At the top of this morning's Horror Highlights is a Q&A with Kathryn F. Taylor, the director of The Evil Gene. We also have an excerpt from Zac Thompson's Weaponized and acquisition details for Hunting Grounds.

Q&A with Kathryn F. Taylor, Director of The Evil Gene: "Supernatural’s Richard Speight Jr. and Murder in the First’s Cameron Richardson encounter The Evil Gene this September!

Writer-director Kathryn F.Taylor’s unique carafe of suspense and spook premieres on VOD and DVD 9/6 from Uncork’d Entertainment.

FBI Agent Griff Krenshaw (Speight Jr) is sent to a top-secret prison and research facility where the U.S. government has segregated federal inmates possessing the so-called "evil gene," a rare genetic defect that triggers violent, psychotic breakdowns in those who carry it. As Griff attempts to investigate the death of the facility's head researcher, he becomes convinced that there's an evil force at work in the prison . . . and it isn't human.

Lindsey Ginter (Argo), Anthony L.Fernandez (The Wedding Ringer), Gene Gabriel (The Boatman), Ted Heyck (Criminal Minds) and James Crosby (NCIS) co-star in a thought-provoking chiller that stays with you until the black kicks in.

The Evil Gene will be available September 6th digitally on iTunes, Xbox, Google, Vudu, Amazon, DirecTV, Dish and more. Also available on DVD from Walmart and Family Video."

Q&A with The Evil Gene Director Kathryn F. Taylor:

"Kathryn F.Taylor chats up her debut The Evil Gene, a fun horror throwback that’ll entertain as much as it will unsettle. The film hits VOD and select DVD stores on September 6th.

Where are you from, Ms Taylor?

I’m originally from the St. Louis area, but I live in the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina these days.

Is that where you shot the movie?

We shot a few scenes in the Raleigh-Durham area, but most of our principal photography was shot in Los Angeles. The prison exteriors were shot in Columbia, South Carolina, and we were so thankful for the help of the South Carolina Department of Corrections to get those shots.

How much of The Evil Gene is based on real scientific evidence and intel?

The central premise of the film was inspired by real scientific research. I got the idea for the script shortly after the Sandy Hook massacre, when I read an article about Adam Lanza’s DNA being tested by the University of Connecticut. I also performed a fair amount of research on characteristics of people who have breaks with reality and psychotic episodes. I wanted audiences to feel as though the events in the film were entirely possible.

Did you have your actors read up on all that or study it?

I discussed it with them, but I didn’t provide them with reading materials or require them to read up on it. Some of them found it interesting enough to do a little of their own research online.

When did the movie kick off? Has it been a long road?

The film kicked off in late Spring of 2013. I think any time you’re making an independent film without the backing of a studio or mini-major, it’s a long, hard road. This film was certainly no exception to that.

Is this your first screenplay?

No, although this is my directorial debut. I actually started my journey in the industry as an aspiring screenwriter. I’ve written quite a few screenplays and have had a couple of screenplays get circulated around Hollywood, pitched to write some studio projects, that sort of thing. But nothing had come together until “The Evil Gene.”

Did you originally try to get studios interested or did you always intend on going it alone?

I determined fairly early-on in the script rewriting process that this script would most likely be made into an independent film. As with many independent projects, I pitched the script to a lot of different people in the early days after the script was finished. Some came on for awhile and then exited the project, others came aboard and stayed. And, to be fair, I’ve never been “alone” on this project – my producing partner, Giulia Prenna, has been with me on it since the Summer of 2013. Our third producer, Kaila York, joined us shortly before the film went into production.

And you cast the film, too?

We had a casting director who helped us cast the two leading roles, but I cast the many supporting roles in the film. We knew we were signing with SAG, as both Richard Speight, Jr. and Cameron Richardson are SAG members, so we announced an open casting call in Backstage and rented a tiny audition room in downtown L.A. I saw probably 50 actors a day or more for four days of casting, and reviewed some videotaped auditions for people who had conflicts with the casting call days. We had a lot of roles to cast, but I think we ultimately got the right people for each role.

The movie has a little bit of everything. How would you describe the tone?

I’ve always thought of the film as a hybrid possession horror and psychological thriller. There’s also a whodunit mystery element to the film that I think helps heighten the suspense. The goal in making this film was to get the audience engaged both at an emotional and an intellectual level – to challenge them to unravel the mystery of what is really happening in the prison before it is revealed.

There’s obviously sequel potential here. Are you thinking that way yet?

Right now, I’m just looking forward to seeing how the film is received. If audiences really respond to the film, then I would certainly love to make a sequel, but first things first."


Read an Excerpt from Zac Thompson's Weaponized: From Inkshares: "After losing his virginity to a stranger, a confident but naïve gay teen contracts an STI that causes his flesh to transform into a living gun.

Weaponized is an insane blend of ideas echoing the early works of Clive Barker and David Cronenberg but set in a modern era that’s obsessed with guns and weaponry. Everything that happens occurs through the lens of a gay teen who’s stuck with a new STI in a world where everyone already has one."

