Archive for the 'Interviews' Category


posted by Doktor | August 14, 2012 | Interviews

Comments Off on Dialoge From the Dungeon: Rolfe Kanefsky

I don’t know how I missed the 1992 film There’s Nothing Out There. It’s a film right up my alley: a horror/comedy that deconstructs the genre (check out the review) in an astute way. So, it’s not surprising that when I did finally see it I had not heard of Rolfe Kanefsky, the writer/director. Like many independent/low-budget filmmakers, Kanefsky’s career has spanned decades. Yet, for all the time he’s been making films, he has done so in relative obscurity. This is tragic because his films are entertaining, and quite often very clever.

Many of the filmmakers I admire most, Kanefsky among them, trudge on against the current, against harsh criticism, and often against an apathetic public. I felt it necessary to track him down and talk with him. Here’s what he had to say:

Doktor: After reading all the interviews on your site (to avoid asking you the same tired questions) I’d like to start off asking you for an update on your films? What is available for rent/purchase? What’s still in the works, looking for a distributor?

Rolfe Kanefsky: Well, most of my flicks (as I’ve always called them) have been released. Actually more have come out overseas then in America where a few have fallen through the cracks. There’s Nothing Out There is currently being handled by Troma Entertainment worldwide.  All the “sexy comedies” that I’ve done for Alain Siritzky, he handles himself internationally. Some of those have been released on DVD in the U.S. Through Roger Corman’s company until he got out of the distribution game. He then gave all rights back to Siritzky. Some have shown on HBO/Cinemax. That’s where the current series, Emmanuelle Through Time is now playing. The Hazing was released by MTI Home Video in the U.S. They have also released stateside my Pretty Cool movies and 1 in the Gun. Warner Brothers Home Video released Jacqueline Hyde. York Entertainment produced and barely released Corpses. Nightmare Man came out through Lions Gate as part of After Dark’s 2007 8 Films To Die For series. Currently, a small company called Lighthouse Productions is trying to make some foreign sales after Mark Lester’s American World Pictures kind of dropped the ball. My personal favorite film, Tomorrow By Midnight remains undistributed in the U.S. but has come out under such titles as After Midnight and Midnight 5 overseas in different territories. Some of my films are available on Netflix and for purchase on My crazy musical Emmanuelle in Wonderland will probably never be released. It is owned by Alain Siritzky as is Tomorrow By Midnight. These are the two that are pretty impossible to find.

Doktor: What was it like working with Troma, first as a P.A. and then later when they were your distributor? Have you gone back to them with any of your other movies?

Rolfe Kanefsky: Troma was a great learning experience. Growing up in New York, they were really the only company to learn the ropes. The West Coast had Roger Corman and Charlie Band’s Full Moon. But on the east coast, young aspiring filmmakers could work for free for Troma. I was 18 working for Troma over the summer before I started college. Troma is best to work for when you’re young, have lots of energy, and when you can afford to work for free to learn the magic of the movies. Now, Troma films are a very specific kind of “magic”. Not the kind that you find in most Hollywood films. I worked on Troma’s War for about a month and a half. Before Troma I had already worked on a bunch of independent features like Posed for Murder, Rich Boys, and Laser Man. I started doing P.A. work on these low-budget features when I was sixteen. It was great training for I was also making my own feature at the time called Strength in Numbers in high school with friends. So, between my P.A. work stints and directing my own flick, it was a great training ground to become a filmmaker.

Going back to Troma, Lloyd Kaufman was always very nice. He’s great with names and he’s fun to be around. Troma’s War was the biggest budget film they had ever done. It was loaded with stunts. We shot in a National Guard park and it was grueling work that got harder when half the crew was fired or quit. We were doing multiple jobs. It was hard work. I eventually stopped because I was about to start college and didn’t want to go to school sick. A few years later when I directed by first professional flick, There’s Nothing Out There, Troma really wanted to distribute it. But at that time, everyone assumed anything released by Troma was produced by Troma and Lloyd would get all the credit. I wanted to make sure people knew Nothing was a Rolfe Kanefsky Flick so we declined. Of course, Troma also paid, or rather, never paid, so money-wise it was a bad idea to go with Troma. But for Nothing’s 20 Anniversary, Troma seemed like a good fit. They still wanted the film and let me release a really cool 2 disc DVD so I’m happy it’s out again. Although, money-wise nothing has changed. We still haven’t seen any but at least it’s out there again.

I’ve talked to Troma about my Emmanuelle in Wonderland movie but the business is so bad right now that they admit it would be a loss to release it. Like most distribution companies, they are pleading poor but if these companies were as poor as they say they are, they would no longer be in business. So, just the fact that the doors are still open means they are not being completely honest with their filmmakers.

Doktor: Speaking of Troma, is it blacklisted (as Lloyd likes to decry)? To me Troma is the first rung on the creative ladder, a necessary first step for outsider filmmakers. Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Kevin Costner, Billy Bob Thornton, and James Gunn come to mind. Though Troma is not in a glamorous or enviable position, they are still valuable and therefore worthy of respect. Or, am I completely mistaken?

Rolfe Kanefsky: Troma has helped start some careers although not nearly in the way that Roger Corman did back in the day. Also, the big difference is that Troma didn’t hire any of those people mentioned. They distributed films that those people were involved in. That’s a big difference. Trey Parker and Matt Stone were already doing their South Park thing independently when Troma released “Cannibal…The Musical!”. Eli Roth did start at Troma but not as a filmmaker. He worked for the company but made his first film, “Cabin Fever” on his own. Most of Troma’s films have been made by Lloyd Kaufman. Whereas, Roger Corman was only a producer for his company, Lloyd is more of a filmmaker and doesn’t tend to give much to aspiring filmmakers. James Gunn did start his writing career at Troma but again, it wasn’t until he moved to Hollywood that he started his directing career. But, I do think Troma is a good learning ground for beginning filmmakers. You will learn what you should and shouldn’t do on a movie and that is very valuable.

