Wes (Dustin Fasching) is a burned out photographer paying the bills shooting weddings. Fi (Sarah Lassez) is the author of a series of zombie novellas called, The Dead Survive. They are lovers who, at one time, were at the top of their creative game, but now have misplaced their muse. When Fi begins to show signs of mental illness, Wes does everything in his power to help her get better. But darker forces lurk inside her, and soon they realize the true horror of the situation. Fighting against a disturbed entity, they rediscover inspiration in the grimmest corners of this musical horror movie. Buy The Dead Inside now on DVD!
I, according to my website (www.joelvanvliet.com), am a songwriter, recording artist, singer, comedian, novelist, performer, actor, screenwriter, producer, humorist (see comedian), religionist, philosopher and narcissist. I've never completed a novel, acted in anything you've seen or written something for the screen that made it there. The other things on the list are a little bit more true to life.
When approaching the music for this project, I knew I wanted to make it typical of a musical, but it also had to be reminiscent of a horror score (which is what it's a part of). The only way to marry the two ideas was to record the songs well, but in the most frightening of places and situations. Although horror, ghost stories and zombies aren't typical fare for me, it seemed like a great opportunity to do all of that in one project. Travis did a fantastic job with the lyrics for the songs, bringing in classic elements from all over the horror universe while maintaining a singular story.
While writing the music and recording the demo versions of the songs, I made sure to put scary images on my television screen. Unfortunately, "Pan's Labyrinth" isn't nearly scary enough and even less so without sound (which was necessary to write music). Some of the images are still disturbing, but not really in a horror sort of way. This is why the songs in this movie are intense and dramatic, but really not at all scary. Not entirely my fault.
When it came to recording the foundational elements to any good rock and roll/musical song/piece (the drums and bass), I decided to make the environment unsettling in a more tangible way. First thing I did was dress up as a transvestite witch. I guessed that if the drummer or bassist were comfortable with witches, they would hopefully be unsettled by transvestites. Not only that, but I made sure to attach rubber bats and other creepy paraphernalia to the ceiling for effect. Turns out none of my efforts were as off-putting as I had hoped and the recording session went smoothly, if not a little humorously.
So, then it was time for me to perform and record the more basic elements in the songs, piano and guitars. Once again, I wanted to freak myself out in order to create the horror feel to everything. This time I got the brilliant (at least I thought it was at the time) idea to adjust the metronome or "click track" to no longer tick (as it typically would to keep me playing on time), but to say "boo" to me. I didn't want to put a boo on every beat, so I just did it for the first beat in each bar. Now the metronome said, "BOO, click, click, click. BOO, click, click, click" (that only goes for songs in 4/4 time, obviously). There's only so long you can get scared by "boo" when you know it's going to come up every time. So, once again, the fear was lost and the songs were, still awesome, but not frightening.
I thought, the only way this musical will ever be as horrifying as I want it to be was to record the actors in the most horrible way possible. I prepared a dungeon, hired fat hairy men to wear leather masks and carry whips and put together some "do it yourself" concoction to hang the actors by their nipples with hooks. I splattered the walls with red paint to look like blood just to add the extra fear. I then arranged the mics so that they could still be near the mouths of the actors as they lay suspended over the gravelly, dank floor. When the room was all complete, I remember looking at it and vomiting it was so frightening. Anyway, the actors wouldn't have it. I almost walked off. I almost threw in the towel being completely shocked that these people didn't give two hoots about the atmosphere of these songs.
Turns out they decided to record the songs when I wasn't there and just send them to me. It was pretty anti-climactic. The good news is, what came out of this all were a great bunch of songs which throw you into the world of a musical while contributing to the gasp-worthy ghost story. Hope you enjoy it and can still sort of hear the struggles I went through.
The Dead Inside is a unique film, a horro-dram-edy musical experience that is hard to forget.
The Dead Inside is a gratifying, rarely predictable experience that works
as a musical, relationship drama and horror film simultaneously.
Travis Betz is a genius. He is an important filmmaker. His films are important.
Jonathan Weichsel - Film Radar
Beautifully shot and unexpectedly moving, this film will stay with you - both the story and the tunes
Boston Underground Film Festival
The Dead Inside is a fun film people will be talking about nationwide.
