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Featuring a trio of short films from directors Sam Balcomb,
Drew Daywalt and Gregg Bishop, that combine video games and horror to create
three highly creative-and frighteningly nerdy–works, Epictober is G4’s
celebration of the year’s spookiest month. Included is THE HUNT (based off the
hit NES game DUCK HUNT), KART DRIVER (culled from the MARIO KART franchise) and
THE BIRDS OF ANGER (from the highest selling mobile game ever ANGRY BIRDS), all
overseen and handpicked by Joe Lynch (WRONG TURN 2, CHILLERAMA). FANGORIA
interviewed Lynch and the talented filmmakers about the series. You can see
part one of the talk below…
FANGORIA: When taking a closer look at this project, this
could only come from the mind of an avid gamer. Have you played the games
JOE LYNCH: Of course! Like the directors, I grew up gaming.
I evolved from the mall arcade to the Atari and Vectrex, then to NES & Sega
Master System, then to Genesis and SuperNES, Dreamcast, Playstation 1 and 2 and
so on all the way up to now with app gaming and Xbox 360 (no Playstation 3 for
me, yet). So, I was well versed in all three games selected by the directors,
as were they of course! There are a lot of in-jokes and Easter eggs hidden in
each short as a nod to the gamers as well. What made this so much fun was
taking the familiar language from each game and applying the rules, style and
storytelling of genre filmmaking, especially horror.
FANG: The three different directors were hand-picked by you
order to give each film a unique perspective. How did you arrive at your
LYNCH: When G4 approached me about the idea of overseeing a
series of shorts, I was so excited about the chance to work with directors I
admire and respect, but also ones who knew their way around the “viral video
revolution,” which has a lot of that DIY spirit from the early days of indie
film. Sam Balcomb, Drew Daywalt and Gregg Bishop are guys I’ve been fans of for
years and I’ve always wanted to see into their own process which is a great
thing to do as a filmmaker. Everyone has a method to their madness, and I
learned so much from each of them for sure! But when it came with the ideas for
each short, we made a long list of games we thought could “port” into the world
of horror. Not too surprisingly, each guy came back with their own choices for
games. I loved this, because it showed they were passionate about spinning
their game selection into something new, unique and exciting. So, while I got
the honor to make the decision on the directors with G4’s full support, the
guys were the creative geniuses of the game selections.
FANG: MARIO KART and DUCK HUNT are family classics in the
video game industry. How do you think the die-hard fans of the game series will
react to them being turned into a horror story?
LYNCH: Both MARIO and DUCK HUNT are indeed classics, which
was my only reservation; attempting to put a new spin on a well-known property.
But when Drew and Sam pitched me their ideas—namely, Mario as a disgruntled,
Travis Bickle-esque anti-hero in a gonzo foreign horror bug-out like Noe’s I
STAND ALONE or Park’s OLDBOY and The Asshole Dog from DUCK HUNT as Bruce the
Skark from JAWS—I was hooked. All three directors, like myself, are avid
students of cinema, so it was such a great time just chewing the fat and
talking about film, and that would naturally segue into how to tell these tales
using the things we love about pure cinema. So yeah, it was just an excuse to
geek out with the guys, but all that love is in each film along with plenty for
the hardcore gamers to appreciate too, and I think they’ll dig how we’ve
twisted each tale to fit the Halloween season.
FANG: BIRDS OF ANGER also sees homage to THE BIRDS. How will these two worlds be combined to
create the perfect mash-up, and will we be given a reason behind why these
birds are so angry?
LYNCH: Well, you’ll just have to see what the Mad Dr. Bishop
has concocted in his symbiosis of two pop-icons! It was arguably the most
ambitious of the three, with no disrespect to Drew or Sam’s work, because Gregg
clearly wanted to thrust the ideas in the game into the world of Hitchcock and
those damn birds from his 1963 film. But once we saw the storyboards and then
the footage, we knew Gregg was onto something special. How he weaves the
elements from things we love about ANGRY BIRDS, Hitch movies and even 60’s
noir/potboilers is both seamless and the kind of idea that makes you go, “Why
hasn’t this been done before?” It’s really a sight to see.
