Exclusive Interview: LARRY FESSENDEN-THE LAST WINTER
By THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR
Jul 25, 2008, 2:2
Larry Fessenden is a name very familiar to horror fans. In his 30 year career Fessenden has been director, actor, producer and writer. His credits include HABIT, WENDIGO, SESSION 9 and BRINGING OUT THE DEAD.
Fessenden's latest film, THE LAST WINTER, is out now on DVD. The film, which stars Ron Perlman (HELLBOY and HELLBOY 2) and James Le Gros (ZODIAC), is a chilling tale that asks the question, "What if mankind only had one season left on Earth?".
Larry kindly took time out of his schedule to talk to House of Horrors.com about THE LAST WINTER, global warming and putting Ron Perlman down an ice hole.
The Fan Girl Next Door: THE LAST WINTER is out now on DVD. Could you tell us a little about it?
Larry Fessenden: The Last Winter is a movie I shot in 2005 in Iceland starring Ron Perlman, James Le Gros and Connie Britton. It is the story of an advance team of oil workers who are preparing to drill in Northern Alaska in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge there. As the story unfolds the radical climate and rising temperatures are causing the winter tundra to melt and unleash a force that is slowly driving the crew mad. Events go from bad to worse and people start dying off.
The Fan Girl Next Door: THE LAST WINTER tackles the subject of global warming and the environment turning against the characters in a horrifying way. Would you call it a "Horror Documentary" of sorts?
Still from THE LAST WINTER
Larry Fessenden: Well, it's in the tradition of science fiction stories which take known facts and build from there. THE LAST WINTER is well researched: the KIK well in the story does indeed exist, and the ice roads that we speak about exist- now they even have their own TV show! The season in which ice roads can be used has shrunk as winters get shorter. The tundra is melting in a lot of Northern locations, and sour gas is a very real hazard on oil rigs, and of course climate change itself is a radical and unpredictable force. So like any sci-fi writer, we took these facts and combined them into a fictional story. I would say what is frightening about THE LAST WINTER is that it could all come true, there could be a sudden collapse. My distributors put a review on the box cover saying "The scariest movie of the year". That's going to piss a lot of people off who don't find the film scary at all, but I think the reviewer was saying that to contemplate the end of the world as we know it IS scary.
The Fan Girl Next Door: You wrote a book called LOW IMPACT FILM MAKING in 1990, which brought to light ways in which movie making could be done with environmental issues in mind. Does it pain you somewhat that almost 20 years later we are still in the process of dealing with the effects of global warming?
Larry Fessenden: I appreciate the question. In my book, among other things I warn against Global Warming. I wrote it in 1990. This doesn't mean It's smart or prescient, it just means I was reading about this stuff and convinced by the evidence at the time. And yes, it is incredibly frustrating to see one's worst fears come true while the dog and pony show in the mainstream media continues to confuse the public and no action is taken. Our car companies have gone bankrupt, Hurricanes have wiped out our cities and towns, floods, drought, the arctic shelf is breaking up in wintertime- but it takes a $4.00 gallon gas for people to even consider a life-style change.
The Fan Girl Next Door: You have a great cast, what was it like to work with Ron Perlman? As a fan I need to ask, Is he as interesting to work with as I think he would be?
Larry Fessenden: Ron was awesome from the start. He's a serious actor but a lot of fun too on set. We had that lucky blend of having a lot of laughs while doing concentrated serious work. I think it meant a lot for Ron to be invited to play a character with some complexity and no makeup. We have gone on to be real pals. He did a second movie that I produced called I SELL THE DEAD right after he'd shot HELLBOY 2. And I got to hang out with him last week when he was #1 at the Box office. But you know he's got a great passion for acting and for the process, it was a real collaboration working with him.
(left to right) James Le Gros, Fessenden and Ron Perlman on the set
The Fan Girl Next Door: What was it like to film in Iceland?
Larry Fessenden: I loved filming in Iceland in the harsh climate and remote area up North. We hired an all-Icelandic crew, headed by a young D.P. G. Magni Agustsson. Everyone knew each other and in fact it was the producer and myself who were the outsiders. But I liked it that way. We won them over with our dedication, and commitment. They were a robust bunch, they knew the weather and the terrain. We would take the 35mm cameras out on ski mobiles into the vast white landscape and set up a shot. These guys could carry a dolly through a blizzard, and they did. Is was an adventure basically. We made a movie with a bunch of Vikings in one of the harshest environments in the world.
