Apothecary — noun: a druggist, pharmacist; (esp. in England and Ireland) a druggist licensed to prescribe medicine.
Every generation of horror writer — and their cinematic equivalents, both writer and director — wants to come up with the next iconic monster. It’s not easy to create a cultural archetype, a creature so unique, and so multi-layered, that it takes on an identity of its own apart from the original story in which it was born. Frankenstein’s monster, Dracula, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, the Mummy, the Phantom of the Opera, the Candyman, Freddie Krueger, Romero’s apocalyptic zombies, the Joker, King Kong, Godzilla, Daleks, Pinhead (from Hellraiser) — these monsters have all, to varying degrees, done so, often against expectation. Perhaps we creators want all our creations to have that impact. However, I don’t believe it’s something you can deliberately achieve, even when what you do achieve is effective in its own right. Many great monsters and villains never reach that pinnacle. The apotheosis happens at a point where artistic intent and the unpredictable public imagination meet, where the zeitgeist suddenly latches onto a creation and becomes deeply obsessed with it, beyond its original incarnation. The reasons why it happens aren’t always clear either to creators or their audience. The transformation transcends both ability and artist success, and engages something much more elusive, more primal.
Still, we keep trying.
In this in-production horror film, The Apothecary, writer/director Kevin Lindenmuth intends to create a memorable monster of this kind. Will the Apothecary be the next Hannibal Lecter?
A young man, Yanni, revisits his childhood neighborhood in Detroit soon after the death of his mother. Once there he falls back into his old life in Greektown and begins work for a mysterious pharmacist who concocts miraculous cures. But he also reunites with a childhood friend, who is infected with evil. When the pharmacist is brutally murdered a golem-like creature from Greek folklore begins wreaking havoc. Is this the pharmacist returned from the dead? And what, exactly, is Yanni’s connection to the magical store?
As indicated in the above promo piece, The Apothecary will be both a comic and a feature film. The drawings featured in this article are conceptual illustrations created for the monster in both incarnations — though the relationship ends there. Writer/Director Lindenmuth explained:
A comic of The Apothecary is also being produced, with artist Vince Locke illustrating it. These sketches are the basic art for the monster, but the graphic novel and screenplay are different from each other. They are both based on the same source material (short story and 30-page outline), but me and Vince have independently come up with the actual story. I haven’t read his script yet, and he hasn’t read mine. Sort of independent projects.
Undead Backbrain asked Lindenmuth how the movie come about?
The idea came from a 30 page outline/story by the film’s producer, Danny Johnston of Coil Studios, LLC. He had a lot of ideas for a movie and for the first one from Coil this one was the most viable, considering the budget. I took his idea and gave my own spin on it. It takes into consideration the “magic” movies like those of the Harry Potter franchise and Percy Jackson and the Olympians to appeal to that audience while also being a homage to 80s monster movies (like Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th, which have their own distinct monsters). Danny had read my books years ago and was already familiar with my work. It coincided as I was looking for a directing gig and he wanted to produce his first feature.
How do you expect the film to be released?
For The Apothecary, we are seeking the widest release possible. I had wide success with my previous films in the US through Blockbuster, et cetera, but now that video chains are disappearing, it may make more sense to directly self-distribute. Annual horror series, as those from Ghost House and Lion’s Gate’s Screamfest, have shown it’s possible to get picked up by a distributor for a lump of cash, but I’ve always gone the self-distribution route, simply licensing my movies to different distributors, especially worldwide sales. I have a bunch of possible distribution companies that have expressed interest already, based on my established track record.
At what stage is the film right now?
We’ll be shooting the movie in early February and it will be completed Summer 2011. Right now, we’re in the casting phase.
This looks and sounds very promising to me and it will be great to see what eventuates. As always, Undead Backbrain will keep you informed.
Addendum: Apparently, according to Lindenmuth, the creature harks from Greek mythology and is called a Vrykolokas. He explained: “It’s a being that’s returned from the beyond. It can be the result of a violent sacriligeous death or burial, summoned as a tool of vengeance. Vince referred to it as ‘Meat Man’ in his sketches since that’s what it looks like.”
Coil Productions, LLC & Brimstone Media Productions, LLC
Producer: Danny Johnston
Director/Writer: Kevin Lindenmuth
Makeup effects: Jason Hiltz
Cast: to be determined
Location: Michigan, Detroit-Metro area
Shooting: February 2011
About Kevin Lindenmuth:
Kevin Lindenmuth has worked in the film/video business for over 25 years. He received his BA in film/video production from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in 1987. Most of his professional life was spent working in New York City in all the major aspects of video production. He is a published author and also an independent film and documentary maker. His most popular genre title is the vampire/serial killer movie Addicted To Murder, which was widely distributed through Blockbuster video in 1996 and was named “Best Outlaw movie of ’96 by CINEFANTASTIQUE magazine. His films in the same vampiric vein, Addicted To Murder (see DVD cover art below), Addicted To Murder: Tainted Blood and Vampires & Other Stereotypes have just been re-released to DVD and can be bought via Amazon. (They’ve been unavailable for half a decade — and it’s the first time Vampires & Other Stereotypes has been released on DVD in the US.)
For the past ten years Lindenmuth has primarily been a documentary director/producer, with many of his documentaries broadcasting nationally on PBS. In fact, he is in post-production on a new documentary, The Life of Death, which interviews such genre authors/filmmakers as Jack Ketchum, Caroline Munro, Tom Sullivan, Debbie Rochon, Tony Timpone, Bob Fingerman. The horror movie The Apothecary marks his return to directing horror films.