A machete. That’s director/writer Bryan Ortiz’s weapon of choice in the event that he must face an army of the undead.
Ortiz knows this because it’s a situation he has played through his mind hundreds of times before. The fact that he has thought about it might seem a bit bizarre to some, but Ortiz finds comfort in knowing that he could destroy at least a few brains before being eaten alive.
“Zombies are such a human horror,” said Ortiz, 22, who recently finished his first feature film, Dr. “S” Battles the Sex Crazed Reefer Zombies. “With zombies, you’re dealing with something like an infection. The dead rising is not such a crazy idea.”
Ortiz’s love affair with horror movies began in his native Brownsville, a town where he says “you gotta like something because there’s not much to it.” Since Ortiz wasn’t interested in sports like most of his peers, he had to find another outlet to keep himself busy. With a mother who taught theater at the local high school and a cousin who was always popping A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Evil Dead, and Re-Animator into the VCR for him to watch, Ortiz quickly became fascinated with filmmaking.
“I watched a lot of movies and television when I was a kid,” said Ortiz, who resembles a young Robert Downey Jr. but hides his looks behind rather large George A. Romero-like frames. “I was the kid in elementary school that knew who RoboCop was. Then, all through high school, I was known as ‘the guy who makes movies.’”
This epithet followed him to San Antonio where he enrolled at the University of the Incarnate Word to major in theater. (Ortiz is now a senior and scheduled to graduate in December).
During his time in Say-Town, Ortiz has completed four short films and co-created Film Classics Productions with former talent agent Michael Druck. With some experience under his belt, Ortiz felt it was time to write and direct a feature-length film. Dr. “S” evolved out of a B-horror faux trailer he and Druck created for Robert Rodriguez’s Grindhouse competition at the South By Southwest Film Festival earlier this year.
“I was really nervous going into `my first feature` because I knew it was going to be daunting,” Ortiz said. “We couldn’t shoot anything during the day because the movie is set during the nighttime.”
Although he believes there will always be a market for campy films like Dr. “S,” Ortiz hopes to explore other genres in the near future to see what best fits his directorial style. If his calling turns out to be horror, he has no problem accepting that.
“I can do horror for the rest of my life,” Ortiz said. “You can always take horror and apply other genres to it — comedy, drama, even romantic comedy like Shaun of the Dead.”
Ortiz’s goal is to help guide the genre back to the days when horror movies actually had intriguing stories. Now, he says, American-made horror is not at the level it should be.
“The stuff that has been going to theaters these last six or seven years has made me cringe,” Ortiz said. “Now, it’s all about how much `a horror movie` can gross you out. It’s cheap thrills. I want to get back to the good ol’ days of horror.” •
See myspace.com/Doctor_Scientist for October screening information.
Questions for the zombie aficionado
If you were in a zombie movie, would you survive?
Probably not. I’d be the kid that can’t run fast enough and then trips and falls.
Would you kill your own mother if she turned into a zombie?
I’ve thought about that so many times. No. What would happen if I killed my mom and then a month later they come up with a cure? I probably would let myself be eaten by my own mom.
When do you most feel like you’re in a zombie state?
When I’m in production for a film. I wake up every day tired. `With Dr. “S”` I didn’t sleep for like three or four days straight.
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