Rich Howells

EXCLUSIVE: Scranton horror comedy ‘Deatherman’ calls for VHS re-release, sequel announcement, and trailer at NEPA Horror Film Festival

EXCLUSIVE: Scranton horror comedy ‘Deatherman’ calls for VHS re-release, sequel announcement, and trailer at NEPA Horror Film Festival
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Much like its undead protagonist, the “Deatherman” is back… in more ways than one.

The low-budget horror comedy was shot on tape in Scranton and first released on VHS in 2012, long after the video format’s decline in popularity. That was by design – writer/director Bobby Keller and actor John Kasper, who stars as the titular weatherman who rose from the dead to go on a killing spree, are big fans of old horror films and set out to make the type of schlocky B-movie someone might rent from a video store in the 1990s based solely on the cover art.

“The whole point of ‘Deatherman’ is to give you that feeling that you had in like 1993 when you were in the horror section at the video store and you picked up ‘The Gate’ or ‘Waxwork.’ Especially on video, they rely on the cover to get you to rent it, and what you watch is not what was on the cover,” Keller said in an interview before its first screening.

“I spent so much time on the floor of Blockbuster and Prime Time [Video] just reading the backs of movie cases to find out what things were about. When we started talking about doing this, this was always a movie made just for us,” Kasper added.

Today, it was announced that independent genre and cult movie distributor Retrosploitation will re-release “Deatherman” on VHS. Those who pre-order the movie now for $15.95 will receive a digital code to watch the movie online via Vimeo. The description reads:

In a small populated town located in Cyphers County, there’s a quaint crew of newscasters at Action 13 News. Dalton Law (John Kasper), the beloved local weatherman, never missed a day of work or misguided his town’s people to imperfect forecasts. Dalton’s days are predictable, down to his morning coffee and daily bathroom run-ins with anchorman Dan Anders (Mike Gavern). However, Dalton predicts an acid rain storm in the evening but does not predict his unfortunate demise by Holley Cooper (Dominique Capone), the psychopathic new intern on her way to becoming a lead weatherman, or should we say “weatherwoman.”

The next morning, Dalton awakens dirty, bloody, and confused. His once unquestionable priority to go to work has been erased. Now Dalton is here for revenge and must kill anyone that gets in his way!

Shot on super-duper old-school VHS camcorder, Bobby Keller’s “Deatherman” is a hilarious throwback to cheapo ’90s video flicks.

This ties directly into the upcoming NEPA Horror Film Festival at the Circle Drive-In in Dickson City on Sunday, Oct. 13. After making the 55-minute “Deatherman” and shorts like “Mini-Golf Massacre,” “The Basement Bunnies,” and “My Zombie Flick,” Keller founded the festival in 2015 and has focused on making the annual event the best it can be, expanding to bigger venues and adding celebrity guests to the screenings. This hasn’t left him with much time for filmmaking, but that will change this year.

Keller is announcing today exclusively on NEPA Scene that he will be making a sequel to “Deatherman” with Kasper reprising his role as the killer weatherman. A trailer for the new movie will be shown at the 2019 NEPA Horror Film Festival between 13 short films like “Escape Room,” “The Invader,” “Weeji,” “Forever,” “Enoch,” “Five Course Meal,” “Until the Wheels Fall Off,” and local productions “Baby Frankenstein” and “The Road Less Traveled.”

“The re-release is really making me want to get behind a camera again. Knowing people actually still care about or enjoy something I created that I’ve dismissed and even disliked for the last few years is sort of inspiring. Plus, I feel like I’ve gotten bitten by the acting bug since doing ‘The Road Less Traveled,'” Keller told NEPA Scene.

“Also, with ‘Deatherman 2,’ I feel like I owe it to the characters and the story to make a proper horror/comedy. As mother fucking dumb as that sounds, it’s too good of a story to only exist as a half-assed shot-on-video movie from 2012. It will be the greatest undead weatherman movie sequel of all time; I promise that much.”

