The horror film Camp Cold Brook stars Chad Michael Murray as a reality TV producer and host named Jack Wilson, who finds himself in a tough spot when his show Haunt Squad is about to be canceled. In a last-ditch effort to spark ratings, he and his producer Angela (Danielle Harris) choose to film their next episode at the legendary Camp Cold Brook, where young campers were drowned in a nearby creek 20 years ago. Their arrival begins like any other episode — but the TV crew finds that they get more than they bargained for.
Camp Cold Brook is directed by Andy Palmer and executive-produced by director Joe Dante, whose filmography boasts a clutch of horror classics, including Piranha, The Howling, and Gremlins.
“One of the things that I’ve benefited from is being mentored and helped by people,” says Dante, who began his Hollywood career cutting trailers for legendary exploitation producer Roger Corman. “Now that I’m in a position to do it myself, I try and see if I can get people’s films made. Andy Palmer and the writer Alex Carl are friends of one of my associates, Mark Alan (one of Camp Cold Brook producers), and he suggested that we get together and maybe produce this script that they had. I think it’s certainly among the more effective jump-scare movies that I’ve seen in the past couple of years and the results in the screenings we’ve had have been very encouraging.”
Camp Cold Brook is screening Nov. 30 as part of this year’s New York City Horror Film Festival. The day before, the event will host another Dante project, the horror anthology Nightmare Cinema, for which he directed a segment starring Richard Chamberlain as a seemingly nice plastic surgeon.
“I had been a fan of his since I saw him in his first movie, The Secret of the Purple Reef, when I was a kid,” says Dante of the actor. “He struck me as the perfect guy to play this plastic surgeon character who at the beginning is supposed to be nice and of course — it being a horror movie — turns out to not be so nice. It was almost the same situation on The Howling when I needed a doctor who starts out as a nice guy and turns out to be a werewolf. I chose Patrick Macnee because he was an instantly likable guy. If I’d used Christopher Lee, or people who are already known for horror, then you give the game away.”
The night Camp Cold Brook screens in New York, Dante himself will be in Los Angeles for a rare big-screen showing of his 3-D film The Hole at the TCL Chinese Theatre, after which he will be interviewed by fellow director John Landis (An American Werewolf in London).
“It got very, very few dates in 3-D,” says Dante of the film. “I made the mistake of talking them into doing it in 3-D at a time when all of a sudden there were a lot of big-budget, phoney 3-D movies, like Clash of the Titans. So, by the time our little movie with no stars was ready for release, there were no screens to play it on. So, it’s really had very little exposure.”
In addition to his producing and directing duties, Dante also oversees the essential-for-film-nuts website Trailers From Hell, which recently launched its own podcast called The Movies That Made Me, hosted by screenwriter Josh Olson (A History of Violence) with assistance from Dante himself. But when will we see a new feature from the much-loved filmmaker? A couple of years back, Bill Hader took part in a script-reading of The Man with Kaleidoscope Eyes, the true tale of how Roger Corman made 1967’s drug-drenched movie The Trip. Dante planned on bringing the story to the big screen but little has been heard of the project since.
“I am still working on it,” says Dante. “In fact, I have a meeting about it tomorrow. I’m still hoping. And so is Roger!”
You can learn more about the New York Horror Film Festival at the event’s official site.
Watch an exclusive clip from Camp Cold Brook, above.