Doktor: One thing really struck a chord with me from your interviews, that of your academic career, particularly being a “genre” filmmaker in an “experimental arts” atmosphere. I had a very similar experience in college (mine in creative writing classes) where a teacher’s only comment on my piece was, “Class, where would you put this in your portfolio for grad school?” This has caused me to question the efficacy of teaching creative arts. Do you believe that the creative aspects of filmmaking can be taught? Or are young filmmakers who go through filmmaking schools taught assembly-line fashion cranking out the “McFilmmaker™”?

Rolfe Kanefsky: Anything that opens your mind to the possibilities of writing and directing is a good thing. I watch a lot of movies to study them. I’ve read a lot of scripts to learn format and pacing. Good scripts and bad scripts are very helpful so you can see what works and what doesn’t. In college, I fought with a lot of my teachers in the film and writing courses because they wanted everyone to just experiment. It was almost anti-Hollywood. As I’ve said, they love Hitchcock but hate horror films. So, I always found that a bit of a conflict. That’s why it was interesting working on real independent films during the summers because I’d get a completely different opinion on my work. They liked my short films whereas my teachers didn’t really care for them because they were “too commercial”. Actually, when I took Robert McKee’s scriptwriting workshop, I found that very helpful but at the same time a little too cookie-cutter. He claimed that it takes at least a year to write a good screenplay. For some yes but for others no. If Breakfast Club and Taxi Driver could be written in a week, I don’t agree that every script takes a year. There are too many exceptions and everyone has different methods that work. So, one should be open-minded as a writer/director. It’s when school classes close your mind because of self-preferences that it can be damaging. Everyone needs to find their own voice. You begin by copying what you like but eventually grow to discover your own style. School and classes can sometimes help but I feel, you’ll always learn more by doing. You have to make films. That’s, by far, the best training ground there is.

Doktor: What are you currently writing? Directing? Producing?

Unfortunately, I’m in a lull at the moment and looking for work. That said, I recently had a script I wrote optioned to a company called Victory Angel Films. It’s a road thriller entitled Road to Ruin. I also just extended the option on my horror script Scream Park with Sobini Films. I wrote a new spec currently titled 1 Bad House and have a television series that I’m trying to pitch entitled Whispering Falls. I also have a huge backlog of screenplays that I’d love to sell/make someday. It’s always about finding the funding. The thing I’m most excited about is a project in England that I’m attached to direct. It could be a wonderful film and something very different for me. Too early to really talk about and the money is not in place yet so I can’t really go into it except that it’s based on a true story and deals with Hollywood in the early 1930’s.

Doktor: There are many milestones along the path of our lives. Successful people continue to grow and change with time, as they reach, complete and move beyond goals. At this stage in your life, and career, what do you long to do that you have not yet had the chance to do?

Rolfe Kanefsky: Although I have been fortunate to have made a lot of movies over the past twenty years in this business, I’ve always had to do it with little time and little money. I’ve been complimented for doing a lot with a little but my stuff has always been below the radar in terms of Hollywood. I have almost never been asked to direct a project that someone else has written. I’ve never been on the list of directors or writers that get hired. Almost all of my movies, I created and had to work hard to find the funding. I am pleased with many of my flicks but I know what they are lacking due to time constraints and finances. So, it’s been a frustrating career and I have yet to make that one flick that really gets people/producers attention. I’ve heard that some people think that I am out of the budget range, although that is probably untrue. After Troma released There’s Nothing Out There, they wanted me to make a film for them for a total budget of $10,000 including my salary to write/direct/produce/edit and find the cast/crew and equipment. I have never made a feature film for $10,000 and don’t know how to even do that.

As I’ve said, I have a lot of scripts that I would love to direct someday. On the top of that list is “NEVERMORE” my modern Poe-inspired story, “EXIT” a great Hitchcockian thriller, “MR. HAPPY NEW YEAR” my suburban “After Hours” type comedy, and “HORROR WORLD” my love letter to horror-themed amusement parks. I would also like to make a real musical with a budget. My “WONDERLAND” was a great culty exericise and I know I could do it. Their was an off-Broadway show entitled “WEIRD ROMANCE” that I would love to try to make. Also, I still want to do a great car chase sequence. That’s the one thing I’ve never been able to tackle because of budget reasons. You can’t make a cheap car chase that’s any good. I did a car chase when I was sixteen doing my home movie “STRENGTH IN NUMBERS” but that’s the closest I’ve gotten.

I love most genres so it’s great to dip into different ones. I’d like to do more thrillers. Comedy comes easy for me and horror is always a lot of fun. So, I guess the most challenging for me would be a romantic western. I haven’t written any of those but if someone has a good script, who knows.


posted by Doktor | June 23, 2012 | Interviews

Comments Off on Dialogue from the Dungeon: Astron-6

After reviewing Father’s Day I had to track down the filmmakers, Astron-6, and talk with them about their first feature-length film.

WARNING: There be spoilers here.

Doktor: Can you give a little background on the group?

Adam Brooks: We were friends.  We made a bunch of short films together.  We have overlapping sensibilities regarding horror, comedy, nostalgia and absurdism.

Conor Sweeney: Matt and I have been making shorts together since high school, and the rest of us met through the Winnipeg Short Film Massacre, which Jer [Jeremy Gillespie] ran every Halloween.

Doktor: With Father’s Day you’ve made a Troma movie that’s cool much like Quentin Tarantino made exploitation films cool. What experience do you want to bring to your audience by using the Late, Late, Late movie genre of films, even going so far as to have commercials and station identification as part of your film?

Adam Brooks: We’re bringing our authentic childhood experiences to the viewer, and I’m sure many viewers can relate.  I didn’t grow up watching exploitation films in grindhouse theaters, I grew up finding many of these movies on late night TV or renting them on Beta or VHS.  We loved Tarantino/Rodriguez’s Grindhouse, but it would insincere for us to make a Grindhouse spinoff.

Conor Sweeney: We wanted to bring back and parody the warmth and weirdness of cable TV that doesn’t really exist anymore. When we were up late at night as kids watching cable access TV, it always felt like you stumbled on a channel nobody else knew about. You would see some weird movies, and the commercial breaks would be off putting and jarring. We wanted Father’s Day to feel like the kind of movie that you would see and then question whether or not it was a dream the next morning.

