Cutting his teeth making films for Roger Corman, David Payne now brings us this teens in peril horror film starring Eric Mabius and the one and only Michael Ironside. Will you fear The Reeker?

On the eve of his SXSW 2005 premiere, we spoke to David Payne about his latest horror yarn.

What was it like working with Roger Corman?
“With” is a strong word. When I made a handful of movies for his company, Roger for the most part, had very little interaction with the directors. Roger chose the scripts, titles (often the titles first, then the scripts), principal actors, whittled down the budget to the barest of bones, and then let his underling producers take it from there. Once the Roger imposed shackles were firmly in place and locked, you actually had a bit of freedom to play around.

With that said, my one on one experiences with Roger were hilarious, odd, and staggering in that “I can’t believe I’m here right now with the legend and he’s actually saying these things…” kind of way. He’s almost beyond cliche. Yet he never failed to reveal a brilliant businessman with a finger on the pulse of a world of simple tastes.

What brought about the making of “Reeker”?
It’s the type of horror film I’d like to see. No one seems to be making them fun, smart, and scary. You’ve got the over stylized, too serious, and almost nonsensical PG-13 studio fare, you’ve got the sub-budget direct to the bottom shelf of the video store dribble, you’ve got the popcorn c-movie monster flicks on Sci-Fi — and there isn’t much else in between.

Was there a concentrated effort to separate “Reeker” from the rest of the desert ravers in peril films, or are we just in store for some good, dirty fun?
I wanted college aged strangers trapped in the desert and I backed that premise in to meet these ends. There aren’t many likely scenarios that can get them out of town into the middle of nowhere. Besides, I kind of have a trashy fondness for the typical “genre-ness” of the premise. And I must apologize to those with lower brow tastes than mine — they never make it to the party.

So, with “Reeker”, have you created a new movie monster for us all to crap our pants over, or is there more to this whole thing than that? Of course, you don’t have to tell me if this is supposed to be kept a secret.
Without revealing too much, yeah we created a new monster and yeah there is more to it than that!

How long was production and what format did you shoot on? Why did you choose that format?
I’m a fan of HD, but we were shooting in the desert. It was s**t cold.

Windy. Sandy. We had a handful of action sequences where we needed some crash cameras…. The whole digital world would have been a nightmare in any one of these situations, much less all of them. So we shot on 35mm. Plus we made a big movie and wanted it to have the look and feel to match. We did a digital intermediate and finished the movie in the digital world.

We here at Film Threat love Michael Ironside. How did he come on board and what was it like working with the man?
He was actually perfect for the role. I didn’t write it with him in mind, but once he came up during casting, we had to have him. We had heard a few Ironside “stories” beforehand, but on set he was a pro.

He showed the younger actors a few tricks. He was charming. And the guy can play dead like no other actor of his generation.

Tell me a little bit about the rest of your cast. In other words, vent some frustration if need be.
They’re all young yet had a few big projects under their belts. Nobody showed up green. Everyone knew the routine. They were really into the script and on the set we didn’t get any attitude. They worked hard. They all lived together at a motel near the location. Nobody got pregnant. Nobody Od’d. (Someone did almost lose an eye in a felching mishap.) Everyone gave kick a*s performances. They’re all destined for big things…

Did any major problems arise during production? Were any lessons learned?
Don’t shoot a movie that’s supposed to take place in a hot desert in sub zero temperatures.

What’s up next for you?
We’re prepping another horror script of mine. We’ll see how “Reeker” is received and then put the finishing touches on our financing and give this whole moviemaking thing another go around.

Last question – Austin, Texas probably has the best film freaks anywhere. How excited are you to premiere your film at SXSW?
There isn’t a better festival in the world for us to premiere “Reeker”. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to cracking open a beer at the Alamo Drafthouse and sitting back to watch this movie with a bunch of real horror fans. Note to self: enjoy the moment.

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