Cahiers du Horror 14: Director Roundup March 2024

Who will be the next Blair Witch Project team?

Jason Eisener

Robert Rodriguez made Machete (2010) and Machete Kills (2013) based on his trailer for Grindhouse (2007). Eli Roth turned his mock trailer Thanksgiving into a feature, which is currently streaming.

And you know what? That’s exactly what they should have done, but much sooner. They’re brand-name established directors after all. And by the way–Come on Edgar Wright! Let’s get the band back together. Make the feature length Don’t.

It is Jason Eisener, however, who played his cards remarkably well by turning his fake trailer for Grindhouse into his first feature film, Hobo With a Shotgun, way back in 2011, which is about, well, a hobo with a shotgun. Think Falling Down (1993), but it’s Rutger Hauer.

Eisener’s second film Kids vs. Aliens (2023) is currently available for viewing on Shudder–late for director roundup, but I want to cover Eisener anyway. Kids vs. Aliens is about, well, kids versus aliens. The title Kids vs. Aliens sounds like E.T. re-envisioned, but it looks like it’s made for the mature splatter-crowd and should probably be called House Party with Aliens. Some good fun stuff here.

Before Kids came out, he was already working on a wrestling documentary series, Tales from the Territories (2022-). Created by Eisener and Evan Husney, directed by Eisner and Andrew Appelle, and written by Eisner, Husney, Sean K. Robb, Don Cook, and Peter Horton.

Before we continue, we have to introduce two of Eisener’s creative partners, John Davies, mostly a writer, and Rob Cotterrill, who is no couch potato. He has a career as a second unit or assistant director on a long and growing list of movies, including The Lighthouse (2019), Possessor (2020), and Infinity Pool (2023).

Eisener was way ahead of the game by getting the feature length Hobo out before the more established directors, but let’s look at him and his partners some more. Eisener, Davies, and Cotterrill wrote the “Hobo” short that became the trailer in Grindhouse. Eisener and Cotterrill then wrote the classic Christmas horror short film “Treevenge” (2008), (which pairs well with “Fist of Jesus” for holiday viewing—finally, I mentioned “Fist of Jesus” in an article!). “Treevenge” is about, well, trees and revenge. The short is about Christmas trees who start attacking humans. It’s glorious and should be added to anybody’s yearly Christmas horror movie marathon.

Eisener also directed the “Y is for Youngbuck” segment of ABCs of Death (2012). He directed and with John Davies wrote the “Slumber Party Alien Abduction” segment in V/H/S/2 (2013). From there Davies wrote and Eisener directed the Hobo feature, while Eisener directed and they cowrote Kids vs. Aliens

There is even more that makes me want to keep an eye on Eisener. He was executive producer for one of my favorite films, Turbo Kid (2015), and edited the Roxanne Benjamin-directed “Siren” segment from Southbound (2015). Not a lot of news yet on his upcoming film, with the working title of Untitled Underwater Jason Eisener Film. I see a lot of phrases associated with the project: haunted house, POV, but these articles are pretty old. I just hope Untitled Underwater Jason Eisener Film is the final title.

Confirmed from several articles it is a feature length version of his short film “One Last Dive” (2013). Though only a bit over a minute long, it’s damn creepy and claustrophobic, and makes for a good proof of concept short. Just want to keep an eye out for him and his work.

Keep up with Eisener, who is very active on the site formerly known as Twitter, active on YouTube, and fairly active on Instagram.

Roadkill Superstars

The writer slash director super team Roadkill Superstars, unfortunately shortened to RKSS, keeps driving forward. Yoann-Karl Whissell, Anouk Whissell, and François Simard have so far created a legitimate resume of solid films with Turbo Kid (2015) and Summer of ‘84 (2018). (Anybody else noticing the phenomena of team directors in the horror genre the last ten plus years?) They followed that up with We Are Zombies (2023), and Wake Up (2023).

After directing some short films solo and together, they turned one of their short films, T is for Turbo (2011) into the retro-satisfying feature Turbo Kid, about a young man in a post-apocalyptic wasteland who emulates his comic book hero by fighting off the local bad guys, led by 80s icon actor Michael Ironside. How can you not lap that up?

They followed that with Summer of 84 (2018) which seems to share a small growing genre of serial killer coming of age stories like I am Not a Serial Killer (2016), The Clovehitch Killer (2018), and we can’t disregard one single bit the novella Apt Pupil by Stephen King. If you want to read something brutal, that’s it.

