One thing Nerds love is an independent project. Watching creators build their worlds up from the ground with barely more than their own moxie. It warms the cockles of nerd hearts across the world and can often lead to some of the best work a creator puts out. And today we turn to creator Brian Rosenthal. Notably from his Marvel Zombies vs. Army of Darkness film from 2013, Rosenthal comes at us with his latest pitch for a new movie – The Last Blockbuster.
Ready Player One, Stranger Things, Everything Sucks!, the rising popularity of table-top roleplaying games, it seems like the late 80s early 90s are back with a vengeance. Brian Rosenthal has tapped into that pop culture dominating presence with his latest brain-baby, The Last Blockbuster.
“It’s “The Monster Squad” meets “Clerks” when a pair of lifelong movie geeks must suddenly band together with a motley crew of strangers inside one of the last remaining video rental stores and attempt to survive– perhaps even stop the supernatural apocalypse happening just outside their doors.”
Directed, written, and edited by Rosenthal, the trailer features Chris Frank as New Hire Employee, David VonHippchen as the store manager, and Joshua Borcyk and Nigah Davis as employees in an instructional video. The trailer alone gives you a strong sense of the film’s tone. Equal parts creepy and campy, The Last Blockbuster concept trailer gives you a glimpse at the over whelming apocalypse looming just outside the video store.
Rosenthal and company are currently looking for a producer to help get this project funded and off the ground. This feels like a no-brainer, definitely along the lines of ‘Knights of Badassdom’ or the bastard love-child of ‘Ghostbusters’ and ‘Big Trouble In Little China’. The Last Blockbuster feels like a love letter to the VHS generation.
We got the opportunity to pick Rosenthal’s brain just a bit. Here’s what he had to say.
NB: Can you tell us a little bit about where this idea came from?
Rosenthal: I grew up in the 80s and early 90s a total horror and movie geek. MonsterVision with Joe Bob, Troma flicks, USA Up All Night… I think a lot of us had similar experiences with genre flicks growing up. I can still remember going to ‘King’s Video’ (partial inspiration for the fictionalized store) in my hometown and seeing all the insane box art for movies that I was WAY too young to rent. Fast forward a few years and I’m making fan-films for YouTube, getting flagged by Marvel (Marvel Zombies vs. Army of Darkness), all that fun stuff. Knowing we wanted to graduate from fan-films to original content, my producing partner (and ‘The Last Blockbuster’ co-creator) David Griffin and I started hammering out potential concepts for low budget features that we could really get behind. At one point in early 2016 we were bs’ing about John Hughes flicks and ‘Career Opportunities’ came up. It’s a mostly forgettable (and horribly outdated) movie but had this really simple zero to hero plot centered around an affable doofus working the overnight shift at a ‘Target’ who has to suddenly defend the store from invaders. Something about that insane set-up always stuck with me. Around this time nostalgia over the video rental days was really starting to brew and boil over onto social media– VHS collecting was gaining steam, Blockbuster memes were popping up left and right, and the notion just kinda struck me… Why not make a badass horror movie and set it inside a video rental store? Kind of a ‘Clerks’ meets ‘The Monster Squad’ meets ‘High Fidelity’ sorta deal about a couple of movie geeks who have to defend the store they work at/cherish from a supernatural apocalypse they might be uniquely equipped to combat. I quickly googled the hell out of it to make sure it hadn’t been done before, and sure enough, nope– no horror movies set inside a video rental store, not a single one. So I got work on the script almost immediately, I remember being very excited… knocked it out in like, less than month. Super quick, came right from the heart. So there’s that surface level pastiche of B movie influences, for sure, which I wanted to make obvious from the teaser and poster artwork, but it’s also a very personal story for me about the power of nostalgia and cinema, and how they’re able to unite so many of us, no matter what background we come from. Put 20 strangers in a room, chances are they don’t have very much in common. But they probably all love movies. And they probably all remember Blockbuster Video. And that kinda common ground is a great place to start if you’re trying to survive the end of the world. It’s a ridiculously fun movie/script, I hope I get to make it.
PS I also worked at a Blockbuster Video in the mid/late 90s, so that’s definitely a factor, too!
NB: In a perfect world, where do you see this film debuting? Theaters? Streaming service?
Rosenthal: I definitely believe there’s a version of this film that can premiere theatrically and go wide. I’d be the first in line to buy a ticket if this was someone else’s film, ya know? The actual ‘Last Blockbuster’ in Bend, Oregon has even made its way onto the ‘Ellen’ show with recurring segments. Its gone mainstream, it’s part of the zeitgeist and it’s something I’d want to drag all my friends with me to see. There’s a hunger for it, it’s there… I think of Turbo Kid, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, Stranger Things, Kung Fury… they all proved there’s a market, that there’s more of US out there… That you can wear your heart on your sleeve as a filmmaker/artist, and that people will connect with it. It just hasn’t been tapped theatrically, not yet. I love that feeling of “I didn’t know I needed this until I saw it”. That’s the appeal, I think. “Where has this been all my life?” That’s the feeling I want to evoke. Side note, I think it’d be very amusing, in an ironic kind of way, if this premiered somewhere like Netflix, considering streaming’s part in killing off brick and mortar rental stores. There’s room for ‘The Last Blockbuster’ anywhere and everywhere.
NB: Where can one get one of those awesome Viking Video polo shirts?
Rosenthal: Tough question.There’s a good chance we’ll make them available in the near future (along with the poster and other sweet merch) in some way shape or form. Possibly offered as a reward in a crowdfunding campaign, if we can’t get the film made traditionally and decide to go that route? Stay tuned and keep your eyes on our official Facebook page for updates facebook.com/lastblockbusterfilm
NB: You’re in a short elevator ride with a producer that’s got money to burn. You’ve got about 60 seconds to convince him to green-light to your film. What do you say?
Rosenthal: With the proverbial ground in Hollywood currently shifting at an alarming rate, two things currently dominate the box office: Horror and Nostalgia, with the latter being in absolute peak demand. ‘The Last Blockbuster’ seeks to fill a unique and universal void for all of us who miss the days of visiting a video rental store, browsing the aisles and perusing the cover art and backs of countless VHS tapes. Going to the video store was a way of life, a staple of our childhoods and adolescent years growing up. We all fondly remember it.
And not a single horror movie has ever been set in one.
What if there was a contemporary film centered around our cultural love and nostalgia for both the video rental heyday and 80s/90s era filmmaking? What if John Carpenter’s thrills and chills were fused with John Hughes’ generation-defining combination of heart and comedy? What if ‘Clerks’ met ‘The Myst’ with a dash of ‘The Monster Squad’? And what if it was all doable on an extremely low budget with viral marketing potential, to boot? ‘The Last Blockbuster’ is feel-good horror at its finest– a fast, fun, and frightening love letter to the kinds of films we all remember seeing at the video store– that just so happens to also be set inside one.I’d probably also make mention of my metrics and past viral successes if I was really in an elevator with an exec trying to talk myself up, but honestly, I hate shameless self promotion. I just really, REALLY want to make this film, and I think I can knock it right outta the park.
Sharing this on social media and getting the video in front of friends and family is the first step to getting this project noticed and eventually funded. 2 minutes and 9 seconds and Rosenthal has already made NerdBastards fans of the project, getting us excited and hopeful for the future of his film.
Check out the trailer below and be sure to give the official Facebook page a like, and of course, share the hell out of it! Any and all interested parties can find Brian online over on Twitter, Facebook, or shoot him an email.
What did you think of the trailer? Let us know in the comments below or hit us up on Facebook or Twitter!