May you describe the difficult circumstances you dealt with growing up in Dayton, Ohio?
I grew up in Old North Dayton, Ohio which is basically a white ghetto. My alcoholic Father moved us there when I was five and I lived there for twenty years. To call the neighborhood a hellhole would be too kind in a lot of ways. I had guns leveled at my head by complete strangers before the time I was 8 years old. I had been robbed at gun point during one of those times. I grew up behind a cracker bar called The Sip Ní Nip which was a redneck hang out that drew a ton of violence. I had to walk through their parking lot to get to the grocery store. There were multiple instances when I would walk past pools of dried blood from the fights and shootings the night before. The sounds of gunfire from the bar were so common that it just became background noise. There was a car bombing there once too, that was exciting. The neighborhood was a cesspool of crime, violence, incest and rape. And all of that was before the onset of crack which sank it even further.
So with all of this as an outside background I grew up in an alcoholic home with an abusive Father who thankfully left when I was seven years old. The only down side is he left my Mom to raise three kids by herself in what amounted to hell. I mention all of this simply because it all informs my work in a big way. Iíve been accused of sensationalism in my work and considering what I grew up seeing, I sometimes think Iíve soft pedaled the truth at times.
I understand your stepfather was a horror fan. From what I understand he got you into the world of special effects after describing how they were done for The Howling. If you can remember, describe some of your earlier experience with special make up effects.
My step Dad was cool. After my real Father left I was terrified of everything. I couldnít watch horror movies at all. I mean real life was scary enough and to have more frightening input was just too much. But when Gene my Momís new boyfriend (and my step Father later) came around he loved horror movies. His big thing was going to the drive in to see the all night from Dusk Till Dawn horror shows. Naturally I wasnít willing to go along. But I was an artistic kid, always drawing and sculpting things, so he wisely sat me down and explained to me how the werewolves in The Howling were done with masks and bladders and things. That really rang a bell with me.
It wasnít long before I was slapping latex all over my face and making monsters and finally watching horror movies. I took it slow at first easing myself in with things like POLTERGEIST. But it didnít take long after seeing effects bonanzaís like AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON or JOHN CARPENTERíS THE THING for the bug to really bite me. And none of it would have happened without Geneís pushing the idea with me.
When did you meet Jim VanBebber? And what projects did you work on with him?
Jim VanBebber had his studio in Centerville, Ohio which is a suburb of Dayton. So when I was about 17 I cold called him, having never met him at all. I read about how these local guys where working on a movie about Charles Manson. So I called him up asking if he needed an effects guy and got a meeting. He was doing all the effects himself, but he needed an assistant and took me in to help. No one was getting paid but I needed the experience. I ended up doing a little of everything, not just effects. I ran sound, worked on sets, pulled focus, helped with lights. Iím even in the movie briefly. This led to working on MY SWEET SATAN too, and even more of the effects for CHARLIEíS FAMILY. Though Jim was still the main effects guy. Basically I became one of his trusted crew people and one of his friends.
How big of an influence was he on your career?
I cannot stress this enough. I would NOT have what career I have without Jim VanBebber. He took me under his wing and guided me in ways that film school could never do. He was a mentor and a big brother and a close friend. He facilitated pretty much all of the behind the scenes machinations to get The Mutilation Man going too. He made sure I made my first film. He wasnít gonna let me not follow my dreams. I owe a lot to him.
Do you still keep in touch with him?
Unfortunately we havenít kept in touch. Once he moved to L.A. he and I sort of drifted apart for various reasons that in truth are pretty unclear, probably to either of us. Both of us have had to battle a number of personal demons, and I think that resulted in us drifting apart. Iím hoping that someday that will not be the case.
How was your experience in Film School?
