It has been a long road for Jeremy Kasten’s THE DEAD ONES—taking almost five years—but the end is in sight as the director prepares to unleash it upon the festival circuit later this year. He gave us an update and some exclusive stills and behind-the-scenes photos.
We’ve been following THE DEAD ONES since its production, and were curious to find out what has happened since then. “There are always perceptions about movies that take a long time,” Kasten (1st photo below) tells Fango, “but the picture is locked, and now we can start trickling this stuff out there. We’ve held back for a long time, so it’s great to finally reveal what we’ve been up to.”
The synopsis for THE DEAD ONES, which was scripted by Zach Chassler (who also wrote Kasten’s THE WIZARD OF GORE), goes like this: “Sent back to repair a school that has been almost completely destroyed, a group of teens discover themselves under threat by a marauding group of creatures known as Gas Masks. Individually, they take the monikers of The Four Horsemen—namely Famine, Pestilence, War and Death. With their lives at stake, the kids must survive being massacred, whilst simultaneously figuring out just what the hell took place that decimated the building in the first place.”
“I never believed a movie could take longer than my first [THE ATTIC EXPEDITIONS],” Kasten says. “That took from 1997 to 2001. Making a film like this is like having a difficult child. If you raise them well, you’ll end up with a very special adult, but it’s a challenge.”
Given the potentially controversial nature of making a horror movie based around high-school shootings, it seems like bold subject matter to attempt in today’s climate, in which gun-law debate is ubiquitous. “I was certainly tentative and concerned about making a movie on this subject,” Kasten admits. “I think of films like A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, and can only imagine how terrible it must be to have a horrific event occur, and have that incident attributed to something you’ve created. The last thing I want to do is to suggest that anyone should take a negative message from this, or to create a source of damaging inspiration. I’m hoping that THE DEAD ONES can help someone who is in the position of being bullied, or is bearing the brunt of a shitty situation. That’s the real message. I’ve thought about this a lot, and I think we’ve taken a tactful, but poignant, approach.”
One of the reasons we’ve been waiting so long for THE DEAD ONES is that the film has been created on Kasten’s own terms. Showcasing a group of unknown Baltimore actors (cast by Pat Moran of THE WIRE and VEEP), it is what Kasten refers to as his “most relentless and personal picture yet”—one he feels is necessary to make a mark in an oversaturated industry.
“You have to rise above the noise as a contemporary filmmaker,” he concludes. “Between social media and the lack of distribution channels, you must find a way to monetize a release, and getting your movie out there is more difficult than ever. The flipside is that, potentially, if you can get through it all, the glory can be yours.”