Dead Of The Night Is Comedic Horror Romp

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MTT News Desk's picture
By: 
Matt Geiger
Love in the sound studio at Raven Software in Middleton.

One day, as Robert Love watched the opening sequence in a hit video game for which he’s written the script, he realized his aesthetic sensibilities would have prompted him to choreograph some of the action differently.

An enthusiastic adherent to the “learn by doing” philosophy, Love, a writer and voiceover director at Raven Software in Middleton, figured he’s try getting behind a camera, and he started making short films.

Fast-forward to March 24 of this year, when Love’s debut feature film, “Dead of the Night,” premiered before a sold out crowd at Sundance Cinemas in Madison.

“This was a three-year project. It’s probably good I didn’t know from the start how much work it would be, or I might not have done it,” he says, pausing to correct himself with a grin. “I definitely still would have done it.”

Love, who shot nearly 80 hours of footage for “Dead of the Night,” has particularly high praise for Morgan Boland, the film’s lead. “I have so much fun telling stories about strong female characters,” he observes. “I think it might be because I have a young daughter now, and I’m getting to kind of see the world through her eyes.”

“You can have a woman who’s an action hero and shows emotion,” he adds. “That’s something I like.”

The film, a comedic tale of horror that Love describes as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” meets “Friday the 13th,” stars Boland and Jeff Skubal.

Shot locally, the movie follows a team of FBI agents hidden away at a safe house in Wisconsin. They are charged with guarding a mob hit man who plans to testify against his former boss. Little do they know, a Gothic cult has summoned a demon in order to capture one of the agents to use as a sacrifice.

There’s no shortage of action – a good part grisly with a dash of humor thrown in for good measure. But Love’s experience as a writer shines through, with snappy one-liners crammed into so much of the dialogue that the actors’ enjoyment of the material on which they chew is almost palpable.

Anyone who lives in this part of Wisconsin is likely to take extra enjoyment from the movie’s various nods to local places and culture. (A Mt. Glarus police station, and the out of town agents’ unflattering view of Wisconsin as a hillbilly-populated backwater are good examples.)

Love’s previous credits include such internationally popular video games as X-Men Legends, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. In recording voice over for those games, he worked with Patrick Stewart, Ed Asner and Hugh Jackman. (Love says he enjoyed working with all the actors, and Jackman was particularly convivial.)

Not unlike Love himself. Enthusiastic, gregarious, forthright and self-deprecating, Love’s journey to Sundance didn’t exactly follow a straight line.

He showed an early affinity for writing, and managed to have his work “rejected by some of the most prestigious literary publications around,” he says with a sardonic smile. In college he “fell in love” with a computer, becoming a programmer. It was Raven Software, a massive success founded by a local schoolteacher and his brother, that brought Love to the Good Neighbor City.

While he arrived as a programmer, his abilities as a scribe eventually led him into wordsmithing work for video games. (His big break came when one of Raven’s X-Men scripts had to be re-written, and Love was tapped to fix the dialogue at the last minute.)

He has vast experience writing words that will come out of the mouths of video game characters, but Love found that writing for movie actors presented new challenges - and new opportunities. After all, flesh and blood actors aren’t always as obedient as their computer-generated counterparts.

“At first I fought it, but eventually I learned to let the actors bring their own life to the words,” Love says. “It allows for a more harmonious type of storytelling.”

Dead of the Night’s next showing will take place at Odyssey Con in Madison on Friday, April 12 at the Radisson on Grand Canyon Drive. DVDs can be purchased through the movie’s Facebook page. Copies may also be purchased by contacting Love directly at rbrtwlove@gmail.com.

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