Wesley C. O’Mary [Interview]

You began your career as an actor at a very young age. What made you decide you wanted to play pretend for a living?

When I was young, probably around 4, I wanted to have every job in the world. I had this crazy vision of going into Walmart for 5 minutes, and then running over to FedEx for 5 minutes, and then just going to a bunch of different places to work. I wanted to do everything, and then I found out about acting. So far, I’ve been a cashier, a drug dealer, a mob boss, a solider, and a scientist, and there’s still plenty of parts to be played. Acting allows me to have every job in the world, so I could accomplish my childhood dream. Although, I don’t really see it as “playing pretend.” It really depends on who you’re talking to. Often when I play a character, if it’s an original character, then I am that character. That character is a combination of several parts of my psyche. Even if you play a historical character or another person who existed, research is often still done on how they act, for the actor to become that person on screen. Even when on screen, we do actually do a lot of the things on the screen, such as eat, fish, or drive a car. Yes, a lot of it is faked for safety or ease. But often I find myself amazed that I’m actually doing some of the things I used to pretend to do as a kid. Around five years old, I use to make VHS taped skits for my friends for their birthdays. By the age of eight, I was full on into film. I received a mini DV video camera and a director’s chair for Christmas. It was also the year I got my first role in a SAG film.

In recent years, you have been known to do a bit more work behind the camera as well in several different gigs. What was your inspiration to work on the production side of the house more than with on screen work?

It’s really a combination of a few things. Since age 5, I was directing the skits I was producing for my friends. Then, when I was about 11, I worked on a film called “Bohemibot.” A syfi alien film by Brendon Bellomo. On my days off, the director allowed me to help out on set. I had a lot of fun doing that, and it was a very CG heavy film. Even from a young age I was in love with tech. Now, being able to work in the camera department, and handle all this cool tech we have now is a dream for me. Another part of it, is the high that I think anyone would get from creating an entire universe. Taking a blank document, and writing a script to create this blueprint of a world, and then building off this blueprint, by filming it, and editing it. To me there’s no other feeling like that.

You worked with our favorite horror filmmaker, Steve Sessions, on Shriek of the Sasquatch and Aberrations. We’ve been covering Steve’s work for many years, so I have to ask, what was it like working under the guise of a director like Mr. Sessions?

It was very interesting working with Steve. He found me on IMDB and contacted me about the part in (Shriek of the Sasquatch) and once I got the part, I began to check out some of his other work, and really enjoyed his movies. At the time, like other indie films I had seen, I didn’t really understand indie filmmaking. Steve’s films didn’t look like they were home movies, and I had to know how he did that. At the time, I had a little handy cam that didn’t even record at 480p.

The first time I worked with Steve, we were doing a scene where I was chilling out by a tree, then see a helmet in the woods and decide to investigate. When we were doing the scene, I asked him if he wanted me to scream, when I find out there’s a head in the helmet. He said no, he just wanted me to make a terrified face and he would let the music do the rest of the work. I thought that was interesting, and I’ve never forgotten that, Steve must be able to see and hear everything that’s going to go on in his film, even when it’s not there, and he does a lot of this by himself. I often wonder if that’s why a lot of his movies turn out so well. They don’t really suffer from too many ideas from too many people being included.

One time Steve contacted me saying he wanted to shoot a scene for a movie at “Red Bluff”, which is a bit of a tourist attraction where I live. I had already been a part of several projects at that location, so I was familiar with it. Steve made plans with me to shoot some footage of me running through the woods trying to get away from a sniper. That day was nearly the end of our favorite horror mind. I drug Steve and my father down to the bottom of the bluff, shooting the scene along the way. Coming back up, was not as simple as going down. We took several rests on the way back on one of which, Steve said he saw a blue spider on one of the trees, but my father and I never saw it. It was close to 100° that day. To this day, we still say he was hallucinating in the heat.

What is it about the horror genre specifically that makes you enjoy working within it?

I am going to be honest here. I love watching horror movies. However, working on horror movies, kind of takes away from any of it being scary. Without music, and color work, the killer running with the knife and yelling comes off more comical than scary. Even when I’m watching the movie, I know what’s going to happen, and I just end up trying to remember where I was standing off screen. Not to say that none of the movie can scare me, because there can still be the unexpected jump scare. But I feel like horror suffers the most, from the magic being taken away from it for the people involved in making it.

That’s not to say we don’t have spooky moments on set. Our AD (assistant director) on one set, got so frustrated with people talking on set, that he yelled to have everyone on crew be in one spot. When we still could hear people talking in the house, we found out that whoever it was, it was no one on our crew, and to our knowledge there was no one in the house with us.

What is your favorite scary movie?

