The 13th Floor

From Broke to Blockbuster: Indie Directors That Deserve Studio Films

We live in the age of the remake, sequel, prequel and spin-off. Fans like us have to delve deep into the smaller independent circuits to find new and original horror films and we drudge through a lot of crap, but we do happen upon some gems from some really cool new talented filmmakers.

Lately there’s been a pretty cool renaissance of smaller horror filmmakers jumping into the big studio directing chairs, just as crazy as it seems that the guy who made BAD TASTE now directs big studio films; the guy who made HOME SICK is directing GODZILLA VS KING KONG.

This got me thinking, with a lot of our favorite indie genre directors jumping into studio fare, who else would we like to see make the jump and what franchise could they tackle?


Jason Lei Howden has perhaps given us one of the greatest throwbacks to how we fall in love with horror comedies with his directorial debut DEATHGASM. Every single person I show the film to immediately is quoting it or wanting to watch it five more times.

It’s fun, fast paced and has gore galore with its balls to the wall insanity. There is one franchise I would love to see Howden tackle that I feel is perfect for him and that is RE-ANIMATOR.

It’s been a long time since we saw Herbert West on the screen creating all kinds of nightmarish creatures for the living to deal with and it’s a shame that we never got Stuart Gordon’s political satire of a film, HOUSE OF RE-ANIMATOR, which would have centered on Herbert West infiltrating the White House and accidentally zombifying the president.

Howden has the perfect black humor showcased in DEATHGASM that could easily translate into the depravity of a RE-ANIMATOR film and with the way the political climate is in this day and age, Howden could have a field day in making HOUSE OF RE-ANIMATOR a reality.

Howden has a distinct love for practical effects that could work perfectly for all kinds of monstrous creatures and I could only imagine the hilarious visuals of Herbert West’s political cabinet with Howden behind the camera. As seen in his dildos vs. demonic christians scene in DEATHGASM, nothing is too sacred for Howden to horrify.


Jackson Stewart, fresh off being an assistant for Stuart Gordon, teamed up with writer Stephen Scarlotta for the recent IFC release of BEYOND THE GATES, a throwback to the old VHS board games that plays like satanic JUMANJI. It’s a really cool little film that builds tons of atmosphere and tension with its great musical score and color palate of dark pinks and blues reminiscent of Gordon’s FROM BEYOND.

I loved the relationships between the characters on the screen and how they grow and interact, which helps play into the finale. When Jackson goes full-on eerie with the gore it’s like a roller coaster because of how tame the narrative is as it spirals into a sudden bloodbath of intestines and head explosions.

Immediately I was drawn to the look of the film and how it differentiated itself from other horror movies I’ve seen in recent years. It got me thinking of Clive Barker’s NEXT TESTAMENT. It’s about a man who discovers Wick, the creator of man, and soon discovers that Wick is very displeased with how his creations of man and Earth have turned out. He is a creature of pure color and the idea of a God made entirely of colors alone is fascinating imagery to me that I feel like Stewart could play with given a decent budget.

I very much enjoyed Graham Skipper and Brea Grant’s relationship in Stewart’s film and I think he could bring those skills into adapting the characters of Tristan and Elspeth, who are our protagonists in the book, as the antithesis to Wick’s ideas of the human race.

The narrative of NEXT TESTAMENT is also very much a roller coaster, but on a grander scale with much of the story being told through harrowing dialogues of creation and life, jumping into blood-drenched scenes of mayhem. The ending in the comics is perhaps one of the most beautiful aesthetics I could imagine on a screen and Jackson Stewart might be the perfect man to pull it off.


The CONJURING Universe is well on its way to establishing itself as a major seller for spin offs, but what about a third sequel to its namesake? James Wan is obviously perfect for the job of continuing, but with the impending AQUAMAN film he’s directing, I’m guessing he’ll have to depart the franchise much like when he departed INSIDIOUS to helm the FAST AND THE FURIOUS. The most obvious choice to me would be to grab Ted Geoghegan fresh off of his follow-up to his directorial debut, WE ARE STILL HERE, and the upcoming MOHAWK.

Having written several low budget films, it was WE ARE STILL HERE where Geoghegan showcased his skills in the director’s chair which inspired some amazing visuals for the film’s finale. When I first watched it, I remember getting the feel of a slow burn narrative with eerie jump scares that eventually progressed into a full-on gore fest with the kind of pay off I was not at all used to seeing in a traditional Indie film. The less-is-more technique of filmmaking worked perfectly here and made the blood splattered ending seem like something on the level of an EVIL DEAD film with horrifyingly original ghosts. In the ensemble are two characters that consider themselves spiritual people who can sense the paranormal and communicate with the dead paralleling the Warrens, but on a more hippie level.

While Geoghegan might be more extreme than what the CONJURING franchise is used to, producer Peter Safran stated via Cinema Blend; “it’s got to be something different.” Geoghegan’s inspired camera work and intensity could be exactly what the franchise needs to take it into that different direction as a stand out move in the franchise, just like with Damiano Damiani’s extreme turn on AMITYVILLE II.


Adam Green is no stranger to die hard horror fans, having a rabid fan base thanks to his HATCHET franchise, but he hasn’t gotten a chance to take on a big studio feature yet, which is a damn shame because he might be one of the most well rounded directors in genre filmmaking. The project I believe perfect for him is not the obvious FRIDAY THE 13TH, but instead A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET.

There are several reasons why he is perfect for the job of bringing the man of our dreams back to the big screen. First of all; Green’s very first feature, HATCHET, opened with a great cameo by none other than Robert Englund himself, and over the years the two have developed a very close friendship. Such an intense friendship that Green even stated on The Movie Crypt that after the passing of NIGHTMARE Franchise creator Wes Craven, Englund asked him to keep making HATCHET films to carry on the memory of Wes, as Green was one of the few filmmakers still making iconic slashers like the old days.

If anyone can bring Englund back into makeup for another nightmare round, its Green. One of the biggest problems I had with the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET remake was the lack of characterization in the kids that were being plagued by Freddy. What works perfectly for the original is how we see average happy American teens slowly descend into madness and manic depression. In his film SPIRAL, Green shows his ability to craft psychological torture within a person through his directing and writing of Joel David Moore’s character.

Combined with his ability to create relatable and likable characters that you can follow and care for in a film as shown in his thriller FROZEN; Green can easily write and cast a great ensemble of children for an audience to fall in love with and watch in horror as Freddy tortures their dreams. A huge component is the nightmarish dreamscapes Freddy can create to torture his victims.

Green’s last film, DIGGING UP THE MARROW, was heavily inspired by the bizarre and grotesquely original artwork of Alex Pardee which was brought to life by longtime Green collaborator Robert Pendergraft. This trio on the marquee could make for some insane visuals in Freddy’s nightmare realm.

Freddy, himself, over the years has become a lot more comedic than his initial iteration; the exception being his reemergence in Wes Craven’s NEW NIGHTMARE. This is a Freddy we’ve come to love, though, and the tricky thing would be to find that perfect balance of comedian and psychopath that is Freddy Krueger. No one is more suited for that dark comedic balance than Adam Green, having perfected it with his HATCHET franchise. He could easily bring back a more sadistic Freddy that spouts out devilishly clever one-liners that we would be quoting for years to come.