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Five Horrific Questions with Alex Mann of ‘Detention of the Dead’

The cast of Detention of the Dead
The cast of 'Detention of the Dead'
The final entry in our Five Horrific Questions series arrives just in time for Halloween. To send us off shaking, shivering and quaking in our boots, we turn to Alex Mann.

Mann is the executive producer, co-writer and director of Detention of the Dead, a “zombedy,” as Mann calls it, that pits a group of high schoolers trapped in detention against their zombie classmates. It’s his first feature, much of which was shot in and around Pontiac, Mich.

“It's now available in most of the major territories of the world,” Mann says. “The journey to get to this point is only comparable to running two or three marathons in a row and then climbing Mt. Everest in storm! What I learned about filmmaking and myself in that process is invaluable, and has made me a better man and artist.”

Viewers may recognize the New York actor from some of his professional work in front of the camera, including small parts in Mall Cop, Festival in Cannes, Bowfinger and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. He’s also appeared on The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, The King of Queens, and Seinfeld.

Five Horrific Questions with Alex Mann

MMM: What’s makes a horror movie scary? 
Alex Mann: We all have experienced fear triggered by the unknown, or a sudden startling, or a threat to our lives, or anything that ignites our flight or fight syndrome.  In a movie, it's a simple matter of the filmmakers recreating such circumstances in such a way that an audience can relate.  It's the patron's suspension of disbelief coupled with the engagement of their imagination and visceral connection that makes a movie scary. Ironically, it's the audience member that creates the fear. 
MMM: What’s the scariest movie you ever saw? 
Alex Mann: The Shining. 
MMM: Who is your horror inspiration? 
Alex Mann: Keep in mind, my horror comedy or really campy comedy horror or Zombedy, Detention of the Dead, isn't scary, nor is it meant to be.  However, if I were to study a filmmaker to learn how best to make a horror film, then I'd study Alfred Hitchcock and Stanley Kubrick. 
MMM: Why do we like to be scared? 
Alex Mann: In order to get the adrenalin rush we might get from jumping out of an airplane without the risk of jumping out of an airplane. 
MMM: What movie would you like to turn into a horror movie? And how would you do it? 
Alex Mann: I did that with The Breakfast Club being the inspiration for Detention of the Dead.  Perhaps, it would be fun to take another 80s film, like Better Off Dead, and do something darker with it by making the lead more genuinely suicidal, remove the tongue and cheek writing, and cinematically add a surreal quality.


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