My Film Career

Through my putzing around with super-8 filmmaking in the 1970s and 80s, I have been lucky enough to be friends with a number of people who later became active in the entertainment industry. Through these folks, I've managed to find myself helping out on the occasional film, commercial or video project. Nothing major, mind you, but enough to make life interesting and get me my own entry in the Internet Movie Database. Among all the little things I've been involved with, are three actual motion pictures that have been released to video.

The Deadly Spawn

My first outing in "real" filmmaking (as opposed to super-8 films made among my friends) was as a volunteer special effects helper on the low-budget horror film The Deadly Spawn during its production in 1982. A friend of mine knew the special effects man for the project, John Dods, and I was excited to be asked to help out. The atmosphere of inventiveness in John's studio was energizing, and it was a ball to work with a group of like-minded film buffs on such a fun project.

On the DVD of the movie, there's a behind-the-scenes photo showing the effects crew together - I'm the one on the bottom left in the Elmer Fudd camo. I don't know who took the picture, else I'd give credit where due.

Click to enlarge.

My "big scene" in the film is operating a tiny offspring monster as it chews the flesh from a dead electrician's cheek. Here's a screen capture from the DVD - That little citter on the lower left, yanking on the skin flap, has my hand in it. It was operated by a spring-action scissors handle. John Dods gave direction from above, while I was lying flat under a 10-foot-square platform one foot off the floor, covered by 2 inches of water that kept dripping on me. Ah, showbiz!!

Click to elarge.

"The Deadly Spawn" was released theatrically in 1983. John Dods has become a successful professional special effects makeup artist, working, among other projects, on Broadway's "Beauty and the Beast."

Caress of the Vampire

My friend Frank, who'd become a well-known producer and editor in the New Jersey cable industry, was tapped to produce a direct-to-video film in 1996. The project, which Frank wrote and directed as well as produced (and edited, and did the effects for, and....) was called Caress of the Vampire. Okay, so it's a low-budget softcore lesbian vampire film knocked off in two weekends. It still made a bundle!

Caress was my first acting job. I portrayed one of a pair of cops chasing after the mysterious "vampire muderer" loose in town. My costar was another friend of Frank's, Bryan. The buddy-cop format was something the three of us had been wanting to do as a video project since before Lethal Weapon came out and stole our thunder. But at least we got a few minutes of it on film, finally. The funniest part of the whole thing was that people would walk up to me at work and tell me they saw this movie on late night pay cable, and there I was! Yes, I'm in the part of the film people will fast-forward through to get back to the lesbian scenes.

Here's a selection of screen grabs of my scenes in Caress. The other cop is, as I said, our friend Bryan. The video tech in pic #2 is played by another friend, Sean. That's how you keep expenses down in a low-budget film - have friends who'll work for free!

Click to elarge.

You look like shit!

A witness' video

On stakeout

What was that?!

Yes, the wanted poster on my desk is Captain Janeway. Yes, I made it.
The video editing studio scene was shot in ... Frank's video editing studio!
The stakeout sene was shot in Bryan's car, very quickly, parked on a public road at midnight.
The basement scene was shot in ... Frank's basement!
Ah, the magic of make-believe! *cough*

Dr. Horror's Erotic House of Idiots

I've known Paul Scrabo since 1978, when we both worked for a now-defunct video duplication company. We were kindred spirits, movie buffs, and he has always been an outright wackaloon. But a talented wackaloon! After our co-employment, he moved on to NBC, where he still works in production. Over the years he's been involved behind the scenes in many projects, such as various James Bond video releases, and the restoration of his favorite film, It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (was that the right number of Mads?).

In 2003, Paul decided to get together with a lot of friends in the industry and produce his own direct-to-video "B" movie. Given his sense of humor and his super-8 filmmaker backround, and his love of both horror films and slapstick comedies, it was inevitable that Dr. Horror's House of Erotic Idiots, a cross between "Tales From the Crypt" and "It's a Mad ... World," plays like a big-budget super-8 film made by a bunch of talented friends.

My role in Dr Horror is small. Tiny. Almost pathetic. I play the disembodied face of a starship's computer - sort of like Rommy on Andromeda, only a lot uglier, and a bit ruder. Paul showed up at my house with his wife and lighting tech George Ann Muller, sat me down in my living room, and fed me my lines. An hour, and I was done. I'm only in two scenes. The computer is aboard a ship from an all-female planet, and is programmed with the personality of the last male to live on their world. He likes to "accidentally" toss his readout cards onto the floor so that ... well, here's a screen grab:

And, just like when filming Caress, I wasn't actually ever in the same room as the hot chicks in skimpy clothing. I'm superimposed in post-production.

Well, that's all so far. I'm back in wait mode on the film career now, hoping one of my friends comes up with something fun, eventually. At my current rate of one film per decade (slightly more than Marissa Tomei), I guess I have a few years to kill.

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