Q&A with Katlyn Aviles, Director of “Steve and the Dead Girl”

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Name a Horror character you relate to on a spiritual/personal level?
Nancy Thompson from A Nightmare on Elm Street has been my idol since childhood. I watched NOES and Dream Warriors on repeat when I was younger. I remember thinking Nancy was the coolest woman ever. She booby-trapped her whole house to catch Freddy. How badass is that? Plus, her boyfriend was Johnny Depp. She taught me how to be a strong woman that’s not afraid to stand up to the bad guys.

You’ve gotta go through some bad ideas to get to the good ones. Tell us one of your bad ideas. How do you get past the bad ones to find your spark?
I feel like all of my bad ideas are the ones in which I’m trying to copy and paste scenes or characters from other films into my own story. I once tried writing a slasher film, and about halfway through writing it, I realized I was just making a bad Friday the 13th rip off. I didn’t know any of my characters, or where my story was going. The more I write the more I realize how important it is to really know and understand my characters. Once I’ve created fully fleshed-out characters, the story writes itself.
I also like to research my story ideas. For example, I researched necrophilia while writing Steve And The Dead Girl. I stumbled upon message boards where people who have this fetish openly discuss it with others (you really can find anything on the internet). This research influenced the character of Steve, and gave me some ideas that I wouldn’t have thought of if I hadn’t done the research.

Do you consider yourself part of a horror community?
Absolutely! I became a horror fan at the age of 8 when my mom let me the original IT miniseries with her. After that, it became our weekly ritual to go to the video store every Friday and rent a bunch of horror films to watch over the weekend. She introduced me to all the classics. I was obsessed! I knew I wanted to be a horror film maker from an early age. I live and breathe the genre.
The horror community is the best community to be a part of! I love going to festivals and conventions and meeting other horror fans. Everyone is always so friendly and welcoming.

When you’re building the world of your film, where do you look for inspiration?
Research is a big part of my process. For Steve And The Dead Girl, I needed to understand the role of a mortician and what a typical day looks like for someone in this profession. I tend to write psychological horror, so my story worlds are based on reality. I use research of real places, people, and psychological disorders to help me form the world of my story.

What would you do if you woke up inside of your film?
That depends… am I waking up as one the bodies?! :p Steve And The Dead Girl is part of a larger project. One main theme of this project is that people are not always as they appear on the outside. Everyone has a dark desire they are hiding. So, if I were in my story world, I would probably act the same as I do in reality, and do my best to keep my devious thoughts a secret. 😉
And I wouldn’t be accepting any dates from Steve either.

Who would be on your ultimate horror villain squad?
Of course the classics like Jason, Freddy, and Leatherface. I would also love to have Pinhead and the Cenobites on my squad. I’ve always admired their punk/BDSM fashion.

Lightning round: Freddy or Jason? Stephen King or H.P. Lovecraft? Practical or CGI? Post Apocalypse or Pre Apocalypse?
Freddy. Stephen King. Practical all the way! Pre-Apocalypse.

What scares you, and does it inspire your storytelling?
I’ve always been more scared of human monsters than ghosts or zombies. The human monster terrify me because they are real, and you can see them on the news on any given day. Serial killers, stalkers, and other deranged people really exist. That scares me, and is the main reason why I’m interested in writing psychological horror.

And finally, Ghostface would like to know ‘What’s your favourite scary movie?’
It’s a cliched answer, but I’m going to have to say the original Halloween. It was one of the first horror films my mom showed to me, and I was terrified for weeks! It’s so simple, yet so effective. I try to keep that in mind when crafting my own stories.