My favorite horror movie is the 1982 remake of The Thing. I love that movie because of how freaky and isolated that movie was. From the effects to the locations, it was all so cool to me. Anytime a character would go outside, and could barely see five feet in front of them even with a flashlight. The alien was cool too. Infecting the blood of its victim. All your limbs being able to become a different creature. I liked the original, and the 2011 remake was ok I suppose. (But I did like the teeth fillings part, that was nice. Not as cool as burning the blood but now I’m just rambling.) However, I saw the 1982 version first, and as with most movies, I have an attachment with it since I saw it when I was young.

What are your plans for this coming Halloween? Any traditions you try to stick to each year?

Last October I was working on a horror film, and this October I will be working on another feature. However, I will probably be watching ELREY, or Netflix and checking out all the horror movies playing.

If a horror movie premieres in the theaters this year on Halloween I might try to get a group to go to the movies. I don’t really have any traditions for Halloween. I love it, but tend to just make up something to do on the day.

I do have a fireman friend, who is completely into anything to do with Halloween. He counts down the days, and decorates his entire house and yard. He just acquired a coffin and hearse this year.

What does the future hold for you? Anything you’d like to plug to our readers?

I do have a film I helped work on, premiering in October. Demons by Miles Doleac, will be coming out in October, and I worked as VFX supervisor on it.

My father and I are currently building a universe for us to release our horror ideas. That’s several years from now, but feel free to check back with me for updates on projects I’m working on.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

The last thing that made me smile was my girlfriend, calling me incredibly excited to tell me that her new roller skates came in the mail.

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Brent Hanley [Interview]


Welcome to Day 15 of Trainwreck’d Society’s Month of Horror Showcase. Every day during the month of October, we will have a horror related interview and/or film review for your fright-filled reading pleasure! The set up will be the same as usual, but the topics will be far more terrifying. Enjoy!

We have another great writer to showcase in our Month of Horror for you lucky fools! Today’s interview subject is the brilliant screenwriter Brent Hanley, who brought us one of the most frightening and disturbing tales to us all in 2002 (Not 2001, we will discuss later) with Frailty, directed by the dearly departed Bill Paxton, who also starred in the film in what I consider to be the greatest performance of his career (feel free to argue if you’d like, he was that damn good).

And Brent was kind enough to share a few words about Frailty and its impact it has had on the world of horror and film in general, as well as some other truly fascinating work from this equally fascinating human being. So I am going to simply shut up, and let you all begin enjoying this amazing interview with the legendary writer Mr. Brent Hanley!

When did you first realize you wanted to write for a living? And has screenwriting always been a main focus for you, or are there other avenues of writing that you are more passionate about?

I wrote my first short story, which was basically a rip-off of Ray Bradbury’s The Veldt, at the age of 12.  I have been writing ever since, but it wasn’t until I was about 23 that I realized that my writing style best fit cinema, and that I actually might be able to make a living at it. I love all forms of writing, and have recently been working on a novel of my own, but to me, screenwriting is the most challenging and difficult form of creative writing. You simply have an extremely limited amount of words and pages to not only engage the reader, but create characters and a whole world that the reader truly believes and invests in from start to finish.  And it has to do those things so convincingly that the reader(s) commit millions and millions of dollars to making it and distributing it.

2001’s Frailty still remains one of my favorite films of all time. I am dying to know how you came up with such an insane concept. Where did your inspiration come to write this disturbingly beautiful film?

First of all, I’d like to correct something that has bugged me for years. Frailty was actually released in 2002.  It was listed on IMDB as 2001 because it screened at the Deep Ellum Film Festival in November of 2001. Granted the film was actually shot in late 2000 and 2001, and was planned for release in October 2001, but 9/11 happened and it got pushed to April of 2002.  But to answer your actual question, artistically Frailty was inspired by several things such as Leonard Cohen’s song “The Story of Issac”, the films of Alfred Hitchcock, the film Night of the Hunter, the television show The Twilight Zone, as well as the works of Stephen King and Edgar Allen Poe, and of course the Old Testament of the Bible.


And when did the late Bill Paxton become involved in Frailty? How did the idea for Paxton, primarily an actor, to direct the film come into play?

The producers had sent the script to Bill for him to consider playing Dad. When he read it, he became convinced that not only should he play the part, but that he should direct it as well  He came in and blew everyone away with his research and visual knowledge and was hired.  It made total sense to me since Night of the Hunter was a huge influence on the film and it was directed by actor, Charles Laughton. And Bill did such an amazing job both as an actor and as a director, and that is not an easy feat.  He really was such a huge talent.  He was taken from us way too early.

I am a huge fan of Mick Garris’s amazing series Masters of Horror, which you happened to have a stunning addition to with your story, Family. What inspired you to create yet another strange tale, although a bit light hearted this time around? And was it originally intended for MoH

I am really proud to have been a part of that series, and to have worked with the great John Landis. They had approached me the first season, but I was booked at the time. I am and will always be a huge Landis fan, and so I seized the opportunity to work him on the second season. And it turned out John was a fan of mine, and had even read Frailty and had wanted to direct it back in the day. So I pitched John an idea from an old unpublished short story I had written back in my twenties, and we tweaked it a bit, and then I wrote the screenplay. We tweaked it here and there per John’s direction, and then he went and shot it. It is one of the easiest and best experiences I’ve ever had with development so far.

