By: Jaimz Dillman
When you grow up being a horror fan and feeling drawn to all things spooky, if you're lucky enough, you can turn that passion into a career. And that's just what James-Michael Roddy has done. Growing up in Jacksonville, FL, he would watch horror hosts and build monster model kits. He said, "My favorite movies are The Shining, Halloween (John Carpenter's) and Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein." He also found himself dabbling here and there in short films. In fact, before moving to Orlando, Roddy and friends were given the chance to create 13 hours of content for a local access TV station. As an actor in local theme parks, he eventually moved into show directing. Roddy started building attractions that include well-known haunts Halloween Horror Nights and Howl-O-Scream. Even more Halloween events had him traveling all over the world, and learning a thing or two about what scares people. "Overseas is easier, 'cause they haven't immersed themselves in horror. We've explained things away here before we get to the horror. They seem to be able to suspend their disbelief," Roddy said. Having already worked on a few documentaries, including The Shark is Still Working - The Legacy and Impact of Jaws, The Psycho Legacy, and and 2017 Best Documentary winner from the Central Florida Film Festival, Monster Kids - The Impact of Things That Go Bump In the Night, he finally had the chance to write, and access to a venue and equipment. "This is the first time I had a chance to really have something to capture my voice," Roddy said.
Roddy wanted to make something different in 2021. He looked for a way to give viewers an exercise in uneasiness and mystery, with his latest film venture, Infernum Obscura. The title refers to Hell's camera, and the story explores what makes a place evil? And if the walls retain it. "I wanted to celebrate movies from the 70's I really love - Burnt Offerings, The Changeling - movies with residual trauma and evil," he said. Paired up with executive producer Ken Britt, their assembled team includes Greg Nicotero of KNB Effects (The Walking Dead, anyone?) and horror actress Brinke Stevens (c'mon, Slumber Party Massacre!). Also featured is Adam Graham as photographer Andrew Wyke, who's made a name for himself as a sort of Andy Warhol of horror photography. Danielle Lang is Cassandra, his tortured model, with whom he shares a sketchy past. Jason Wood plays Noah Hollander, the abused assistant, and Jessica Cannaday, is the makeup artist, Blair. There's a little bit of a morality tale between the suspense and scares - be careful what you ask for, as it may not be worth the cost.
Set in an abandoned school, the foursome are out to capture... something... in the hallowed halls. Thanks to Britt, a perfect locale was found right up the road from Orlando, in Leesburg. Roddy makes a quick appearance as Edward Burton, representing his client who owns the property... and maybe more. Something isn't quite right from the beginning, and more is told as the story unfolds. A few twists and turns are included along the way, as we find out about the school's past, and why it closed. Attendees of the Fantasm con in Orlando, October 1st, will have a chance to attend a screening, hopefully followed by a Q&A with Roddy. "In this age, films are made by proof of concept. I have an idea to turn this into an anthology, but this gives people a chance at 48 minutes of creepy," he said. When asked what's next for the writer/director, Roddy has two more installments of his Haunter's Tale book series planned, and scripts covering the pursuit of Bigfoot and UFO's. "I'd love to do different genres. I love comedy and Christmas - I just love storytelling. But horror is just fun," Roddy said. Check out Roddy's website for more info about Infernum Obscura, Haunter's Tale, and other projects.