In this “lost slasher film from 1978,” a masked killer wages an unrelenting spree of murder, cannibalism, and necrophilia. But when his tortured past comes back to haunt him, he plunges to even greater depths of madness and depravity, consuming the lives of a young woman and those she holds dear.
Headless, produced by Forbidden Films and Gentleman Monster Productions after a highly successful Kickstarter campaign, is a spin-off from the award-winning Found. If you’ve seen Found, you’ll remember Headless is a real nasty slasher movie that our young hero, Marty, watches with a friend late one night. You only see about 10 or 15 minutes of Headless in Found, but it makes a dramatic impact on the entire film (and even got Found banned in Australia!) Now this notorious sequence of Found is its own, stand-alone feature film — a love letter to gorehounds, retro-horror enthusiasts, and fans of exploitation cinema.
Arthur Cullipher, special effects supervisor and associate producer on Found, is the director of Headless. Shane Beasley has reprised his role as the “Headless” Killer, and Leya Taylor has returned to frame the bloodshed as director of photography. Nathan Erdel and Kara Erdel came aboard for the mayhem, fresh off a year-long comprehensive film making course under the guidance of Robby Benson at Indiana University. Nathan penned the screenplay and Kara has co-produced Headless with Found director Scott Schirmer.
When Headless was first released in 1978, it opened in a few select theaters to screams of revulsion and horror. Some theater patrons reportedly suffered seizures, hallucinations and strange violent outbursts. Headless only played for 1 week before most of the theaters themselves began refusing to play it. Many of them destroyed the prints in their possession claiming that ‘no one anywhere ever should be subjected to such a dangerous and traumatic experience.’ The production company received scores of letters calling the filmmakers ‘sinister’, ‘reprehensible’ and ‘evil’. Some suggested that the building that housed the production company should be burned down and the ground sown with salt.
Driven into the underground by staunch religious groups and parent organizations, the film seemed to have been all, but forgotten. For those who had heard only the rumors, many wondered if Headless had ever really existed at all. Were it not for the few bootlegs that circulated on VHS in the intervening years, some of them with bizarre edits, scenes missing and scenes added that seem to have come from strange sources, Headless may have been lost completely to the annals of time. Without the fans, this simply would not exist now.
You are to be one of the first to see this lost cult classic in nearly 4 decades. Brought together from the most pristine copies available, you are about to experience Headless as it was meant to be seen 37 years ago. Be sure to keep telling yourself, “It’s only a movie… it’s only a movie… it’s only a movie.”
– Arthur Cullipher
As a writer and a literal life-long fan of the horror genre – and especially the stabby-pierce-y-dead-teenager-y sort – for some reason, it never occurred to me to actually write a slasher film. Sure, it would be amazing to enter into the same world trafficked by the likes of John Carpenter, Wes Craven, and Victor Miller, but there’s a danger in this line of thinking; for every Myers, Krueger, and Voorhees, we’ve been subjected to a procession of masked maniacs that lived and died to create just one forgettable cinematic outing. What could I, ultimately, bring to the table? Anything that wasn’t said in Carpenter’s magnum opus was surely said by the time I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer lumbered out of the grave of cinematic oversaturation, right?
I’m not sure what, ultimately, I offered to the indie film world with Headless, aside from a respect for the genre and a love that was equally spread between the cinematic slasher for whom I was creating a back-story and the teenage victims who would eventually fall under his blade. Hopefully, the story I crafted does as much to honor the slashers that brought me into the world of underground cinema as much as it embodies the “USA Up All Night” tone that made up so much of my early cinematic viewings. In Headless, the warped psychology and abattoir-level massacres interested me only to a point; I found myself just as interested in my rocker dudes and my disco chicks as I was in our totemic psychopath.
In the end, I hope that Forbidden Films and Gentleman Monster Productions have succeeded in creating an old-school slasher that delivers 70’s-style thrills coupled with a deeper exploration into the mind of its masked killer; while we had fun wallowing in the “Halloween everyday” atmosphere of making a horror film, all of us were interested in making more than a run-of-the-mill stalk-and-slash feature. There’s nothing wrong with a masked madman hunting cinematic carrion – it’s just that digging into his grey matter and finding out what makes him tick became so much more morbidly rewarding.
– Nathan Erdel