What was your favorite horror film from your childhood?
THE SIXTH SENSE is the first film I can remember that truly frightened me; I was 10 when it was released, and it scared me shitless. But, I think the remake of THE RING , which came out when I was 13 or so, is my favorite. I watched it over and over and over. It introduced me to Asian horror and made me a life-long Gore Verbinksi fan.
What is your favorite horror decade and why?
That’s such a tough choice… Can we agree that the 2010s were pretty spectacular, horror-wise? CABIN IN THE WOODS, CREEP, THE WAILING, GET OUT …. There were a ton of good scares last decade. And, from what I’ve seen so far, the 2020s could offer the 10s stiff competition.
What made you want to get involved in the film industry?
Well, I’ve always loved film. My brother and I made “home movies” together as kids, and I always talked about working in entertainment with my childhood friends; so, like, it was always on the table but never really “the plan.” Then, in late 2003, I was watching THE LAST SAMURAI in a run-down dollar theater in Georgia, somewhere. That movie really blew me away; all of it: the costumes, the setting, the music (shout out to Hans Zimmer). As I sat there, I had this energizing-but-reassuring feeling come over me, and I realized: “I’ve gotta do it; I’ve gotta work in entertainment.”
What aspect of the film industry do you enjoy the most?
Honestly, when I’m sitting in the theater and the lights go down to signal that the movie is about to start– that’s my favorite aspect. It’s when all the planning and the production and the pressure finally materializes, for the audience, at least; that moment is like nirvana to me.
How did you get involved with the Mahal brothers?
You know, I think it was their connection to Las Vegas– where I’ve spent most of my life– that led me to them initially. But, at the end of the day, they are passionate about and effective at what they do; there’s no better reason to get involved than that.
What other film professionals inspire you?
Anyone who works in stunts deserves more recognition. Way more; I mean, some of these folks put their lives on the line to make movies! I was ten minutes into one of the JOHN WICK movies when I thought to myself, “There should really be an Academy Award for Best Stunts or something. Stunts are, without doubt, an art and a science, and they’ve been integral to movies from the beginning.” Like, Zoë Bell should already be an Oscar winner; her work on DEATH PROOF is jaw-dropping.
How do you get a film to stand out in the crowd in today’s landscape?
Love– forever and always: the audience should feel the love that’s behind your project. Recently, I felt a ton of love in RENFIELD: love for Dracula, Mr. Renfield, classic horror movies, group therapy, cinematic violence– all those elements; so, even though the film could have been stronger, that definitely made it stand out to me.
What is the biggest obstacle that you ever had to overcome?
Both of my parents passed away within about a year of each other when I was in my 20s; my mom actually died a couple nights before the Route 91 Massacre, which happened just a few miles from where I lived– like, I heard the sirens as the ambulances drove to the scene. All that pain and confusion and uncertainty, not just in my own life and my own family but for all those tormented families and folks in my local area, left me in a pretty profound state of grief that I had to overcome– an awful dragon I had to confront…. By the way, people say “there’s no wrong way to grieve,” but I disagree: do not grieve in isolation. Talk to a therapist or a spiritual advisor; be vulnerable with a friend; go on a hike and talk to Nature, out loud, if you need to, but don’t isolate yourself.
What was the proudest moment of your career?
I’m proud of a lot of moments, but I still have more work to do and time to put in. Perhaps you’ll consider asking me again in thirty years or so? My career might be over by then and I may have a proudest moment to share– fingers crossed!
What is the next step in your film career?
You know, there are a lot of unknowns right now: the writers are on strike, movie theaters are trying to make a post-Covid comeback, there’s talk of Las Vegas becoming “Hollywood 2.0.” I certainly don’t have a crystal ball, but I’m excited to see which opportunities will open up. Who knows– maybe I’ll make a horror film.
contact information: JoshuaMorrisMBA@gmail.com