'Itsy Bitsy' Director Micah Gallo On Making Creature Features That Challenge the Audience

Filmmakers Cory Neal and Micah Gallo have launched Kickstarter campaign, already named a "Project We Love" on the site, to help complete post-production on their new horror film Itsy Bitsy, a movie that uses schlocky creature-feature tropes to make a smart, engaging horror movie that Gallo hopes will connect with audiences in an unexpected way.

Late last week, PopCulture.com spoke with Gallow, and today we're unveiling the official original key art, created by Matthew Peak of Nightmare on Elm Street fame and introducing the official tagline, “Fear Spins its Web.”

"There was a time period where you would go into a video store, whether that was VHS or DVD, and my experience of it was that I could get romanced by something," Gallo explained. "I could get a title or concept, see the cover art, flip it over and see the synopsis, and get excited to see it. Once I sat down in the theater or when I popped it into the player, that's when I was open to a new experience. I think what gets people into movies, are the more lurid elements. There's something that attracts you to a movie that most of the time isn't because it's classy, it's because there's some kind of element that you're like 'That's cool, I like that kind of movie.' And when you're watching it is when you want to see something different or feel something deeply...and the movies I remember the most are the ones that do have this different effect."

That message pervades the way Gallo talks about the film, which stars Denise Crosby and Bruce Davison along with a cast of talented newcomers.

While "Itsy Bitsy" might evoke the more tongue-in-cheek Eight-Legged Freaks from a couple of decades ago, that is a far cry from the psychologically-driven movie teased in the film's trailer, which has been viewed more than 50,000 times.

"It wasn't really the giant spider business that I wanted to get into," Gallo said. "In a sense, it's not a giant spider movie in the way that you kind of think of them, in terms of a cheesy sci-fi movie. That's kind of exactly what I'm not into, is treating the spider like a kaiju or something. I don't find that interesting; I like movies that treat the creature character as seriously as any other character in the movie, so that there's a level of realism, that you believe that's a sentient being."

Itsy-Bitsy-Key-Art
(Photo: Matthew Peak)

"There's a lot of dimensions that can be used in a creature film where the creature can be a metaphor for whatever the story is about or whatever your main character is dealing with," he added.

The film tells the story of single mother Kara (Elizabeth Roberts) who moves from New York to the quiet countryside with her two children for a job opportunity she can’t afford to turn down. The family moves into their humble new guesthouse. Kara begins her work as a private nurse to Walter, (Bruce Davison) a man stricken with multiple sclerosis and an appraiser of rare antiquities with a secretive past.

Her teenage son, Jesse, (Arman Darbo) is unhappy about this most of all. Losing his friends and moving to the middle of nowhere hasn’t made his job of looking after his little sister, Cambria, (Chloe Perrin) any easier.

Doom precedes them. Akiba, (Treva Etienne) a shady international associate of Walter’s, brings with him a mysterious relic of ancient origin. “Kara” encounters run in with a local sheriff played by genre veteran actor Denise Crosby.

All too quickly they discover the relic contains more than just legends. Inside, waits a terrifying creature born of ancient darkness and pure instinct -- a pre-historic cave spider unlike the modern world has ever seen.

"You think you're going to outrun your problems by going to this new place, and that things are going to be different, and there's a level of optimism to that, don't get me wrong, but I think certain things just have to be dealt with before you can move on," Gallo said. "The spider, you can say, is a catalyst for those challenges to push the people into a place where they have to reconcile their past."

"People have to be interested in our film, interested in the idea," he said, noting that smaller films do not have the kind of money to throw at promotion.

So far, Gallo says he still doesn't know whether it will get a theatrical release or go straight to streaming. A theatrical run is something everyone wants, he noted, saying "there's definitely something special about the theatrical experience," but the downside to that is the sheer cost of trying to either promote a short run or get a long enough theatrical commitment to build word-of-mouth.

Contributors to the Itsy Bitsy Kickstarter Campaign will receive unique, amazing, thrilling, one-of-a-kind incentives for supporting the project. This week the producers promised all backers of the crowdfunding campaign a special “crew T-shirt,” exclusively for those who have donated at the discount of $15 (instead of 20) for anyone sharing the Kickstarter with friends and family.