‘Death House’ Interview: Driven Director Harrison Smith Part II

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Harrison Smith’s ‘Death House’ is one of horror’s hottest properties. At Days of the Dead Louisville 2016, we were able to sit with the hardworking director to talk film, horror’s current state, and all things ‘Death House’. Welcome to our ‘Death House’ director interview part II.

Reading to be horror’s number one home for fright and fear, Death House is almost upon us. Featuring a stunning 16 genre-vets, with more work experience combined than almost all of Hollywood, Death House is the can’t miss event our genre needs. We all must move into horror’s new delightfully dilapidated home.

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And that house’s carnage contractor is none other than Harrison Smith. The director of Camp Dread and Zombie Killers: Elephant’s Graveyard, Smith is bringing his amazingly fun-looking Death House to you very soon.

Recently I was pleased and grateful to have spent about an hour with Smith talking all things Death House. Two days ago we brought you Part 1 our interview with the director, and today, we begin to finish what we started. Welcome back to 1428’s exclusive interview with Death House Director Harrison Smith.

Harrison Smith directs Tony Todd on the set of ‘Death House’- Courtesy of Entertainment Factory


Joey Click: Speaking about your cast of ‘Death House’, if you were to measure the cast’s filmmaking experience physically, it would stretch for miles. It’s truly impressive just how much the cast has worked in the last 40-50 years. Did you go after specific actors for specific roles or did you figure that out once everyone signed on?

HS: Think the best answer would be, when you’re dealing with such a large ensemble group, it’s hard to throw a spotlight on one actor. If you do, others can feel like an after thought, so to speak. There’re no after thoughts here. So what we went for is, we have agents involved. Already pre-involved even before I came to it. So there were already part and parcel situations set up with talent. But, we reached out to everybody in the industry. We said, “This is what we’re doing. We want you to be involved, but there are only so many starring roles in the film. But we want you to be a part of it, and not just a cameo in the background.” We didn’t want people to feel like they would be in a scene just drinking a drink or whatnot. So, yeah of course we went after specific people. The headliners of horror.

JC: I suppose a better way to phrase the question would be, did you read the script, or when you wrote it, were you thinking of specific actors for roles? Like Kane would be better for this role?

HS: Oh Yeah!. We really liked Kane for Sieg. Because…well here’s an interesting a story. A sidebar, but it pertains to what you’re asking. So the editor on ‘Death House’, he’s about 25. Around there. So he says to me one day, “Hey Harrison, I have a question. It doesn’t make any sense. So I put this movie together, and Kane can regenerate. You never really explained that.” So, I say to him, “Yeah we do. We mention that he dabbled in Nazi cultism and probably stumbled onto something. That’s why he believes he’s immortal. And he goes, “Yeah but should’t you explain that.” And I go, “Let me ask you something. Are you a ‘Friday the 13th’ fan? Did they ever explain how Jason went from a skinny kid to a hulking brute? What did he have a gym under Crystal Lake?”

JC: Hahaha that’s hilarious. To that point, a lot of people seem to undervalue tone in film. They don’t seem to get its impact on an audience’s enjoyment of a film. By looking at the ‘Death House’ trailer, I can certainly see that the film is nothing if not fun’. Much like the ‘Friday the 13th’ films.

HS: It Is fun! So, in other words, didn’t they basically cut Jason’s head off in ‘The Final Chapter’ and then resurrect him in ‘Jason Lives’? So when Kane wares a mask you have no questions, but when he doesn’t wear a mask, you have all these question?