Mick Garris Talks Post Mortem, Happy Town, and More
On February 10th one of horror’s most beloved storytellers, Mick Garris, is giving fans a unique experience with his new FEARnet series, Post Mortem with Mick Garris. Garris, a lifelong horror fan and industry veteran, will sit down with some of the genre’s biggest names to talk about their new projects as well as to discuss what they love about horror.
His first guests will include Rick Baker, John Carpenter, Wes Craven, Tobe Hooper, and Robert Englund.
Dread Central caught up with Garris today to talk about Post Mortem, a few of his past projects, and what he’s got lined up.
“How the idea for Post Mortem started was that I originally wanted to do this series but tie it into the 'Masters of Horror' series for Showtime,” explained Garris. “Showtime really didn’t respond to it so we looked at a few different avenues over the last couple of years and then decided that FEARnet would be a great outlet for this kind of show.”
The horror maestro is quick to acknowledge that in these new times of digital content and ever-shrinking attention spans, the Internet is definitely part of the future for filmmakers. Garris said, “I like the interactive component of doing a web series with FEARnet. We have half-hour interviews that will run on the FEARnet VOD channel, and then there are the webisodes, which will be three to five minutes each. We made sure to include exclusive content on both so that the fans really get to go inside the industry with us.”
Garris went on to discuss how Post Mortem is almost like his career coming full circle. “Thirty years ago, before I was making films, I would do these 15-minute interviews as part of the Fantasy Film Festival with filmmakers before we would show their movies. I always think horror fans enjoy getting that kind of insight into the movies they love,” Garris said.
Garris added, “How Post Mortem is different than what I did 30 years ago is that back then I was just a fan. Now I am a fan and a filmmaker as well so I can sit down and talk to other people working in the horror industry about what we experience making films and our mutual love for the genre.”
I asked Garris to talk about his first guest on the February 10th show, legendary special effects guru Rick Baker, who just worked on The Wolfman.
“I first met Rick while working my first industry job answering phones for Star Wars,” explained Garris. “He had created the Cantina Creatures, and from the first time we spoke, we immediately hit it off. Rick’s a very honest and forthright guy so he was a great interview. He feels pretty good about The Wolfman. It’s an epic Universal monster movie that is still a period piece, and he’s excited because you just don’t get movies like that anymore,” Garris added.
While Garris is taking on a lot of horror’s heavyweights for the first run of Post Mortem, he’s definitely open to speaking to the new generation of genre filmmakers if FEARnet decides to continue his program. “We wanted to start off Post Mortem with the most familiar names in the genre, but I definitely would love to feature some of the 'young Turks' of horror in upcoming episodes if we can. There are a lot of exciting new voices out there working in the industry,” Garris said.
With the 50th anniversary of the original Psycho coming up this year and his appearance in Robert Galluzzo’s forthcoming documentary, The Psycho Legacy, I took the opportunity to ask Garris about his involvement with Psycho IV, which is celebrating its own 20th anniversary this year as well.
Garris said, “I am still very proud of Psycho IV. We shot that in four weeks for Showtime, and even though it was a difficult and complicated shoot, it was a great moment in my career. It’s held up over the years and I think shows that we definitely made the film in the spirit of Hitchcock. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 20 years since we worked on it.”
One project that Garris was involved with that didn’t fare as well was the short-lived NBC series “Fear Itself.” NBC’s controversial handling of the program was a subject that Garris was not shy about discussing. “There are a number of reasons 'Fear Itself' failed even though it had tremendous potential,” explained Garris. “We did 13 scripts right before the writers' strike, and once the strike began, I had to step out to support the strike. So NBC brought in a bunch of non-union writers to do re-writes, and the stories suffered for that very reason. That really changed what we wanted that series to be, and I think that’s why 'Masters of Horror' succeeded and 'Fear Itself' didn’t.”
“It’s much easier to do a horror anthology on a pay channel where the directors can do whatever they like on the screen, but with NBC everything had to be white-washed for network TV and directors lost creative control. Sometimes you need a story with teeth, and NBC took away the teeth of 'Fear Itself'.”
With production gearing up shortly on his latest directorial effort, Bag of Bones (which STYD learned today is being turned into a mini-series instead of a feature film as originally planned), Garris also talked about his upcoming directorial stint on the ABC show “Happy Town.” Garris said, “I hadn’t done episodic television before where I was just a director for hire so it was a unique experience. It’s so early in the series that they hadn’t established a storytelling style so I could come in and really do my own thing. It was a lot of fun, and it just shows that you can always learn new things.”
With the glut of horror remakes plaguing our genre, I wanted to talk to an industry veteran about what he thinks the state of the horror industry is and if he sees a light at the end of the tunnel.
“I do think there will always be good horror stories to be told,” explained Garris. “Right now horror is in a creative downturn with a lot of these remakes. But it’s not unthinkable to do a remake well. The Fly and The Thing are two of my favorite films, and both of those were remakes. I think for a remake to be done well, it has to come from a place of passion, not just a studio exec that wants to cash in on name recognition.”
“I think there are exciting things on the horizon for horror like The Wolfman or Adam Green’s Frozen. Just like zombies, the horror genre always rises from the dead,” Garris added.
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