Interview:: Tucker Johnston Director of Blood Salvage!

If you follow Kindertrauma with any regularity you’re sure to know (thanks to posts like THIS) that we’re big fans of director/writer Tucker Johnston’s excellent yet elusive BLOOD SALVAGE. There’s not a lot of information on BLOOD SALVAGE online so it was a great honor and privilege to talk to Tucker Johnston himself about his underrated cult horror treasure…

Q: Can you tell us about the origins of BLOOD SALVAGE? What inspired it and how it came to be?

A: The character of Jake was inspired by a junkman I bought an old Karmann-Ghia engine from. I came up with the idea of this mechanic who was also a homespun surgeon, since there are so many similarities between a car system and the human body, and he keeps his “patients” alive on life support machines made out of car parts in his garage. I pitched the idea to my film school buddy, Ken Sanders, who was a gifted writer and wanted to be a producer. He loved the idea and together we developed the story and wrote the screenplay over a few months. Then, with the help of my cinematographer, Michael Karp, we raised the money to film a “teaser trailer,” choosing shots from the script that had visual impact and that we could afford to shoot. We filmed at an old salvage yard in the San Fernando Valley over two weekends and got everybody to work for free. The final promo trailer showed the potential of BLOOD SALVAGE and that we could indeed pull it off. Sander’s father, who was Manager for then Junior-Heavyweight Boxing Champion Evander Holyfield, screened the promo and was interested in investing, and he convinced Evander to invest in it, too. Ken and I worked on a second draft of the script and assembled the key production members, including my cinematographer Michael Karp and production designer Rob Sissman, who were both instrumental in the project’s undertaking. Shooting commenced the following summer outside of Atlanta.

Q: Did BLOOD SALVAGE get any theatrical showings before hitting VHS? If so, how was the response?

A: Distributor Paragon Arts/Magnum Entertainment had fifteen or so 35mm prints made and it opened in Atlanta with a respectable box office, and then theatrically screened in eight other cities, in second-run movie houses, drive-ins, etc., for the sole purpose of getting quotes from local film reviewers to put on the video packaging. There was no real promotion, except a basic press kit sent to the local newspaper and a small ad that ran the day the film opened. As far as the response we got from film reviewers, it ranged from good to bad, depending on if the reviewer “got it.” (Hicksploitation flicks aren’t exactly everybody’s cup of moonshine). L.A. and New York film critics hated it. Atlanta and other Southern cities liked it.

Q: Was there anything you wanted to do in the film that you were not able to due to budgetary or time restraints. Were there any beloved scenes that had to be cut?

A: One sequence we wrote but cut before filming involved the Evans family stopping at a rural gas station that has a cheesy rundown roadside “Museum of Oddities” next to it that Bobby and April check out. It was a fun scene visually and introduced one of Jake’s co-conspirators, but it didn’t really advance the story, so it had to go. As far as scenes we shot that didn’t end up in the final film, there were two. The first was at the beginning of the scene where April is locked in Helen’s bedroom and crawls across the floor to get the hinges off the door. The scene originally started with April on the bed, noticing that she has some slight feeling in her legs after Jake’s initial spinal injections. She struggles to her feet and tries to walk — successfully for a step, then falls to the floor. Too bad that scene got cut. It really needed to be there to set-up the scene where she actually does walk, which is rather abrupt in the final film and gets an unintentional laugh. I just don’t know why they cut that part of the scene. The second scene cut had Jake dressing up in his best church clothes and proposing to April. She recoils and viciously scratches him across the face. If you watch in the final film, the scratches are still on Jake’s face, but are now unexplained.

Q: You really put together an outstanding cast. How was it working with the legendary John Saxon and Ray Walston? 

A: We had Ray for two days and it was pretty rushed to get all of his scenes shot. He was a really nice guy, a stanch professional and very enjoyable to chat with about Old Hollywood. He was obviously just there for the paycheck, this really wasn’t his kind of movie, but he played the role well and it really paid off in the final film. John Saxon came in with a little bit of an attitude and was pretty intimidating to work with at first, but it didn’t take long for us to fall into step and we ended up working well together. A couple of years later, I had lunch with John and he told me that he worked on six or seven low budget films a year, mostly with first time directors, so he’d always go in with his guard up. He said BLOOD SALVAGE was the best low budget film he worked on that year and that it was a really good experience for him. That made me pretty proud.  

Q: I think Danny Nelson as Jake Pruitt is perfectly cast. He’s so effortlessly convincing in every scene. How did he like working on the film?

A: Danny was great to work with. He ate up every scene he was in. What a wonderful actor! We had actually cast another actor in L.A. to be Jake, but when we saw Danny’s audition tape from an Atlanta talent agency, we knew right then we had to recast the role. Danny’s performance was so captivating. He was Jake! The big irony was that besides being a professional actor, Danny was also an ordained minister. And here he was playing a crazy homespun preacher who steals people’s organs! But Danny had no problem with it and really reveled in the role. I’m really glad I got the chance to get to know him. He was a very sweet man and had a wicked sense of humor. Danny passed away a couple of years ago. His last role was as “The General” in THE STRANGE CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON with Brad Pitt. 

Q: Can you tell us a little about Evander Holyfield’s involvement?

A:   Mainly just financial, along with the cameo he made in the film. This was pretty early in Evander’s career. He was really young and this was the first time he’d ever been “on-camera” outside of the ring or interviews. He was a really nice guy. Very humble at this point. By the time the film was released, two years later, Evander was Heavyweight Champ and we were able to get a little bit of attention in the press with his name attached

Q: I find April Evans to be a highly original horror heroine. Did you intentionally go against audience expectations by making her such a formidable character? I noticed actress Lori Birdsong also appeared in PUMPING IRON 2: THE WOMEN as herself and wonder if she was just as tough in real life.

A: I’ve always liked strong female characters. They are so much more interesting. We knew when we were writing April that she would have to be strong enough to, excuse the pun, stand up to Jake. It wouldn’t have worked if she were a shrinking violet. We were criticized by some folks for making April a bitch, but this was not our intention. She did have a chip on her shoulder after losing her ability to walk a couple of years earlier, but, probably because of that, she was a fighter and had to rise to the occasion to take on Jake and try to get out of this seemingly hopeless situation. The role also called for an actress who could pull off a convincing Southern accent. You’d be amazed how many actresses we auditioned who had laughable fake Southern accents. Lori Birdsong could do both – she was feminine, yet had this inner strength and she had this charming Southern accent. Lori was really believable as April and she was a real trooper for everything we put her through during filming. It was not an easy role to take on, physically or emotionally.    

Q: I don’t want to spoil anything for first time viewers but some of the characters meet grim fates. Any worries that you might be taking the violence too far?

A: Since we were presenting everything through a “dark comedy” lens, how could any of it be taken too seriously? That said, (SPOILER ALERT) Bobby’s severed head being displayed the way it was in the jar, almost like a trophy, did not fit with anything Jake would do. After all, Jake tries to help the less fortunate, granted it’s in his twisted homespun way. He sees what he does as good. That was a cheap shock shot. We broke our own rule on that one and are often called out on it by astute horror fans. 

Q: How was it working with an alligator? As threatening as he is, I thought he brought some nice comic relief at times.

A: We definitely portrayed him as the “junkyard dog” to have some fun with it. I’ll tell you though, it’s a lot easier to write exciting alligator scenes than to shoot them. I storyboarded all of the alligator scenes and coordinated on-set with the “Gator Wrangler” on what we wanted the alligator to do in each shot. He’d line the gator up and tap him on the tail to make him go. He’d do it a couple of times to try and familiarize the gator on the desired action, as much as you could with a reptile, and we’d shoot it. Obviously, for safety reasons, the actors were never actually on the set with the live gator. We shot them separately and created the scene in editing. If we needed Jake to be in the same shot as the gator, we used the wrangler dressed up in Jake’s coveralls. In a couple of shots, you may notice we had to speed up the shot a little to make the gator’s “stalking” more menacing.

Q: I have to ask about the boom mic that’s prominent in a scene or two. Is that the result of the film being improperly framed? Is there a widescreen version out there that we should be seeing instead?

A: The answer to both questions is yes. We shot for 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio, which has less on the top and bottom and more on the sides then the 4:3 version that’s out there, which is from the original 1990 VHS/Laserdisc release. That said, our boom guy did ride the frame too close and the mic bobs in a couple of times, even in the theatrical format. You gotta love low budget filmmaking! Oh, also, beware the “widescreen” version currently available on Amazon Prime is just the VHS 4:3 format version stretched to 16:9 size.

Q: It breaks my heart that there’s a generation of horror fans that might miss this gem just because it’s never been put out on DVD or Blu-ray. Is there any hope that rights issues can be resolved? I know of a few distributors who’d be proud to have this on their list of upcoming releases.

A: Honestly I don’t know why Ken Sanders, who owns the rights, hasn’t put it out. I have my theories, but it wouldn’t be fair to Ken to speculate here. I had to sell any rights I had to get the film made, so, unfortunately, I have no say in the matter. I have been contacted by a couple of distributors who were interested in putting BLOOD SALVAGE out on Blu-ray and I sent them Ken’s way, but from what I understand, he never got back to them. I encourage anyone who wants to see the film released on Blu-ray, or even DVD, to contact Ken on Facebook and tell him (nicely, please) that you want to see it released. 1,100 followers on the BLOOD SALVAGE facebook page can’t all be wrong.

Q: I’m curious about foreign distribution, too. BLOOD SALVAGE was released as MAD JAKE in some territories. In general, do you think there were many mistakes made as far as advertising and publicity go?

A: At the time, horror films were not popular internationally. For whatever hair-brained reason, the foreign distributor thought marketing the film like a MAD MAX movie would be the way to go, even though the film-goer would figure out pretty damn quick that they’d been duped. The Egyptian poster for MAD JAKE is just hilarious! It has April in mortal combat with an evil smiling alligator! I guess since they have alligators in Egypt, they wanted to play that part up. As far as the domestic marketing, I really liked the original poster art, but as far as the actual marketing is concerned, it was almost non-existent, as I spoke about earlier. As far as video sales, Magnum was selling the VHS of BLOOD SALVAGE for $98.00 a copy! I mean, WTF! No one was going to pay that outrageous price for a low budget indy horror film they’d never heard of! As a result, they didn’t sell many copies, except to video rental stores who knew their customers would rent it.

Q: What is your favorite memory of writing and directing BLOOD SALVAGE?

A: Creating Jake’s world and figuring out how to make it a reality so we could film it. We found this great old junkyard outside of Atlanta that had all of these old rusted-out cars from the 40s and 50s in the middle of this forest that had actually grown up, as well as through the old vehicles. The only problem was the property didn’t have an old house on it. In fact, we discovered during location hunting, that there were no junkyards around Atlanta that still had houses on them. So we used the junkyard for the shots driving into Jake’s property and for the gator chase scene. Then we edited it together with this other rural location we found that had an old Civil War-era house on it that we set-dressed with 50 junk cars around it so it looked like it was part of the junkyard. We also had to build Jake’s barn on that location, since one didn’t exist. Our innovative production designer, Rob Sissman, found this old abandoned lumber mill and bought it. He then dismantled it to use the old wood and rusted corrugated steel roofing to construct Jake’s barn and make it look like it had been there for years. It was so advantageous to be able to actually custom design the layout of the barn to facilitate what we wanted to do shot-wise, as well as orientate the barn itself for the camera angles we wanted to get from the house and specifically from April’s bedroom window.

Q: What is your least favorite memory of writing and directing BLOOD SALVAGE?

A: About three weeks into filming, Christian Hestler, who was playing Hiram, collapsed in his dressing room. At that point, we learned that he was in the final stages of a terminal illness that he had not previously disclosed to us. The 100 degree plus temperatures and physical acting demands had caught up with him. That night, the producers and I had an emergency meeting to discuss what to do. We briefly discussed trying to recast the role and reshoot the scenes Christian had been in, but that really wasn’t feasible on our low budget. Instead, we rearranged the shooting schedule to give Christian a week off to rest and upon his return, because of his weakened physical state, we used a body double anytime we didn’t see his face. A young guy from the art department who had Christian’s build and was a wannabe actor filled in as body double and did a pretty good job matching Christian’s mannerisms. It was far from ideal and the final film definitely suffers because of it, but you do what you have to do in a bad situation. Hiram is still a fan favorite, and there are a couple of scenes where you see Christian’s full potential in the role, but sadly, most of the time, it’s just not up to what it could have been

Q: What would you change if you could go back and do it again? 

A: I would change the soundtrack. Some of it’s okay, but most of it is so annoying and redundant that it gets in the way of the scene instead of enhancing it like a good score does. I’ve edited a “Director’s Cut” with a new soundtrack, and it works a lot better, but obviously I can’t show it because of rights issues.

Q: What is the first film you remember being scared of as a child?

A: That would also be the first TV image I ever remember seeing when I was 3 or 4. It was Roger Corman’s original LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, where the giant carnivorous plant is being fed one of it’s human victims. Growing up, I didn’t know where this image was from or if I had made it up in my imagination. All I knew was that it was burned in my brain! Years later, in my teens, I saw the scene on late night TV and had an “Aha!” moment when I realized that I had, in fact, actually seen this image as a toddler. 

Q: What was the last film that scared you?

A: Most recent horror films don’t do anything for me, although I hear Jordan Peele’s movies are quite terrifying. I’d have to say, even though it’s not a horror film, that the last movie that was really unsettling for me on an intellectual, as well as emotional level was EX MACHINA. Oscar Issac is sincerely frightening as the brilliant/crazy search engine creator who has made an Artificial Intelligence breakthrough that will change everything. But everything is not what it seems. Very chilling.

Q: One last question, I feel BLOOD SALVAGE left itself open for a possible sequel. Did you have any ideas where the story could go if that was possible?

A: I actually did have an idea for a sequel. SPOILER ALERT: At the end of BLOOD SALVAGE, Hiram has been seemingly decapitated and Jake has been badly burned from head-to-toe and run over by an RV. Roy vows to fix them up. In the sequel, since both Jake and Hiram are in such bad condition, Roy has to surgically combine what’s left of both of them into one patchworked being. Kind of a “Two-Headed Transplant” monstrosity, although Hiram only has half a head remaining. The two heads of the Jake/Hiram hybrid are constantly bickering with each other and struggling for control of the body, but one thing that they both can agree on, although for very different reasons, is they want to get April back! Meanwhile, two years have passed and April, who can now walk, thanks to Jake, is a Sorority girl at the local university. She’s very popular on campus and dating a Frat boy named Caleb. But behind her picture-perfect smile, April struggles with her past and has become obsessed with working out and self-defense. She won’t allow herself to be a victim again! Then late one night, the Jake/Hiram monstrosity and Roy stakeout the campus and kidnap April from outside her Sorority House. Caleb and his frat brothers find out what’s happened and set out to get April back! Out at the junkyard, April has been locked up, but she hasn’t been sitting idly by. She lures Roy into her room and overpowers him, using her self-defense skills. She ties Roy up and holds him hostage to keep Jake/Hiram at bay and negotiate her release. Just then, Caleb and his Frat Boy buddies arrive at the junkyard, having tracked April down via her cell phone. Now it’s Rednecks vs. Frat Boys in a battle to the death! Jake/Hiram have set up all sorts of booby traps around the junkyard and Jake’s gator, who was seeming killed in the scrap crusher at the end of BLOOD SALVAGE, is back — now half-mechanical. Roy put him back together using old motorcycle parts. Anyway, that’s as far as I got.

