Screamfest 2019 Interview: “Eat Brains Love” Director Rodman Flender Talks Horror, Humor and Subverting Expectations

With the amazing Screamfest Horror Film Festival 2019 (go to www.screamfestla.com for more details!) taking place October 8th – 17th at the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres in LA at the Hollywood and Highland Center soon to be underway it felt right to delve into things head on (or off!) by digging the grave a tad deeper and getting some insight into the opening night film titled Eat Brains Love.  (Catchy!)  And who better to provide the inside skinny on all things love and zombie related than the very man who made the film.  (We go right to the horse’s mouth for our comprehensive coverage!)


And of course the director Rodman Flender is no newbie when it comes to working in the genre, having helmed such classic flicks as Idle Hands, Leprechaun 2 and even some savory Tales From The Crypt episodes.  So we sought out Rodman to shed some light on his bloody beloved new film creation, plus got some insight into his past work that any horror fan will love to hear.  Screamfest is underway and we’ve got you covered – welcome Eat Brains Love helmer…



Congrats on having the opening night film for Screamfest 2019…

Rodman Flender: Thank you very much!

Having a gaggle of great experience in successfully combining horror and humor with things like Idle Hands, Leprechaun 2 and two very tasty Tales From The Crypt episodes what makes for a great horror comedy and what can fans expect from Eat Brains Love?

RF: I think horror and comedy are two sides of the same coin – as a director I enjoy doing both.  For one thing you know right away whether or not it’s working.  If they’re laughing where you want them to laugh, if they’re screaming where you want them to scream, then you know it’s working.  It’s instant gratification.  The other thing about horror and comedy is they are both subversions of expectations.  If a joke works because the punchline is unexpected, it’s the same thing with a scare.  So it’s all kind of the same to me and that’s why the two blend together.  Though having said that it is a very fine wire to balance on and very few have done it successfully.  Obviously Shaun of the Dead is on the Mt. Rushmore of horror comedies, Evil Dead and Roger Corman’s original The Little Shop of Horrors – they tread that high wire act very well and very carefully.  But as far as expectations for Eat Brains Love hopefully there’s some surprises and changing of expectations a little bit – and just have a good time.

What was it about the script for Eat Brains Love that made you want to dive back in to directing a feature film?

RF: I never stopped wanting to direct feature films – it’s not like saying I’m think I’m gonna eat meat again and I’ll go to In-N-Out Burger – the questions was whether the producers and financiers trusted my vision and how I would handle the material and for me finding something that I connected with and was in my wheelhouse.  And as soon as I heard the title (smiles) – that was something in my wheelhouse.  It’s a character piece in a world where there’s a zombie virus and those are the best zombies movies.

You’ve always been skilled in getting great up and coming young actors in films you’ve done – what is the secret to your casting and has it gotten stronger with Eat Brains Love?

RF: I think they key world is young and because I’m dealing with high school stories the actors are necessarily going to be younger.  But it doesn’t matter whether it’s a high school story or I’m casting more mature actors, I just try and find the best actors I can.  I like to call myself a recovering actor – I was a child actor before I realized I belonged behind the camera and not in front of it – so I studied acting and I love actors and the acting process and feel comfortable talking to them.  In my very first movie The Unborn for Roger Corman we needed a woman who carried the whole movie and at that time I was a huge David Cronenberg fan and the second Invasion of the Body Snatchers was a brilliant film and the idea of casting Brooke Adams seemed like a dream come true.  We met and miraculously the planets lined up and she agreed to do it – I just tried to get out of her way.  So I don’t think it’s a question of me necessarily having an eye for young talent that is going to explode rather than really respecting the craft of acting and finding the best actor for the role.

Past work – How did making you’re directing debut with the horror outing The Unborn inform your work as a genre director?

RF: I’ve always been a fan of the genre and it wasn’t an accident that my first movie was a horror movie – I grew up watching them.  I had been working for Roger Corman and producing for him for a few years and the story treatment for The Unborn came across my desk and I didn’t show it to anyone – I wanted to keep it for myself.

All the Tales From The Crypt episodes are super fun in their depiction of macabre to make us smile – was making the two you directed as fun as they were for fans to watch?

RF: Tales from the Crypt was the first non-Corman job I had and it was terrifying.  I remember walking on the set of one of the episodes that was shooting before mine and it was the first time I ever saw a ceiling piece because for Corman we never had ceilings.  I couldn’t believe it – I thought I’d stumbled on David Lean’s set!  So I was really nervous making the first Tales From The Crypt, less so the second one because I think I had done the Leprechaun movie between those two episodes and I had written the second episode myself so I was a little more confident.  But they were in a jam and needed someone to come in right away and again I think my Corman training – the fact that I had produced all these movies in very little time for very little money – made the producers think to give me the opportunity.

The whole idea of Leprechaun feels Roger Corman-esque in story and tone – did previously working for Roger help when making Leprechaun 2?

RF: Working for Roger not only helped in making Leprechaun 2, working for Roger helped in EVERYTHING I’ve done.  Whether it’s Leprechaun 2 or The Office or Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop a documentary that I made – working for Roger was my film school.  I learned that story is most important when engaging an audience and telling that story with compelling characters.  But also what I learned in working for Roger is you can solve a problem in any way except by throwing money at it.  That was the one thing you couldn’t do working for Roger and it’s the best training to see what is most important.

I’ve always felt Devon Sawa was an amazingly underappreciated actor, especially for his lead work in Idle Hands.  Having to take on horror, comedy, drama in both an emotional and intensely physical nature, what made you know he was the right guy for that film?

RF: I have a very short answer for that question – (smiles) he was hired before I was.  You should ask him what made him think I was the right director for that film!

It was a great match!

RF: The film succeeds because of him – he carries that movie.

Finally as a fan when can I expect the next feature film horror outing from Rodman Flender after Eat Brains Love?

RF: That means a lot that you’ve asked that question and all I can say is stay tuned – I’m working on it right now.  But Eat Brains Love is premiering tonight at Screamfest and will have a wider release and be available probably for the beginning of 2020 I imagine.


So for those who want to see more be sure to check out Rodman Flender’s latest bloody opus Eat Brains Love at the 2019 Screamfest taking place tonight Tuesday, October 8th at 7:30pm at the TCL Chinese 6 and special thanks to Rodman for the extra horror insight above! Stay tuned to our continuing coverage of all things Screamfest!


I'm a passionate and opinionated film critic/movie journalist with over 20 years of experience in writing about film - now exclusively for WhySoBlu.com. Previous sites include nine years at Starpulse.com where I created Forgotten Friday Flick back in 2011, before that as Senior Entertainment Editor for The213.net and 213 Magazine, as well as a staff writer for JoBlo.com. My other love is doing cool events for the regular guy with my company Flicks For Fans alongside my friend, partner and Joblo.com writer James "Jimmy O" Oster. Check us out at www.Facebook.com/FlicksForFans.

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