Joseph Demaree and the Square Tires: Sunbeams [Album]

Joseph Demaree and the Square Tires - SunbeamsDear fans of soft, somewhat morbid, but ultimately pretty ballads and storytelling, do I have a treat for you!  I would like to introduce the reincarnation of Leonard Cohen.  Of course, I know LC is still alive, kicking, and kicking ass, but it still has to be said.  Much as I deem Blitzen Trapper’s Eric Earley to be the son Bob Dylan wished he would have had, I am certain that Sir Cohen would wickedly approve of Demaree’s sultry new age twang and simple melodies about the sun and so much more.  For readers old enough to remember the first time they heard the first of the Songs series, listening to this cat with his band The Square Tires on their new album Sunbeams has to have a similar appeal.  It simply has to!

There is simply too much to love on here.  Demaree’s northern/western drawl might be off-putting at first, or the entire time if you are only used to straight edge, high school a capella turned folk singer style.  But for those who can find the beauty in his demeanor, which I am sure there are many of us out there, this will be something you will truly enjoy.  This especially goes for the infectious 8 1/2 minute long cut “Catch A Sunbeam” that I still believe can go on forever, and become the background music for the earth.  And despite the implication by the title “Shouting In The Street”, this other gem of a track is as mellow as rainy day in Demaree’s home base of Portland, Oregon.  Just smooth sort-of-folk-but-mostly-blues melodies about breaking out and down altogether.

I really can’t say enough good things about Sunbeams.  This is album is simply delightful in so many ways.  Storytelling has always been a very important factor for me personally, and Demaree does it absolutely perfectly on this album.  It has to be stated once again:  When we are doomed to have Mr. Cohen absent from this earth, we will likely still have Demaree.  Which I believe is a very fair trade.

Pick up a copy of Sunbeams right HERE, from the finest independent record labels around today, Idiomism Records.

Colman Domingo [Interview]

_MG_7067
So I have been watching more than your average amount of brand new movies recently due to a recent absence from the real world these days.  And I couldn’t help but notice a whole new fresh breed of talent is out there, working their asses off to master their craft.  And with this, I began to see that, though their name seems to be dropping faster than the Kennedy’s these days.  Whether it is on screen, television, or on the stage, there is a whole new breed of great talent out there.  Well, “new” might be a harsh term, when you consider the amount of work most of these fine actors have already put in to making their careers work.
One of those names that kept dropping around me was Colman Domingo.  Most recently I recognized him in the excellent new indie dramedy featuring Paul Rudd and Paul Giamatti, All Is Bright.  Colman’s appearance is brief but memorable.  And then of course there were his roles in other great films like Lincoln, True Crime, and the recent smash hit, Lee Daniel’s The Butler.  And as per usual, further investigation proved that there is so much more to learn about Mr. Domingo and the beautiful career he has recently carved out for himself.  So naturally I had some questions, and we were very fortunate enough to be able to steal a few words from Colman.  So, enjoy!
What was it about All Is Bright that intrigued you to be a part of the film?  Please explain. 
I became familiar with the screenwriter Melissa James Gibson’s work on a play she did at Playwrights Horizon’s in NYC. With a team that included Paul Rudd, Paul Giamatti and our fantastic director Phil Morrison I knew that I would have a lot of fun.
You have a degree from Temple University in, of all things, journalism as a major.  Do you believe that your educational background in journalism has had an impact on your career as a playwright, actor, etc.? 
Absolutely. It seems that I am drawn to projects whether I create them or not that are doing their best to archive a moment in our lives.
You live day to day as a minority within a minority, as a gay black man.  How do you feel either of these traits effects your career?  Is it limiting or freeing?  Both? 
I wonder. I see it as liberating, simply because I have never had to “come out” in my career. I play diverse roles, love interested in many films and plays. With a body of work with such established directors such as Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Clint Eastwood and Lee Daniels, my sexuality or my blackness has never overshadowed my ability to give a detailed, nuanced performance that is based on the characters personal traits. One writer asked, “What does Spike Lee think of me as a gay man!” I thought is was such a strange question…honestly…no one cares. If you don’t make a big deal…no one else does. Just be who you are and do the work. I don’t let myself as a gay black man, marginalize me in any of my work or choices. It all starts with how I see myself first and then everyone else follows suit.
Colman Domingo Lincoln 10.22.12 Screening NYC - - Colman DomingoYou have had great success in the world television, film, and especially on stage.  If you had to choose only one to finish of your professional days with, what would it be?
I will probably would go back to the root of where my heart is and that is the stage. I owe everything to stagecraft. The way that I have learned to be a collaborator and the way that I have been allowed to be as daring as ever on the stage. I would want to experience the sound of a pin dropping in the theater with me as the artist walking that tightrope between the footlights.
What are you looking to convey to audiences with your extremely personal story A Boy In His Soul, hitting the stage very soon?
We hit it! With 5 stars from the Guardian! Nice! I was trying to convey that the power of music is universal by going in on very personal experiences. And the power that great soul music holds whether it be to think back on an important moment in your life, help you navigate through something devastating that can only be addressed in song, or helping to recover memories and messages that you need for your soul.
Were there any sort of internal struggles in bringing a story that is so personal?  Please explain?
Not really. The true power of theater is when it is its most personal. By getting to the raw truth and using theatrical convention to bear your soul, I think it allows audiences to open themselves up as well. What you share is a sort of a catharsis. It is our duty as performers.
Can you also tell us a bit about The Scottsboro Boys?  How did this project come to life?
Scottsboro Boys is a daring and wildly entertaining musical explores a fascinating chapter in American history with arresting originality. The show is based on the notorious “Scottsboro” case in the 1930s, in which 9 African-American men were unjustly accused of a terrible crime. Written by the legendary team of Kander and Ebb and with a book by David Thompson and directed by 5 time Tony Award winner Susan Stroman. We began at the Vineyard Theater with the though of telling a great story about justice. Ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances.
What would you consider a role that you feel that you must absolutely perform before you retire, that you have yet to do? 
Retire? I’m only 43! lol. I haven’t thought that far away. I like to stay in the present. Right now, I’d love to tackle something new and edgy. I am sure I’d like to tackle some classics like Troy in August Wilson’s Fences or King Lear or Richard III._MG_6904
At the end of every day, what is that you have hoped to have accomplished?  What is your ultimate goal during your time on earth?
I think my ultimate goal is to bring people together with open hearts. I know that may sound like an innocent, but I think that as artists, ultimately that is what we are trying to achieve. 
What was the last thing that made you smile?
Waking up to sunshine pouring in my window. That always makes me smile.

