“BUMP”-ING INTO ROBERT KURTZMAN

As most fans know by now, filmmaker/effects master Robert Kurtzman (“Wishmaster”) was one of the original founders of special effects company KNB, Inc. (along with Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger) and recently returned home to Ohio and created the production house Precinct 13 Entertainment. And he’s been ridiculously busy ever since.
Precinct 13’s first in-house production, the monster-filled roller coaster ride, “The Rage”, starring Andrew Divoff (“Wishmaster” again) and Erin Brown (“Masters of Horror: Sick Girl”), wrapped shooting in September and is in post-production (“I’m wrangling the actors for their ADR right now,” says Kurtzman). To follow up this landmark, Kurtzman called his favorite Film Threat staffer to let everyone know that his P13 sophomore effort will be adapting Mark Kidwell’s “Ghost story – with teeth!” comic, “Bump”.

“It’s a little bit of the hardcore serial killer idea, like ‘Saw’, but it has a supernatural element to it. So it’s not a straight torture movie. It’s got some fun elements in it,” Kurtzman explains. “The basic premise—the feel of ‘Saw’ but with a little bit of—well, I wouldn’t say ‘Evil Dead’, but it’s got creepy woods, a rainy night, spooky things coming to life, that sort of thing.”

That all these elements would appeal to the man who created “From Dusk ‘til Dawn” should come as no surprise to anyone. As an effects artist, Kurtzman’s history includes “Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn”, “Phantasm II”, “Night of the Creeps”, “Army of Darkness”, “Bride of Re-Animator”… basically all the fun ‘80s gorefests we all grew up on. And he’s been making it his mission to bring enjoyment back to the horror genre. By moving his base of operations to Crestline, Ohio, Kurtzman basically took the stand that movies, in this day and age, can be made anywhere. A serious player may still need Hollywood money to get things off the ground, but those same dollars will go a lot further 3000 miles away from the L.A. machinery.

“Bump” was hand-delivered to Kurtzman by one of its creators, Scott Licina, who helped produce the comic with Kidwell to launch Fangoria Comics.

“[Licina] and Mark are partners. Scott was talking about the movie and he said ‘You gotta check this out, we’re working on something really cool! We finished the comic treatment.’ And I read in the car on my way back from the Jersey [Fangoria Weekend of Horrors] con. And I just went ‘wow, this is fun. I want to do this’. This is the next thing I’m gonna do once we get the financing done. Our plan is to shoot it this summer, if all the pieces fall into place. We’ll shop it around and see what happens. I think somebody will bite on it. It’s a pretty fun script. I’m [pretty optimistic], but I’ve sold projects to studios that have not been made and only collect dust. That wont happen with Bump. We want to be in production by summer and that’s the deal we have to make. The script lends itself to an Ohio shoot which is what we are planning. The locations are all around the studio. Even though Ohio doesn’t have a film tax incentive package the benefits of shooting here are great, and we know how to do things on a price and find everything we need and more here in Ohio.

“It’s going to be a bigger budget than ‘The Rage’. We shot ‘The Rage’ main shoot in twenty days on Hi-Def which looks great and allowed us to put tons of effects on screen without the cost of film scanning (over 400 CGI and Practical Creature/ FX Shots), but we had a very contained crew and I shot the film myself acting as my own DP. We’ve already done several output tests to film and the images are amazing. With ‘Bump’ we’re going to shoot 35mm. I want to bring Tom Callaway [“Feast” “Buried Alive”] in to shoot it. We had a great time on ‘Buried Alive’ and work well together. I think ‘Bump’ has theatrical legs, and it can compete in today’s marketplace, because it has all the elements that are selling right now.”

But don’t for a second mistake this for lack of faith in “The Rage”. If early footage is any indication, horror fans will have a Pavlovian response to the mutants vs. humans adventure when it’s finally released. Practically, however, Kurtzman and company, particularly producer John Bisson, approached “The Rage” “We did ‘The Rage’ for the marketplace but it maybe hard [to convince a studio] to put ten million dollars into it for P&A [prints and advertising] for theatrical because we are such a small picture and don’t have a big marquee name. But that doesn’t mean we won’t get one. We do have a lot of genre clout behind the film. We designed ‘The Rage’ to be something we’d get a return on even if it’s only in ancillary markets. We’ll still make our money back on video and cable regardless. My investors won’t take a bath.”

So while “Bump” develops, fans can anticipate a few other Kurtzman and/or P13-related projects. We’re doing a movie in Detroit called ‘Little Red Devil’. Some friends of Gary [Jones’] made a couple of movies up there, they put some financing together and started this new one. [Tommy Brunswick] is directing. So we started working on the sculpts and stuff for that a few weeks ago. Doing some make-up and CGI effects for that. So we got tons of bids out, too. Then there’s something I can’t announce yet. [The director] is saving announcing it. But after that, I’m going back to L.A. to hustle and try and get another show back here to shoot, which will be ‘Bump’. We’re basically going to go out with that everywhere.”

This isn’t even to mention P13’s visual effects work on James Zahn’s “Death Walks the Streets”, the upcoming comic tie-in for “The Rage” a prequel called “Beneath The Valley of the RAGE” or “Buried Alive”, which Kurtzman directed last year from a script by Art Monterastelli. “The cut’s been done for about three months now. I feel really good about it. It has a hot cast and sex and drugs and ghosts. It’s pretty polished, it looks good. We have a pretty good shot at theatrical because Tobin [Bell]’s in it. He’s coming off of ‘Saw’, so I think it has a great chance of getting picked up for theatrical. I want him for a role in ‘Bump’ but I haven’t talked to him yet. He’s great to work with.”




Posted on February 12, 2007 in Interviews by
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