I always love to ask writers this simple yet sometimes very complicated question: How do you know when you are done? Basically, when do you realize that you have a story put down entirely to ink that you know is ready to go? Or do you ever really know?

You’re never really finished with a screenplay until it is made into a film, or you get replaced on it.  And you usually write many drafts for producers, actors, directors, the financing, someone’s cousin. But I get what you mean, so I would say when I write a draft of the screenplay, I know I’m finished when the structure is fully in place, and each scene, each word of action and each word of dialogue all service the story and move it along to it’s conclusion. There should be no wasted words in a script. Every single one should be there for a reason, to serve the intent of the characters and narrative.

What is your favorite scary movie?

It’s always tough to pick just one, but I’ll go with Rosemary’s Baby.  I remember when I was like 6 or 7 years old and I saw a commercial for it because it was going to show on tv, I think for the first time, and I remember being terrified just from seeing the commercial. I was literally convinced that the devil himself had made that movie and if I saw it the devil would get me and drag me to hell, so I spent my childhood years avoiding that movie. Then when I was about 12 or so, I figured that was just childish bullshit so I watched it, and the devil didn’t get me, but I was thoroughly terrified.  I remember having bad dreams for months after seeing it. And of course, I’ve loved it ever since.

What are your plans for this coming Halloween? Any sort of traditions you try to uphold each year?

Not sure what exactly we’ll do this year, but we’ll do something.  It’s always been my favorite holiday.  When I was a kid my mom always decorated the house, and would dress us up and take us trick or treating. My wife and I have kept up the tradition.  We always decorate, sometimes a lot, sometimes a little, but always something.  And we love giving out candy to trick or treaters. And we always get the good stuff so we do!’t get egged or tp-ed  .

What else does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

Got a few irons in the fire.  I recently adapted the James Ross Novel, They Don’t Dance Much, a down and dirty chicken-fried noir, and am currently working on a television pilot called Thin Blue Smoke based on the novel by Doug Worgul.

Also, Bill Paxton’s final directorial project, The Bottoms, is going into production this fall.  I adapted it for him years ago from the Joe Lansdale novel. And he finally had it set up to go into production this year.  It is so fucking heart-breaking to make it without him, but we are making it for him, to honor him.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My 11 year old lab, Rita, dancing with me and my wife earlier tonight.

Michael J. Epstein [Interview]


Welcome to Day 15 of Trainwreck’d Society’s Month of Horror Showcase. Every day during the month of October, we will have a horror related interview and/or film review for your fright-filled reading pleasure! The set up will be the same as usual, but the topics will be far more terrifying. Enjoy!

I seriously can not tell you just how excited I am to have Michael J. Epstein join the list of interviewees here at Trainwreck’d Society. Regular readers will recognize him, and probably won’t believe we actually haven’t done so yet. But, it is true. The man who has been mentioned on this site more times than I can count and has even been one of our beloved Guest Wreckers has not actually had a formal interview…until now. And what better time to include this artistic genius than during our Month of Horror? Seeing as he is part of the creative force behind such masterpieces as TEN, Magnetic, and Blood of the Tribades, which are cinematic table pieces here at Trainwreck’d Society, I would say he is a perfect fit!

Surprisingly enough we still had a lot of good stuff to learn about Mr. Epstein! He has a great new book out that every DIY artist should know about, and has shared his numerous involvements in the world we know and love known as Troma Entertainment. That and so much more in this amazing interview with the brilliant Michael J. Epstein! Enjoy!

We have talked about your work in film and in music on TWS quite a bit over the years, as you are just a non-stop creative human being! So when did you first decide you wanted to work in the creative world? When did the passion begin?

This is kind of a hard question to answer exactly, but I’ve always been interested in making things. In my youngest years, I didn’t really quite get into art, but I was a tinkerer. I was building electronics projects and writing adventure games on my VIC-20 in gradeschool. I was always interested in problem solving and got excited when I learned new things or figured out how to do something that had previously stumped me. I made comic books with my friends in elementary school. I was never very good at drawing or painting, but I loved writing, even as a young child. By the time I got to high school, my whole life started to revolve around music and I got a guitar for my 15th birthday and immediately started writing songs. As far as film, my friends and I got hold of a VHS camera in high school and we’d make little weird movies, cutting shots together using two VCRs. I stuck with music for quite a few years until film technology became accessible and affordable enough to revisit it. I also started seeing a lot of commonality between all of this creative work and my more formal training in electrical engineering as my creative skills advanced.

