Akron filmmaker Maurice Thomas talks about filming Urban Cannibal Massacre
Urban Cannibal Massacre (original title: Meat the Jones) is a 2013 horror film written by Jennifer Jeter and co-written by Dustin Austen. The story is by Maurice Thomas- who also directed the film. With a new film in the works, The Devil Strip took a moment to pick Thomas’ brain (pun intended) about what drove him into the horror realm of filmmaking.
The Devil Strip:
Where did you get the idea for this film?
I came up with the idea for Meat the Jones aka Urban Cannibal Massacre in 2012. I’ve been a horror fan for life. I was turned off with how African Americans were portrayed in horror movies. I started searching for black horror movies and found out that the genre was mostly extinct. Even on the low budget side there wasn’t a great deal of movies. The movies that I could find, I watched and studied them. I came to the conclusion that if I wanted to make an urban horror movie, it could be nothing like the movies of the past, it had to be something new and refreshing. I sat down with my creative team and Meat the Jones came to life. There has never been a movie about a black family of cannibals. We wanted this movie to be tasteful so we made them high class citizens versus the typical in-breeds or mutants that you see in most cannibal movies.
Why set it in Akron?
MT: I was born in Akron, and I love this city. I film most of my movies here in Akron. Most people here know that I’m a filmmaker and they always want to help out. So I get things like locations for free or at a discounted rate. My crew is also so small that we don’t draw a lot of attention while we’re filming so I don’t need permits, we just run up and start shooting. It would be harder to do that in Cleveland. Overall it’s just more cost effective to film in Akron.
Which directors/writers have influenced your work the most?
I’ve always been a fan of John Carpenter and Wes Craven. I also like Rob Zombie and Eli Roth. The director that influenced me the most is JR Bookwalter. As a teenager, The Dead Next Door gave me hope that I could be a horror filmmaker from Akron, just like JR. At a young age I knew I could do it because he did it. The drive and determination he had, still influences me. Whenever something goes wrong on my set the running joke is-What Would JR Do? JR would get the job done-by any means necessary. That’s what influences me-let’s get it done and in the can.
What was the most challenging part of this film? Was it more difficult in any respect than other projects you’ve worked on?
The most challenging part of this film was actually the production. We shot the movie in the winter and it was freezing cold. Most of our difficulties came during casting. It was hard to find African Americans actors for a horror movie. Luckily I have a friend in Cleveland who happens to direct plays. I told him what I was going through and he provided me with a list of African American actors. The rest is history.
Do you have any other films in production or in mind to make down the road?
I have another movie Rhyme Slaya ready to drop. It’s a hip hop slasher movie about A hip hop contest with a record deal attached becomes a blood soaked splatter-fest as five contestants are brutally stalked and murdered. You’ll be able to see it in October..details soon.