Beyond Fest, the second annual celebration of all things genre here in Los Angeles, closed out the festival this past Saturday night in Los Angeles with a screening of The Town That Dreaded Sundown, the directorial debut of American Horror Story favorite Alfonso Gomez-Rejon. The film, which was co-produced by Ryan Murphy and Blumhouse Productions, is a reimagining of the original 1976 feature of the same name. While not exactly a sequel but not exactly a remake, Town definitely feels like a creative experiment. However, the direction is strong and it is an interesting entry into the modern slasher sub-genre.
On hand to present the film were director Gomez-Rejon and powerhouse producer Jason Blum. They participated in a Q&A and reveled some interesting stories about how the project came to be. They also discussed what the experience was like for Jason Blum stepping away from ghosts and into slasher films, as well as making their first “remake” of sorts. Blum explained the appeal of the project by telling the crowd, “I was very psyched there were no ghosts. [laughs] I was happy to do a movie without ghosts and we’d never done a remake before. I’m not just against remakes, obviously, I don’t think remaking movies is terrible no matter what. There are certain cases where it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, there are other cases where it does. This is one where it did and I guess the movie is a little more obscure and so, for me, both of those things are fun. It was fun to not have chairs move with wires and it was fun to work on the remake of a movie and reinvent something that already existed.”
Blum, who recently produced The Normal Heart (directed by Ryan Murphy), explained how he got involved in bringing Town to the big screen in 2014. “Ryan and I had lunch at Ammo and I had never met him before,” said Blum. “He actually asked to meet me and I was very flattered and excited by that and he said, ‘I’ve always wanted to remake The Town That Dreaded Sundown,’ and I said, ‘Cool, let’s do that together. ‘And I said I’ll do it as long as you’re willing to do it inexpensively which is the only way we could have gotten it made and he was up for that and so he and I went to MGM together and got them to let us to use the rights to make the movie for them and Ryan brought his crew from American Horror Story and that’s how it happened.”
What was it that drew Emmy nominated director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon to this project for his feature film directorial debut in the first place? Gomez-Rejon told the audience, “I was shooting American Horror Story and I walked out onto the lot and bumped into Ryan [Murphy] and he said,’ I have a script I want you to direct.’ I sat in his office and there were a couple other movies I always thought would be my first movies but they never materialized, like movies do. And there was an idea in this movie that I loved which was a town defined by a movie and how a movie can fictionalize pain and then it reminded me of Last Picture Show… and that might be a really interesting thing to hang on with a slasher film, and then Roberto [Aguirre-Sacasa] and I worked on [the script] and had a wonderful time thinking of something that felt fresh.”
The Town That Dreaded Sundown hits VOD from BH-Tilt Friday, October 16, 2014.