I understand you have added author to your laundry list of things that you do extremely well, and it is about crowd funding, another thing you have had a lot of success in! So what compelled you to write this guide book? And can you give us some details of what a reader should expect to learn?

My book, Crowdfunding Basics In 30 Minutes: How to use Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and other crowdfunding platforms to support your entrepreneurial and creative dreams, came out earlier this year (http://crowdfunding.in30minutes.com/) as part of the excellent In 30 Minutes series. I had become familiar with the series in general and ended up in a conversation with the editor, who invited me to pitch some ideas for books. There were a few topics that I felt I could write about to provide useful insight on for beginners and crowdfunding stood out as the right choice at the time. I had run several of my own campaigns and consulted on many others, and had learned a lot of what to do, and more importantly, what not to do, through that work. I had already written a series of blog posts on crowdfunding-related topics, so I had a foundation for the book already.

I made this short video outlining some of the topics included in the book: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_to78_SbhvQ

Essentially, I wanted to both encourage people to dive into the world of crowdfunding, but also to understand the large quantity of work and the deep commitment necessary to have a successful campaign. There are a lot of misconceptions about what crowdfunding is, how it works, who you might expect to contribute, and the written and unwritten agreements made when creating a campaign. I hope the book, which is very concise, gives someone interested in crowdfunding everything they need to know to decide whether and how to run a campaign, and things like which platform to choose, how to set up reward tiers, what backers will expect, and what the real economic results might look like.

I really just hope it helps people get what they need to bring new ideas into the world.

You have worked with the world famous Troma Studios in the past, including having Lloyd Kaufman do some voice work in your amazing 2014 film Ten (which I still watch quite often!). So how is it working with a team like Troma? What sets their processes apart form others?

I’ve never actually worked on a Troma-produced film directly, so I’ve never seen how they operate on the pre-production or production end of things. As far as I know, they actually produce very few films directly these days.

That said, I have worked on several films that were picked up by Troma for distribution including Honky Holocaust, Grindsploitation, and Grindsploitation 2.

It was an amazing honor for us to get Lloyd to work with us on TEN, as I had grown up on what we can probably call an uncomfortably rich diet of Troma films. Lloyd is hilarious and wonderful, and although I wasn’t on set with him for most of the films, I think I have production and/or acting credits in around 10 films with him now. It’s surreal to be there right next to the guy whose Toxic Avenger and other films spun 1000’s of miles of tape through my VCR as a kid. I couldn’t have asked for something cooler.

I’ve also had the absolute joy of working on films with other Troma regulars like Debbie Rochon (Tromeo and Juliet) and Bill Weeden (Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D.). In fact, it’s looking like my partner Sophia Cacciola and I will be working with Bill and an excellent filmmaker named Adrian Esposito on a new project next year (the title hasn’t been formally announced yet), so stay tuned!

 

In the film world, you have worked on several different genres in several different gigs. But, since this is the Month of Horror, I am intrigued to ask you what it is specifically about the world of horror that has made you want to delve into it and create cinema magic?

I have really never been interested in drama or realism in film. With horror, I love that there are very few rules about what tools you can use to tell stories. The fantastic nature of the genre gives an opportunity to tackle the deepest, darkest, most complex ideas and fears that we face in our bizarre existence. And horror movies are fun and can be accessible for creators and fans without needing big budgets or highly trained actors. Some of the best horror movies of all time were made with the fewest resources. They really allow the artists to shape and create worlds and stories.

What is your favorite scary movie? 

I don’t generally find narrative films scary per se, but I love films that explore complex questions about life and death. I’m a big fan of the whole Phantasm series. I think it tries to ask big questions about how we approach and process death. We had the amazing opportunity to make this mini-doc about it:

If you want scary, I think the scariest film I’ve ever seen is the documentary, I Think We’re Alone Now, which explores the lives of two of pop-singer Tiffany’s stalkers.

What are your plans for this coming Halloween? Any sort of traditions you try to uphold each year?

I don’t know why, but I haven’t been into Halloween lately. I guess maybe I dress up and do weird things and live a fantasy-infused creative life so many days of the year that I’ve never felt compelled to really get involved in celebrating it on the particular holiday.

Now that said, my favorite tradition (that I no longer partake in) was what my best friend in high school and I called a “bah humbug” party. As the name might imply, we started it with Christmas. We, and our other Jewish friends would get together on Christmas to host a “bah humbug” all-day movie marathon (and our non-Jewish friends begged their families to let them join us). We’d go to the video store and rent the oddest, most compelling movies we could find and just watch them until our eyes fell out of the sockets. We had so much fun doing this on Christmas that we started expanding it to other holidays – July 4th Bah Humbug, Memorial Day Bah Humbug, Labor Day Bah Humbug, Valentine’s Day Bah Humbug, and, of course, Halloween Bah Humbug!

We always leaned heavily toward horror with these events anyway, but Halloween was really special one because we just scoured the video store for the grossest, most disturbing films we could find to watch. I think maybe it’s time to reinstate that tradition!

