Gorehounds and fright fans who are looking for a different way to indulge in their favorite horror films should make a pilgrimage to Los Angeles this fall for an encore engagement of an immersive gallery exhibit from experimental artist Maximillian.
I Like Scary Movies, which opened on September 20 and runs until November 17, was arranged by Ultra Productions and inspired by five of Warner Bros.’ and New Line Cinema’s most petrifying classics. In the exhibit, experiential producer and avant-garde artist Maximillian takes Friday the 13th, Stephen King's It, The Shining, Beetlejuice, and A Nightmare on Elm Street and twists the familiar fears into unique mashups and eerie encounters.
Brave attendees will vacation at Camp Crystal Lake from Friday the 13th; check into the The Shining’s Overlook Hotel to say hello to its ghostly twin girls; wander through Beetlejuice’s garish graveyard on the path to the Netherworld Waiting Room; enter Freddy’s boiler room from A Nightmare on Elm Street; and be lured into Pennywise’s lair from It. Tickets for this unique cinema-centric attraction can be purchased here.
SYFY WIRE spoke with Maximillian to learn what inspired these artistic interpretations and what curious fans can expect when they visit the nerve-rattling event...
What was the genesis of this artistic ode to iconic Hollywood horror films?
MAXIMILLIAN: That's a big question that a lot of people ask me and it's a different thing each time. There wasn't necessarily a lightbulb moment, and it was more my overall life where the stars aligned and I had this idea about playing with these horror movies in a different way. I co-directed a show at the Hollywood Bowl for the original Willy Wonka film. We had an all-star cast with "Weird Al," John Stamos, and Finn Wolfhard and we had a great time with that. Off of that, I ended up meeting this great group at Warner Bros., who I had a relationship with before, and it kinda made sense. I had been wanting to play with horror movies and create three-dimensional fan art to step into.
So I wanted to take those plot points that mean something to the artists and explode them, and celebrate horror in a way people haven't quite harnessed yet. All we have right now is our scare mazes at Halloween, or watching the movie over and over, buy a mug or t-shirt, but aside from that, how do these movies live on? So, the only way for them to live on is to explore that content. Like what if the camera turned left instead of right? That was my moment to approach Warner and ask them if I could artistically reinterpret some of these films and shockingly they said yes!
In what ways did you execute the concept once the basic idea was forged?
I love stepping into the worlds, but at the same time, I want to celebrate them differently. So I want to take the carpet pattern from the Overlook [Hotel] and create it as this menacing pattern that engulfs and suffocates you as you go into this room environment. I want to take the elevator Blood Flood and instead of doing blood, reinterpret it with the Room 237 red key tags and have that be a still life sculpture. We've had a lot of talented people around the world recreating scenes and that's not what I want to do. I want to harness them differently, looking at them just left of center, turning them upside down, remixing them, mashing them up. Truly doing what fan art does best.
I Like Scary Movies is not a scare maze or direct recreations and that is a very deliberate move on my part. I love going to Universal Horror night and stepping into The Exorcist but to be honest and to be blunt... it's been there done that. We need to dive deeper. That's the only way these movies will stay alive and reignite new generations.
What has changed in this expanded fall encore presentation of I Like Scary Movies?
I'm not capable of doing [exactly the same], it's just not in my makeup. As much as everyone wants me to figure out this "easily tourable" beast, I don't have it within me. I Like Scary Movies is going to be a morphing, shape-shifting, always changing experience. And so as a result we have a lot of the mainstays we had the first time around, but I've remixed them. For instance, in A Nightmare of Elm Street we had this massive Freddy glove that stands about ten feet tall and it's all hand-forged aluminum and steel, and you can pull the gloves and knives down around you and feel the cold of the metal, the leather of the glove, and the squishy skin of the burnt flesh on his palm and fingertips.
We had that the first time around and it was a huge favorite. Now we've remixed it into a different environment. In the first iteration we had The Lost Boys as one of our five movies and in this time around we swapped out Lost Boys for Friday the 13th. That's been really great and another really fun installation that I've been very excited about.
What was it like working with Warner Bros. and did you have guidelines or restrictions to follow?
There are definitely creative guidelines, but thankfully the powers that be at Warner Bros. were very easy to work with when it came to the creative decisions I was coming up with. I was bracing for impact because it hadn't really been done this way, sort of screwed with the content. I took a big gamble, not only from the studio perspective but also from the fan perspective. I was hoping fans would connect with what I was trying to do, and thankfully they have. When it came to guidelines there were certain things within the worlds we needed to steer clear of or be mindful of.
When I was doing all the Shining concepts, all those concepts had to be approved by the Kubrick estate, and that was a big nail-biter for me. We took a few things like the snowbank and the bathroom window, but we were also remixing a lot of things. So I was a little nervous, but within two days they approved everything without any alteration. One of the heads of creative at Warner said to me during my initial presentation that that the thing he loved best about I Like Scary Movies, is that just when you think you know what it is, you turn the corner and it changes again. And that felt really good.
How did horror films shape or influence your chosen career path and what was your earliest memory of being scared by a fright flick?
The Exorcist! I don't know where my parents were, but somehow I was by myself as a kid. I think my dad went to bed and I was up alone and I somehow came across The Exorcist and it scared the s*** out of me. That was a forever altering moment with horror for sure. That and Phantasm, oddly. I can't get those visuals out of my head. But my feel-good horror movie is the original Poltergeist. I just love that movie. I grew up going to school in Simi Valley where it was filmed, but that's the movie I put on to make me feel at home and good.
Are there any traveling road-show versions of I Like Scary Movies planned in the future?
Yeah, that's exactly the plan. We chose to do an encore here in L.A. because it's our home town and I couldn't resist celebrating Halloween here before going on the road. We're in heavy talks with a lot of different markets, and a lot of other countries for that matter. I did an on-camera interview with some people out of Abu Dhabi yesterday. Globally we're getting people from Japan to the U.K to Germany who are all feeling like this is something people would connect with in their countries as well. But right in our own back yard, that is our plan, to take the circus on the road, you know. When you can create your own playground, when I can live in that space, and just be creative with movies that I love, there's nothing better. I'm living the nightmare!