Fred Dekker [Interview]

5098_95125471443_1772838_nOne of the greatest things about running this site has to be the intriguing people who I never thought I would ever have the chance to talk to, and then seem to build great (even if they are purely digital) relationships with such intriguing minds.  But, what is even betters is when you discover that mutuality of friendships can lead to meeting some other extremely talented and beautiful folks.  And, enter Fred Dekker.  I originally became interested in talking with Fred mostly about his work on Robocop 3, which I personally consider a fine film and a wonderful addition to the series, despite what some critics might have thought.  Yes, this is personal reasons interacting with any sort of reason, but fuck you, I liked the film!  And as a I got to look in to Fred’s illustrious career, I realized that he has been behind some familiar and alas brilliant projects that I am also fond of.  So, I thought it would be great to ask this giant of a man a few questions.  So I did.

I do have to do a full disclosure bit here though:  I don’t know a damn thing about Star Trek.  And Fred Dekker had a good run during a season of Star Trek: Enterprise, which I simply could not ignore based on the immense popularity of all things Trek like, even I am not personally a fan.  Nothing against the series, I just have live a life where I can hardly understand the complexities of human life on this planet, let alone begin to wonder what the hell else is out there.  I am simply not that smart.  So with that being said, I need to give some credit to some friends I contacted via social networking means who really helped me out.  Cherie Stoor Reynolds helped me get things started, and I thank her dearly for doing so.  And then my old high school friend (I know I bring them out from time to time) Cody Lyons came in full swing and came up with some wonderful questions garnered from a current life of insight into the world of filmmaking in this day and age.  So thank you Cherie and Cody for helping me come up with some great questions for Fred.  I owe you a world of gratitude.  And if I ever move beyond the distractions of this world, maybe I will find that for you.

On that note:  Ladies and Gentlemen…..Mr. Fred Dekker!

How did you come to work with fellow TWS family member Ethan Wiley on the screenplay for the cult horror film House?

I had wanted to be a filmmaker from around the age of 12.  By the time Ethan and I became college roommates, I was very serious about it and wanted to come up with a low budget feature to direct.  I’d grown up in a spooky-looking Victorian house that my parents still owned, so I had a free set…  and I knew the smartest way to keep something cheap is also to have a small cast.  So I figured, “One house.  One guy. Scary shit.  What could be simpler?”  Problem is, I never got around to writing the script.  All I had were the bare bones of an idea – a haunted Vietnam vet trying to exorcise his personal demons in a house that may or may not also be haunted.  I envisioned a very dark, black-and-white, Roman Polanski kind of movie.  Because I was slacking, Ethan asked to take a crack at the screenplay and I didn’t have a good reason to say no.  His rendering of the story turned out to be much more comical (and probably more commercial) than mine, and when he was done I gave it to Steve Miner, for whom I was writing another script.  Steve loved it and gave it to Sean Cunningham. These were, after all, the guys who made the FRIDAY THE 13th movies, so they quickly found the money to make it.  The rest, as they say, is history.

