If you’re a fan of ‘80s horror, you owe it to yourself to check out the recently released Rabid Love, a very retro flick that captures the feel of those glory days of the horror film; hell, even if you’re not a fan, you should give it a watch; you just may become a convert.
Recently, Hayley Derryberry and Paul J. Porter, the filmmakers and stars behind this ‘love letter to ‘80s horror’, graciously took some time out of their busy schedules to answer some questions for us about their film.
LEGLESSCORPSE: It was easy to see that you were very inspired by films from the 80s…did you have any particular inspirations? Any specific films or directors?
PAUL: Oh yeah; pretty much any late 70’s/early 80’s horror movie– we watched something like 50 movies that I thought could help inspire us for a classic horror movie set in 1984. There are the obvious ones like the Friday the 13th series and other slasher flicks, but as a director the ones that mostly inspired me for RL were things like House of the Devil (Ti West), Scotland, PA (Billy Morrissette), Ravenous (Antonia Bird), and Grizzly (William Girdler).
HAYLEY: And don’t forget An American Werewolf in London!
LC: The camera work, the color saturation; I was impressed with how you gave the movie that nostalgic look. Any films in particular that you drew from for that?
PAUL: Absolutely! We actually shot on two Canon 7Ds and color/camera tests were one of the first things I started working on when we were planning the short version of the movie. A DSLR is never going to look like 16mm film but I think we ended up getting pretty close with our setup, which was a very neutral/flat color space along with Tiffen Black ProMist filters on Zeiss cinema lenses. The main influences for the color and look were films House of the Devil (newer but shot on 16mm and set in the 80’s), The Burning, Grizzly, The Howling, and of course the first few Friday the 13th movies.
LC: I was pleasantly surprised by the character development Rabid Love had; so many horror flicks (especially these days) just don’t give you much time (or effort) to care about the characters. Was this modern lack an influence in your writing?
PAUL: Yeah, to some point. I really prefer a slower pace in films instead of nonstop action or gore, which I feel like most movies have become. It all comes down to a sense of nostalgia for me and when I watch movies from the late 70’s/early 80’s I enjoy appreciating the look and feel of the time period they were made. With the characters, I like writing them so they’re people that the audience might want to hang out with and have more than one dimension. With the RL characters, each of them had their own realistic internal conflicts they were working through during the physical action of the story so they weren’t just people the audience was waiting to see get killed off.
HAYLEY: Yeah, I know that my favorite part of any 80’s film is always the first half hour; that establishment of the world and the characters. It would always bum me out when I’d turn to a movie on TV and it had already started, even if I’d seen it a dozen times already. The beginning is the best part!
LC: I was also impressed with the little dialogue twists you peppered in; I laughed to myself when the store clerks comment about “We don’t need people like you in this town” turned out to be referring to the college shirt; was this strictly tongue-in-cheek, a little misdirection from the norm of the ‘80s, or just really smart writing showing through?
PAUL: There are definitely some bits that are almost required in a classic slasher film and one of them is the main characters having a run in with the locals that pegs them as outsiders. Usually the locals are hostile or unrefined/uneducated, but my experience is that people in the Midwest are generally the nicest people in the country and will go out of their way to help strangers, so I wanted that to come through with our store clerk instead of painting him in the typical, uninformed stereotype.
HAYLEY: There were some lines that we took directly from movies we loved as homage. My favorite is in the van when Adam says, “I’m gonna break your face,” while the gang is laughing and having a good time. That line we got from Evil Dead. It was a line we’d never noticed from the film until rewatching it in prep for Rabid Love; the douchey boyfriend actually says that to his girlfriend while everyone is laughing at the dinner table. It was such a staple of the times that something like that would be said and heard without a second thought. We had to use it in RL.
LC: The character of David was very interesting for ‘the heavy’; combining the Handsome Stranger with the Mad Scientist was a different and fun approach. Where did you come up with that idea?
PAUL: David was a fun character to write and he actually has an interesting history as far as his writing goes because he is actually a mix of two characters we had planned. We originally had our friend Colin Cunningham cast as ‘The Hunter’ and Brandon Stacy (who actually played John in the short version) as a third guy in the main group of friends that go to the cabin. This guy was kind of a nerdy, photographer that spied on the girls while the Hunter character was more the monster in the woods that we wouldn’t reveal until later. Colin was shooting on TNT’s Falling Skies and was unable to get away when we were going into production, so we had to rethink things a bit and rather than recast we wrote the two characters together and ended up with the fun hybrid of David the photographer.