I have huge mixed feelings about film school. I went to Wright State University here in Dayton and they are a pretty well respected school. The department is headed by an Academy award winning filmmaker. I learned a lot while there, especially in the areas of film theory, which has been invaluable to me over the years. I cannot stress enough how important it is to understand WHY films work the way they do, and film school taught me that. I also learned a lot of nuts and bolts of filmmaking too and got to shoot on film which is not a regular experience these days. So all of that was positive. But, and this is the big problem, I was very much shunned there for the types of films I wanted to make. I was kept from continuing in the film program there. The official reason was that I did not fit the criteria to move on to the later years of the program. Never mind the fact that at least half of the people who did move on didnít meet the criteria either. It was made perfectly clear to me during the audition process why I was not allowed to move on further into the program there when I was basically told that I was making the kinds of films I was making to be sensationalistic. I showed a 16mm film I did about heroin addicts as my audition film and was grilled about my abusive child hood by the teachers afterwards then told I was lying about all of that to get attention! The whole process was basically an attempt to break my spirit and drive me away from the school all because they didnít want someone there making these ďdark and horrifyingĒ works. This was before RESERVIOR DOGS made this kind of movie cool. In fact it was one year before that happened. If I had waited ONE YEAR I would have probably not had this negative experience. Anyway I stayed at the school and took my argument to the dean who refused to even read the case, so I went to the ACLU but they said I had no chance in hell of making a case with it because the main teacher who had an open beef with me, (who accused me of having behavior problems and learning disorders and things of that nature, none of which were true) was gay AND had tourettes syndrome! So I hung around and took what film theory classes I could and eventually took all that anger and rage and poured it into the screenplay of THE MUITLATION MAN.
What are your views on censorship? Why do you think grown adults care what other grown adults watch?
I think the roots of the problem are much deeper than censorship. The question isnít why do people of ďcontrolĒ want to censor what we watch, listen to, etc.. The question is; How are they censoring what we think? Censorship is the beginning of thought crimes, the dream police if you want to put it that way. Censorship is just another way to control people, and once people are under control then they are easier to manipulate and bend to the will of those who are in control. But you will notice how these things work is totally twisted and corrupt and makes little or no sense. Movies that get NC-17 ratings generally are having sexual situations truncated these days. Almost all below the waist public nudity on women is a no no anymore in an R rated film for example. Yet if you turn on E! entertainment there are TV programs that are dedicated to rich people getting plastic surgery that regularly feature women having their labia shaved off. The actual vagina is pixilated or blurred but the big piece of labial meat that they slice off is held up for all the world to see. So whatís the message here? If a woman in a natural situation of showing pubic hair or in a natural love scene (take the movie THE COOLER for example where the love scene was forced to be cut due to the pubic nudity of the female lead) then it is branded wrong for GROWN ADULTS TO SEE. But here on broadcast cable TV during prime time hours anyone can tune in and see a rich, wealthy person getting surgery on their privates to make them a more marketable product. Not a better person, but a more desirable product. And that is the ultimate goal. To sell people as a commodity. Real sexuality is devalued and shown to be evil, wrong and dirty, stigmatized and demoralizing, especially if it is attached with loving relationships. But if the sexuality is attached to money, wealth, celebrity or fame then it is not only acceptable it is pushed into our faces to prove to us how inferior we are as human beings. That way we buy into the sales pitch and buy more clothes, make up, perfumes, bullshit, plastic surgery and crappy entertainment that makes us feel this way in the first place.
The sanitizing of violence is very similar. Though it has finally backed down with horror film in recent years. But there was a time when every horror film that came out was censored. The more realistic the depiction of violence the harder the MPAA came down on it. Yet you have movies like the James Bond films where people are shot and killed with no blood or fuss that get PG-13 ratings. Hollywoodís sanitized version of violence is passed on as okay while bloody, horrific violence is censored and kept secret.
But with the onset of war, and the impossibility of keeping those wartime images off the internet we have seen less of that in recent years. In fact I believe the rise in violent horror films is a direct correlation to the wartime situation we are in. I think these films are peoples way to deal with the real life horrors in a vicarious way. Hence why these so called ďtortureĒ horror films have flourished since the Abu Garib incidents a few years ago. The films are reflecting real life, which is something good horror films do.
