.”

“I hope this is smart and actually has a story.”

“I don’t expect much from this. It’ll likely suck. Just accept it.”

“Stupid title. Stupid premise. Nothing to see here, folks.”

“This will suck.”

“I have hopes for this.”

“Based on the cast of old stars [that] they have, I don’t see this being any good.”


Internet comments. Most of them from “trolls.” Trolls are people I sum up by asking a simple question: “And where is the movie you made?” Oh…that’s right.

I believe there can be too much democracy. The Internet has given a voice to  groups of people that should not have one.  I’ve posted my thoughts on a filmmaker’s response to uneducated critics here:

So let’s talk about what Death House will be–not conjecture or ignorant shade cast by anonymous little people who are too afraid to commit themselves to making something. It’s always easier to tear down than it is to build. It’s no different in cyberspace. Death House is called “The Expendables of Horror.” It’s not. It is not a monster mashup of Freddy vs. Pinhead or the likes of an Abbott and Costello Meets Frankenstein bit. It is not satire. It is not spoofing the genre.

Death House is a unique blend of horror, science fiction and action. It hearkens back to Escape From New York, yet it loves the horror genre like Tom Holland’s Fright Night (1985).

Horror cult favorite, Felissa Rose (Sleepaway Camp) was interviewed by horror maven, Adam Green. He said something that defined “well done is better than well said.” He told Felissa that over the years a lot of filmmakers have TALKED about assembling so many horror names into one film, but Death House and its filmmakers are the only ones to have DONE it.

Damn straight, Adam.


Debbie Rochon takes a moment between takes and reflects.

Many of you reading this want to see our film because ti has some of your favorite icons of the genre. These are actors who are tied closely to your memories, likely childhood ones, and they evoke a certain feeling or response when you think about them and the films they were in. You remember where you were when you saw the first Friday the 13th. You recall jumping to Halloween, late night cable viewings of The Fog and the list goes on. It doesn’t matter the exact scenario, this is nostalgia for you. This is also important.

We are handling memories here.

Death House is a hybrid. Is it terrifying? We certainly have some terrifying moments. We have a lot of blood and gore. But that is not all that defines the horror genre. The best horror is still popular today because of its story. It all begins with the written page. Without a good script you don’t have a good film. No matter what your budget is, the effects, the stars…the script needs to be good.

This is less “The Expendables of Horror” than it is “Jurassic Park Without the Dinosaurs.” We took a science fiction aspect that involves the MK Ultra experiments of the late 40s through late 60s and applied them to a horror landscape populated with names that represent a wide canvass of the genre.

You have the young generation represented by Cortney Palm and Cody Longo who find themselves in a fight for survival when their tour of Death House goes wrong. First ladies of horror, Dee Wallace and Barbara Crampton show that women in horror are going strong as doctors Fletcher and Redmane. They represent the banality of evil…they appear professional and even trustworthy….until you understand just what they are doing in the name of “science.”


Cody Longo as Agent Jae Novak



Cortney Palm as Agent Toria Boon

Kane Hodder embodies Sieg, a neo Nazi military rogue who has mastered the supernatural ability to regenerate and is capable of long term plans that bring him inside the walls of Death House. He has some kind of bond with Cortney Palm’s Agent Boon but it will not sidetrack him from succeeding in his quest.

Then there are The Five Evils…five supernatural beings, possibly demigods who are kept in the ninth level, one mile into the earth and are the objective for Palm, Longo and Hodder. I think when audiences see just who and what the Five Evils are…they will leave the film a bit convoluted. Yes, these beings are evil…but are they entirely WRONG?

There’s a major philosophical aspect to this film. Not only do you NEED to know your horror history to get the plethora of Easter eggs hidden throughout, but you need to THINK. You need to step up and actually become a part of the film and understand what you are watching. This is not check your brain at the door horror. Sometimes we toss a few moments like that at you, but overall this is smart horror we expect something from an audience that expects something from us.

So far, does this sound like the usual horror film?


Horror generations meet in Death House.

Tom Holland’s Fright Night is a classic because it embraced the genre. It was a love letter to an era that was fading while he made the movie. This is how Death House functions. Old doesn’t mean irrelevant. History isn’t boring. It’s all in the presentation. We have actors from an era of horror that newbies to the genre embrace yet don’t fully understand. They can’t understand because horror is also context.

I wrote about this with Friday the 13th and its place in context with the 1980s HERE. The 80s were an odd mix of both conservative and liberal. It was seen as a party decade, yet it was also all business with the rise of Yuppies and an upwardly mobile generation. The “have sex and die” trope wouldn’t become satire until Wes Craven paved the way with Scream.

No matter how many times they remake Friday the 13th, Halloween or Nightmare on Elm Street, they will not hit the nerve that the originals did because of CONTEXT in the time which they were made. You can’t recreate that, and that’s why Tom Holland’s Fright Night works to this day. It was aware of time passing and just at the right moment before things totally slipped away, he captured that feeling on film. This is why the remake has nothing to say.

It’s just empty calories. Read HERE.


See what I did here? In order to understand what I am saying, you need to not just know your horror McNuggets of facts. You need to UNDERSTAND it, to feel it and appreciate for the time it was made.

I was told by someone recently in an interview that they went to school with Kane Hodder’s son. Most of the kids in the school that claim to “love horror” have no idea who this kid’s father is. Kane Hodder? Who’s he? Yet, many of them love Friday the 13th. It’s like loving the Universal Monsters and not knowing who Karloff was.

The trolls will expect more of the same, while clamoring for something different. They will get something different with Death House and likely still complain because that’s what they do.

We didn’t make Death House for trolls.

We made this film to tip our hat to some respected luminaries. I was given a script by Gunnar Hansen, who alone is an icon for the genre. I was trusted to refashion that script into a film that would seal the deal and get this movie made. I was so confident in the script I leaked it to several respected horror authorities and it came back with high praise. Dee Wallce said it was one of the best scripts she ever read. We shot the film as it was written.


Recognize these two? If you don’t you’re not a horror fan.

Horror fans, be smart. Be educated. Horror is more than blood and guts and jump scares. I recently watched a popular, top of the box office horror and sat in the theater saying aloud “Why is this popular? It’s the same formula over and over. Quiet moment…boo! Quiet buildup…boo! Oh look, a scary image in a mirror.” Then I hear the cash register ring. I guess that’s what people want.

Our synopsis: “During an exclusive tour, a power breakdown inside a secret prison known as the Death House sends two agents fighting through a labyrinth of horrors while being pursued by a ruthless army of roaming inmates. As they fight to escape, the agents push toward the lowest depths of the facility where they learn a supernatural group of evil beings are their only chance for survival.”

Not the usual supernatural ghost film. Not the usual slasher. Not torture porn.

We have action, suspense, some great high concept moments and stellar practical effects built around a solid script and a great cast to bring it all to life.

Our trailer is coming soon. It’s being crafted, not just finished. We know every frame counts and you put your best foot forward.

Death House is not cynical horror designed to part you from your money. We want to earn your money and have our film earn its audience’s respect.

This is why we have high expectations of our audience as well. It works both ways.

Follow our film on Twitter and build up that fanbase to send a message to the industry: @deathhousemovie

Like the film on Facebook:

Where are you, horror fans? Here is something you’ve asked for. Show us your support.

Listen to my Cynema podcast found on iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher, Spotify and iHeart Radio.



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