The Fan Girl Next Door: Any humorous stories from the set that you could share with our readers?
Larry Fessenden: Everything about making a film is humorous and absurd. One thing that comes to mind is how much we worried about putting Ron into the Ice hole. "Put Perlman in the Ice hole!" (say that 3 times fast). We basically dug a hole in the snow about seven feet deep and filled it with water and covered that with a wax "ice". Then Ron would fall through and be submerged completely in the water. Well we were all very nervous about him freezing and we even postponed the shoot when the temperature was going to be below 0 degrees. But in the end when we did it, the makeup and costume gals made Ron so comfortable, he said he wanted to go again. Honestly the whole shoot was filled with laughs. Check out our "making of" dvd.
The Fan Girl Next Door: In addition to directing THE LAST WINTER you wore many other hats, even producing a song on the film's soundtrack. If you had to choose one creative outlet among the many you have done on this and other films, what would it be?
Larry Fessenden: Well obviously I like directing because you have your hand in everything, and even when you are dependent on other artisans to do the work, you can have a say in how they approach their job. As for the music, I always engage my songwriter friend Tom Laverack to work on my films. He wrote "Running Out of Road" for the movie and I do the saxes and the solo in that song. I guess the only thing I like more than directing is performing, be it a sax solo or an acting role. But you know, performing is very nerve-racking. For me, it never gets any easier. Whereas with directing you can help others do their best work by providing a safety zone in which to be creative.
The Fan Girl Next Door: Do you feel it's actually a hindrance to have more than enough money to make a movie? It sometimes seems the more creative you have to be due to lack of funds, the better the product is.
Larry Fessenden: I have long operated on that principal and I believe in low-budget ingenuity. I also disdain people who want a bigger budget for reasons of status. In this economy, the wise thing to do is spend as little as possible to get what you need. But I can also say that all of my films have suffered in one way or another by budget restraints: There's never enough time, and when you're rushed, some things suffer. And the special effects can suffer as well, both practical and cgi. And you're always out of money when you finally get to the music and mix, two of the most important parts of a film. So I don't know what it would be like to have the right amount of money. I like to be thrifty but not strapped.
The Fan Girl Next Door: You set up Glass Eye Pix in 1985, which is a company that helps independent projects get off the ground. Where do you hope to see independent cinema heading in the future?
Larry Fessenden: Well the problem with indie cinema has always been distribution. You can make a movie pretty cheaply if you're resourceful and dedicated, especially now with video and dv features being accepted. But there are not enough screens to show all the blockbusters and also a well made indie without a star. Now some would say that internet and downloads are the answer, and that probably is the answer. But for my generation that's disappointing because we grew up seeing movies in the theater. At Glass Eye Pix, we've been able to show some of our small movies in the cinema, but that's because we've had great support from theaters like the Laemmles in L.A., Facets in Chicago, The Pioneer and Cinema Village in New York and a whole bunch of others. It's nothing you could count on. So distribution will change as home theaters and downloading gets more viable, and indie films will probably be seen mostly in the home.
The Fan Girl Next Door: What advice would you give to a director just starting out in the business?
Larry Fessenden: Don't make movies to make money or to get famous. It'll never work. Make movies because you can't help yourself. Otherwise, get a paying job.
The Fan Girl Next Door: Is there anyone you haven't worked with yet that you have always to?
Larry Fessenden: Well duh. So many heroes, icons, faves, where would I begin?
The Fan Girl Next Door: What is up next for you?
Larry Fessenden: Trying to get I SELL THE DEAD out there. I'm negotiating with Hollywood on a big film, and planning several smaller ones if all that falls through, which I assume it will.
The Fan Girl Next Door: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions.
Larry Fessenden: Thanks for taking an interest in an indie film.
THE LAST WINTER is now available on DVD at amazon.com
THE LAST WINTER
Interview: CHRISTIAN BALE - THE DARK KNIGHT
Jul 2, 2008, 4:51
Although technically not an actual horror film it is dark and scary and cool as hell. THE DARK KNIGHT very well could end up being the event film of the summer. I don't know about you but I felt Christian Bale turned in the single best performance as Batman in BATMAN BEGINS and I loved the whole look and feel that Christopher Nolan brought to the series.
So, needless to say I am stoked for the July 15th release of THE DARK KNIGHT and because of that I am going to be bringing you a series of interviews with the cast and crew of the film.
We're going to start off with a round table interview with the films star CHRISTIAN BALE. It's MP3 format so you can either click on it it and give it a listen or save it and put it on your Ipod or whatever and take it to go.
