Lucky McKee

Active - 2002 - 2021  |   Born - Nov 1, 1975 in Jenny Lind, California, United States  |   Genres - Horror

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Biography by Jason Buchanan

Few filmmakers could ever hope to have the good fortune of May director Lucky McKee. A comic-book-loving kid who set his focus to filmmaking after growing frustrated by his self-perceived shortcomings as a visual artist, McKee laid the groundwork for his future career by teaming with friend Kevin Ford to produce a series of videos when the pair were in their early teens. When it came time to further his education, McKee enrolled in the Filming Writing Program at USC, and from 1993 to 1997, he refined his skills as a scribe by penning the screenplays to May and Roman in his junior and senior years, respectively. Having already teamed with friends Steve Keltin and Chris Sivertson to produce an early version of May entitled "Fraction" during his sophomore year, McKee decided upon graduation to make his "official" directorial debut with a fleshed-out, feature-length variation on the story inspired by his love for Nirvana, Taxi Driver, and Frankenstein. Though McKee and Sivertson had previously teamed for the tantalizingly titled no-budget shocker All Cheerleaders Die, that early effort would, for the time, go unreleased, leaving May to serve as McKee's initial cinematic calling card. An instant cult hit among horror fans thanks to both its fierce originality and a fearlessly vulnerable performance by lead Angela Bettis, May stood apart from the latest crop of unimaginative remakes and watered-down PG-13 frighteners by offering a vision that was at once infectiously quirky, strangely moving, and, in the end, truly unsettling.

As with any emerging young filmmaker whose first feature could be considered in any manner successful, McKee was now under the gun to produce an equally effective follow-up to May. Curiously enough, the independent-minded director known for being staunchly loyal to his regular crew would next heed the call of the studio system to direct the sinister, Suspiria-inspired tale of boarding-school witchery The Woods for United Artists and MGM. It was here that McKee's emerging career in filmmaking hit something of a minor snag. Though completed in the spring of 2005, rumors of studio tinkering and misunderstandings began to swirl around The Woods when the film failed to make it to screens despite the notable presence of such actors as Bruce Campbell and Patricia Clarkson. It was during this time that McKee was contacted by horror icon Mick Garris to helm an episode of Showtime's ambitious Masters of Horror series after original director Roger Corman bowed out of his episode. A collection of one-hour films helmed by some of the best-known filmmakers in the genre, Masters of Horror featured efforts by such established directors as Dario Argento, John Carpenter, and Stuart Gordon. Though admittedly not a filmmaker of equal caliber at this point in his career, McKee of course found Garris' offer to participate in the project irresistible and soon obliged by directing screen muse Bettis once again in Sick Girl, an arthropod-themed tale of tentative love gone horrifically awry. When all was said and done, Sick Girl debuted on Showtime in January 2006, with The Woods being unceremoniously released straight-to-video in October of the same year.

In the wake of the disheartening debacle that was The Woods, McKee was prepared to return to the scripts that had propelled his early rise and next chose to reverse roles with Bettis when the pair teamed to bring his screenplay for Roman to life on the big screen. With Bettis now seated in the director's chair and McKee in front of the camera as the unstable protagonist looking for love in a world of insanity, Roman would prove something of an inversed version of May. Staunchly loyal to his old friends, McKee began working with his familiar crew members once again and even used his paycheck from The Woods to help finance pal Sivertson's directorial debut -- an unforgiving screen adaptation of underground horror icon Jack Ketchum's take on the true-life Charles Schmid murders entitled The Lost.

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  • First became interested in filmmaking when his dad's boss brought a video camera to his sister's 10th birthday party and made a film of it.
  • At 12, he made his own version of A Nightmare on Elm Street.
  • Made his feature-film directorial debut with the 2001 horror-comedy All Cheerleaders Die, which he also wrote and produced.
  • Critical breakthrough was the 2002 horror flick May.
  • Was asked to contribute to Showtime's anthology series Masters of Horror after releasing only two movies.
  • Wrote, produced and starred in Roman (2006), which marked his first major acting role.
  • Was surrounded by controversy at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival after some people ran out of the theater during a screening of his violent film The Woman