37954_439026161443_2183164_nWhat was it like to join in on the Robocop franchise to write and direct the third installment?  What sort of obstacles did you face?

I was very excited to get that job, but in retrospect, ROBOCOP 3 may have been a no-win situation.  The character’s arc was complete in the first film, and there weren’t a lot of new directions to take him.   That said, when I look at “threequels” like GOLDFINGER or BACK TO THE FUTURE III or my friend Shane Black’s IRON MAN THREE, it’s clear that you can make a good one.  I think I was hamstrung by the PG-13 rating, for one thing.  The studio wanted to appeal to a wider, family audience, and that’s just radically opposed to the spirit of Verhoeven’s universe.  The character and his world are grim and violent and savagely satirical, so by toning all that down, we kind of came out of the gate hobbled.  I blame myself mostly for a lack of courage, and for not projecting what an audience would want from the movie.  I was so enamored of Frank Miller’s script that I didn’t see the forest for the trees.  I was also unaware that T2 and JURASSIC PARK were just around the corner and were about to raise the special effects bar for action-adventures to an unprecedented level.  So to sum up, I take personal blame for the movie’s drawbacks.  It needed to be funnier, more inventive in the action department, and just generally ballsier (within the confines of the studio’s PG-13 family edict).  If I’d done that – and maybe brought Nancy Allen back at the end as a kind of “Robo-Bride” to kick some Ninja ass — I think the movie might have worked.  But I’m very proud of my cast and a lot of my directing.  It was certainly the most enjoyable of my films to make; I just wish everybody didn’t hate it so much.

During your time working on Star Trek: Enterprise, was there a lot of pressure to create a Trek true to Roddenberry’s themes of a utopian society or was the emphasis shifted so they could show cool battles in space?

The producers did seem very keen on a vision of the future where humans were polite, patient, well groomed and emotionally restrained.  Or as I call it:  boring.

In the Trekkie world, Enterprise sometimes got a bad wrap for attempting to re-write the Star Trek history?  Do you believe this to be true or absurd?

Ironic question, because I feel the show was too beholden to Star Trek history!  A key reason I wanted to be involved was to tell stories pre-Kirk, pre-Picard, pre-everything we know about Trek canon.  I thought it would be a great opportunity to start with a totally clean slate and do a show about the first space explorers with warp drive capability.  What would be out there?  What life forms would we encounter? Unfortunately, apart from one episode (“Fight or Flight”), I feel like the first season quickly devolved into rehashing all the stuff we’d already seen – Look, more Vulcans! Hey, it’s the Andorians!  Oh, no, those darn Ferengi!  Yawn.  But the cast and crew – and my fellow writers — were fantastic.

253553_10150193630841444_5416108_nIn your opinion, what do you believe it is that has elevated your films The Monster Squad and Night of the Creeps to cult film status? 

I’m not sure, but I’ll hazard some random theories.  For one thing, both movies are about outcasts, people on the periphery who are actually smarter and better equipped than the popular crowd.  I think a lot of people feel like this (I know I did when I was young) so it’s empowerment for the disenfranchised.  Also, on a genre level, sci-fi, horror and humor have always lent themselves to “cult” audiences, and these movies are chock-a-clock with those elements; they’re almost made-to-order!  Mostly, it’s that many people discovered these pictures in the dark recesses of late night cable and dusty VHS shelves, so they feel like buried treasures – as opposed to most mainstream movies, which are kind of force-fed to us by the marketing departments.  For these reasons, I think people have a special place in their hearts for these films.

What is it that fascinates you about the world of horror films?

To be honest, not a lot.  I was interested in monsters and things that go bump in the night when I was a kid, but I’ve gradually grown out of it.  I much prefer thrillers, dramas, stories where people have to overcome personal odds, regardless of genre. The truth is, my early films were informed by my youth.  I’m a lot older now.  In fact, I was over zombies and vampires a LONG time before they became hip again.

How do you think that world has changed since your heyday in the 80’s?  Is it better or worse?

Worse by a wide margin.  For one thing, the business isn’t run by people who love movies anymore, and I think that shows in the kinds, and quality, of movies that we see now.  Executives are so beholden to branding and the bottom line that we rarely see anything new or surprising or even interesting; that’s become the domain of cable TV and independent films.  But before I become the annoying old guy complaining about these crazy kids with their Tweeting and their YouTubes, let me ask you to do something:  name ten classics from the ‘80s…  then name ONE classic from the last five years.  While you’re mulling that, think of how many recent films are remakes, retreads or rip-offs of films from the ‘80s.

I rest my case.

What would you personally consider your greatest victory as a man behind the camera, pen, etc.?  What has brought you the most pride?

