After years of writing, funding, casting, shooting, reshooting, editing, planning, and other logistics, a crowdfunded horror film shot in Dubuque got its Red Carpet Premiere at the Five Flags Center on Friday, June 14th, 2024.

I've been covering the production of Are You Dead Yet? since 2022. From the moment I saw the poster for a horror movie called Are You Dead Yet? on display at Phoenix Theaters, I was intrigued. It's not often you see a poster claiming the film is "NOW IN PRODUCTION" (as opposed to "COMING SOON") while bearing a QR code. I couldn't scan it fast enough to find out more.

Dusty Meier (left) and Jayme Schmitt (right). Photo Credit: Steve Pulaski
Dusty Meier (left) and Jayme Schmitt (right). Photo Credit: Steve Pulaski

Are You Dead Yet? is the work of Jayme Schmitt, a Dyersville native who wanted to make an homage to the kind of low-budget, VHS-era horror movies that existed in video rental stores all across the country in the days of yore. The film saw its premiere, red carpet-style, at the Five Flags Theater on June 14th.

Red carpet premieres are generally private events in Hollywood, reserved for the cast and crew behind a movie. Schmitt not only wanted to bring the glitz and glamour to Dubuque, but he wanted to give the cast and crew as well as his friends, family, and the general public the opportunity to revel in an event that is ultimately a celebration of local arts as much as it is his and his crew's hard work and accomplishments.

Steve Pulaski, Sasha Benton, and Jayme Schmitt. Photo Credit: Tom Ehlers
Steve Pulaski, Sasha Benton, and Jayme Schmitt. Photo Credit: Tom Ehlers

The night kicked off at 6pm with red carpet access relegated to VIP individuals, such as cast, crew, producers, etc. At 6:30pm, the doors opened to anyone who wanted to experience the fun. Tickets for the film's premiere, which commenced at 8pm, could be purchased at the box office.

If you could only describe the event in colors, black and red would be the two you'd likely pick. Being a horror movie premiere, those were the dominant shades of the evening, giving the vibe of a "haunted house prom" I told my girlfriend, Catherine, during the event. The vibes were perfect. The mood was palpable; a mix of pride, gratitude, and disbelief.

Before the film premiered, Jayme Schmitt made sure to thank each and every single person who showed up to support the film not only that evening but throughout the long road of its production. Are You Dead Yet? is not a multimillion dollar production. In fact, its budget was about $2,000, and every dollar was stretched whether it was put to delightfully bloody practical effects, or towards a pizza for the tireless cast and crew.

The movie itself, which revolves around a killer stalking a group of individuals searching the deep recesses of Hell's Forest in Minnesota for their lost friend, has all the hallmarks of a horror movie from the 1980s. It's complete with violent kills, eerie woodsy photography, a few well-placed laughs, and the general vibe of a group of friends who got together for a good time and to make art.

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Take a look at some photos of Are You Dead Yet?'s Red Carpet Premiere at the Five Flags Theater. Stay up to date with future screening dates and its DVD/streaming release on the film's Facebook page.

And, one final reminder: support your friends and neighbors who want to make art, be it a movie, a song/album, a painting, or whatever the medium might be. It's important.


'Are You Dead Yet?' Premieres at Five Flags Theatre

Photos from the Red Carpet Premiere of Jayme Schmitt's "Are You Dead Yet?," a crowdfunded horror film shot in Dubuque, at the Five Flags Theatre on June 14th, 2024.

Gallery Credit: Steve Pulaski

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