In recent years, pop culture has seen the transformation of the traditional horror movie monster into the romantic antihero. But in Billings, some local filmmakers and actors are keeping the horror alive just in time for Halloween. They filmed the movie last year, and “The Blood Hunter” premiered this past weekend.
The cast and crew say “The Blood Hunter” is more than just a vampire flick. It’s also about revenge, redemption and family. And the project is homegrown.
“We did all of this on a $24,000 budget, which is insane. I mean, it should never have been accomplished,” said Lauri Patterson, one of the executive producers on the film.
Patterson was also the line producer, the driver, and the dishwasher. She also owns a small retail business. She said most of the cast had multiple roles on set and day jobs, and special effects may have been the hardest thing to pull off, which is "why the budget was so tough.”
They got creative about it.
“The Blood Hunter” is a supernatural horror film. It pits vampire against human and tells the complex story of a damaged hero who falls in with a group of vampire hunters. He’s on the vampire kill-list for unknowingly carrying a powerful blood that bestows vampires with powerful abilities.
And there’s a lot of blood in this movie.
Patterson said they made much of it – sometimes out of craft paint and water. Other times, out of corn syrup and food dye. They splattered it all over their sets, which were mostly in Billings, Molt, and the Pryor Mountains.
Patterson said the filming made for some long, sweaty days.
“All of it was [in] July and August," she said. "So, it was the hottest part of the year, so we had no air conditioning. It was dusty. It was dirty.”
“It was miserable,” said co-director Chas Llewellyn. “But it was worth it.”
Llewellyn played Caleb, the vampire leader. He said while the movie is low-budget, it looks high-definition.
“‘The Blood Hunter’ is completely shot in 4K," Llewellyn said. "It’s top quality sound. We have sound mixers stuff on set. All of this is as professional as a lot of things that come out of Hollywood in terms of quality visually and sound wise.”
Llewellyn considers "The Blood Hunter" a rare Billings creation.
“There’s a lot of short films. There’s a lot of documentaries being made and those are wonderful, but when it comes to a full on full feature film, there’s not a whole lot of that going on," he said. "But it’s because it does take a lot and we just want to try to grow this industry or this film culture in Billings a little bit more.”
Filming wrapped up last summer, but the cast still hangs out on the weekend.
“I think the friendships and sense of family we created doing this is pretty incredible," said Patterson.
The crew raised the film’s modest budget through a variety of means, including a Kickstarter campaign and individual investment from producers.