What better way for horror fans to get into the holiday season than with a brand-new horror anthology that brings the thrills, chills, and laughter to the “most wonderful time of the year.” For the release of the Christmas horror anthology, ALL THE CREATURES WERE STIRRING, I had the chance to speak with co-writer/co-director David McKendry about his latest project. During our chat we discussed everything from his love of the Christmas season, working alongside his wife, Rebekah McKendry, and the inspirations behind some of the Christmas horror tales.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Hi David, thank you so much for speaking with me today! To start things off, for those who may not be familiar with ALL THE CREATURES WERE STIRRING, could you tell them a little bit about the film?
David McKendry: This is a Christmas horror/comedy anthology and it is directed and written by my wife, Rebekah McKendry, and myself. We wanted to put together a collection of some Christmas stories because it’s one of our favorite times of the year – we are both big Christmas fans. We still have that childish love of Christmas but at the same time we see a sinister side to it as well and we put that into a film.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Where did the inspiration come from for the different stories within the anthology?
DM: When we got together and said we were going to write this Christmas anthology, we actually came up with around 20 ideas. We pounded out a lot of ideas and came to these final ones because they meshed together so well and allowed us to try different styles with each one. We wanted to find things that would lend themselves to the type of films that we love and pay homage too.
Nightmarish Conjurings: As you mentioned earlier, both you and Rebekah worked on this project together as co-writers and co-directors. What was that process like?
DM: It’s great working together! Rebekah and I came up in theatre together and actually met performing theatre in college. We were doing an experimental production of Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard as well as working on a musical together called A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum and that’s how we met. We both realized that we share this love of quirky horror/comedy as well as interesting experimental filmmaking and it just meshed really well together.
Nightmarish Conjurings: One of my favorite aspects of this film was that everyone involved seemed to be genuinely having so much fun and the chemistry seemed really palpable. What was the casting process like?
DM: We started out with people we really wanted to work with and people that we knew in the horror community. Amanda Fuller was someone we had worked with before and we had always wanted to work with Graham Skipper, Matt Mercer and Joceline Donahue. We reached out to them and they were on-board and game to do this. Some of the other cast, such as Constance Wu, we got through our producers and she was amazing to work with. The rest of the cast we found through casting agents. It just really came together and there was just such a joy to it, I guess maybe the Christmas spirit got everyone in the mood (laughs). Every segment was a very fun shoot.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Speaking of the segments, was there a certain story that was your favorite?
DM: It kind of changed around as the process went on. I would say that when I was writing, the segment that resembles A Christmas Carol was my favorite. While we were shooting, I found myself liking other stories. When I finally saw the final film I really enjoyed the wrap-around the most. That was the one that I had the most fun making and was really fun to watch with an audience, who I’m very happy got what we were trying to do there.
Nightmarish Conjurings: What sort of challenges did you face in making this film? I remember reading somewhere that Rebekah was pregnant during the film, correct?
DM: Yeah, that was a challenge (laughs). I think because we wanted to work with sitcom actors and everything was in production at the time (2 Broke Girls, Last Man Standing, Fresh Off the Boat), it forced us to shoot on the weekends. The actors really took the time to come in after their week-long sitcom work and were willing to give up the weekends to shoot for us, which was great. Scheduling is always a problem, especially cause we had 35 actors in total, so working on a schedule for everybody was a bit challenging. I would say that was probably the biggest challenge but it was so sweet of everybody to give up their time like that for this project.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Last, but not least, are you working on any additional projects that we should be keeping our eyes out for in the future?
DM: Rebekah just finished directing a movie for Lifetime that she is currently editing and I was one of the co-writers on. Other than that, we have a few things in the works, nothing that we can announce yet, but there will be some things coming up!
Make sure to check out ALL THE CREATURES WERE STIRRING, now available on DVD, Digital, and On Demand.