But when the culture catches wind of that the censors tend to try and shut it down. I suspect there will be a backlash very soon on these kinds of films. So be prepared to fight for your genre in the near future. But anyone who cares about freedom of any kind should be prepared to fight censorship and the methods of control.
All your experiences brought you to a movie that I really enjoyed, Mutilation Man. The subject matter was rough and some scenes were really graphic and intense. May you describe your inspiration whether it be from your personal life and what filmmakers inspired you to not censor yourself?
THE MUTILATION MAN is my most personal work and probably always will be. The themes of childhood abuse playing themselves out as entertainment for other people as an adult are a pretty apt description of myself in a lot of ways. At that time I was coming to terms with a lot of my abuse as a child, though I never witnessed things as awful as in the film, I never was sexually abused or saw my Father murder a family member, I did see a lot things that a child should never see. After years of talking to other people and realizing I was not the only one I knew it was time to put that shit in a movie. Purge it from my soul. Bleed it out if you will.
The movie was hugely influenced by the Kafka story THE HUNGER ARTIST and the work of ALEXANDRO JODOROWSKY who is like a God to me. THE HUNGER ARTIST is a very similar tale about a guy who starves himself as a work of art. The germ of THE MUTILATION MAN probably came from reading that story. The whole feel and look of the movie came from ingesting Jodorowskyís work. As far as not censoring myself, I had already been kicked out of Film school for not censoring myself, so why start then? I had nothing to lose. Plus this was right around the time when films like NEKROMANTIK and TETSUO where big in the underground so uncensored freeform art/horror hybrids were getting attention, so that was the road I took. Its funny to think about that film now in terms of censorship because I faced a bunch with it. Nick Palumbo likes to make a big deal about how his film MURDER SET PIECES was thrown out of labs for being too violent and outrageous but I beat him to that punch by ten years with MUTILATION MAN. It was thrown out of several labs for the very same reasons. I ended up having to have some old man in his basement do some of the film to tape transfers because no labs would touch it!
What do you think of Murder-Set-Pieces as a film by itself?
I thought it was okay. The effects are great, and Jade Riser gives a terrific performance but it really doesnít have a very compelling story. If youíre looking for splatter it delivers, but not much else. I think if Palumbo gets someone to write a great script for him he can deliver a great film someday.
Have you kept in contact with any of the cast?
I still talk to Kristie Bowersock whoís now married. Greg Dodson who co-produced and I had a falling out but have recently patched things back up and talk pretty regularly these days. Occasionally Iíll talk to Pucket.
Are you proud of Terek Puckets performance?
Fuck yeah!!! I think heís is terrific in the movie. Heís a hell of an actor. I wish he did more of it. I could be wrong, but I think the movie is his only leading role. He deserves to do much more of those. I think he is concentrating more on a writing career these days.
Where was it first screened and how did people respond?
We had the premiere here in Dayton at the local Art house theater. It played right after the X-FILES movie in fact. Iím not sure people knew what to make of it. We had nine walk-outs, which I took as a compliment! Overall people liked it, but that was a biased crowd to be sure. A lot of friends, family and people who worked on the movie.
Any negative criticism?
Not at the premiere. But over the years? Hell yeah. Most people who donít like it have two complaints. One, that the movie ďlooks like shitĒ which hopefully when the new DVD comes out in 2008 will be rectified to a degree. Ye, it is supposed to look fucked up to a certain point, but there were a lot of problems with transfers and things that make it look worse than it should. Iím going back to the original film elements for the new DVD. The other complaint is that it is too much an art film. Gore hounds seem to get really pissed off when you make art films. Not all of them, but some.
My favorite scenes are the Jim Van Bebber 8mm scenes? Anyone think these scenes were too brutal?
Not really! Most people like those scenes. They are the heart of the movie really. Without them the movie is just a guy fucking himself up. Though I sometimes wonder if we needed him to bite that nipple off. Maybe we went over the top thereÖ
How did Sub Rosa get involved?
Very simply. I sent them a tape and Ron Bonk really liked the movie and wanted to release it. I learned a lot from that release.