LC: Tell me about time on the set; from the outtakes, I can tell you were all having a good time; any special memories either of you would like to share?
HAYLEY: Because we were shooting out in a small town in Kansas far from the big city, the whole cast and crew pretty much spent all day everyday together. It made it a lot like summer camp but even better because we were making a movie, too. My favorite times were when we would wrap and all relax in the cabin. We played a lot of Rock Band, watched a lot of movies, and drank a lot of booze.
PAUL: I agree; especially for me trying to produce, direct, and act during shooting; the times we got to relax after a day or week of production were the best because it was like summer camp for us.
LC: Each of you wore multiple hats…how difficult was it balancing producing/writing/directing/acting and everything else each of you contributed to the film?
PAUL: Very…you learn an amazing amount of lessons on your first feature, and I can’t wait to dive into another because I want to improve on everything we did the first time- -both in front of and behind the camera. I decided to play John out of convenience and definitely don’t want to have such a big role in front of the camera on a project I’m directing or producing again. The good part about it though, was having such a small team so everyone got their hands into multiple areas and made the project a bit more personal for each individual, which adds that much more pride for us.
HAYLEY: I think it was awesome having actors who were also crew. Believe me I know that acting takes a lot of time, but there’s something kind of special when you invest more of yourself into the making of the film.
LC: The movie wasn’t terribly gory, as is the fashion these days; is that something you’d have like to done more of, or were you shooting for the ‘less-is-more’ angle?
HAYLEY: We had planned to bring in an effects artist but she wasn’t available at the last minute. I ended up taking over the entire special effects department with nothing but a knowledge of how to make fake blood. Paul never planned to have a lot of gore, but I always wanted there to be a bit more. I tried doing some makeshift effects but I just didn’t have the time to perfect them, and so we couldn’t get them on screen. It is one of my biggest regrets with the film that we didn’t have more time and manpower to dedicate to the effects department.
LC: You knocked the ‘80s outta the park. Are there any other eras you’re thinking of tackling, film-wise? ‘70s exploitation? ‘50s paranoia? I’d bet with the same cast you could do wonders…I for one am looking forward to seeing what you come up with in the future. What do you have in the works?
HAYLEY: I’m working on my first screenplay right now, which I hope will be a Rogue Taurus production in the near future. It’s also a horror film but we haven’t decided if it will be a period piece or not. I would like to do something set in the 70’s, but we won’t attempt it unless we can do it flawlessly.
PAUL: Thanks! I think I want every movie I direct to be a period piece. The Twilight Zone is a huge inspiration in most of my writing and I think it would be really fun to do a 50’s style monster/sci-fi type of thing. We actually played with a TZ type story with our short film Blüm a few years ago, and we have a feature idea based on it in development. You can see the original film here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHNmkNJZsT0 . My favorite project we have is called Dark Desert, and is set in the mid 70’s but has backstories/flashbacks that range from Vietnam, World War II, the Old West, and back to the conquistadors in the new world. DD is inspired by a lot of things, but the style that really comes to mind is 60’s/70’s horror films like the original Wicker Man, Legend of Hell House, Suspiria, Phantasm, and even Zardoz and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. We do have a couple scenarios for a Rabid Love sequel and, depending on the success of the first one, that may be our best bet for a second feature. We’ll see…
LC: I’ll end with our standard closing question here at LeglessCorpse; what is your favorite scary movie?
HAYLEY: Mine is Evil Dead II. I didn’t grow up watching a lot of horror movies with my family. The ones that I had seen were mostly paranormal thrillers that gave me nightmares for years. It was late in my teen years when I saw Evil Dead II for the first time, and it was the first horror movie that I had seen that showed me that horror could be fun and funny. I was an instant fan!
PAUL: That’s a tough one and it changes all the time…I think the best I’ve seen recently is The Conjuring, but Event Horizon and In the Mouth of Madness are probably at the top of my all-time list.
Thanks very much to Hayley and Paul for taking the time to speak with us, and for the great film they’ve made! We at LeglessCorpse wish them the best, and look forward to their future efforts with great anticipation!