Film Independent Fri 10.31.2014

Halloween Horrorfest, Part 4: Brian Netto on the Challenge of Manufacturing Fear

EEK! Today’s terrifying lineup of horror movie questionnaires (click for parts onetwo and three) comes to its conclusion with filmmaker Brian Netto, who wrote and directed the 2013 horror film Delivery and who just wrapped production on the feature film Shut In, directed by his producing partner Adam Schindler. Netto and Schindler are the founders of film collective Type AB.

What was the first horror film that scared the pants off you?
As a kid, I found most horror movies more cool than scary. You’re talking to a guy who brought a handmade Freddy Krueger glove to his elementary school. For the record, it was promptly taken away—both times.

I would say the thing that scared the pants off me most when I was younger was not a movie at all but an episode of Unsolved Mysteries. It was about a home that was reportedly haunted, and one segment featured a reenactment where a kid claimed he saw a burning witch hiding behind his door at night. And because they never really showed you anything on that show, it was all about your imagination—and that was something I had plenty of—so it was pure nightmare fuel. Naturally, the door to my bedroom had this shadowy alcove behind it that was the perfect hiding spot for a burning specter come nightfall. For YEARS after that show, I made sure when I went to bed I would place the door flush against the wall so the burning witch had no place to hide. Thanks for the sleepless nights, Robert Stack!

Scariest cinema moment of all time?
Jump scares are fun, but I’ve always loved movie moments that you can take home with you, that burn themselves into your brain. For me, that moment is from Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, when Leatherface hangs Teri McMinn on a meat hook. I saw the film for the first time 25 years after its release and it had lost absolutely none of its power. Amazingly, you never actually see the hook go into her, nor do you see much blood, but the image of her hanging from that hook as Leatherface goes to town on her friend with a chainsaw—all while right in front of her, mind you!—feels like something you might see in Hell.

Who’s more terrifying: Jason Voorhees or Freddy Krueger or Michael Myers—and why?
Freddy, definitely. He lives in your dreams, man!

Favorite zombie flick?
So many to choose from. I’m a huge fan of both the Dawn of the Dead original and remake, and of 28 Days Later. But I have to go with Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive (also known as Braindead overseas). Is it scary? Not even remotely, but you didn’t ask for the scariest, you asked for my favorite. Nothing against Snyder, Romero or Boyle—love them, love their movies—but not one of those movies features infectious rat monkeys or a woman eating her own ear or zombies copulating on a dinner table or a pile of intestines checking itself out in a mirror. Well, Dead Alive features all of those and more. It’s easily one of the bloodiest movies ever made (sorry, Evil Dead remake). Also, it’s hilarious. Also, I forgot to mention, spoiler alert.

Favorite moment in a Stephen King film?
I love John Carpenter’s Christine—love it! The opening scene is great, showing the car on the assembly line and basically establishing the car is evil from the get-go—no backstory about curses or anything like that, it’s just an evil car, plain and simple. My favorite scene is when the car stalks its owner’s high school bully, Moochie, in some deserted, wasteland-looking part of downtown. The car plays 50s doo-wop music when it kills, so from the shadows Moochie hears “Little Bitty Pretty One” by Thurston Harris playing on the car radio. Moochie sees Christine waiting for him beneath a darkened bridge overpass. Then the headlights click on and a Carpenter synth score kicks in and Moochie’s ass is pretty much grass at that point. The car is beautiful, the music is ridiculously catchy and I really love that those two elements of pure 50s Americana have been turned into something truly sinister.

What’s the secret to directing actors in a horror film?
Horror films are often pretty taxing, both emotionally and physically. With Delivery, the film was fairly grounded in reality and dealt with some pretty dark scenarios, so it was all about giving our actors time and, if necessary, their own private space so that they could get into the proper frame of mind. Fear is a very difficult emotion to manufacture, and it’s something you have to absolutely nail in a horror film. If the audience doesn’t buy that your characters are truly fearful or are fighting for their lives, then you don’t have much of a movie.

Mary Sollosi / Film Independent Blogger and Pamela Miller / Website & Grants Manager