From music to mayhem: Dominik Houser talks exclusively on his directorial debut, DEAD SQUAD!


In the mid-70’s and throughout the 80’s, horror fans were introduced to a new format of scary storytelling; the slasher. The formula was simple; a group of gorgeous youngster living their lives to the fullest without a care in the world, proceeding to make idiotic decisions, stumbling upon grave danger, and then one by one getting killed off in extravagant and often gruesome ways.

Now, as we enter a new age of horror, what used to scare audiences has become laughable and the formula, diluted. Fortunately, there are a slew of filmmakers determined to reanimate our beloved genre, and first time director Dominik Hauser is one of those filmmakers.

Currently in pre-production of his directorial debut DEAD SQUAD, Hauser is no stranger to the world of horror. Beginning his career as a composer, conductor, and musical coordinator, Hauser has worked on such films as FREDDY VS. JASON (Orchestrations), ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 (Music Preparation); and AEON FLUX (Additional Orchestrator). “I haven’t actually scored a horror film yet, so I decided the best way to remedy this problem is to write and direct one myself. Haha.”  And though Hauser likes to joke around, he is extremely serious about his vision for DEAD SQUAD.  “On a serious note though, I’m trying to get away from the current way of scoring horror films, which these days mainly consists of texture and sound design. I love the eighties movies that have a theme and I look forward to write a memorable monster theme myself.”

DEAD SQUAD is a balls-to-the-wall, campy-throwback, gore-filled fright flick, staring Conan Stevens, (GAME OF THRONES, THE HOBBIT), and Erika Ervin, (AMERICAN HORROR STORY: FREAKSHOW). “I’m a big fan of horror movies, especially monster and zombie flicks. My favorite [horror] movies are RE-ANIMATOR, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, THE THING, and DEAD ALIVE.” Hauser continues, “With DEAD SQUAD I’m trying to pay homage to the campy style of those movies while giving it a contemporary edge.” He continues, “I’m working really closely with an incredible Swiss cinematographer to bring something really fresh to the genre.”

Set for a production start date of February 2017, DEAD SQUAD follows a group of adventurists, who during a white-water rafting excursion become lost in the jungles of Bali, Indonesia. Hauser’s personal take on the film is simple; “People get lost in a mysterious jungle. They find an entrance to an underground ruin and are thrust into a world of the truly demented and a fantastic fight for survival.” He follows with, “Hungry, hideous nightmare creatures, rain carnage and gore down on them; chasing them while they desperately try to escape.”

The film’s producer, Christopher Hatton is very enthusiastic and optimistic about Hauser’s directorial debut. “Dominik has a twisted vision and the creature effects being built by Movie Studio Bali are bringing it to life.  Camp horror fans will eat this one up.” Furthermore, Hatton played a large part in the locations of the film. Hauser recalls, “Chris [Hatton] suggested Bali when we were looking at suitable locations. When I went there for location scouting, I immediately fell in love with the gorgeous scenery, especially the lush jungles and rivers. I visited Movie Studio Bali in Ubud and realized that their place was uniquely suited for my vision.”

As well as directing DEAD SQUAD, Hauser has also co-written the film with writing partner Nancy Thornhill. “I found that the process of writing a screenplay was very similar to writing a piece of music. The rules of tension and release, structure and motif are eerily the same. We also went through many, many (did I say many?) rewrites which thought me quite a lot.” He continues, “I did the usual research that anybody would do which means watching every horror movie I could get my hands on but I really relied on my last two decades of working as a composer.”

Hauser’s musical background has helped create his directorial form as well as how he plans to set the tone, musically, within the film. “I have written a few themes for the main characters to get a feel for the scenes and have shared them with our pre-production team to set a tone early on. I find it helps visualizing a scene with music already there.”

Though horror fans still have a ways to go before Hauser and his DEAD SQUAD hit theaters and VOD, you can follow along with the production through social media. DEAD SQUAD’s Google+ page HERE has up-to-date information on the process of casting, filmmaking, and a few behind-the-scenes pictures to tantalize the masses. You can also check out their Facebook Page HERE and Instagram page for more details and photos.

Until then, Hauser leaves us with on his stand on the topic of the homage’s paid to the great films of the 80’s within DEAD SQUAD. “There are few gems in the script that fans will recognize, but you will have to watch it to find what they are.”

About the author
Adam Lee Price
Adam Lee Price has an intense love of horror films and has since being a child. This love of horror has led him to focus on a career in writing films for the next generation of genre fans. Adam has recently completed writing his first feature length horror screenplay entitled THE MASQUERADE. Now, he looks forward to the next chapter of his life working alongside great writers in the horror industry and at FANGORIA Magazine.
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