To learn more about Zac Thompson's Weaponized, visit the book's official Inkshares page:

Excerpt (via Inkshares):


Cron reflected on the erotic nature of his weaponized flesh. He now knew the secret. It had been stewing his mind as he sat patiently on the piss-stained floor of a disgusting concrete boat. He’d been there for three hours now. Between musings, he watched as the walls wept with brown stains. The place seemed alive as it rocked its way across the dead ocean. It made Cron’s brain feel exposed. It had been six days since it happened and his whole body hadn’t stop throbbing. His feet were steadily losing feeling from the pulse coursing through him but he could still feel the cold water creeping up through the soles of his shoes. That was at least something.

This was his time, he reassured himself, he had become something more. He was sure of it.

There were men at the door. Beating on it. Cron had no fear of them, of course, because they had no idea what he now was. His hands balled into paws as the men outside kept hurling themselves at the door. The old boat wouldn’t hold for long.

Wood splintered as the door flung open. A pale rendition of what used to be two men stepped inside. These men were creatures that looked as if all their internal organs were decoratively rearranged on the outside of their bodies. Their eyes were lidless, their jaws were broken – hanging agape, their ears were torn off, and their spines were snapped. They hung in the doorway like broken marionettes obliging a swelling silence.

They were armed. The bones in their fingers were wrapped around swords made from sharpened spinal cords. A noisy and aged weapon, thought Cron. Cron had seen spinal swords as long as twenty years ago. The things were nearly archaic by today’s standards. All the same, these creatures pointed their weapons steady handed. “You’re an illegal,” they said in unison.

They crossed the room suddenly. They were certain in their head-on assault as they swung at Cron. It seemed like the most foolhardy tactic imaginable.

Cron pulled his fingers across the floor, shouting obscenities at these creatures, an endless stream of them, he flowed across the room like the stink of the rancid ocean water. He wouldn’t succumb to these inside-out men. Knowing that thought made what came next easy. He sprung onto his feet. The creatures stood agape. Cron watched as the air crossed the bridge between their stomachs and throats. He reveled in this eager moment, planning his counter-attack.

Cron gasped. He thought he was ready for this but his wasn’t. An otherworldly will touched him. It snaked its way down his throat through his stomach and into his pelvis. A terrible pain came with it. It stopped his defiant voice dead in its tracks. A disgusting beast moaned to life inside of his arm. The hot pain in his pelvis disappeared and was replaced by a violent gag. Fragments of bone broke through the skin on his wrist. The inside out men were about to see that there was something hidden beneath his flesh. He couldn’t wait to show them his secret.

Cron’s fingers clicked and waddled out of their usual places in a beautiful choreography. Three of them flicked onto the back of his palm. His index and middle fingers remained behind. Even though the pain was immense, nothing felt wrong. Everything happening was in the spirit of a defiant beauty -- a higher purpose. A new form of being. Cron knew he was stepping out of the comparative safety of his old life in this moment.

Cron stood there for a long while basking in his pain. Staring at the new configuration of his mutilated hand brought him a great pleasure that he wasn’t previously aware of. This was the agonizing presence he had waited for. The thought made his cheeks flush with excitement. This was his infection, it had taken hold. He longed to be dying like this, he longed to become a weapon. Seeing his new hand, his Aard as they called it, made him weep. He counted his tears amongst the enlightened. He had become a walking weapon, he had taken to the infection and survived, he had become a Stalk.

Each of the weird men standing before Cron took a step back.

“He’s matured,” they said in unison.


Hunting Grounds Acquired by Uncork'd Entertainment: Press Release: "Uncork’d Entertainment is set to distribute the award-winning creature feature HUNTING GROUNDS, sales agent High Octane Pictures announced today.

Winner Best Sci-Fi Horror Film at the Toronto Independent Film Festival 2015, writer-director John Portanova’s acclaimed film sees a fractured family forced to go up against an angry clan of Bigfoot.

Festival audiences and horror critics have gone crazy for the story of a father and son, forced to move to an old cabin in the woods after a devastating tragedy, who unearth a tribe of Sasquatch.

Galen Christy, head of High Octane Pictures, says “We are so excited to be working with Uncork’d Entertainment again. They are a fantastic, solid company and we know that the film will be in good hands with them”.

Keith Leopard, president of Uncork’d Entertainment, adds "Being from the Pacific Northwest I’ve always been fascinated with the legend. John's movie offers such a great take on the subject, I think audiences will love it!".

Written and directed by John Portanova and produced by horror label The October People, HUNTING GROUNDS stars Miles Joris-Peyrafitte, Jason Vail, David Saucedo, D'Angelo Midili, and Emmy winner Bill Oberst Jr. (Criminal Minds).

Uncork’d Entertainment will distribute the film domestically. Date TBC."

  • Tamika Jones
    About the Author - Tamika Jones

    Tamika hails from North Beach, Maryland, a tiny town inches from the Chesapeake Bay.She knew she wanted to be an actor after reciting a soliloquy by Sojourner Truth in front of her entire fifth grade class. Since then, she's appeared in over 20 film and television projects. In addition to acting, Tamika is the Indie Spotlight manager for Daily Dead, where she brings readers news on independent horror projects every weekend.

    The first horror film Tamika watched was Child's Play. Being eight years old at the time, she remembers being so scared when Chucky came to life that she projectile vomited. It's tough for her to choose only one movie as her favorite horror film, so she picked two: Nosferatu and The Stepford Wives (1975).