“I’m really excited for ‘D2,'” Kasper said. “The first movie was a lot of great intention but, looking back, I know we’ve all grown in our creative spaces. To revisit something that started out as a conversation between friends that went on to pick up a super loyal cult following to now having the opportunity to deliver an even better showing and experience is thrilling and humbling. I’m excited to come back to ‘Deatherman’ with my buddies and produce a movie that you’ll not only enjoy watching, but hopefully end up loving.”

Keller expanded further on how this movie will be a second chance for them to tackle this funny concept in a more serious way.

“‘Deatherman 2’ will essentially be us fixing everything that was wrong with the original movie. Yes, it was intentionally meant to look ‘bad,’ but there is so much I would change about it. It was a rushed production, and sadly ‘making a movie with your friends’ fucking sucks when only 15 percent of the cast and crew actually takes the project seriously. When it first came out, a lot of reviews would say ‘a fun movie made by friends,’ but we all wanted to fucking kill each other by the end. Well, everyone wanted to kill me,” Keller admitted with a laugh.

“Just think of ‘Evil Dead 2,’ that whole ‘Is it a sequel or is it a remake?’ idea – that’s what ‘Deatherman 2’ will be. But we are going to play it by ear; we are shooting a teaser trailer that will premiere at film fest, and if nobody gets punched on the set, I think it’s safe to say we’ll be filming a sequel in 2020. Me and John are also very excited to be working with our good friend [and ‘The Road Less Traveled’ director] Lindsay Barrasse on this and bringing back the James Karen of Scranton, Mike Gavern.”

Last year, the NEPA Horror Film Festival found its permanent home at the Circle Drive-In (1911 Scranton/Carbondale Hwy., Dickson City) and focused on film screenings in the nostalgic drive-in format, but this year, Keller plans to feature both movies on the big screen and a mini horror convention with some celebrity guests and vendors.

As previously announced on NEPA Scene, guests at the fifth annual festival will include “Basket Case” trilogy writer/director Frank Henenlotter and the star of all three movies, Kevin Van Hentenryck, along with actress and producer Felissa Rose, best known for her role in the 1983 cult horror film “Sleepaway Camp.”

The NEPA Horror Film Festival began in October of 2015 with an event called “13 Short Films” at the River Street Jazz Cafe in Plains. It was free and screened horror shorts from all around the world, including three locally-made films. The project was a successful endeavor with over 100 attendees.

Since then, the festival has held a handful of screenings at Ale Mary’s in Scranton, including a “Spooky Christmas” and another “13 Short Films” series hosted by Joe Bob Briggs (TNT’s “MonsterVision”) with special guests Felissa Rose and Lisa Gaye (“The Toxic Avenger Part II” and “Part III”), vendor tables, stand-up comedy, and Q&A panels. The third annual “13 Short Films” was hosted by the Iron Horse Movie Bistro in Scranton in 2017 and quickly sold out, turning patrons away at the door, so in 2018, the festival upgraded to the Circle Drive-In, which opened in 1949 and continues to be one of the longest-running drive-ins in America.

With its seasonal haunted attraction Circle of Screams running through September and October, the Circle Drive-In is the perfect home for the NEPA Horror Film Festival after its most successful entry yet last year. The 2019 installment will feature another “13 Short Films” series with a horror expo and meet and greet earlier in the day and movies at dusk. Films announced so far include “Escape Room,” “The Invader,” “Weeji,” “Forever,” “Enoch,” “Five Course Meal,” “Until the Wheels Fall Off,” and local productions “Baby Frankenstein” and “The Road Less Traveled.”

The NEPA Horror Film Festival is still accepting film submissions via FilmFreeway and is currently looking for local vendors and sponsors; find applications and details at nepahorrorfilmfest.com. Expect more announcements, contests, and other news on NEPA Scene in the coming months as Halloween approaches.

Learn more about the original “Deatherman” in a 2012 interview here and listen to Bobby Keller talk about the festival, making indie horror films on a shoestring budget, and other topics in Episode 30 of the NEPA Scene Podcast: