The latest Terror in the Aisles event will be held this Saturday, November 30, at the Patio Theater (6008 W. Irving Park Rd., Chicago), with doors open at 6:30pm. The program looks to be a corker, with a Dario Argento classic (Suspiria) filling the second slot and a Lucio Fulci giallo (The Black Cat) finishing the night off.

In the lead-off slot is Devil in My Ride, receiving its Midwest début. It was directed and co-written by Gary Michael Schultz and stars Joey Bicicchi, Erin Breen, Frank Zeiger and Sid Haig. Mr. Schultz, who will appear in person at Terror in the Aisles, was recently kind enough to grant us an email interview.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into filmmaking?

I grew up on the far south side of Chicago. I was into art and music since I can remember. Drawing was an escape for me when I was a kid. I remember thinking I was going to become an animator or comic artist or something like that but I have too much energy to ever be locked in a room behind a desk drawing. I was making videos and bad short films with a couple friends from high school, which sparked me to go to film school, where I further fell in love with movies and got into writing, directing and eventually producing. From there I just tried to figure it out, how do you make films outside of the studio system? How do you finance them, cast them, and get great people to work on them? So I worked as an independent filmmaker in Chicago for a decade and for Columbia College Chicago’s film department trying to always learn, share and become a better filmmaker. I moved to Los Angeles a little over a year ago to work and it’s been non-stop ever since.

What is Devil in My Ride about and how did it come to be?

Devil in My Ride is about a guy named Hank who is getting married to the woman of his dreams, Doreen, but she has this brother, a wild card named Travis who has been estranged from the family for a couple of years. Travis comes back into town for Doreen’s wedding and accidentally curses her on her wedding day. She gets possessed by a demon and takes it out on the reception guests. So now Hank really hates on Travis. They discover they only have 72 hours to free the demon from Doreen and the only exorcism priest in America is rumored to be homeless and living in Las Vegas. So they get in Travis’ van, Black Mama and drive from Chicago to Las Vegas to get Doreen an exorcism. Think comedy-horror-road trip film. A true odd couple story about two guys that need to put aside their differences for the woman they love and want to save.

How DIMR came to be, is a long story so in summary, it came to be because I desired to make a feature film more than just about anything and I had been in situations with producer’s that didn’t produce, so I decided to do it myself, but making a narrative feature is pretty hard to do by yourself. So I asked some pretty amazing people to help me and even though our crew was small, we really came together to try and make something we at least thought could be really cool. Horror and comedy when done with care can be done on a low budget effectively. I make character based genre films. That’s what I dig on. And we took our comedy very seriously. I asked Mike Dozier a really funny comedy writer and friend to co-write with me. He became a co-producer not long after that. DIMR had previously existed as a short film and had played well with horror fest audiences so we rewrote the characters and expanded the premise into a feature. We wrote the script for two great actors, Frank Zieger and Joey Bicicchi and from there we just started putting the project together. We luckily found great actors throughout Chicago including Erin Breen as Doreen the devil bride and bluesman Big Llou Johnson as Johnny Priest.

How did Sid Haig get involved and what was he like to work with?

Sid Haig is one of my favorite character actors. I love Jack Hill films, which he did plenty of. Sid has a great face; maybe the best face. Sid plays a character named Iggy, a spirit guide of sorts. It’s a really funny role and I really wanted to see Sid do comedy. His agent read the script, then he read it and they both liked it. We held our last day of principal photography until Halloween 2011 and filmed with Sid. He was great to work with, a lot of fun and a professional. It’s cool to work with people you admire which I was lucky to do a lot of on this shoot.

What attracts you to horror as a genre?

I think in some ways I’m a natural antagonist. I just love to scare people. Horror was always interesting to me as a genre and sub culture. It’s like being hardcore fans of a band that the rest of the world doesn’t understand or even fears. Horror fans are the most enthusiastic and supportive audience I could ever hope for. Also I’m one of them. I love genre films.

Who are your influences as a filmmaker?

Are you asking about other filmmakers that have influenced me, or why I’m influenced to be a filmmaker? I’m influenced to be a filmmaker because I love to tell stories. I think story telling is important and film is the most complete way I could ever think of to do that.

As for filmmakers I’m influenced by… Scorsese, Kubrick, Raimi, Rodriguez, Tarantino, P.T. Anderson, Carpenter, Jack Hill.

What’s your favorite horror movie?

I hate this question! It’s the hardest question to answer. As horror lovers we are ever evolving! Our tastes are always changing. You can’t pick just one! As a teenager my favorite horror films were The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Evil Dead 2. TCM because it is brutal and so raw, it’s like a documentary without commentary. I loved Evil Dead 2 because it’s a great blend of horror and comedy and also featured screen brilliance by Bruce Campbell. Some of my other favorite horror films are The Bride of Frankenstein, Night of the Living Dead and most anything with Vincent Price in it. I think The Shining is the greatest technically crafted horror film ever. A Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween used to scare the crap out of me growing up. The Exorcist still does. As for modern horror films I love 28 Days Later, Drag Me to Hell, The Devil’s Rejects, Let the Right One In, and The Host is a heck of a good monster movie. I did a really lousy job of answering this question. LOL. If I had to pick just one film…I would just decline. LOL.

Do you have any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

I’m directing a script I wrote called Vincent -N- Roxxy, for Unified Pictures. It’s a drama about violence, family and love. We go into production this spring. I was also part of the producing team of William H. Macy’s directorial debut, a film called Rudderless that I’m really excited about which will be hitting festivals in 2014.

What’s your favorite breakfast cereal?

Coffee with extra cream and sugar.

Thanks, Gary! I’m really looking forward to seeing Devil in My Ride at Terror in the Aisles.

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