Q: Sounds like a very intriguing story! It’s a shame it never got made. Well, thanks again for your time, Tucker. I hope with the help of horror fans out there we can get BLOOD SALVAGE released on Blu-ray someday soon.  

A: I hope so, too. And thanks for your interest, Unk. It’s nice to know there are folks out there who still remember the film. I encourage anyone who is interested to check out the BLOOD SALVAGE page on Facebook.

Kinterview :: Randi Allen of Cathy’s Curse!!!

Anyone who follows these pages regularly surely knows that your Unkle Lacifer is a sworn lifelong member of the CATHY’S CURSE fan club. In fact, early on Kindertrauma was quick to honor its star RANDI ALLEN with the highly coveted (just go with it) title of Official Traumatot right ‘round HERE! Today being Kindertrauma’s eighth birthday (we don’t look a day over 5), I am proud to present to you with what’s going to go down in my books as my favorite kindertrauma post of all time! Yes, it’s an interview with Cathy herself, RANDI ALLEN! And I even got a Traumafession out of her! Yay!

UNK: Our website Kindertrauma is always interested in what films scared people as kids so my first question is…

What is the first movie or TV show that you remember being scared by as a kid?

RANDI: The first movie that scared me was The Wizard Of Oz.

UNK: What is you favorite memory about the filming of Cathy’s Curse?

RANDI: Favorite memory on set – being found, sitting on an elevated platform, unable to get down, while the crew was eating lunch.

UNK: What is your least favorite memory about Cathy’s Curse?

RANDI: My least favorite memory is contact lenses – Cathy’s eyes were supposed to glow, but I could not tolerate the contact lenses on my eyes.

UNK: I’m really curious about the film’s release. Did you guys have a premiere party?

RANDI: Cathy’s Curse premiere party was held in Old Montreal, in a beautiful Italian restaurant. We sat with the director Eddie Matalon and everyone, the crew was there.

UNK: I know you have at least one daughter. Has she seen Cathy’s Curse and if so, how does she feel about it?

RANDI: We have 2 daughters, born in 1992 & 1994, who believe Cathy’s Curse, and their mother, is hilarious.

UNK: Although Cathy’s Curse as a film has its shortcomings, you are really good in it and had clear talent. Did you have any desire to be in another film?

RANDI: Did I wish to be in another film? No. My brother Bryce, who is also in the movie, and I worked solely to support our single mother.

UNK: Halloween is coming up soon, what horror film would you recommend if any?

RANDI: Cabin In The Woods is my favorite horror movie to date. However, my husband and I went out as an “Amazing Race” couple last year!

UNK: Dear RANDI, it was an honor to get to talk to you! I think I’m going to enjoy CATHY’S CURSE even more now (if that’s at all possible) knowing that you are such a cool and good-hearted person, with a wonderful family, a great sense of humor and excellent taste in movies! You will always be royalty around these parts and you have made our eighth birthday the best ever!

Kindertrauma Interview:: Paul “T.J.” Kelman of the Horror Classic “My Bloody Valentine” (1981)

my bloody valentine

KINDERTRAUMA: What is the first movie that ever scared you?

PAUL KELMAN: Ha! Good one! It was “Curse of Frankenstein,” 1957 Hammer Films with Peter Cushing playing the Doctor! I was around 8 or 9 years old. It was my first horror movie! My Father took me and I spent most of the time slumped down below the seat in front of me, peeking up every little while! It really terrified me! I had dreams about it for days after. The Monster was so horrible looking! I can still remember how scared I was.

Since then I’ve seen the original, Boris Karloff, Frankenstein of 1931 by Universal, and the subsequent ones he did and other versions as well. Then I read the book by Mary Shelley! I’ve always been intrigued and fascinated with the “Monster” or “Creature” as he is called in the book. And after reading it, Frankenstein became one of my heroes! In the book he is intelligent and sensitive and speaks eloquently about his plight. But he is consumed with the grief and anger from not being accepted by humanity and most of all by his ‘father’, his ‘creator’, Dr. Frankenstein. His feelings eventually drive him mad. He realizes he is hated, useless, without roots, without family, an “abomination”, a “monster.” He is without a father, without God, without love. He is lost.

It’s the story of each of us looking for meaning and our purpose in this life, and our common humanity. Without these fundamental needs being fulfilled and realized, we become like a monster to ourselves and to others. That’s the story Mary Shelley wrote. That is Frankenstein. It’s a great book, a great story. And it’s spawned some wonderful horror films!

KT: What is the last film that scared you?

PK: Well I don’t get ‘scared’ anymore! (laughing) Having done films I look at special effects and CGI. I see the artifice. I was also in the virtual reality industry for around a decade, so I have a good grounding as to what can be done with computer generated reality, especially in three dimensions. But I still get excited and allow myself to be taken in, especially if it’s well done.

I don’t get scared, too old for that. But I do get ‘spooked’ sometimes! I like films that spook me! Even if they’re a little raw as a finished product. It’s how a film uses your imagination in concert with a new or macabre concept that achieves that. Recently I saw a macabre psychological and gory vision in a film called, American Mary (2012, Canadian) starring Katharine Isabelle and written and directed by The Soska Sisters!

It’s a pretty wild film centering on a young female student surgeon who stumbles into a career in illegal “body modifications.” Macabre and strangely engrossing. Liked it! It had a spookiness about it because of what was behind this girl’s motivation. Her obsession with it just kept growing out of control. The film was a little choppy and inconsistent but I thought it was very good despite that.

KT: What is your fondest memory from working on MY BLOODY VALENTINE?

PK: I think it was when we got to hang out with real miners and they took us down to the “Face” in a real working mine at Glace Bay in Nova Scotia, an Island Province in the East coast of Canada. We were crouched down in this low tunnel only about twelve feet wide and five feet high. A tight fit. The Giant Drill bit took up five feet in width! We stood along side it as it drilled into the Face, black coal dust flying into our goggled faces! One miner hosing tons of water on the bit to cool it down! The noise was deafening and one wrong move and the massive Drill blades would shred you! Talk about a dangerous job! Some of these guys had been miners for thirty years! Most had sons who also worked the mine. The work was passed down through generations.

I learned to respect these men. They were crazy brave and they felt they were doing a service to people by mining coal which heated homes and provided energy. Nowadays we look at coal as an outdated mode of energy and a hazard to mankind. Anyway, the point being is it gave me and the other actors a real sense of what it was to be a miner so we could play one. The camaraderie, how they watched each other’s backs, the importance of family and the honor code of a miner all served to inform our roles in the movie. I like to think of them as, “Coal Cowboys”!

The other thing that I remember most is the talent, energy and commitment of the cast! It was like working with an ensemble. There was this raw almost amateur enthusiasm to make every scene work! There were some real pros like Don Francks (Sheriff Newby), Patricia Hamilton (Mabel) and Jack Van Evera (Happy).

Then there were Keith Knight (Hollis), Alf Humphries (Howard) and I as “T.J.”, who’d worked together before in another Paramount release, GAS, which was a crazy comedy. But we’d only done a few films. The rest of the cast had done a little film work at best. So it was quite the mix. Yet everyone, once they got on the set, became pros with equal talent, dedication and devotion to their work! That was special and I think it showed in the final film and is part of what makes the film different from other horror/slasher films especially in the 1980’s! The characters had genuineness about them and the audience could relate and care about them! I do think it’s a major part in what has made the film last this long.

KT: What is your least favorite memory from working on MY BLOODY VALENTINE?

PK: Well, there wasn’t anything specific. I can say though that it was a tough shoot. We shot the whole film in about seven weeks, which was ambitious for a rather complex shoot. For me there were a lot of action scenes like the fight with shovel vs. pickaxe between “TJ” and “Axel” (Neil Affleck) especially difficult on a speeding rail car! And having a mine ceiling cave on our heads, “Sarah”(Lori Hallier) and I. And then all of us climbing a vertical steel ladder slippery with mine grease and flowing water! Really the most challenging was just the fact that we were shooting in a mine in the first place. Riding open air wooden mine cars barreling down a mine shaft at what felt like 40 mph in the pitch dark with only our head lamps for light isn’t for the faint of heart!

