Exclusive Interview with Michael Hurst

Posted by: Elaine
Elaine had a chance to talk with Michael Hurst who has a creepy film called Room 6 coming and is also attached and is directing House of the Dead 2. First off I want to introduce Elaine. She is new on our team and will be conducting regular interviews, reviews, etc. So look for lots of great stuff from her. Without further ado, here is her interview with Michael Hurst

Michael Hurst.  Remember that name.  Especially all of you horror fans, as I predict Mr. Hurst will be the next "big thing" on the horror horizon.  I spoke with him recently about his two forthcoming horror films, "House of the Dead 2 – Dead Aim" and "Room 6" and they both sound like definite "must-sees" for all aficionados of the dark and dreadful.

A very pleasant 32-year old, originally from England who now makes his home in Los Angeles, Michael surprised me right off the bat when he admitted that he had absolutely no formal film training.  That he and his younger brother, Andy, who is currently a screenwriter, having done "Wild Things 2" and "Vampires: The Turning", started making movies in their parents’ backyard in England and by the time Michael was 23 and his brother 22, they had completed the film "Project: Assassin" which they literally handed out to "anyone wearing a suit" at the Cannes Film Festival.  While they lived in a tent. 

The film was brought to the attention of producer Roland Emmerich, at the time in the midst of the insanity that was "Independence Day", but he was impressed enough to invite the two young men to Hollywood to work as interns.  After putting in his time, Michael finally got the opportunity, courtesy of producer Ash Shah, to helm his first feature film, "New Blood" (1999).  Now, after that film and the British crime comedy "Baby Juice Express" (2004), Michael is readying himself for the release of two horror movies, one of which is the sequel to the much maligned "House of the Dead" and the other the sinister sounding "Room 6".  But I will let Michael allay any fears fans might have about seeing a sequel to HOTD.

In my conversation about HOTD 2, Michael was quick to point out that this film is completely different from Uwe Boll’s original.  His comparison was "not to denigrate the original ‘Alien’, which is a completely amazing film, but HOTD 2 is more like James Cameron’s ‘Aliens’ as it is an action picture; we have the Army infiltrating a college campus (filmed at East Los Angeles College in Monterey Park) which has been overrun by zombies, trying to find Patient X, the one person not infected." Actress Ellie Cornell returns from the original as Jordan Casper but now she is Corporal Casper, one of the military assigned to find this Patient X.  Sid Haig ("House of 1000 Corpses", "The Devil’s Rejects") is also in the film but you won’t find any Captain Spaulding.   Here he plays a scientist, Professor Curien, and Michael said Sid was wonderful to work with as he had so many "Old Hollywood" stories to tell and he was so easy to direct.

Michael’s DP also came with a lot of "Old (Horror) Hollywood" stories – Raymond Stella, who worked with John Carpenter on "Halloween", "The Fog" and "The Thing", to name just a few.  And the makeup and special effects were achieved by the amazing Robert Hall and Jason Collins of Almost Human, Inc. – the fellows responsible for the horrors in Alex Turner’s "Dead Birds" (a film which Michael admitted to me he really enjoyed although he originally bought it because of his previous connection with "Dead Birds" producer Ash Shah).

As he said he considered HOTD 2 a traditional zombie movie, I asked him what kind of zombies could viewers expect – the shambling George Romero-style zombies or the fast Zack Snyder ones.  His reply was intriguing.  He said that, from a distance, the zombies are your traditional George Romero shamblers BUT once they catch a whiff of "dinner", they become like "sharks in a feeding frenzy".  Just out of control.  Sounds good to me.

Lion’s Gate has purchased the rights to HOTD 2 but, as of this interview, Michael had no idea of when the film will be released but hopes it will be later this year.

For his second, and less well-publicized film, "Room 6", Anchor Bay will be releasing the film theatrically in early 2006 as only it’s second theatrical film.  Starring Christine Taylor ("Dodgeball", "The Brady Bunch Movie") and Jerry O’Connell ("Scream 2", "Crossing Jordan"), the plot revolves around a horrific hospital and what happens when Amy (Taylor) and Lucas (O’Connell) go there in search of loved ones who were taken there after being involved in terrible accidents. 

And apparently, as a child, Amy’s father was treated there, in the titular Room 6, and whatever happened so traumatized her that she is still deeply troubled and must now face her fears when she realizes that her fiancé has been taken to this SAME hospital.  One she had hoped had been torn down years ago, due to the horrors that occurred there.  According to Michael, there are ghosts and demons a-plenty in the film, including one played by Kane Hodder, everyone’s favorite Jason Voorhees, and the hospital used in the film, Linda Vista Community Hospital, a very creepy place anyway, had it’s basement used as Freddy Krueger’s boiler room in the "Nightmare on Elm Street" films.  And Michael said they used the basement as well.  Excellent atmosphere.

Michael explained that "Room 6" is a much more plot-driven film of psychological horror, written, he explained, because of his own intense phobia of hospitals.  And, as with HOTD 2, Michael was able to use Raymond Stella as his DP and the Almost Human, Inc. crew for his special makeup effects.  He was surprised to discover that his leading lady, Christine Taylor, who was pregnant through the filming of "Room 6", was a HUGE horror movie fan and said she spent a lot of time talking with Raymond Stella about all the John Carpenter movies he had worked on.  Michael himself said one of the crew brought a hockey mask onto the set one day and he had someone snap a photo of him with "Jason Voorhees" for his personal collection.

According to Michael, "Room 6" was guerrilla filmmaking at its "best" as they only had 20 days in February and March of this year as well as a minuscule $1.5 million dollar budget to make the film but he also said that he had a very dedicated and enthusiastic cast and crew (including Chloe Moretz, currently starring in "The Amityville Horror" and "HOTD 2"’s Ellie Cornell).  He also told me that there should be a promo for "Room 6" on the Cinefantastique website very soon (www.cfq.com), as they are the production company behind the film.  He is also in the preliminary stages of his next film but he wouldn’t divulge anything other than to tell me it will be another horror movie.  I asked him if he was afraid of being "typecast" as a horror director and he responded by saying that if he could have a career like John Carpenter, he would be a happy man.

On that note, I had to ask him one last VERY important question.  What are his favorite horror movies?  He immediately responded with "The Thing", Gore Verbinski’s "The Ring" and that he’s looking forward to "Star War III: The Revenge of the Sith" and "Underworld: Revolution".  But his all-time favorite scariest movie?  "Jaws".  I hear you Michael.

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