As someone who is a haunt fanatic, I’ve always been drawn to horror films that center around haunted attractions. When it was announced that 2014’s THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT was going to be receiving a follow-up sequel, I was beyond ecstatic. For the release of the film, I had the opportunity to speak with director/co-writer Bobby Roe and co-writer Zack Andrews about the continuation of their story, visiting local haunted attractions, and if haunts have begun to take things too far.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Thank you so much for speaking with me today! To start things off, what made you guys decide that you wanted to continue the story of THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT and how did you get everyone to come back for the sequel?
Bobby Roe: We always looked at it as a full movie with an intermission. We though the first movie was Part 1 and this one was Part 2, almost as if it was a Chapter 1 and Chapter 2, because we know the ending in the first movie was abrupt and that was kind of our midway point in our journey. Then we convinced the group to get back on the road since we are looked at a little differently now in this community. It’s one thing that we have always prided ourselves on with this franchise; shooting at real places with real people with as much organic authenticity that we can have and wanted to do. Hopefully that comes across in the first movie but also in this movie now that people know who we are.
NC: Did you guys work with a lot of real haunts? If so, how did you choose what places to go to?
BR: It was important for us, in Part 2, to not take you through the same dark maze again. There’s some amazing haunts in person but if you have five of those they run together and you don’t know the difference and their identity is lost. So for us there are two reasons – one is convincing Brandy’s character to go through these haunted houses. She’s down for these events but she doesn’t want to be put through the extreme elements again. So our characters agree to that which is why we end up at the Zombie 5K or the Pub Crawl. On the production side we wanted to show people things they didn’t even know existed but was also broader in scale and scope for a sequel that would kind of introduce you to different ways Halloween is celebrated. Whether its the Zombie 5K, which is in a million square foot military training ground that you could shoot an entire movie in, or the pub crawl, that kind of production value you couldn’t just get anywhere.
Zack Andrews: Plus I got to make Bobby and Mike eat real brains!
BR: I also got to go toe-to-toe with the greatest eater in the world (Takeru Kobayashi) and that was awesome!
NC: When it came to filming, what were some of your favorite moments?
ZA: I think just being able to experience these things even just as a fan of the [haunt] world. Not to many times do you get to go all over the country, whether it’s shooting at a historical prison in Philadelphia, or these unbelievable lighthouse beach areas, this road trip is a true road trip for us too. Being able to experience the different ways, different regions, and different people in the way they celebrate Halloween with their specific events stands out for us. Whether doing the original movie, or the press tour, we have now rented an RV six or seven times and have seen everything. I think for us – Bobby, Mikey, Brandy, and Jeff – we would all agree that we’ve become our own little haunted house family. These [haunt] owners and the people that work there have bonded together as a little community and we are the same way. We’ve done this together for so many years and the experience of doing it with some of my best friends is my favorite memory.
BR: For me too, everything that Zack says is right on. The moment in THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT 2 when the scare actor stops and wants to take pictures is a genuine real moment, it was very cool to know that he enjoyed the first film. We love the haunt community so much and the scare actors work their asses off and sometimes I don’t think they get the notoriety they deserve, they are very method actors and are very good at what they do. The first movie meant that much to him and that really touched me. We want to make sure that everybody understands that we are just trying to give them a haunt experience on screen. These guys are the best of the best and we get to go and shoot at their locations and that moment for me was important. Leaving that moment in the film was a very strange meta moment but I think it helped with the film and the organic process that we were trying to convey.
NC: With the trends of haunted attractions reaching a fever pitch, especially with extreme haunts, do you think haunts have begun to go a bit too far in their experiences?
BR: Well you never go too far until somebody actually crosses the line and I’m not saying that couldn’t happen, it might happen, but fans of all kinds get numb to think and want to take it up a notch and that’s what we dealt with in Part 2. You can’t just tell the same story, you have to have a bigger finale. Where the line is and where it’s going to be crossed and where we are going to take this in, you also have to get bigger and badder every year, so it’ll be interesting to see where it pans out.
ZA: I think everybody’s line is different depending on what really gets to you. My stepmom can’t sleep next to closets in hotels, I don’t know why that’s so terrifying for her, but she has to be on the opposite side so my dad’s stuck next to the closet. For her that’s terrifying but for me it’s irrelevant. Whether it be snakes or clowns, everyone has that thing that for them they would tap out, it would be too much. I think that’s the challenge for the industry, having different experiences that would push different people’s buttons – some people are going to be unaffected and some people may have to leave. We’ve been to place where there have been hundreds of people per season who have pissed their pants, we’ve been to places where they have a 100% throw up rate, so you are going to touch a nerve in many different ways.
NC: My favorite part of the film was definitely the ending, so my question is, do you think all the characters ultimately got what they deserved?
BR: Ultimately, you are rooting for Brandy due to her story, but we also get to see things through the Blue Skeleton’s perspective as they create the ultimate viral video. That’s all we can really say about that!
To learn more about what happens at the end, make sure to check out THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT 2 now available in select theaters and On Demand/Digital HD.