Even though it was no longer a working mine it still was a real mine! You see, if gases build up from the various compounds in the rock they can be toxic and if ignited by a heat source like a hot movie lamp — kaboom! We only had to evacuate once due to gas build up. But when you’re six-hundred feet down and below the ocean because it’s a coastal mine, and your only exit is the “Cage” (the mine shaft elevator) it takes a long time to get everyone out to safety! (Laughing)

Oh! I do have a ‘least favorite memory’! I just remembered! Some of us were cigarette smokers at the time, I’ve since stopped smoking, and being in a mine the only thing we could do, so as not to blow up the place was — chew tobacco! Just like real miners do! “Redman Chewing Tobacco”! Now chewing that black gunk can be dangerous because if you so much as swallow some of the goo in your mouth, you are going to get real sick and puke your guts out! That’s why you’re always spitting black viscous gobs everywhere! Real manly stuff! I actually liked the taste after a while but spitting black all the time was, well, disgusting. Good for the character though! It was an added touch of realism!

KT: MY BLOODY VALENTINE is now considered to be one of the best slasher films of its era. Many of us are shocked that there was never a sequel. If you were approached either back then or now to reprise your role as T.J., would you accept the offer?

PK: You’re kidding right? Of course I’d do it! But I never thought by any stretch of the imagination that the work I did in that movie was special or even good. I can say it was an ‘honest’ performance but nowhere near what I could bring to a role now as an actor. It’s been thirty-three years after all. I’ve walked a few miles since then. I’d be lying if I said that I ever expected MBV81 would become a ‘Cult Horror Classic’! I’d really all but forgot about it until a year or so ago. We did have a special screening with the cast at a theatre in Toronto a few years back and the place was packed. But I figured it was a one-time deal. Then about a year ago it started with a few fans finding me on Facebook.

Over that time my Page has developed a constituency of MBV81 Fans! They seem to be from all over the globe young and old! At first I was amused, then surprised and bemused and then something happened. They started talking about what they thought about the film, about me and the horror genre. I realized it really meant something to them and they humbled me with their sincerity and their generosity! They taught me the value of the film and even my work in it! And they showed me how to really value and care about them as an audience and as individuals. It’ been a wonderful experience getting to know them and to share all this with them. And now there are hundreds of fans on the Page and steadily growing! It’s ‘public’ so anyone who wants to can join. They only need send me a “Friend Request” and I’ll confirm.

So here I am at age 64, thirty-three years after the fact, a small “c” celebrity because of MBV81. It’s amazing how much I’ve learned from the fans about the movie and the genre. I’ve always loved horror and sci-fi but they, the fans, have turned it into a passion. I’ve always geeked out with action figures from movies and TV,cartoons and even have stuffed animals. I have Fankenstein, Godzilla, Alien and Spiderman as well as Star Trek figures — big Star Trek Fan! I have a ‘Cat in the Hat‘, Popeye and Olive, several Betty Boops and even a 4ft high stuffed Mickey Mouse! “They’re my friends!” (from ’Blade Runner‘).

To get back to your question. You mentioned “Sequel.” So many people ask me why there’s not been a sequel? I can’t answer that. But what I can say is that in this life, I’m a writer. And I know some pretty talented fans that can write. And I’ve been gathering ideas from the fan base asking them what they think they want to see in a sequel! So I wouldn’t be surprised that in the coming year . . .

KT: Thanks Paul, It’s an honor!

PK: Anytime. My pleasure entirely!

Dante Tomaselli’s Top Ten Horror Scores

UNK SEZ: You guys remember our pal the multi talented DANTE TOMASELLI (Interview HERE). Well, DANTE has just concluded scoring his latest film TORTURE CHAMBER so I asked him what movie scores were his favorites and influenced him the most. Below are his favorite top ten scores alongside some fresh images from his forthcoming film (Check out the official site HERE)! Thanks for sharing this with us Dante, You’ve got great taste!


I experienced Halloween in theatres at my birthday party in 1979. I just turned 10. My childhood friends were petrified and some of are still traumatized. It’s hard to describe the impact of this movie to the younger generation because you really had to experience Halloween in theatres. It had a ferocious grip on audiences. I haven’t seen anything match its power. To this day, most critics and fans declare Halloween the ultimate horror film and I wholeheartedly agree. The music is 50% of the film’s equation. Halloween’s heart-pounding, anxiety-inducing theme is so powerful. It’s become the anthem for classic horror films, and definitely something you can’t escape around October. I can’t escape it. It’s been the ringtone on my phone for years. Analogue synthesizer music was popular during the 60’s and 70’s in sci-fi and horror films but Halloween took that kind of sound design to a whole new level. This is a landmark horror soundtrack. Flickering and glowing like a devilish jack-o-lantern, the music is sinister and playfully evil. I’m forever influenced by this motion picture and its soundtrack. Thank you, John Carpenter.


I saw this film in my late twenties, during post production of my first feature, Desecration. How did I not ever see it? I remember the commercial on TV when I was 7-years-old. There was a seductive woman brushing her hair…her back to the camera. We hear her child-like voice. Roses are red. Violets are blue…She’s telling a poem. She swings around. Her face is a skull. Then a man’s voice says, ‘You can run from Suspiria…but you cannot escape…Suspiria.’ It was a whispery, evil voice…S-U-S-P-I-R-I-A. Somehow, where I lived in New Jersey, Suspiria wasn’t distributed. Eventually, though, I do remember seeing the title in video stores, and oddly ignoring it. I guess I was in my own fog at the time. When I finally watched the film, I felt like it was a religious experience. The same feeling I got while watching The House with Laughing Windows. It’s the kind of movie that must be properly viewed at night, in darkness, in stereo. Any other way diminishes it. The music by Goblin is so dense and multi-layered. Synthesizers, rhythm guitars, real instruments, all kinds of drums. You can get lost in its labyrinth design. Especially the beginning of the Suspiria theme. It starts off with a child’s lullaby, actually beautiful and soft but then these obscene whispers crash in and the drum beats more insistent.


My mother and I saw The Fog in theatres in 1980. I was 10. We were already fans of Carpenter’s Halloween. The theatre was called Totowa Cinema on Route 46 in Totowa, New Jersey. My father owned a Jewelry and Bridal Store in the mall where the movie played. I remember my mother was slightly disappointed by The Fog, I guess because she was comparing it to Halloween, but I absolutely loved the film. Everything about it. I was electrified. I was completely obsessed with the images and sounds and murky ghost storyline. The Fog. I’d illustrate the title, in its own special font on my grammar school notebooks. I always loved typography. The music in this film totally jumped out at me…just like Halloween…and there’s a mysterious knocking at the door. TAP. TAP. TAP. TAP. I used to mimic that all the time on different doors….There was a wood burning stove in our garage and I used the stoker to strike the door, pretending I was one of the ghouls. Around this time, I played an electronic organ. I’d sit home and fantasize. Low tones. Also, I played the pounding beat on electronic drums in my basement. I’d pound the drums, in a trance, over and over. It’s that section of the film where the fog is chasing everyone through the streets. Ahhhh. I love that. Nothing beats the Moog synthesizer analogue soundscape. It just pushes my button. When I purchased the soundtrack to The Fog I listened to it non-stop. You get the feeling that something is chasing you…and it’s coming closer and closer….The film has state-of-the-art moody electronic sound design.