Doktor: As this was a group project, did each one of you writer/develop your own characters? What was the writing process like? Overall, would you say it’s easier or harder to write in a group?

Adam Brooks: Me and Matt wrote a loose draft, Conor and Jer changed it, added to it, removed bits, Steve wrote an ending, then we all passed it around and around, each editing it, and changing, and adding, until in the end it was one big mess of none sense.

Conor Sweeney: Not really. We all wrote each other pretty equally, but I know I would change stuff that someone else wrote for me that I hated and didn’t want to say. Writing as a group led to the chaos you see onscreen, which I say as a compliment to the movie, but I don’t think any of us want to work that way again. Whatever we do next will be far more regimented.

Doktor: Ahab is a very recognizable reference. What was your intention in naming your main character Ahab?

Adam Brooks: He’s called Ahab because he IS Ahab.  He is a man overcome with revenge.  Things don’t work out well for people like that.

Conor Sweeney: There’s so few people named Ahab in films. I could honestly count them on one hand. What we wanted to do was finally give voice to those who share his namesake.

Doktor: On the subject of Ahab, Ahab’s coat is a character in and of itself. How did this bit of anthropomorphication come about?

Adam Brooks: When we shot the scene in Twink’s apartment, I didn’t want to wear the coat because it was too hot.  The coat is basically made of some kind of unbreathable plastic, and under those hot lights, with the fake blood, I was uncomfortable enough.  I DID want to wear the coat later in the film though, and we discussed it late one night after one of our 20-hour shooting days.  We were all punchy and goofy from exhaustion and the idea of the coat as a character made us all laugh.  It is maybe the stupidest joke in the movie but I love it.

Conor Sweeney: Exhaustion. To shoot a crucial scene in the movie, we needed to be in one spot for hours and hours of shooting time, and Adam didn’t want to wear his coat because he was right beside a heater. He took it off knowing it would throw off the continuity because he’s wearing it in the next scene, so in our tired state we started throwing around ideas about how the jacket could return. When you’re exhausted, stupid and bizarre things become funny, so a talking coat is now in Father’s Day. I think it’s a great gag.

Doktor: I interviewed Lloyd Kaufman and he said he made suggestions about your script but you ignored them, ‘cos you were smart. What were some of the rejected suggestions?

Adam Brooks: They were all suggestions of a type of humor that clashed with what we were going for.  References to Lance Bass, kicking and punching girls in the vagina, tampon jokes, etc.

Conor Sweeney: The suggested and ignored notes turned Twink into an extremely homophobic and unfunny caricature. Some ‘Scary Movie’ type jokes like  Father John saying “nigga please” after his sermon, Sleazy Mary getting kicked in the crotch and then bleeding everywhere, fart and shit jokes, etc.

Doktor: What was it like working with Troma, i.e. Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz?

Adam Brooks: Next question.

Conor Sweeney: Haha….uhh….

Doktor: God and the Devil are the same person, which is absolutely brilliant. Can you talk about how that idea came about?

Adam Brooks: Thanks for the SPOILER ALERT!  Jeremy and I were talking it out on the phone during the script writing process and we came up with that.

Conor Sweeney: We wanted a part for Lloyd, and we knew where the movie was going so he was a good choice. I didn’t come up with it though, I’m not sure who did.

Doktor: Did you have Lloyd Kaufman in mind to play God/Devil from the beginning?

Adam Brooks: Yes.  It’s a bit of a play on George Burns in Oh God You Devil where Burns played both God and The Devil.  I loved that movie when I was a kid.

Doktor: On your site you’ve made a number of trailers for films. Did you consider any of the other films when you went to make a feature length film? Are you planning on developing any of them now?

Adam Brooks: We didn’t choose Father’s Day as the trailer we had always wanted to turn into a feature, Troma chose it.  They were torn between Fireman and Father’s Day at first.  If it were entirely our choice we would have gone with something totally original instead of expanding on one of our shorts.  There are no plans to develop any of those shorts into features, though… maybe a Fireman movie someday… probably not.

Conor Sweeney: I would rather make something entirely new, although Matt and I have written a screenplay for a feature length version of H.I.Z.. Though I guess that’s not a trailer. We have a lot of ideas.

Doktor: Filmmaking is hell. It’s amazing that films with multiple millions of dollars get made, much less low-budget labors of love. What was the best part of making this film? What was the most heartbreaking? How did you overcome this to bring the film to fruition?

Adam Brooks: When you go through a shitty experience, a tragedy, or any suffering with somebody else you often look back with some sort of fondness.  You laugh with each other and say – ‘Remember how awful that was?  We almost died! Ahahaha!’  The further away I get from any of these painful productions the more fondly I look back on them.  Having said that, Father’s Day is still pretty fresh in my memory.  It was a lot of suffering, pain, anxiety, outrage, etc.  The city tried to fuck us, locations people tried to fuck us, producers yelled at us, casting agencies wouldn’t help us, minor actors were constantly failing to show up.  We made no money.

Conor Sweeney: Making this movie was a nightmare. We were physically injured, there were many arguments, much ego clashing, there was no co-operation from the City of Winnipeg, locations fell through regularly, we would shoot for 20 hours at a time and we haven’t made a dime. Having said that, I look back at a lot of it pretty fondly, and in twenty years I’m sure we will even more-so.

Doktor: Part of the beauty of this movie is the wildly inventive plot, especially considering that most films are either remakes, relying on name recognition, or have a “gritty reality” to en audiences. Can you speak about why you decided to take such a chance?

Adam Brooks: It was the only opportunity available to us at the time.  I’m personally not very interested in remakes and/or sequels but that doesn’t mean I would turn down the opportunity to be paid to do one.  If I was offered the chance to make Wrong Turn 5 or remake some dumb horror movie and get paid, I would take it.  I believe it is possible to do it well.  I think Wrong Turn 5 could be made into a good movie… 99.9% chance it WON’T be but it’s always possible.

