Most people know Elijah Wood is an acclaimed actor who was the star of The Lord of the Rings trilogy but he also has a real passion for horror films. Not only has Wood starred in offbeat horror films himself, such as Cooties and Come to Daddy, but he also co-founded a production company that specializes in making more auteur-focused horror films come to life, such as the Nicolas Cage-starring psychedelic horror films Mandy and Color Out of Space.
At a recent panel he co-hosted with The Lord of the Rings co-star Sean Astin at Rose City Comic Con in Portland, Oregon, a fan asked Wood what directors or films inspired him to start producing horror films himself. Wood explained that his love of horror began at an early age.
“My relationship to horror started when I was pretty young. I have a brother who’s seven years older than me so I have the benefit of having the older brother that was renting horror movies with his friends as a teenager and was bringing them home and was like, ‘hey, do you want to watch this? Don’t tell mom. And I was like ‘cool!’ And so I was exposed to horror films way before I should’ve been and loved them.”
Wood went on to explain that as he began to star in movies himself, he started to “fall in love with the entirety of the process” of filmmaking, which was when the idea of a production company began “percolating” in his head.
Wood soon bonded with a like-minded writer and a filmmaker — Daniel Noah and Josh C. Waller, respectively — over a shared love of horror films, in particular ”the kinds of horror movies that didn’t feel like they were being regularly made at the time.” The trio then formed The Woodshed, later renamed SpectreVision, in order to create more of the kinds of horror films they wanted to see.
Though Wood praised the modern “horror renaissance” currently happening, he said that wasn’t the case a decade ago, when he first founded his company.
“But back then in the U.S., there were a few examples of horror movies that took their subject matter seriously. But most of the stuff that we loved were things from like the ’70s. You know, Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist, where in some ways you could almost remove the genre elements and you’d still have a compelling story because they were about something rather than just resting on like jump scares and genre elements.”
Luckily, horror is getting more recognition these days, in much the same way The Lord of the Rings helped legitimize the fantasy genre. More than a decade after The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King received a Best Picture Oscar, Guillermo Del Toro picked up that same golden statute — as well as Best Director — for a movie focused on the kind of amphibian creature you might find haunting lagoons in previous films, with 2017’s The Shape of Water. Wood praised the work of Del Toro as well as the film Hereditary for helping modern moviegoers take the horror genre seriously again.
2014’s Cooties, a horror-comedy Wood starred in and produced under his SpectreVision company, co-starred The Office‘s Rainn Wilson. Incidentally, Wilson also hosted his own panel at Rose City Comic Con, and said he’d be down to do more horror films after a fan specifically brought up Cooties as a favorite.