By Terry Badman
Guts, gore and good times.
For Lowell’s Jessica Houlihan, those three things serve as an awesome, unholy trinity.
“I’ve always been a horror fan,” Houlihan said. “As a child, I would always be up very late watching horror movies, like the Nightmare on Elm Street movies and episodes of Tales from the Crypt.”
It was in those young days full of slasher flicks and Stephen King novels that Houlihan developed her taste for blood.
“The more inspiration I got from horror films, and the more ideas I came up with of my own, the more my passion grew,” she said. “I’ve always been fascinated with special effects and the art of gore. How did they make that brain look like that? How did his head explode? What are those guts made out of and how can I make them myself?”
“I was a weird kid who grew up to be a weird adult,” she said.
Now that grown-up weird kid is making her own movie, and she hopes to share some guts, gore, and good times with other lovers of horror.
Houlihan’s directorial debut, Zombie Party Massacre, is slated to begin shooting in Lowell this November. The movie is scheduled for release October 2015.
“It shares the same type of goofy gore as both Dead Alive and Evil Dead,” Houlihan said, referencing the splatter horror classics directed by Peter Jackson and Sam Raimi. “With a mix of humor, funny characters, fun costumes, gory, practical special effects and some creepiness, there’s a little something for everyone.”
Houlihan, a film graduate of Fitchburg State University, serves as both writer and director of the film. And despite the growing popularity of all things undead, bloodied, and often impaled with crossbow bolts, she doesn’t plan on making just another zombie movie.
“This film isn’t a typical, stumbling, brain-craving, run-and-hide-from-the-zombie flick,” she said, adding the events of the film take place at a Halloween costume party. “The party guests pretty much accidentally turn into zombies, don’t realize it’s happened, and continue to party as they normally would, zombie-style.”
Houlihan said the film would also feature a return to more practical special effects, rather than the often over-produced, computer-generated effects (CGI) commonly seen in today’s movies.
And for film nerds and lovers of campy schlock and horror, genre legend Lloyd Kaufman has been cast to play a role in the film. Kaufman is best known for co-founding the B-movie film production and distribution company Troma Entertainment, as well as directing numerous horror and sci-fi cult classics, such as The Toxic Avenger.
“We are very excited to have Lloyd on board and can’t wait for you all to see him as crazy, cranky Mr. Kaufman,” Houlihan said.
In addition to financing much of the film herself, Houlihan is also raising money through the online fundraising site Indiegogo. The additional funds will be used to help make her vision of skeletons and comic killing a reality.
“Independent film doesn’t exist without the community,” she said. “Support from fans, fellow filmmakers, friends and family. Support comes in so many ways.”
Houlihan appreciates donations of all kinds, including non-perishable food items for the cast and crew, Halloween costumes and decorations, miscellaneous props and set pieces, and even some extra hands to help out with the day-to-day work on set.
As for the current generation of weird kids that dig horror, Houlihan offered some advice to any overly cautious parents.
“Zombies don’t discriminate, they love kids. They’re delicious,” she said. “Well, I grew up on this kind of stuff, and look how I turned out.”
For more information about “Zombie Party Massacre” and how to get involved with the Indiegogo campaign, visit www.zombiepartymassacre.com.