A throng of fans and star-struck tourists gathered outside the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood on Tuesday night for the World Premiere of Thor: Ragnarok. Every time a black suburban with tinted windows pulled up to the red carpet, onlookers held their breath in anticipation and gleefully howled as the guest slowly exited the vehicle. Will it be Chris Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Cate Blanchett, or Tom Hiddleston? they wondered.
Meanwhile, directly across the street, at the historical Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, there was a more low-key event – albeit one that was intimate and inspiring. Horror fans, filmmakers, and supporters of independent cinema gathered for the World Premiere of Dead Ant, which also doubled as the opening night for Screamfest, the longest running horror film festival in the United States.
The guests and attendees refused to allow Thor’s hammer to crush their spirits.
Dead Ant follows a washed-up hair metal band as they attempt to reclaim their former glory by performing at Coachella. However, on the way, a peyote trip incites the wrath of oversized killer ants. The cast and crew (along with some special guests) were in attendance: Tom Arnold, Jake Busey, Danny Woodburn, Leisha Hailey, Michael Horse, Joi Liaye, Sydney Sweeney, Selma Blair, and her beau, director/screenwriter Ron Carlson.
Horse, who recently reprised his iconic role of Deputy Chief Tommy “Hawk” Hill on the new season of Twin Peaks, described Dead Ant as “a cross between the ‘50s sci-fi film Them!, Spinal Tap, and The Road Warrior.” The Native American actor joked, “I’m so thrilled to finally be the old guy that warns, ‘Don’t dig in the burial ground. You’re not going to like it!’” Horse’s Bigfoot and Woodburn’s Firecracker supply the band with some “natural remedies” that incite the insect attack.
“I didn’t know what peyote was,” said Liaye, who plays Lisa, a party girl who encounters the band while on the way to Coachella. “I had to Google it when I was reading the script!”
“Fun” and “funny” were the buzzwords of the night. “This isn’t a horror movie. It’s really funny! I wish I was in it,” said Blair, wearing a pitch perfect Guns N’ Roses t-shirt. “Normally, I would wear a dress, but I figured, ‘It’s Dead Ant! Let’s have fun!’”
“I’ve worked with this crew a lot because this is my fifth movie with Carlson,” said Woodburn. “You get to come back after a year of not seeing everybody, and it’s right back to the old antics.” This feeling of family and camradery was palpable on the red carpet. Guests spontaneously hugged each other, and they unanimously shared a carefree attitude.
Arnold, a comedy veteran, described the experience of reacting to tennis balls that would later be transformed into CGI ants as “weird.” He then said, “You just got to trust Ron and the guys with the computers. It’s a lot of blind faith. It could have been a complete cluster fuck.” He paused for a moment. “It’s not Avatar, but it turned out well!”
Be on the lookout for Dead Ant.
Watch the trailer below: