When you hear the premise of Ravers, you could be forgiven for thinking it’s a comedy-horror in the vein of, say, Shaun of the Dead. “Party like there’s no tomorrow” is the tagline, to a film about a contaminated energy drink that turns a bunch of party people at an illegal rave into murderous mutants. While a germophobic journalist battles to get herself and her friends out alive. But on a visit to the set, FANDOM learned that the film is much more difficult to pigeonhole. According to actress Maria Volk who plays Jen in the film, the horror to comedy split is roughly 80% to 20%. Here are the most surprising facts we learned about the film that receives its world premiere at Frightfest this week.
The Film Started Life As ‘Poppers’
Let’s be clear for those who may not know: ‘poppers’ are a type of drug. The original concept for the film sprang from an idea writer Luke Foster came up with, in which a bunch of party people take a drug that makes their heads explode. So far, so Scanners. Kind of. He called it Poppers. See what he did there?
“Except that wasn’t really a movie and there was no real jeopardy for a protagonist because all they had to do was not eat the poppers,” says director Bernhard Pucher. “But I loved the idea of something happening to ravers: them taking a drug and it f—s them up, and people getting stuck with them.”
After they worked on the story, it became a revenge flick in which the main character takes vengeance on a group of partygoers squatting at her dad’s warehouse.
“But it didn’t really give us sympathy for the main character,” says Pucher. “She [meted her revenge] with this E. coli virus thing and it was just completely bonkers. It made no sense. That was five years ago.” The story eventually became what you’ll see on screen — although it’s arguably set to be no less bonkers.
A Bad Batch of Energy Drinks Turns Ravers Into Mutants
It was Foster who ultimately came up with the idea to introduce an old contaminated batch of energy drinks which would mutate the ravers, turning them into nightmarish zombie-types. FANDOM got a look at the latex masks used to turn the actors into horrifying mutants and they weren’t pretty.
Pucher explains the effects of the mutation: “The basic idea is that we created this fake chemical called renatine. Renatine reacts with each raver depending on the drugs they’ve used. So a stoner gets really stoned and very hungry, a person on ecstasy hugs people to death, and people doing coke get hyper-aggressive. People on ketamine are completely knocked out while still awake, so people can trample on them and they feel nothing. So it’s an extreme version of what the drug does.”
The Mutation is Based on Science
Pucher explains the theory behind the reaction the contaminated energy drink has with the body.
“Our theory was that the renatine ups the testosterone in your body, and the testosterone exaggerates the effects of the drug,” he says. “Which is very loose science but … my brother-in-law is a biochemist and he said, ‘Yeah you can get away with that’.”
So there you have it. Squat party turned drugged-up zombie bloodbath. This could happen IRL. The ‘science’ behind it also gives the chemist character, Ozzy, the chance to figure out what’s going on and attempt to make an antidote. Using birth control pills. Go figure.
It’s ‘Die Hard’ meets ‘Terminator’ via ‘Dawn of the Dead’
Pucher denies paying homage to George A. Romero’s zombie classic Dawn of the Dead but does admit there are similarities. “Our guys aren’t dead – they’re mutated and you can recover them,” he says by way of pointing out the differences.
“Usually with zombie movies, you’re stuck inside a place and you’re trying to keep them out. In our case, it’s the exact opposite — you’re stuck inside the place and you can’t get out,” Pucher says of Ravers. And in this way, he says, the film takes its cue from Die Hard.
“In terms of how I direct it and how I see the action and the pacing and stuff like that, I think Die Hard [is its closest famous cousin],” he explains. “You’re stuck inside the place with the bad guys and you have to find the way out of that. It has a lot more similarities with this, and there’s quite a bit of action in the movie — so I looked a bit more into the action genre for inspiration than the horror genre.” Hence him also referencing The Terminator.
The Director Pays a Grisly Homage to His DJ Roots
Pucher used to be a DJ back in the day, so the rave setting draws on personal experience. One of his favourite parts of the film is a nod to his record-spinning background which also doubles as a message to the contemporary DJ community.
“One of our characters stabs the DJ with a tonearm from a turntable, and then when that guy dies he plugs in a USB stick and plays his [music] digitally instead,” reveals Pucher. “So that’s my little thing at my DJ community saying, ‘Hey, look — don’t forget the records, they’re still around.’ But, basically, how digital killed vinyl.”
There’s a Guy Peddling Spoiled Peyote
One of the characters, Vince, is the guy who “pushes the atmosphere”, according to actor Kamal Angelo Bolden. Yes, that’s a euphemism for dealing drugs. Anyway, among his varied bags of substances is an interesting-looking black narcotic.
“The [bag] with the black stuff is peyote. Aged peyote. It’s a very fine peyote,” Bolden laughs before revealing, “It’s actually spoiled. It’s actually terrible peyote but the way I sell it is it’s aged to perfection, like fine wine. Someone takes it but they don’t ingest it. I have a hater who is at the party and she doesn’t want me to sell it because she thinks it’s rancid.” Something tells us it’ll have a significant part to play by the end of the film.
Ravers also features Species icon Natasha Henstridge and premieres at Frightfest in London on August 25.