KAILUA-KONA — Two decades after the original, Big Island film-making duo Cousins Brothers Productions is serving up a reboot of its frightening, culturally intense hit “Night Marchers.”
Just in time for Halloween.
The premiere of the independent film begins Friday, Oct. 25, with showings at Regal Cinemas Makalapua in Kailua-Kona and Honokaa People’s Theater. It also will be shown Tuesday, Oct. 29, at the Palace Theater in downtown Hilo.
If the title sounds familiar, the original was produced 20 years ago by 1989 Honokaa High School graduates and twin brothers Blake and Brent Cousins. The release was scheduled for one week, but smashed expectations and lasted five weeks.
That success proved hard to live down. So the brothers didn’t.
They released a sequel a year after the original’s 2001 release and fans still wanted more.
“It pretty much inspired us to make this movie,” Blake Cousins said, adding they’re optimistic for another extended theater run this time around.
The re-telling of the legend centers around Night Marchers, supernatural Hawaiian warriors who protect the king’s trails. The topic — the movie was filmed on the Hamakua Coast — is distinctly Hawaiian.
Sightings of the Night Marchers have been reported on each of the Hawaiian Islands, and the brothers developed their original story for the movie by compiling reports from law enforcement officials, members of local fire departments and kupuna from throughout the state.
“I absolutely believe them,” Cousins said about the stories they heard. “I don’t see why anyone would want to exaggerate anything like that.”
The reports included recurring testimony from residents who have seen the Night Marchers right in their own living rooms. The pounding of drums and distant torches that come into focus as the Night Marchers appear — the legend has sent chills through the people of Hawaii for generations.
While fans of the film will recognize the movie’s premise, it won’t be outright spoiled.
“It’s a retelling in a more conventional, up-to-date world,” Cousins said.
Actors who were born and raised in Hawaii are part of the production, as well: Kealii Kanekoa of Hilo and Anuhea La. The production team shot the film throughout six to eight months last year. Besides North Hawaii, some scenes were recorded in Los Angeles, where the brothers, who live in Paauilo, spend a lot of time, having been independent filmmakers for 30 years.
The goal, the filmmakers say, is the same as it was 20 years ago: to produce feature-length films in Hawaii that showcase the talent of the people of Hawaii and entertain and celebrate the islands.
With the return of the “Night Marchers,” the Cousins brothers did just that.
“We’re back to where we started 20 years ago,” Cousins said.
Email Tom Hasslinger at email@example.com.