When fans of the V/H/S horror anthology franchise picked up the recently released Blu-ray of the third and latest installment, 2014’s V/H/S: Viral, they may have stumbled on something special after the credits had rolled: an all new segment called “Gorgeous Vortex” from writer/director Todd Lincoln (The Apparition). A beautifully shot, dialogue-free collage of nightmare images not included in the theatrical cut of the movie, “Gorgeous Vortex” is now available exclusively on the Blu-ray and DVD of V/H/S: Viral.

Daily Dead recently spoke with Lincoln about “Gorgeous Vortex” and his participation in the horror anthology.

Could you give a little background as to how you came to be involved with the third V/H/S film?

Todd Lincoln: It’s funny how I got involved. One of the V/H/S producers approached me while I was devouring cookies in the Topanga Canyon mall. He told me they were doing a third V/H/S film and asked if I had any ideas. So I started listing off my wishlist of directors that I thought he should get for the new lineup. Haha! I was just in fan mode, producer mode and mall mode. And he said, “No, man…what would YOU do as director with V/H/S?” I went home and quickly fleshed out three different concepts that I sent to him and the other producers. They chose “Gorgeous Vortex” and we immediately went into pre-production.

How does that pitch go? Do you just talk about the kind of imagery you plan to incorporate? The overall vibe you hope to create? I couldn’t imagine trying to describe the film to someone. It really has to be experienced.

Todd Lincoln: The final film is very close to what I originally scripted. I pitched “Gorgeous Vortex” as a dialogue-free, experimental, high fashion horror film. I also presented the V/H/S producers with a tone, style, and visual reference document to give them a better sense of the overall look and feel. They signed off on everything and trusted me to go make something cool.

Are there still some parameters, or is it just ‘Here's x amount of money, make whatever you want?' This installment seems to get away from the 'found footage' aspect; was that something that was discussed ahead of time?

Todd Lincoln: The V/H/S producers didn’t give me any specific parameters other than maybe the aspect ratio and running time. They were supportive and gave me total creative freedom. I chose to fly back to my hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma to shoot it there.

“Gorgeous Vortex” is not “found footage.” I described it early on as possibly being an assemblage of memories, dreams, simulations and surveillance. Or maybe it’s from another time or dimension. The film is like an evil puzzle, purposely coded and cursed.

I’ve watched the segment three times already and I’m not sure I get it, but it’s hypnotic and haunting – the photography is beautiful, Jayden Robison is (obviously) crazy pretty, Joe Bishara’s score driving…it feels like a nightmare in a really good way.

One of the things that has been discussed a lot in relation to the V/H/S films is their portrayal of women. Was this something you were conscious of in writing “Gorgeous Vortex?” It’s almost like a direct response to that conversation.


Todd Lincoln: Thank you for the nice words. “Hypnotic” and “haunting” is a great way to describe it. I think I know what you’re getting at regarding the V/H/S films portrayal of women… and I have to say that it may have played a small part in me going a different direction with my segment. Not only with the kind of story I wrote, but especially the type of lead actress I looked for and how we styled and presented her. I figured that audiences might appreciate a break from all the white guy lead actors and girls taking off their tops in the other V/H/S films.

“Gorgeous Vortex” definitely has a sexiness to it, but the goal was to present it in a more sophisticated, advanced way. Jayden Robison brought a great strength, fierceness and vulnerability to her role. My film may be littered with the dead bodies of women in various states of undress, but that’s intended to serve as another kind of commentary taken to its furthest extreme.

Where did you even START coming up with your installment? It plays almost like a dream. Did you know right away you wanted to so something purely visual with no dialogue, or did that evolve as the idea was fleshed out?

Todd Lincoln: It felt like it was time to burn the forest for regrowth and push the V/H/S franchise to a different place both tonally and stylistically. “Gorgeous Vortex” was partly inspired by avante-garde video artists, fashion photography, old Italian Horror movies, George Lucas’s early experimental films, and the writings of J.G. Ballard and Jean Baudrillard. I wanted to create a visceral, visual onslaught served up in a post-human way. There’s a great sadness and darkness to this film. My editor, Ed Cardenas, and I took a kind of Dadaist or Burroughs-esque cut-up approach to the narrative drive. While shooting “Gorgeous Vortex,” I kept thinking of Walter Murch’s quote about working with George Lucas on THX-1138. Murch said, “What we were interested in doing was making a film from the future rather than about the future.”

Forgive me if this is overstepping, but how did it come about that the segment wasn’t included as part of the original film? I'm glad to see it's on the Blu-ray, DVD and iTunes. Was it just a function of it being SO different than the other three segments? By the way, thank you for that.

Todd Lincoln: “Gorgeous Vortex” was planned as the secret final V/H/S segment for the hardcore fans and the true diggers. It hints at a larger mythology and points to a new direction for the V/H/S franchise. Its positioning on the Blu-Ray/DVD is a throwback to the way that ‘90s CDs for bands such as Nine Inch Nails, Nirvana and Ministry would have a hidden track after the end of the album, so “Gorgeous Vortex” plays as an ominous transmission after the end credits of V/H/S: Viral. This release plan seems to have complimented and enhanced the mystery and power of the film.

Also, keep checking up on http://www.gorgeousvortex.com for new side-story micro-films that tie in with “Gorgeous Vortex.” The score for “Gorgeous Vortex” by Joseph Bishara (The Conjuring, Insidious 1 & 2, Annabelle) is now available on vinyl and digital download: http://shop.voidrecordings.com/



You can keep up with Todd Lincoln’s latest projects by following him on Instagram and Twitter:

(Teaser video thanks to Collider!)

  • Patrick Bromley
    About the Author - Patrick Bromley

    Patrick lives in Chicago, where he has been writing about film since 2004. A member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Online Film Critics Society, Patrick's writing also appears on About.com, DVDVerdict.com and fthismovie.net, the site he runs and hosts a weekly podcast.

    He has been an obsessive fan of horror and genre films his entire life, watching, re-watching and studying everything from the Universal Monsters of the '30s and '40s to the modern explosion of indie horror. Some of his favorites include Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (1931), Dawn of the Dead (1978), John Carpenter's The Thing and The Funhouse. He is a lover of Tobe Hooper and his favorite Halloween film is part 4. He knows how you feel about that. He has a great wife and two cool kids, who he hopes to raise as horror nerds.