Does marrying my wife count?  Of the stuff I’ve done that’s never seen the light of day, I wrote a low budget urban drama in the CRASH/STRAW DOGS vein that I think was very powerful, and I was quite pleased with my JONNY QUEST script, based on the ‘60s animated show.  Of my produced work, I’m probably most proud of the scene in CREEPS where the detective (Tom Atkins) tells the kid (Jason Lively) about what happened the night he killed the axe murderer…  and I think the last two reels of MONSTER SQUAD are pretty terrific.  But the truth is, I feel like I haven’t been afforded the opportunity to do my best work.  But here’s hoping!  (Insert winky, smily-face emoticon here.)294755_10150281471721444_882595433_n

What does the future hold for you?  Any chance you might be getting behind the camera again soon?

From your lips to God’s ears.  I’ve been developing things on and off for years, but I finally have an idea I’m really excited about.  I just have to find the time to sit down and write it.  I’d love it to be my next film (and no, it’s not horror.  Sorry.)

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My cat.  He talks.

Kassie DePavia [Interview]

DePaiva, Kassie (color)I will never forget summers as a kid.  I spent a couple of some of my finest times at Grandma and Grandpa’s house for the duration of the allotted freedom we received.  I spent the days either wandering around town with Grandma running errands, or playing around with my cousins in the front yard, that place we used to go before computers took up all of our time.  But most of all, I always remember when it was time to go inside and watch One Life To Live.  Yes, I know, it is probably weird for a 9 or 10 year old kid to become obsessed with a Soap Opera.  But dammit did I love it!  I couldn’t tell you what exactly was happening during that time on the show (I know a kid fell in a well, or something of that nature) but I do remember thoroughly enjoying the craziness that was this cast.  And more importantly, the lives of Blair and Todd  Oh Blair!  Even at my ripe young age, I knew there was something about this woman who was absolutely fascinating.  She essentially played a mother who would do anything for your family.  But, she wasn’t like any other mother I had known in my short lifespan, if you catch my drift.

Fast forward a few years later, in the late 90’s and just before the towers fell, I was a just another strung out teen who would now a days probably be considered a hipster of some sort, even though we had no idea what that meant in those days.  Sitting in someone’s basement or shabby bedroom, drinking cheap beer and telling lies, we would also watch such obscure VHS tapes like the films of Roger Corman, Tromaville, and, obviously, the Evil Dead series.  It was during my first viewing of Evil Dead II that I recognized an actress who always struck a silent chord with me, but I had seemed to have forgotten in my years of teenage angst and superficiality.  It was Blair once again.  She was a few years younger than the last time I and watched her and Todd struggle through their daily lives on OLTL, but she was just as fascinating.

And as the years go by, I still consider Kassie Wesley DePavia to be one of the pivotal actresses of our day, and a major player in my development.  For 20 years she has graced the screen, and later the internet, as the illustrious Blair, and she shows no signs of slowing down, as long as the show can continue to find an outlet.  Not to mention that this woman is ageless and timeless!  She is just as marvelously beautiful and talented as she was when I was just a boy of ten, waiting to see how that kid got out of the well.  And we are proud to announce that Mrs. DePavia herself has agree to share a few words with us, and become a part of the Trainwreck’d Society family, although she has always had a special place in my own personal history.  So check it out, and maybe you will learn a little bit more about this Emmy Award nominated master of the daytime.

You kicked off your acting career starring opposite Bruce Campbell in the cult class horror film Evil Dead II.  What was that experience like?
I had an amazing “first film” experience!  Working with Bruce was like watching a Genius at work.  He is an unbelievably hard worker/producer/actor. I learned a great deal that summer in 1986 working on and shooting Evil Dead II. Evil Dead II has gone down in history as one of the top horror films in the genre. I was very fortunate to be a part of it.

evildead2How much of your own personality have you invested in your 20 years playing Blair on One Life To Live?
What you see is what you get when doing daytime for 20 years. Although there are many scenarios that are not realistic and would never happen… But I have enjoyed playing Blair.  It was a joyous challenge to bring those ridiculous moments to life and those realistic moments to heart.  Blair was a multifaceted character and I tried to find the brightest colors possible to play her.

What is it like almost living a double life, with two a television family and a real family?
I laugh at that one… 

When One Life to Live was first canceled I tried to explain to people that it was like being caught in an affair and I couldn’t see my family anymore.

Nowhere in television, other than the long-running soap operas, do you see the history and the families. It’s been great fun to have this wonderful extended family through One Life To Live

What have you thought of the return of One Life To Live?  Did everything fall right back in to place or have things changed? 

It was great to have One Life to live back… But it was certainly different… After working 20 years on network television it was a new adventure for the Internet. I hope it continues on… but we will have to wait and see.  New challenges on every level.

