Last week saw the release of Ryan Spindell’s horror anthology The Mortuary Collection. The film, which starred Clancy Brown in a Cryptkeeper-style role, in which he bantered with a young woman played by Caitlin Custer, who before The Mortuary Collection appeared in a crowdfunded short film directed by Spindell and titled The Babysitter Murders. Horror aficionados will know that “The Babysitter Murders” was the original title for the Halloween screenplay, and there’s more than a passing nod to the John Carpenter classic in The Mortuary Collection, but that’s far from the whole of what Spindell’s directorial feature film is about.
Despite great reaction from fans and festivals on The Babysitter Murders, Spindell had a hard time selling the idea of a horror anthology. The ones that do get made tend to be things like Tales From Da Hood 3, which have recognizable names and a familiar franchise behind them.
“I would say, it is almost if not impossible, to get a horror anthology put together, at least, in the style that this movie was made,” Spindell told ComicBook. “I wrote the script back in 2012, and the script got a lot of attention. And across the board, pretty much everybody said, ‘There’s no way we’ll ever do an anthology. Don’t even try.’ And I blame myself for this, because again, this is 2012. And at the time, other than Trick r Treat, nobody had made these films. And I was like, ‘This is such a cool format.’ I love short form horror. I think there are so many stories, within the horror space, that require a short run time. That don’t need to be stretched to 80 minutes, which is something we see in the cinemas, all too often. And so I was like, ‘Well, I’m going to try to return to this format that I loved from the Amicus movies in the ’70s, and of course, Creepshow, in the ’80s. I’m going to try to bring this back, and try to find a way to pick some stories that I think are really special, and package them in a way that they can see it meet a wider audience.'”
That set the stage for a years-long, uphill battle. Spindell obviously eventually got his movie made, so it’s hard to imagine that he regrets it, but he admits that in hindsight, it was maybe too stubborn of him to become so fixated on the format.
“The hubris of it all was thinking that I was going to somehow pull off what nobody else had really done, which is, make a horror anthology film that rises above, and meets a wide audience in a really impactful way,” Spindell said. “It was through the making of it, and through the releasing of it that I realized that, no. Guillermo Del Toro himself says that he would never make an anthology, because it’s only as good as its worst segment. And while I don’t find that to be true, as a fan, I do find that to be true as a creator who’s trying to market and sell a thing.
It’s easy to pick apart things that don’t work, and if you have five stories, you have so many opportunities for people to come after you. And, we have been lucky in that, our reviews have been strong across the board. And I’m really thankful for that. But the danger of it is immense. And something, if I had known ahead of time, I don’t know if I would have gone through the several-year process of making this film. But I’m glad I did, because now it exists, and maybe somebody else can use me as a stepping stone and do something that does reach that audience.”
Ironically, one of those challenges came in the form of his plan coming together a little too well. When all he had was a screenplay, Spindell thought that a good way to sell the anthology to potential producers would be to have one realy good segment prepared and ready to screen. So they crowdfunded The Babysitter Murders, and then lived to regret it when it actually came time ot make the film.
“What happened was, I had these five stories, and we were going to do a Kickstarter to make one, and we were like, ‘Okay, what’s the one that’s the most contained, has the least amount of actors, and is going to give us the most bang for our buck?'” Spindell explained. “It was a challenge, because The Babysitter Murders was clearly the obvious choice, but also a big spoiler for the entire film. So we had to just take a swing and go for it, because we needed the short to work, to make the rest happen. And that was, the first and foremost. But yeah, it was a bummer, and there’s a couple of festivals that didn’t want to play us because they’d already played The Babysitter Murders, and they thought it was a rehash of some sort. But, it all worked out.”
The Mortuary Collection is available on VOD, Digital, DVD and Blu-ray April 20.