I am very interested in the upcoming Freeform television series Dead of Summer, a show that seems to be appealing directly to me with its summer camp location and 1980s setting. Creators Edward Kitsis, Adam Horowitz, and Ian Goldberg drew from several sources of inspiration while putting the show together - '80s horror and John Hughes / teen movies in general, and classics like FRIDAY THE 13TH, THE SHINING, HALLOWEEN, RIVER'S EDGE, HEATHERS, and PRETTY IN PINK specifically.
You'd typically expect a horror story set at a summer camp to be a slasher, but during a recent discussion about the show at the ATX Television Festival in Austin, Texas, Kitsis wanted to make sure that viewers wouldn't go into it with that expectation: "It's not a slasher show. It's supernatural, so you’re going to see that the themes from (the characters') past, the things that haunt them, their demons, will literally manifest themselves on the island."
Goldberg said that the camp is very much like the Overlook Hotel, "a place with a lot of dark history, and scary things can manifest in a lot of different ways."
This first season of Dead of Summer is set in
the late 1980s. School is out for the summer and a sun-drenched season of firsts beckons the counselors at Camp Stillwater, a seemingly idyllic Midwestern summer camp, including first loves, first kisses — and first kills. Stillwater’s dark, ancient mythology awakens, and what was supposed to be a summer of fun soon turns into one of unforgettable scares and evil at every turn.
The cast includes Elizabeth Mitchell as Deb, who was once a camper herself and is now the new owner of Camp Stillwater; Elizabeth Lail as clever but nervous camp counselor Amy; Mark Indelicato as openly gay, artsy counselor Blair Raymer; Paulina Singer as stunningly hot, slightly conceited counselor Jessie Tyler; Ronen Rubenstein as Alex, "the classic polo-shirt wearing John Hughes villain"; Zelda Williams as a mysterious loner who has no interest in bonding with her fellow counselors; Alberto Frezza as Deputy Garrett Sykes, who will be investigating the strange goings-on at the camp; Eli Goree as counselor/aspiring filmmaker Joel; Zachary Gordon as the camp's resident stoner "Blotter"; and Tony Todd in a mystery role.
The fact that the horrific events have been occurring at the campsite for a long time will allow the show to take a sort of anthological approach to further seasons, if Dead of Summer is lucky enough to get multiple seasons. While the camp setting would remain, the seasons could be set in different decades, with different characters played by returning cast members.
Said Kitsis, "Every year's going to be a different year, so season 2 might be 1970, season 3 might be 2004. If we did 1970, that might be the year of Deb. In 2004, it might be someone's child. They’ll be linked through the history of the show, but every year will be different. Mark [Indelicato] is Blair, but next year, he could be a completely different character in 1970. He could be Blair’s dad."
I find this all quite intriguing. A 2004 setting wouldn't be as appealing to me as the first season's '80s setting, but a season in the '70s would be.
The first season of Dead of Summer is set to run for ten episodes. The show will make its premiere on Freeform on Tuesday, June 28th.
Horowitz and Kitsis directed the first episode. Other episodes have been directed by Tara Nicole Weyr, Mick Garris, and Ron Underwood (TREMORS).