Slayers Dir K. Asher Levin on Howard Hughes and Vampires Inspirations

When writer and director K. Asher Levin (Dig, The Shadow Diaries), along with writing partner Zack Imbrogno took on The Avenue's action horror comedy Slayers, it went to places he never could imagine, especially after he cast major roles played by Thomas Jane and Malin Akerman to lead an ensemble cast. He spoke to Bleeding Cool about the various inspirations from the life of aviation mogul Howard Hughes to contemporary vampire films and filmmakers.

Slayers Dir Asher Levin on Howard Hughes and Vampires Inspirations
Thomas Jane and Kara Hayward in Slayers (2022). Image courtesy of The Avenue

The Many Films That Inspired Slayers

Bleeding Cool: What's the inspiration behind 'Slayers?'

Levin: 'Slayers' started a little differently and became what it became. Initially, there was a fun riff I was going to do on the later years of Howard Hughes at the desert in Las Vegas, and it was going to be set in the late '60s. Vampire movies are always about something reflecting in society. A little over a decade ago, I was obsessed with the idea of doing a vampire movie that reflected on addiction to media. From my experiences I had in the digital space running a couple of digital companies and programming for some big social media platforms, I met a lot of people very similar to those in our Stream Team, on which I based our young influencers in the film. I reached out to a buddy I'd written some stuff with before and pitched him on rewriting a movie with me with that in mind, and the rest is history.

We dove in headfirst into this idea of media consumption, social media addiction, and media as a prism in general. That includes our bifurcated world of news media today, which is scattered, and nobody has the same story at all times now. We live in a world rife with conspiracy, and it's hard not to have a healthy dose of cynicism around the way we get our news feeds today on all sides. I wanted to ensure the film was agnostic to politics and equal opportunity skewering all sides.

Slayers Dir Asher Levin on Howard Hughes and Vampires Inspirations
Cr: The Avenue

Any existing films and shows that were influential for the film?
Initially, 'From Dusk Till Dawn' and 'John Carpenter's Vampires,' Kathryn Bigelow's 'Near Dark' were all big influences and a little bit of 'Blade.' Once we figured out what this movie would look like editorially, the references became a little closer to Adam McKay and some of his more recent work, as well as a little bit of Gaspar Noé, who made 'Enter the Void,' a French film. I also channeled [Sam] Raimi a bit because I like to tell myself my heroes and influences are a little bit more high-minded, like [Brian] De Palma, [Martin] Scorsese, and [Quentin] Tarantino.

I also have a bit of Raimi's sense of humor. A lot of times, even when I'm doing something that might be a bit more serious, my interest in how the camera's going to move and look is sometimes humorous. Sometimes I embrace it. This movie is a lot with the visual effects, and the graphic design, which is my two biggest influences visually were Raimi and De Palma. I used a good deal split diopter, which is a De Palma thing. The blood was much in his zone of sort of Giallo [genre] and the Raimi stuff. I cribbed off of an 'Evil Dead' shot where we did that poor man's Steadicam ramp-up when we first see Harry (CG Lewis) as a vampire.

Once you get into the editing room and you realize there's so much humor in the way that the film is shot, and there's a campy element to the movie. Another influence was 'Rocky Horror.' I always wanted [Slayers] to be a midnight movie. I never thought of this as a straightforward horror film or anything else, for that matter. This was more of a midnight movie in the vein of 'Rocky Horror,' 'Repo Man,' or 'They Live.'

Slayers, which also stars Kara Hayward, Jack Donnelly, Lydia Hearst, and Abigail Breslin, is in theaters, digital, and on demand.

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Tom ChangAbout Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangoria. As a writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.
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