Check back over the next few days for continued coverage.
CLICK HERE FOR THE INTERVIEW WITH CHRISTIAN BALE.
Exclusive Interview: Eileen Dietz
Like most of her contemporaries, Eileen Dietz began her path to
becoming an actress by attending acting schools and performing wherever she
could. She landed roles in some early
drive-in movie fare prior to being cast in William Friedkin's THE
EXORCIST. She followed this up with ROAD
MOVIE, guest spots on "Korg: 70,000 B.C.", "Planet of the Apes" and "Barnaby
Jones" and the made-for-TV movie HELTER SKELTER about the Manson murders. She also appeared in THE CLONUS HORROR, the
film that critics blamed Michael Bay on ripping off when he made THE ISLAND.
Dietz has also accumulated a good number of stage credits, including
LYSISTRATA, STEAMBATH, MADRE, THE BALCONY, and AFTER THE FALL.
House of Horrors spoke with her recently regarding her most famous
film, THE EXORCIST, as it approaches it's 35th anniversary.
Jonathan Stryker: What were your
first impressions of the cinema when you were growing up?
Eileen Dietz: I went to see a lot of foreign films when I
was a kid. My parents took me to see
Ingmar Bergman's WILD STRAWBERRIES, SUMMER WITH MONIKA, you name it. Just amazing.
And I always liked horror films.
I saw things like Roman Polanski's THE L-SHAPED ROOM and PSYCHO. There's also a Susan Strasberg movie that
nobody seems to know anything about and it's called THE SCREAM OF FEAR. And it totally affected my life. I have to go see if I can find it.
Jonathan Stryker: Oh, my
God…that's one of those movies that came out on VHS in the 80's and it's hard
to find now.
Eileen Dietz: Yeah, I haven't seen it in many years.
Jonathan Stryker: I remember
RCA/Columbia put that one out. I never
saw it, but I'm familiar with the title.
You should look it up on Half.com or Ebay. Sometimes they have DVD-R's of the films that
are not yet on DVD but were on VHS.
Eileen Dietz: It's one of those really weird ones that I always remember. And of course I watched a lot on TV. I saw all the Universal horror films like
FRANKENSTEIN and DRACULA. But for as
long as I can remember I always loved the horror films. (Mock
laughter) And I don't know why.
Jonathan Stryker: I became
interested in horror films in 1981 when I saw BURNT OFFERINGS on NBC and later
Eileen Dietz: HALLOWEEN is a very scary film. And it still holds up today, it's very
Jonathan Stryker: For me, it's the PSYCHO of its generation. Rob Zombie's version – I loved that one, too. Very different take on it, but I enjoyed it
Eileen Dietz: I heard a dirty rumor that they are looking
to remake THE EXORCIST! I mean, come
on. That's sacred ground.
Jonathan Stryker: It wouldn't surprise me in the slightest. I mean, they're remaking just about
everything now. PSYCHO has been done,
THE HAUNTING, THE OMEN…
Eileen Dietz: Have you seen the new version of THE
Jonathan Stryker: No. Have you?
Eileen Dietz: Yes.
It doesn't work. Number one, you
already know the whole story. Mia Farrow
was really good in it. She played Mrs. Baylock,
the character originated by Billie Whitelaw in the Richard Donner film. The original was so scary. But, the remake isn't scary at all, and the
little kid doesn't do much but grin!
Jonathan Stryker: How did you
come to be an actress?
Eileen Dietz: I know that this is a weird story. A traumatic event occurred in my life when I
was five, and I swear one day I woke up when I was eight years-old, and I just
didn't remember the past three years of my life.
Jonathan Stryker: Are you
Eileen Dietz: Yeah. When
I was eight, I decided that I wanted to become an actress. I was born in Manhattan,
and then my parents moved me out to Long Island. When I was a teenager, they took me to go
into New York City
to take classes at an acting school. And
then I bounced around to different schools and did summer stock, and I also
went to the same school that Adrienne Barbeau went to. I really set out to go and conquer New York, you know what
I mean? When I was young, I was very
androgynous, you know, very much a tomboy.
I had people tell me that I was funny-looking and wouldn't make it as an
actress. The popular actresses at the
time were very buxom and had big boobs and I was constantly told that I wasn't good
enough and wouldn't make it. That really
made me a lot stronger and the desire to show everyone that I could do it was
what drove me. In fact, my father was in
the photography business. He decided
that the way that he was going to get me to not
want to be an actress was by sending me off to the Eileen Ford modeling agency
in New York. When I went in there I was surrounded by beautiful
girls who were five-foot-nine, and thought, "What's that got to do with
me??" So, that just made me more
Jonathan Stryker: THE EXORCIST
is unquestionably your best-known film.
