|Terror Trips' Hannah Fierman holds the clapboard
Blame it on The Blair Witch Project.Back in 1999, Canton native and filmmaker Jeff Seemann found himself in front of Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez’s low-budget horror movie, part of the zeitgeist at the time because of its found footage storytelling. He was mesmerized by the filmmakers creativity and knew, right then, he wanted to tell stories on film.
“Everything about that film gave me chills,” Seemann says, “and made me want to make my own.”
More than 20 years later, The Blair Witch Project resurfaced in Seemann’s life, providing him with the inspiration to write Terror Trips, a chilling tale about six friends who launch a business guiding tourists through the shooting locations of America’s scariest films.
“Business is booming,” Seemanns says, “until they find the one location where the horror is real. It’s a classic ‘people who wind up in the wrong place at the wrong time’ plot.”
|From left, Aria Brice (grip), Ashton Rogers (Ludwig), Jeff Seeman (director), Shaunn Baker (First AD), and Chance Madison (Director Of Photography)
Seemann was in Burkittsville, Md., where The Blair Witch Project was made, visiting shooting locations.
“It started thinking, ‘What if the Blair Witch legends were actually true? And I just spent the night in her woods?’ I had an outline for the film written in my head before I made it home from the trip - and started writing the script the next day.”
Seemann even traveled to the real Camp Crystal Lake from Friday the 13th.
With Terror Trips wrapped, Seemann is now the second assistant director on a boxing film shooting in Cincinnati, Ohio, starring Tim Blake Nelson. According to Murphy's Multiverse, the film, Bang Bang, centers on former featherweight boxer Bernard 'Bang Bang' Rozyski, played by Nelson, as he attempts to settle a score with his old rival Darnell Washington, played by Glenn Plummer.“After this, I’m likely off for the rest of 2022,” Seemann says. “I’m hoping to direct my next script in 2023. It’s a monster film called Centerville.”
Catch Terror Trips for free on Tubi or via rental on AppleTV, Amazon Prime YouTube and Vudu.
MM: What makes a movie scary?
Jason Ervin, left, applies blood to actor Chaney Morrow for his death scene
5 horrific questions with Jeff Seeman
JS: That’s a difficult question, because it really depends on the viewer. For some, it’s a jump scare that will get you. For others, it’s the blood and gore.
For me personally, the scariest movies are the ones that could really happen. A good example is The Strangers. The villains in that film were killing people simply because they were home. The antagonists had no special powers, nothing supernatural about them – they just were there to kill people, and the reasons why are vague at best. That’s terrifying to me – not knowing WHY you’re being stalked and murdered.
The Jaws franchise used that fear in campaigns for Part 2 – “just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water” was the tagline. They KNEW that the original film had a dramatic effect on people swimming in the ocean, and they exploited it to make the sequel scarier. That’s what makes a film scary – knowing it could happen to you and there is nothing you can do to stop it.
MM: What movie frightens you the most?
JS: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre – that scene in the dining room was pure fear. Sally was in the middle of madness, tied to a chair, and witnessing some horrific things. That helplessness that she showcased … pure gold for a horror fan. And it’s the stuff that nightmares are made of.
MM: Who is your horror inspiration?
JS: George Romero. He created an entirely new sub-genre of horror when he made Night Of The Living Dead. Without him, there is no Walking Dead.
And his movies were never about zombies (or ghouls, as he called them).
- Night Of The Living Dead was about the world changing and how the younger generation rose up during the Vietnam conflict to force a new era of thinking.
- Dawn Of The Dead was about capitalism and the easy ability to get lost in consumerism.
- Days Of The Dead was about the military complex and the struggle for power between a police state and civilization.
And he also happened to be the nicest man you could ever meet. I miss him terribly.
MM: Why do we like to be scared?
JS: For the same reason we love roller coasters and thrill rides. We know that we are mostly safe when we are taking part in an amusement ride or watching a movie, and we can let ourselves go while working under the guise of that safety. Real fear is far too damaging to the human brain, but manufactured fear gives us a thrill, a sense of indestructibility.
Plus, it’s just fun.
|A scene from 'Logan's Run'
MM: What movie or book would you turn into a horror movie?
Logan’s Run. It had some horror elements to it, but it was a sci-fi movie about a dystopian future. I always felt that if a filmmaker could expose how this society created Carousel and what was happening behind the scenes to force the population to live in a controlled environment … that would be pretty damn terrifying.
If you’ve seen the original film from the '70s, you know about the plastic surgery scene with the legendary Farrah Fawcett – I think that scene (and especially the lasers) could have been much more graphic.