Harrison Smith, ‘Death House’ Writer & Director Drops By For A Chat

Thank you for taking the time to chat about Death House, how did you and the late Gunnar Hansen come up with the idea?

It was Gunnar and his agent, Mike Eisenstadt that originated the idea. I was brought to the film by Rick Finkelstein of Entertainment Factory.
If you look at my Cynema site, there are four articles there that outline the origin of the film under the “Road to Death House” series.

Gunnar’s original script was something we had seen before and he knew it. I was asked to come in and change things up. I did it all with Gunnar’s blessing and approval. The Cynema series gives good detail on the changes and evolution of the story to what we got on screen. I can say I respected Gunnar’s desire to question the role of good and evil and how they work in tandem. Gunnar wanted the flm to have something to say than just being a slasher slice and dice with cameos, or as I put it, an R-Rated Scooby Doo episode.

There is such a great horror cast assembled, how did you manage to get all these names in one movie?

That is the work of Mike Eisenstadt, Judy Fox and Gunnar who worked out many of the deals years ago. They did this for Gunnar.
I wish I could lay claim to the finesse to assemble such great names.

Is there anyone you didn’t get in this movie you would like to get in a sequel? Maybe Robert Englund, Danielle Harris, Nick Castle, Brad Dourif etc?

Sure. There were some who committed years ago but as time went on they had to do other things. So when the money moved, it didn’t mean everyone had a clear schedule. Some who didn’t make it in the first will be in the sequel.

Speaking of sequels, is it true there is a prequel in the works?

Yes. The sequel is written. It is called The Farm and Tony Todd’s character works there. He alludes to it in the opening and closing of Death House. The prequel is an unofficial one at this point and while there is an outline for it I do not have a script as of yet.

Is it from a story you and Gunnar wrote?

My Cynema “Road to Death House” entries answer this in detail. The short version is Gunnar created the original story which focused on a group of filmmakers descending into the bowels of an abandoned asylum and then mayhem ensues. We’ve seen that film and it was more of a way to get all the cameos in as most were slated to be crazies in the dark. Gunnar knew this was an issue and I came up with the whole federal prison thing.

The movie seems set up for sequels and spin offs, is this what is intended?

Very much so. We can take this anywhere and spin off characters and open up a wide, wide extended universe that could even take in Michael Myers, Freddy and Jason if we wanted to.

Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions, I wish you all the best for the future and look forward to seeing what’s next in your movie career

Thank YOU.


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