Since you got the rights to Mutilation Man back are you looking to have another DVD company distribute it. What company do you think would do a great treatment for it?
Well youíre getting the fucking scoop here. Iím putting it on DVD myself and self distributing it like I have THE ATROCITY CIRCLE. Iíve had enough success with that release that it only makes sense to do that with MUTILATION MAN. The cool thing is that technology has finally caught up with me that I am able to go back to the original elements and reconstruct the movie so it looks like it was intended and not like a fifth generation vhs dupe which the current DVD looks like. Iím planning on releasing this in a 2 disc special edition in 2008 for its 10 year anniversary with a shitload of new extras including new commentaries, interviews and documentaries. As for involvement of others that is still to be decided. But I guarantee it will be kick ass and the definitive release.
Iíve read that movies like Mutilation Man and Black Sun are pieces of therapy for you? Artistically does that make you feel successful and how mainstream would you like to be as a filmmaker?
These are some complicated questions. I think any artist who is honest about thier work sees it as some sort of therapy or at least sees themselves in the work. BLACK SUN is much more of a personal film for me, so much that I think it makes very little sense to anyone but myself! It really is like a patch of my brainwork from that time of my life, something I HAD to put on screen. Unfortunately I still wrestle with those demons I was trying to put down with that film. Do I find that kind of personalized work artistically fulfilling? Yes I do. But that goes back to something Jim VanBebber taught me. He told me once that you can make anything you want but you have to have a REASON for it. Because you have to live with it when its finished. You made it and if you plan to call yourself an artist then you better understand or at least know within yourself that you had good reason to make what you did. Iíve lived by those words. I doubt he even knows how much those words have impacted my life.
Would I go mainstream?
Yes in a second. Because the best way to subvert a system is from within. I can try to change the world by doing my underground work all I want but at the end of the day its preaching to the converted. I love that Iíve gained an audience, but for change to really take hold, and believe me I want the world to change, I need to be able to work on a bigger canvas.
Your Documentary Freakshow Deluxe about a performance art duo lead to your modern rape/revenge exploitation film ďAtrocity CircleĒ. How did you come up with the story?
Well they didnít lead to each other. Iíd been friends with The Reverend Tommy Gunn and The Wolf for a while and had planned to use them both in THE ATROCITY CIRCLE which I was in preproduction for. At that point the movie was still called HER NAME WAS SAMANTHA. They had started doing these sideshow acts at the local haunted trail and named themselves FREAKSHOW DELUXE. I was getting kinda frustrated at how it took so much effort to do movies at that point. So much planning, so much scheduling, getting actors, supplies, locations, shit like that. So I just took a camera and my then girlfriend as assistant and went and shot one of their shows and all the preparation leading up to it. I got a couple of interviews with the guys and viola! A few weeks later I had a documentary. Its funny because that documentary is so weak compared to what they do now. The Wolf still lives here in Dayton and has a troupe of performers and Tommy lives in L.A. and has a troupe and they are so much more advanced than the little show they did in the doc.
Sub Rosaís involvement and departure from the project?
Itís kinda complicated. Sub Rosa was trying to launch some sub labels at the time for product that they would ďproduceĒ themselves. One of the labels, the only one that really took off was an ďExtremeĒ label that was run by Eric Stanze, which is why it took off because he is a talented dude and has access to a lot of talented people. Anyway Stanze and I have always admired each others work and wanted to work together so I proposed this rape revenge project for the Sub Rose Extreme line. The original idea was that I would direct the move, basically shoot it and do all the pre and actual production work. Then it gets handed over to Stanze for all the post production. Then Sub Rosa Releases it. Quick, dirty and to the point. Sub Rosa wanted a certain amount of violence and nudity so it would make foreign sales etc. etc. But the catch was that Sub Rosa put NO money into the project. It all came from my end. But I went for it anyway.
