Some people are afraid of heights. Others are terrified of snakes, while still others can’t find themselves inside a stalled elevator without blowing gasket. These are phobias and it’s safe to say that everyone is afflicted in some way or another. It would seem a natural progression for these phobias to function as muses to the countless deranged men and women who create the works of art that comprise what we call the horror genre. Yet, there are surprisingly few stories culled from this vast pile of fears, at least consciously and explicitly. But fear not (there’s a pun, you can take it or leave it), Horror Fans.
On Halloween 2012, filmmaker Scott W. Perry’s web based horror anthology project, In Fear Of, premieres online with six short films by three directors, all based on an assortment of phobias from the common (fear of the dark and fear of death), to the crazy (fear of being touched and fear of feet). These movies star an impressive list of indie fright flick stalwarts including Debbie Rochon, Raine Brown, Suzi Lorraine, and David Marancik. And the best part is that the movies are available to anyone with access to an internet connection, free of charge (see links at the bottom)!
Perry (Insatiable, Something Just), who along with fellow east coast filmmakers Jeremiah Kipp (The Pod, Contact) and Mike Polizzi (Dead Drunk), transcribe six phobias into films with each writer/director bringing their own unique aesthetic and cinematic sensibilities to the project. And for Perry, this anthology was a chance to shoot something unique and scary as well as a chance to reunite with his friends and fellow cinemafiles in Kipp and Polizzi.
Said Perry, “After I had made a few short films, I hadn’t shot anything in a while, and I was looking to do something unique. I love the horror genre as a whole, dating as far back as the advent of film. Fear is the main element in horror and everyone has a fear of something. It’s also very basic, and I wanted to do something to bring horror back to basics. I remember going to a website called The Phobia List and seeing this huge list of clinical phobias. There are literally hundreds and I felt that this could make an interesting series.”
When it came time to pick collaborators, Perry had a plan. “The first person I talked to about the series was Jeremiah Kipp, who I met on the set of Alan Rowe Kelly’s The Blood Shed in 2006 and have been great friends with ever since.” Kipp is someone who Perry trusts and with whom he has a creative symbiosis. “After looking at the list, he picked out the two [phobias] he wanted to do and it was set. Jeremiah has overseen every episode with me and has given such great opinions and advice throughout, that he is invaluable,” said Perry.
Getting Mike Polizzi involved in the project in any capacity was another of Perry’s goals. “Mike is a friend from high school,” said Perry. “We shared a love of horror and made a lot of fun movies. After school, we went on different paths. Due to the magic of Facebook, I reacquainted with Mike a couple of years ago and he still had the film bug.” One of those films bugging Mike ended up being perfect for the project. “He had an idea for a while about Selenophobia: Fear of the Moon that he wanted to do as part of the series, and I thought it was an excellent idea when he pitched it to me. There was a bit of nostalgia on the set I must admit,” said Perry.
For Jeremiah Kipp, joining this project was a no-brainer. “One of the things that felt refreshing was the feeling that Scott wasn’t just talking about it; he was pushing the Web series forward. And it seemed like a very malleable concept. Scott sent us a long list of phobias and essentially said, ‘Pick one or two of them. Nothing is off limits.’ Since we all have fears and obsessions, it also felt relatable to a potential audience. My biggest concerns were that our episodes would be satisfying to the viewers. But thankfully the films are diverse and we hope there’s something in the mix for everybody,” said Kipp.
Of the three directors, Kipp takes perhaps the most unconventional approach by asserting that what’s old is new again. “While we were shooting the episode about the fear of being touched, the cinematographer Steve Glassner and I looked at each other and said, ‘German Expressionism.’ The style of filmmaking hopefully conveys the sense of inner anguish and dread,” said Kipp.
Mike Polizzi looked at In Fear Of as the perfect opportunity to return to filmmaking with a project he’d had on the back burner and one that was coincidentally perfect for this project. Said Polizzi, “This past April, Scott told me about his intriguing idea for a phobia web series. It gave me an opportunity to share my ‘fear of the moon’ story, which I had drafted three years prior. At the time, Scott already had six episodes planned for Season One, but involved me as an assistant director on Thanatophobia: Fear of Death…
“By the end of the summer, Scott had only five episodes in post production and decided to keep it that way for the Halloween release. Knowing that he initially wanted six, I reintroduced my idea for Selenophobia: Fear of the Moon. Scott was very pleased with my final draft and green-lit the episode. From there, I designed the storyboards, casted the talents of Louisa Ward and Mike Lane, and assembled the crew: Morgan O’Connell (Assistant Director), Jay Priole (Production Assistant) and Ria Schlingheyde (Make-up). Scott invited Steven-Mark Glassner as our cinematographer, who had also shot Apehephobia: Fear of Being Touched [for Kipp]. Steven did an excellent job translating my storyboards and was a pleasure to work with,” said Polizzi.
Polizzi’s talents go beyond the camera, extending into the realm of music – a craft he was also able to contribute to the project as well. Said Polizzi, “I had the privilege to score three of six episodes, beginning with Monophobia, which marks the first score I ever made for somebody else. Scott knew me as a soundtrack enthusiast back when we were teenagers and enjoyed my original compositions, which were influenced by the styles of Bernard Herrmann and Danny Elfman. After watching the episode repeatedly, I focused on Debbie Rochon’s hilarious, twisted performance and just illustrated her character musically.
