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Changing the Dead: Scooter McCrae PDF Print E-mail
Written by by Wendell Redding   
Jan 01, 2005 at 02:00 AM
Although he’s only written and directed one feature-length horror film so far, filmmaker Scooter McCrae is well-known in the independent filmmaking scene. The movie that put him on the map, Shatter Dead, is an apocalyptic zombie epic that tackles many social and religious issues. It also happens to be a very entertaining flick that is rapidly gaining legions of die-hard fans, eerily similar to fanatical cults that take sides in the movie itself...
SubRosa Studios has just released the mind-blowing DVD version of Shatter Dead, which includes animated menus, three commentaries, interviews, and extensive behind-the-scenes/making-of footage. It’s a wet dream for both the horror fan and the casual DVD collector in that it’s one of those “must have” discs.
I caught up with Scooter McCrae in New York City, and he was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule (writing for Fangoria magazine, doing a bit acting part in yet another movie, and laboring in postproduction on his long awaited sophomore project, Sixteen Tongues) to answer 13 crazy questions...

Dark Gallery) So, the SHATTER DEAD dvd has arrived. I read in the recent Fangoria write bioclips that you were very satisfied with the outcome. Care to elaborate for the fans?
Scooter McCrae) Since VHS is pretty much a dead format to the serious film collector, there’s nothing more exciting than seeing a project that’s been through a lot of different tape incarnations suddenly being preserved in digital resolution! I have to say that I’m very pleased with the disc, and what Ron Bonk and his technicians at Sub Rosa and Rebel Filmwurks have done with all the material I handed over to them, which was a considerable amount. I think the supplements run longer than the feature itself!
DG) SHATTER DEAD really focuses on religion, and what happens to the soul after death. What are your personal religious convictions?
SM) Technically, I’m what I like to call an angry atheist. By that I mean I don’t believe in what most people would define as being a “God”. Religion in general seems like the only sanctioned form of insanity allowed by the government; sure, we put up with the artistic types, but at least churches get a tax break! If there were a God, you’d almost have to hope that we’re an experiment gone wrong; that God is like the idiot mad scientist of some bad B-movie who’s just gone too far and created a planet of uncontrollable monsters. In SHATTER DEAD I wanted to convey the feeling that God just kind of packed-up and went home and left the planet to his Angels to fuck around with as they pleased. I probably should have expanded the tagline: GOD HATES YOU, BUT THE ANGELS WILL REALLY FUCK WITH YOU!
DG) Obviously, zombie movies were a big influence on you when making your first feature. Do you prefer the Italian Fulci fare or the Romero contributions?
SM) Zombie movies still scare the shit out of me, which is kind of embarrassing to admit, especially the Euro flicks, but obviously I’ve also got a special place in my heart for Romero’s special kind of mayhem. Seeing Fulci’s zombie classics definitely inspired me into the direction of no-holds barred violence pushed to the point of surrealism, while Romero’s films made me aware of my own predilection for subtext and linear plotting devices. And while Fulci’s Byzantine plot constructions are awe-inspiring in the free-association leaps that are made (where visuals form the glue that holds the seemingly random plot machinations together), I could not have thought for a moment I could begin a project if it wasn’t for Romero’s DIY low-budget kind of filmmaking. Since I couldn’t afford the Fulci visuals, I figured if I could come up with a good, cheap idea that could be made on the run with family and friends then I’d be able to pull something off from the Romero school.
DG) You are also an accomplished actor, as you mention on the SHATTER DEAD dvd interviews. It seems like you really have a good time "hamming it up," so to speak, in a variety of movies to the point where you now have a cult following. Any favorite roles you have from these endeavors?
SM) My favorite role is always the next one; see what a greedy whore I can be? I do tend to prefer roles with less dialogue and more physical action, but I’ve definitely had a lot of fun on Kevin Lindenmuth’s projects. He learned the hard way with me, giving me a whole lot of dialogue in my first role for him, but now he knows just to stick me in as a cameo every now and then! I always give myself a cameo in my own projects; I tend to take on the roles that nobody else has any interest in doing.
DG) SHATTER DEAD has a really oppressive tone. Was the shoot a very depressing, somber experience or did everyone really dig in and have a great time during production?
SM) Yeah, I tried to get the on-set mood across in the supplements, but it’s difficult to achieve a balance between what a viewer might actually find interesting to watch and at what point you’ve achieved a whole new level of boring self-indulgence. The mood was pretty light all around since we were all good friends and the project was just a weekend lark for most of the performers (minus Stark, or course, who’s in pretty much every single scene).
DG) Has Stark Raven done any genre films after SHATTER DEAD? Her performance was quite good, and she obviously has no problems with the skin factor required for many genre films.
SM) She’s only recently done some more work in Tina Krause’s first feature, which I’m very excited about, and she has a brief-but-memorable cameo in SIXTEEN TONGUES. Stark should definitely do more work in the genre because, as I hope people will see in the DVD supplements, she’s very entertaining and a breeze to work with, and she’s also damn fearless about the things she’s willing to do if she truly believes in the project she’s working on. That kind of dedication is rare in any field, and I have to say I was extremely lucky to find her.
