It’s two straightforward guys like Bobby Roe and Zack Andrews that can help inspire the film industry with their horror film franchise sequel “The Houses October Built 2.”
In a disappointing year for films, horror movies seem to be rising above things with the likes of “It” being the wild ride of the summer. After their last film “The Houses October Built” (based on a pseudo-documentary in 2011 of the same name), director/co-writer Roe and producer/co-writer Andrews made a sequel that came out September 22. Steve Schneider produced both films with Andrews (Schneider also produced “Split” and the “Insidious” and “Paranormal Activity” franchises).
Meeting in high school, Roe and Andrews clicked with a love of haunted houses. However, they wanted to appeal to not just the horror fans but those who might be a bit freaked out about the genre (like this journalist who is adverse to gore). “Houses” is more a throwback to Hitchcockian films of the past, so of course there’s a twist – and I won’t say more about the film than that.
Moviehole: How did you get into the business?
Bobby Roe: I was fortunate to be offered a baseball scholarship at UCLA (Roe was an All-American pitcher at UCLA), but since I was five years old, I wanted to do film. I was going to Texas at LSU and then UCLA came in at the last minute, it’s one of the best film schools and I could double up on baseball (majors). After baseball was finished I was offered free agency with the Rangers. I have a lot of friends who are still playing but I always liked film. Zack Snyder got me my SAG card from being a stunt double (he doubled for Roger Clemens in Snyder’s “Rocket Unit” Cingular Commercial). If you don’t throw a strike in a film, you could cost the film a lot of money.
Zack (Andrews) and I co-wrote 15 scripts over 10 year period. The “Paranormal” film and those other kind of films were all the trend at the time, but what we wanted was to see what humans beings do to other human beings. I’m not afraid of vampires, werewolves or haunted houses, but about what people do to other people.
Zack Andrews: We wanted you to have fun in this film. We liked practical effects more – what I hate most is CGI, if you can avoid some of that stuff and do what they did in the early ‘80s instead. We wanted to make people believe what they are saying and want to be part of that world or are in that world.
Bobby Roe: The original version of the movie opened for Eli Roth, he was getting a horror director award for the decade at the Shock Fest Film Festival, so we had a sold-out crowd; the audience went in blind. Me and Zack will never forget the energy in the room.
Moviehole: How did you two meet?
ZA: We went to high school together and we went to haunted houses for Halloween. We hope people do this too. We had a map of houses to go look at. We did that together and it inspired us to make this film.
BR: When we were coming up with the concept, it was how does a tree make a sound in forest, what is the Halloween version of that, have you ever seen a dead body in a haunted house? Maybe someone dropped a road kill in there or a body part in there, you never know what you are seeing? I’ve touched things that felt real. You’d never know it.
Moviehole: How many haunted houses have you been to?
BR: We’ve been to over 100 haunted houses. For the film we were brought over to talk to haunted house owners in UK, we got to talk to them about how they do things differently in Europe.
ZA: We went for ScareCON (UK) in July and we went through an experience called “The Generation of Z,” they celebrate scaring people 365 days a year over there. Halloween started off over there with carved turnips and pumpkins, it started in Europe, so it’s funny to watch it come full circle back to the U.S.
Moviehole: How have you been received by fans of horror and the regular audience?
BR: It’s both, horror fans and those who just like taking their child out to trick-or-treating. The horror audience has been great, we are very grassroots and their enthusiasm has kept us alive. You got to rely on people talking to their friends for our film.
Moviehole: Is there really something out there like the “Blue Skeleton” in the films (a group that takes haunting to a new level)?
BR: Every year we keep finding new things out there. What if you did find all the best scare people and haunted house owners and brought them together? They’re everywhere and could be anybody, just like the Blue Skeleton.
ZA: Our film was road trip fun, the vibe is that you are actually with us and hopefully that works for you. BR: We found that people who generally wouldn’t watch horror like it, it’s more tension-based and fun, people take it in as an adventure. We ended up making it more mainstream the way we did it with a bigger budget and better sound, and we had planned for multiple movies.
Moviehole: What has been the biggest challenge yet in your careers?
BR: It’s exactly that if you’ve never thought about it before (horror film idea) it’s hard to justify the idea to people. Like saying it’s “Matrix” meets “Diehard,” that’s a formula that’s pretty successful. What fascinates us is a movie like “Inception” which I don’t think we’ll see again in our lifetimes. It was too smart and too layered for people (studios) and Warner Brothers gave Christopher Nolan carte blanche and “Inception” made more money than “Batman.” That’s been our greatest hurdle. It’s trying to be grounded in these movies and how we can’t get out of it (bad situation) in a supernatural way.
ZA: Having persistence and patience. For a decade Bobby and I didn’t make any movies, but you have to say, “this is what I want to do with my life.” I think keep after what you want and with technology today, the big hurdle is money, giving someone a hundred thousand or a million when they haven’t proven themselves. You have to have family and friends be supportive and push, push, push — don’t give up.
Moviehole: What’s your favorite method of writing?
BR: We are big on index cards and hitting the right beats and the right time; it’s easy to go off on a tangent but there’s a formula on scripts. Then Zack and I go back and forth on the pages, sometimes someone is better on a certain character.
ZA: Sometimes going back to index cards is helpful if you have an issue, it’s a piece of unique advice.
Moviehole: What is your advice to newbie writers/advice about breaking in?
BR: There is no right way, but we’ve always prided ourselves on story, like someone leaving a movie and saying “I’ve never thought about that before.” There’s a lot of people with good ideas. Horror movies are good because it can be mainstream where it doesn’t need a name actor to be made, it can solely be based on a great idea. A horror film allows for that loophole.
Moviehole: Who do you admire as a writer/director?
BR: I love anything David Fincher does, I like Ben Affleck’s move from actor to director. James Wan and Hitchcock and Wes Craven I liked growing up and watching more modern guys tackle it (horror).
ZA: I like “Don’t Breathe” where it was great filmmaking and it kept twisting, Bobby and I really enjoyed it. Or the “Evil Dead” remake, it was super gory. I liked “Nightmare on Elm Street” because if you fell asleep you could get killed in that film, I thought it was a brilliant concept. They didn’t deal with a big budget back then.
Moviehole: Do you think you’ll stay in the horror drama or branch out into different genres?
ZA: We want to see where this will lead us in horror, we also do have some other scripts and ideas, a children’s book and an R-rated comedy we will try to get off ground. But we will stay in this space with horror films, we have lots of ideas and want to improve our craft that way.
Moviehole: What about new projects?
ZA: We should be shooting a new project, the producers of the “Walking Dead” brought us on to do a rewrite on a script.