Jason Kasper's DVD collection rests near his bed in the corner of an Evans basement. He sorts them by genre. The stack under the tiny TV, in plain sight, are his horror films. The stack is about as tall as his daughter, Paige, and he's loved many of them since he was just about her age.
"I've loved horror films since I was 5 years old," Kasper said.
He's not kidding, even when Kasper lets loose with a laugh. Only it's not the deep-throated laugh of evil or the high-pitched laugh of someone teetering on the edge of insanity. It's a nervous laugh because he knows it sounds bad. He fell asleep watching horror movies at an age when many kids are counting on their fingers with Ernie and Bert. His parents knew he didn't take those movies seriously, he said, and -- perhaps as proof -- the ones rated PG scared him far more than the R-rated ones. He still shudders a little when he describes a couple scenes from "Gremlins."
"I'm living proof that horror movies don't turn people into psychos," Kasper said. "They just turn you into starving artists trying to make it in the business."
Psycho? No. Probably not. But crazy? Many thought so when he would tell them about his horror movie, "North Woods." He's collaborating on it with Chris Moore , a Mississippi resident, and it's been years in the making and was shelved once, but now it's close to being finished. There's a chance it could be done by late October, just in time for Halloween. That's why he's got an IndieGoGo campaign.
The campaign's raised about $500 of the $11,000 he hopes to get, but there's a week to go, and if only 440 people in Greeley gave $25, well, bingo. The donators get the movie on DVD and lots of other goodies. It seems crazy, he knows, but when he's asked why he loves horror movies so much, he says, among many reasons, that they're the underdogs. Though they tend to be one of the most profitable genres, critics tend to gleefully bash them and they never win Academy Awards (save for "Silence of the Lambs," which swept the major categories decades ago).
Kasper is comfortable with being an underdog. He's had a tough time lately. He went through a divorce, and he works as a custodian for Greeley-Evans School District 6, and he lives in the basement of his former in-laws with Paige, who is almost 4. He had to drop out of a Michigan film school several years ago because of piercing headaches that doctors eventually traced to a seizure problem in his brain, but at least doctors cured that.
"Basically, Paige and this movie are the only things that are keeping me going," he said.
Kapser met Moore years ago in an online horror movie forum, and they struck up a partnership after Moore sent Kasper a script for some critiques on his film. The two collaborated on the script for "North Woods," and Moore shot most of the footage. Maybe 85 percent is in the can. Kapser just needs to wrap up the scenes, and then there's some post-production work before it's ready to go. He's hoping for some local screenings and to sell it on DVD.
He believes it's possible. He calls it an homage to many of the classic bizarre horror films of the late '70s and early '80s made by directors such as Dario Argento. And if those characters in his treasured horror movies can make it through demons or sharknados or crazy people wielding sharp things, he can face long odds, too.
"These horror movies feature people who go through hard times, but they do their best to make it," Kasper said. "They persevere."
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