Topic: Horror films (long)

I hope this is the appropriate forum.  I'm new here and not really certain.  The reason I'm posting this here rather then in the Indie Forum is because I think what I have to say applies to a lesser extent to big budget or "mainstream" films.  I could be wrong, however.

So, recently I was involved in an ultra low budget zombie movie.  I had to quit during production for a variety of reasons, all personal and having nothing to do really with this topic.

The Writer/Director was actually very receptive to my ideas.  He seemed as passionate about the subject as I.  And hopefully the movie itself would have gone well, but I was left to ponder a few things.

The original script called for a group of teens being rescued by soldiers sent out by the government to contain the outbreak of the virus that is the cause of the zombie apocalypse.

The unfortunate thing was that he didn't have enough authentic uniforms or weapons to accomplish that.  He had various military issue firearms, but they were from different eras...such as WW1 and 2, plus Vietnam..and a smattering of more current weapons.  The Jeep was circa 1943.  And he only had one set of BDU's.  I told him that simply because he had these things available doesn't mean he should necessarily use them.

He didn't have a make up artist who could do gore effects, so I told him that it may be best to use B&W.  It's easier I think to set a mood that way as the shadows are deeper and richer, and B&W was more forgiving concerning make up and gore effects.  I told him to watch NOTLD for ideas on how violence could be implied, yet still be effective and how only minimal makeup was required.

There were a few other suggestions, but the gist is that ultimately, he was going to be forced to make many compromises to get this movie completed.  In fact, he sent me an e-mail today explaining that he would have to actually cut back on the speaking roles.

So, my questions are:  Was I correct?  In this day and age with what I would guess or hope is a more sophisticated audience (though I think that perhaps gorehound doesn't necessarily equal sophisticated smile ) out there....and all the zombie movies being made(everybody with a video camera thinks they can make the next great zombie picture) am I right when I say that implied gore and violence is enough?  Is B&W still acceptable to an audience so long as the story is fantastic and the talent involved competent?  I can still watch Psycho and NOTLD, but I would imagine many people only give lip service to that concept, why else would that colorised, shot for shot remake of Psycho been made?  I guess Gus Van Sant wanted to bring Psycho to a larger audience, but did it work?  It's still not too late to e-mail him with suggestions.  I may not be active on the production anymore, but he seems to value my opinion still.  Would George Romero have done anything differently if he had had a bigger budget?  Should I tell him to ignore me and do what he feels is right at this point?  The movie is no longer my business.

What do you guys think?

I'm a professional lurker for a reason...let me try to order my thoughts in a way which may be easier to understand, since I don't make sense even to myself.

1.  Is B&W an acceptable means of relaying a story to a modern audience. 

2.  Is implied violence and the effects of such enough to satisfy a modern audience?

3.  Should I stay out of his business now, though he seems still to value my opinion?

4.  If 3 above is correct, should I tell him to ignore my previous comments and do what he thinks is best at this point, or wait until he contacts me?

Hopefully edited for clarity and to fix a few spelling errors.

Last edited by sMart (2006-10-19 20:06:25)

Re: Horror films (long)

crikeys I think that is a great post I will have to mull over before I can really respond. Well posted!

Re: Horror films (long)

You're fast, Meh...I was editing it while you were reading it.

By the way, where's my swag?  wink

Re: Horror films (long)

If his budget is so low that by using color the effects will look like crap, than I see nothing wrong with B&W.
Not sure what you mean by #2.
If you feel the need to give him suggestions, what the hell, give him your ideas since he's listening.

Re: Horror films (long)

Implied violence: 

As an example:  When Ben shoves the crowbar into the zombie's face inside the house.  The camera pans into a close up on his face, lifting the crowbar above his head and plunging it downward, but we don't actually see the contact.  It's implied that he shoved the crowbar through it's skull, killing it. 

A bit earlier in the movie, Ben is swinging the crowbar around, hitting zombies apparently, but the camera doesn't actually show him striking them.  It cuts away to reveal them falling down.

In Psycho...the shower scene.  You see bloodsplatters and blood circling down the drain. You can see the knife being drawn up and down during the attack, but you don't see the knife actually enter Ms. Crane's* body.

*My mind is drawing a blank, I'm not sure if the victim's last name was Crane.

As far as effects go, he can't properly show the effects of a hole in the head, that may occur as a result of a character like Ben shoving a crowbar into someone's head.  So he can't even pan the camera down to reveal the results, it has to be implied, left off camera.  And the audience would have to make the assumption that there's a giant hole in the middle of that zombie's forehead.

Thanks for the reply DemonToSome.  He does seem very eager to hear my thoughts, so until he says otherwise, I guess I'll continue to provide them so long as he asks a direct question.  What I like about this guy is that he's willing to take constructive criticism and listen to other people's ideas, despite the fact that this movie is his baby.  He's also willing to compromise.  That shows promise to me, and I would like to see him succeed as a film maker.

Last edited by sMart (2006-10-19 21:44:27)

Re: Horror films (long)

Oh ya I get what you mean. If it's edited good, implied violence works great.
Hitchcock sure had a way to make you think your seeing more than you actually are.

Hey sMart, maybe you should make your own film and put all your ideas into it..... and show the hole in the zombies head smile

Re: Horror films (long)

Thank you both for your kind words.  It means a lot to a new poster when the Bad Ass Mofo himself appreciates your first topic.

DemonToSome:  I would love to make a zombie movie.  I have many ideas floating around, but they're so chaotic it's difficult to organise them into a coherent screen play.  I think that nowadays with the glut of zombies in the marketplace, that a new one should have something new to bring to the table to stand out from the rest.  It doesn't have to be a major concept or anything, just a little something different.  Not to mention raising money, finding an fx and makeup artist, a sound man, a camera man/light man, a decent cast, and anything else that I've missed, may prove extremely difficult to achieve.

I'd be quite content to perhaps be the co-writer and let someone else deal with the headaches of actually filming the thing....or maybe not....

Edited to capitalise "Bad Ass Mofo".

Last edited by sMart (2006-10-19 23:11:00)

Re: Horror films (long)

B&W might be lost on the mainstream of my generation (I'm 18) and the want graphic stuff...but not too graphic as they are still pansies.  But, there is still a serious audience.

Making suggestions is a good thing and like Demon says, if he listens do give some advice.  With what you say he has, he could change the script to more of the kids find a crazy ex-Vietnam vet/ gun loving redneck who has a minagery of weapons.


I remember a few friends at school and I were gonna try and do a zombie film.  Never went through due to...money of course and scheduals.