Watch Antrum at your own risk.
Billed as “The Deadliest Film Ever Made,” Antrum has developed a frightening reputation after it won accolades on the festival circuit last year, and made several genre film reviewers’ lists for Top 10 Horror Films of 2019. Ever since it was filmed under murky circumstances in the 1970s, the gritty, abstract horror flick has been responsible for dozens, perhaps hundreds, of mysterious deaths — from festival programmers to an entire audience in Budapest — or so the story goes.
I love a good urban legend, so I tracked down the film’s Executive Producer Eric Thirteen to find out how this purportedly cursed film came to be streaming on Amazon Prime, where it became the platform’s #1 trending title over Easter weekend.
TOM HOLLAND’S TERROR TIME: Where did Antrum come from?
ERIC THIRTEEN: You get a different story on that depending who you ask. There are so many layers to the movie that it actually has a few origins… the Baphomet on the cover that everyone sees before they click PLAY is what… Knights Templar old? Like 12th Century, maybe.
The best record I can attest to is 2018: I was at the Brooklyn Horror Film Fest for a film I directed, Disposition. I had just got there as the Antrum Q&A was letting out, and it was truly bizarre. There were two directors there for it — Michael Laicini and David Amito — and Antrum was being billed at the fest as a recently-unearthed film from 1970. When it was over, no one really knew what the fuck they’d just seen, and the directors were being very evasive about where they found it, how much of the movie they shot, or what part of the lore was real. They almost never talk in public about it, and there were pretty basic questions they just didn’t want to address. Things like: “Is this person an actor?” or “Did you write this?”
The audience played along and started framing the questions in ways the directors would respond to… but there was one guy who just couldn’t handle not knowing what was true and really flipped out. As an audience member, you had to decide if you were at a rare antiques auction or a haunted house convention.
THTT: So how did a film that was maybe lost since the 1970s come to be the most popular movie streaming on Amazon?
E13: I have to take some responsibility for that! I found out Amito lived near me back in Los Angeles, so we talked a bit when I got back. They weren’t sure what was next for the film, and I had produced a few movies prior, so we talked about that. At this point I still hadn’t even seen it. I’m a horror die-hard, and honestly I just wanted to know what it was.
At that time, almost no one had seen the movie. It was being swapped around as an oddity exclusively among other film people. It went up through Canada, where a few people I work with knew about it but hadn’t watched it. Someone told me the band Mayhem had watched it and I should talk to them. Weird people were showing interest. There was a rumor that Richard Stanley [The Color Out of Space] was watching it at one point, but I never got to ask him about it. Another was [actor] Laurence R. Harvey from the Human Centipede films.
I didn’t know how real any of that was — and then one day I got a note from one of the guys from The Blair Witch Project, so we talked a bit. The conversations all started like, “Hey, have you seen this? This is pretty weird, right?”
I wanted everyone to be able to have this experience — see the movie, send it to their friends, get creeped out staying up late watching it. It became my pet project to get this movie released so anyone could see it.
THTT: How concerned are you that the claims about it being “deadly” are actually true?
E13: I don’t believe in curses. I’m actually not superstitious in the slightest. One of the things I really dug about this movie is how much it still got to me. Film is powerful like that. There’s a kind of mind virus… it’s like something out of Videodrome.
Movies do weird things to people: John Hinckley Jr. was asked about [his motivation for] his assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan, and he infamously said he wanted to impress Jodie Foster. I think Antrum is less dangerous than Taxi Driver, but that’s my personal opinion.
THTT: What about the rumors that film festival programmers died after watching it? Is there anything to them?
E13: I just got in a back-and-forth with someone on TikTok about that! They were quite convinced that it was true and I was part of a cover-up. But here’s what I know: there were definitely some theaters that took precautions. One had a priest come in and bless the theater before the showing. No joke.
You and I can sit here and wonder if that was because they were afraid, or because they were hyping the film. I really don’t know. At the end of the day though, I always looked at it the way the directors did: as a haunted attraction. I was out there trying to get people tickets to a haunted house. Some will cross their arms and say “This house isn’t really haunted.” Some will sign right up and run in. I’m the kind of person who always tries to egg the other person on. “Oh yeah, it’s totally not haunted. Here, you go first.”
THTT: How’s the audience response been (among the ones who lived, of course)?
E13: It’s really connecting with younger people. As we get older, we can get jaded about surrendering ourselves to experiences; younger audiences walk into a haunted house wanting to be scared. They come out of it with very creative interpretations. There are so many wild theories now about how certain elements of the curse work, or even pieces of lore that have been added on. The same thing was true when the movie started playing theaters in Japan. Suddenly I was hearing that the movie was cursed… but not in the way the creators had intended. That by playing pretend — making a movie — they had accidentally unleashed an evil. A more recent rumor suggests the movie is a shot-for-hot remake of an authentic turn-of-the-century film, and questions [whether] simply repeating that form of incantation will also have the same deadly effects. As for me, I’m a science-based skeptic at heart.
THTT: But… what if you’re wrong? What if you’re sending untold thousands of online movie streamers to their deaths, like some kind of horror movie Coronavirus?
E13: There’s a really easy way to reverse the curse, Stephen. All you have to do is convince two friends to watch it.
You can watch Antrum on Amazon Prime Video right now… but don’t blame us for what might happen to you!