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Exclusive Q&A: Filmmaker Todd Nunes on “ALL THROUGH THE HOUSE”, “DEATH WARD 13”

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DON’T LOOK IN THE BASEMENT, the 1973 cult-classic, horror flick is getting a millennial make-over; promising to deliver the scares, suspense, and shocking twists of it’s predecessor…and them some. Todd Nunes, writer/director of the soon to be released, award-winning Christmas slasher, ALL THROUGH THE HOUSE, has officially confirmed that his latest film DEATH WARD 13 is not only a re-imagining, but a continuation of DON’T LOOK IN THE BASEMENT.

A labor of love, and a dream of Nunes’ since childhood, DEATH WARD 13 is now in pre-production and off to a great start and we have the exclusive behind-the-scenes pics to prove it. More so, Nunes, in between film festivals and production, spent some quality time with FANGORIA to promote his latest endeavor into the world of psychological horror.

FANGORIA: Why do you believe that DON’T LOOK IN THE BASEMENT needed a millennial update?

TODD NUNES: I really cherish DON’T LOOK IN THE BASEMENT. I was introduced to it when I was in the 5th grade and stayed up late at a sleep over with some friends and got the crap scared out of me. I was haunted by the story and the characters – they really stayed with me, especially the terror I felt during the BIG reveal. It was a moment that truly shaped me as a filmmaker and my mind still races with all the horrifying possibilities. I’m so fascinated by twist endings. It’s a storytelling device that has become a staple of my work and can be seen in ALL THROUGH THE HOUSE. I think our millennial update will bring more attention to the original film and hopefully introduce a new generation to this cult classic.

FANG: While making DEATH WARD 13, what did you do to ensure that your version was distinctly different from the original?

NUNES: By far the most memorable moment in DON’T LOOK IN THE BASEMENT is the crazy twist ending. I love it, but in the past three decades we’ve seen that twist-ending technique used in many movies and TV shows; I saw it used on AMERICAN DAD just last week. Because DON’T LOOK IN THE BASEMENT is known for its ending, I knew that our film needed to present the twist much sooner and also introduce a new ending that would rattle and surprise fans. This is where the magic really happened for me. I realized that our film could explore what happens after DON’T LOOK IN THE BASEMENT ended and add a new level of terror and suspense.

Since it’s a re-imagined story, we are changing the location of Stephen’s Sanitarium from an insane asylum to a hospital for the criminally insane. We wanted the title, DEATH WARD 13 to pay respect to S.F. Brownrigg and his movie, but I didn’t want to copy Brownrigg’s work. I’m more inspired by what he created and his directing abilities. Our film is distinctly different but most horror fans will see the similarities a mile away.

FANG: Do you think that the younger horror audience will be able to enjoy DEATHWARD 13 without seeing DON’T LOOK IN THE BASEMENT? Do you recommend watching it before running out to see your version?

NUNES: DEATH WARD 13 definitely stands on its own and there is no need to be familiar with the original film. I recommend that every horror fan watch the original DON’T LOOK IN THE BASEMENT, especially younger audiences. S.F. Brownrigg doesn’t get enough credit for being one of the founding fathers of horror who helped shaped the genre.

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FANG: You noted in a press release that Poe’s short story, THE SYSTEM OF DOCTOR TARR AND PROFESSOR FETHER, which is both dark and comedic, inspired you while writing DEATHWARD 13. Why that particular story?

NUNES: Edgar Allan Poe is a staple of horror literature and THE SYSTEM OF DOCTOR TARR AND PROFESSOR FETHER inspired Brownrigg in the first place. I’m inspired by both of them. There have been many films based on that short story by Poe and I’ve been influenced by all of them: THE MANSION OF MADNESS, LUNACY and most recently, THE STONEHEARST ASYLUM. This particular story of Poe’s, unlike his other work, is offbeat and wickedly humorous, so I wanted to bring that quality into DEATH WARD 13. Many people believe that Poe’s story reflects American politics gone mad, and I thought that was a very compelling angle to explore considering what our world is facing today. Even though DEATH WARD 13 takes place in 1973, I wanted to include the conflict our society still has with authority figures and powerful leaders who ultimately can’t be trusted.

FANG: Speaking of reimaging, you’ve recently come off of ALL THROUGH THE HOUSE, which has already won Best Director (Hardcore Horror Fest) and the Audience Choice Award (RIP Horror Film Festival). Would you consider ALL THROUGH THE HOUSE a reimaging of SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT, or even possibly a homage to the holiday horror flick?

NUNES: An homage definitely, but I was more inspired by SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT’s iconic poster. I was too young to see the movie when it first came out – and it was pulled from local theaters – but my young mind was fascinated by the poster of a killer Santa slinking down the chimney with an axe in his hand. For years, I wondered what the movie was really about, and that is how ALL THROUGH THE HOUSE was born. When I finally did see SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT it was completely different from what I had imagined but I remained hopeful that someday I could bring my creepy vision to life. Our film doesn’t rehash popular Christmas horror movie subplots, like punishing people who’ve been naughty, or Santa-obsessed psychos, or death by antlers. But ALL THROUGH THE HOUSE is definitely a Santa slasher that delivers a high body count, beautiful girls, and a sadistic story with a mystery at its core. It’s perfect for the holidays.

FANG: How was the transition from going directly from ALL THROUGH THE HOUSE to tackling DEATHWARD 13?

NUNES: I started working on ALL THROUGH THE HOUSE in 2014, so I was more than ready to move on to something new. I had no idea that I would be frozen in the Christmas season for two years. I wanted our film to feel like Whoville from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” but that required a ton of production design and my home was stuffed with Christmas ornaments, sleds, holiday wreaths, and lawn decorations. I literally couldn’t walk anywhere without bumping into a Santa Claus or Christmas tree. After that, I was definitely ready for DEATH WARD 13, so a hospital for the criminally insane was a welcome reprieve.

I’m really excited to work with Bone Crusher Films (a division of the Readmond Company) to create DEATH WARD 13’s world of demented characters and it’s gritty, rollercoaster ride of fear. This is what I live for and I’m so grateful to be telling these stories.

ALL THROUGH THE HOUSE will be released by Gravitas Ventures on October 4th on all major VOD Platforms including iTunes. You can check out exclusive images from ALL THROUGH THE HOUSE below. Stay tuned for FANGORIA’s review on ALL THROUGH THE HOUSE and more exclusive behind-the-scenes pics and interviews!

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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