The latest Hollywood project using Bartow as its backdrop looks to be a real spine-tingler.
On Thursday, South Avenue was temporarily cordoned off between West Avenue and Leake Street to facilitate the filming of “Creepshow,” a new series set to debut on the AMC Networks-owned Shudder streaming service later this year.
Vehicles emblazoned with placards reading “Horror Anthology Series, Inc.” could be seen darting in and out of downtown Cartersville, with several large pieces of equipment — among them, 15 passenger vans and a 24-box truck fleet — stored off Cook Street. A bright yellow sign with the production code “1080” informed the 50 or so crew members where to park along South Erwin Street, while the building that formerly housed CrossPoint City Church at 245 South Tennessee St. was used as a base camp for the shoot.
According to the film permit application filed with the City of Cartersville, the shoot consisted of about 15 onscreen talents — some of whom might be Bartow Countians themselves. A March 19 post by Extra Casting Atlanta sought local men and women in their 30s to 50s to “portray funeral-goers” for the production. Rather tellingly, those interested in getting some screen time were asked to send photos and their contact information to an email address dubbed “Creepshow Extras.”
Luke Welden, key assistant location manager for Horror Anthology Series, Inc., said there was nothing frightening about last week's shoot; in fact, he said the Cartersville production ran about as smoothly as he could've hoped for.
“The City was fantastic,” he said. “It was probably one of the easier jurisdictions I’ve dealt with, bringing a film to town.”
If the name “Creepshow” rings familiar, it’s because the new series is a spinoff of the 1982 film of the same name, which was a joint production between horror heavy hitters Stephen King and the late “Night of the Living Dead” maestro George Romero.
The new series is being helmed by Greg Nicotero, executive producer of "The Walking Dead," and a longtime special effects technician who, fittingly enough, also worked on the 1987 motion picture “Creepshow 2.”
The inaugural season is set to include about half a dozen episodes in total, all of which are based on tales penned by top genre authors such as Joe Lansdale, Bruce Jones and Josh Malerman, and directed by established horror auteurs like David Bruckner, Rob Schrab and Roxanne Benjamin.
Welden said Nicotero was on location in Bartow last week, directing episode five of the first season of “Creepshow.” Without giving away too much of the plot, the episode revolves around a widower coping with the loss of his wife. Of course, being a horror story, a macabre twist is on tap — as the Cartersville filming permit describes it, via a “beer that just doesn’t sit right” and a mysterious, oozing gray foam.
“Creepshow,” however, isn’t the only horror production to be filmed in Bartow as of late. Last year, the old Adairsville Elementary School building and adjacent baseball field off Hall Station Road were used as locations for “Doctor Sleep,” a sequel to “The Shining” starring Ewan McGregor that’s slated for theatrical release in November.
And there are even more productions turning Bartow into a haven for Hollywood horror.
“There was actually another one — “Now Screaming,” a new Netflix thing — that was filmed in December at Pine Acres,” said Ellen Archer, who serves as both executive director of the Cartersville-Bartow County Convention and Visitors Bureau and the county’s Camera Ready Communities liaison. “There’s just a lot of “Creepshow”-like things — or horror genre, if you want to put it that way — that’s on television now.”
Indeed, Welden said Cartersville’s atmosphere and ambiance makes it a downright fantastic locale for genre productions.
“It was typically your older homes,” he said. “The untouched Civil War homes bring a lot of character, especially to horror anthologies.”
One of the things that makes Bartow appealing to productions, Archer said, is its proximity to Atlanta. She said the county just barely fits inside the extended metropolitan radius, meaning crews and studios don’t have to pay extra location rates to film here.
The community’s “generic geography” also makes it appealing to productions, Archer added.
“It’s just the nature of Cartersville itself,” she said. “If you’re looking for a variety of architectural styles, it is a perfect little small-town look … and if you look at the skyline from ground level, you don’t see mountains ahead, you could be on the coast, even, possibly.”
Another advantage for the county, she said, is its infrastructure.
"There are a lot of road shots done because we've got beautiful roads that are well maintained, that are not State highways," she said.
More and more studios, Archer said, are taking note of Bartow — if not for its aesthetics, then certainly for its congeniality.
“For the most part, word has gotten out with the scouts and production people, maybe, that we’re pretty easy to work with, and a film-friendly town,” she said. “I think that’s got a lot to do with it.”
That's something Welden said he can certainly attest to. In fact, he said he would jump at the opportunity to hear "frights, camera, action" in Cartersville again for future shoots.
“Most definitely, I would entertain another production in this town,” he said. “It’s just a matter of if it fits.”