How did you get the role of the white-faced demon?
Eileen Dietz: I was doing a play by Joyce Carol Oates
called ONTOLOGICAL PROOF OF MY EXISTENCE, which means that there is no proof to
your existence. But it was a wonderful
little play about a runaway who comes to New
York looking for love, meets a pimp who locks her in
a basement, and falls in love with the pimp, even though he brings her people
to love. She basically does anything
that he wants her to. It's very Joyce
Jonathan Stryker: Yes, she wrote
one of my favorite short stories called "Where Have You Been, Where Are You
Going?" which was loosely based upon the killer Charles Schmid, aka the Pied
Piper of Tucson. It provided the basis for Joyce Chopra's
SMOOTH TALK with Laura Dern.
Eileen Dietz: So, an agent saw me in the play, signed me,
and sent me a casting notice saying that they were looking for somebody about
the same size as Linda Blair to play a principal part in this movie. There is a misconception out there that I was
hired to be her stunt double. I never
did extra work in my life, so I got the part of playing the demon in the
film. And then my sister wrote a book
called "Fifty Cents for Your Soul" which, in the first five chapters, she
describes how I got the part.
Jonathan Stryker: What was your
reaction to the hype surrounding the release of the film?
Eileen Dietz: (thinks
for a moment) Wow. That's a good
Jonathan Stryker: Were you
shocked by the reactions that people had to the film? Surprised by them?
Eileen Dietz: Oh, I was very surprised by it. I mean, we had seen the movie, and it seemed
fine. But, all of the height, it was
really quite surprising. And I was young
then. I must admit that I was a little
put off that people were getting sick, having seizures, and having all these
really violent reactions to the film. There's
a great line in a new movie I did called SIN-JIN SMYTH. It stars Jonathan Davis (from Korn) as the
Devil, and he has a great line in it where he says, "You know, I'm really God's
helper. Because I keep all the bad
people away from heaven."
Jonathan Stryker: I had read
that people were getting sick during the scenes where Linda was having all of
the hospital tests done on her and so forth.
Did you find that to be what upset people the most?
Eileen Dietz: I actually found people to react so violently
to both the hospital scenes and the demonic scenes. I think the reason why any film succeeds as
well as any film does is the audience's ability to identify with the characters
in the film. In this case, a lot of
people probably identified with and felt a connection to Ellen Burstyn's
character because they themselves are parents and something terrible is
happening to her child. I think the
reason why the film succeeds so well is because Billy Friedkin really made the
audience believe that this is possible, that this is something that really
could happen. He made it in a very
realistic way. So many horror films
which are made today are so out there,
you know, they are so far out and over-the-top that you just can't take them
seriously. But, in this particular case,
the overall end result was a movie that really made the whole notion of being
possessed by the devil one that was completely plausible. I'm writing a book for the 35th anniversary
of the release of THE EXORCIST. I have
one chapter on how the novel (by William Peter Blatty) affected people. And, the youngest age that I've heard about
were five year-old kids who were really freaked out. They honestly thought that demons were under
Jonathan Stryker: Have you
watched THE EXORCIST with an audience?
Eileen Dietz: Only at my house. On a 115" screen.
Jonathan Stryker: Oh, wow. How would you describe that experience?
(smiling devilishly) Fun!
Exclusive Interview: John Morghen
By Jonathan Stryker
Mar 25, 2008, 10:16
Giovanni Lombardo Radice, better known to audiences as John Morghen, has been in contemporary theater and film for well over two decades. Best known for appearing in some of the most violent and disturbing horror films to come out of Italy, Radice has also acted in several non-genre films, playing everything from Andret to King Herod. The IMDB states that he has been labeled the "Nasiest Man in the World" thanks to the nature of the films he has made such as THE GATES OF HELL, CANNIBAL APOCALYPSE, CANNIBAL FEROX (a film he regrets making) and STAGEFRIGHT, but can he really be any worse than Extreme Associates' CEO Rob Zicari?
Radice has developed a following the world over with his genuinely entertaining performances and was gracious to discuss his career with House of Horrors.com. Radice is a quiet and unassuming individual, and speaks quietly and deliberately, which is a sharp contrast from the Quentin Tarantino machine-gun style of talking. From this point on Radice will be referred to by his alternate name of John Morghen.
