“Ever since I can remember, I would challenge myself to do things,” he said. “On my 10th birthday, I watched the end of Friday the 13th Part 2, when Jason jumped through the window” — and Gray did it without covering his eyes. “That was a big accomplishment for me.” Almost as big as what he’s working on now.
Now 30, the Denton native is editing an online fanzine, directing a feature film, and spearheading a midnight movie series that debuts Friday at The Movie Tavern in Little D. He got his start in underground film about 10 years ago, when he and friends Rich Carlin and Petch Lucas launched www.pitofhorror.com.
An online fan forum for schlockmeisters, The Pit is Denton’s answer to Harry Knowles’ Ain’t It Cool News, out of Austin. Along with Lucas, who lives in Mississippi, Gray covers the gore industry’s movers and shakers (and slashers), from giants like Eli Roth and Robert Englund to up-and-comers. Lucas and Gray also serve as The Pit’s reviewers, taking on everything from obscure indies to major motion picture releases. The web site, according to Gray, receives more than three million unique hits monthly.
Gray’s primary focus now, however, is JOB, a contemporary take on the well-known Old Testament story. In this version, penned by Gray’s brother Spencer, the title character isn’t a rich guy whose material possessions are taken away by God as a test of faith, but a pissed-off avenging angel.
Veterans Michael Paré (Eddie and the Cruisers) and Bill Moseley (The Devil’s Rejects) have already been cast. Produced by Snapkick Productions, JOB will be directed by Gray; Duke Cullen (Jeepers Creepers) will handle the special effects. The $2 million budget is in place. All that’s left for Gray and company to do is scout a location to begin shooting in the fall. Frontrunners are Los Angeles, Canada, and Texas. Gray, naturally, is pulling for his home state.
Gray, a married father of two, and his brother got the idea for JOB about three years ago during Easter dinner. “We thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if someone sent a heavy message out to [religious zealots] through a slasher film?’”
Major distributors such as Lions Gate and Anchor Bay are reportedly interested in making a bid. Gray says a major source of inspiration for him is an e-mail he received from Quentin Tarantino in which the famous director of Pulp Fiction and the Kill Bill series said that reading Spencer’s script was “like a dinosaur taking a bite out of your head.” (A good thing, in gore circles.)
“People will get pissed,” Gray said. “I have a real grudge against the Catholic Church. They go in and kneel in front of a cross and ask for forgiveness from a man who apparently has the power of God. I can’t get too into [the plot], but JOB is going to address that.”
For Friday Night Frights’ inaugural screening, the original print of Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood will be shown. One of the movie’s scream queens, Lar Park-Lincoln, will be in attendance. Say your prayers.
Friday Night Frights presents Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood
Midnight Fri, The Movie Tavern, 916 W University Dr, Denton. 940-566-3456