Indiewire hosts Jeff Buhler’s GUTTERMOUTH, a new TALES FROM BEYOND THE PALE episode inspired by the fact that he’s “always been terrified of drains.” Streaming now!
The story for “Guttermouth” involves a man who hears voices coming from a drain. What inspired this premise?
I don’t really know how to explain this, but I’ve always been terrified of drains. Not terrified like I don’t want to take a bath, but ever since I was little, I remember thinking how weird it is that all the water we use just goes down these pipes to some place underground. Stare at the sink for a while and your imagination wanders…
What tradition would you place this story in? On the one hand, it’s got a creepy supernatural tone; at the same time, it’s more of a psychological thriller.
I would put this in the relationship drama department. What is really at play here is a failing relationship and that is something we can all relate to, whether is a partner or friend. The supernatural stuff is really the mirror we hold up to look at ourselves and the silly head games we all play with each other.
As a filmmaker, how would you say the process of crafting audio plays differs from making movies?
“The supernatural stuff is really the mirror we hold up to look at ourselves.”
This is my third go around with the “Tales” gang, and I would say I’m finally getting my head around that very question. Audio storytelling is freedom. There’s no crews, cameras, lights, etc. It’s far closer to theater that way. The storytelling rests completely on the actors and the sound design, both of which are aspects of filmmaking that I love. I mean, who doesn’t love foley? It’s just a blast to watch people walking on kitty litter or ripping up bunches of celery for bone snaps.
I was over at Larry Fessenden’s house and accidentally broke an extremely valuable vase. Doing these shows is the only way I can pay Larry back. He promises to knock $200 off my tab every time I turn one in but I don’t really trust him or that Glenn McQuaid fellow. Very shifty, that pair.
More generally, what do you like about working with Glass Eye Pix?
Basically it’s all about creative freedom. Glass Eye lets creators run with ideas that no one else would touch. They are supportive throughout the process but not intrusive. And, most importantly, they’re getting really good at doing these things. When I see the evolution from Season One to these recent Tales, I am really proud to have been a part of it from the beginning.
You’re currently working on several remakes. What do you make of this particular creative challenge and how does it differ from other projects?
“Jacob’s Ladder” was the first in what I’m calling my Trilogy of Reboots. After that, it was a new “Pet Sematary” and then a new “Grudge.” With each of those projects, the challenge was to find ways to make the current version have a reason to exist other than the name. Each of those scripts are completely different from the original movies — or books — in certain details, but remain true to the spirit of the original stories. They’re all fun and, I think, will not feel like a lame horror cash grab but actually a companion piece to these movies that we, as fans, hold so dearly.
With the “Tales” work, it’s completely just for fun. There are very little restrictions. The stories are all originals. Each one is completely different from the ones before. Writing and directing the “Tales” episodes feels like doing short stories after you’ve been working on giant novels. They’re quick and fun and best of all, they get made!
What else do you have in the pipeline?
Outside of my Trilogy of Reboots, I’m just finishing a script I’ve been developing with Juan Carlos Fresnadillo — who is also the director of “Pet Sematary” — called “Into The Zombie Underworld,” which takes place in Haiti and delves into the real life experiences of a journalist who lived there just before the earthquake. It’s all based on real events and very, very scary. A bit like a gritty and modern “Serpent and the Rainbow” but real dark shit. A lot of fun to write. I also wrote a supernatural thriller called “Descendant” that is being produced this coming year with Screen Gems, and “Lotus,” which will be directed by Nicholas Macarthy, who did a wonderful little film called “The Pact. ”
And of course, I’m always coming up with more ideas for the “Tales” gang. Gotta pay off that vase…