Jonathan Stryker: Did you grow up in Italy?
John Morghen: Yes, yes I grew up in Italy. But, I am from a multilingual family. We used to speak several languages at home. As a matter of fact, I grew up speaking Italian, English, and French. As far as culture is concerned, I was raised more with English and French culture rather than Italian culture.
Jonathan Stryker: Did you learn these languages in school?
John Morghen: No, I learned them at home when I was a child.
Jonathan Stryker: That's impressive. I took French for five years in high school and college combined and I'm lucky if I can ask a woman what time it is without accidentally asking her to bed. When did you first come to the United States and what were your impressions of it?
John Morghen: My first time in the United States was when I came here to film Fulci's THE GATES OF HELL. Some of the film was filmed in Savannah, Georgia, in the South. And my impression of it was very good. I do like the southern part of the United States a lot. I have been back there filming and it is a part of the country than I really like very much. It is slow, and very laid-back, unlike New York. They do not rush things. I am quite a lazy person, I do not like to be rushed. And so my impression was very good. I was amazed by the fact that at that time when I was in Atlanta the mayor was a black man (Maynard Holbrook Jackson, Jr., the first African American mayor in Atlanta, GA). That really impressed me, so I really always had a good impression. Not as much of a good impression in other parts such as Arizona, there were certain attitudes there that I just didn't like. But generally speaking, my impressions were very good and I do like the United States very much. I really do believe in democracy, I believe in helping each other, and when I was shooting in Arizona there was a Native American man watching us film and a large police officer went over and started bothering him and telling him to leave. I really couldn't cope with that. My thinking was, "What the fuck are you doing?"
Jonathan Stryker: What films impressed you when you were young?
John Morghen: As a spectator you mean?
Jonathan Stryker: Yes.
John Morghen: Not horror movies, not at all. I was always fond of thrillers. I really liked Hitchcock, the old Hollywood classics, especially the old Hollywood films from CASABLANCA to Billy Wilder's comedies. I liked ALL ABOUT EVE with Bette Davis, GONE WITH THE WIND, both book and film. Those are the kinds of movies that I grew up watching.
Jonathan Stryker: You first appeared on film in Ruggero Deodato's THE HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK, one of countless Italian films to mix New York and Italy. It definitely has a 70's feel. The IMDB states that it was filmed in September 1979. Is this correct?
John Morghen: Yes, we filmed that in late 1979. Although the film didn't come out until sometime after that; movies take a long time during postproduction.
Jonathan Stryker: After this, you appeared in Antonio Margheriti's CANNIBAL APOCALYPSE, Lucio Fulci's THE GATES OF HELL, and Umberto Lenzi's CANNIBAL FEROX. Were these roles offered to you as a result of Deodato's film, or did you seek out these types of roles?
John Morghen: I did not seek these roles. It was a very small film crew. All the different directors knew each other, the crews knew each other, so when THE HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK was launched by Deodato, I think that word spread that there was a new actor available to use. Obviously, I was typecast as the frail and neurotic guy in the film. And that's why, unfortunately, when Lenzi contacted me for CANNIBAL FEROX he approached me not for the leading role but for the role of the weak and frail friend. I was so sick of playing that role by that point! But, I really needed the money so I couldn't say no. At first I said, "Okay, I'll do it, but only if I'm given the lead role." And in my mind that was a nice way of saying no. (laughs) And instead, he said yes, okay. But, from that point I switched to real villains, because before that my characters weren't really villains, they were victims.
Jonathan Stryker: My favorite film of yours is Michele Soavi's STAGEFRIGHT. Do you recall what months and what year this was filmed?
John Morghen: Oh, God in Heaven, it was surely early summer. It was very hot so I think it was around June of 1986. I had not been in the movies for a while, because I had been acting in the theater at the time. I ended up getting the role because I had met Michele Soavi as a fellow actor with Fulci on THE GATES OF HELL. He was in there as both an actor and as an assistant. We both became very close friends while working on that movie. And we're still friends to this day. So, I was always involved in whatever he was doing. We even wrote some stuff together. We were always trying to create new projects. And so from the very beginning it was almost as though I was going to be in it. I even rewrote some of the dialogue because the film took place in a setting that was connected to theater people, and he wanted the dialogue to emphasize the theater people and their attitudes, because I am a theater person and had that insight and experience.
Jonathan Stryker: Do you recall how long the shooting schedule was?