Kassie2In all of your years in the Soap world, what are you most proud of?  Why?

I think it’s the longevity of the career. I was shocked to have been given my first role as Chelsea Reardon on the Guiding Light and equally as shocked to have worked for four years on that show… And I’m even blown away by the fact that I had a 20 career gig on One Life to live.

I’m a lucky girl.

How long do you think you will continue to do the show?

I love to work… So it’s really up to the genre.  I’m proud to be apart of the soap world.

I understand you started out performing at The Grand Ole Opry at a young age.  Have you returned to music since?

I never left it.  I’ve recorded 3 CD’s and continue to sing. My Husband and I did the musical 110 in the Shade last spring.  A new musical challenge and great fun.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Hugging my dog !!!

Lonely & The Socialites: Connections [Album]

coverI can not convey just how happy it makes me to know that country-esque rockabilly music is still a vital asset in the musical world.  It is just a simple and beautiful way of creating some of the finest art imaginable.  It is heartfelt, crazy, and supplies and ample about of depression and/or fun with just a few strums of a steel guitar or banging around on the ole piano.  And I have to say, after one listen to Lonely & The Socialites on their recently released album Connections, I have faith in musicians once again.  These guys know what the hell I am talking about.

Connections is an album with a play list that is absolutely reminiscent of days past.  Days that most of us more than likely didn’t even have parents capable of producing the right amount of sperm to create another human being, let alone lived through.  But, of course we can be inspired by the times of then.  And Lonely & The Socialites definitely seem to garner influence from the glory days.  For straight up country and/or western vibes, “All I Have Is The Ring” is about as perfect as you will ever find.  And for the Springsteen style rock and roll, “She F****d Me Up” and “You Can’t Hide Behind Your Wild Hair” will leave your heart yearning to be rocked!  But, as the title might suggest, the rockingest moment of this album definitely occurs on the cut “Good Thing At the Party”.

Lonely & The Socialites is a good time have, good vibe creating, whimsical batch of very talented folks from across the U.S. who have managed to have their souls collide, and created an amazing new record that is as heartfelt as it is wildly entertaining.  Connections is definitely one of the years finest, and is not to be missed!

Get a copy of Connections for yourself right HERE.  You will not be disappointed!

Sleep: Lockland 95 (The Story of Us) [Album]

Sleep - Lockland 95I’m not going to lie to all of you.  When I caught wind of Sleep, 1/2 of rap duo 2 Man Cypher, and his solo album Lockland 95, I had never ever heard of a place claled Lockland, Ohio.  I couldn’t even come up with a correct assumption as to where in the hell it might be, and what happens in a place such as this.  But after 11 tracks profiling 12 different and strangely fascinating characters who resided in the area circa 1995, it became extremely clear what Lockland was all about, and it almost brought a damn tear to my eye.

Whether it is tales of drug dealers & addicts, 10 year old prostitutes, junior high rebellion, what have you, Sleep’s Lockland 95 is not only a perfectly saddening collection of tales of missing out on “kisses and hugs” and “selling drugs”, this is the perfect definition of the idealism of being sad because it’s true.  While the lyrical madness that Sleep provides on any given track on this album are absolutely superb in their own right (I will go in to that later), one fascinating aspect of this album are the stories told just prior to the madness.  Each track is a name, and on each track the name is aptly represented in prose and lyrics.  Sometimes with a familiar 2pac tracks playing subtly in the background, Sleep tells one sad terrible tale after another before breaking in to prose.  And riddle me this:  If the subject matter of Lockland 95 seems “typical” and “obvious”….maybe it is time to analyze why the hell such violent subject matter can become such easy go to subject matter?  That seems like the real problem here.

I was honestly scared that, despite the realism behind the concept of this album, this was going to be a disaster for one simple fact:  these are stories set in 1995, is it going to sound like 2013?  Well, the answer is no.  And yes.  Actually, it sounds timeless.  There are many aspects of Sleep’s raps that do sound very 90’s beef rap-esque era, a very moderately based middle American in distress sort of artist, but in the end, his words are very timeless.  It is actually quite possible that the only thing in his lyrical status is the violence and pain in his words, something we don’t seem to hear articulated so well these days.  In this day and age of bullshit rappers just saying whatever they feel like over a 1/2 million dollar beat and having dumbass white kids flooding their Pandora playlists with their nonsense, being an artists doesn’t seem to matter to the hip hop world these days.  Of course, true hip hop listeners know there are plenty of really wonderful artists out there who do their work for the love of hip hop, and for the love of telling a beautiful story.  And I say with full confidence that Sleep is on the same tip.  Lockland 95 is poetry in motion, this is a collection of beautiful tales of ghetto fortitude and an ultimate profile of American tragedy.

