“THE ATTIC EXPEDITIONS”
Housebound horror finds a home
It could have ended up being the self-financed movie that gathered dust in the attic, but nearly five years after principal photography began, fright fans will finally be able to explore director Jeremy Kasten’s creepy horror film The Attic Expeditions (Fango #205). The movie hits video June 18 through a joint distribution arrangement between First Look and Blockbuster’s DEJ releasing arm.
“This deal is great for us,” says Kasten. “Not only does it guarantee that the movie will see the light of day in the U.S., which is becoming more and more rare for small movies, but it also guarantees that it will be in Blockbuster, which is nice.”
The psychological chiller stars Andras Jones as an amnesiac mental patient who isn’t quite sure the patients around him (including Seth Green) are who they pretend to be. Most ominously, he is warned to keep away from a mysterious purple attic door which hides a deep, dark secret. Throw in the suspicious Dr. Ek (Re-Animator’s Jeffrey Combs), and you have more than enough reasons to stay out of shock therapy.
Although Kasten admits that he would have preferred his film to have a wide big-screen release, Attic at least scored a few screens in larger cities this past spring for limited midnight runs. “There is so much theatrical product out there that isn’t even seeing the light of day, featuring bigger stars than we have,” Kasten says. “Independent companies are being squeezed out because there is not enough time for theaters to schedule all these films. It gets harder and harder.” Part of the appeal of going with Blockbuster, as opposed to a traditional distribution company, was the video chain’s deep pockets and wide visibility. “It worked out, because we could actually return the investment that people put into this movie,” says Kasten. “Many companies that came to us were bigger, but they would have put the movie out there just like product.”
The most surprising aspect For the director is that Attic will be released intact (and retain its original title), something he wasn’t sure would be possible. “We were pretty certain that when the movie was picked up for domestic distribution, they would change the title,” he says.
“The fact that Blockbuster kept the title, which isn’t a typical horror-movie name, and did not recut the film at all—we will forever be grateful.”
Oddly enough, it is overseas where the film will end up with a moniker change. Kasten submitted a list of alternate titles such as Terror Behind the Purple Door, Attic of the Doomed, The Attic That Screams and Satan’s Attic, but the foreign sales agent settled on Horror in the Attic. ‘They insisted that Attic Expeditions wouldn’t translate well and that no one would know what it meant,’ Kasten says. “We really wanted a title that sounded like those old Italian horror movie translations—something like The Terror Upstairs or The Horror Above Us. Horror in the Attic is like calling an action movie Explosions Happening in the Street.”
While Kasten has managed to parlay Attic’s success into landing an agent, he still hasn’t set up his next deal. And after raising the money the old-fashioned way his first time out, he hopes to move up the financial ladder while maintaining the same amount of control. “I wouldn’t necessarily want to do it the way I did [on Attic],” he admits. “Making a movie by borrowing from family and Friends and not having all the budget in the bank from start to finish—I don’t think I could put myself through that again. But going the independent route would be great, because for this type of Film, it’s a lot easier to make a good movie that way.”
—Anthony C. Ferrante