While the 1980s might be most commonly associated with new wave, hair metal and Sylvester Stallone sequels, it was also the decade of the slasher film, with fictitious characters such as Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger becoming household names. While the decade and its accompanying splatter-filled genre have been the subject of both satire and tribute, a new film courtesy of a local director and producer is making waves as being one of the most authentic representations of the ‘80s slasher genre in quite some time.
Recently, The Suburban spoke with director Ian Kessner and producer Eric Gozlan to find out about their new retro film, Lost After Dark, which was recently released by Anchor Bay on DVD and Blu-ray.
“After Scream, which was amazing, you just had so many bad imitators,” says Kessner of the state of throwback horror films over the last two decades. “I wanted to make it feel like you were actually in the theatre, in the ‘80s, watching the movie.”
The film takes place during spring, 1984, as a group of teens sneaks away from their high school dance, only to stumble across a rundown farmhouse which just so happens to be the home of Junior Joad; a cannibal killer from an urban legend. After the brutal murder of one of their friends, the group seeks only to survive the night. “We though it would be fun to do something that’s authentic and that really captures these films with a bit of a contemporary feel as well,” says Gozlan.
Kessner and Gozlan, who grew up in and around Côte-Saint-Luc, are admittedly both horror fans, with Kessner especially bordering on the edge of fanaticism from a very early age. “My mother’s water broke while she was watching Whatever Happened to Alice, so I basically kicked out in the middle of a horror film,” he says.
With a clear vision in mind, Kessner says he was given more or less free reign from Gozlan.
“We had a tight schedule, we only had so much money but we got it done,” says Kessner. “Eric let me just do my thing.”
Because the film is a Canadian production made possible partially because of Heritage Fund investment, only one non-Canadian actor could be featured in the film and that would end up being none other than silver screen veteran Robert Patrick — best known for his roles in Terminator 2, The X Files and the current From Dusk Till Dawn TV series on Netflix.
“We love Robert,” says Kessner. “He was our first choice. We had him for four days. He really loved the script and got the material and understood the tome right away. He had very light days. It worked out well. We didn’t bring him in here and work him like a dog. The guy is a pro.”
After his last day on set, Kessner says that Patrick had a particularly funny encounter with a random patron in a nearby diner.
“Somebody looked up and said, ‘Hey, you look like the Terminator,’ and Robert answered, ‘I AM the terminator.’ The whole place went bananas.”
Filmed in Sudbury, Ontario, Kessner says Lost After Dark follows in the rich tradition of Canadian-produced horror.
“So many of the slashers from the golden age were actually Canadian productions, pretending to be American, which I thought was really fun,” he says. “That was part of the in-joke of Sudbury playing the location of Michigan. There’s a scene in the movie where [a character proclaims] ‘This is America!’”