Death Hearse on Satan's Titty Highway the next stop on Zachary Helm's wild ride
Zachary Byron Helm pushes the boundaries of horror in his upcoming film, Death Hearse on Satan's Titty Highway, which he's filming right here, right now in Englewood. And it should be a wild ride.
Photos by Natalie Gonzalez SORP Films used a tie rod and hearse to flip over this cop car.
Helm started SORP Films when digital film made low-budget movies a reality for "underground," not independent, filmmakers. Most of Helm's films are made on a budget of around $200, and use only live footage; there are no stunt drivers or CGI-enhanced scenes. For Death Hearse, he's creating a feature-length movie from short "episodes" first released on YouTube. Fortunately, he has plenty of free props: He founded a hearse club in the '90s, and owns eight of the vehicles.
Helm's earlier work -- The Legend of Zelda a Pain in my Ass and Emo Assault Squadron -- focuses on more comedic material, but he yearns to push the limits of horror movies as seen in the '80s: with gore, nudity, violence, destruction and, of course, gratuitous amounts of fake blood. Westword recently sat in on a day of shooting and talked with Helm about his dangerous ambitions.
Helm's shoots are rough and raw. For one chase scene, Helm and his crew transformed a vehicle they bought for $300 on Craigslist into a cop car; after being rammed a few times by Helm in his death hearse, the cop car blew a tie rod. Rather than completely wasting a day of filming, Helm cut the chase scene short and moved on to more destruction.
Zachary Helm gives his crew destruction instructions.
"I'm gonna beat the shit out of this car," he said, and proceeded to do just that. With the two "cops" still in the vehicle, Helm rammed the car until all of the windows were broken and the doors busted inwards. But first, he gave the actors a two-minute warning: "Tell Brian I'm going to hit his door!"
Then he flipped the car over with a steel cable -- actors still dangling inside. But fortunately, he let them out before he dragged the car up and down the road -- because the roof almost caught on fire from the friction. A few sparks were not enough to deter Helm, though. With some strategic positioning, he flipped the car back over in order to blow it up, at least in theory, with a sawdust cannon. Surprisingly, the car still ran after all that abuse.
This scene was just a part of the second episode of Helm's latest film. Since the first episode already featured scantily-clad female satanists and plenty of blood, Death Hearse on Satan's Titty Highway promises to fulfill his classic horror flick vision.
Keep reading for some insight into Helm's constantly shape-shifting head.
Helm's double hawk during the shoot. Helm's current hairdo.