By Nick Hawks
If there was any doubt which home was Matthew Mark Hunter’s, the man outside the house in the full-blown elf costume, smoking a cigarette, was a dead giveaway. This wasn’t one of those friendly-looking elves, like from popular Christmas movies, The Santa Claus or Elf. This elf had a face painted white and lips in a vibrant red, extending well beyond his lips like he was an extra for The Joker on the set of The Dark Knight. Yup, I was at the right house; I thought.
Hunter, a Cleveland State University film student, is a horror genre film director with over 120 films under his belt, many of which are recorded from his Garfield Heights home, the very one I was meeting him and his crew at. I was there responding to a last-minute casting call from his Facebook page, in need of a male actor to stand-in for just a few scenes. I jumped at the chance to see Hunter in action in all his horrifying glory.
The interior of his house is a shrine to 1980s horror slashers. Masks sit on shelves in the kitchen where decorative plates would typically occupy. Entire rooms are filled with boxes of extra props, such as fake, gory limbs and more costumes than a Spirit Halloween store. Walking into his home is like stepping through a portal into another dimension, where the only thing that happens is horror films shot between friends and colleagues.
Hunter doesn’t make money off his films. He has no desire to be a Hollywood director. He relishes in the art of creating horror and has the skills of the trade to back it up. In one scene, the scary elf is getting ready to make a gruesome kill and Hunter loads up a tube of fake blood, which ironically has a minty flavor. “Am I in the shot?” Hunter asks as he crouches down beside the bed where the elf is standing. He is. So he crouches further. Once he is effectively out of the shot, it’s time to make the magic. “Action!” is yelled, and the elf swings its weapon. On cue, Hunter blows into the tube of fake blood, spraying not only the elf, but the sheets his mother is holding behind him (to prevent blood spraying on the walls), but it still gets on the ceiling. The elf’s face is doused with blood spatter. It was a success.
Hunter moves around the set with a clear directive on what he wants. There’s no fumbling around for angles, no sitting around and plotting the next scene. It’s “you go here, you go here, and we’ll do it again from the other angle.”As for my role in the film, I won’t give it away, but let’s just say my character’s fate was not one that ended well. To see for yourself, follow Hunter on Facebook and check out his film, “Killer Christmas 2.” It’s a deadly fun time.