When the guy who directed the Sharknado trilogy wants to make a virtual reality slasher flick, you don’t skimp on the fake blood. And while some of the blood in Anthony C. Ferrante’s gory horror-comedy Killer Deal is CGI, a whole lot of it is old-fashioned liquid stage blood, too. “We had drums and drums of it, and we wanted to use it all. We weren’t leaving that room until it was completely trashed,” executive producer Irad Eyal tells The Creators Project. “At the end, we set up a waterproof VR camera and filmed the cleaning process. All our PA’s, who worked really hard, came in with, like, Breaking Bad Tyvek suits and mops and hoses and buckets and it still infiltrated every orifice.”
Killer Deal is definitely bloody. Ferrante puts viewers in the “splash zone,” spraying them with vital fluid. Though gore-spattered (some of the blood that flies in your direction seems to stick to and drip from the lens), the goal is to make people laugh while grossing them out. Drawing on campy horror films from the 80s, Killer Deal follows a machete salesman aptly named Nick Steel, played by Ian Ziering of Beverly Hills, 90210 fame, who holes up in a creepy discount motel room during a machete convention. He puts his wares to use when it turns out he shares the room with a sinister occupant. “Anthony’s philosophy is, the more seriously you take something, the funnier it is. We went full-force in that direction,” Eyal says. Over the top in every aspect, Killer Deal manages to conquer comedy and horror, genres largely untouched by VR, but extra horrifying when they are.
Ferrante and his team extracted horror film tropes and figured out how to improve them in VR. Killer Deal puts viewers in the room with the action, and though they are not the ones hacking at a monster with a machete, it takes full advantage of the vulnerability viewers can feel in VR. “When you’re shooting in a 360 space, the psycho killer could be anywhere in the room. Every time the lights turn on, you’re looking around to find out where the killer is at the same time that our hero is doing the same thing,” Eyal says. Immersive 3D sound and strategic lighting heighten the anticipation, and carefully-placed Easter eggs reward viewers adventurous enough to survey their surroundings.
Though Killer Deal is creepy (at least one jump scare gets screams from the headset-clad), it’s also silly. "It’s work sometimes to put on a headset and watch something that’s earnest and serious. We were like, ‘Where’s the fun stuff?’" Eyal says. “We wanted to be an antidote to that, and we went in saying we were going to make something 100% not serious and just fun." Fans may not have to wait long for more. With plans in the work to produce further adventures of Nick Steel, there may be a whole lot more comedy, and fake blood, added to the VR catalogue very shortly.