An Interview With The Guys Behind THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT
Here at Agents of Geek, I was lucky enough to sit down with Bobby Roe (director/writer) and Zack Andrews (writer) from The Houses October Built. Remember when we reviewed the Blu-ray? Well, that was just to prepare you guys for this. We talked all things Houses and even answer the question on everybody’s mind: will there be a sequel?!
AoG: I know this film was initially inspired by the documentary of the same name… what originally inspired you to create that documentary?
Bobby: Honestly, our love for Halloween and haunted houses. We decided to kind of tackle a subject matter that has surprisingly never been put on screen before. It was part of our childhood, the haunted house world, and we started to do more research, finding out that over 30 million people go a year. We spent eight billion dollars on Halloween, just as Americans alone. That just seemed like it begged and screamed for a story about it. So we thought, why not kind of place ourselves in those environments and write a narrative around that. So hopefully Halloween fans, like us, out there have something to watch each year.
AoG: I know after I watched it, I went to a few haunted houses and I felt more uneasy because of some of the facts brought to light.
Bobby: Good, then we did our job! The haunted industry is impressive and there is a lot of good, smart people, and business men. You know, we highlight some of the bad apples, but there’s bad apples in every occupation. The haunted industry in general is pretty awesome and they do a hell of a job and work a lot more than one month of the year.
AoG: I know, it’s very interesting because you think it’s just sort of this one month a year type of job, but it’s a lot longer than that.
Zach: Oh yeah! Some of these people work 10 months a year. To build up and to clean up and the thinking of new ideas and adding on… it’s really crazy.
AoG: What inspired you guys to turn your documentary into a feature film?
Bobby: Well what actually happened was Steven Schneider called us, who produced Paranormal Activity and Insidious and he was just a big fan of it and thought that it was a really unique way to do found footage that gave meaning to do it. To make a movie that’s real. Actually use real people, real places, until it isn’t and you can’t really tell me when that change happens. And then it was just the opportunity to go into a studio and use professional sound and that kind of stuff. To be able to take it to the next level.
AoG: I know the film featured some real haunts, how was it traveling across the US going from haunted house to haunted house?
Bobby: It was a lot of fun! That was a big part of the movie, being in an RV and just being in those close courters, I think the RV almost became a sixth character. It’s such a part of the experience and just being in that environment and being able to go from haunt to haunt like that and really experience the personalities in each one. Hopefully onscreen, that comes across. But each one of these really has it’s own heartbeat and soul in the way it tries to scare you.
AoG: Do you have a personal favorite out of all of those different haunts?
Bobby: It really wasn’t about having a favorite haunt. It was more about having favorite things about each haunt and I know that sound un-politically correct, but that’s true. Each haunt had something that stuck with me. Whether it was a certain effect- in the movie when Brandy gets the shotgun blast into the zombies head, it’s a 4D experience, so she’s looking at that and actually gets sprayed with whatever kind of liquid you wanna think that may be. But you can see it in her face, she didn’t expect, had no idea what was happening, and I’ll always remember that. There’s places like that, or there’s rooms like that in every haunt, where there’s something that sticks with me.
Zack: Well, I’ll give you a less political answer. We actually did a southern haunt press tour. Where we went to a bunch of the cities all through the southern US and went to different haunts along the way, and we had an RV, it was this October, right before the movie came out, and we ended up going to a place off the beaten path in New Mexico and we ended up getting hoods pulled over our head and shotguns pulled on us. That was part of the experience. I think they may have upped it a little bit cause they knew us as the cast, but I’m not going to lie to you, it was pretty frightening. They said they’d had 29 people piss their pants and had to be escorted out. So there’s a couple of them out there that are teetering on the line of what’s allowed and what’s not.
AoG: Wow! That’s amazing! I know about the haunted house in San Diego, McKamey Manor, where it’s really intense and you can’t leave… wow.
Bobby: Yeah, there’s a couple places and what’s cool is were noticing that they’re adapting to their environments, their regions. So detroit’s using old sky scrapers that businesses have disappeared from. Seattle, they’re up in tree houses. So everybody has just gotten really creative and we kind of wanted to highlight that because we just touched on the tip of the iceberg. There’s so many people out there doing really really good work.
AoG: That’s just amazing! Halloween’s my favorite holiday and I really appreciated the art of haunted houses, so I really appreciate it!
Bobby: Well, I’m glad to hear that! We’re excited to show the original documentary on the Blu-ray.
AoG: I actually just watched it! I got to watch it last night. It was so good! I actually didn’t realize all he facts were true at first… it freaked me out, haha. Now, I must ask, where did the idea for the porcelain girl come from? Because she scares the hell out of me and is the freakiest thing I’ve seen all year.
Bobby: We wanted to try to use people where, uh, you could have seen them at your local haunt. We didn’t want to use-there’s Friday the 13th… Nightmare on Elm Street type of haunted houses out there, we wanted to kind of touch on the places where it’s a generic costume in some form, but it still has its own uniqueness to it. But the biggest thing is maybe you’ve seen her before or maybe some variation of her. We thought that was a little bit scarier than costumes where we’ve seen guys in hockey masks.
AoG: That was freaky! Oh my gosh.
Bobby: We hope she’s a little bit scarier than that other plastic doll that came out this year.
AoG: Definitely. One last question, do you have any plans for a sequel or do you wish to leave as it is?
Bobby: A lot of people have been asking about that which were happy about. Yes, we definitely want to explore the different regions. There’s definitely the blue skeleton still out there. There’s a lot of different interpretations out there of the ending. Which we like and that was the idea. We wanted it that way. So there’s a much bigger story to tell. Halloween itself was a european holiday, we commercialized it, now they’re taking it back. It’s become global. And so it’s something we’d really really like to explore because we tried to drop a little bit of mythology along the way, to give you a little bit of bread crumbs to a bigger story. Because frankly, as I’m concerned, you never saw a guy with a blue skull, did you?
AoG: I don’t think so, no.