EJ Moreno speaks with filmmaker Ryan Spindell about his horror anthology The Mortuary Collection…
Filmmaker Ryan Spindell has seemingly perfected the art of the short story. With his new anthology film, The Mortuary Collection, you’re able to see how Spindell can craft a lot of scares in a short period of time. The writer/director spoke with me about his background in horror, his latest film, and what would make a perfect double feature with The Mortuary Collection.
I’m excited to talk to you about this movie that is somehow so damn fun but so creepy at the same time.
Nice. I like it. Look, you’re off to a great start.
So, what horror films kind of inspired you to make this, and in general, what got you into horror?
I was sort of late to the game with horror. I read a lot as a kid, and I ended up graduating to Stephen King stuff earlier than I should have. But as far as horror cinema or TV, I was pretty scared shitless of it and avoided it at all costs. I found my way towards the genre space through the original Twilight Zone series because my dad loved the show, and we had every episode on VHS. I guess my better judgment forced me to watch it as sort of a bonding thing with him. And that led me to fall in love with the short form and short form genre-work.
It wasn’t until I was probably in high school that a friend of mine brought over; I think it was a bootleg copy of Evil Dead and Dead Alive, Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive. Watching those two movies was kind of like a double-barrel blast of what the genre could be. When I saw those two films back to back, I saw how much just creativity and audacity could be crammed into every frame. I was like, Oh, wow, horror can be this!
That’s amazing! You also talk about your storytelling, and I do think your storytelling is compelling. You also seem to like short stories and anthology stories. What draws you to that type of storytelling specifically? Cause you do it very well, and there’s an art to it.
I agree. I think there’s a very, very specific art form to it. And I think that it’s a little bit lost nowadays. I did like a lot of reading growing up, a lot of short stories. Read a lot of Stephen King short stories and Ray Bradbury short stories. Potentially, it’s an attention span thing, although I don’t think so.
I really sort of fell in love with it again in a film school where we were only making shorts. You start to think, ‘how do you tell a robust three-act story that has everything that a feature has but condensed down into seven minutes?’ And the challenge of that, that’s something I became sort of obsessed with.
Shifting to your anthology film with The Mortuary Collection. Is there a personal favorite segment in this? I don’t want to say pick your favorite child, but is there a child you do like in this? I do like The Babysitter Murders the most.
You don’t want to ask me, but you’re doing it anyway.
I know. I’m sorry.
You know what? I, I cannot pick one. I know that’s not the answer you want to hear. But I’ll say there are some that lean more towards my flavor of horror. I think probably The Babysitter Murders and Till Death are probably more of my apex of what I love about horror. But I do find there are things that I love so much about all of them. I really can’t pick a favorite because I think each one is doing something different.
I’m very proud of it. And very proud of the team of people that can make something like can make a five-minute short with no dialogue. The first one, that’s a tricky thing to do. And that’s the thing…I think some people think it’s easy or could go, ‘whatever, it’s just a throwaway.’ Like, no, I don’t think it’s a throwaway. I think it’s a really beautiful sort of little piece where the actress has one line of dialogue in the beginning. But it basically conveys a three-act story in her eyes.
You also made a good wrap-around story, which I think is a lost art in anthology films. Sometimes those get thrown to the back, and I’m like, no, I liked the method of this.
Oh yeah, yeah. That was, I mean, that was the biggest thing when I sat down to write this thing. Because I started with a bunch of stories that I had, and I picked my four favorites, and then the big order of business was how do I tie these together.
I think so that in many ways, the wrap-around went from the biggest challenge to what I believe now is actually sort of the meat of the whole movie, which was sort of unintentional. But that’s something I think is really fun.
One final question for you, The Mortuary Collection is available on Shudder, which I do think is a streaming service everyone should have, just a great collection of horror films. While it doesn’t have to be precisely on that streaming service, do you think there’s something that would double feature with this very well?
Ooh, wow. Okay, I mean, I would say I’ll go with The Frighteners by Peter Jackson. The Frighteners is great.
That might be one of my favorite suggestions in quite some time. Thank you for The Frighteners call out, and thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today.
Thank you again to Ryan Spindell for taking the time to speak with me.
The Mortuary Collection is available on VOD, Digital HD, DVD & Blu-ray on April 20, 2021