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to share with our readers?

We’re developing four feature films currently. I wish I knew which would get into production first, but it is all a matter of where the money and resources land. I think we’ll have at least one shot by the end of 2017, and I expect that we’ll make at least two features in 2018. In the meantime, we’re also working crew for other people (hire us!) and acting in a variety of projects. Basically, whatever adventure comes our way!

We’re also looking at finishing up some music releases and starting a new band. Nothing specific to announce yet, but again, stay tuned!

What was the last thing that made you smile?

I just got to watch a very worn 35-mm print of Scanners at The New Beverly Theater on a Saturday at midnight. It was perfect.

 

Sunday Bloody Sunday Matinee: Deliver Us [Film]

Welcome to Day 15 of Trainwreck’d Society’s Month of Horror Showcase. Every day during the month of October, we will have a horror related interview and/or film review for your fright-filled reading pleasure! The set up will be the same as usual, but the topics will be far more terrifying. Enjoy!

“Exorcism is still a fact of contemporary life. Every year, more and more people claim that their illnesses are caused by demonic possession.

Father Cataldo is a veteran, one of the most sought-after exorcists in Sicily. Every Tuesday, many believers follow his mass of liberation, searching for a cure for some adversity for which there does not seem to be a label or a remedy.

The Catholic Church reacts to this crisis by nominating priests as exorcists in increasing numbers and by organizing training courses for them. In order to respond to the rising number of requests for deliverance from evil, all French dioceses have installed at least one exorcist. In Spain, the archdiocese of Madrid is desperately trying to fill seven additional positions.

In Rome and Milan alone, the number of exorcists has grown from six to 12, and the Church has set up an emergency call center.
In the US, the number of exorcists has increased tenfold over the last few years.” – Uncork’d Entertainment

I have to kick this one off by saying that this really isn’t technically a “horror film” of any kind. But, it may actually be one of the most horrifying things I have ever seen. And I don’t mean the production of the film itself. No, that is fantastic. Deliver Us is definitely a brilliantly timed piece of art if nothing else. It is a wonderful documentary that moves swimmingly through the confusion of what exactly the hell is going on. I honestly never thought I would say this, but for a documentary about exorcisms, they do manage to have a little bit of fun with it and show a bit of light heartedness. This is all true. But seriously folks…what the fuck!

As a traditional Pacific Northwest bred kid, I am not a believer of any sort of faith. But, I tend to have great respect for religious types who do it correctly. The ones who preach love and forgiveness, and yada yada yada, whatever makes me sound the most pretentious. Anyway, whilst watching Deliver Us, I had a whole hell of a time trying to decipher what I was watching. I didn’t realize it was a documentary at first. I seriously thought I was watching a Blair Witch meets Borat type of situation. But, I was quickly drawn to realize I was mistaken.

This shit is actually happening people. Whether you believe in the power of a God above or not, this shit is actually happening. For the lack of a better word, people have “psyched” themselves out enough to believe that they actually have had demons enter their bodies, and they require the relinquishment of a priest in order to rid themselves of such evil. And even if you think this sounds like absolute bollocks, just truly think about the power of the human psyche, and realize that it is absolutely possible to find yourself in this same scenario. To believe in something so damn much that you soon find yourself in utter hysteria, and then find the only way to calm the reaction is to continuously return to such hysteria as several subjects of this film did? That is absolutely maddening!

I really have to say that everyone should check out this film. Whether you are a professional zealot or a devout atheist, this is a film you are going to love. For the latter, please think of this film as an amazingly portrayal of the power of the human exploit. This is a film that attempts and succeeds to portray the power of the human emotion to be provoked at a moment’s notice. And whether you believe that emotion is brought upon by the belief in a higher being, it is seriously fascinating to ponder about either way.

Splatterday Special: Circus Kane [Film]

Welcome to Day 14 of Trainwreck’d Society’s Month of Horror Showcase. Every day during the month of October, we will have a horror related interview and/or film review for your fright-filled reading pleasure! The set up will be the same as usual, but the topics will be far more terrifying. Enjoy!

“The notorious and disgraced circus master, Balthazar Kane, invites an unsuspecting group of social media stars to the revival of his Circus Kane by promising $250,000 to any of them who can make it through the night. Kane’s true plan quickly proves to be far more sinister as the contestants realize more than money is on the line. The group must fight for their lives to escape Kane’s demented house of horrors.

” – October Coast PR

Hey folks! So we are doing something a tad bit different here. As you can tell, it is Saturday, which is of course a rarity for us as of lately. But, we have so much amazing content to share with you fine folks for our Month of Horror, that it has become necessary for us to work on Saturday. Which is totally worth it, I might add.

Also, today is sort of a combo for you fine readers. We are here to talk about the amazing film Circus Kane, which is first of all a truly brilliant modern cinematic experience. But we also have a few quick words form the film’s director, Christopher Olen Ray. So we are combing a great film showcase with a great interview. You lucky son of a saints!