John Morghen: I think we shot it for about a month. There was a big problem with money, so we had shot for a while and then stopped for some time. Then, we resumed shooting. I developed a good friendship with Mary Sellers, and from that point we started a project of having an American theater group in Rome. So, we did stage a couple of American plays in Rome, and Mary was a great person to work with. Then there was Barbara Cupisti, whom I was friends with because she was Michele's girlfriend. I got along great with them. David Brandon is really a person who keeps to himself while on the set. That's just his method of working. Loredana Parrella, who played Corinne the dancer, wasn't an actress, she was a dancer they hired. Robert Gligorov, who played Danny, was a model.
Jonathan Stryker: Where was it filmed?
John Morghen: It was filmed in an old studio that was falling apart. I think that it was an old studio that belonged to producer Franco Cristaldi.
Jonathan Stryker: Oh, really? He produced HEARTS AND ARMOUR, one of my favorite sword and sorcery films. It was known as I PALADINI – STORIA D'ARMI E D'AMOURI.
John Morghen: Yes, he was a very important producer in Italy. His firm was Vides Cinematographica. He was the counterpart to Dino De Laurentiis. He was very powerful at the time. He was building many studios for a while, but then he had a point where he ran into financial difficulties. So, where we shot was an actual studio, but it was really falling apart. It was located very close to Rome.
Jonathan Stryker: How was the experience of making this film? I loved the cast.
John Morghen: It was great. I could depend upon Michele, he's a terrific director. He had many ideas. He knew how to deal with actors. He had a very great strength and great capability of putting people together. It's very important for a director to get crews and casts together and galvanize people to make a film. On the other hand, the production was very, very poor. So, in that regard, it was very, very tiresome. For example, we didn't have our dressing rooms, you know, somebody bringing you to and from the set, so that was a bit tiring. But, apart from that it was a great experience.
Jonathan Stryker: Why are so many of these films redubbed later on?
John Morghen: Well, the film was shot in English. I honestly don't recall if that's even my voice in it! (laughs) Many of these movies were shot in English, and then were dubbed later on. My Italian is not perfect Italian, I do have a slight French accent. But very often my voice is dubbed.
Jonathan Stryker: Have you appeared in a film with your own, actual voice?
John Morghen: Well, in THE OMEN it was my voice. In Italy, beginning with Federico Fellini, they didn't believe in actor's voices. It's a way of thinking. Obviously, I do not agree, of course. It was done for artistic reasons. Most directors didn't want to spend time on a film set working with actors, so they preferred to re-dub the dialogue later on a dubbing booth. It's absurd! And all it does is create more work. But, for the most part, it's my real voice. The last Pupi Avati film that I did (THE HIDEOUT) it was my own voice.
Jonathan Stryker: You followed up STAGEFRIGHT by making THE CHURCH and THE SECT with Michele Soavi.
John Morghen: Most especially it was a wonderful friendship that we shared. THE CHURCH was an important movie for my life because my son was conceived when I was doing this film. The girl I was with who eventually became my wife and then my ex-wife, she came to visit me in Budapest while we were shooting this film. And my son was conceived during the making of this film.
Jonathan Stryker: Is your son an actor?
John Morghen: No, my son is still in school, he doesn't even think about becoming an actor. He's 18. So, THE CHURCH was an important film for me. I spent a lot of time in Budapest on this film. THE SECT less so because I only had a small scene in the beginning. And, to be honest, I have not seen the entire film. And so the only part of the movie that I really saw was my own scene.
Jonathan Stryker: You appeared briefly in GANGS OF NEW YORK. Were you directed by Martin Scorsese or by a second unit director?
John Morghen: It is preposterous to say that I acted in this film! Because it was such a huge production, you have no idea! It was such a huge production, I've never seen anything like this. The amount of money that they spent on this film! There was a scene in the film where some people are performing in a version of "Uncle Tom's Cabin”"and Scorsese wanted real actors to do this. So they hired me and other people. My agent didn't want me to do it, but I needed the money so I did. But it was a very big production.
Jonathan Stryker: What are you working on now?
John Morghen: Right now I just completed work on A DAY OF VIOLENCE by Darren Ward, which should be out by the summertime. I'm also in THE BEAUTIFUL OUTSIDERS by Andrew Jones.
Jonathan Stryker: Thank you for your time, John.