The movie gets 90% shot and there is some communication breakdown with Sub Rosa that I canít really go into too much. Then on my end there is some personal issues with the producer of the film that grind shooting to a halt. These two things cause a big problem and eventually we all agree its best for me to handle the movie on my own. Sub Rosa got to keep the title HER NAME IS SAMANTHA. I finished the movie under the title THE ATROCITY CIRCLE and release it myself to great reviews and brisk sales. Iím not even sure Sub Rosa exists anymore. And they donít own the rights to any of my work. Though hopefully someday I still will get to work with Stanze!
What performances were you happy with?
Iím overall happy with all the performances. Iím especially happy with the female leads and the villains though. Those are the performances that get the most notice.
How did you cast the lead Telsa?
Once again Cinema Wasteland. She was cruising my table when I was looking for people for ATROCITY CIRCLE and I asked her when she would audition. She did and all worked out well. I think she did a great job.
How do you feel working on digital instead of film?
Well you gotta remember Iím an old film guy. I put myself through college working as a projectionist at movie theaters so I have a sort of spiritual connection to film. Iím one of those weirdos that likes the medium itself. I like to work with it, I like how you can do things directly to the film itself like scratch it, or write on it. Thatís the experimental filmmaker in me talking. I even have a paltry film print collection.
But digital is certainly easier and cheaper in a lot of ways and the resolution is really good if you can afford to go for something that high end. Iíve not gotten to work with HD or anything that high end yet. But want to really badly. But at this point Iíll work with what ever I can to get the project done.
You did all the effects right?
Yes. Iím not the greatest effects guy around. I can get the job done. But its not my main focus so the effects suffer for it. I wouldnít want to do effects for someone elseís movie anymore. I havenít kept up with materials and techniques enough to be up for the job. Iíve done it over the years out of necessity more than anything. Though I wouldnít mind designing for someone though. That could be fun.
Were you comfortable making more of a linear piece opposed to making an experimental picture again?
Yeah I was. Though when I was editing (THE ATROCITY CIRCLE) I kept jumping the narrative back and forth and was worried people wouldnít follow and would think I was up to my old tricks. But audiences are smarter than the media wants us to believe. So a little bit of a challenge narrative wise is okay. There are a lot of flashbacks in THE ATROCITY CIRCLE but I think it flows really well, especially with the pay off in the final act. But I was very comfortable doing a narrative piece. Iíve written a lot of narrative work but none of it has been made do to I require larger budgets for those scripts.
Tell us about some of the shorts youíve directed?
I directed a short segment for an upcoming anthology film called URBAN REALITY that involves cannibalism and reality video. Itís kind of my reaction to the BUMFIGHTS tapes. Itís very, very gory and very in your face. That should be seeing the screen soon. Iíve done some experimental shorts including one called AMERICAN GULAG about the live on the air suicide of Penn. State Treasurer Budd Dwyer in 1987. Thatís one of my favorite pieces of mine that Iíve done. Itís an extra on the BLACK SUN dvd. I tried to explore the non-western concept that sometimes suicide is an act of defiance and not defeat. And I also wanted to show this man as a real human being, not a punchline to a politician joke, or a gorehound meat shot for a compilation tape. I think I succeeded.
My favorite short Iíve done is NEPHEW OF SHAFT a half hour or so comedy I did for public access that is a Blaxsploitation parody. I was asked to do the awards show for Public Access that year so I combined my love for Blaxsploitation and the awards show into a short film that had the staff from the station playing roles. Itís my best made piece and I think really funny. It shows that I can do humor as well as all the other stuff. But unfortunately if will be rarely seen because it breaks all kinds of copyright issues.
Other than directing horror films, what do you do for a living ?
I work in Public Access TV. At the station I work at I train people who want to make their own TV shows on how to run the equipment. Iíve spent the last year or so teaching people how to use the AVID editing system to edit their shows. Public Access is interesting because it is under attack right now by the corporate entities AND the FCC who have banded together to try and shut it down because they want the actual stations and channel allotments for their own useless commercial needs. Never mind the fact that the same shit is on 35 channels at any given moment. Fox wants the little guys out of the picture so they can put their shit on there too. So I dunno how much longer Iím gonna have a job. Or anyone else in the industry. But itís sad because it is all about peoples freedom to go on TV and speak their mind. That is what is really being taken away. And make no mistake the corporations and the FCC know that, which is why they are fighting so hard to dismantle it.