DG) Your work is obviously very personal and you really pour yourself into every facet of it, from setpieces to camera angles. It reminds me very much of David Cronenberg's early films---are you a Cronenberg fan?
SM) Yeah, I’m a big Cronenberg fan. He hasn’t made a bad film yet (although some are obviously better than others). Hell, 20 years later and the world still hasn’t caught up to VIDEODROME; that film is still another 10 years ahead of the times! Like Romero, I think some of his best work is when he was still trying to figure out the basic workings of cinema; the films he made before he was able to afford dolly tracks and such (I’m generalizing, of course, but you know what I mean).
DG) Tell us about the craziest thing that happened while shooting SHATTER DEAD--- there's so many great stories on the commentaries of the DVD, but give readers a sample of what they'll hear about when they pick this disc up.
SM) Hell, the craziest thing that happened is that I ever even thought about picking up a camera and making the damn thing! That’s the hardest thing to make people who’ve never done a project themselves understand; how simple the decision to make a movie is, and how difficult it is to actually go all the way with your decision. But I think the zombie extras attacking this woman in her car who randomly drove by our location was one of the weirdest things I’ve ever seen. I mean they were so into it, and the poor woman was so frightened by the situation. I didn’t realize just how freaked-out she was until the police car came driving by about ten minutes later (that moment was captured on camera in the blooper reel) as we were shooting the attack on our film car...(laughs)
DG) When SHATTER DEAD first came out, I remember the first batch of tapes that came out were defective. It's so good to see it represented so well in such an extensive dvd package, but what was your reaction when it first came out in the mid '90's and all those tapes were messed up? I remember the distributor made an effort to replace some of them, but I still have my copy where the opening is all glitched out...
SM) Wow, this is the first time I’ve heard about this bad batch of tapes! I had no idea this had occurred! I hated the way SHATTER DEAD looked (with the filmlook process) on the original release tapes. Obviously, the Sub Rosa release is the best it’s ever looked. When I showed the test-disc for the first time to people who worked on it they couldn’t believe that SHATTER DEAD ever looked this good! It’s so well shot and it was sad that people couldn’t see that, even though it’s a low-budget movie, we actually had a real craftsman behind the lens making the flick look much better than it had any right to!
DG) Tell us what it was like when SHATTER DEAD won the Fantafestival award.
SM) I wish I knew. I didn’t have the funds to attend the Fantafestival in Italy, so I sat it out unaware that SHATTER DEAD was going to win any kind of award! A friend of mine who did attend, fellow director Howard Berger, brought me back the actual plaque and tales of all the good times I missed. Lucio Fulci was on the judging panel, and he was a very big supporter of SHATTER DEAD even though he also thought it was a little slow and talky; hey, fine by me! I finally got to meet Maestro Fulci a few years later just before he passed away, and we spent a couple of days in New York hanging out during the Blizzard of ’95. For me, that was the most profound thrill of the award; spending time with a Master of the genre (a man who’s work obviously meant a lot to me) and trading stories over meals.
  DG) It's great that SHATTER DEAD has been released TOTALLY UNCUT in the states here again. That was incredible how it nearly got banned in Britain. Tell us about that experience...
SM) It was confiscated at the border of Dover when I was sending a copy to the folks at Screen Edge for distribution consideration! Eventually, I’m proud to say, both SHATTER DEAD and myself were denounced on the floor of British Parliament as being one of the bloodiest videos that had been released with a rating certificate in a very long time, and how it was detrimental to the well-being of society in general; my cameraman actually got a newspaper clipping from a British friend, a full-page screaming headline complete with photos and incredibly graphic descriptions of the most offending footage. It was a pretty strange welcome into the modern world for me, and I’m sure it didn’t do anything but help whatever meager sales they did eventually achieve.
DG) The SIXTEEN TONGUES trailer is included on the SHATTER DEAD disc. It looks quite striking, like you're headed into Clive Barker territory, kind of meshed with Cronenberg. How long have you been working on this long-anticipated film and when can we expect a release for it?
SM) Producer Alex Kuciw and I have been really plugging away at it lately, getting the fine cut together, working on the special effects, and now beginning the music process. It will be done by the end of this summer (2002), because if it’s not I’ve vowed to just stop working on it and throw the whole thing away. If people are interested they should certainly check out sixteentongues.com for all sorts of cool images and the occasional update.
DG) Thanks a bunch for your time. And a final question--- would you ever use your home again as a location for a bloody horror film like you did in SHATTER DEAD?
SM) After the experience of destroying my apartment for SHATTER DEAD, I can assure you that my living quarters would never survive the onslaught of another project…
Pick up Shatter Dead on DVD or VHS today!


User Comments

Comment by Ahmed on 2015-10-22 21:42:24
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