Exclusive Interview: Tiffany Shepis
Mar 15, 2008, 9:25
Anyone who is a true fan of the horror genre knows the name Tiffany Shepis. Tiffany is redefining the term 'Scream Queen’; Boyfriend just got his head lobbed off? NO problem, just hand that girl a shotgun and watch her save the day in her bra and panties. Tiffany stars in NIGHTMARE MAN, a thriller that will be available in the AFTER DARK HORRORFEST 8 FILMS TO DIE FOR DVD Box Set that is coming out March 18th.
Tiffany and I had a little girl talk recently where we discussed her start in the business, her honest advice to future scream queens and her directorial debut
Fan Girl Next Door: Hello Tiffany, How are you?
Tiffany Shepis: I'm great, How are you doing?
FG: Good! Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me today.
TS: OH, Thank you.
FG: The HORRORFEST DVD Box Set is coming out March 18th, you are in NIGHTMARE MAN. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
TS: NIGHTMARE MAN, Its a crazy, whirlwind of horror. Lots of supernatural stuff, you've got crazy ladies trying to find their pills, you've got a house full of people who aren't sure if someone is crazy or insane, It's one of those weird, whodunit kind of films. A house full of crazy kids on a big party weekend. You've got nudity, you've got gore, and you’ve got 8 films to die for! What more could you ask for?
FG: Well you can't, you can't ask for more than that.
TS: I was running around in my bra and panties with a crossbow and a shotgun. You know, it is very woman empowering.
FG: That always works.
TS: Yeah that always helps.
FG: The director of NIGHTMARE MAN is Rolfe Kanefsky. You have worked with him before. What is it like to work with him?
TS: Oh, Rolfe is great. I have been a friend of his now for 10 years. It definitely becomes a family unit when we work together so that always helps. A lot of the time you go on the set and you don't know anybody and its uncomfortable, it is always more comfortable with your friends. Rolfe is great because he knows my acting style and he writes for it. He definitely did for NIGHTMARE MAN, it was a part that was written for me. It was definitely easier to play this chick! He looks specifically for your strong points. Yeah, it is a good time. We have almost never had a problem with each other on set, which when your working with people hand in hand basically 24 hours a day, everyday, for weeks, there is almost always going to be an issue but Rolfe and I have never come across that. It is definitely a good working environment.
FG: Did anything fun or crazy happen on the set that you could share with us?
TS: Um, fun or crazy..If you watch the DVD, watch the behind the scenes, I do kind of a 17 minute "Tiffany Cam", recording the craziness that goes on, on set. Stupid things, like at 5 in the morning I decided a fun way of waking up my co-star would be by throwing ham on his face! But besides that we are shooting all night and it was freezing cold in big bear, in the winter and in tiny little outfits, so every night was an adventure. The finale is a big demon rape scene complete with fan machines and dirt and everybody is going crazy because we are trying to fight the sun. I'm like, 'I know that you are pissed off here but I'm lying half-naked here on the ground!'
FG: I hate it when that happens!
TS: (Laughs) Exactly! 'Hey, I'm trying to get raped by a demon here!’
FG: (Laughs) What are your top 3 favorite movies that you have made?
TS: That have come out or ones that have not come out?
TS: Ah that’s a good one. I would have to say THE HAZING because I co-starred in that with Brad Dourif...ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST, awesome! I would have to throw NIGHTMARE MAN in there, I had a great time making that movie, Whether people love it or hate it. If you can embrace the low-budgetness of it and see what we did for a minimal budget in 12 days, I think that’s got to be in my top 3 and BONNIE AND CLYDE VS. DRACULA, the title ALONE should get people to see it.
FG: Yeah that is a great title.
TS: What is cool about that movie is that I play a full-on different character, this one is full-on Bonnie! Except we've got Dracula! Accents and bleach blonde hair, shotguns and great cars, it is a fun one. Look for that one next year.
FG: You’re obviously a fan boy favorite. Do you find yourself just as popular with the girl fans?
TS: Oh absolutely! The demographic has really changed in horror in the past few years. It used to be the 13 to 25 year old guys that would want to see the half-naked butt. Now, there are more and more girls coming over to the table and that is awesome! I think it is because horror movies have changed so much over the years, it used to be that a scream queen was a girl that ran, butt naked and got killed. I'm not saying that still doesn't happen today but there are more films now where the chick IS the hero, her stupid boyfriend dies in the first 5 minutes and its up to the chick to save the day and I think that is really cool. It is really cool for girls to see that you
don't have to depend on some asshole guy who got drunk and wanted to get laid. Now his head is chopped off, what are you going to do?
TS: (Laughs) So now there are definitely more fan chicks coming around and I think that is just awesome.
FG: Do you have any advice for someone wanting to become a scream queen?