Conor Sweeney: We knew that if we were to get any recognition for this cheap, cheap movie that we would need to do things that nobody else is doing. We threw every genre convention in and took the movie in every direction that it could logically go. Conceptually there was no conscious decision to take a chance or be edgy with the plot, it’s just the kind of movie we’ve always made, only longer.

Doktor: Because we’re a insatiably greedy I have to ask, what’s next for Astron-6?

Adam Brooks: We shot a short called Breaking Santa, which is the third and final act in our Santa trilogy.

Conor Sweeney: Somebody find us a producer.


posted by Doktor | March 4, 2012 | Interviews, Review by Doktor

Comments Off on Dialogue from the Dungeon: Lloyd Kaufman

Lloyd Kaufman is the epitome of the American Dream.

Most people, Mr. Kaufman included, would scoff at such an assertion, but I have sound reason to say this is so. Here is a man who has spend 40 years doing what he loves, exactly the way he wants, and against all odds. He’s not rich, nor a super-star, but he has provided for his family and is known the world over. That is why Lloyd Kaufman is one of my heroes.

I can only hope to be as successful one day.

Recently I was lucky enough to run into him at a Troma double feature at the Alamo Drafthouse Mason Park in Houston, TX. He was on tour promoting Father’s Day and Mr. Bricks: A Heavy Metal Murder Musical, two new Troma releases.

LH: Can you talk a little bit about these two films, Father’s Day & Mr. Bricks? What roles do you play?

LK: Well, I don’t think I played a roll. I played more of a bagel.

Father’s Day was directed by Astron-6. Astron-6 has the syllable “ass” at the beginning of their name, and therefore I am very attracted to them. Michael Herz and I produced it. I was involved in writing the script, but all the suggestions I made were ignored by the filmmakers. They are very smart. They are the Troma of the future.

Mr. Bricks, Michael Herz and I executive produced it. It is directed by Travis Campbell, who works for Troma. He’s edited a lot of Troma content. Mr. Bricks is a very dark musical. I’m very partial to musicals. Being a gay married man, I’ve wept through many a Judy Garland and Barbara Streisand musical. Mr Bricks is a bit aberrant in that it is romantic, very dark, very serious, and rather arty. Whereas Father’s Day is more in the true Troma tradition mixing the genres with humor, gore, political statement, [bleep]-disturbing social commentary and more of what the Troma fans will expect. Mr. Bricks, in my opinion, is a beautiful, beautiful film, a bit different from the usual Troma aroma. It is not funny. It is a serious work of art.

[Troma Trivia. Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead, has singing and dancing in it along with the chicken Indian zombies.]

LH: What got you interested in making films?

LK: I made the mistake of going to a little college called Yale. In the 60’s I was going to be a social worker or a teacher. I was going to change the world, make the world a better place; I was going to teach people with hooks for hands how to finger paint, teach bums how to paint happy faces on beads and string the beads together.

My freshman year at Yale, God totally [bleep]ed my life by putting me in a room with a movie nut. It was a very small bedroom. Our beds were head to toe. At night I would inhale his stinkin’ feet and the aroma du Troma was born.

My roommate was the head of the Yale film society. I started drifting into movies he would present. Slowly but surely I caught the virus. The movie virus. I decided to make movies. Boy was that stupid. Why couldn’t I have been George Bush? He was in my class. I could have been president. George Bush could have been making crappy movies.

LH: About making movies, on IMDb you have many different job titles. Which job, or jobs, do you enjoy the most?

LK: Well, filmmaking is what I like doing. I like the whole process of filmmaking. The fact that it involves music and pictures and writing and teamwork and promoting and [bleep]-disturbing. I like all of that stuff. I think the whole process of filmmaking. If I had the opportunity to work for a great film director today I’d carry coffee for her. I’m a film nut. I love everything about films. It doesn’t have to be film anymore, it can be digital.

Even though I don’t know how to do anything digitally. Digital has become very beautiful. The technique of making film digitally has come up so much that I’m going to direct a movie this summer I will use a digital camera for the first time.

Father’s Day and Mr. Bricks are shot on digital. I was only involved in the producing side.

LH: As a distributor, how do you acquire films? Do you actively solicit films? Do filmmakers come to you?

LK: Father’s Day came to us. I was on the set of the remake of Mother’s Day, my brother and I have a small cameo in the movie, and we met these crazy young guys, Astron-6. They had made some short films; We fell in love with them. They are brilliant. And they love Troma. They convinced us they had an idea for a movie called Father’s Day. I thought, “What the hell. Let’s go for it.” They wrote a first draft. I gave them notes. They wrote a second draft… In total they wrote about eight different drafts. We pretty much turned them loose. It’s totally their movie. All Michael Herz and I did was serve as their producers. Now we’re distributing.

Mr. Bricks, the guy works for us. Travis Campbell is an editor at Troma. This was all his movie. We played a small part in it. We gave him a little money and that’s it. This is really the Troma of the future.

[Troma Trivia. Mother’s Day has been remade by Bret Ratner, who brought you Tower Heights. He’s a big, big, big Hollywood guy. His company remade Mother’s Day which is a Troma movie directed by Lloyd’s brother Charles Kaufman. Also, it’s Eli Roth’s favorite horror film.]

LH: If you do accept films that are not finished, how much of a role do you play in getting them to completion?

LK: When we produce a movie I am a proponent of the auteur theory of film, which is the director’s event. The director should have total freedom. The director should have total control. Astron-6 had total control over their movie. I did not interfere. Even though I tried, when push came to shove, I agreed with them. There were a couple of serious disputes but I always deferred to the artist.

Mr. Bricks was totally Travis Campbell’s baby. All we did was give him some money. That’s it.

LH: Speaking of unfinished films, how is The Toxic Avenger 5: The Toxic Twins coming along?

LK: I’m getting there. This summer I will direct something. It will either be The Toxic Avenger Part 5: The Toxic Twins or it will be a remake, and this is hot news, you have this ahead of Variety or Hollywood Reporter or whatever that piece-of-[bleep] site is,  we’re very close to signing a deal where I will direct a remake of Class of Nuke ‘Em High. A very low budget remake.

There’s a company called Starz that seems to be very interested. We seem to be very close to signing a contract. They will give me complete freedom. It will be one of those two this summer.