Download Lockland 95 at a Pay As You Want scale right HERE.  I definitely recommend throwing at least a couple dollars down for such a great album.  As Sleep says himself, any money will just towards more studio time anyway.  So we can all win!

Scott Spiegel [Interview]

Scott Spiegel
So, for those of us who can be counted as proclaimed independent film nerds, Scott Spiegel might as well be a household name.  Same goes for horror buffs, or every pothead kid who has watched The Evil Dead at least a thousand times.  Scott’s name seems to be thrown around a lot in certain circles.  He’s the man who introduced Quentin Tarantino to Lawrence Bender, and well, we know what happens after that.  He wrote the screenplays for some of the best action/horror/what have you films like The Rookie, Evil Dead II, and From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money, in which he also directed.  He has BFF relationship with Sam Raimi, the forementioned QT, and so many more great folks in the independent film world.  But, what about Scott himself?
In a career spanning well over 30 years, Sir Spiegel has done some amazing work of his own.  And he has also managed to work in every realm of the world of cinema imaginable.  From acting appearances in films like The Quick and the Dead and Spider Man, to second unit direction and acting in the cult favorite 2001 Maniacs, and all the way back to being a utilities guru for American Idol.  This is man who obviously loves the world of filmmaking more than any of us could truly imagine.  And it was with this thought in mind, that I decided we needed to share a few words with this illustrious man of cinema, and see if he had any cool stories to tell.  And boy did he!  So take a look at a few questions with the legendary Scott Spiegel, in one of our finest interviews to date.  Cheers!
What initially drew you in to the world of filmmaking?
Famous Monsters magazine was one of the big influences (and the Super 8 horror films sold in the magazine). My friends and I were going to buy the 1925 version of PHANTOM OF THE OPERA advertised in the back pages of Famous Monsters when I realized we should put that money toward making our own Super 8 movie – a horror comedy entitled INSPECTOR KLUTZ SAVES THE DAY (a poor man’s MAD magazine like horror spoof – we had a couple of cool Don Post monster masks featured in the movie). This got laughs from friends and family we showed the film to so we stuck with the comedy and made these 3 Stooges slapstick style romps and we just kept at it.

What was it like being the mind behind the From Dusk Till Dawn sequel?  Were you allotted much artistic freedom on the film’s production? 

Yes, quite a bit. My original pitch included Quentin’s character Richie coming back as a vampire – he is now king of the Titty Twister when a new crop of gangsters comes in looking for Richie (they all were planning to rob a bank in Mexico together). Once the gangsters realize Richie wants to have them for dinner all hell breaks loose and the gangsters nearly escape with their lives, killing Richie and the vampires and burning down the Titty Twister. Luther has been bit by Richie but he doesn’t tell the other gangsters he’s been bitten which causes horrific problems later on as they rob the bank). Bob Weinstein loved this version but Quentin wanted to have all the guys waiting at the motel for Luther, who unwittingly stops off at the Titty Twister and gets bit by a vampire and then joins the guys at the motel for the bank heist and that’s the version that’s in the film.

w/ the cast of From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money

w/ the cast of From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money

Quentin came up with a couple of scenes telling me ‘I don’t even know if you can use this in the film but I’m gonna tell you anyway” and it was the story of a gun toting guy furious his sister is appearing in a porno film and he bursts onto the set, tosses her aside and shoots every one dead, even the guy who brings the donuts. I thought it was hilarious and that scene is in the film. Quentin also contributed several riffs of dialog (pertaining to the guys watching porn at the motel) that I love (when discussing a certain porno film’s plot involving a Dentist’s office Ray Bob asks C.W. “What happened at the dentist?” and C.W. replies “They all fuck each other, what do you think it’s a porno movie”. When I met with Robert Rodriguez to go over the first draft of the script (he loved all the “gags” and set pieces) he had just turned down directing THE MASK OF ZORRO for Steven Spielberg! Robert was really excited that we got Robert Patrick to star and he ended up using Robert Patrick in several of his films after that. I loved working with Danny Trejo and Raymond Cruz (who became a very good friend of mine). Bob Murowski edited the film (and went on to edit Sam Raimi’s SPIDER-MAN trilogy and win an Oscar for co-editing the movie THE HURT LOCKER).

w/ buddy Bruce Campbell, NYC 1981 (post production of Evil Dead)

w/ buddy Bruce Campbell, NYC 1981 (post production of Evil Dead)

What would you consider to be some of your fondest on set memories in your career spanning 5 decades?

Wow, okay, here are some highlights –

-being directed by Clint Eastwood in a cameo I did in “THE ROOKIE” (I get in a crossfire between Clint and Raul Julia) – when we wrapped I noticed all the shell casings from Clint’s gun littered the floor! So I scooped them all up and took them home with me and have them proudly displayed. We were shooting on location at the San Jose International airport at 3 in the morning with Clint directing and acting in the movie, chasing around the bad guys and he sits down next to me exhausted and says “Next time why don’t you write a movie that takes place during the day”.