It was 1982. I was 12 and I couldn’t wait for its release. The commercials on TV were striking with a spider crawling out of an old hag’s mouth accompanied by nightmarish music. I was so excited. The Night No one Comes Home. Perfect tag line. Then I saw the film. I already read the tie-in book, so I knew what to expect…Robots. I liked the film but didn’t love it. Still, I admired its fresh approach and loved its Dean Cundey widescreen cinematography. Mostly, mainly, I was ecstatic about the music. What perfect electronic horror music! I bought the album and listened to it endlessly. I still do. While nothing beats the theme to the original, overall as an album, this is definitely a better listening experience…and with the widest selection of doom-laced worlds. To me, it sounds like it would be a very dark solo album from Greg Hawkes, the imaginative keyboardist from The Cars. For example, Drive to Santa Mira…it has the distinct John Carpenter low toned vibe while incorporating a new dreamy organ with lots of reverb. Every single track stands out as an example of haunting mood music. John Carpenter and Alan Howarth created magic here. This is synth horror heaven and should probably be number one on my list. I could just listen to Halloween 3: Season of the Witch until the end of time.


This is actually not a movie but a horror sound fx album. It was played around Halloween in the 70’s and 80’s…and in many different funhouses as background music. Halloween was every day for me, so I’d listen to Sounds to Make You Shiver all the time, especially from 1st to 6th grade. The album consists mainly of moans and screams and thunderstorms. First we hear a woman groaning in pain and a man sadistically laughing with a chain clanging in the background. You feel like you’re in a dungeon. I got lost in the howling wind and thunderstorms and creepy, thick atmospheres. In a trance, I would listen…My imagination lighting up. Side 2 has variations of screams, witches cackles, cats, growling dogs and more moody and violent storms. Midway through, the sounds morph into an ambient, almost experimental piece with dreamy piano, guitar and bells…mixed with echoed footsteps…and a chain dragging on a castle floor.


At times you can hear devils giggling. I used to scare my younger brother just by playing the music. This spine-tingling score by Wendy Carlos, a pioneer in electronic music, has an almost demonic power. I swear it’s transmitted straight from hell. The opening theme is expertly constructed…so delicately woven…It’s bone-chilling. Atmospheric, psychedelic, macabre and surreal…It floats on another plane. There is nothing like this Moog synthesizer music, it creates its own space. I love Wendy’s score for A Clockwork Orange too. Her sound is so otherworldly….


My cousin, Alfred Sole’s film, doesn’t have a soundtrack that’s released and it should. Stephen Lawrence conjures one of the most dreamily sinister themes I’ve ever heard. I’m referring to the sparkling lullaby mixed with the menacing tones and breathy vocals. It’s cold and sleek and evil as can be, just like the movie. The swirling violins are unnerving and in-your-face. I love all the small interludes with haunted piano and reverb. The opening titles music is surprisingly reserved and reminds me of a warped version of The Godfather. Very Italian…family tragedy….On the DVD copies, you can find a montage of the film’s old stills…and the music playing over these images is the breathy, ice-cold theme to Alice, Sweet Alice…extended. I loop it over and over….


Howard Shore scored The Brood and Videodrome, also favorites. He’s an expert in somber, deadly serious soundscapes. You don’t just hear them, you feel them. The trancelike electronic music here is percolating, staccato, moaning in pain. He captures emotional violence. In fact, my first short film was called Emotional Violence. It got me into Pratt Institute, the film department. It was a non-linear montage about a suicidal girl with an abusive boyfriend and mother. My mother, an actress, played the mother. I had Scanners music throughout. How could I resist? I know I could never sell it. I can’t find the film now.


This soundtrack reminds me of being in high school and listening to the cassette on my walkman. I’d get completely lost in this gorgeous, classy horror music. It’s amazing how Ennio Morricone was channeling John Carpenter, intentionally or not. Sometimes it really sounds like him. I love Morricone’s The Bird with the Crystal Plumage too. That should be on this top 10 list. The Thing’s theme, with its pulsating electronic tone, is genuinely hypnotic. I can play it over and over and over. There’s something off-kilter, almost avant garde in its repetitiveness. It’s minimalist. But not all of the soundtrack is like that. There are violin compositions that are spacious, warm, lush and eerie. There are also some screeching violins that are all-out terrifying.


Cold and pristine, John Carpenter’s Christine score is embedded in my psyche. Just like the soundtracks to Halloween, Halloween 2, Halloween 3, The Fog and Prince of Darkness, Christine has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. A bit clipped, which makes for a jumpy listening experience. But it’s not really meant to stand on its own, even though it does. John Carpenter is all about scoring to picture. It’s thin and glacial and it works. The throbbing baritone employed throughout is pure old-school Carpenter. I love it. The scene where Arnie says, ‘Show me’ and that electronic bell pierces through the atmosphere…followed by the galloping low tone…cinematic magic. It takes my breath away and sometimes brings a tear to my eye. I’m in awe of the way the music changes the environment, how it completely elevates and transforms the scene. The chase compositions are melodic. There’s that propulsive beat that feels like all early Carpenter themes wrapped into one.

Kinterview :: Candle Cove Creator Kris Straub

The other day while trying to hunt down a “Name That Trauma!” I came across several mentions of a local television show from the early seventies entitled CANDLE COVE. The show seemed to have left a hefty impression on the unfortunate young souls who made a habit of watching it. CANDLE COVE was about a little girl named Janice and her interactions with a group of pirates that were portrayed by cheap looking puppets. For a kid’s show, CANDLE COVE was dark and twisted in a way that only a seventies show could get away with. There was even a villain named “The Skin Taker” and his cape appeared to be sewn together pieces of-you guessed it… skin. How had I never heard of CANDLE COVE before and why did it sound slightly familiar anyway? Finally I found a conversational thread that seemed to verify the existence of this highly kindertraumatic creation. Please take a moment and read it HERE.

…Did you read it? Don’t lie to me. Okay, so it turns out that CANDLE COVE was never really a show at all but spawned from a work of short fiction written by one KRIS STRAUB. Something about KRIS’ creation stuck a cord with the Internet and now CANDLE COVE is beginning to crystallize into a modern urban legend of sorts right before our eyes. Some refuse to believe that it never existed and some believe that they have witnessed it themselves. You have to admit after reading that thread that it doesn’t sound too far off from the conversations we have here at Kindtrauma, with different people remembering different bits until finally something solid takes form. I think the last comment that closes KRIS’ piece is brilliant. It captures just how diabolical and intrusive these vague memories from childhood can sometimes feel. I’m happy to say that I was able to track down KRIS for a short interview for you guys so here it is!

UNK: I almost didn’t want to reveal CANDLE COVE as a work of fiction but then I realized that no matter how many times that fact is put out there, some people refuse to believe that it’s not real. What’s it like to know that something you created has taken on a life of its own and in such a relatively short amount of time?

KRIS STRAUB: At first I wasn’t aware that it had happened at all. I had a horror fiction site, ICHOR FALLS, where I posted CANDLE COVE initially, and it ended up shared without my knowledge at much more popular horror fiction sites, where it reached a much bigger audience. I know 4chan helped to spread it around. The first time I saw people re-enacting the story, post for post, to scare an unsuspecting forum, I was so gratified. I kind of wrote it just to get the idea out of my head.

One of the things that I think let it take on a life of its own is how vague it is, and how earnest the show seems to be before all the scary stuff is revealed. So many things that scare us as kids start from this innocuous desire to entertain children, but it’s produced carelessly, or some special effect comes out way more ponderous or ugly than the creators intended, and it lingers as we, as children, try to make it fit with our limited understanding of the world. I think we have all been disturbed by shows and movies that have failed us in that way.

UNK: CANDLE COVE has inspired fan videos, fan fiction, music and a Facebook page promising a future movie. What addition to the CANDLE COVE legend have you been most taken aback by?

KRIS STRAUB: I like that people are excited about the story, but I get nervous when I see someone trying to make a film or their own CANDLE COVE books and stories. One of the good and bad things about how quick the story became an urban legend is that people really do think it’s an urban legend with no origin and no author. Fan work is great, but I’m very torn about balancing the fact that it is copyrighted and I do own the story, with the idea that it is in the nature of the story to be spread, namelessly, in dark corners of the internet. I know that serves the mythos way more than me being a litigious dick about it.

