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“Chain Letter” is opening this week, and when I saw the advertisement a chill went up my spine.


Because I used to hate chain letters, when I received them in the mail back in the day. And now they’ve been replaced with e-mails and text messages calling down hell upon you, if you don’t send them on.

Now it seems this latest flick has skillfully mixed new media with an old fear.

“Chain Letter” is the story of six friends who receive a mysterious chain letter via text message in their e-mail accounts from a maniac who’s hunting down teenagers who fail to forward his online chain letter. Who knew they should take the threats in the chain letter seriously? Or that this chain letter would use the teens’ favorite technologies to track them down to kill them?

This maniacal game pits friend against friend as they race to beat rules that seem impossible to escape. Break the chain, lose a life. Do you pass it on? Does friendship mean anything? Pretty scary stuff.

Perhaps the story behind the story is as fascinating as the movie is scary. “Chain Letter” is written, produced and directed by Deon Taylor. Not a household name … yet, but he’s more than an up and comer.

A prolific writer and idea generator, Deon Taylor, exhibits attributes similar to producer, writer, director Tyler Perry.

Taylor apparently has been involved in the film world for some time. A feature film in the can, more on the table, reality shows and urban thriller television in the works–most of which is filmed on his own Northern California sound stage–makes Taylor a virtuoso in marrying the best in new ideas with the best quality through his Deon Taylor Enterprises.

“I’ve been a fan of movies and shorts and different things for a long, long time, and I’ve always been creative person. It’s fun to sit back and see the work. It’s well worth the payoff,” said Taylor who was born in Illinois, grew up in Gary, Ind., currently resides in Sacramento and treks to L.A. constantly for meetings, casting calls and pitch sessions.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, there was the basketball game. A Nike All-American, Taylor earned a biology degree at San Diego State University on a full basketball scholarship. He was named that conference’s “Newcomer of the Year.” He went on to play professionally and still takes it to the hole weekly with his highly coveted spot in the NBA Entertainment League, which is peppered with Hollywood’s elite performers, producers and deal makers such as Jamie Foxx, Justin Timberlake, Snoop Dogg and director McG.

AOL Black Voices caught up with Taylor and asked him how did he go from basketball to directing horror films?

“I’ve always been a fan of horror and action films. I was actually playing professional basketball overseas in Germany, and at that time all these really cool movies were coming out . . . making a huge amount of money. Because I was oversea, I was constantly receiving DVDs and tapes of these films, and became really fascinated with the brand and the genre. Eventually I started watching the “making of” on some of these films and started writing my own. I just made up my mind that when I finished the season, I was going to come to the States and actually make a film. I had no film background. I was writing stuff in long form, not script form.”

“Chain Letter” stars Nikki Reed, Keith David, Michael J. Pagan, Brad Dourif, and Betsy Russell and is in theaters Friday.

The word is also out that Jamie Foxx is joining forces with Taylor to launch a production company dubbed No Brainer Films.

The Los Angeles-based banner will focus on developing, financing, writing, directing and producing mainstream films and television series budgeted at under $10 million. First up from No Brainer is the TV series “Tommy’s Little Girl,” created by Foxx, who is co-writing and co-directing with Taylor. The duo plans to shop this work to cable networks. The mob drama stars Selma Blair, Paul Sorvino, Tony Sirico and James Russo.

Foxx and Taylor will continue to run their individual production companies, Foxx-King Entertainment and Deon Taylor Enterprises, which produce larger-budgeted projects.

Gail can be reached at