Check this trailer out, creeps:
Rad-ass, right? Well, I know yer just itchin’ to learn more about this freaky fright flick… so I crammed some of the cast n’ crew into the ol’ Crypt o’ XIII to do just that!
Famous Monsters. Tell the ol’ Coffin Club all about THE BARN (seriously, some of these cats actually DO live under rocks and may not have heard about it) and how all of you came to be involved with it!
Justin Seaman. I am the writer and director of THE BARN, a a 80s-style retro horror film that takes place in the 1980s and follows a group of teens who stumble upon an old abandoned barn and unleash a trio of baddies on Halloween night! If that’s not enough for you, it has blood, guts, boobies, and rock n roll music! This has been a passion goal of mine for 22 years!
Mitchell Musolino. THE BARN is one of those gems that doesn’t surface very often, especially in a monotonous, watered-down town like Claysville, Pennsylvania. But when they do come around, it’s something to marvel at. I was very fortunate to have been cast in this project. Hearing about it very last minute, I had just moved back from Boston where I tried to expand my career, which didn’t work out. I came home (true story!) because of a fortune cookie message saying “You will find luck when you return home.” Not long after, I saw this movie was having auditions. I didn’t know anything about it except that it was a horror movie. Justin and the production crew originally had me read for the roles of Josh and Russell, but after seeing me perform and how I looked in person, they wanted me to try to read for Sam, the lead character. So I did, and a week later I was offered the role!
Zane Hershberger. Well, I became involved with the project when I was invited on board as the assistant camera man/2nd unit camera operator. I was really excited to be involved in a project that was so dependent on ’80s style. We eventually lost the original Director of Photography, and I offered to step up for Justin and assumed those duties because I sincerely believed in what he was trying to do. We even went back and revisited scenes that Justin thought we could do even better.
Rocky Gray. It all started when I saw the poster art that Sinister Art had done for the film on Facebook. I immediately sent a message to THE BARN‘s page and attached my album Accursed so they could hear what I could do. I got a reply back fairly quickly; Justin liked a few of the songs off of the album and wanted to use them in the film, which I was very happy to hear, and I also offered to do some original music as well. Justin was into the idea, and from there as he got each new clip put together he would send it to me and I would compose music for it. Some would have temp scores on them and some would not. In final production of the soundtrack we ended up with 30 compositions, not including the various artists that appear on the soundtrack as well, which is another 18 tracks. To say the music plays a big part in the film is an understatement.
FM. Since THE BARN is so heavily influenced by the eerie eighties, what challenges did all of you face to keep things faithful to that arcane aesthetic?
JS. I think first and foremost it was the lighting design, then costumes and set dressing, as well as camera movements. It was a changeling film to make for many reasons—we wanted to try and make an original movie but at the same time give it a vibe that made it feel like it could have been an old film you might have missed. We also wanted the film to be just serious enough that it was fun, without being silly or being an 80s spoof. We wanted to do as many practical special effects as possible, and I believe about 97% of what is all screen is practical.
MM. From an actor’s standpoint, I really had to go outside of my element with this movie. I was born just after the 80s, and had never really paid too much attention to how 80s acting differed from current day acting until I signed onto this movie. So I would watch movies from that era and try to study deliveries, gestures, etc. Every tiny detail went into Sam, and I caught on so quickly that I was basically playing him effortlessly. Another challenge I faced with this project was adapting to the diversity of backgrounds of the other actors. For some, this was their first movie coming from theater acting; for others, this was their first project ever. I had to figure out how to play off of each one individually to make it as authentic and believable as possible on screen, and I think we did a good job with that.
ZH. We didn’t have too much trouble in that department. Justin knew what he wanted and we just attacked it with what we remembered about those older films. Obviously shooting techniques have changed since the 1980s, so we tried to keep the handheld camera shots to a minimum and used more restraint, smooth movements with dollies and a jib. The lighting, especially in the Hootenanny and roller rink scenes, were aimed at having a more vibrant, colorful look to emulate a ‘neon’ feel. With the story taking place on Halloween, this approach really fit nicely into the mix of everything and brought the trick ‘r’ treat scenes to life.
RG. Being set in a certain time period, especially in an era like the eighties, might be challenging for some but I was very much at home with it. I love the movies and music from that era and had already been doing that style on a few songs from my Accursed record, so I kind of had the palette of what sounds I could use, and more importantly, what I could not use. Very few pieces of music were written without a clip to go with it. It was much easier for me to picture with clips, because the movie is shot so perfectly for the period that the music just about wrote itself. Justin would have a temp score in the clip or send me a note that would say “I’m thinking a HALLOWEEN III type feel for this one” or something like that, and I would know exactly where to take the music. The biggest challenge was to keep writing after about 20 or 25 pieces of music. I was starting to feel the pressure of keeping it exciting and fun, but also good for the scene. I think every track we used is perfect for the movie. I could not be more pleased with it.