Circus Kane is a wonderful film with a terrifying premise that is as visually stimulating as it is horrifying. Tim Abell does an absolutely incredible job as the partially titled character Balthazar Kane. He will honestly freak you the hell out to no end. And performances from Jonathan Lipnicki and newcomer Victoria Konefal are an absolute stand out. I will personally state here and now, that Circus Kane is the absolute perfect film for those of you who absolutely adore horror films but are feeling a bit trapped by the modern realm of terror cinema. If you are looking for something truly unique and exciting to check out in this wonderful month of all things frightening, I seriously can not recommend this brilliant film enough.

So that is my plug for this amazing film that you can see now on VOD and other streaming platforms. I also have to say that it is absolutely incredible that this is a truly fucked up tale, but also happens to feature not only the adorable little kid from Jerry Maguire, but also Scut Farkus from A Christmas Story (1/3 of the writing team, Zack Ward.) I usually tend to leave this type of thing out of the intros, but I was laughing so damn hard when I figured this out that I feel a bit compelled to let you all know. Because I have to be honest with you all.  And with that, here are some words from the film’s director Christopher Olen Ray.

Tell us about the latest film.

Circus Kane is about performer Balthazar Kane, who comes back for one last hooray. He creates a house of scares, tricks and traps for a set of new unexpected horror fans. Offering them $250k to survive his new house of haunts.

And on the VOD channels, what category would you suggest it be placed under?

This should definitely be Horror. There is a little bit of light hearted comedy in it but that is definitely the under tone. The blood puts it into more of Horror.

Though I assume everyone was a pleasure, Is there anyone on the cast and crew you particularly enjoyed working with?

There are a few. Tim Abell is always a pleasure to work with. His work as Kane is amazing. Johnathan Lipnicki was another person that just made my job easy. All in all the cast did a great job and fed off each other well.

What are you most proud of about the movie?

The look. We wanted to make the film have its own look. Myself, the DP Alexander Yellen and The Production Designer Fernando Valdez worked hand in hand to get that accomplished. We decided in the beginning to use as much practical as we could. So all the footage they are watching on the TVs is actually playing as they watch. Just one area.

Was there ever a moment on the film when it became ‘work’ to you – or is it always fun? Maybe a bit of both?

NOPE- I loved every minute of it. Even when things got rough, there is still no place I would rather be.

We’re about to enter the ‘scariest’ month of the year – are you into spooky movies?

HELL YEAH!!! Since I was little my family would watch more horror films in October. Didn’t really mean much since we liked them all the time. As a kid I couldn’t finish Evil Dead. For some reason the bit where he pulls the stick out of his leg still sticks with me.

Who might your favourite horror monster icon be?

I am a huge Universal Monster fan. I have all of them tattooed on me but if I have to choose one. The creature

What does Halloween mean to you?

The one time of the year I am fit in a little bit more. My house and office are Halloween everyday all year long.

Did you ever participate in dress-ups? Remember who you dressed as?

Yup. I have been many different thing over the years. My favourite was the Jack Nicholson Joker. I think there is a picture of me on my Facebook page in this look.

Have you a go-to movie around Halloween?

Original Halloween and Corman’s Little Shop of Horrors.

Do you think your movie works for Halloween, too?

I do. Since every room has a different theme and I think we relate to a lot of different fears through out.

Jay Lee [Interview]


Welcome to Day 13 of Trainwreck’d Society’s Month of Horror Showcase. Every day during the month of October, we will have a horror related interview and/or film review for your fright-filled reading pleasure! The set up will be the same as usual, but the topics will be far more terrifying. Enjoy!

Today’s interview subject is a cat who brings a whole new bit of light into our observations into the world of horror. While probably best being known for his work as the director of the incredible Robert England and Jenna Jameson fronted horror/comedy Zombie Strippers, Mr. Jay Lee is also a renowned editor in the world of horror. And I have personally believed that editing is very important factor in the world of horror. Sort of like the music, or the lack of music. It is all one collective puzzle with intricate pieces that all have to fit together. And once that puzzle is made, it is the editor’s job to proverbial slap the Elmer’s atop of it and make it all stick together to make a work of hard that is presentable for your grandmother’s wall. Okay, may the this is a very specific metaphor, but I think you get the point. The editor’s job is one that is often greatly over looked, until it goes horribly wrong. This could very well be a reason that Jay Lee is better known for his work in directing horror films, yet has achieved amazing success as an editor as well.

So with that, we were very excited that Jay could make time for us to talk about the incredible film Zombie Strippers and more, as well telling us a bit about what it means to edit a horror piece. So with that, please enjoy some amazing words from the extremely talented and multi-faceted human being, the brilliant Jay Lee!

When did you discover you had a passion for the world of film? What got you into this business?

