Filmmakers can find inspiration in a variety of ways, whether it be a real-life incident motivating their storytelling or merely a lightning bolt of a good idea striking them at the right time. In the case of the upcoming anthology horror film Nightmare Cinema, producer Mick Garris claimed it all came together thanks to a wealth of talented filmmakers enjoying one another's company at a dinner party.
"I've been putting together a series of dinners ever since ... Actually, it was the birth of [Showtime series] Masters of Horror, came out of these dinners I put together for horror filmmakers," Garris shared with ComicBook.com. "The first one we did, like 15 years ago, had about a dozen people, and then the last one we did a year or so ago had about 35, and all of them are horror directors who've had feature films out. I met some of these guys at these dinners."
More than merely bringing together available talent, Nightmare Cinema features an impressive array of filmmakers who are both newcomers and established icons.
"Ryuhei Kitamura I had met at a screening of Midnight Meat Train. I thought, 'This guy has an amazing vision.' Then I saw Versus, and I was convinced even more so," Garris recalled. "Alejandro Brugués, John Landis had brought him to one of the dinners. He's a wonderful guy. Then I saw Juan of the Dead at a couple of festivals around the world and was blown away by that. Then David Slade, I mean, who didn't love Hard Candy or 30 Days of Night, or especially the Hannibal stuff I had seen was just mind-boggling. He directed the pilot of Hannibal and several key episodes. Joe Dante needs no introduction. Just an icon of the field."
Once the filmmakers came together, their approach to the film embraced an independent filmmaking spirit, with each vignette in the final product not having to meet specific studio criteria.
Garris continued, "These were all people I was friendly with, and all people who wanted the opportunity to do something on their own, without having to go through the studio process and bland everything down, and take all of the meetings and everybody lifting their leg to leave a yellow stain on your script, you know? So it came together."
From the get-go, Garris wanted to embrace all of the filmmakers' ambitious ideas to create the feeling of letting "the lunatics run the asylum." Additionally, the project allowed Garris to highlight perspectives on horror from around the globe.
"The original concept was to do each one in a different country, with a director from that country specializing in the genre, but it has morphed over various incarnations that I had in mind into what it is now," Garris pointed out. "It's still international, although we shot the whole movie in Los Angeles, California. One of the directors is from the UK, one of them is from Cuba, one of them is from Japan, and then two of us are the token Americans."
In the film, a series of down-on-their-luck individuals enter the decrepit and spine-chilling Rialto theater, only to have their deepest and darkest fears brought to life on the silver screen by The Projectionist (Mickey Rourke) – a mysterious, ghostly figure who holds the nightmarish futures of all who attend his screenings. By the time our patrons realize the truth, escape is no longer an option. For once the ticket is torn, their fate is sealed at Nightmare Cinema.
The film makes its debut a the Fantasia International Film Festival on Thursday, July 12th.
Stay tuned for details about Nightmare Cinema.