Amazon’s L.A Macabre fixes on three filmmakers that interview a former member of the defunct cult “The New Family” leading them down a path of mystery, kidnapping, and murder. The nail-biting profusion of TWIN PEAKS and THE X-FILES hails from Daniel Ast, and features a superlative ensemble cast including Christina Wren (BATMAN V. SUPERMAN) and Robert Broski (TWIN PEAKS: THE RETURN). Luckily for us the entire cast and crew took some time out to tell us all about their favorite horror films.
Ryan Hellquist, who plays Ryan Hollbrook in the series, ensures audiences will be on the edge of their seat. “L.A. Macabre is such a thrill ride with a variety of growing suspense, creeping suspicions, twists, and turns, all-out jump scares and terrifying WTF! realizations, then at times it teases you with just enough horrifying mystery to send the darkest parts of your imagination into a frenzy.”
Says Corsica Wilson, who plays Callie Beatrice, “Our limited resources resulted in a more intimate, creative and adventurous process that made us a family as we endured together and became more in sync. And because we shot chronologically, the show was able to capture that, which I think adds a unique layer to the overall viewing experience.
Being able to expand the show and shoot several climactic scenes at some spooky old haunts in the outskirts of Los Angeles was really exciting. The anticipation built up for me throughout the shoot and when we finally got to the locations, it felt like they were the stars and I was just the fangirl.”
Ryan Hellquist, Corsica Wilson, Aidan Bristow, Ryan Bartley, Christina Wren, Joel Bryant, Erika L. Homes, and Brandy Redd headline a gifted ensemble. Dan Ast wrote and directed the episodes. Ast produces via his Half Ast Productions alongside David Schatanoff, Jr. for D Studios Productions.
The first season of L.A Macabre began life as a found footage web series on YouTube – it did extremely well on the web series festival circuit. For season 2, the format evolves into a single camera drama. The second season is much more ambitious in every way. More characters, locations, subplots, action, stunts, scares. All episodes from both seasons have been edited into 15 30-minute episodes, now available on Amazon Prime.
Below a whole host of creatives, cast and crew from the amazing show tell us all about their favorite horror films:
RYAN HELLQUIST (RYAN) – “Get Out is an absolute modern masterpiece. It’s a perfect blend of social commentary, real-world fear, and supernatural horror. I also really appreciate the balance of laugh out loud humor, perfectly woven in with a legitimately frightening story. Then, at times you are compelled to stand up and cheer. It’s a full ride that hits a wide spectrum of notes. How is this Jordan Peele’s first film?!”
CORSICA WILSON (CALLIE) – The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari – I would have to say The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, not because it’s necessarily the scariest, but because of its significance as one of the first horror films ever made. Not to mention the impressive and unsettling expressionist style that lends itself perfectly toward its spooky tale.
AIDAN BRISTOW (COLIN) – Hereditary – Ari Aster’s imagery is second to none in evoking anxiety and terror. He knows how to make an audience grown in their seats with ant ridden decapitated heads and he can equally terrify viewers with images of Toni Collette violently banging her head on the attic door. But what makes the movie special (for me) is the care that is taken in the first and second act to make me grieve with all the characters. They’re all struggling to make the family structure work and there isn’t an easy antagonist to point to and blame for their disfunction. Instead, their problems are universal and relatable. A woman mourning the loss of her mother, a man mourning the relationship he used to have with his wife prior to her grief, a daughter whose physical ailments make her impossibly unpopular in school, and a son who desperately wants to be accepted by his peers. Once we understand and love these characters, the horrific journey Aster puts them on becomes significantly more compelling.
RYAN BARTLEY (JAMIE) – The Exorcist – One of my favorites has to be The Exorcist. I love the cinematography and symbolism in the shot design. A classic and for good reason!
MIKE MEEHAN (COMPOSER) – King Kong (1933) – Although it’s hard to boil it down to just one, my favorite horror movie might be the original ’33 King Kong. The fun and funny script brings entertainment value that holds up surprisingly well over time. And the psychological terror of a giant gorilla trying to eat humans is undeniably heightened with a masterful score by Max Steiner, as well as the crude, scrappy special effects that make it feel wild and unpredictable. The film has a fun and adventurous spirit to it that, to this day, makes it a special kind of hybrid film.”
CHRISTINA WREN (JP) – I’m not into being scared just for the hell of it. The horrors that catch my eye are metaphors. Get Out. Lovecraft Country. The Babadook. Comments on a human experience that can really only be told through horror.
AUSTIN LEE SMOAK (CINEMATOGRAPHER) – The Shining – Among my favorite horror films is The Shining. Seeing it gave me a whole new appreciation for visual storytelling. Kubrick’s masterful use of cinematography to draw you into the world has stayed with me.
JOEL BRYANT (RANDY) – Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale – The holiday season is the time to bring out my favorite horror film (along with “Die Hard” and “Gremlins” it makes up my trio of holiday favorites): “Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale.” It’s from Finland, is stunningly filmed, wonderfully acted, and a spectacular slow burn to a brutal ending. Without giving too much away, it’s based on the northern stories that gave rise to the Santa Claus mythos. It’s a dark commentary on holiday legends, British commercialism, salt-of-the-earth vs. modern technology, and makes one appreciate the power of Santa Claus and his elves. I read nothing about it going in when I first watched it and everything I subsequently read about it makes it so much better on every viewing. Happy Holidays!
ERIKA L. HOLMES (EPPS) – Tourist Trap – I don’t watch much horror as an adult, but for those who dare… A film that will forever make me shudder, is the creepy offbeat 1979 slasher, “Tourist Trap.” We’re talking young people stranded in the boonies, an eerie museum, mannequins, and the paranormal…need I say more?! I had no business watching that movie as a child! But, when you’re the youngest and under the charge of your older siblings, and they decide to watch throwback horror, well…
MALIA MIGLINO (KEY MAKEUP ARTIST) – House On Haunted Hill (1959) – Hands down my favorite horror film of all time is 1959’s “House on Haunted Hill.” I personally think it changed horror forever and developed the haunted house storyline so many have taken inspiration from. Their use of practical effects and brilliant psychological scares is what makes this film a classic and a pioneer in paranormal movies. I think it deserves way more credit than it gets and that’s not JUST because it features one of my favorite historical homes and Vincent Price.
JENNA HELLMUTH (STUNTS) – Killer Klowns From Outer Space – My favorite horror movie is Killer Klowns From Outer Space. The practical 7-foot creepy Klowns, the cheeky kills, and the music always draw me in for another watch. It makes me laugh and still manages to creep me out.
DAN AST (CREATOR/WRITER/DIRECTOR/PRODUCER) – Halloween and Duel – I’m going to cheat a little bit on this and say “Halloween” and “Duel.” I feel like they’re both incredibly effective, rich-yet-sparse films executed with dread-inducing simplicity. I name both because “Halloween” was my go-to growing up and casts an aesthetic shadow over Season One of L.A. Macabre, whereas “Duel” is likewise a huge influence on Season Two.
DAVID SCHATANOFF, JR (PRODUCER) – The Thing (1982) – My favorite horror film is The Thing (1982). It’s claustrophobic and isolating and this creepy alien entity could exist in anyone or anything. I love that Ennio Morricone score that just makes everything even more creepy. Add on the incredible effects work that brings it all together and my 10-year-old self was sold on the horror/sci-fi genre mash-up.
L.A Macabre is now available on Amazon Prime