I take it your not a fan of Bumfights?
As I mentioned before I made a whole short film expressing how much I detest them. But I donít mind ranting further about it. I fucking hate BUMFIGHTS and I think the scumbags who made them should get a taste of their own medicine. Thatís basically the gist of the short film I made is, but in horror terms. I finally saw a brief glimpse of a subhuman toadstool that made BUMFIGHTS not too long ago and he is exactly what I figured he was. Some rich fuckwad whose daddy has money enough to insulate him from real life, so he goes out and fucks with those who arenít fortunate enough to be able to fight back. Those tapes arenít just them having bums fight each other, there are scenes where these rich kids hogtie homeless people and throw them in rivers, make them drink piss, spray paint them, tie them up and basically torture them.
I would LOVE to see those guys end up in a real prison where Daddyís money canít protect them from big scary men whose only pleasure in life is taking advantage of them day in and day out. That would be poetic justice.
Any up and coming directors you admire?
Lots actually. Itís funny in this industry because its so insular that at this level the people you admire end up becoming your friends. Iím a big admirer of ERIC STANZE, FRED VOGEL, ANDREY ISKANOV, BRIAN PAULIN to name but just a few. A couple of recent short films Iíve seen that rock are GOLDEN AGE from a cat named CULLEN CARR which is awesome and THE GOAT SUCKER by MATTHEW REELI thought was phenomenal too. Those dudes are going places.
What movie would you make with a budget of lets say 15 million?
Wow! Fifteen millionÖ If I got five or six million Iíd do my dream project about kids working at a drive-in movie theater. That script is ready to go actually. If I have 15 million there is a fantasy/horror Iíve had in my head for years about one of the roman soldiers that had to go around decapitation all the first born children when Christ was born and how he was cursed by God to walk the Earth forever and an arachnid mutant man who is his nemesisÖPretty strange stuff. Very heady, black magick, Clive Barker-esque. Or maybe I would make a Gangster film about the White Trash gangsters I grew up around.
Are you going to be at Cinema Wasteland this March?
Oh yeah. Iíve only missed on one show since 2001!
Looking forward to any of the screenings or guest at the 2007 Cinema Wasteland?
Iím not sure what theyíre screening this time around but Iím actually pretty excited about the guest list. Iím a big fan of Russ Meyerís films and definitely am down with meeting the gals from FASTER PUSSYCAT KILL KILL. Iím also hoping to meet Camille Keaton from I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE. But usually I donít make a big deal about meeting the guests . I have more fun talking to the fans and people who are there just to have fun.
What do you think of people who talk in theaters?
I think my Russian friend ANDREY ISKANOV (director of NAILS and VISIONS OF SUFFERING) said it best when he said ďI would like to rise up and KILL THEM!Ē I think movie going has become something people take for granted these days. People seem to think that a movie theater is the same as their living room, so they talk out loud, play with their fucking cell phones or video games, run around like fools and these are the adults! You would think higher ticket prices would stop this but instead it seems to make people think they are allowed to act like fuckheads since they paid so much to be there. I say we need to arm the ushers and start throwing people the fuck out or hitting them with Tazers.
Favorite Films of 2006?
I didnít go to the movies nearly enough last year. Seems I go less and less every year as I get older. I dunno if it is because less and less good movies are being made or I just am getting choosier. But I loved THE FOUNTAIN and THE DEPARTED, those are probably my picks for the two best movies of 2006. I also really really liked BORAT, V FOR VENDETTA and THE DESCENT. In fact I think THE DESCENT is one of the ten best modern horror films ever made. I still have yet to see PANíS LABYRINTH though. I suspect that will fall in my list too.