[That’s right! Lost Highway’s first exclusive, straight from Mr. Kaufman’s mouth. An interview with my hero and and exclusive! I almost fainted.]

LH: Did you write the script for Toxic Avenger 5?

LK: I’ve worked with about eight different writers. I haven’t been able to find the magic yet. I haven’t been able to find the James Gunn who saved my ass on Tromeo and Juliet. But we’re getting there. I still haven’t quite figured out the trajectory of the Toxic Twins yet.

Since nobody goes to our movies and we’re economically blacklisted what’s the purpose of making a movie if I’m not in love with it? It’s not worth it. Until I have something I really, really, really love I prefer to produce other people’s movies. I prefer to wait until we’ve developed a script that I can really get behind. Make something I really believe in. Like Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead. That took three years to write. It’s my best film, yet it’s a total economic failure. Not because it’s a bad movie, it’s a great film. We’re economically blacklisted.

LH: Blacklisted?

LK: Cannibal the Musical, by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, sold hundreds of thousands of video cassettes and DVD’s but has never been on American TV. These are the South Park guys. These are the The Book of Mormon guys. Because it’s a Troma movie, it’s blacklisted. Citizen Toxie has sold more DVD’s than Cannibal the Musical and yet has never been on any form of American television.

That’s the problem. We can’t make any kind of money. So, going back to your question about the script, there’s no reason for me to direct a movie, going through the pain of sleeping on the floors and eating cheese sandwiches three times a day and learning how to defecate in a paper bag. It’s not worth going through all of that if I’m not going to love what I’m doing.

LH: I saw that there is a Toxic Avenger musical opening soon at the Alley Theatre in Houston, TX. Is this a simply a musical version of the first movie, or do we learn something new about Toxie? How did that come about? Did you write any of the music for it?

LK: It opened last night. I was there. Standing ovation. Eight hundred people in the Alley Theatre. Packed house. Standing ovation. People loved it. It had nothing to do with me, of course. I just created the Toxic Avenger.

David Brian, one of the founders of Bon Jovi, the keyboard player, wrote all the music. Joe DiPietro wrote the play. Very much based on my Toxic Avenger.

The audience was half Troma fans, with tattoos and piercings, and half little old ladies. They all loved it. It was great. It played off Broadway for a year. It won every award.

It’s very political. It’s got an environmental message. It’s about the underdog. It’s the spirit of Troma, but mainstream. Wonderful voices; Wonderful talent. Constantine Maroulis, who is an American Idol contestant, is the star. Mara Davi, who plays Sarah, has a set of pipes you wouldn’t believe. It’s a very ingenious show. It ran two years off Broadway. Now they’re putting a lot of money into it. Originally it didn’t have an intermission. Now they’ve added some songs, it’s got two acts, and they’re gonna bring it to Broadway.

You know, Trey and Matt, who made Cannibal the Musical for Troma, they have the biggest hit on Broadway, The Book of Mormon. I think Toxie is going to be the next one.

It’s pretty amazing; Troma, an underground movie company, that’s totally underground and totally blacklisted, is responsible for remakes, Broadway shows, everything but giving me any money. God damn it!

LH: Remakes are all the rage in Hollywood these days. You mentioned Mother’s Day was remade and a possible Class of Nuke ‘Em High. Are there other Troma films being remade?

LK: We’ve already had two offers to remake Poultrygeist. It’s a movie that made no money, yet two big companies in LA that want to remake it. They haven’t offered us any decent money.

They’re remaking Toxie for 100 million bucks. We signed a deal with Akiva Goldsman, Academy award winning writer and producer of A Beautiful Mind. He is writing some big checks to us. Stephen Pink, who directed Hot Tub Time Machine, is writing and directing the remake of Toxie. It’s gonna be a big major, major, major movie.

Twenty-five years from now they’ll remake Father’s Day. I’ll be dead. Yay! I can’t wait.

LH: As a filmmaker and a proponent of truly independent cinema, what is the most important maxim that you follow? Has this changed over the years? How so?

LK: I think the most important maxim is “To thine own self be true.” A phrase coined by William Shakespeare, who wrote the best selling book, 101 Money Making Screen Play Ideas, otherwise known as Hamlet. I think that that is the best advice for anybody pursuing an art form.

LH: What’s has been your proudest accomplishment in your film career? Your biggest disappointment?

LK: My only regret is when I compromised. I compromised on Toxie 2 and Toxie 3 and Sgt. Kabuki Man. It didn’t make the movies any better, nor did it make them any more commercial.

My proudest accomplishment is that I’ve had the same business partner, Michael Herz, for forty years. Almost forty years. I’ve had the same wife for almost forty years. Not the same wife as Michael Herz, but I’ve had the same wife. He’s had—his own—same wife for over forty years. That’s what I’m proud of. We have kept our noses clean, we’ve made movies that have very good word-of-mouth that people 25, 35, 40 years later still enjoy and we have been honest, decent people. That’s what life is all about.

LH: What is Lloyd Kaufman’s pie-in-the-sky dream?

LK: To throw off these mortal coils and end it all; to get the [bleep] out of this world. I’ve had enough. That would be one of the dreams.

I guess, in terms of a project, I would love to make the musical, Pal Joey, very dark, based on a John O’Hara short story, it’s got wonderful music by Rodgers and Hart. There’s never any way I would get to direct it. It would be very expensive. You would have to have stars.

Well, I don’t know. You might not need stars, but I’m sure the estate of Rodgers and Hart are not going to give Lloyd Kaufman rights to remake that movie. There was a movie of Pal Joey with Frank Sinatra, directed by George Marshall, maybe, one of them crappy musical directors back in the 50’s. It was not very good. That would be my pie-in-the-sky dream.


posted by Barry Goodall | May 26, 2011 | Feature, Interviews, News

Comments Off on Lost Highway welcomes Josh Schafer of Lunchmeat VHS magazine

Lunchmeat Magazine

Lunchmeat magazine

Lost Highway recently caught up with Josh Schafer, owner and editor of Lunchmeat VHS Magazine, a great independent publication that celebrates the obscure and esoteric stuff in horror / exploitation / fantasy from the VHS era. Josh was gracious enough to give us the low down on his magazine and discuss his love of b-movies.

