Writer/director Jason Christopher recently spoke with Phoenix Movie Examiner about his new horror flick “Nobody Gets Out Alive.”
In “Nobody Gets Out Alive,” which became available Tuesday, Feb. 26 on Blu-ray and DVD at retail stores and rental outlets throughout the Valley, Brian Gallagher plays a man whose devastating story evolves into a local legend – a myth that many consider to be just that until a group of partying teenagers accidentally find themselves trapped in a brutal fight for survival.
Question: Your killer has a very clear motivation for doing what he does in this movie. Can you tell me a bit about how you were able to come up with that motivation?
Answer: I lost my dad when I was 17 years old so I knew what it was like to lose somebody in a freak tragic accident. It is the worst feeling in the world. I wanted to go kill people but I am like a big teddy bear and would never hurt a fly so I just got my anger out by typing the script. I always wanted to write a screenplay that was pretty much a modern 70s/80s horror movie and it wasn’t until my dad passed away that I was like, “Here we go! Here is this guy who loses everything and is free to do anything at this point.”
Q: The actor – Brian Gallagher – does a remarkable job playing that guy. How did you know that he was right for this role?
A: I met Brian through other movies he had done around the New Jersey area. I was just like, “This guy is phenomenal! He is an amazing actor! What is he doing in indie movies?” So when we were casting for “Nobody Gets Out Alive,” I had no interest in seeing anybody read for this character besides Brian. For the audition, he had this grizzly beard and just walked into the room, took the chair that was sitting there, threw it up against the wall and just kicked into some of the monologue from the movie. I was in such amazement and, when he left, I was like, “Write up the contract right now. There’s nobody else I want to see.”
Q: Tell me more about the monologue. How did you get Brian into the dark mindset of his character for that integral scene in the film?
A: I wanted it to have this real, raw, gritty feel to it so I didn’t want any cuts. I made Brian and [the other acts in the scene] listen to “Love Hurts” in a dark room. They came back, we started rolling and Brian’s whole monologue was originally one 14-minute take. It was the most amazing 14 minutes I have ever seen through my monitor. I kind of teared up and stuff and everybody was just staring at me. They were like, “What ex-girlfriend hurt you so bad?” I was like, “None! This is just from my experience losing my father!” I didn’t even want to do a second take but we did one anyway for safety. I think that I used maybe one little clip from the second take. Other than that, everything was from the first take. I had to edit it down to 6 minutes, though.
Q: So how do you come up with your kills? That are quite… creative.
A: Most of the kills were really different in the original draft of the screenplay. Victor Miller, who wrote the original “Friday the 13th,” mentored my script. I told him that I wanted to fix up a few kills in the movie because I thought that they were not powerful enough. He told me to just try to think of what I didn’t want done to me so I went back and added in all the kills that are in the movie now. I always thought that the worst thing that could ever happen to me is being on a beach or just sitting down with my arms behind me and someone coming from behind and kicking in my elbow. I thought that was just horrible so I added it into the movie. To be honest with you, I don’t even think that the other ones are that gruesome. There are definitely more that I want to do.
Q: Speaking of there being more that you want to do, did your relatively low budget restrict you in any way, shape or form? And, finally, how did you overcome that obstacle?
A: The movie was made for $36,000. We were trying to raise at least $50,000 but it just wasn’t happening. We didn’t have the sources that we have now. It limited me so much on what I was able to do. I originally wanted an overhead crane shot for the running scene in the movie but, unfortunately, I couldn’t do that because I didn’t have the money. It definitely limits you but I believe that it just makes you more creative to think of other solutions and stuff. There are definitely moments where it looks independent and really low-budget but I also think that we did a decent job of trying to make it not look low-budget. My next movie [“Monsters Within”] is still low-budget but there is a budget. It is a lot of money to me but, in the movie world, if it’s under a million dollars then it’s not a real movie.