As far as being taken aback, I never know how serious Rule 34 is. The rule of the internet that states that if it’s a thing, then there’s porn of it on the internet. So there’s some sexy CANDLE COVE stuff out there that I hope was made as a personal self-challenge, and not a real, living desire to see Horace Horrible get it on with the Skin-Taker.

UNK: Can you tell us a little bit about your website ICHOR FALLS and the inspirations behind CANDLE COVE?

KRIS STRAUB: ICHOR FALLS is a collection of stories revolving around a fictional West Virginia town of the same name. I started writing them out of a love of Lovecraftian horror — not horror where someone gets chopped up, but where someone is made to realize that they don’t really understand the forces that drive the world, but they’ve seen too much of the truth. I also came to love the short stories of STEVEN MILLHAUSER, who doesn’t write horror per se, but creates these little universes where one good idea is taken too far, and then he takes it even further. Most of them are really unsettling.

Believe it or not, CANDLE COVE was specifically inspired by an old article on THE ONION: “Area 36-Year-Old Still Has Occasional Lidsville Nightmare.” It’s so accurate. I don’t know what dark entities SID & MARTY KROFFT spent time in the thrall of, but everything they made to entertain kids is tinged with this unearthly, utterly alien sensibility. I looked up the call letters for a TV station in that area of West Virginia and the names of nearby towns, and it lent the story a little verisimilitude.

UNK: I feel like you could take this idea as far as you like. Do you have anything in store for the future as far as CANDLE COVE and its burgeoning mythos?

KRIS STRAUB: It’s tough! I started to get really excited in continuing the mythos, but I think CANDLE COVE works because it is brief and vague and interrupted. I think to put a name or face to whatever is behind the making of the show is to spoil the magic. I always appreciated THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT for never showing us the witch. A CGI monster can never be as scary as what we invent in our own minds as a placeholder.

I have an idea keeping with the forum-post format, that involves someone asking around an auction site like eBay for the original tapes. There have also been some fan attempts to debunk CANDLE COVE (which always happens quickly, especially if people see this interview), but I’d like to write a whole meta-novella where someone decides to publish their attempts to expose CANDLE COVE and finds more than they were expecting.

UNK: Last but not least, I’ve got to try and get a traumafession out of you. What was the first movie, TV show, etc. that you remember being truly terrified of as kid?

KRIS STRAUB: I think I have a good one. There was an ABC AFTERSCHOOL SPECIAL from the ’80s, “Cousin Kevin,” about this little bespectacled kid whose imagination was too real for the babysitter. There’s one sequence where Cousin Kevin is imagining that they’re in the Arctic, and they’re attacked by “30-foot-tall carnivorous killer penguins.” They were stop-motion-animated by the Chiodo Bros., I remember that. All the effects were.

So Kevin and his babysitter escape and hide in a tiny igloo, and the penguin breaks it open easily, and Kevin says “watch out for their acid saliva!” and this huge fake penguin beak oozes steaming slime on the babysitter as he struggles and screams and begs for Kevin to end the fantasy. The whole scene is so nightmarish and claustrophobic! It wrecked me for months. There are more moments like that I’m sure, but it’s the only one I can remember. I would give anything to find that episode again.

UNK: Thanks KRIS for the interview and for CANDLE COVE. I have to admit that somewhere in the back of my mind I’m still not convinced that it wasn’t real either. Kids, Make sure you step insde KRIS‘ permanent residence KRISSTRAUB.COM to see all the other cool stuff pouring out of his head!

Kinder-link:: Kevin Maher’s Interview with Max Kalmanowicz Director of The Children (1980)

UNK SEZ:: One last heads up that tomorrow is the big date for the EVIL KIDS double feature that includes THE CHILDREN (1980) and DON’T GO TO SLEEP (1982)! To get you in the mood our buddy KEVIN MAHER has snagged an interview with THE CHILDREN‘s director MAX KALMANOWICZ which you can read HERE! It’s a superlative piece and you’ll notice that KEVIN was able to get both a traumafession and a “Name That Trauma!” out of MAX! How cool is that? Tickets to the show can be found YONDER! Hope those of you who are in that neck of the woods can make it!

ALSO:: Special thanks to our other pal JOHN KENNETH MUIR for supplying the cool publicity stills you see before you. You can read JKM‘s insightful review of THE CHILDREN over HERE!

Dante Tomaselli :: The Kindertrauma Interview

UNK SEZ: Why can’t there be more artists/filmmakers/composers like DANTE TOMASELLI (DESECRATION, HORROR, SATAN’S PLAYGROUND and the forthcoming TORTURE CHAMBER)? Here is a guy who absolutely follows his own macabre compass and the results are always fascinating. He is a devout horror fan and yet is able to avoid the pitfalls of pastiche by fearlessly diving into the darker waters where many of his contemporaries meekly wade.

There’s just something authentically nightmarish going on in his films. It’s not necessarily something you can rationalize, it’s something you feel. Let’s face it, anyone can play in the horror sandbox but here is a rare character that one senses authentically “knows” horror not as a removable badge but something inexpugnable from the soul. It was my recent privilege to talk to DANTE and the best part was I knew that I wouldn’t have to explain the concept behind Kindertrauma to him at all. What can I tell you, this guy is the real deal…

UNK: Your latest film TORTURE CHAMBER centers around a possessed 13-year-old boy. Can you tell us a little about the film and the ideas that inspired it?

DANTE: I needed to conjure a psychedelic demonic possession horror film. I needed to fill the film with an atmosphere of disintegration and decay. And beauty. Beauty and horror…different sides of the same coin. I saw the glowing, sinister images like slides projected in my mind. These images came from the deep pit of my unconscious. This was the netherworld I needed to explore. 13-year-old Jimmy Morgan is a pyromaniac and disfigured from experimentation with drugs. His mother is blind due to an accident involving Jimmy and a shard of mirror glass. God-fearing, the woman believes her son is possessed by a demon. Jimmy’s older brother is a Catholic priest who tries to exorcize him. Sometimes they keep Jimmy in an animal cage. This is a religious family in deep psychic pain…bathed in guilt and sin. When Jimmy escapes from a mental institution, he discovers an old abandoned castle with a secret passageway to a cobwebbed torture chamber.

UNK: What is the first horror movie or TV show that you remember being really scared of as a kid?

DANTE: Horror Express. It was the mid ’70s. I was 5 and on my parents bed, burning with a high fever, hallucinating. I was all alone in the room and on T.V. was the Spanish film, Horror Express. The Jesus-like figure with glowing red eyes pushed a deep button in me. I was absolutely terrified. I was freezing. It was not a good feeling.

UNK: As someone working within the field of horror how much do you think your childhood experiences with fear influence your work today?

DANTE: My films are about…the reverberations, or psychic reverberations…of childhood trauma. The gradual realization that something truly blasphemous is happening or happened. The unfolding. The peeling back layers of pain buried deep in the unconscious. The interior journey. I was a frightened child, as were many other children in this world, of course it’s all relative. I was a happy kid too, definitely, but there was so much inner sadness. This sadness dominated my world unconsciously because my dreams were…endless nightmares…endless.

UNK: Can you give our readers the names of three horror films that you think are vastly underrated or deserve wider recognition?

DANTE: The House of Whipcord by British director Pete Walker. It has the kind of circular storyline that I love and it creates its own unique world of ’70s paranoid madness. Let’s see…The House With Laughing Windows by Pupi Avati, another ’70s shocker. It’s an Italian horror movie about a religious painting in a church that holds gruesome secrets. The ending is shocking. And there’s a film by David Cronenberg that is underrated in my opinion, The Brood. I’m in awe of The Brood. Children of rage.

