Writer/Director Glenn McQuaid has been a part of the horror community for a long time but made his first big splash in 2008 with his Dominic Monaghan, Ron Perlman starring I Sell The Dead.
Now, as one of the directors of V/H/S – a film that breathes new life into the stagnant found footage genre – he stretches his wings outside of period horror comedy and into the more brutal slasher world.
In the film, “When a group of misfits is hired by an unknown third party to burglarize a desolate house and acquire a rare VHS tape, they discover more found footage than they bargained for.”
“I don’t know if I have a particular tone that I want to chisel out for myself. Truthfully I think each project dictates its own sense of style. I’m probably not the biggest slasher fan in the world.”.
Did that grow organically out of your work in shorts? How did you put it together?
“I made a short film called The Resurrection Apprentice that was about two or three years before I Sell The Dead. It was about a young grave robber’s first night on the job of excavating corpses. That territory and that world, I did a lot of reading on “Burke And Hare” while doing that film and it kind of sparked my interest. I decided to create a feature script based on the characters of Willie Grimes and Arthur Blake. The short was more of a somber drama, and I turned it around a little bit with I Sell The Dead I wanted to get a few more laughs and a few more jumps in there instead. It wound up being a much broader project. Definitely inspired by the likes of Young Frankenstein’ more than anything else.”
You mention Burke And Hare, I know John Landis’ film was held up before release. Were you aware that he was doing the film before you started I Sell The Dead?
“No, I wasn’t aware at all until I saw the trailer. I haven’t seen the movie at all. I’m a big fan of John Landis though so I need to get around to it. But no, when we were making ‘I Sell The Dead’ it seemed like no one had really tapped into the grave robber genre for quite some time. It seemed ripe for pillaging.”
And you beat him to it!
V/H/S. How did you get involved?
“Roxanne Benjamin sent me an email inviting me to submit a treatment. I was kind of vague on what the project was, I just knew it had to be some kind of found-footage idea. They were looking for a slasher segment and had a rough one-page treatment and I took that and ran with it”.
Yours is one of the few shorts that takes place primarily outdoors. How was shooting on location?
“We shot it up at Woodstock, on Larry Fessenden’s farm actually. I’m a good friend of Larry’s so when it came to shooting I knew we could get up there and get into the woods and the river and so on. I think it was originally a two and a half, three day shoot. I went up and filmed a bunch of stuff and brought it back. But then I felt some of it was a little stiff so we picked some stuff up in a more loose fashion. We had workshopped the characters and the scenes enough, so we gave the actors more room to improv.”
One of the things I like about V/H/S (opposed to other found footage movies) is that sh*t actually happens in it. Was that a mandate you were given?
“I think found footage has been around long enough that we’ve begun to realize that sh*t needs to happen and hit the fan. Also the fact that they’re all short segments it was important to [hit the ground running]. I always keep the audience in mind, and I can only speak for my own piece, I kind of wanted to uproot everything and let things get a bit surreal. I’m probably a bigger fan of found footage now than I was a year or two ago, for instance I think the Paranormal Activity movies are really creative. I think it’s a great way of getting stories out there on a smaller budget.”
What’s “Tales From Beyond The Pale” all about?
“It’s a series of audio dramas that I curate and produce. That’s kept myself and my partner Larry Fessenden busy the past year. It’s half hour audio dramas, so that’s always on the go and we’re figuring out how to get a second season of that rolling.”
Any other projects coming up?
“I’m messing around with Larry and a couple of other actors on a project called Roll Over And Die, which is a very very loose improv based workshop with me, a camera and a couple of actors. No one really knows what that project is yet, whether it’s a webisode or a short. But I just want to get out and keep shooting you know. I also have a bunch of scripts that are getting ready to go out.”
V/H/S premieres at the Sundance Film Festival as part of their Midnight Programming tonight, January 22nd.