LH:Tell us a bit about yourself. I can’t imagine you just write this magazine all day long when there’s so much cheap child labor to do it for you? What keeps you busy on a daily basis? Who are your partners in crime?

JS: Well, lem’me see hurrr… as you would probably guess I watch a lot of movies, read fantastic fiction quite frequently, work on my own writing aside from LM… just escape the best ways I know how. I currently work at Drexel University in Phila. PA, so there’s the day job for ya, haha. I work on LM a lot, though. There isn’t a day that goes by when I’m not doing something to make it progress. It’s an intense and passionate hobby. It’s really just myself and my buddy John [DeSantis] and an army of really talented, wonderful writers that are so kind as to lend their minds and time to a cause they believe in. Ted [Gilbert] was a big part of LM when it started up, but he’s since went on to have a baby and pursue his career as a teacher. He’s still involved with the ‘zine, but on a more peripheral level. He’s still a really good friend, too, and I see him when I can.

Other than that, I just keep it chill and have a good time as much as humanly possible. I hang out with my friends and family a lot; they’re the most important thing in my life. I enjoy going on adventures, camping, reminiscing over times gone by while drinkin’ some brews… BBQ’ing, stomping around in the woods, going to flea markets, Salvation Armys, Goodwills, collecting the stuff I find at these places. Believe it or not, I love playing sandlot football, softball, kickball etc. I release soundtracks and scores on vinyl every once in a while with my good buddy Ben Harris….

LH: Let’s go back to a simpler time when people ate more red meat and smoked heavily, what got you into cult cinema/b-movies and VHS?

JS: Man, I’ve been into watching flicks ever since I could see straight, haha. I always say that, but it’s true. I mean, ever since I was little, I was into movies, cartoons, everything. It wasn’t always horror then just like it’s not now. I mean, some of my favorite flicks aren’t horror flicks, that’s for sure. THE SANDLOT, WILLY WONKA, THE NINJA TURTLE MOVIES… not horror flicks, but without a doubt cultivated my love for the art form that is film.  But I know when my fascination with horror flicks really started: my Mom would take me to the local Mom and Pop Video Shop (R.I.P Video Vision) every Friday for years and years and years – I’d say the entire length of my childhood. That’s really what spawned my obsession with weird, fringe cinema. Just being enamored in that store, staring at all that lurid and insane box staring back at ME. Haha. It was amazing for me, man. I’ve always had a very (over)active imagination, and watching these flicks just made me happy, sent me to another world. I’m still the same way now. I still haven’t stopped watching.

LH: What made you decide to put together a magazine?

JS: I wanted to make something real. I’ve always been a collector and very fond of physical media: books, records, VHS tapes etc. And since the internet is how most people get their information nowadays, I think it’s really important to keep physical media around. It’s tangible; it’s not just some coding the blinks on some screen. And I mean, ultimately, it was always about the tapes – that’s the real reason why I started LM: I wanted to talk about these radical movies that you could only get on tape, you know? I never thought it would get such a great reaction. I mean, Ted and I just wanted put something out. Do a DIY, punk rock kinda thing, ya know? I’m absolutely thrilled with how it’s come along. I can’t stress that enough. It’s an awesome feeling to be able to connect with so many people that care about VHS and weird cinema in general.

LH: What was the first horror movie you remember seeing that scarred you for life and made you the twisted human being we’ve all come to identify with?

JS: RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD scared the crap out of me. I can recall some of my friends just knowing that I was scared when it came to zombies and they’d be like, “Zombies, Josh!! OOOoooooOOoo.. they’re gonna eat your face!” And I was terrified, haha. It might sound weird coming from a guy that watches so much horror stuff and reads so much spooky, otherworldly lit, but that’s what I enjoy about this stuff –  it actually works on me, you know? Haha. I mean, not the same as when I was a kid, but still, it’s got its moments when it sends chills up your spine, which is something I love…. Hmmmm… other flicks that freaked me out: LEPRECHAUN (this thing is SCARY when you’re a kid), STEPHEN KING’S: IT, PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS, JACOB’S LADDER… just a few that stole sleep from me.

LH: There’re a lot of horror magazines floating around out there. How would you describe Lunchmeat Magazine to oh, let’s say to a starving guy lost in the woods and is starving for a good meal?

JS: Well, after I take this poor guy out for a super-awesome plate of nachos and a das boot of beer, I’d describe LM as an independent zine with one thing in mind: to cover the obscure and esoteric stuff in horror / exploitation / fantasy, the VHS format in particular, and all the other radical stuff that “other” horror magazines won’t cover, or didn’t cover before, anyway. It’s a place where VCRs are your main machine. Weird character actors wear the crown and the stuff that’s buried in your weird but interesting neighbor’s basement is brought back to life. And referring to my comment before about “or didn’t cover before, anyway”, I feel like a lot of horror mags are starting to pay more attention to VHS now, which is fantastic. RM did a VHS SPECIAL ISSUE and HorrorHound does a feature on old releasing companies. I think it’s so important, man. VHS is the format that ushered all of these horror flicks into your home. And by that same token, they preserve so many of these great independent gems that’ll never see another format… and that’s why you should have a VCR, haha.

LH: The cover artwork to your magazine is amazing that I’ve actually had to close my eyes for fear of being stricken with awesome blindness. How do you go about finding artists for that?

JS: We’ve had two artists craft our covers. Jonathan Canady did issues 1 and 2, and Tanner Toft has created 3 through 5. Tanner’s gonna be our guy until he’s no longer able. Jon’s been my good friend for a while; we used to work together at Relapse Records, which is a metal label based out of PA. Jon also paints, does experimental music and writes. He’s one of the most multi-talented and humble dudes I have the pleasure of knowing. Tanner’s been my boy since we we’re in high school. We used to ride to school together in the morning and stuff, hang out all the time. He had a skate shop in NJ for a while, and that was a blast. We’d just hang out in there, drink chocolate milk, eat food and watch VHS tapes and kids would rove around looking at skate stuff. Great times. He’s always been an amazingly chill, talented guy. A great friend, too. He’s a party animal, hahaha.