UNK: The Earth has been destroyed. Aliens have offered you an escape ride on their ship but you can only bring one horror movie with you. Which film do you bring?

DANTE: Alice, Sweet Alice. My cousin, Alfred Sole, directed this movie and I love every square inch. It’s mysterious. That mask! It’s an ethereal movie you can revisit over and over and find new interesting details. Plus of course, there’s the nostalgia I hold for this film. I remember all the promos hanging around our house. I was only 6 or 7. The promo ads had a white-veiled little girl in a Catholic communion dress holding a crucifix dagger! Unforgettable. I grew up on Alice, Sweet Alice…originally titled Communion. It made its world premiere in 1976 in Paterson. All my relatives were there. Many were extras in the movie. My Aunt Matilda stands out in the funeral scene. Both of my grandmothers were from Paterson and I was born in Paterson General Hospital. Visiting my relatives, I was in Paterson a lot. The movie perfectly captures the weird, melodramatic atmosphere…the ever-present Madonna and Child statues and religious iconography…eerie Italian Catholic guilt.

UNK: And lastly, what would be your definition of a “successful” horror film?

DANTE: A transcendent horror experience. Something, a movie that changes you, chemically, forever. You know which movies they are. It’s those horror films we all keep grabbing back for…PsychoThe ExorcistCarrieHalloweenRosemary’s BabyThe BirdsNight of the Living DeadThe OmenThe Texas Chainsaw MassacreDon’t Look NowSuspiriaDeep RedThe ShiningThe Evil DeadPhantasmAlienJawsThe Cabinet of Dr. CaligariFriday the 13thNosferatuThe EntityCreepshowMother’s DayPlay Misty For MeCujoThe Brotherhood of SatanThe SentinelThe Pit and the PendulumBlack SundayThe BeyondA Nightmare on Elm StreetLet’s Scare Jessica to DeathTales from the CryptManiacChristineTourist TrapHellraiser….We keep watching them over and over again…on every format…until the end of time.

UNK SEZ: Thanks again DANTE! Remember folks, keep your eye out for TORTURE CHAMBER at its official home base HERE!

Kinder-News :: An Interview With DW Films

As promised earlier, here is our interview with both ANDREW DURHAM and FRANK WIEDMANN the creators of DW FILMS, who were kind enough to stop by the castle and speak to us about their wonderful movies and so much more…

UNK: As is Kindertrauma tradition, my first question is to ask both of you what movie, T.V show, book etc. was the first to really scare you when you were little?

FRANK: I guess the one movie that most obviously scared me senseless was GEORGE A. ROMERO’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. I remember a friend telling me about it, and the local “Creature Features” television show on Friday and Saturday nights started showing commercials for it. Back then, before video rentals and Cable movies you had to catch the movies when they came on T.V. Loved the anticipation this created. We waited for weeks, and when NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD finally came on, it was bliss. One year, after watching it, I was unable to get off the couch and get upstairs to my bedroom. We had a staircase that made a U-turn half way up, and I couldn’t yet face what was around that corner. When I finally did make it to my bedroom, I locked the door and pushed some filing cabinets in front of the door to keep the zombies out. Don’t know what is funnier, me pushing the filing cabinets in front of the door, or the fact that a 12-year-old HAD filing cabinets.

I also need to mention BURNT OFFERINGS. The chauffeur looking up at the window is a “poop in pants” moment.

ANDREW: JOHN CARPENTER’S HALLOWEEN is a masterpiece. In that film, he made the middle of the afternoon seem terrifying. There is a scene where JAMIE LEE CURTIS looks out of her classroom window and sees Michael Myers standing across the street from the school. That still scares me. I also agree with Frank about the original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. ROMERO was a genius with his style. He made that film look as if you were watching old black and white news footage. The films that really scared me were the movies that looked amateur and homemade. The original TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK were both shot with that documentary, cinema verite style. With the popularity of reality T.V., recent horror films such as THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT and OPEN WATER also reflect that tone and are very effective.

UNK:Can you give me a bit of back story on how your films were made and exactly who was responsible for what?

FRANK: Andrew was the first one of us to get a Super8mm camera. I remember AS SOON as he got it we started having ideas. We both were involved in the planning stages. We would take trips down to a dumpster bin behind a local thrift store, and (since we weren’t allowed to dig through it) we would hide in it as low as possible and go through all their clothing, shoes, and precious costumes. You’ll notice in our films that ALL actors had to wear a costume we found, no matter how ill fitting it was. SARAH GETZOFF was a trooper, doing all that running and action work in shoes that were way too big for her. I also remember that we would listen to movie soundtracks a lot, and a lot of the scene progressions were created from listening to the music. Andrew was responsible for the photography, and I was the editor. Both of us also got into the merchandising. “Making of” books for some of the bigger movies, premiere night give-aways, etc.

ANDREW: Filmmaking, more so than most art forms, is probably the most collaborative. Even when it was just a group of 12-year-olds, once we decided on an idea, it was all hands on deck. Everyone contributed in some way, whether it was borrowing your Dad’s car or your Mom’s fur coat. As Frank mentioned, I was responsible for the filming and he did the editing. I can’t recall ever sitting down and assigning each task, it just seemed to transpire organically. Maybe it was because I was the one with the camera and Frank was the one with the editing machine. What still amazes me, when looking back, was our innate sense of visual story telling. With regards to shooting, somehow we just knew about establishing shots, camera angles and close ups. Even more profound was our comprehension of editing. We knew about eye lines, pacing, cross cuts and to avoid jump cuts. Perhaps this comes from growing up in the age of mass media. We must have learned this visual language from watching a lot of movies and television. I guess the same could be said today for the five year old kid who walks up to a computer for the first time and can completely navigate the desktop. Years later when I was in film school, I was amazed when the teacher would spend hours lecturing on the importance of opening your scene with an establishing shot, or going to a close up to build tension. I always wanted to raise my hand and ask if anyone in film school had ever seen a film before???

UNK: You really seem to have covered the bases as far as the type of films that were popular at that time, are there any that you planed and never got around to?

FRANK: I would have loved to do a POSEIDON ADEVENTURE ship disaster, or some sort of Zombie or Alien Invasion movie. We never did attempt any Sci-Fi!

ANDREW: Jeez Frank, what was TERROR IN THE SKY? Chopped Liver? That was a total IRWIN ALLEN disaster film. Perhaps Frank is still lamenting over the fact that our very first film, which we never finished, TERROR ISLAND, was about a shipwreck on an island. The island was inhabited with dinosaurs. Sort of like GILLIGAN’S ISLAND meets JURASSIC PARK. Actually it was probably more inspired by LAND OF THE LOST. It is interesting that we never made a sci-fi film, especially since we were the original STAW WARS generation. I still have the script for a film we almost made called FUTURE BATTLE. As I remember it was pretty good… for a STAR WARS rip off. But much like Hollywood, even we had movies in development that never made it to the big screen.

UNK: I can imagine that the neighborhood premieres for these movies were a real blast. How did they go over with friends and family?

FRANK: I remember the premieres were held in Andrew’s garage, and we did have parents show up. We’d spend most of the afternoon cleaning the garage and buying “refreshments” for the concession counter. At the SHARK premiere we raffled off a large cardboard shark fin with the words SHARK cut out of it, backed in red cellophane with a light behind that. It was very fancy! I wish I knew what happened to it.

ANDREW: I still laugh when I think about those movie premieres. You really have to understand the context to appreciate how hysterical it all was. We grew up in a college town, Stanford. The emphasis was on academics and refinement. Parents spent their time attending their children’s violin and dance recitals or driving their kids to computer class or Latin tutor. Frank and I would set up these premieres in my garage with a refrigerator box as the projection booth, then screen these Hollywood style horror films oozing with blood and guts for everyone in the neighborhood to see. We never saw this us unusual or even reactionary. We just believed that if you spent all this time making a movie, then you must have a gala premiere.