-I think it was January 1985 and Sam Raimi and I got a tour of THE GOONIES set! A friend of ours, Jane Goe, worked at Amblin Entertainment at the time. We went into the stage and saw this awesome ship – I mean that SHIP WAS GIGANTIC! The sight of it still overwhelms me. We got to hang out on the ship and meet director Richard Donner, stars Robert Davi, Joey Pantoliano, Anne Ramsey, Corey Feldman and Jonathan Ke Quan – it was funny to watch Richard Donner bellow at Corey Feldman like he was he Dad. Great times. We were going to go to the other stage where Steven Spielberg was directing a scene in the grotto but when we got there he had gone. Just us at the grotto and then I noticed all the cool coins in the grotto! When no one was looking I snagged a handful of those coins – what a souvenir! When I met Josh Brolin recently I told him this same story and he smiled and said, “I grabbed a bunch of those coins too”.

-on THE ROOKIE set I was reading THE ART OF ALFRED HITCHCOCK by Donald Spoto and the first photo in the book is of Hitch sitting in his chair on the set of his last film FAMILY PLOT (1976) and standing next to Hitch is first assistant director Howard Kazanjian who was also the producer of THE ROOKIE and who was standing right across the room! I went up to him and said “Howard, is that you?” and he smiled and said, “Yes”. He told me all about Hitchcock and his wife Alma (who was sick at the time) – fascinating – I will always cherish Howard’s stories, as I am a huge Hitchcock fan. Howard was so much fun – (he also produced of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK and RETURN OF THE JEDI).

-hanging with Clint, Charlie Sheen, Ginger Lynn Allen, Raul Julia and Sonia Braga on the set of “THE ROOKIE”.

-being one of the knights at the end of “EVIL DEAD 2” and having my gloved fist block the camera at the very end as it cuts to black and the credits roll.

-directing both Robert England and Kane Hodder in the same scene in “2001 Maniacs”.

on set of Quick & the Dead

on set of Quick & the Dead

-talking with the late great Woody Strode on the set of “THE QUICK AND THE DEAD” (his last movie, dedicated to him) as well as hanging out with Russell Crowe (showed me his movie ROMPER STOMPER) and working in the company of Gene Hackman, Leonardo DiCaprio, Sharon Stone, Kevin Conway and of course Sam Raimi.

-hanging out on the set one (location) of “PULP FICTION” one night and having John Travolta tell Quentin and me how a homeless black guy collecting bottles out of a garbage can nearby just gave him a run down of where his career went wrong back in the mid 1980’s (STAYING ALIVE, PERFECT) and Travolta totally agreed with the guy! We all had a laugh -this was just before they filmed the scene of Travolta and Uma driving around in that cool Red Chevelle convertible.

-being directed by Sam Raimi in SPIDER-MAN 2 and getting special effects guidance from John Dykstra.

-walking onto the set of SPIDER-MAN 2 and seeing my editing crew, stunt crew and 2nd unit crew from “FROM DUSK TILL DAWN 2” all working together – “I told them “You guys are making wayyyyyy more money on SPIDER-MAN 2 than FROM DUSK TILL DAWN 2!”

What would you consider to be your greatest non artistic achievement?

Swiping those “GOONIES” coins – just kidding. Man, that’s a tough question. I am proud of my collection of monster stuff although that might not count because there is “art” involved but then again I may be over thinking the question. Even Forry Ackerman was impressed with my collection when he was over. He said it reminded him of all the kids “monster” rooms he visited on his tour across the United States back in 1963 to personally visit all of his fans. I’d like to think of my place is the 7-11 version of the Ackermansion.

 Why?

Because I never get tired of it and it always makes me happy.

You have worked in almost every behind the scenes realm possible in the world of filmmaking.  What aspect would you consider to be your favorite?  

Directing, writing and producing.

Least favorite? 

Doing a budget.

What sort of influence has growing up in your hometown of Birmingham, Michigan had on your illustrious career?

I was fortunate to have Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell as friends. We all shared the same zeal for filmmaking and we worked well together and learned a lot about filmmaking from each other. Our parents were very encouraging and let us do the craziest things. We also acted in local theater productions and enlisted talent from there. A film we made entitled SIX MONTHS TO LIVE (1977) premiered on THE GHOUL SHOW in Detroit and I was a guest on the show – we even got fan mail from the showing of the film. By this time we had a group of reliable players and were really rolling. We would show up at parties with our Super 8 projector and screen our home made movies to great audience response (in the days before VHS/DVD players) this was a unique experience. If a scene didn’t play like we thought it should we would go out and re-shoot and or re-edit and it always improved the film. In 1978 we made a feature (in Super 8) called IT’S MURDER and it had a few jump scares that really worked and with HALLOWEEN, ALIEN and FRIDAY THE 13th lurking around the corner, EVIL DEAD wasn’t far away. But we kept rolling into the 1980’s and eventually we all ended up in Hollywood.

