Two Grand Rapids filmmakers are coming together to present a scary-ish double feature just in time to get film fans in the Halloween spirit.
Films, America’s Most Haunted and Too Dead to Die, will screen back-to-back at Wealthy Theater, located at 1130 Wealthy St. SE, in Grand Rapids on Friday, Oct. 14.
“Friday the 14th in October seemed like a fun day to schedule it, so thus the ‘Friday the 14th Made in GR Double Feature’ was born,” said filmmaker Jason Roth, who had a hand in making both films. He is credited on America’s Most Haunted as a producer and is the writer and director of Too Dead To Die.
“It’s the 10th anniversary of the release of America’s Most Haunted, so we wanted to do something to celebrate it,” said Roth. “Chris Randall made a great horror comedy, and it’s a project I’m very proud to be associated with as a producer.”
America’s Most Haunted has been described as scarier than Ghostbusters and funnier than Poltergeist and features some well-known Hollywood actors. James Karen, who starred in Return of the Living Dead, might be more recognized by mainstream audiences for his role in the 1982 film, Poltergeist, which was written by Steven Spielberg and directed by Tobe Hooper.
Familiar TV, film and voice actor Brad Norman plays the starring role in America’s Most Haunted. Norman has dozens of film and TV credits under his belt, but may be best know as the voice of Bullwinkle in Amazon’s recent Rocky & Bullwinkle revival. The film’s co-star, Joe Anderson, also co-wrote the film. Anderson is the mastermind behind The Comedy Project, the newest comedy club to open in Grand Rapids.
America’s Most Haunted was filmed in early 2012, and had its first screening at the Thriller! Chiller! Film Festival in October of that year. It had a good run in distribution via physical media and streaming services, Roth said.
While America’s Most Haunted has had some commercial success and features familiar faces, Too Dead to Die has been more of a labor of love for Roth.
“Too Dead To Die is a mix of Night of the Living Dead and The Three Stooges, with a touch of Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead films,” said Roth.
The film stars local rockabilly legend Jim Rodery portraying the character President Walter Bronsky, with a soundtrack full of music from his band Dangerville and many tunes from the surf rock greats The Concussions.
“I started production in the year 2000 without a script. It has had a strange and bumpy journey since then,” said Roth.
“There have been screenings of various versions throughout the years, it’s been a continuously evolving project. But it’s back, in an all-new final cut.
“The budget probably wouldn’t cover one hour of catering on a Michael Bay movie, most of the cost was buying Mini-DV tapes to film on. I doubt if the budget was ultimately higher than $1,000. I just shot a few more new bits for it this past week (still on Mini-DV for consistency), so it’s been 22 years in the making so far.
“I’m going to enter it in a few horror film festivals and see about finding distribution for streaming and physical media,” Roth said.
Roth’s next project is an animated pilot called Sticky Fingers he described as a cross between Mad Max and Ren & Stimpy.
“The pilot will feature the final voice role of the late, great actor James Karen, recorded in 2016, so I feel a great responsibility to make this one spectacular. Once that one is complete, I have a screenplay in progress for a live-action murder/mystery film that may be the next flick,” Roth said.
Both filmmakers will be in attendance to introduce the films at the double-feature Oct. 14. Some of the cast and crew members will be in attendance, too. There will be a cash bar with signature drinks for each film, and “other fun surprises,” said Roth. An after-show hangout will follow the two screenings so audience members can mingle and ask any questions they may have.
Admission is $10 and gets movie-goers into both films. The first film to screen will be America’s Most Haunted, which starts at 7:30 p.m. and has a running time of 85 minutes. There will be a brief intermission between shows and then Too Dead to Die will begin around 9 p.m. and has a running time of 65 minutes.