Your movie Rock'n'Roll
Frankenstein - in a few words, what is it about?
A music agent, his necrophiliac nephew and a burnt-out roadie
with a knack for grave-robbing join forces to create a superstar from some
of the greatest rockers who ever lived: Elvis, Morrison, Hendrix, Vicious.
But things go bad when Liberace's love tool mistakenly ends up in the mix.
why rock'n'roll, why Elvis
... and why Liberace?
legend is pretty universal and the rock stars featured in
Rock'n'Roll Frankenstein are known worldwide – especially
Elvis. So I thought that
aspect would help the movie’s commercial prospects. As for
- my mother was the president of Lee’s North American fan club. So it was an
homage to her. She died in a tragic accident (where she lost her legs)
while I was writing the script. Thankfully we eventually found her legs
(stuck under an 18 wheeler) but it was too late to do Mom any good. When I
say “legs” I mean prosthetics. She was already a double amputee when
the 18 wheeler ran her down. But I digress…
sources of inspiration for Rock'n'Roll
Frankenstein, and how did you and Vito Cannella and John Klann
come up with the story in the first place?
memories of watching the old
Universal horror films from when I was a kid
and Paul Morrisey’s Flesh for Frankenstein were an influence. The
storyline for Rock'n'Roll Frankenstein
came about during a bullshit session with my
friend Vito Cannella in a bar one night.
Frankenstein is most certainly a goofy movie, but it has its gory
bits as well - so do talk about your movie's approach to horror!
we weren’t attempting to make a scary movie. It’s camp. So
low budget cheap gore worked okay. We had a fair amount of makeup effects
which were all handled by Craig Lindberg and his small crew which he calls
General Mayhem. Incidentally, Craig has gone on to be quite successful and
was recently nominated for an Emmy.
of course also have to talk about Rock'n'Roll
Frankenstein's brand of comedy for a bit!
a sucker for sophomoric humor. So to me it was funny to stick a straight
man with a gay man’s penis (especially when it speaks with the voice of
Liberace). And as for the Liberace part of the monster being obsessed with
gerbil stuffing and dingleberries - I think that's funny too. But of
course it’s in bad taste.
can you tell us about your overall directorial approach to your story at
Just get it done. I’m a hack.
Do talk about your key cast, and why exactly these
The movie was cast non-SAG with Backstage ads
and internet postings. Strangely, a number of actors turned down roles
offered them after reading the entire script. The material
disturbed/offended them. So casting was somewhat of an arduous process.
But I eventually found actors who could act and had the right look for
their perspective parts.
What can you tell us about the shoot as such,
and the on-set atmosphere?
The shoot went about a month long during the winter of 98/99 in
New York City and Long Island. A few months later we shot another 5 days
due to some out-of-focus footage caused by a defective camera lens.
Fortunately for us, the insurance company paid for that. We shot in Super
16mm and eventually blew-up the film to 35mm.
As for the atmosphere on the set? I thought it was relaxed. But
we were always up against the clock. And of course time is money. So that
led to some tension/conflict. The most serious example of this occurred
when we were shooting a dramatic face to face confrontation between the
Monster and a gerbil named Gus. Gus was being very uncooperative and I
accidentally killed him (well, maybe not so accidentally) and some on the
crew were upset with me. But I did dedicate Rock'n'Roll Frankenstein
to the memory of Gus.
Frankenstein has only recently been re-released - so how did that
come into being?
Mike Raso [Michael
Raso interview - click here] from Camp Motion Pictures
contacted me out of the blue last year. An earlier incarnation of his
Independent Cinema, released Rock'n'Roll Frankenstein
on DVD in 2002. After that
licensing deal expired I signed licensing agreements with a few other
micro distribs. And now I’m back where I started. But this new DVD
release is a 16x9 wide screen version compared to the old 4x3 version.
Unfortunately there’s no Blu-ray, just a DVD version. But I’m told the
digital download on Amazon is HD. To be honest the transfer which was made
from a 35mm print (not the negative) is pretty dark, or more accurately
the blacks are “crushed”.
A few words about critical reception of
Frankenstein, both then and now?
Back in 1999/2000 Rock'n'Roll Frankenstein
got invited to a number of foreign
horror/fantastic film festivals where the reception was always quite
positive. The first screening was in Helsinki. We went on to Sweden,
Sitges, Portugal, São Paulo, Korea and other stops in-between (like
Bangkok, baby!) And to cap things off the late great Jess Franco called
Rock'n'Roll Frankenstein “Shit” at
a rinky-dink festival I attended in Estepona, Spain.
But there are plenty of people who absolutely despise
Rock'n'Roll Frankenstein. A
frequent complaint is that the movie is homophobic.
according to the IMDb, you haven't directed much since
- so why is that, and any future projects you'd like
I’m no director. I work as a sound editor
and write screenplays, mostly horror. But I haven’t had a lot of
success. I’m what you call a loser.
How did you get into the filmworld in the
first place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?
I went to a college that had a small film department but I was
expelled in my sophomore year (bit of a wild youth). A couple of years
later I was able to get a job cutting porn (an ex-film teacher got me the
gig). This was back in 1982. In essence I got paid to learn how to edit
and then went on to become a freelance editor in the legitimate film
world. I even made a short documentary about the first pornographer I
worked for. It’s titled Prince of Porn:
And as an added bonus here’s a link to a short film I made at
the college I was kicked out of:
the years, you have worked on films in a wide variety of positions - so do
talk about your different filmjobs for a bit, and what do you enjoy the
most, what could you do without?
Like I said, I
edited porn for about two years and then became a freelance sound and
picture editor on "legitimate" films. In 1988 I sold my first
screenplay to a producer I had done editing work for - Underground
Terror. The finished product is pretty much an embarrassment. I got
other screenwriting work for low budget producers but nothing to write
home about – or write about here.
What can you tell us
about your filmwork besides Rock'n'Roll
Frankenstein (in whatever position), and how has the filmworld
changed over the years you've been in business?
Here’s an amusing story:
In 1994 I was introduced to a wannabe film producer - a rather
crude transplanted Israeli gentleman who owned a number of taxi cabs in
New York City. The man who made the introduction was a hapless porn
producer, operating one of the last remaining porno houses in Times Square
- the Capri Theater. To give you an idea of the Israeli fellow’s savvy
regarding the film biz, he thought it only natural to go to a has-been
porn producer/theater operator to find an appropriate candidate (me) to
write, direct and edit the masterpiece he so desperately wanted to put to
celluloid. Be that as it may, I wrote him his screenplay and we shot it in
eleven days in the summer of 1995. Unfortunately, myself and the cameraman
my producer hired didn't see eye to eye. This led to a confrontation on
the second day of shooting. I attempted to choke the life out of him.
You'll have to take my word for it that I was justified. As the crew
pulled me off him he was able to sink his teeth into my arm and tear out a
nice chunk of flesh. Needless to say, getting through the rest of that
shoot is not a memory I cherish. The film which came out of that
association was a cold turd titled Fare Games.
would you describe yourself as a director?
And I’ll never attempt to direct again.
who inspire you?
I’m a fan of most of Nicolas
Winding Refn’s films – and I had lunch with him once.
Your favourite movies?
The Invitation and Miss Violence. Other favorite movies: Calvaire, Only
God Forgives, Refn’s Pusher trilogy, Nightcrawler,
Texas Chain Saw
Massacre, To Live and Die in LA, John Carpenter's The Thing, Day of the
Dead, Apocalypse Now, Rolling Thunder, and Gone with the Wind (just
kidding about that one).
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
and of course, films you really deplore?
Anything made by
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
for the interview!