Following up on their success from The Houses October Built in 2014 director and co-writer Bobby Roe decided a sequel was inevitable, so he and co-writer/producer Zack Andrews went to work. This autumn Roe released The Houses October Built 2, but with a very different feel from the original that shows you don’t need to go back to the well to stay in the same world you created in order to make a successful horror sequel.
iHorror: Were you all friends before the first movie was made?
Bobby Roe: Yes, Zack and I have been best friends for over 20 years and Mikey really is my brother. The casting goes all the way back to the original doc from 2010. It’s an extra on the Blu Ray of part 1. There were two major things we were looking for to separate from other movies in this genre: Anonymity and Chemistry. You had to believe what you were seeing was real to sell the ruse. You have to care about someone before you kill them. The first and only actress I went to was Brandy Schaefer. We’ve been friends with her for a long time. She had done some hosting gigs, was a dancer, but I knew the chemistry would work well. She’s beautiful and very disarming, and that’s what we need to get these subjects to put their guard down. Plus, she was going to be able to put up with us in an RV for a month.
iH: When did you know you were going to make a sequel?
Roe:Global Netlfix I think really helped out. But when we were all the sudden flown to other countries to speak, we thought, maybe this is working and catching on.
iH: Was everyone on board with the sequel from the get-go?
Roe:Yes, the cast is awesome. But you still have to deal with scheduling and we only have the small window of October to make a movie like this. But we got it done and cast and crew busted their ass to make that happen.
iH: Did the sequel always take the same form?
Roe: Well, these movies have always been Halloween adventures at the end of the day. I’m glad if you get scared, but you can’t scare everyone. What you can do is entertain people that love Halloween and try to make it that you’d want to have a beer with us. So hopefully the greatest compliment is that. You want to hang out with us. You would want to vicariously go on this ride in our RV sitting shotgun from your couch.
iH: What made you depart from extreme haunts in the Houses 2?
Roe: I wouldn’t say we completely departed. We wanted to show different kinds of haunts in the shape of events and festivals. Just to expand the world for all of us Halloween lovers out there. But ultimately, with a slow burn, Hellbent IS one of the most extreme haunts.
iH: I love how the sequel felt like Halloween 2 in regards to it picking up right where the first left off. Did the sequel always intend to take the same form the finish projected wound up as?
Roe: Thanks. And Yes, it’s funny most horror people say Halloween 2 as well. I’m a horror person too, but it came from a random influence I’ll get into in a sec. The ending of part 1 we wanted you to be left thinking…arguing on the way to the parking lot, “Was it just a haunt or were they actual murderers?” The funny part is when you go to a haunted house, if your life doesn’t feel threatened you want your money back. So it came together with and idea for part 2. The sequel buttons up to part 1. We also wanted both movies to be able to play back to back as one whole story. As a kid before Halloween 2, because I wasn’t allowed to see it yet, was The Karate Kid 2. That may be a strange reference for a horror film, but the idea that the sequel started right where we left Daniel LaRusso, exiting his victorious All Valley tournament blew my mind as a child. So even though two years have passed in our world, we never missed a second of Daniel’s life. I loved that. So that’s what we did with HOUSES 2.
iH: Were there any shenanigans on set?
Roe:Guerilla shenanigans would be a good band name, because that’s what happens on a movie like this. Live sets, anything happens. At all costs, get the shot.
iH: Which of the Halloween attractions was your favorite to film at?
Roe: The 5K run. It’s a disaster training facility where people come from all over the world. A million square feet of different settings. A place for police to work on protocols for high school shootings, military to evacuate an entire flooded town, a trapped subway, and so on. I could have filmed an entire movie there.
iH: How the hell did you get Kobiyashi in the movie? That was awesome!
Roe: We knew the scene we were filming with the eating contest, but we could not get a hold of him. So we thought we may have to shoot around Kobi, which would have killed the scene. So it’s the night before shooting, the crew didn’t arrive until the next morning. Zack, Mikey and I were having beers in the back of a random restaurant in Minneapolis. Mikey, the method actor he is, stays in character and hits on our waitress. She asks what we are town for and Mikey of course says making a movie and tells her about the Zombie Pub Crawl’s Brain Eating Contest. She replies, “You guys are going against Kobayashi?” We say, “Yeah, you know who he is?” She smiles, “Yes, he’s sitting right over there.” So we walk over to him and pitch our idea. He says he’s always wanted to be in a horror movie and asks us to sit down for dinner. The rest is history, but I don’t want to leave out that the manager brought over nine sausages for him to eat as a warm up for tomorrow’s event.
iH: What did you learn in Houses 1 that you applied to Houses 2? You can’t service and scare everyone. You really want to and at first you try, but at the end of the day stick to the vision and story you want to tell. Then what happens, happens. You will always get complaints that a movie isn’t scary or gory enough. That doesn’t bother me, the intention was to be a Halloween adventure. Soak in all America has to offer of the holiday and have fun.
Roe: How was making 2 different than making 1 now that you had an experience under your belt? Well, this was my third film counting the original documentary. So the primary goal was to expand the universe and the lore. The Blue Skeleton is out there, they just go by different names in our world.
iH: Did you face any challenges during the process of making Houses 2?
Roe: Shooting scenes within 30,000 zombies in Minnesota was pretty crazy. The further we went into the night, the drunker the surrounding zombies became. So it’s tough when people are jumping in front of cameras and not giving space to shoot scenes.
iH: It seems like you really wanted to push the social media aspect. Is this a personal commentary or just a plot point that worked very well for the story?
Roe: A little of both. Black Mirror probably does this better than anyone, but we wanted to touch on social media topics like the costs of fame, narcissism, accountability. I mean everyone that sat and watched this girl (Brandy) get buried alive and didn’t call the cops is an accessory to me. But people don’t think there are repercussions with the internet, and they’re wrong. The quote by Marilyn Manson that begins the movie sums up a lot of what we are saying.
“Times have not become more violent. They have just become more televised.” ~ Marilyn Manson
iH: What promotional work are you doing for Houses 2?
Roe: I was very excited to shoot many of the scenes in the movie in 360. The teaser we did to bridge the two movies to me was really cool. There is not a lot to it, it’s just about the atmospheric gravesite. We dropped people right in front of the coffin and you here a girl screaming. You can’t help her, you are paralyzed. Maybe one day we can release a version of the movie with the 360 scenes edited in. We also made a music video for “Halloween Spooks” and a soundtrack for part two entitled The Music October Built. We figured the world has enough Christmas albums, why not make some Halloween music.
iH: What would you like audiences to take away from this movie after seeing it?
Roe: As a society we grow very numb to things quickly, so we are always looking for bigger, badder, faster, scarier. But savor the small things, the details of these haunted houses and events. In fact go support your local haunts and Halloween festivals to actually experience them first hand.
The Houses October Built is currently available on Video on Demand as well as on Blu Ray and DVD on Amazon.com here! Watch the trailer below!