“With Fear of the Dark, Scott wanted something more electronic and ambient. I proposed a creepy track that he was pleased with, and then moved on to score Selenophobia.
“Whenever I write a screenplay from scratch, I visualize everything musically and often find myself composing prior to principal photography. This process facilitates the mood I want – in this case: I was going for dark, dread, and danger with a touch of melancholic beauty,” said Polizzi.
As for casting the series, some of the cast members were eager to work on the interesting material and for others it was a natural fit to reteam with filmmakers with whom they’ve already worked. Said Perry, “This is the second project I have directed Raine Brown in, the first being the vampire short film Insatiable in 2008. Since then, we had always kept communication open to work with each other again, and when I hatched the idea for Achluophobia: Fear of the Dark as an episode, Raine was my first and only choice (continued after the pic).
“Debbie recommended Suzi to me for a future episode and there was one I had written to which she liked the series and the concept, but passed on the episode. However, I did want to work with her so I presented another to her that she loved. At the time, it was Coimetrophobia: Fear of Cemeteries, but we changed it to Fear of Death because after putting it together, the message was more about death than just being trapped in a cemetery. Suzi has worked on many films and writes for a few horror publications so her contribution to the genre is immeasurable and it was a pleasure to work with her on this film with Damien Colletti.
“I’ve known Debbie for several years after meeting her on the horror convention circuit, working on projects as a production assistant that she starred in, and I had always hoped to direct her in a film. I had worked with her best friend David Marancik and Podophobia star Xiomara Cintron on a little piece called Ghosts that Debbie reacted so strongly to that when she heard about the web series, she wanted to be a part of it. Debbie is one of the best actresses not just in horror, but in film today, and she has tremendous timing, both in horror and comedy and it was an absolute delight to work with both her and David on this film to kick off the series,” said Perry.
While the series opener is the most conventional of the bunch, it’s a remarkable performance by Rochon, who along with co-star Marancik helped write the episode. The result is a movie that’s whimsically macabre, relentlessly creepy and hysterically funny. It’s a fantastic portal into this series of truly dynamic and high quality fright flicks.
In addition to In Fear Of, Jeremiah Kipp is keeping busy. “…I have a new short film that’s nearing the end of post-production called The Days God Slept, which is also expressionistic and set in a strange gentleman’s club. I’m pleased to be working once again with the great Harry Manfredini, who scored the Friday the 13th films, and my frequent cinematographer Dominick Sivilli. And of course there are other small offerings and feature film plans in the works. There’s a monster movie script I’m charged up about. We’ll see what’s on the horizon,” said Kipp.
Mike Polizzi is preparing a few short films for 2013, including another In Fear Of episode as well as episodes via the internet for his Dead Drunk zomedy series starring Mike Lane, Adrienne Asterita, and Morgan O’Connell.
Scott Perry is focusing on In Fear Of, for the time being with the intent of making it an annual event. Said Perry, “There will be a second season of films, and I am thinking of making it a Halloween tradition to premiere them on that date. I’m not sure if I will direct as many [next year] as I would love to have more filmmakers involved to bring their own spin on their phobias. I did pick my top phobia for Season Two, though, so that will be made. I’d say around January I might start a campaign for Season Two on how horror fans can help contribute to future episodes.”
So without further ado, Horror Fans, we present In Fear Of…
Monophobia: Fear Of Being Alone stars scream queen icon Debbie Rochon as a desperately lonely woman and David Marancik (Razor Days) as her dinner date who realizes that she is the date from hell. The episode was written by Rochon, Marancik, and Scott W. Perry and directed by Perry. You can view Monophobia directly here.
Podophobia: Fear Of Feet stars Xiomara Cintron and Alejandro Santoni as a young couple whose foreplay turns deadly when he accidentally triggers a traumatic experience from her childhood. The episode was written and directed by Jeremiah Kipp. You can view Podophobia directly here.
Selenophobia: Fear Of The Moon stars Louisa Ward as a young woman whose night time encounter in the woods turns horrific and Mike Lane (Insatiable) as her husband forced to make a difficult decision as a full moon rises. The episode is written and directed by Mike Polizzi. You can view Selenophobia directly here.
Thanatophobia: Fear Of Death stars Suzi Lorraine (Won Ton Baby) as a hard partying actress and Damien Colletti as her dealing boyfriend who wakes up in a cemetery while reflecting on life choices. The episode is written and directed by Scott W. Perry. You can view Thanatophobia directly here.
Apehephobia: Fear Of Being Touched stars Kelly Rae LeGault in a surreal film about a woman’s horrific nightmare of being followed and touched by a series of faceless hands. The episode is written and directed by Jeremiah Kipp. You can view Apehephobia directly here.
Achluophobia: Fear Of The Dark stars Raine Brown as a woman stuck in a blackout surrounded by candles in her apartment prepared for a quiet evening which turns to terror when the candles begin to blow out one by one. The episode is written and directed by Scott W. Perry. You can view Achluophobia here.