With a giant man-eating fish in tow, the maven of indie horror returns to the director’s chair for the first time in six years with Beneath.
“I would not have told you a year ago I was going to make a movie about a giant fish. I can guarantee that much.”
Nearly 40 years ago, that could have been Steven Spielberg talking about Jaws. Here, though, it’s indie horror guru Larry Fessenden, who is just as much an American original.
Since the 1980s, he has been an actor, producer, director, mentor to other filmmakers and entrepreneur of the strange with his Glass Eye Pix production company, which has put out recent films such as Stake Land, Bitter Feast and The Innkeepers.
Fessenden blends the old school with the new in most everything he does, and always with fans in mind — the guy even put out a set of throwback Web radio shows called Tales From Beyond the Pale, with a second season coming this summer.
“Why not do audio programs in the age of YouTube and video!” Fessenden, 50, says with a laugh. “Part of it is just to re-engage the imagination of the kids and get them to enjoy stories in different mediums.”
But back to that giant fish. A lover of the low budget, Fessenden returns to the director’s chair for Beneath (in theaters and available on demand July 15, and on Chiller TV this fall), which features a group of recent high school graduates headed up to a lake to party and, in a leaking boat with an unfortunate lack of oars, find a man-eating, catfish-looking creature ready for a several-course meal.
It’s Fessenden’s first directorial effort since the 2007 environmental horror flick The Last Winter, and the latest in a career that started in the early 1980s.
“I’ve always wanted to direct, that’s my priority,” says Fessenden, who also has acted in films such as Bringing Out the Dead, Happy Accidents, Broken Flowers and even a modern-day adaptation of Hamlet with Ethan Hawke.
Fessenden talks with USA TODAY about the new film, the Jaws influence, what he doesn’t like about today’s horror and what favorite movie of his might polarize the viewership.
Read Larry Fessenden’s full interview on USA TODAY.