Is there any mainstream directors stuff your into? (For example Eli Roth, James Gunn. Lucky McKee, Rob Zombie and Brad Anderson are some of the names constantly thrown around)
I really liked Brad Andersonís Masters of Horror episode but I havenít seen any of his films! Rob Zombie is pretty good but I find his insistence on putting goofy comedy in his films off putting. DEVILíS REJECTS works really well until it gets to scenes like the chicken fucking monologue and then it stops dead in its tracks. Heís another one who needs a good co writer. I am NOT a fan of Eli Roth and Iíll leave it at that. I would say the only mainstream horror director I am a big fan of right now is Guillermo Del Toro. I think heís amazing. Even a movie of his that I wasnít crazy about, like HELLBOY, still had a lot of great stuff in it. The director Iím obsessed with at the moment is Richard Stanley of HARDWARE and DUST DEVIL fame. Iíd love to just sit and have a conversation with that dude. Heís a true genius.
Favorite Exploitation Films?
I love so many. I literally have dreams where Iím at drive-ins playing all night exploitation festivals or that Iím on 42nd st. in New York back in the early 80ís (which I never got to see. I got to be on the Duece in the mid 90ís right before Disney fucked it all up). LAST HOUSE ON DEAD END STREET is probably my favorite. Its sort of a horror movie, but its more like a fucked up art/exploitation/horror hybrid. Its like someone popped the top of your skull and scrapped some nasty New York sludge in there and it became that movie. I fucking LOVE IT. I also love stuff like ILSA HAREM KEEPER OF THE OIL SHEIKS and TIGRESS OF SIBERIA, FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE, and many a Jess Franco movie, even though I should know better.
Favorite Horror Films?
TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE hands down. Accept no substitutes. This was the film that made me want to direct horror films. I remember distinctly watching this (and THE EVIL DEAD) and thinking I want to make people feel the way I am feeling right now. It is still scary thirty years later. I HATE that remake with a passion. I think it is among the worst films ever made. Though I gotta say I found THE BEGINNING to not be bad at all. Iím also really fond of SUSPIRIA, MARTIN, NOSFERATU (1922), SANTA SANGRE and THE DEATH KING.
What is your favorite Blaxploitation film?
DOLEMITE MOTHERFUCKA!!!!!!! There are other movies from the era that are more important (SWEET SWEETBACKíS BADASSS SONG, THE SPOOK WHO SAT BY THE DOOR) and better made (ACROSS THE 110th STREET, CORNBREAD EARL AND ME) and more exciting (any Pam Grier movie) but DOLEMITE is the sassiest, flashiest most insane of them all. RUDY RAY MOORE is simply THE SHIT. The movie is endlessly quotable (ďYeah DOLEMITE with your fancy clothes and black bitchesĒ ďYou forgot about the white ones!Ē) with great characters (who can forget The Hamburger Pimp!) and clothes so loud you gotta turn down your volume. Especially awesome is a boom microphone that is in the movie so much it deserves an onscreen credit. Iíve seen DOLEMITE upwards of 30 some times and I still love it each time. My first movie convention was Chiller and I drove 13 hours for the sole purpose of meeting Rudy Ray Moore.
What was Rudy Ray Moore like when you met him?
Awesome. He signed a whole bunch of shit for me and only charged like $5.00 for most items (this was ten years ago though). He talked to me for a while and made some jokes. My best memory of him was the next morning at the hotel breakfast he was so tired from meeting people that he kept almost falling asleep in his eggs. But he was cool. When I told him I was from Dayton he knew all about the town and asked me all about the places he had played there.
Have you seen Mario Van Peebles Baaadassss!?
Yes. I thought it was the best movie of 2005. Who would have thought that Mario Van Peebles would ever direct a movie that good? I think it is the ultimate movie about making movies. It shows just how much passion and drive a true artist has to have to make films. It also shows how we can sometimes get tunnel-vision about these things and have it effect our real lives too. Plus it got into the nuts and bolts of fighting the system and sticking it to the man, which is definitely something that makes me smile.
For my personal entertainment, Who would you work with first? Mickey Rourke, Vincent Gallo or Tom Sizemore?
