Indie horror director Michael S. Rodriguez isn’t looking for controversy, it just seems to find him on it’s own. He isn’t looking for easy ways to shock an audience, he’s working really hard at it; presenting the scary stories and legends that adults shared as children, reminding everyone that the most basic things that scare us, no matter how preposterous, never really go away. Each tale reveals monsters and psychopaths, creatures and cannibals. And somewhere, somehow, a cautionary voice warns that all of these terrors could be avoided simply by walking the straight and narrow, avoiding the cracks, straightening up and flying right lest you suffer the torment of nightmares. Rodriguez attacks horror filmmaking with relentless fervor, one project barely in the can and already Rodriguez is beginning production of another. I became intrigued by this tireless filmmaker after seeing his unforgettable first film ‘Night Of The Sea Monkey‘ (2013) that was made in Arizona in just four days. Rodriguez quickly followed with ‘Lamb Feed‘ in 2014 and ‘Homewrecked‘ in 2015. Rodriguez has recently assembled all three of these films into the horror anthology ‘Last American Horror Show‘ which will premiere on Friday, March 31 at 7 PM at the Tower Theater in Fresno California. ‘Last American Horror Show’ has already been picked up for distribution by Unearthed Films with availability projected for late summer of this year. Michael S. Rodriguez is currently working on his latest horror film inspired by actual events, ‘Lake Of Shadows.’ I spoke with Rodriguez recently about where his horror inspiration comes from, and what he has in store for all of us in the near future.
When did you realize that horror was your home in indie film? When I began writing as a hobby some years back now I wrote everything, drama, comedy, action, but you know horror has always been my cup of tea. I guess I can blame my late father for that. We spent many a Saturday nights glued to the tube watching Night Gallery and Twilight Zone reruns. My film Night of the Sea Monkey, a horror comedy was dedicated to him for many reasons. I believe to this day that it embodies his personality.
What were some of your earliest influences (film or personal experiences)? Well going back to my dad it was always heading out the drive-in or walk-in theater to catch the latest Carpenter or Romero flick, but what was really eye opening was my first trip to Universal Studios when I was about eight. I was amazed by all the illusion and I knew that’s what I wanted to do more than anything on this planet.
In some of your films (Night of the Sea Monkey, Homewrecked) there is extensive dialog between a father and son filled with warning and foreboding. What’s really going on there? Nice observation…I never write anything unintentional. There is always a meaning or symbolism behind all my work. I believe in substance and the true craft of creating art that makes you think and feel. Now the father son element in some of my work, well my parents split when I was 10 and of course I lived with my mother who is one of my super heroes and he ( my father) was out of my life for some time. My grandfather( another hero) stepped to help raising me and did a fine job, but was totally old school and stern. So I guess when I write those tender moments in my films I am thinking of the tough love of my grandfather gave me mixed with all the father son talks I never received and pretty much longed for during my youth.
Your films are often equal parts horror mixed with equal parts fever dreams and images. Are you trying to scare your audience or relate to them? I am trying to tell a story plain and simple…I am a storyteller who happens to tell scary stories. When I am making my films I never once think or even worry about relating to my audience. I focus on relating to my story and telling it my way. If it connects with the viewer and every viewer is different whether positive or negative, hey I did my job.