FANG: In THE HUNT, will gamers finally get to see some
justice brought to that annoying dog? With 27 years of built-up hostility, I
think killing off that dog would be a nice selling point.
LYNCH: When Sam and I discussed the idea of making DUCK
HUNT, I wasn’t sure how we’d be able to make malicious mallards, but then Sam
simply said, “Asshole Dog,” and it was like a bell went off. I clearly remember
playing NES and wishing that snickering dog would just die while playing DUCK
HUNT, and, now, Sam and his amazing team at Rainfall Films have created a whole
new take on the game’s mythology. I don’t think you’ll ever see the game the
same way again, and that was the point of this project on a whole, to take what
you know about these games and hopefully make you rethink their conventions.
But again, you’ll just have to see what happens in THE HUNT to find out the
fate of that asshole dog. Just know, it won’t be pretty.
FANG: Mario has spent most of his gaming career seeking out
distressed damsels. It’s enough to drive anyone over the edge. Do we finally
get to see the plumber bash some skulls and catch the girl without her being
ripped from his arms in the next cut-scene?
LYNCH: Oh, there’s a lot of head-crushing in this one! Fans
of Gaspar Noe and Scorsese will be thrilled with the psychological element of a
man tormented by love and the MARIO and KONG. There’s been a lot of Mario
parodies over the years, but, when Drew and co-writer Stephen Johnson delved
into the darkness of Mario’s relationship struggles and tried to ground the
mythos with a sleazy, Eurotrash touch, it just made total sense that there are
still a lot of alternate stories to tell in the world of our favorite plumber.
FANG: How well do you think these titles will be received,
and will there be more shorts or even full-length features like these titles
from you in the future?
LYNCH: It’s funny, because you never know what is going to
be successful in the world of viral video. Anything gets hits these days;
production value, story or idea be dammed. Who would have thought Charlie
getting his finger bitten would be an internet sensation? So, you really can
never predict what will be successful and only time and page hits will tell.
But I think G4’s initial concept of mashing games and horror to coincide with
their Epictober promotion was a stroke of genius, and being able to have
creative freedom with the conception and execution of these projects and work
with these 3 directors has been a dream; we had such a great time. G4’s also
been a huge supporter of the project by commissioning posters, trailers and a
promotional roll-out online just like a real feature film campaign, so I’m
confident people will see them and knowing what’s in-store for the viewer. I
think fans of both horror and games will really dig them. For me, even though
I’m working on features like KNIGHTS OF BADASSDOM, CHILLERAMA and now EVERLY,
I’ll always continue to work in the short-form arena. I’m so thrilled that
short films have grown in popularity over the years, and since the technology
to create has become so easy to acquire and use, it just means it’s easier to
create for any forum and put it online, which is now really the most global way
of presenting your work. If these shorts do well, I’m sure we’ll be back to
mashup some more blood and bytes for your viewing pleasure.
FANG: If you could have any other game turned into a horror
flick, which would it be and why?
LYNCH: I’d actually love to see a huge monster/disaster
movie version of KATAMARI DAMACY. It’s got all the tropes of a great big horror
thriller: the unassuming yet nefarious antagonist, the scope of a big
blockbuster destroying cities like Godzilla and especially how the rolling
debris ball just keeps absorbing everything around it till the world is
destroyed, kind of like the Blob, which is one of my favorite monsters of all
time. Wow, that’s actually a really good idea! Um, excuse me, I need to call
Jerry Bruckheimer now, thanks.
TO BE CONTINUED...
For more, head over to G4 where you can watch all three shorts now: THE HUNT, KART DRIVER, THE BIRDS OF ANGER.
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