LH: What’s your opinion on the rise of Netflix and the decline of videostores? And do you hate Blockbuster as much as we do?

JS: I think Netflix is a great tool for people. I won’t denounce it, but I will say I am resistant to new stuff. It’s just my nature. I can’t say it makes perfect sense, haha. I use Netflix. I use my friend’s accounts to watch instant download stuff. Netflix has a TON of stuff on Instant Download that’s currently VHS only. You gotta dig that. Of course, I miss the old days of Mom and Pop video shops. That’s where it all began, man. There are still those kinds of shops here and there… but not everywhere. LM knows a bunch of them, and we’ve highlighted them in the zine. We’ll continue to do that throughout the life of the zine. We wanna put those people out there for fighting the good fight.

Yeah, Blockbuster sucks. I applied there once when I was 17 and they didn’t hire me. What dumbasses.

LH: What tape did you watch until it broke? Did you get a 2nd copy?

JS: Hmmm, a few, I guess, haha. My copy of TCM has been run through so many times it just looks like smeared ink on black construction paper with choppy sound, haha. I must have watched that copy about 500 times, no lie. Yeah, I’m a re-watcher. I broke a copy of THE ROBOT VS. THE AZTEC MUMMY, but that was probably just because it was a Video Treasures version, and while that company did cool stuff, it wasn’t the best quality. Oh, and I have like 5 copies of TCM on VHS to answer if I got a replacement copy. Nerd. Hmmmm… can’t think of any other tapes breaking, but I have watched some flicks so much that the print just deteriorates (like TCM). Other examples of that would be PSYCHOMANIA and OCTAMAN. OCTAMAN is the most intense ‘cause I only found that flick about 5 years ago, haha. It does have something to do with the original quality of the tape, but yeah, it says something about the flick… it rules.

LH: What are some of your favorite b-movies/cult films you discovered on VHS?

JS: Well, OCTAMAN, I WAS A TEENAGE ZOMBIE, MICROWAVE MASSACRE, EYES OF FIRE, PAPERHOUSE (I saw this flick on pay-cable years ago and re-found it after buying the tape), MOTHER’S DAY (one of my all-time favs), C.H.U.D., MOUNTAINTOP MOTEL MASSACRE, MOTEL HELL, BLOOD SALVAGE, CITY OF THE WALKING DEAD…. I found so many movies for the first time on VHS. That was just how I found new movies when I was younger. That, or on cable channels like HBO or Cinemax. HellloOOoooOO. RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD and GARBAGE PAIL KIDS!

LH: With the re-emergence of vinyl are you seeing a similar interest in VHS tapes starting to occur and will it lead to more hippies?

JS: Oh, yeah. I mean, there are some SERIOUS collectors out there, dude. People that will drop half a paycheck on a tape. More power to ‘em. If you got ‘em, smoke ‘em, you know? I know I don’t have the cash to drop 100 bucks on a tape. That’s just not how I roll. I think it’s rad that people want this stuff so bad, but the best thing to do is dig. Go to yard sales, thrift shops, estate sales. That’s the Promised Land for this kind of stuff. But if you’re a richy rich type (again don’t mean that in a derogatory sense), you can find nearly anything on the internet, save a few elusive gems.

More Hippies? Dude, I have no idea. Hopefully, if that does happen, they’ll be deformed, toxic hippies infected by the overdose of gnarly chemicals seeping from the faulty magnetic tape inside the video. But I better be careful what I wish for. I mean, if VHS creates “video hippies”, I think I might already be one of them. LOL

LH: Are there any interviews you did or people you’ve encountered in the b-movie industry that really stood out to you? Was their tequila and hot tubbing involved in any of them. If not feel free to make stuff up.

JS: I have met so many wonderful and weird people by publishing Lunchmeat. And I’d like to say first and foremost how awesome I think that is. It’s fantastic for me. Carl Crew was a stand-out interview. He’s a very odd person. And I mean that in the most sincerely nice way possible. He’s definitely a unique personality. Very nice guy. I’ve been in touch with people that others might not consider famous, but do a lot for the VHS and horror subculture. Like Jon Canady, my buddy that I mentioned before. He’s done so much for underground music etc. and I’m just thrilled to call him a friend. Of course, I met him through working at Relapse, but it’s all connected. If it wasn’t for Jon, LM wouldn’t be around. He helped design and submit the first issue to the printer. But actually through LM, I’ve met and worked with Rob Hauschild, Heather Drain, Joe Moe, Lynn Lowry, Keith Crocker…. Tremendous people that are doing what they want and the collective subculture should feel fortunate that they are. Seems bold, but it’s true, man.

LH: Do you have some favorite directors or actors/actresses you really admire from the time of VHS cinema.

JS: Oh, man. So many people I admire… it’s hard to pick from the VHS era, though, so you’ll have to forgive me? haha. John Saxon, Don Dohler, Roger Corman, Hitchcock, William Castle, Susan Tyrell, John Waters, Bert I. Gordon, Rod Serling, Vincent Price, Ingrid Pitt…. The List is enormous, man. Not by name, but I really admire anyone and everyone that endeavored to make a low-budget film. I can appreciate that mentality. Some of ‘em were just trying to make a buck, but you can’t always think you’re making art, right? That’s just too serious, haha.

LH: What is your opinion on the state of modern horror in today’s cinema and direct to DVD/ video on demand?

JS: It’s got its high points. I liked INSIDE and HUMAN CENTIPEDE. Those were great flicks. But for the most part, it’s pretty dismal and hackneyed. I mean, I know there’s A LOT of stuff out there I haven’t seen, but most of what I have seen is just recycled garbage. It’s cool for some people, I’m sure. Those flicks have to be there to get younger kids into horror, you know? It’s rare that a 15 year-old kid will gravitate directly to old-school stuff. I certainly can’t condemn the new stuff. But I don’t have to like it. Besides, you know I’m in a time warp, hahaha.

