Exclusive Interview with Happy Death Day Writer Scott Lobdell, Plus a Movie Marathon Recommendation From the Talented Writer of Comics and Film
This October comes with it’s very own Friday the 13th, and while some of us are busy peeping at colored leaves and dodging the seasonal drifts of pumpkin spice, others have a dark purpose, one that is only realized in the darkest depths of October. Like the vampire to a fresh jugular, like a new-risen zombie to a warm, pulsating brain, so too we fans of all things macabre spend the season gorging on the very best and bloodiest of horror flicks.
If only every day was autumn. If we lived these days over and over again, endless candy, endless nightmares, a world wreathed in cobwebs. If only every day was Halloween. Of course, in the mind of a horror writer, these musings take a distinctly dark turn. In HAPPY DEATH DAY, Tree Gelbman does get to relive a day over and over again. Unfortunately for her, it’s the day she dies.
I had a chance to interview the writer for HAPPY DEATH DAY, Scott Lobdell. Known to comic book fans the world over, Scott’s first foray into horror features has gotten me ridiculously excited for its premiere this Friday the 13th. Scott shared with me some of his writing experiences, horror memories, and top picks for a seasonally spooky movie marathon.
INTERVIEW WITH SCREENWRITER SCOTT LOBDELL
What’s the first horror movie (or story) that really inspired you?
Oddly enough… I was probably about 8 years old when I woke in the middle of the night, parched. I went downstairs to get a glass or water and suddenly realized… I was awake. Alone. At night. With the rest of the family asleep. The world was mine — Mine!
So I turned on the television set and was immediately gripped by a black and white movie. Oh my god, it was the scariest thing I had ever seen in my life! It was a story about a man who was visiting two elderly women — he was completely unaware they had a dead body hidden in the same window box they were all sitting on! They had killed this man in the bench, and this new man was about to be poisoned as well! What the Hell had I stumbled onto?! I was horrified, turned off the television and ran to bed and hid under my covers!
It wasn’t until about twenty years later when I learned I was watching the dark comedy ARSENIC AND OLD LACE. So… in all honesty my first horror movie was actually a comedy. Which is probably how I wound up here with HAPPY DEATH DAY.
How did you get started writing screenplays?
While I was writing the X-MEN [comics] the movies were being planned — both the features and even GENERATION X the TV Movie. I was approached by lots of Hollywood types asking if I had any of my own ideas or properties and I was able to sell a few pilots. But any time I pitched a movie or a TV idea the first question was always “Great! But who is going to write it?!” And I would be like “Um, I could write it.” They would just laugh at me and explain that movies and television shows use magical words that are not available to lowly comic book writers. That my lowly comic book writer could never hope to comprehend the skills necessary to write a script. After I heard that enough times I decided to write a script. Bam!
What are the differences in writing for comic books and writing for the screen? Do you find it difficult to switch between the two?
I don’t really find it to be any different. In both cases it is imagining a story and putting it down on paper in a way that someone else (an artist, a director, an actor…) is going to have to interpret it into their own medium.
What’s your favorite type of horror movie?
I think I look forward to the unexpected. Like I remember loving TERROR TRAIN when I was kid — the idea of taking a JASON-type and putting him on a train?! Where they are holding a prom?! Wha — ?! I loved it!
And even recently, TRAIN TO BUSAN was spectacular! (I accidentally downloaded the movie in its original South Korean with[out] dub and no subtitles… but it was still breathtaking!)
Hmmm. Now that I think about it maybe I just like horror movies on trains.
What do you think is the future of horror? What’s the next big thing?
HAPPY DEATH DAY!
I jest! I jest!
But seriously… I do love the high-concept nature of HAPPY DEATH DAY and I like that it is as fun as it is scary. So hopefully we’ll see more of that. Making someone horrified is fun and making someone laugh while they are watch it is horrifying.
Do you plan on writing more horror screenplays? Can you tell us about your next project?
Yes, it has been a blast. The only thing I can say about it at this time is that it is autobiographical and that I hope to direct!
Are there any other projects that you’re excited to be working on right now?
Yes, but if I told you I’d have to stalk you with a kitchen knife and keep killing you while you relived the day over and over again.
HAPPY DEATH DAY, written by Scott Lobdell, will be in theaters October 13th. I also asked Scott to create a movie marathon for us, pulling together five films for a scary good time. Below are his picks, in his own words:
1. TERROR TRAIN!
I can’t promise that this movie stands the test of time… but in 1980, I was horrified!
I never experimented with mind-altering drugs. But if I did I think it would feel a lot like it did watching this franchise.
3. THE HILLS HAVE EYES
This comes with a caveat: I never actually saw the movies because the trailers were too scary. Proceed at your own peril!
4. TRAIN TO BUSAN
The sister scene. Just so beautiful and horrible at the same time.
5. ARSENIC AND OLD LACE
Because you never forget your first horror movie. Even when it was a comedy.