“To Thine Horror Self, Be True” Guest post by Phil Fasso

Phil Fasso is the founder of the premiere new horror site Death Ensemble, which you can find at www.deathensemble.com. He and writing partner “X” Chris Cartusciello wrote the horror comedy DEADTENTION, which they are now trying to get funding for. Check out the official page at www.deadtention.com. --Thanks Phil!

“Write what you know,” they tell you. From a decade of teaching high school, I know how screwed up the public school system is. From a lifetime of watching horror movies, I know Romero zombies. So when my buddy X Chris said we could write a horror script that would be better than most of the junk we’d been watching, it was that simple: zombies in a high school. Thus, DEADTENTION was born.

Only this wasn’t going to be any high school. This was going to be the worst run high school in the world. It would be staffed by incompetent, uncaring, sometimes sadistic teachers and administrators who were detached not only from any sense of reality, but from the real world and everything going on within it (and their “world” would be the high school). And it wasn’t going to start off in a classroom, or with all the kids entering before first period. It would kick off in the dankest of darksome holes, down in the basement, in the detention room.

With the setup, we now needed to populate it. Here’s where I had an inspired moment: the five characters are all mockups of the kids in THE BREAKFAST CLUB. We’ll first meet them when they’re describing why they’re in detention, to the demented principal. We’ll name them and basically all the characters after people or characters in zombie films. Now, I generally hate when films do that, but given the spoofy nature of our script, it fit, so we went with it. So we had THE BREAKFAST CLUB meets zombies 15 pages in, which led me to another inspiration: the tagline would be “It’s the club where the students are the breakfast.”

X and I also know Troma films, as we’re both fans of gross-out splatter and social commentary (my inner Romero likes to get out and roam sometimes). Troma was looking for a script at the time, and the ubiquitous Lloyd seems to have cloned himself so he can appear at 5 different horror conventions every weekend. We went and put in all the Troma stuff, with head crushing, a Kabukiman car flip, lesbians, and a geeky hero. We even put in an ode to the Toxic Avenger. The only thing I regret is I forgot to include a 5-foot penis monster. We’ll save that for the sequels.

A few weeks after completing the script, I put it directly into Lloyd Kaufman’s hands. When we saw the head of Troma studios at a book signing a few weeks later, he let us know he wasn’t going to make it. He sagely told us, “I think you two should Make Your Own Damn Movie!” And so we’re raising funding now.

DEADTENTION started off as a lark for two guys who love zombie movies and have experience teaching in public schools. We wrote what we knew, and took it to schizoid places that will hopefully end up on a screen someday. If it’s in you to write, sit down and do it. To your own self be true, as Shakespeare wrote. And hey, if that self involves the living dead and a psychotic assistant principal, all the better for you.

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