TS: Don't do it! (Laughs)
TS: God, become a stripper instead, it is more steady income, Hooking is legal in Vegas. I don't recommend this business to anybody. HOWEVER, if that is what you are dead set on and all you can do with your life then go after it, you've got to just go after it with full force. Especially with B-horror movies and horror films in general. There aren't that many big agents on earth that are going to push for you to do that, you are going to have to do that for yourself. Make friends with everybody, go to the conventions, and know the product. Know what is coming out, read Fangoria, go on the websites. Go on House of Horrors and find out what is going on! You kind of have to do your own PR; nobody is going to do it for you. If you HAVE to be a scream queen, that would be my advice.
FG: (Laughs) Is there anything your working on now that you would like to talk about?
TS: Actually I am slated to work on another film with Rolfe Kanefsky called CALLER UNKNOWN, this summer. I'm working on MY directorial debut...
FG: You know I was going to ask you about directing!
TS: Its funny, I never thought about it until this year. I've done producing; I've produced stuff. I didn't think about the directing side because I don't think my attention span is that long. That's why I like making the movies I do because you’re on them for a month and then you’re on to the next. I work on so many of these movies and half the time I'm working with these kids that are just off the boat, right out of film school, they don't know what they are doing and in their defense they are new to it. So, I get involved and I'll go, 'If you do the shot this way it will look so much cooler'. I thought why don't I just do this myself. So, I came up with a story and I had Rolfe Kanefsky write it and it is called THE DEVIL'S PIE and right now we are in the financing stages of it. It’s about time I get other chicks naked!
TS: I know so many people in the genre that are willing to help me out so I'm getting a lot of great cameos. It is packed full of genre stars, you know, I mean why not? Why not try it? If it fails I can just add another one to my list of shitty movies. Only now, it will be totally my fault.
FG: (Laughs) You made TROMEO AND JULIET when you were 17...
TS: ..I think I was 16.
FG: What was that experience like? At that point was it something you knew you wanted to do?
TS: It was weird because I think I had only made one movie before that, a student film for NYU, a horror film. I was such fan of the genre and I thought about it but just to even do horror movies it seemed like such a far away dream. I didn't really put much thought into it and I was sitting at school in NYC, there was an actors paper that someone was reading and I looked through it. There was an ad for TROMEO AND JULIET so I cut school and I went down and booked the job, a tiny little part. I did the movie and I was SO thrilled to be there, maybe because I wasn't very good in school and I thought, 'This is what I need to do, this is ALL I can do!' (Laughs)
TS: I had such a good time working on that movie, it was such a fun thing because I was SO young and I thought, 'This is awesome!' and 'This is what people do for a living? This is called WORK?' I was actually getting paid to be there. I loved it so much that I felt this was what I was going to do, fortunately the fans are so loyal to the genre. I did a convention after that film, I remember doing the Chiller Theater convention, they were like ‘Yeah, bring some pictures’, and I remember thinking 'Pictures?’ So I made little laser copies of these 5X7's and I thought, 'Who is going to buy these from me? Nobody knows who I am'. I sold them for a dollar each and I made a thousand bucks that day! I went home thinking 'This is the greatest job EVER!’ Really, the fans of the genre either make you or break you. Hopefully they like me enough so I can stay around and play the old, crazy Karen Black roles or if not and I get old and ugly, hopefully I'll be a good director and I can do that. I think I'm a little too old to go to the Bunny Ranch [A brothel in Nevada] now!
FG: (Laughs) Is there anything you would like to say to all the horror fans out there?
TS: Thanks for watching my movies, thanks for keeping my business alive. Hopefully people will watch and dig NIGHTMARE MAN. It was a crazy blessing that After Dark Horrorfest even picked it up. It was the little movie that could, at the time we distributed it the market was so flooded with horror films, everybody and their brother was making one in their basement. It was really unfortunate because we really liked this little movie. We were bringing something cool to the genre and nobody wanted to pick it up. Then, out of nowhere, After Dark Horrorfest came to the table and said they were going to put it out in 350 theaters. There is no way to get that type of exposure for these little films so, I am very jazzed about it and I hope it does really, really well for Lionsgate and...(Voice gets soft) does really well for everybody.
FG: Thank you so much for talking with me.
TS: Well, thank you and I hope you have a great weekend.
FG: Thank you, you too!
NIGHTMARE MAN will be released with the After Dark Horrorfest 8 Films to Die For DVD box set on March 18th
Tiffany Shepis in our