Waiting Tables by Night, Writing & Directing Horror Films by Day

Behind the scenes at writer/director Padraig “Packy” Reynolds’ 2018 horror film “Open 24 Hours”

As unsuspecting patrons of the Malibu Marmalade Café have been waited on by Padraig “Packy” Reynolds over the past seven years, they surely never knew that visions of bloody slashers, monsters and voodoo dolls filled his head as he was serving beverages and entrees.

Reynolds not only directs horror films, he writes both original and adapted screenplays for them. His best-known works are “Open 24 Hours,” “Dark Light,” “The Devil’s Dolls” and “Rites of Spring.” He even does an occasional horror-themed music video, like the one he just finished last week with vampires titled “Tonight is the Night I Die” with music by Palaye Royale (now on YouTube).

“My dad took me to see ‘Friday the 13th’ when I was growing up in Missouri, and that’s when I fell in love with the whole genre,” Reynolds described. “In high school, me and my friends would always have ‘Horror Night’ and watch creature features on TV.” 

Earlier in his career, he joined a very intense rock band called The Nukes as lead singer. 

After 10 years with that kind of energy, the idea of breaking into the horror movie business in LA must have seemed pretty tame. It took a few years, but eventually Reynolds began making some headway. After writing two episodes of the TV mini-series “Buried Alive” in 2007 and winning awards for his short film thriller “The Election,” he was eventually rewarded. Reynolds sold his first feature-length horror film script and directed it—”Rites of Spring”—in 2011. Since then, he’s made three more full-length horror films.

“Finding the money is the hardest part,” Reynolds said, “but I assume all my films have made money, because some of the same investors keep coming back.” He finds that it helps sell his films if he makes a teaser trailer to show potential investors the visual style he intends to use. 

“Horror movies basically sell themselves, because they have a built-in audience,” he noted. “There’s a whole subculture of horror movie fans that attend horror film fests and conventions and have their own websites.” 

Some of his films have been shown at festivals like the London FrightFest Film Festival and South by Southwest. 

“It’s a fun atmosphere to go and meet other filmmakers,” Reynolds said. “The entire community of horror filmmakers is very supportive of independent horror directors.”

“I have a great team around me, and I do all my mixing at Warner Brothers,” Reynolds continued, explaining that he enjoys working with and hiring many of the same people on project after project—the same guy always does his film editing, another does the sound and another friend writes every score. “I like everybody to stay together,” he continued.  “I like working with the same people and their creative energy.” 

“I found one of my regulars by running an ad on Craigslist saying I needed someone to cut somebody’s legs off for one of the films,” he laughed.

The films Reynolds makes would be described by many as “B” horror films, because they’re made on limited budgets that generally allow only 18 to 22 days for shooting and a short nine-week turnaround. Two films have been shot in Mississippi, one in Tbilisi, Georgia, and one in Serbia.

“I’ve learned that timing is important, because you can only do so much in the time allowed and problems arise—a light goes out, an actor gets sick,” Reynolds said. “I wish I had the luxury of time to go back and fix things. Sometimes I can fill in the gaps of what I need afterwards—like one weekend we went out to the desert to shoot a monster on fire.” 

 The one or two Reynolds films that have been reviewed by mainstream media like the LA Times have not fared particularly well, but the horror genre subculture, writing in online publications with names like Bloody Disgusting and Shudder give him great reviews. 

For example, Reynolds’ personal favorite of all his films is “Open 24 Hours,” which he wrote and directed. The story premise is “a young woman who previously set her serial-killer boyfriend on fire finds a night shift job at a 24-hour gas station/convenience store.”

The horror genre reviewer wrote: “In a world inundated with dime-a-dozen, throwaway horror films that clutter our streaming services and cinemas, it’s refreshing to find a true gem that both honors the films of the past and offers a fiendish ride that escalates the tension to an explosive end.”

Reynolds’ films generally have a limited theatrical release when they first come out, then become available on streaming services like Netflix or IFC Midnight. As for the future, he’s already got a couple more films possibly in the works, and his manager is shopping around another four of his scripts.