Hello, readers! Welcome back for another installment of one of our featured columns here at Daily Dead, Deadly Dialogue: A Conversation on Cinema, in which we catch up with notable folks—both in front of and behind the camera—from the horror and sci-fi genres to discuss the films that inspired them to become the artists they are today.

With the release of The Blackcoat’s Daughter from A24, we thought it was the perfect time to chat with filmmaker Bryan Bertino, who, in addition to directing The Strangers, Mockingbird, and The Monster, was a producer on The Blackcoat’s Daughter as well. Here’s what Bertino had to say when we discussed what inspired his decision to pursue a career in Hollywood.

Honestly, I always knew I wanted to be in the movies. When I was about 18 or 19, the only thing that I knew was that I had a passion for movies. Coming from a small town, I had no idea what that meant. Being around the world in which there were no other artists at all, all I thought was, "If I can end up being a PA [production assistant], that could be really cool." I didn't even know the job, as much as I knew that I wanted to be involved with movies. I went to film school, which was this amazing period that anybody who goes to film school goes through, where you watch 7,000 movies over an 18-month span. You're suddenly seeing everything and every night you're standing in a video store or whatever. And yes, I'm old enough that I can remember having to find movies at the video store [laughs].

But, I remember I had a weekend where four or five of us were watching movies in class, and everybody was bringing in a movie that other people hadn't seen. I brought in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, because everybody dogged on horrors, because we were all watching Terrence Malick films and [Jean-Luc] Godard and whatever. But I was like, "You know, I want to bring this back." Everybody watched it, and by the end of the movie, there was this silence that filled the room where you're just emotionally exhausted. Leatherface is waving his chainsaw, in this beautifully shot moment with the sun, and it cuts to black and everyone's silent. Then, the next night, we watched A Woman Under the Influence, the John Cassavetes film, and it was the same silence at the end of that process.

I remembered that as I started to write and I started to think that I wanted to do genre stuff. I couldn't just write dramas—I didn't have the means to make those movies. I started thinking, "What do I want to do?" I remembered that feeling and how they were so similar. This amazing drama and this amazing horror film produced that same emotional exhaustion, and I was like, "I think that there's a way to tell character-driven horror films, where you could cry and scream and feel something." I was like, "That's exactly what I want to do."

Next: Deadly Dialogue: Legendary Filmmaker Larry Cohen Reflects on His Trailblazing Career
  • Heather Wixson
    About the Author - Heather Wixson

    Heather A. Wixson was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, until she followed her dreams and moved to Los Angeles in 2009. A 14-year veteran in the world of horror entertainment journalism, Wixson fell in love with genre films at a very early age, and has spent more than a decade as a writer and supporter of preserving the history of horror and science fiction cinema. Throughout her career, Wixson has contributed to several notable websites, including Fangoria, Dread Central, Terror Tube, and FEARnet, and she currently serves as the Managing Editor for Daily Dead, which has been her home since 2013. She's also written for both Fangoria Magazine & ReMind Magazine, and her latest book project, Monsters, Makeup & Effects: Volume One will be released on October 20, 2021.