Fanboys star Dan Fogler borrowed from and/or tipped his cap to some of the best bits in film history as he went behind the camera to make his directorial debut, the horror sendup Hysterical Psycho.
"There were a lot of influences," Fogler said in an interview. "Definitely I'd say Psycho. Apocalypse Now. Jaws. Evil Dead. Let's see ... The Man Who Wasn't There. Friday the 13th. Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Night of the Living Dead. Rope. Goodfellas. It's a long list."
The film—now on the festival circuit and in search of a distributor—is a mostly black-and-white affair that follows an unfortunate theater group (played by members of Fogler's theater group, Stage 13) that ends up at the secluded Moonlake Inn Hotel, which is situated precariously close to a lake laden with mind-messing lunar radiation. It's not long before one of the troupe's less stable members loses it and the bodies start piling up.
Fogler—best known for his roles in such films as Balls of Fury, Kung Fu Panda and Fanboys—pops up himself a few times. Gilbert Gottfried makes a cameo. Why? We don't know, and we didn't ask, to be honest. And there's even a cool animated sequence.
"People are really intrigued by it being in black and white," Fogler said. "I did that because I wanted to pay homage to early Hitchcock, especially Psycho. It was also out of necessity. We were shooting for a very short time up in Maine, and we couldn't shoot at night because we didn't have the right lighting equipment. So I thought if we just made it black and white, it wouldn't matter. All the old movies I used to see, they shot day for night and you could totally tell it was daytime, but they were still acting like it was night. That was the same feeling I was trying to go for."
Fogler had previously directed several stage productions and a few film shorts. Calling the shots on an actual feature, he acknowledged, was an entirely different experience. "It took a few days, definitely, to get into it and to convince everybody I knew what I was doing," Fogler says. "A lot of it was in my head, shot for shot, so I was winging it a lot of the time. It wasn't until a few days in, when we started seeing dailies, that it looked like a movie. I gained more respect from the crew, and it became a breeze after a while. Basically, a week into it I was just there, smiling the whole time. I totally got bitten by the bug, just fell in love with the process."
The film is complete, and now comes the hard part: finding a home for Fogler's quirky, twisted baby.
"It's already surpassed my expectations," Fogler says. "We got it made. It got into Tribeca. People actually liked it. All the right people liked it, people from the horror venues and even some people that are more mainstream. It's not for everybody, obviously, and black and white is [a] hard sell, but we have people interested in getting into business with us. A lot of foreign folks are interested, and some local folks, too. Some people want to see a color version, and I'm willing to be creative. It's this little movie, and we want a theatrical release for it, but nothing is solidified yet."
And if Hysterical Psycho finds an audience, well, you know where we're going with this ...
"Hysterical Psycho has blossomed in my mind as a Moonlake series, where you can tell the stories of all the horrific events that have happened at Moonlake, on the lake, over the centuries," Fogler says. "You can get a lot of stories out of that. Sequels. Prequels. So I think there's a lot more gold to mine there."