UNK: Backyard filmmaking has got to be an entirely different experience for modern kids. Do you think the technological advances and advent of YouTube will help or hinder their creativity?

FRANK: I think as long as kids get together to make movies it will be a creative experience. There is a “remake” of ELEVATOR on YouTube already by a kid who is like 7-years-old, and he re-enacted it on video with stuffed animals. What I loved about our process was that it cost $20 for 3 minutes of film back then. That was a lot of money for us at that age. Everything had to be planned out as precisely as possible. We spent so much time planning, making story-boards etc. Now, with video (which costs nothing really) I can imagine that the planning may not be as precise and some of the scenes may become very improvised and loose. Not that improvisation is bad, but having a well thought out story line is important. Also, unlimited time on video kind of takes the pressure off. I don’t know how good our movies would have held up if they had been 30 minutes. I think the 3 – 15 min time was perfect.

The films were completely silent, so we would need to create a cassette tape with the music on it. It would take quite a while to record the songs to match up with the movies. Then during the premiere, we hit “play” at the designated “blip” at the beginning of the movie and hope the music would fit for the remainder of the film. When I added music and sound-effects to these movies on my computer 30 years later, I was so jealous of the technology that’s available to kids today.

ANDREW: I’m so jealous when I see the tools that kids have at their disposal today. Kids younger than we were, are using these amazing little cameras and desktop editing systems. It’s really incredible, but… We know that all this technology doesn’t guarantee a better product. When GEORGE LUCAS went back and updated the original STAR WARS with CGI, not only did he destroy a perfect example of 1970’s sci-fi filmmaking but he ruined the film. All those extra effects took away from the original charm. An artist strongest attribute is to know when to hold back. We shot on actual Super 8 film and often had to edit our stories before we even shot film. This restraint allowed us to be very clear with every single story point. If a young kid has a great idea, an enthusiastic group of friends and love for movies, then they can probably make some great little movies, but if all you have is a bunch of high tech gear and no vision, well then you end up with a lot of very long, sloppy, music videos / skits. You can see hundreds of these on You Tube already. I can only imagine, if Frank and I had access to limitless video, the torture we would have put our audiences through with 45 or even 30 minute versions of SHARK or TERROR IN THE SKY. We might have been skilled filmmakers for 12 year old, but we were still kids and probably a “little” self absorbed.

UNK: Thanks guys. I can’t tell you enough what great treasures your films are. I know there are more in the vault and I can’t wait to see them. Consider me your number one fan. And to all you kids out there making stuff: art, movies, music, whatever… remember this handy tip from your Unkle Lancifer, SAVE EVERYTHING! You may not realize it now, but you just might have a one of a kind masterpiece on your hands!

Kinder-News :: An Interview With Lana of Starts Today!

When your Unkle Lancifer was a wee critter, he had many a mad obsession. One was that he collected horror movie ads from newspapers and put them into giant photo albums. The truth is, I could not be stopped and wherever I went, I was always sniffing around for old newspapers to ravage. I remember coming across some old lady whose house had piles of newspapers on her back porch, ringing her doorbell and telling her I was doing a project on “current affairs” for school and asking her if I could go through her papers. (I got the ALIEN ad that day!)Every Friday I stole the newspaper from the house in front of my school bus stop. I was on a mission, causalities were to be expected. Theoretically these photo albums still exist in my parent’s attic, but if they do not, I would rather not know about it. I’m telling you kids, this stuff was cool; I even had a full-page ad of THE BEYOND, when it was called SEVEN DOORS OF DEATH! Anywhoozles, the other day I was over at the Myspace and I noticed that someone left a nice note to Kindertrauma with a lovely ad for THE PROPHECY right next to it. This person was really speaking my language, so I went to her my space page and frankly, it was like walking into Unk’s idea of heaven on earth. It was all full of horror newspaper ads with promises of more to come. HERE’S WHERE IT GET’S WEIRD… happily I spy an ad for SCREAMS OF A WINTER NIGHT, a PG-rated movie that I went to see with my cousins that really freaked me out (I was a soft touch, you know!) I glance down and one of the theaters listed where it’s playing at, is the actual one I saw it in…BUDCO GATEWAY 3!!! In fact, all the ads are from around my neck of the woods. This isn’t just the history of horror; this is the history of cinema in my home town!!! Some of these are the very ads from my books! Well, I had to contact this person immediately, for as far as I was concerned, this was the find of the century! The Myspace page is appropriately called STARTS TODAY! and the mastermind behind its wondrous existence is named Lana. Lana was kind enough to field some hard hitting questions from cub reporter yours truly and here are the results:

UNK: First of all can we get a traumafession out of you? What was the first film that really scared you as a kid and why?

LANA: There were many films that traumatized me as a child but the first one I can vividly remember is 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY which my mom took me to see in the theater when I was three. And it wasn’t just one part of the movie that traumatized me, it was the whole thing. The apes, the monolith, Hal, the giant fetus floating around in space…all of it! I remember crying when it was over because I was so freaked out. I don’t know how that film got away with a G rating. It may not have any gore but it definitely contains some disturbing imagery.

UNK: Can you tell us a little bit about your history collecting these ads how did you start?

LANA: I use to love looking at horror movie newspaper ads when I was a kid. Especially the gruesome stuff like MOTHER’S DAY and SCANNERS. Advertising was much different back then so if a film featured taboos such as cannibalism and rape, it was promoted as a must see event. And truth be told, the more demented the ad was the more you wanted to see the movie. So one day about six years ago I had a conversation with my father about my love of movie ads from the 70’s and 80’s. After that I started to wonder if there was any way to track the old ads down. I was fortunate enough to find a library with an amazing microfilm collection dating back to the 30’s. I felt as though I had hit the jackpot because not only could I find the ads I grew up with but also the ones that came out before my time. I’ve spent the past six years collecting them and I probably have about 1,000 of them by now. Maybe more.

UNK: (after picking jaw off the floor) Are there any ads that you don’t have in your collection that you wish that you did?

LANA: There are several ads that I’m still looking for but the ones I am most interested in finding right now are SATAN’S CHEERLEADERS, MATANGO (aka ‘Attack Of The Mushroom People’)’ and a 3-D film called ROTTWEILER: DOGS OF HELL.

UNK: Which one is your all time favorite?

LANA: I’m a huge fan of gimmick movies so any ads that involve 3-D, barf bags, surgical masks, Sensurround, and William Castle would have to top my list of favorites. I also love teaser ads. The AMITYVILLE HORROR (1979) is a great example. Several weeks prior to the film’s release there would be these little ads that featured a picture of the house with messages like “The Flies” or “The Unnatural Cold” and that’s all it would say. But you knew damn well what movie it was for and those kind of ads would really get you pumped up to see it.

UNK: Do you still collect horror ads? How do you think contemporary print ads stack up to these classics?

LANA: I am still collecting but not just for horror. I also have several ads for sci-fi, action and porn films.

As for the contemporary ads…

The quality and creativity of print ads started to decline during the late 80’s. By then grindhouses and drive in theaters were dying out so that pretty much made exploitation and double feature ads obsolete. A lot of horror films were being made exclusively for home video so you saw fewer and fewer ads for them in the newspaper. Then we had the horror drought of the early 90’s and there were no ads which really sucked. Horror films became popular again in the late 90’s but the ads for those weren’t very imaginative. They usually featured some lame actors from the WB lined up “smallest to tallest”. And so far I haven’t seen anything this decade that has impressed me.

UNK: Hallelujah to that ! Thanks Lana, not only for the interview but for diligently collecting and sharing these awesome artifacts. You’ve really got me missing those old ads and it’s great to know there’s a place that I can go to find them in the future. If my parents did throw out my albums, it’s good to know you’ve got my back!! Keep up the good work and expect to find me stopping by STARTS TODAY! on a regular basis!