Just when you thought that Hollywood had sucked all the blood out of low-budget horror flicks, a company is taking a stab at the genre and has been getting big revenue for small outlays.
A trio of producers is drawing from their experience in creating TV shows and making money off a genre that has survived for decades despite its wolfman, vampire and slasher cliches.
Tony Krantz, John Shiban and Daniel Myrick founded Raw Feed Productions two years ago with the goal of combining horror, science fiction and dark comedy to put a different spin on the genre's typical scare, slice and murder themes.
The low-budget horror genre has transcended generations from the age of drive-in theaters to the home video boom to even today, where films such as Lions Gate's "Saw" franchise have generated hundreds of millions of dollars in movie ticket and DVD sales.
Enter Raw Feed, with such fare as its latest film, "Otis," which is expected to become its biggest hit yet. It drew critical acclaim from the underworld of horror film reviewers on hand last week in Austin, Texas, to view the film's debut at the South by Southwest Film Festival.
The company has produced three films for less than $1.5 million each. "Rest Stop," "Sublime" and "Believers" grossed more than $30 million in combined DVD sales. That averages out to $10 million each, which compares with an average of $401,000 per title for horror-thriller films released straight to DVD during 2007, according to Adams Media Research of Carmel.
Raw Feed films are shot and edited within two months. Other theatrical movies are much more expensive to produce. It's a price difference Krantz said he doesn't understand.
"There's no reason why even a major motion picture needs to cost hundreds of millions of dollars to produce," said Krantz, a former executive producer of "24." "And by the same token, there is no reason why low-budget movies need to have lousy production values."
While the first "Saw" film was made for about $1.5 million, the budget had crept upward of $10 million by the time the fourth film in the franchise was shot. Krantz said the increase isn't necessary.
Shiban came to Raw Feed after executive producer stints on "X Files" and other shows, and Myrick was co-creator of "The Blair Witch Project."
Despite huge profits made on horror films at the box office, DVD sales in the horror-thriller genre dropped by more than 10 percent in 2007 and have fallen nearly 8 percent so far this year, according to Nielsen VideoScan.
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