Jason Paul Collum [Interview]

Welcome to Day 10 of Trainwreck’d Society’s Annual Month of Horror Showcase! We have a fully loaded month of all things horror for you fine folks! October is our favorite month for this very reason, and we are so excited to share 31 full days of film showcases and interviews with some of the finest folks from the world of horror, just as we have been doing for the last 5 years. What started as a simple 5 day showcase, has now blossomed into a full blown month long event. You’re going to love this! Enjoy!

Today we have a wonderful interview for you fine folks as we move along this awesome annual journey you all know and love. And today’s guest is prime example of an independent filmmaker who has created some amazing work that delightfully exposes the beauty of the world of horror. It’s Jason Paul Collum! Amongst his credits are a couple of wonderful documentaries about the brilliant Scream Queens we all know and love, including our dear friend Linnea Quigley, who so deservingly deserves to be a star of said films! Jason is also the brilliant mind behind the October Moon series, which we will definitely discuss below!

So Folks, please enjoy some amazing words from the brilliant Jason Paul Collum!

What inspired you to get into the world of film and television? Was it an early aspiration to do so, or did you just happen to find yourself in this world one day?

I was a lonely child (i.e. nerd) and entertained myself with watching TV. I began watching horror films in particular at age 12 and that’s when the obsession began. Sometime around my Junior year of high school I realized I wasn’t just watching them – I was studying them. I wanted to see my name in  the end credits. I know I was watching Friday the 13th (1980) at that moment. I’d always been a story teller. So that summer I grabbed a camcorder and a few friends and made a 10 minute short called Dead Women Don’t Wear Shoes (1990). The need to tell stories on film just intensified as I got older, and I at least realized that while my films weren’t great, I knew each one was was better the the previous.  So eventually I worked myself up to writing full-length scripts and meeting actress Brinke Stevens (The Slumber Party Massacre), who introduced me to J.R. Bookwalter (The Dead Next Door), who introduced me to David DeCoteau (Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-o-Rama). So it was constant growth and newfound confidence.

I first became aware of your work from 2 of your amazing documentaries, Something to Scream About and Screaming In High Heels, which actually feature two of our dear friends and past guests Debbie Rochon and Linnea Quigley respectively. With that in mind, you seem to have a lot of knowledge and admiration for the legacy of those labeled as Scream Queens. Where did this admiration come from? What inspired you to document their lives in your films?

Final Girls. I loved the women in horror who survived and fought back. I found something relateable in them to childhood bullying in my own life. They also became familiar faces. That’s why in specific Linnea Quigley, Brinke Stevens and Michele Bauer, plus those also within that inner circle of scream queens – Debbie Rochon, Julie Strain, J.J. North, Debra Lamb, Debbie Dutch… it’s like seeing family at Christmas. Seeing them a few times a year brings a certain sense of comfort. “Old” friends. Once I actually was in the business and got to know them (having also begun writing and editing for Femme Fatales & Cinefantastique magazines), I was taken with learning they’re all just blue collar women – working to pay the bills. Only they often take a lot more physical abuse than the average woman, and are asked to do these bizarre things, like taking ice cold bathes (because those showers are NOT warm) and getting naked in front of a group of strangers (because there’s usually a crew of leering males on the sidelines). They put up with a lot of crap, and they’re not even getting the same level of recognition or fan fare that someone like Julia Roberts receives. And for that, I love them.

And speaking of Debbie Rochon, she also appears in the second installment of your incredibly original October Moon films. How did you come up with this frightening and original concept for these films? Does it stem from anything in your personal life?

The first October Moon (2005) came from a personal truth – and actual events. Sadly for fans there was no bloodshed in real-life. However, every conversation was one I had experienced face-to-face with someone else, and every character is based on someone I actually know. The lead “villain” is actually based on my father who came out as gay after being married to my mother for a decade. So it’s essentially his story (although he wasn’t psychotic). The obsession – or as fans and critics call it “Gaytal Attraction” – did happen, but was two people’s stories, not one. So while in real-life it was not a singular matching story, it was genuinely pieced together from multiple people’s true stories, obnoxious as some of those conversations and events may seem today.

