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HomeArts & CultureVisual ArtsMichigan's Own Master of Macabre

Michigan’s Own Master of Macabre

Nate Thompson – (Monroe) Michigan’s own Master of Macabre – is the mastermind behind a series of bone-chilling (they scared the hell out of me!) short horror films.

Nate takes us on a journey into the heart of his craft, revealing the origins of his fascination with the genre and the influences that have shaped his unique approach to horror storytelling.

A Childhood Obsession with the Macabre

Nate’s progression into the world of horror filmmaking began at the ripe old age of three  – an age when most kids are focused on watching cartoons and playing with their toys. It was at this age when Nate received a trove of old Horror VHS tapes from his Uncle Cliff. Among these were classic titles such as “Halloween,” “Return of the Living Dead,” and “Creepshow.” These films, characterized by their suspenseful and chilling narratives, captured his imagination far more than cartoons and toys ever did, and ignited his lifelong passion for horror.

The Fusion of Photography and Video

As a teenager, Nate developed an interest in photography. Photography allowed him to capture the world from his own unique perspective, which is inspired by, as Nate puts it, “the weird, the alternative, and the unusual.”  But it wasn’t until about six years after he first picked up a camera that he ventured into video. Combining his photography skills with filmmaking, he began experimenting with creating visual stories that would both terrify and captivate.

Photo from the film “People of the Dead” by Nate Thompson.

Monroe, Michigan: A Well of Inspiration

On the surface, growing up in Monroe, Michigan might seem like an unlikely place to nurture a passion for horror. However, this seemingly tranquil town is anything but. Monroe is considered one of the most haunted cities in Michigan. It has a rich history that dates back to the early 19th century. It is home to several historic buildings and locations with reported paranormal activity.

Monroe’s rich history makes for the perfect backdrop for Nate’s craft. He draws inspiration from local tales and hauntings, incorporating them into his short horror films.

The Creative Process: Crafting Nightmares

Nate’s creative process begins long before he puts pen to paper or fingers to a keyboard.  He envisions the entire film in his mind, meticulously crafting every scene and detail. This mental visualization allows him to shape his stories with depth and clarity. He wants to see the film in its entirety before it ever hits paper let alone the screen. This process helps Nate ensure that the final product resonates with his unique vision.

Filming in Haunted Environments

Nate loves to film in real-life eerie environments, such as his very own The Michigan Museum of Horror in Monroe.  In early 2024 Nate plans to film a movie at the renowned Eloise Asylum. He loves to film in known haunted environments because it blurs the line between fiction and reality. He feels that it also enhances the authenticity of his work. The presence of actual ghosts adds an extra layer of terror for both actors and viewers. Every noise, creak, and bump in these settings becomes a part of the horror movie experience.

The Importance of Practical Effects

Practical effects are special effects techniques that are physically created (versus digitally created) and implemented during actual filmmaking. They play a pivotal role in Nate’s work. He refers to practical effects as “intricately simple.” His love for practical effects dates back to his early inspiration from classics like “Halloween.” As Nate puts it, the practical effects were so creatively crafted that even if they could have used CGI back then, it would have taken away from the impact of the scene.  He feels that practical effects bring the audience closer to the action, intensifying the horror experience.  Having watched a few of Nate’s films, I can confidently state that he has mastered practical effects.

A Thriving Horror Community

As a self-described “weird kid,” Nate actively engages with the horror community beyond his filmmaking. He finds fellow filmmakers and horror enthusiasts to be some of the “raddest” and most welcoming and down-to-earth people. “All souls are welcome in the world of horror,” and Nate enjoys being part of a community that shares his passion for the genre.

Eliciting Powerful Reactions

One of Nate’s most memorable moments as a filmmaker was the terrified shriek from the audience during a screening of his horror film, “What Lives in the Dark.” These reactions fuel his creativity and remind him why he loves doing what he does. He “lives for” making his audience feel fear like they’ve never felt before (and he’s a master at it!).

Upcoming Projects: More Terror to Come

Nate has some “grotesque” projects in the pipeline. While he’s keeping the details under wraps for the moment, audiences can anticipate his unique take on zombies, witches, and demons.

The Haunting Season Ahead

As we dive into October, Nate hopes to convey a sense of unease, excitement, and fear through his films. He wants his audience to experience something unique and to resonate with the tone and vibe of his creations. Above all, he wants them to be very, very afraid.

In addition to his films, The Michigan Museum of Horror is preparing for a thrilling haunting season with their own unique outdoor haunted house experience called “House of Haunt.” It promises a wild and eerie adventure for families and friends seeking the ultimate Halloween thrill.

Watch Nate’s Short Horror Film “People of the Dead.” VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED.

Tamara Graham
Tamara Graham
With an adventurous spirit and a burning desire to make the world work for all of us, Tamara encourages others to embrace self-love, compassion, empathy, understanding, and an ever important sense of humor. With over 30 years of diverse marketing experience, including a decade in publishing, she brings a fresh and innovative perspective to the industry. Her concept revolves around experiential magazines that captivate both online and in print. Tamara's visionary project, LIVE. LOVE. LOCAL. MICHIGAN™, unveils the wonders of our breathtaking home state, igniting love and admiration among Michiganders for where they live. By fostering this deep connection, she inspires a genuine appreciation and love for where we live!
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