For 2023 they made two films. We Are Zombies—not to be confused with We Are Little Zombies (2020)—is about a group of never-do-wells in a zombie outbreak who have to raise money to free their kidnapped grannie, based on the French comic book The Zombies That Ate the World created by Jerry Frissen and Guy Davis, and soon to be available on Screambox from Bloody Disgusting.

The other 2023 film is Wake Up (2023)—not Wake Up (2022). No, I didn’t watch the wrong trailer. You did. Wake Up concerns a group of activists who break into a furniture store guarded by a crazy security guard, a different spin on the home invasion concept.

As recent as an October 2023, The Hollywood News article, RKSS says the follow up to their retro 1980s masterpiece Turbo Kid is in the works, and I am still rooting for it. In the meantime, lookout for Turbo Kid – The Video Game.

Outerminds, the Montreal, Canada-based “independent video game development studio”  ran a helluva successful Kickstarter campaign finishing up in November of 2021 bringing in just about $175,000 of only a $50,000 goal, more than tripling their needs for what they are calling a sequel to the Turbo Kid movie. Release date: April 10, 2024.

The superteam, under the RKSS name, is active on Facebook, and Instagram, and they have a pretty loaded Vimeo page too.

Colin Cairnes and Cameron Cairnes

Next up, Joel Anderson, among others, is executive producing the next film from the Australian team of Colin Cairnes and Cameron Cairnes (see what I mean about team directors?). Anderson wrote and directed the popular Lake Mungo (2008) about a girl whose ghost seems to be haunting her family as they uncover the eerie omens that foretold her death.

The Cairnes brothers wrote and directed 100 Bloody Acres (2012) and Scare Campaign (2016). The former is about a team of fertilizer makers who find another source for their particular product–the 100 bloody acres is people! The 100 bloody acres is people! The latter film, Scare Campaign, is about the crew of a tv show where they scare people. When they bring their next victim to an abandoned asylum, their guest turns the tables and admits he used to work at that asylum. Who’s scaring who here? I need to catch up on this team myself.

The latest Anderson-produced Cairnes and Cairnes film is Late Night with the Devil (2023) which is out in theaters as of this writing. The story concerns a 1977 live tv broadcast of a late-night talk show airing on Halloween night where the guests include a parapsychologist and a girl who survived the mass suicide of a Satanic church.

Nice to notice there’s a little growing sub-genre of recorded live from tv horror that includes Ghost Watch (1992) currently on Shudder, Chris LaMartina’s WNFU Halloween Special (2013), its sequel Out There Halloween Mega Tape (2022), and Creepshow season 2 episode 1 Public Television of the Dead (2021), where Ted Raimi plays himself trying to get a Road Show-style appraisal on the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis book from the Evil Dead films.

Late Night is getting a lot of online buzz at the moment. Let’s hope it lives up to it.

Oklahoma Ward and Nicole Alonso

Last up is the amazing low budget claustrophobia nightmare Crawl or Die (2014) and not its sequel but sequels—cross your fingers. This terror-filled sci-fi horror starts with a military team rescuing the last fertile human from a planet that turns out to be inhabited by something that starts killing them off. Any more summary would spoil it. Please take a gander at this one, on Tubi at the moment.

The director/actor team of Oklahoma Ward and Nicole Alonso under the business moniker Backyard Films started a Kickstarter campaign for a Crawl or Die sequel, but the goal was not reached by June of 2021, having only raised about 12.6 thousand of a $20,000 goal. Granted, this was about fifteen months after the pandemic started. Did I just write “only raised … 12.6 thousand”? That’s a lot of money.

They bounced right back that August with a successful campaign for the postproduction funds for “Crawl or Die Sequel (Series)” raising nearly $12,000 of a $9000 goal. Let me get this right. Not only did they raise the money, but the sequel, apparently, was already in the can. And not only that, but in the written introduction of the campaign Ward says, “TANK is not back for just one storyline – not two storylines… nope – we’ve been filming night and day for a solid year!”

Hell, they even raised money with a car wash back in August of 2021. Keep an eye for these two and look out for the sequels to Crawl or Die. They have some behind the scenes shorts up for the sequel on YouTube.

They’re both active on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram under their names, and they have a website, and a movie page on Facebook. Covering all bases.

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