In addition to the need for me to tell that story, it was deliberate from a business angle. I realized around 1998 that there had never been a “straight”-forward gay-horror film. DeCoteau began making his homo-erotic films like The Brotherhood (2000) and Voodoo Academy (1999), but those were marketed as “horror for women.” There had already been Sometime’s Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things (1972) and Blacula (1972), but those characters where either exclusively villains or comic relief in a “look at the sissies” way. So October Moon was designed to tap into a market that didn’t yet exist – gay horror with respect to lead-gay characters.  At the same time it was meant to be entertaining for straight people to watch. So it did help create the gay-horror sub-genre. However, it became more gay-erotic after that, with the men taking on the “scream queen” shower girl role and simply dying horribly – or becoming vampires. So my concept for a gay-horror genre “kind-of” worked.

October Moon itself was very successful – it was the #1 best-selling title for its distributor, Tempe Video, for 5 years. It would seem October Moon 2: November Son (2008) was a result of the money, but it had been planned as a trilogy. Some disputes with a cast member from OM 1 led me to redesign OM 2, but at its core it kept the idea of telling an alternate point of view from a gay character – a guy who didn’t want to fit into any of the gay stereotypes. He simply wanted to exist. Figuring Debbie Rochon into the script as his mother was something not originally intended, because she was too young. So we just said that she’d had him when she was 14 years old – a teenage jezebel. I just really wanted to work with her, and was so glad I did, because she was so incredibly professional. The story itself, though, was not based on anything as personal as the first film.

While the world of horror is not the only one you work in it does seem to be a focus, and it is our Month of Horror Showcase after all, so I am inclined to ask you how you enjoy working in this genre? What sets it apart from other genres?

Horror allows you to suspend reality. You get to tackle true subjects in otherworldly ways. Underlying psychological themes. I find it to be so much more creative. It’s also just how my brain is wired. I’ve attempted comedy and drama and I’m not as good in those areas. I can roll them into a horror script, but need horror as the base. Maybe it’s because I need my stories to have a certain sense of drama which can’t be done as drama alone. I’ve found both as a fan on one side of the table and the person signing autographs on the other, that horror fans are more dedicated than those of any other genre. We live, eat and breathe it. We know every last little detail and behind-the-scenes details we can find. We adore our celebrities, especially at the B-level, who we can often become “friends” with through the convention circuit. As a teen I never thought I’d have dinner at Brinke’s house, or go bar-hopping with Felissa Rose (Sleepaway Camp), or hire Judith O’Dea (1968’s Night of the Living Dead) to be in 5 of my own films! It’s been an amazing experience as a fan and a filmmaker.

What is your favorite scary movie?

 Carrie (1976) – not because it’s a scary movie, but because it’s SO relateable to my own experiences. I knew each of those characters in my own school life. It’s also a perfectly told story from beginning to end. Plus that final shot…

My favorite movie that SCARED me remains The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974). I had to watch it in 15 minutes segments which were EDITED for television because it was too intense for me. At the time I’d never seen anything like it – scared me to my core, which doesn’t happen too often.

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

Every year I watch the first 7 Halloween films, plus I partake in a “31 Days of Horror” viewing challenge moderated on Facebook by my friend Derrick Carey (Hole in the Wall). Halloween weekend my city, Racine, WI, has “Trolloween,” during which you can drink openly on city streets and a trolley or bus will drive you around with drinks in-hand. THEN two friends have a movie viewing Halloween party + trick-or-treating at my own house… so it’s always a busy season.

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

I’m always afraid if I say what I’m planning next it will jinx the project, so I’ll just say I am currently meeting with investors for 2 films and 1 documentary. I’m also still promoting my most recent thriller Safe Inside (2017), which has maintained a healthy release (DVD, Blu, streaming) since last summer. They can also check out my novella Basements on Amazon.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

I was mini-golfing with my family and my niece got a hole-in-one. She was so excited I just started to share the joy with her.

Check out this trailer for Safe Inside, in which JJ (Chris Harder, (Extraordinary Measures) is a young man spending his first night alone in the home of his deceased mother (Judith O’Dea, Night of the Living Dead). The film is currently available on VOD, BluRay, & DVD:

About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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