Your screenwriting work on the 1989 action flick Hit List was essentially uncredited, but it is rumored that much of your writing made it in the final cut.  Why do you think you failed to receive ample credit for your work even though you obviously had some great stuff to contribute?

I was brand new and non-union but I knew going in that there weren’t any guarantees and I was happy for the work and needed to build my resume. I got paid however and did some more un-credited screenwriting work on later Bill Lustig films.

The RookieAnother amazingly underrated action flick you co-wrote a screenplay for in the early 90’s was the prolific and entreating Clint Eastwood fronted film The Rookie.  When you were writing the script, was Eastwood always considered?  Did you originally see him as the lead?

Sean Connery was briefly mentioned for the Eastwood role. Also talk of Nick Nolte and Matthew Modine in the roles that Clint and Charlie ultimately played. There was a brief discussion of having Don (DIRTY HARRY) Siegel direct the film but he was ill at the time so Clint decided to direct the movie. In our meeting with Clint I told him that there was a sequence in the film (Charlie Sheen racing though the streets on his motorcycle to save girl friend Laura Flynn Boyle from the bad guy who is trying to kill her) that was inspired from the exciting climax of PLAY MISTY FOR ME which Clint directed back in 1971 and Clint looks at me and says “It worked then. It’ll work now”. Cool.

Loved when we met with Charlie Sheen and he complimented the script by saying it was “Die Hard without the building” – later Boaz Yakin and I were working with him at his place to polish the dialog and I told a bad joke and Charlie pointed a gun at me jokingly – I told better jokes after that.

The ever knowing Wikipedia informs me that you shared a house in L.A. with your old pal Sam Raimi, the Coen Brothers, Frances McDormand, Holly Hunter, and Kathy Bates.  Wow. What did you do to keep the walls from exploding due to the immense creativity they tried to hold?  What was that scene like?

It was incredibly cool! And I have the pics to prove it! BLOODSIMPLE was taking Hollywood by storm and there I was with Sam about to write EVIL DEAD 2. The Coen brothers were so nice to me – even after I did the old shaving cream on the end of the phone receiver gag. I called from another phone in another room and Ethan Coen picked up the receiver and got an earful of shaving cream! The look of horror on Sam Raimi’s face that me, a guest in ‘their” house would dare pull a prank like that on one of the Coen brothers but all Ethan did was laugh uproariously (I do a really good imitation of his laugh by the way). I was off the hook in more ways than one. Fran was working on HILL STREET BLUES and SPENCER FOR HIRE at the time – she let me keep the teleplays, which I eventually sold to finance my way out to Hollywood. I’ll always remember Holly Hunter sitting on her futon in her room in sweat pants reading scripts. One day she was dressed in a mini skirt and I said “Holly, you look really nice” and she snapped “I’m going to an audition and am dressing the part of a hooker. I don’t take that as a compliment” and she stormed out the door. Ouch. Sam and I wrote the role of Bobby Joe for Holly but the producers wanted a “babe” for the role. Holly showed us (Sam, Fran & me) the awesome slasher flick she co-starred in called ‘THE BURNING – it had Fisher Stevens, Jason Alexander in it and it was written & produced by Harvey Weinstein.

The glorious Wikipedia also informs me that you are responsible for the now illustrious duo that is Lawrence Bender and Quentin Tarantino.  What was your act in the manner? 

I have those guys on video back on memorial day 1990 at a big party I had with neighbor and actor D.W. Moffett – I actually introduced Lawrence Bender to Quentin a few months earlier while waiting in line to see Vincent Price in person at a 3-D screening of HOUSE OF WAX (he autographed my lobby cards!). At the Memorial Day party I re-introduced them and then I gave Lawrence a great recommendation and off they went to make RESERVOIR DOGS and movie history. I gave Quentin my FRUIT BRUTE cereal box and it makes a fleeting appearance in RESERVOIR DOGS but is featured prominently in PULP FICTION.

Big-El-Paso-ScottWhat does the future hold for you?  

I’m hoping there is a “Zombie Wedding” in my future.

Is there any new ground you would like to tread in the near future? 

There is this wild fantasy film I’m executive producing that I find very exciting – never really done a film of this sort before. I will fill you in as it happens. I would love to make a HOSTEL film in 3-D – it would be a no-brainer. An animated film would be interesting. Ah, the possibilities.

What was the last thing that made you smile?
Tommy Wisseau’s film THE ROOM.