The Horror Crowd is an upcoming horror-based documentary set to make its world premiere at FrightFest Digital, the new virtual edition of the festival which kicks off in a few days.
The film, brought to us by Ruben Pla of Insidious fame, making his feature length directorial debut assembles a veritable who’s-who of iconic and upcoming horror filmmakers.
We were lucky enough to watch the film ahead of it’s world premiere and we even managed to grab Pla for a quick chat to discuss The Horror Crowd and what we can expect to see!
You make your directorial feature debut with The Horror Crowd, which is making its world premiere at FrightFest. So first of all, tell me what it means to you to get a film about horror screening at FrightFest?
Ruben: I think it’s pretty appropriate. I mean when I first approached them with the film and pitched it to them they said ‘We love it. Let’s do it. We know almost all people in the film because they’ve been to Frightfest before for their projects,’ and I want ‘Great!’ So there’s the world premiere! I’ve been accepted into [other film festivals] already but they’re after. But I’m really excited about Frightfest and the people there have been very, very helpful!
The Horror Crowd is essentially a documentary about what it means to be a horror fan, or a horror filmmaker. Why did you decide to do a documentary about this, what inspired you?
Ruben: “Well it was either this or a striptease… I’m just kidding. I started traveling in those horror circles a while ago. I did a promotional video for a friend of mine Mike Mendez, who wanted to get a film off the ground, and then met him and bunch of other people who ended up being part of the Horror Crowd”
“Then, I met James Wan there too and he, some few weeks later, asked ‘do you want to be in my new movie Insidious?’ I say ‘Okay!’ So, that was a wonderful film and I met more people through there, and I met Linn Shaye there and a bunch of other people.
“And one day I was sitting down with my co-producer, Hank Braxton, and said ‘I’m thinking about just doing some interviews with some people in the horror crowd.’ That’s the name that I came up with, the horror crowd. So I go, ‘and what do you think? I’m just going to do it on my phone and see how it looks, He goes, ‘Why don’t I get you a couple of cameras,’ because he has production company. I say ‘Great’ he goes ‘And we could use my studio’ and I said, ‘Okay’. And he goes, ‘my wife [Arielle Brachfield] can produce it’. So, without them, it could not have been what it is, the way it looks, it just looks fabulous and I owe them everything.”
“So that’s how it started, we just had a lunch meeting, I threw an idea at him and he goes ‘let’s run with this.’ So, I start asking people if they want to be interviewed for this little thing we’re doing and it grew and grew until there were 38 interviews in the film. I mean I had over 30 hours, close to 40 hours of footage, which I cut down to 90 minutes, 92 minutes. So it was, it was an incredible monumental task but loved every second putting everything together, editing it together. It was great.”
You mention you had 40 hours of footage! You do pack a lot into that 92 minutes as well. It is almost non-stop, the way, from start-to-finish.
Ruben: That’s how I wanted it, I wanted it to be non-stop like that, yes!
I particularly enjoyed the different subjects that you tackled throughout and how they flowed from into another quite seamlessly as part of this ‘non-stop’ aspect. Was this what you were going for, the impression of a continuous conversation, rather than a blocked or chaptered documentary?
Ruben: I’m glad you noticed that. Absolutely, I didn’t want it to be just ‘Oh, this is this section, this is this segment and they’re not connected,’ I wanted one thing to lead to another – ‘oh, we like dressing up in costume,’ so Halloween, and then ‘We like reading literature,’ so Edgar Allen Poe. Whatever the case was I wanted segue from one to the other as much as possible. And I think, it did quite work out well as far as that. So, yeah, definitely, the segments are connected
I think one of the aims of the film is to try and find out what commonalities there are between all of us who love horror. Did anything surprise you that you found out, that was kind of a common link between a lot of these people or was it stuff you expected?
Ruben: Besides the obvious, that they love horror movies, and so forth. There are the commonalities in horror trivia as there’s a whole segment on horror trivia at the Junkyard Café. There’s comic books, I didn’t know that some of these other people love comic books so much, even Brea Grant wrote comic books and I didn’t know that. There were a lot of things that came out that I wasn’t aware of.
But, still the most shocking thing to me is when Mike Mendez says his first horror movie was the Hills Have Eyes, which he saw at the age of three. And I was like, ‘WHAT’ and it I cut to myself and you see my face and that was not a put-on. I think that shocked me, that really shocked me. So that was a big revelation.
I think the love of horror is obviously a common thread. But there are other things; you know just movies in general, they love literature, trivia, comic books, all these things, dressing up for Halloween that I think the common person, the not horror fan, can relate to. Because I think most of them like Halloween, they like dressing up. I’m sure some of them like comic books. I like comic books when I was a little kid, before I even started getting into horror
There are other things you touch on, as well that, I think, in today’s society, are quite important such as race relations and gender equality/equal representation for women, and whilst it’s pointed out that the horror community is generally ahead of the curve with these issues, was this something that you wanted to specifically highlight?
Ruben: Without a question. That’s why I had those two prominent Black artists, Jeffrey Reddick and Ernest Dickerson. They were just very forthcoming, as you can tell, with the stories they tell. Earnest tells us a story about when he’s in the south and he’s already a professional DP cinematographer and he goes to the projectionist ‘hey, it’s a little dark the bulb might be a little dim’ and the guy goes ‘You want to do what?’ Also, because he’s African American he walked into meeting that he’d been called into because the producer loved his work on Brother From Another Planet and when the producer walks in his smile disappears [because he realises that Earnest is Black]. If it wasn’t heart-breaking it’d be hilarious, that look that he had.
And, as they both say, Earnest and Jeffrey, that now things are so different in the industry and in life for African Americans, so I wanted to highlight that and not make it all just about how this is terrible, so yes, it was definitely intentional.
Okay and the women?
Ruben: Yes, definitely, because I come from a strong women household, my wife and my two daughters who are very strong women, all of them. I definitely wanted to have segments, two segments actually, ‘Women In Horror’ and ‘Scream Queens’ with one following the other, so I wanted to highlight that. And I’ve got Linn Shaye and Brea Grant and all these people talking about women In horror and how sometimes you’re a scream queen and sometimes you’re not, so yes, we definitely wanted to highlight those two!
Something that I also enjoyed about your documentary is that you talk to people who have films out sort of 15-20 years ago but you also you talked to people who are kind of emerging on the scene. Chelsea Stardust being one of them. Was that something you want to do talk to the old and the new?
Ruben: I wanted to have, for sure, the OG’s, original gangsters I wanted to have them with Lynn and Russell and so forth. And I wanted to have some new people, rising up, with Chelsea and a couple others to get their different takes on things. But even the new people, the up and coming, they’re ensconced in the old classics. They know the old stuff too, even the Hammer films, they’re very familiar with the Hammer films. The Universal classics, which I adore, you know, the Dracula, Wolfman, and Frankenstein. So these guys, the young people, they know their stuff, of history. Yeah, we enjoyed that and we wanted to get the old and new!
I thoroughly enjoyed The Horror Crowd, and I’m hoping you will all enjoy it too! Stay tuned for our full review of the film, which is to come!
Buy The Horror Crowd digital screening tickets: https://bit.ly/3k2MHNw
FrightFest Digital Edition presents the World Premiere of The Horror Crowd on 29 August on the Arrow Video Screen
For more information on Frightfest Digital 2020 including reviews and interviews as they happen, head here