FM. How difficult was it to create some sinister slashers that are unique, and what went into their diabolical design?
JS. I actually wrote the story when I was 8 years old, and at the time I found these three creatures the most interesting for some odd reason. I would get bored staying at my grandparents’ house out in the country during the summers. In attempts to keep myself entertained, I would draw or write stories. One day, I happened to be sitting on the porch when I noticed an old building far out in the woods. I thought to myself, “I wonder what’s in that old barn… probably monsters!” Suddenly my mind began creating things I could associate with the farm and that area: “Hallowed Jack”, a pumpkin man who watches over the pumpkins in his patch; “The Candycorn Scarecrow”, an old creepy scarecrow that protects the cornfield and its crops; and lastly “The Boogeyman”, a zombified-looking miner who walks the property and guards the barn. Soon after I made a series of handmade storybooks about the monsters called The Barn. Luckily I feel like I had a pretty good childhood imagination, and not many details changed over 22 years.
MM. It was a constant battle trying to stay original and getting the perfect shot. Justin is a genius when it comes to thinking of new things people haven’t seen yet, or something that sparks that bit of nostalgia in a person. I can’t tell you how many hours we spent setting up for ONE shot that you probably see on screen for less than a second. I had a pretty cool kill in the movie that took maybe 30+ takes in order to get the blood squirt right, or the chop correct. It’s very hard work, and a lot of people don’t realize the leaps and bounds that people have to go through to make films. But I enjoy every second of it!
ZH. Justin pulled them from his own imagination when he used to stay at his grandma’s house and think about what could be lurking in an old barn that sat not too far from her home. He took those concepts and made small homemade books with the three creatures as the antagonists in his story… you know, typical kid stuff!
FM. Are you all horror fanatics in general, and if so, what are some of your fav fright flicks?
JS. I was raised on a healthy diet of horror films. My parents had divorced at an early age and on the weekends I would go to my father’s house. Trying to be the cool parent, he would let me rent whatever my mom wouldn’t allow. So from about kindergarten on I was hooked. Frequent rentals included RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, NIGHT OF THE DEMONS, DEMONS, TRICK OR TREAT, THE MONSTER SQUAD, NIGHT OF THE CREEPS, THE LOST BOYS, FRIGHT NIGHT, and of course A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET.
MM. I wasn’t as into it as Justin,or our DP Zane until I worked with them literally every day. I was scarred at a young age when I saw the original TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. It scared me so much that I didn’t watch many scary movies after that. Since working on THE BARN, I have watched countless scary movies. I love them! You appreciate them so much being around people who worship them. I’ve gone back to view TEXAS CHAINSAW again, and loved it! Easily my favorite.
ZH. I am definitely a horror fanatic! I love everything spanning from the silent NOSFERATU all the way up to the films they are putting out today. My favorites are the ones from the 1980s, because that’s was what was going on when I was growing up. Some of my favorites are NIGHT OF THE DEMONS, EVIL DEAD, HELL NIGHT, and the HALLOWEEN series…. yes, even part III! I love it!
RG. I am very much a horror fanatic. I have a collection of over a thousand DVDs and Blu-rays, and around 100 or so VHS. I like everything from the original WOLFMAN to SINISTER. Some standout horror favorites would include anything written, scored, or directed by John Carpenter, THE EXORCIST (1&3), SALEM’S LOT, THE AMITYVILLE HORROR (1&2), any James Wan horror movie, RE-ANIMATOR, DAGON, TRICK OR TREAT and TRICK R TREAT, GATES OF HELL, FRIDAY THE 13TH (all but 7,8 &10), and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1,2,3) to name a few.
FM. Where can my faithful Coffin Club keep up on the latest news about the film and all of your future projects?
JS. They can visit our website and Facebook!
RG. Rocky-Gray.com is where you can get updates from me.
FM. Fangs, everyone! Consider yerselves full fledged members of the ol’ Coffin Club… provided you present to me a cauldron of bat’s blood, a grimoire bound in human flesh, and a signed blank check… actually, screw the first two items; the last will do just fine! Seriously though, you cats are awesome and I can’t wait to slap my eerie eyeballs on THE BARN!