Horror film shot nearby, stars plenty of local talent
The Red Oak Express
For those who enjoy horror movies from the 1980s and early 90s, there is a new killer in town.
“Tapehead: The Return of Jacob Cobb” has pretty much wrapped up shooting, and on Nov. 1 will begin the long, tedious editing phase, before it’s released as an independent horror film in May or June of 2023.
Tapehead comes from the imagination of Dustin Mattson, who resides in Shenandoah with his wife, Meagan, and children, Jazmine and Tyson.
“I’ve been working on film in one aspect or another since high school. It wasn’t until my mid 30s when I really decided there was nothing to lose,” said Dustin. “I’ve been a fan of the genre for my entire life, and I felt like it was time that I actually contributed to it. Seeing what we have been able to do with basically no money is a gigantic confidence booster. We just have to try and get the world to pay attention to us now.”
Dustin said Tapehead originated three to four years ago from a cartoon series for his YouTube Channel 3B Video. He explained it wasn’t affordable to create a full season of a cartoon, so they swapped out a full season of a cartoon for a short film that they managed to do in about four days. This was completed in June 2021 in the small town of Farragut, specifically in the former Dr. Henry Bonnes veterinary clinic on Main Street.
“The first short film was pretty much a proof of concept. This is the first feature length movie,” explained Dillon Weeks, who plays Tapehead.
The full-length movie was filmed mainly in Shenandoah at the Mattson’s home, although there is an alley scene shot in downtown Shenandoah by the Legacy 3 Theatre.
Mattson said the City of Shenandoah was very accommodating during production.
“We couldn’t have done this without the support of them. They let us block off roads and alleys. Fareway in Shenandoah donated hamburger to feed the cast and crew, Shenandoah Inn & Suites let us have a room for an out of town cast member who had to fly in,” Mattson recalled. “It was a truly amazing experience, and it helped making the movie be that much easier on us.”
The majority of the cast is people from the Red Oak and Shenandoah area who know the Mattsons and share a love of the theatre and/or horror films.
“Meagan and I thought Dillon would be a perfect fit based on our mutual love and respect for the genre. He brings a certain physicality to the role along with a truly intimidating aura. Everything from the way he turns his head, to the way he charges after a target. It truly takes a lot of talent to be able to act through all of the appliances he has to wear,” Mattson said.
Taking place in the small rural Midwest town of Brower, Ill., Tapehead is about a young man, Jacob Cobb, a special needs teen who works in the backroom of his parents’ video store.
“He is tragically killed when a prank goes wrong, and his death is covered up by the kids involved. What they don’t know is that Jacob’s blood soaked into the VHS rewinder, creating a bridge between life and death,” Mattson said. “The cursed item is forgotten by time and is boxed up for over 20 years. Once it has been rediscovered, Jacob is awakened, rotten and angry.”
Weeks, who resides in Red Oak, said the role of Tapehead is one he enjoys. Being a nice guy in real life, he said made pretending to be a maniacal killer fun.
“My costume is really user friendly; the mask slips on and off so I don’t have to sit in makeup. I have silicon gloves for hands, which is also convenient. Since he doesn’t have any lines, I have to get the point across with his behavior and physical attributes,” said Weeks.
Shooting was done every weekend in June through September with a budget of roughly $7,000.
“We poured our hearts and souls into making a slasher movie like the ones we grew up on and love,” said Mattson. “Everyone involved worked so hard to help us get this thing finished and every single penny went to something on screen.”
Weeks added that although it is a fun, 80s style slasher film, there are some hard turns that throw off the audience.
“People like slasher films because of what they are, and we certainly didn’t want to take away from that by reinventing the wheel,” Weeks said.
“I’m a big fan of likeable kids that are oblivious to impending violence,” Mattson admitted. “The slasher is a pretty basic paint by numbers formula, but we feel like the climate is right for a new fun “Icon”. I think it’s important to not just have “meat for the beast” You’ve got to make the kids count, so the kills sting a little bit more than normal. As far as TapeHead himself goes, we spent a lot of time revamping the look of TapeHead for this film to give him a look that could be an awesome action figure you would love to have as a kid. I’m aware that the concept of a mentally challenged zombie who wears a VHS Tape on his face as a mask sounds absolutely ridiculous on paper; sometimes it’s hard to explain without laughing. So the trick was to make him absolutely intimidating, that way when he’s stomping after kids, the last thing you want to do is laugh.”
Something Mattson and Weeks did avoid was typical slasher film clichés.
“We made sure to avoid the old tropes of people tripping or falling down, or the killer being slow while everyone else is sprinting,” Weeks. Said. “We also took away a lot of the quick kills; we make them more deliberate. Additionally, each character has a specific role in the movie with a dialogue that isn’t forced or corny.”
The movie trailer can be found on Mattson’s 3B Video YouTube Channel under “TapeHead - The Return Of Jacob Cobb” trailer as well as on Facebook.
“We are just looking for our seat at the big kids table, even if we have to bring our own chairs,” said Mattson. “TapeHead is our Michael Myers, he’s the biggest project we’ve ever undertaken and we have a lot of love for him and the places we can take him and I don’t mean space ... that’ll be TapeHead 45.”
Lastly, Mattson wants people to realize the importance of chasing a dream, regardless of how crazy it may sound to others. He said he was told by plenty of people that making a film were a pipedream and that he didn’t have what it takes.
“If we can do it, you can do it. Grab a handful of your buddies, write a script that’s achievable for little to no money, call in every favor you can and shoot a movie. Most people have a camera on their phone that’s more solid than they think and there’s free editing software out there too. Get creative and spill some (fake) blood.”