William Butler is no stranger to genre films. For most of us that grew up in the 80’s and 90’s, we recognize him from in front of the camera, usually falling victim to either Leatherface or Jason Voorhees or even the Ghoulies, but over the course of his career, he’s also managed to do a lot of behind the scenes on various productions, including writing and directing several horror features such as MADHOUSE and FURNACE. After spending the last decade writing and directing for Disney, he’s ready to return to the horror genre in full force with his latest project HELLSTORM, an adrenaline charged horror/sci-fi hybrid, and the first film in an intended trilogy that’s set to kick off production in the new year. “I just wanted to get back to my roots, where I came from and what I love most of all,” he enthusiastically explains to Blumhouse.com. “I was raised by Charlie Band and in the world of the rubber monster and I just think it’s time to get back to those kinds of movies. Luckily, I’ve been afforded a nice budget to be able to do it right, and I really want to do an old fashioned monster movie like the ones I grew up watching and acting it.”
Fresh to the cast is comedian / actress Margaret Cho, who joins Jordan Ladd (GRACE, CABIN FEVER), Phil Brooks aka C.M. Punk and Kate Hodge, Butler’s co-star from LEATHERFACE: TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE III. While Butler has been working on several projects with Cho for the last year or so, the initial way they hooked up is rather unorthodox. “I would not recommend anyone ever do this. But I literally looked her up on Facebook. I had a first look deal at Star’z Film Roman and part of my job was to find comedians to develop either animated or live action projects for. I said ‘Hi, I know you don’t know me but we have a few close mutual friends, I have a first look deal and I’d love to meet with you and I have a few ideas I’d love to run past you.’ And she said YES, which is unheard of. She came up to my house, I pitched 3 ideas, one of which was HELLSTORM and all 3 of which she liked, so we actually sold an animated project that she’s the star of that’s coming out soon. For this movie, I had this great part and I told her that I’d really love to show her in a light that no one’s ever seen from her before.”
In terms of the plot, HELLSTORM is set after the world’s economy has totally collapsed, leaving the planet in complete chaos. Butler is describing it as THE MIST meets NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. “Everyone in this movie lives in a ruined world after a financial collapse, where pretty much every country started bombing each other until there was nothing left, so I hesitate saying post-apocalyptic, but it is. In this world, people getting killed, stabbed and shot is a daily occurrence; it’s like living in the Wild West. Margaret plays Jewel, a crazy, sociopathic bartender that would just as soon cut your throat as she would look in your direction. Margaret is perfect for this, however it could not be more different from her real personality. She’s the most feminine, quiet, demure person I have ever met in my life and whom I absolutely adore, but when she’s performing, she’s able to release all these layers. She’s just so awesome and I’m so happy she’s in this project.”
Also on board as a co-producer and creature designer is FX legend Robert Kurtzman, whom along with his company Creature Corps are already hard at work on the practical gags the movie will entail. “I want to bring back physical FX, which is why we’re so lucky to have Robert Kurtzman and his crew on the project. There’s a variety of monsters in this movie of all different shapes and sizes, and Bob’s amazing shop is doing an incredible job building them.”
The film also stars A.J. Brooks, Marco Dapper (THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS) AMERICAN HORROR STORY’s Mat Fraser, Colleen Camp (AMERICAN HUSTLE), Brian Goff (VORDER CROSS) Selene Luna (MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D), Alex Skuby (BONES) and newcomer Alexis Skye. Producing alongside Butler and co-producer Kurtzman is Nick Byassee (WILD FOR THE NIGHT) and Emmy Award winner Jared Safier (THE BAY) is serving as executive producer of the project.
Pre-production starts on December 20th, with shooting scheduled to begin in Mississippi on January 18th.
Keep track of the production of HELLSTORM via the official Facebook page.