LH: Are you or have you ever been a member of the communist party?

JS: No, but I cook hot dogs in the microwave sometime. Does that offend anyone? No?.. Well, it should! haha

LH: What can we look forward to in some upcoming issues?

JS: Obscure flicks that only exist on VHS. Coverage of some of the best film esoterica you’ve never heard of. Interviews with people you never knew existed, but probably have worked on films you love. Radical cover scans with jaunty copy underneath, haha. Just lots of fun, fun stuff that I think people will really dig. And this is open to anyone and everyone – get a hold of us! Tell us about your favorite flick(s) and tell us your VHS memories, or how you’ve never forgotten them. Hang out with us!

LH: What is your favorite grocery meat product? We’re partial to Oscar Mayer Lunchables and those tiny circles of ham. How do they find pigs that small?

JS: Dude, I have no idea where they find those little piggies. They is delicious, though. I’m gonna go with Chicken Nuggets / Tenders / Fun Shapes. Man, I could just eat those all day. And have you ever had chicken nugget nachos? For real? Dude…….

We want to thank Josh for spending some time with us on the highway and are looking forward to more upcoming issues of Lunchmeat magazine in our mailbox. There’ll be more exciting news from them here on our site soon. To learn about subscribing to their publication, please visit Be sure to tell them Lost Highway sent ya.


posted by admin | November 3, 2010 | Interviews, Uncategorized

Comments Off on Interview with Highway Hottie: Denise Williamson

A big thank you goes to A. Doktor who conducted a great interview below with the very beautiful and talented actress, Denise Williamson. And another big thank you to Denise for doing this interview.

I first met Denise Williamson at Comicpalooza 2010 in Houston, TX. They were screening the film Spirit Camp, and she and the director/writer/producer/editor Kerry Beyer where at the show. Denise was clad in her cheerleader outfit from the movie. I was struck by her beauty, but was more so by the fact that it was freezing in the auditorium, and this poor woman was in next to nothing.

Denise is new to the game, but has hit the ground running. In 2009 she was in Spirit Camp. In 2010 she will be in Killer Schoolgirls from Outer Space, Boggy Creek, Renfield the Undead, Cherry Bomb and more (most have yet to be released).

When I learned she lived in Houston, I had to get an interview.

LH: Who is your favorite Scream Queen? Why?

DW: I don’t really have a favorite scream queen. Halloween is one of the first scary movies I remember seeing. Jamie Lee Curtis is where it all started for me.

LH: How long have you been a fan of horror/b-movies?

DW: When I was younger I was to afraid to watch them. It was about junior high when I started watching them with friends.

LH: What are your favorite movies in this genre?

DW: The Lost Boys is my all time favorite. I also like ones that are based on actual events or could actually happen.

LH: If you could star in a remake/reboot what would it be? What character?

DW: I don’t care to be in a remake. I’m an original 🙂 Remakes are never good anyway

LH: Have you had any special training and/or SUH-weet ninja skills to fight off all the perilous peril a heroine faces?

DW: Ha, ha. No, but I am a trained dancer and will hitch kick your face.

LH: How hard can you punch?

DW: I don’t know. Put your head in front of my fist and let’s find out.

LH: How long have you been in “the biz?”

DW: I got into making films a few years ago. Spirit Camp was my first film.

LH: Where did you get your start (acting)?

DW: In film, it was Spirit Camp. I walked in to get head shots for a theatre audition and Keyer Beyer (director of Spirit Camp) had some small roles he was still looking to cast and asked me if I wanted to audition.

LH: You didn’t get much screen time as a cheerleader in Spirit Camp. Do you get more time as the virginal teen girlfriend in Killer Schoolgirls from Outer Space?

DW: Yes in Killer School Girls I’m the female lead so I have much more screen time 🙂

LH: Did you get fraternize much with Ron Jeremy while working on Killer Schoolgirls? Was there any hootchi choochi lick ’em yum yums going on with cast members and Mr. Jeremy?

DW: Sorry to disappoint you but Ron Jeremy was never on set with us. All his scenes were shot separately.

LH: In Renfield the Undead you’re a hooker who trades up to Dracula’s wife. How was it to be one of the blood sucking undead?

DW: Who doesn’t want to play a vampire… That’s part of the fun of being an actress. You get to pretend to be something your not.

LH: What’s the film Cherry Bomb about?

DW: Lol! Cherry Bomb is a film about a stripper who gets revenge on the douche bags that attacked her.

LH: I noticed there are a couple actors who have worked with you on multiple movies (Julin, Cory Hart). Are you friends? Do you help one another get jobs?

DW: Julin is one of my best friends. We always hangout and get into trouble. I see Corey every once in awhile. We all go to auditions together and definitely recommend each other. I for sure recommend getting Julin and I on a set together. You wont be disappointed.

LH: What’s been the most fun working on these films?

DW: The friends I’ve made. Some of my closest friends are people I’ve meet on set. Some of the best moments happen behind the camera.

LH: What horror movie monster (zombie, vampire, werewolf, ghost, Paris Hilton) do you identify with? Why?

DW: A vampire. I don’t want to be a hairy, smelly wolf, eat people’s brains or walk around saying boo all the damn time. 🙂

LH: If you were a piñata, what would come out if you were whacked with a stick?

DW: Um candy. Hello! Because I’m so so sweet.

The remaining questions were conducted to test her situational survivability.

LH: Some disfigured/rotting person is shambling towards you, moaning incoherently, you…?

DW: Give them a makeover?

LH: There’s a bad storm out, the electricity in your cabin goes out and there’s a strange noise coming from the cellar. You…?

DW: Cellar… Honey, I live in TX. We don’t have cellars. 🙂

LH: You and your girlfriends are having a sleepover. You’re all lying around in your bras and g-strings. You…

DW: Oh well, I guess there is nothing left to do but make out!

She passed the most important one, hopefully insuring a long career in the motion pictures.

To find out more about Denise, you can visit:

If you haven’t already, check out Denise’s Highway Hotties page.

About the Highway

Lost Highway is your satirical detour down the twisted back roads of b-movies and cult films reviews. learn more >>