I remember my mother taking me to see Fantasia when I was a kid.  I might have been 6 years old.  Growing up in Los Angeles there has always opportunities to see classic films (and even not-so-classic) in a movie theater.  She took me to Fantasia for the dinosaurs, but I remember being changed by the experience, not just seeing living breathing dinosaurs, but also the total immersion of experiences, the music, the artistry, the dancing hippos and giant demons – who would have ever thought there was something better than dinosaurs!  My uncle had a Super 8 movie camera, so every time there’d be a family holiday I’d grab his camera and make a little 3 minute movie.  When I was in my early teens my older sister used one of her credit cards and helped me get my own Super 8 camera and I’d mow lawns around the neighborhood for the price of film and developing. I rode my bike to every movie theater in the West San Fernando Valley to see anything and everything out there, a couple of the theaters even let me into the R-rated movies.  There was a revival house theater somewhat close by, it was a good bike-ride away, but worth it.  They played all the classics back in a day when none of it was available on VHS or wasn’t edited down or censored for TV.  So when most people I knew were watching Three’s Company and Brady Bunch reruns I was immersing myself in John Ford and Buster Keaton and Fellini and Kurosawa and Bergman and Orson Welles to name but a few, not to mention current releases that had a huge impact on me – Alien, An American Werewolf in London, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Conan, Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan, The Thing, Bo Derek’s Tarzan.  I had one goal, USC Film School.  I applied only there.  I got in.  One semester taught me there was no way I could afford USC Film School.  So I got a job as a production assistant with a company that made movies of the week.  I was 19.  From then on I worked in as many areas of film production that I could so I could do one thing and one thing only – make movies.


You have worked in just about every job there is behind the camera! From writer/director to cinematographer to location manager. You have proven to be a very multi-faceted person in the film world to say the least. But, overall, what would you consider to be your favorite part of the film world? What brings you the most joy in the business?

I truly believe that in the past 100 years movies have made this world a better place.  And I have contributed to that, granted it’s a very small part, but still, I played a part.  I am very proud to have left a patch or two in the social fabric of popular culture.  And not just in the abstract, the “big picture” of modern society, but in a personal way, too.  I’ll share a bittersweet story.  Robert Englund told me this.  There was a 13 year old boy who was in hospice, dying of cancer.  His favorite movie was Zombie Strippers.  There was a news story about this because the hospital wasn’t going to let him watch an R-rated movie, him being only 13.  So when Robert heard about this he went to visit this kid, gave him his official cast and crew Zombie Strippers T-shirt even.  This made bigger news, thanks to Robert, and so the hospital gave in and let this kid watch his favorite movie for the rest of his tragically short life.  Don’t get me wrong, by no means did I make Zombie Strippers with a goal of helping children with cancer, but here is an instance where something I created happened to make someone’s life better, something that actually made a difference.  Movies can do this and I’m very happy to be part of it.  But also there was Robert.  When he told me that story there was aura about him, he held himself in a way that I could only call noble.  Maybe I helped make his world a little better, too.

 

I feel as though an editor’s job in horror film is extremely important, and severely underrated. As previously mentioned, you have done just about job in the business. But when it comes to editing specifically, what do you believe is the most important aspect of editing a horror film? What has to be done to make the film transition smoothly?

The editor has two really difficult jobs in a horror film.  One is to make some otherwise dreadful performances into somewhat passable performances.  Let’s face it, sometimes the girl that will take her top off and run through the woods screaming might not be Meryl Streep, but she’ll take her top off, so she gets the part.  A lot can be salvaged from either an inexperienced or outright bad actor’s footage if sifted through with a fine tooth comb and a magician’s touch of misdirection.  The other challenge for an editor is to go unnoticed for a good portion of the film.  It’s the same concept of hiding around a corner waiting to leap out and scare someone – the second you draw attention to yourself the scare is blown.  So the editing has to try and be as sleek and effortless as possible until the time when it really counts.

 

What is it about the horror world specifically that you enjoy, and makes you want to keep working in it?

Horror fans can be very hard to please.  I think they’re also some of the smartest film-goers out there.  They need to be CHALLENGED.  That right there pushes me as a filmmaker, challenges me to be better.  There is no real format to a horror movie.  You can do anything.  The ending is always an experiment in shocking your audience.  It’s truly the freest form of story telling.  It’s also the best genre for subtext, for metaphor and allegory, entertaining your audience and all the while slipping your message in, like a knife blade.  It’s also a genre where your creativity can run wild, it can also be extremely cathartic as you butcher all those characters (aka you father, your ex, members of congress) and on top of all of that it can truly be one of the best times on a set you’ll ever have.  It’s hard, hard work.  But I like hard work.

What is your favorite scary movie?

