“Fear Clinic” Released!

It’s hard to imagine that we wrapped the filming of “Fear Clinic” in December, 2013, and now the true fun begins.

The long-awaited movie has just been released on iTunes and XBox.  On February 10th the movie will be featured in special kiosks in every Best Buy and Walmart in the country, available both on DVD and  Blue Ray.

What made this project truly special to me was the incomparable Robert Englund. I was truly honored to share time with Robert on the set and socially over an authentic Italian dinner in Cleveland’s Little Italy.  Robert is truly a professional and the proverbial nice guy. People may remember him for his classic portrayal of Freddie Krueger, the star of the “Nightmare On Elm Street” films, but his abundant talent knows no bounds.

People may be interested to know that Robert Englund is classically trained and has been a working actor the majority of his adult life.  And it was an interesting quirk of fate that changed his life; he was up for the Luke Skywalker part in “Star Wars” and lost out only to Mark Hamill.  Though these two actors have had two entirely different careers as a result, they remain close friends.

Englund appears to be constantly working, whether touring the world this year for the 30th anniversary of “Nightmare,” doing cartoon voice work, guest starring on TV’s “Bones” or playing the lead in “Fear Clinic.”  Most impressively, he loves meeting with fans wherever he goes.

I place him among one of my all-time favorite genre actors — Vincent Price.  Interestingly, the two men have much in common: Great food and fine wine, travel, art and good reads.

Mani Isler (left) and Robert Englund work together during production of “Fear Clinic,” in December, 2013.

Despite a grueling shooting schedule on “Fear Clinic”, Englund graciously agreed to spend half of his only Sunday off to complete some vital dubbing.  We needed a lot of voice work that included the title sequence in the film.  He whisked through the work, needing no direction of any kind.  It was incredibly impressive.

And how did the final movie come out?  It exceeds all my expectations.  “Fear Clinic” is a rich and satisfying experience that showcases Robert Englund’s enormous depth and talent.  I recommend it to any lover of horror and suspense.

‘Fear Clinic’ comes to life

Strange how things in life sometimes work out unexpectedly.  Following the release of our novel Abattoir, the film rights were purchased by a producer inLos Angeles.  Fast forward two years, a long array of complete rewrites, seemingly endless notes, and sleepless nights,  we’re finally getting closer to what will be a shooting script.

Because of my involvement on Abattoir, I was approached in November of this past year to serve as the assistant to the producer on “Fear Clinic”  — a horror concept that would start filming in December.  I leaped at the opportunity.  Besides, who could pass up the opportunity to work with Robert Englund, the legendary character actor best known for creating Freddie Krueger in the “Nightmare On Elm Street” franchise.

Fear Clinic was born as a web series on FEARnet and was created by Rob Hall and Aaron Drane. The story centered around a fear doctor (Englund) who treats patients with various phobias.  The concept grew to become the most highly watched horror internet series in history with over six million fans. The leap to the big screen was a logical step.

The shooting location was Medina, Ohio (a sleepy suburban community 30 minutes outside Cleveland) at a former woman’s nursing home.

After a few days on the hectic set I was fortunate to be promoted to associate producer and publicist.

Mani Isler, left, and Robert Englund talk about horrible things on an Ohio radio program last December, while “Fear Clinic” was in production

Thanks to the creative direction of Rob Hall and producer Mark Johnson (pga), the production wrapped after an extremely hectic and challenging three-week schedule.

The film stars Englund, Fiona Dourif, Thomas Dekker and Angelina Armani.  Coupled with the strong cast was the inclusion of legendary special effects masters Steve Johnson, Robert Kurtzman and Rob Hall.  I even had the opportunity to work with Slipknot front man Corey Taylor.

The production was not without it’s own ironic twist of horror.  As we were confined to the same location, a strange flu quickly spread amongst us.  Then the weather hit us hard.  Starting off with pleasant, fall-like temperatures, we were met with an arctic blast of cold and heavy snow. I’ve never experienced the frigid, humid cold like Ohio — made worse by nearby Lake Erie.  The cold was so severe that the location’s entire plumbing system froze.  This, unfortunately, included the toilets.  We were soon shuttling crew members back and forth to a nearby box store for bathroom breaks.  Our location manager did an admirable job in locating a large heated Porta-Potty system (complete with heating and running water).  But this system froze as well.  After a few days, the snow finally melted. We were then met with days of icy, cold rain.

When we wrapped, we were all collectively, exhausted, cold and sorely missing our families and familiar beds.  But we all shared a sense of purpose and the knowledge that we created something special for the global horror audience.

Now that the film is deeply entrenched in post production back in Los Angeles, there is growing anticipation for the completed project.  To be distributed by Anchor Bay Films, Fear Clinic is set to open in late fall of this year.

The experience reinforced my deep love for film and I’m excited about Abattoir coming to life along with other projects.

Lastly, I thank my esteemed writing collaborator Chris Leppek.  If not for him none of this would have been possible.


Watch the trailer at: http://dailydead.com/first-trailer-fear-clinic-movie/

Mani on Matheson

Like my illustrious writing partner I mourn the loss of Richard Matheson — the one man who had more influence on us than any other writer of our generation.

I remember discovering Matheson upon a reading of Shock — a paperback collection of short stories –  when I was a kid.  I was immediately taken by his creativity, his love for the horror genre, and his uncanny talent of telling a good tale.  He made writing look easy and effortless, which Chris Leppek and I know all too well is far from the truth.

When talking about Matheson I always have and always will refer to him as perhaps the most famous writer most people never knew.  But his immense workmanlike slate of accomplishments will surely live on.  Here’s a man who successfully maneuvered between novels, short stories, teleplays and screenplays, an incredibly difficult fete.

He can be traced back as one of the original writers on the groundbreaking television show “The Twilight Zone”.  He wrote episodes of the original “Star Trek” and was a favorite of independent film guru Roger Corman who hired Matheson to pen “The Pit And The Pendulum”, “The Raven” and other classics.  My favorite novel and screenplay by him will always be “The Legend of Hell House.”

Perhaps the public will best remember him for having a total of three remakes of films based on a novel — “I Am Legend”, and for writing the television movie “Duel” which gave Steven Spielberg his first directing job.  Spielberg’s success with “Duel” led him to “Jaws”.

As writers we thank Mr. Matheson for providing us with inspiration.

As fans, we thank Mr. Matheson for giving us countless hours of pure entertainment.

We will all miss him terribly.