Deadhouse Interview: Ted Geoghegan

Photo by Daniel Bergeron

Set for release in Canada on October 13th, We Are Still Here is the directorial debut of Ted Geoghegan. Having been involved in the horror genre for well over a decade, Geoghegan has been involved in writing such films as Demonium and Sweatshop as well as making small acting cameos in Hatchet III and Sharknado 2: The Second One. After so many years amongst the genre, Geoghegan finally climbed behind the camera to direct We Are Still Here, a film that he also wrote. The film is currently available in the US, and Anchor Bay Entertainment Canada is releasing the film here in the Great White North. It is currently available in digital format, with the release of DVD and Blu-Ray set for next week on October 13th. I had a chance to exchange an email with Ted to talk about We Are Still Here, including influences, as well as having some well-known genre stalwarts such as Barbara Crampton and Larry Fessenden in the cast. I am happy to present the newest Deadhouse Interview with Ted Geoghegan!

The Deadhouse: Starting on a more personal note, I recall back in the late 90s, early 2000’s you ran an old horror site called the Diabolical Dominion. At the time I went by the online moniker of Freddyskid and I remember chatting frequently with you and you suggesting several films for me to expand upon my horror fandom with, of which I cannot thank you enough. Here we are more than a decade later and I am conducting an interview with you as a director and reviewing your feature length directorial debut. I would have never guessed this was something destined to happen back in those early days, so many thanks in advance for this interview!

Ted Geoghegan: That’s so nice to hear. I had a lot of fun running that site back in the day. You probably won’t believe this, but another one of the kids hanging out on the message boards there grew up to become Hobo With A Shotgun director Jason Eisener!

The Deadhouse: The movie is credited to a concept by Richard Griffin. How did you come together with the concept and expand upon it?

Ted Geoghegan: Originally Richard (who I’d worked with on The Disco Exorcist) had approached me about the idea of writing a film for him to direct based on Lucio Fulci‘s House By The Cemetery. I took that basic concept and expanded upon it, ultimately turning it into We Are Still Here. And many months later, when I asked Richard if he’d consider letting me shop it around as a potential directorial project for myself, he graciously agreed – and the rest is history!

The Deadhouse: Barbara Crampton recently returned from “retirement” with You’re Next. How did she come into the picture, and what was it like working with a bonafide scream queen?

Ted Geoghegan: I met Barbara when I was doing publicity for You’re Next and we immediately hit it off. We were fast friends within minutes and kept in touch for years afterward, always talking about how much fun it would be to make a film together. When writing We Are Still Here, I always pictured her as Anne, but never knew if we’d actually be able to get her. Thankfully, as luck would have it, her schedule allowed her the opportunity to work on the film, and I’m forever grateful. It wasn’t the least bit intimidating. She’s a pro, and a dear friend. It was a wonderful relationship.

The Deadhouse: You also got to work with Larry Fessenden, who is beloved amongst the diehard audience. Did he come onto the set as strictly an actor or did he have a hand behind the scenes with creative input or suggestions?

Ted Geoghegan: While he’s known for his incredible career as a writer, director, producer and actor – Larry was joining us purely as an actor. That’s not to say he didn’t have a handful of clever ideas as we were shooting, but that’s expected from anyone. He was able to use his years of varied experience and offer up a very special performance for the film. I’m so happy that people are calling out his role in the movie, as I always feel like he’s sorely underused as an actor.

The Deadhouse: While watching the film there were several times where I could feel a vibe similar to Lucio Fulci classics such as House By The Cemetery. Was this deliberate or just a matter of past influences seeping their way into your work?

Ted Geoghegan: As noted earlier, it was very much deliberate. The plot follows a very similar structure, and virtually everyone in We Are Still Here is named after an actor, crew member, or character from Fulci‘s House By The Cemetery. I didn’t want to wallow in the references, but I also couldn’t resist tipping my hat to one of my favorite films, and offer up a handful of fun in-jokes for fellow die hard fans.

The Deadhouse: You mentioned on Twitter that the film was your “weird, melodramatic ode to 70s Eurohorror”. What films were particularly influential in the making of We Are Still Here, or that you would happily recommend to people who love the movie?

Ted Geoghegan: Besides House By The Cemetery, which is We Are Still Here’s cinematic sibling, I’d recommend the other two films in Fulci’s Gates Of Hell trilogy, The Beyond and City Of The Living Dead. I’d also suggest checking out Bava‘s A Bay Of Blood, Peckinpah‘s Straw Dogs and a duo of made-for-TV shockers that kept me up in my youth: Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark and Dark Night Of The Scarecrow.

The Deadhouse: The film maintains a very foreboding atmosphere, so much that at times it could be compared with recent works by Ti West such as House Of The Devil, but when needed is also not afraid to bust out the gore. How did you decide to balance the two out? Was there ever a time where you felt you had to pull back on the gore to prevent from going too far?

Ted Geoghegan: No, in keeping with the films it’s inspired by, I never had any intention of cutting back on the gore. If we’d been able, I would have taken it even further! One of my favorite things about Fulci‘s films, in particular, is how they’re basically a weird human melodrama for, like, 90% of their runtime, and then just explode into ultraviolence when you least expect it. It’s agonizingly fun, and a sorely underused tactic these days.

The Deadhouse: I’ll end with one final but important question: What is next for Ted Geoghegan?

Ted Geoghegan: I’m currently writing a new script which I won’t be directing, and aiming to direct another film sometime in the next year. All of that’s still up in the air, but I’ve got my fingers tightly crossed nonetheless! I’m just happy to be working in a genre I hold so near and dear.

The Deadhouse: I want to of course thank you for taking the time to do this interview, I can only imagine how busy you are with all the promotion of We Are Still Here, so I greatly appreciate you talking to a small fish in a big pond such as myself.

Ted Geoghegan: My pleasure! Thanks a bunch, Kyle! Cheers!

So there you have it, the newest Deadhouse Interview with the director of what I would call THE BEST horror film of 2015 that I have seen so far, We Are Still Here. I would like to thank Leah Visser at Anchor Bay Entertainment Canada for helping set up this interview, and of course a huge thank you to Ted Geoghegan for taking the time out of his busy schedule to talk with me. And keep an eye on this space as my review of We Are Still Here will be up here within the next day or two!

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