Caleb Emerson [Interview]

Welcome to Day 18 of Trainwreck’d Society’s Annual Month of Horror Showcase! We have a fully loaded month of all things horror for you fine folks! October is our favorite month for this very reason, and we are so excited to share 31 full days of film showcases and interviews with some of the finest folks from the world of horror, just as we have been doing for the last 5 years. What started as a simple 5 day showcase, has now blossomed into a full blown month long event. You’re going to love this! Enjoy!

We are trucking along here folks, and it has been a wonderful winding road thus far. Today we are chatting it up with a wonderful filmmaker who made waves in the indie horror world in 2005 with the brilliant film that he wrote and directed entitled Die You Zombie Bastards! It’s Caleb Emerson Everyone! Caleb has worked not only behind the screen, but has done some amazing in work in front of the camera as well, including a great role in 2012’s I Spill Your Guts which also happens to feature our new friend Genoveva Rossi! Not to mention his work in the wonderful world of Troma that he did alongside our other new friends Asta Paredes and Catherine Corcoran on the wonderful film Return to Nuke ‘Em High.

We talk a bit about these projects, and so much more in this wonderful interview with the great Caleb Emerson. You’re going to love it! Please enjoy some wonderful words from this amazing artist!

What inspired you to get into the world of film and television? Was it an early aspiration to do so, or did you just happen to find yourself in this world one day?

It was pretty early. I grew up during the VHS boom of the mid eighties and I spent a lot of time at our local video store, so I got excited about movies at a pretty early age. Genre movies and comedies were always my favorites. When I got a little older and started reading Fangoria and Gorezone I read interviews with horror film makers and realized it might actually be a possibility to make one myself. Bad Taste in particular was the one that really got me to thinking I could do it. Peter Jackson pretty much hand-made that whole movie over a long period of time with his friends and local talent and Haig and I set out to do the same with Die You Zombie Bastards! I taught myself how to do make up FX, we both made most of the props and sets. We were lucky to be around so many talented people who could lend their skills to that movie. 

You have worked in the wonderful world of Troma Films, one that we have covered excessively here at TWS, and always love to hear more! So how was it working under the guise of someone like Lloyd Kaufman and the wonderful bit of weirdness that Troma has brought to the world?

Lloyd is amazing and he’s the real deal. Just watch any of the “making-of” features that accompany his movies. It’s really, really hard work to be involved with one of his productions, and isn’t always pleasant, but it’s really rewarding and you can learn more than on any other set. It is 100% what you make of it. Some people show up thinking it’s going to be a party, and those people usually wind up going home. Lloyd is like a slave driver, and a cult leader and he can be frustrating to work for…but when it’s all over you realize he’s a genius and he’s one of the most generous people I’ve ever know with favors and with his time.

Probably one of your best known works would be the brilliant cult classic of a film, Die You Zombie Bastards! How did you come up with the concept of this film? And is there anything about this film specifically that makes it special to you?

Thanks. It was written kind of stream of consciousness-like by myself and Haig Demarjian, and a good deal of the material came from or was at least inspired by the lead actor, Tim Gerstmar. I made a series of short film in college starring Tim where he played the character Red and Die You Zombie Bastards! sprang from those. They were mostly just jokes between me and Haig and Me and Tim brought to life. It took a little over 2 years to shoot (not straight…a few days every couple of months)  and another year and a half to edit. It’s a really personal film to me and  it was a pretty major part of my life. That may sound silly saying that about that kind of movie, but it’s true.


Outside of the world of horror, you have had a long running gig as an editor on the very popular Comedy Central series, Tosh.0. How has it been working on a show like this? Is it as hilarious to work on as it is to watch?

Tosh.0 has been a fantastic job. I’ve been on the show for 8 years and it’s provided me the stability to pursue other projects while having a normal life as well.  Is it hilarious to work on? I guess, compared to most other shows…I get to be on it all of the time and I have done some pretty ridiculous stuff on TV.


While the world of horror is not the only one you work in, it is our Month of Horror Showcase after all, so I am inclined to ask you how you enjoy working in this genre? What sets it apart from other genres?

One way in which it’s different is that there is such a huge, crazy fan base that in some ways it’s easier to find an audience and interact with them. I’m not saying that it’s necessarily easier to make a living doing that, but if my first film had been a romantic comedy, or a western…there aren’t conventions all around the country to go to to promote your film, and fans aren’t clamoring for t-shirts and toys related to your movie. It’s a very interactive scene and I’ve met a lot of great people.


What is your favorite scary movie?

Movies rarely scare me, but my favorite movies that are considered straight horror movies are The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Exorcist. The stuff I make is nothing like them, but I would say that those two films are essentially perfect. Each is like nothing that came before it and each has been endlessly copied (unsuccessfully) and even though it may not be obvious on the surface, each was a big influence on me.


What are you plans for the upcoming Halloween? Any kind of traditions you try to uphold each year?

My wife and I usually make the rounds to Universal Halloween Horror Nights, Knotts Scary Farm, and those kinds of things. Los Angeles is an amazing place for Halloween. There are so many haunted attractions, and clubs that do Halloween events. This place is crazy and filled with crazy, wonderful people. We also have a son now who is just getting to the age where we can take him to do Halloween stuff so we’re figuring out what to do with him this year. Probably a few parties and trick or treating around our neighborhood in Glendale.


What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readres?

I have a somewhat secret TV series in development that I can’t talk about, but my partner Dan and I are pitching it to networks as we speak. If it happens, it’ll be the most amazing show ever…exactly the kind of show I would want to watch. We also have an adult animated series that we’ve been shopping around. I  probably won’t make another movie in the way we made DYZB and the way I made my second movie “Frankie in Blunderland”…the raise all of the money, do everything yourself and then try to sell it method. It drove me crazy and I don’t know if I have it in me to do again, so I’m trying my hand at doing things a little more traditionally. Keep an eye out…I have many things brewing!

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Probably something my son said. That kid cracks me up every day and I can’t wait to see what kind of brilliant weirdo he turns into.

Check out this trailer for 2005’s Die You Zombie Bastards! and check it out on whatever platform it is available:

About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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