My favorite scary movie I think is still the first Alien.  I find it the perfect storm of story, artistry, monster and technical proficiency.  The monster design and development, the sets, the characters, the lighting and cinematography, the performances, the direction and writing after many, many viewings still manages to inspire me, dazzle me, awe me.  I find it one of the most sophisticated horror movies too.  I still remember being really young (probably too young) and seeing it in a movie theater way back when.  Back then the movie ticket was a little stiff-papered chit they tore in half, like at a carnival ride.  I had that ticket stub in my hand the whole movie and by the end my palms had sweated so much that stub had completely dissolved in my hand, leaving a wet red pulpy smear.


What are your plans for this upcoming Halloween? Do you have any sort of traditions that you try to uphold each year?

Halloween for me was a big deal when I was a kid, when I’d turn our place into a house of horrors.  Then for a while it was more of a scramble getting films ready for film festivals, or the disappointment of not getting in any.  Recently its been more just hoping to get invited to a party where pretty girls dress up in those sexy costumes.

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

Yes.  I’ve been working with the same special effects make-up artist for over ten years, Patrick Magee.  Patrick just directed his first feature film which I helped him with, I wrote the script with Patrick, shot it and edited it.  It’s called Primal Rage.  It’s a bigfoot movie with some the the best practical make-up effects I’ve ever seen – think Harry and the Hendersons meets Predator.  Distribution is in the works, there’s a trailer on YouTube.  Primal Rage – the best bigfoot movie ever.  No joke.

Here’s a YouTube link to the teaser Primal Rage trailer (this is our own we did before distribution, so I’m sure the distribution company will be doing another at some point):


What was the last thing that made you smile?

Pictures of baby elephants in the new National Geographic.

Tracey Birdsall [Interview]


Welcome to Day 12 of Trainwreck’d Society’s Month of Horror Showcase. Every day during the month of October, we will have a horror related interview and/or film review for your fright-filled reading pleasure! The set up will be the same as usual, but the topics will be far more terrifying. Enjoy!

We have a brilliant addition to our Month of Horror showcase today folks! Today we have some lovely answers from the even more lovely actress Tracey Birdsall. Tracey recently appeared on the sci-fi thriller Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter. And while the film may not be strictly identified as a “horror” film, it is a truly frightening depiction of what may happen when we let technology go too damn far. And honestly, that is about as scary is it gets for me! Tracey is amazing is this film, which also features our dear friend Marilyn Ghigliotti in a prominent role. I went into viewing this film for Marilyn, and came out a huge Tracey fan as well.

So let’s just dive it her answers, shall we? Please enjoy some amazing words from the brilliant Tracey Birdsall!

Tell us about your latest film, Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter?

Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter, is a sci-fi/drama/character-driven action film that came out in June of this year.

And on the VOD channels, what category would you suggest it be placed under?

Sci-fi, action, and drama.

Though I assume everyone was a pleasure, is there anyone on the cast and crew you particularly enjoyed working with?

William Kircher, Daz Crawford, Stephen Manley – they were all such a pleasure to work with. Marilyn Ghiglioti was charming too.

What are you most proud of about the movie?

It’s a labor of love, you know?! You put your all into something for a couple of years, and then people enjoy it – it’s memorializing. I’m proud of the hard work and the long hours – the bruises and scars, but it’s the final product that makes me most proud.

Was there ever a moment on the film when it became ‘work’ to you – or is it always fun? Maybe a bit of both?

Don’t get me wrong… it’s always work, but I love what I do… Sometimes it’s frustrating, sometimes it’s brutal, sometimes (oftentimes) it’s really hard, but it’s rewarding to say the least.

We’re about to enter the ‘scariest’ month of the year – are you into spooky movies?

Aw! I love them. Halloween is always my favorite “holiday” of the year…

Who might your favorite horror monster icon be?

I don’t have one! I love the scary movies and the villains as much as the next guy/girl, but I don’t have a favorite as they “serve a purpose.”

What does Halloween mean to you?

Halloween is the one-day of the year where everyone else does what I do all year – use his or her imagination and be free. In this world we are all so caught up in what we are and what we should be, but Halloween is the one-day where everyone has fun and doesn’t care how the outside world perceives them. Inner lives are revealed, outer pretences are cast aside, fears are embraced…

Did you ever participate in dress-ups? Remember who you dressed as?

Omg, as a young child I even was David Cassidy… the list is endless…

Have you a go-to movie around Halloween?

Not really, I like a good scare, but sometimes it’s the classic Halloween movies that make a comeback every year. Life is scary enough… I just roll with what everyone else wants to do/watch!

Do you think your movie works for Halloween, too?

Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter is only scary if you find the up-coming overtaking of humanity by artificial intelligence scary… it’s scary stuff in an intelligent way. The next film however, The Time War, has some definite horror elements…

 

What was the last thing that made you smile?

The marshmallow I just roasted over an open fire! (After filming a scene for The Time War)!!!

 

 

Check out this trailer for Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter, available now on VOD: