Reality TV Mogul’s Mike Fleiss Shares His Passion for Horror

Reality TV Mogul’s Mike Fleiss Shares His Passion for Horror

Mike Fleiss is well known for his reality TV work. However, the Hollywood executive admits when it comes to his favorite films, he thinks horror movies are frightfully delightful.

“I love Texas Chain Saw Massacre,” he shares. “That was the first true horror movie. Jaws is a horror movie, but not in the traditional sense. Texas Chain Saw Massacre is the perfect horror movie. It feels real, it feels relatable, it doesn’t try to explain too many things, doesn’t get bogged down by details and you have a hell of a villain, and that’s the required ingredients.”

Giving Thanks for Thriller Chillers

Like many fans of the macabre, Fleiss spent the long Thanksgiving weekend seeing the new slasher film Thanksgiving.

The holiday horror show debuted at the box office on Nov. 17, earning $10.2 million domestically and an additional $2.4 million internationally. The film was directed by Fleiss’ friend Eli Roth, with whom he worked on Hostel in 2005 and Hostel: Part II in 2007 — both of which were directed by Roth.

For those not in the know, Hostel centers around backpackers who become victims of a sadistic torture ring while traveling through Europe. While the film had a modest $4.8 million budget, it was a runaway hit, grossing $82 million worldwide, proving the fearsome franchise would be a smash hit.

Fleiss has had his finger on the panic pulse for years. In 2006, he was a producer for Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, a prequel to the 2003 remake of the 1974 classic. The movie starred Jordana Brewster, Matt Bomer and Diora Baird and delves into the origins of the infamous Leatherface and his deranged family, offering a backstory to the events that led up to the original film.

Following the success of the first Hostel movie, Fleiss produced the sequel, Hostel: Part II, in 2007. Hostel: Part II continued the theme of torture and terror, focusing on a group of American students in Europe who fall prey to the same organization featured in the first frightfest.

Mike Fleiss — The Scares Started With a Splash

It may sound weird that the adult Mike Fleiss is an avid fisherman and boater since his fave flick as a kid — and his first foray into film fear — was watching Jaws over and over again the day it hit theaters on June 20, 1975. “That movie sent me on a path,” Fleiss confesses. “As a kid, I remember seeing it three times the first day it came out. I had a broken arm.”

The tides turned when he was approached to produce the David R. Ellis-directed Shark Night 3D. Fleiss jumped at the chance.

“It’s about 3D sharks!” Fleiss told Entertainment Weekly in 2011, when the film was released. “Sharks coming at ya, in the theater! It’s a really exciting project for me. Jaws is my all-time favorite movie, for sure. So it was always a dream of mine to make a shark movie. It’s got a good cast: Katharine McPhee and Sara Paxton and Joel David Moore and Donal Logue.”

In keeping with his fearless love for the horror category, Fleiss was also a producer on Possessions, a film that focuses on a father attempting to start over with his son after losing his wife. They purchase a storage facility that they hope will be the catalyst for their new beginning — but it becomes a ghastly nightmare.

“My son was a producer,” Mike Fleiss says of the film that has yet to be released. “So I got to work with my son Aaron, who’s an attorney and also a producer. And we did that movie with Yeardley Smith’s company, Paperclip.”

While his horror filmography isn’t as extensive as his work in reality TV, these projects demonstrate his range and ability to engage with different genres effectively.

And while he’s certainly mastered the filmic fear factor, Fleiss admits his first love is the small screen.

“I love TV,” he says. “I spent my whole life watching TV as a kid. I would cut class not to go to the beach or anything like that. I would cut class and go home and watch Twilight Zone in the middle of the day.

“Yeah. I’m raised by the television.”

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