In May of 2007 (just prior to the nation’s economic collapse), this writer visited the set of the Bogner Entertainment and Trailer Park Partners production Trailer Park of Terror, a Southern-fried fright flick directed by country-music video director-turned feature filmmaker Steven Goldmann. Produced by Jonathan Bogner and Ralph Singleton (Pet Semetary) and based on the Imperium Comics of the same name, Trailer Park of Terror premiered the following year at Slamdance ’08, and was released to DVD that October via Summit Entertainment.
Starring Lew Temple and Priscilla Barnes (The Devil’s Rejects) and Nichole Hiltz, Duane Whitaker (Feast), Ed Corbin and Michelle Lee (among others), Trailer Park of Terror, regardless of its playfully sadistic EC Comics-vibe and inspired makeup designs by Todd Tucker, didn’t cause the waves its producers had predicted, and due to such, unfortunately derailed the planned feature franchise and television and comic book series. Perplexing, given the gonzo cocktail of sex, gore and rock n’ roll which is the narrative bread and butter of not only the genre, but which lies at the center of Trailer Park of Terror itself.
This past Sunday, director Goldmann and I had a chance to catch up, and touched on things ranging from the challenges filmmakers now face in our continuing recession and subsequent industry restructuring to the future of Trailer Park of Terror itself, as well as the current status of his other projects, including one he’s collaborating on with filmmaker Jeff Buhler (Insanitarium).
“One thing that I’m excited about is a project called DeadFellas,” said Goldmann, “which is based on a novella by David Whitman (the book is available via Darkside Digital). I met David shortly after I did Trailer Park of Terror, and he was a fan of it, and he had written a book of short stories about ‘inbred horrors.’ I thought there might be some good stories within it for a sequel to Trailer Park, and he sent me DeadFellas and I fell in love with it. At the time I was trying to find a project to do with Ghost House. J.R. Young and I were looking for things, and I sent DeadFellas over to him and he said, ‘Oh my god, this is the best Ghost House/Steven Goldmann project!’”
“It is its own world,” Goldmann clarified (who in the past has found acclaim in video direction, including Metallics’s “2 of One” video and Faith Hill’s “This Kiss”, for which he won top prize with the Country Music Association, Academy of Country Music, and TNN Music City News for Best Video of the Year), when asked if the source material would serve as a sequel to Trailer Park of Terror. “I went out to dinner with a group of horror writers in town, there were maybe twenty of us, and I ended up sitting next to Jeff Buhler who wrote Midnight Meat Train, and I told him about the short story and we both just kept talking about it, and we’ve been working on it ever since. Originally Ghost House was super-interested, and we may go back there. I have the rights to the book. It fits somewhere. It’s like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels meets Clive Barker.”
As for the subject matter of DeadFellas, “There’s a gang-war going on, and two hit-men are sat down by their boss to kill someone in a big mansion out in the country, and what they don’t realize is that there is a curse, and time isn’t working the way that they think it is, and while I don’t have an elevator picture of this, when people read what Jeff and I have written, they get super-exited. It’s got demons and zombies and doppelgangers, and it’s kind of like a record that gets stuck in a groove and then skips back to the beginning.”
“We went very far with that project with Ghost House,” expounded Goldmann on the status of the DeadFellas, “and it may not be over (with them) but everything has changed in the business in the last year, and it has become hard to develop something from scratch if you don’t come in with a big package. But what J.R. and Jeff both fell in love with, is that it would be set up for a DeadFellas 2, in a fun way, and in a way fan-boys would like. I think it’s bigger than just one film, and David Whitman set that up with his story. The short story itself though wasn’t a three-act movie. Jeff and I needed to take the seed of what David had written and find a way to make it work (script-wise), which David just loved. He loves where we are with it. It’s not a little two –million dollar horror film. It’s a movie that will need lots and lots of practical effects and CGI to make it work. I think there is a really indie feel to it, so I’m very, very hopeful (given industry’s return from Sundance of movement) within the next couple of weeks.”
Goldmann’s got more than one iron in the fire, however, a needed methodology in a town where most seem as fearful to green-light a project as they are to pass.
“Of the genre projects that I’m actually in negotiation with a distributor now, with no actors attached, is this really bloody little Appalachian gangster film called Red Devil Lie (website here) (a play on ‘Red Devil Lye,’ slang for the ingredients to crystal meth), which actually pre-dates Trailer Park of Terror, which I had developed with Alan Brewer, who did the music for Trailer Park. There is this insidious organized crime aspect to the project, about a wealthy crime family in Kentucky. It’s not about hillbillies. It’s sort of Walking Tall meets No Country for OId Men. We already have a full catalogue of songs written for the film, and it’s dark and raw. So things are progressing with that.”
In regards to the future of Trailer Park of Terror, “I have a treatment for a sequel written,” said Goldmann. “I keep finding interest. It’s just that since the time the first one was produced, the difference in what people are willing to invest in a horror film has changed. Could I make a sequel for 1.5 million now in Louisiana? Yeah, maybe. Could I get the same cast? Probably not. It’s something that to this day, every few weeks I’ll meet with an investor or a producer that has real interest, and I’m dealing with the comic books guys (from Imperium) directly, and they are game. It’s just that I need to find someone who believes. I spent a great deal of time developing Trailer Park of Terror as a television series (too), and had a lot of fun and creative meetings with that. It wasn’t to be an anthology show, but based on the film’s characters, and was inspired by the short interviews with the characters (that appear in the DVD’s supplemental): the idea that there could be this ongoing business (in which the denizens of the trailer park feast upon wayward travelers), except with more irony. I don’t think the potential of a feature sequel is dead, though.”
“I’m spurned on by the need to feel creative, and the need to overcome obstacles,” concluded the filmmaker, “and there’s nothing like getting out there and pitching and writing and being alive.”
For more on Goldmann, including his plans to meld Marvel Comics’ The Human Fly with its real-life inspiration into what will undoubtedly be a rather interesting counter-culture flick, check out his website here.
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