Fango heard from veteran horror filmmaker Kevin (WITCHBOARD) Tenney, who revealed that he has recently wrapped a new fright feature called BRAIN DEAD (no relation to the Peter Jackson film a.k.a. DEAD ALIVE). The debut production of Tenney’s new Prodigy Entertainment company features the FX work of frequent Frank Henenlotter collaborator Gabe Bartalos and was scripted by Dale Gelineau, a longtime friend of Tenney’s who gave us some details on the project.
“BRAIN DEAD started a long time ago when Tenney’s career and my own were stalled in the breakdown lane,” Gelineau tells Fango. “I had written one episode of a TV show and the release of WITCHBOARD kept getting pushed back. We were living in the same cheap apartment building, we were represented by the same worthless agent and our wallets were on the same low-fat diet. Impatient to get our lives rolling and having nothing to lose, we decided to put together an independent project and shop it around. I started writing a comedy/horror script which I called SLASH, a story about two escaped convicts—one of them a psychotic killer—two pretty coeds—one of whom is in love with the other—and a famous televangelist and his starry-eyed secretary who all have the misfortune of getting stuck in an abandoned cabin in the mountains while a giant, buglike alien with a sweet tooth for human brains lurks outside and skull-sucks them one by one.
“But, just as I was finishing the first draft, WITCHBOARD finally got released and was making truckloads of money at the box office. Suddenly, Tenney was in demand. He followed up his success with another hit, NIGHT OF THE DEMONS, and SLASH was, well…slashed. Yet there is such a thing as being too good at your job, and soon Tenney developed a reputation for making cheap movies look expensive. Now, 15 years and 12 films later, he’s fed up with working under stupidly difficult conditions so that some company bean counter can get a pat on the head from his boss. He always remembered my script and wanted to film it; he liked the weird characters and the biting humor. When he finally had had enough of humoring clueless execs, he made the decision to start his own company and bought the rights to SLASH for his first project.”
The director did his own pass on the script, changing the giant bug to marauding zombies, a switch that Gelineau says made the screenplay “read faster and more dangerous.” Gelineau did final revisions, and BRAIN DEAD lensed this past summer in the mountains of Tujunga, CA. The cast of up-and-comers includes David Crane as the psychopathic Bob, Joshua Benton as Clarence, the wisecracking convict, Sarah Grant Brendecke and Michelle Tomlinson as the coeds, Andy Forrest as the Rev. Eldon Farnsworth, Cristina Tiberia as his secretary and Tess McVicker in a forest-ranger role originally written for a man. Despite all this acting talent, Gelineau says, “The makeup effects are, in fact, the real stars of the film. Gory movies are almost as much fun to work on as they are to watch. When Bartalos and his crew showed up with plastic bags full of body parts, people couldn’t stop giggling. When Kevin’s brother, score composer and actor Dennis Michael Tenney [being made up by Bartalos at bottom] showed up in full zombie prosthetics, everyone on the set wanted their picture taken with him. When Joshua and Sarah were splattered with black goo from an exploding head, it was all they could do to keep from exploding themselves!”
Look for more on BRAIN DEAD and other upcoming Tenney projects on this site soon, and go here to check out the movie’s official website.