Hereís the thing, all three of those guys are AMAZING actors. Simply amazing. Rourke has been so good in sooooo many movies that I love, from ANGEL HEART to JOHNNY HANDSOM to SIN CITY. Sizemore too. I love him in HEAT and NATURAL BORN KILLERS, and Gallo is truly amazing in the movie TROUBLE EVERY DAY which not very many people have seen, but should. But who I want to work with is the question. Gallo is a dick in real life and a raving lunatic Republican to boot so I doubt I would be able to get a long with him for more than a few minutes, so heís out. Sizemore would be cool if he isnít shooting H or beating up hookers but he seems to really like to do both of those things and that is not conducive to good movie making so unless he got clean Iíd pass on him. So that leaves Rourke, who I would work with in a second as long as I had a role that would hold his short attention span. And had a role for his little dog, which seems to keep him happy too.
Are you allowed to discuss that Fred Vogel/ Andy Copp Project yet?
Not much I can say about it yet. Financers are interested but nothing is signed, so I gotta stay quiet. I can say that the script that I wrote is the darkest, most vile thing I have ever written. I wrote it during a time of my life that I consider probably my blackest period ever and the script definitely shows it. I dunno if I could ever write something this fucked up again. These are GOOD things mind you. The people who have read it have all commented on how dark, or pitch fucking black as theyíve said, it is. I can say it is dead serious, no humor. It is a narrative piece and when it gets made its gonna make all these so called ďtortureĒ movies going on now look like Childís Play.
What do you think of Masters of Horror?
Boy have those been hit or miss havenít they? The first season had a few that were just amazing. John Carpenterís CIGARETTE BURNS was probably his best work since PRINCE OF DARKNESS, I though it was amazing, and I really liked Joe Danteís HOMECOMING too, but it fit with my politics so that helped. There were a couple that were okay like Coscarelliís and John Mcnaughtenís. I thought Stuart Gordonís episode was too mean spirited for its own good actuall, and the rest were pretty much really horrible to complete dogshit. SICK GIRL was almost saved by Erin Brownís great performance but the uneven tone killed it. I was crushingly disappointed with Argentoís episode.
What Genre Magazines and sites do you read and recommend?
I love SHOCK CINEMA, that is my favorite genre magazine hands down. There is a new one on the block called HORRORHOUND that I like a good deal too, though it covers mainstream stuff a bit too much, they cover a lot of other things like new horror toys or masks on the market. I like that diversity. As for websites I honestly check yours and thatís about it! I sometimes will look at Bloody Disgusting ( I wrote some reviews for them a while ago). The only other site I regularly visit is DVD Maniacs.
Anyone you want to praise or piss on?
How about I praise you guys for doing a kick ass site! Youíve only been going for a short time but have done a great amount of work. Lets see what else? I watched that movie CANNIBAL the other night and thought that was fucking terrific. Unearthed Films deserves kudoís for putting that out, cause God knows it s gonna alienate just about everyone who seeís it. But I still Highly recommend it. As far as pissing on people, I havenít the time for that, except the Bumfights asswipes.
Iíve seen Cannibal also and I gave it a glowing review. Do you think the dick scenes in that film beat your in "Atrocity Circle"?
There arenít really any dick scenes in ATROCITY CIRCLE, just the dick in the box later and thatís just a glimpse so CANNIBAL has me beat by a mile on that front. But God Damn that scene in CANNIBAL is hard to watch. When they stop and try to eat the fried dick and it is all mushy and shit? Fuckin-A I thought I was gonna throw chunks. But it was cool that they paid that close of attention to anatomy with the scene and how the dick isnít muscle but tons of blood vessels and would be just like they show it. But definitely one of the gross out scenes of the last few years. WAY more nasty and intense than anything in CHAOS or MURDER SET PIECES.
Where can people purchase Atrocity Circle?
They can get it directly from me at www.coppfilms.com and pay with paypal. If they are not comfortable with that for some odd reason it is also for sale from Xploited DVD and Diabolik DVD both of whom have done brisk business with it.