‘I Need You Dead!’ Is A Bizarre Psychedelic Experience [Giallo Julian’s Indie Spotlight]

I Need You Dead!

When it comes to filmmaking, a lot of dedication and teamwork is required. I feel like we can all agree on that, right? It takes a village to raise a squalling infant of a concept into a strong, strapping feature film ready to set out into the world. It’s a tortured metaphor, but making films is pretty torturous, so it’s in fitting company.

Point being, creating movies is hard work and often the cause of huge amounts of stress for everyone involved. Not to say it isn’t worth it — many great films have bubbled out of the cauldron of adversity! Jaws, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, The Evil Dead, Carnosaur… okay, maybe not Carnosaur. I’m going to keep mentioning it until the powers that be finally give in, though (pretty please).

Anyway, while all those mentioned definitely had their hardships, they were still on the “higher-budgeted” side of things. The Evil Dead‘s budget was $350,000, which isn’t much in terms of Hollywood filmmaking at the time, but it wasn’t incredibly small, either. Same goes for The Texas Chain Saw Massacre ($80,000 – $140,000) — just to help put things into perspective. That said, let’s scale it back even further.

Basket Case analysis courtesy of In Praise of Shadows

When I think “indie horror filmmaking”, the name that keeps popping into my mind is Frank Henenlotter, and for good reason. Just look at his first feature-length flick, Basket Case — a production held together by ABC Gum and pocket change. The minor obstacle of having, professionally speaking, no money didn’t deter Henelotter from finishing the film, though.

Oh no, he was willing to do whatever it took to get it done: film at the Statue of Liberty without a permit, dumpster dive for set props, walk in high-heels to record foley, have his producer’s eight-year-old daughter puppet a murderous monster — he and his crew went the distance, and then some.

But what does that have to do with anything? This article isn’t about Basket Case, or Basket Case 2, or Basket Case 3. It’s about Rocko Zevenbergen’s latest venture, I Need You Dead! To which I say… you’re correct, it sure is.

You see, here’s the thing — I Need You Dead! is not an easy film to talk about. At least for me, because any in-depth conversation would plunge immediately into “spoiler territory”, and I feel that would do the flick a disservice. I thought I knew exactly what I was getting into when I settled down with my (eighth) cup of coffee, ready to watch it for the first time. Shockingly, I was completely wrong. It was something else entirely. I assume this is what Zevenbergen was going for… so BRAVO!

Watching the trailer, you can see Henenlotter’s influence being worn on its blood-drenched sleeve, bringing to mind Basket Case and (more so) Brain Damage. Immediately, I started to develop a mental picture of what I was in for: an “outcast loser” (played by Estevan Muñoz, who I’ve featured before) takes a bunch of drugs and a monster starts following him around, trying to get him to do bad things. Whether or not the monster is just a hallucination would be up in the air. But the amount of gore and horrifically ludicrous deaths would not. Hilarity, as usual, would ensue.

Sounds about right, doesn’t it?

Wrong… well, not entirely. That’s definitely part of it, but not the main idea. Again, I find this film difficult to discuss because I REALLY don’t want to spoil anything. So, how do I go about this, then?

Okay, I think I’ve got it — stress. Burnout. Biting more than you can chew and becoming overwhelmed. Not being able to manage it and pushing away anyone who tries to help. Refusing criticism, lashing out instead of accepting it, and using it to help refine your work. Believing that the art is more important than your crew, your actors, your friends. These are the takeaways — the warnings — left with me when the credits began to roll, very well dealt with across the runtime.

The beauty and dangers of indie filmmaking are what I feel this film is about, packaged with some of the most engaging creativity I’ve seen in a long time. Despite the heavy subject matter that gradually reveals itself as the film goes on, it never stops with the fun imagery and ideas, even to the bitter end. From the sound, to the visuals, to the acting, Zevenbergen and his crew continue to find ways to keep “a” quality to it all — for better or worse.

I’ve said so much, yet so little about the actual content of the film, which feels… appropriate to me, funnily enough. This is a flick you should go in blind to, something to be experienced rather than told about. Even if it’s not your cup of blood — er… tea, I mean —  I think you’ll leave the film with some perspectives you might’ve not had before. Or maybe you’ll have a completely different viewpoint than me. Who knows! That’s the beauty of art! It’s all subjective and everyone can come to their own conclusions! That being said, this film is definitely not for everyone, but what is?

I Need You Dead! is not something I’d find myself watching on a regular basis. But I do highly respect the level of inventiveness that went into making it.

If anything I’ve said interested you even the slightest bit, be sure to check out the film digitally here (or for free if you have a Vudu account) or physically here. Let me know what you think about it!

Until next time…

Ciao, friends!

Giallo Julian’s Twitter – Facebook



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