Travis Betz - Writer / Director
Occasionally when I stumble out in public, people will come up to me and shout, "You're the Devil!". To this I politely reply with, "You are mistaking me for someone else." Later I always feel bad for having lied. I guess people watch my films and just put two and two together. I tell tales of demons, zombies, ghosts and madmen...I must be the Devil, or at least on good terms with him. Even though many of my projects are brimming with humor, they tend to sprout from dark places. The Dead inside is no exception. Allow me to expound on that:
One strange night whilst sleeping soundly in bed next to my lover/cinematographer, Shannon Hourigan, I was aroused from my slumber by the most wicked of noises. It was moaning. Not sexy moaning (that would have been awesome), but rather the creepy kind where angels shudder in fear. I rolled over to find Shannon the source of this terrible sound. Shannon breath in...demon breath out. I had never heard anything quite like it and it was chilling. I'm not a man who actually believes in possession, but at that moment I found myself wanting to give it consideration. Shannon did this for a week straight. It got to the point that I had to sleep on the couch because it was not only keeping me up but it was freaking my shit out. I'm sure many of you are thinking it was simple snoring and I need to man up. WELL, YOU WEREN'T THERE! This was certainly not snoring, as it was on the exhale. After a bit of web browsing we discovered it's a rare condition that can occur when the person is sick (she had a cold at the time). In some cases the moaning never went away. Lucky for us it only lasted the week. We discussed the occurrence which lead to a conversation about possession. At the time we were both interested in making a feature film together, but there was a small problem in the fact the neither of us had been inspired in ages. Our muse had long packed its bags and hopped aboard a moving train. The breathing issue had certainly sparked the idea of a story, but there was still something missing. I still wasn't writing anything.
Cut to: Live music karaoke bar - Beatles night. My friend, Miss Sarah Lassez, was jamming on stage...rocking the mic, if you will. I was at the bar with Shannon, fully distracted. I was turning the story and characters around in my head, trying to figure out why I couldn't get motivated to start writing. I paused from my self-torture for a moment and watched Sarah belt out the golden oldie, and that is when it ran into my face. The missing element. I was suddenly flooded with inspiration. Music. For reasons I was not yet sure of, this movie had to be a musical. After that night I had no trouble writing, and before long we had a shooting script.
We put together a skeleton crew and grabbed hold of some awesome talent and started shooting something that I consider to be very unique as well as funny, sad and twisted. I'm not going to sit here and lie to you...this movie rocks. I'm bursting at the seams for you to see it, and if my seams burst then everyone will see that I'm the Devil. This is because I am currently wearing the skin of a man I tricked ages ago. His name was Travis. He's the perfect cover.
Shannon Betz - Cinematographer / Production designer
So the year was 2008 and Travis decided that my having made a tiny short film about dolls in my bedroom qualified me to be the Director of photography on his comedy central web show, Bartokular.
Despite the fact that I didn't know what a gaffer was, on the first day I was handed one of them (not literally, gaffers are human i quickly learned) and somehow managed to figure out what to do with him. I also learned that extension cords are really called 'stingers', apple boxes are not actually for apples (?!) and clothes pins are in fact, 'c47s'. Amazing.
So I had a good time on the shoot and managed to not cut anyone's heads off (again, not literally - I'm talking about framing the shot) so I was pretty proud of the finished work.
Cut to 2009 and Travis writes a whole movie about an embarrassing incident where it sounded like demons were trying to crawl out of my throat while i slept (i heard the iphone recording) and it is decided that I will shoot my first feature film.
Armed with my new-found knowledge of film terms and technology I was pretty excited.. until I realized we couldn't actually afford most of that stuff. Luckily, we shot the bulk of the film in our apartment - which i decorated all pretty - and managed to make it work.
Tom Devlin - special makeup effects
Tom Devlin has been working professionally as a special makeup effects artist for 11 years. If you've ever met Tom, it is clear that monsters, horror movies and Halloween are not just a job for him, but a passion. Through his company 1313FX, Tom has provided creatures and special makeup effects on over 80 feature films. Tom recently appeared as a contestant on the SyFy reality series "Face Off" and is currently climbing the low budget ladder, constantly checking names off the list of people he's always wanted to work with.
Independent film is an art that relies heavily on the support of others. Making movies is an expensive medium and most filmmakers don’t have two pennies to rub together. When they have exhausted their wallets and credit cards there is only one other place to turn…you. The people who’s names appear on this page are vital players in the growing success of The Dead Inside. They have donated their time, money and support to help make this feature film something very special. We here at Drexel Box Films bow before you, and thank you from the bottom of our “fucking hearts” (that’s a reference from the movie you’ll all know soon enough).
Anneke de Jonge
Danelle ‘Tal’ Fait
Edwin A. Santos
James J. Betz
Jennifer Finch Sappington
Marius Sørli Finnstun
Tetyana Maya Maksymyschyn
Zaid H. Ibrahim