Like most fans, director Robert Hall found watching horror films to be an avenue of escapism. “I immediately found a connection with horror, especially since I didn’t have the greatest childhood,” said Hall. “This was all way before the age of social networking so I was living in the middle of ‘Podunk’ and everyone around me just thought I was some Satanic weirdo.”
“Horror is this beautiful, violent art form and I guess I just always felt my love for it burning deep inside me early on. I always had a fascination with horror. When most people were scared or grossed out, I just wanted to figure out how other filmmakers made these things happen on the screen.”
Robert Hall put that fascination to good use early in his life as he focused on effects processes as well as creating masks. When he was in his late teens Hall found out that legendary make-up effects guru Thomas Berman was working on some films near where he was living.
“I drove 350 miles just to get down to the set and had no game plan,” he explains. “I went with no money, no credit card, and I honestly figured I had no chance, but I just knew I had to be there.”
Undaunted by his slim chances, Hall got his opportunity to meet with Berman and showed him his masks. Hall found himself surprised when Berman told him to show up on set the very next day.
Hall said, “It was funny because the office asked me to come in and see them. I thought I was in trouble. Then I get there and they asked me to fill out paperwork and I realized it was so I could get paid. I couldn’t begin to grasp the fact that they were actually going to pay me to work on a movie. Because of this, Tom ended up being a great mentor for me.
When I left the set to head back home, I knew I was not long for ‘that’ world,” Hall further added.
Soon after, Hall ended up moving to California and sleeping on couches for a while. All he had was $80.00 in his pocket and no way to go back home, so failure was not an option. He had no choice but to make it.
“It’s really only now that I realize just how impressive this was because I did it all without a safety net.”
Robert worked on some projects here and there, but thing really began rolling when he started Almost Human Special Makeup EFX. He hadn’t even considered having his own shop when he originally arrived in Los Angeles.
Over the years Almost Human has contributed special effects work to many notable shows like “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel”, and he also worked on the current Fox show “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles”. In addition to TV, Almost Human has lent its talents to numerous genre films including recent (and upcoming) releases like The Crazies, Quarantine, and The Burrowers.
Even though Robert has enjoyed the success he has had with Almost Human, he knew he wanted to step behind the camera.
Hall got his first opportunity to direct in 2004 when he helmed Lighting Bug (review here), a script that he penned based on the trials he faced growing up. After Lightning Bug Hall was ready to take a stab at making a full-blown horror film.
He began working on the script for his newest film, Laid to Rest (reviews here), which comes out on DVD April 21st.
Hall explained, “Laid to Rest was born out of my love for the slasher flicks of the 80s. I wanted to pay homage to them without being slapstick about it. I’ve always loved the creative deaths from the original Friday the 13th movies, and I think a lot of the ‘kills’ these days are missing that spark. They’re empty and boring to me.”
In Laid to Rest Hall created the slick serial killer ChromeSkull, who dons an all-black suit and a chrome plated skull mask. ChromeSkull hunts down random girls in various cities and then documents their captures and deaths via a video camera. Hall wanted to simplify his serial killer by creating a character that was simply about hunting down victims and killing them.
“I love all horror, but I think things have recently gotten too elaborate with films like Captivity or Hostel,” said Hall. “The killing in those films has gotten to be unbelievable and, frankly, costly. What kind of guy would spend all that time, money, and effort just to torture Elisha Cuthbert? It makes no sense to me. I wanted to bring slasher movies back to a guy with a knife.”
When it came time to cast Laid to Rest, Hall immediately brought in his wife, Bobbi Sue Luther, to star as the traumatized lead, known only as ‘The Girl’, who has to face off against ChromeSkull in order to survive.
Hall explained, “I wanted to showcase Bobbi’s acting abilities and give her an opportunity to play a really difficult character that is layered and dealing with a lot of different things all at once. She’s a bombshell so I told her for Laid to Rest that we needed make her look like the girl next door and knock the bombshell right out of her.”
Of course, when you create a horror movie, there’s always bound to be talk about sequels and building a franchise. Hall admits that the thought of bringing ChromeSkull back to inflict more pain.
“I have an outline for a prequel and a sequel just in case,” said Hall. “Bobbi played only one of the women ChromeSkull hunted down so I thought it might be interesting to look at the other women he killed because they have stories, too. I also thought it might be interesting to take a look to see just how and why Bobbi’s character ended up where she did at the beginning of Laid to Rest.”
Hall is currently working on putting the finishing touches on the script for his next project, Old Scratch with Lena Headey and Rob Schneider, and hopes to start filming by the end of the year. Hall is also looking to continue his successful work with Almost Human.
“I love doing special effects and directing films both,” said Hall. “Effects work pays the bills, though, and puts me in a position where I can have the opportunity to make movies. But making movies is my creative fuel since it’s where I can do my own thing. It makes everything in my life before now completely worth it.”
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