Rachel Talalay thinks she has moved a step closer to making a movie her parents can see without their eyes closed.
The Baltimore-reared director of "Ghost in the Machine" -- whose parents, Paul and Pamela Talalay, are Johns Hopkins professors -- has slashed her way up the Hollywood ranks. She directed 1991's "Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare" and was involved earlier in others of the "Nightmare on Elm Street" series.
"Let's say I made a step, but not yet a leap" away from the horror/murder film genre, the director said yesterday from her Los Angeles home.
Her father agreed.
"She's about halfway there," laughed Dr. Talalay, reminded of his daughter's quoted desire to make a film suitable for her folks. He and his wife saw "Ghost in the Machine" in a preview screening.
"It's not a Freddy movie at all," he said. "I liked it very much. The violence is much less prominent and the story is very clever."
Ms. Talalay, who began her career as an unpaid set worker on Baltimorean John Waters' "Polyester," calls the new film a "techno-thriller." It involves a relentless serial killer who invades a computer network and does his evil work via machine.
"It's really about the fear of technology. It's the 'Nightmare on Elm Street' for the '90s," asserted the director, adding that she persuaded producers to tone down violence in favor of science-fiction aspects of the film.
"That's hard to do when the obvious vocal reactions in test screenings are to the horror," she acknowledged.
Ms. Talalay is disappointed the film was released with light publicity, but said its arrival in the post-Christmas holiday window "showed there was a degree of confidence."
She has high hopes for her next directorial project, which begins casting next month, called "Tank Girl" -- an "action comedy" based on an English comic book series.
"It's a much bigger movie for me . . . really a female 'Mad Max,' very cutting edge, kind of MTV," she said.