Before anything else, could you please introduce yourself to those who don't
already know who you are?
Howdy. Iím Jon
McBride and make low budget movies. Very low budget movies.
Not too long ago, your first two films, Cannibal Campout and Woodchipper Massacre,
both from 1988, have been re-released on Camp
Motion Pictures. What can you tell us about these films?
I can tell you I am stunned that so many people have seen them. At
the time I didnít think anyone but the people involved were going to see
Campoutt, and when it was actually picked up for distribution I couldnít
believe it. The fact that itís achieved any kind of cult status is
totally amazing to me. Even after Cannibal
Campout was distributed I thought only
a handful of people had seen it and it would disappear into video heaven.
It wasn't until the internet craze took off that I started to hear from
tons of people who had seen the movie and even own it! I was incredulous.
I still am. It's also a bit overwhelming.
Campout ended up being very
popular and I think the reason for that stems from the fact that everyone
involved really loved low budget horror and I think it shows in the movie.
We didnít take ourselves too seriously and the fun factor shines
through. I read your interview with Amy Chludzinski [click
here] and she seems to
mirror my feelings. And I should add that Amy was such a fantastic trooper
as well as incredibly sweet woman. Not many actresses would have put up
with what she had to.
Another reason for Cannibal
popularity was because of the gore. I donít think anyone had seen
anything quite like it and was shocked. At the time no one really dared
show some of the stuff we did. I wish we had even gone a little farther
but ultimately I was very happy with what we achieved and how the FX
turned out, especially the scene where the campers are force-fed parts of
each other. That scene incidentally was not scripted per se. Once everyone
was doused in Karo syrup and the camera started rolling some interesting
improvisation took place, especially by the guys playing the cannibals,
most of which ended up in the final cut. For instance, when Amyís face
was pushed down into my ripped out stomach neither one of us were
expecting that. Her horrified expression and scream was real. You can even
see me start to laugh just before it cuts away. Everyone tossed out ideas
that day that helped make the scene more gruesome, but I have to give most
of the credit to Gene Robbins who played the lead cannibal and went all
out in that sequence. He was great.
Excessive gore really was the main
focus of the movie so we tried to work it in as much as possible. At that
time a lot of movies were trying to outdo each other in the gore
department and that was part of the fun, trying to cross the lineÖwhich
I think was eventually accomplished but actually Cannibal
even the movie I planned on making. I had a completed script called Bachlegore
Party that I really loved and was probably one of the most
gruesome and disturbing scripts I had ever worked on. The problem was it
was just too big a movie to undertake. There were too many characters,
complicated FX and location shots and it soon became apparent that the
movie wasnít going to happen. I tried to think of a way Bachlegore
be simplified, realized that if I was going to make a movie, it was going
to have to be bare bones, a small cast and excruciatingly uncomplicated, and out of frustration one day I just said out loud, ďForget locations.
We should just shoot a movie in the woods, hack up a couple of people and
call it something like Cannibal
Campout.Ē I was halfway kidding at the
time but the simplicity of the idea proved to be the perfect springboard
to actually start shooting something, so Bachlegore Party was shelved and
Campout was released, the distributors
asked me if I could make them another movie. They knew that the home video
market was drying up for low budget stuff and was hoping to get at least
one more title out before that happened. I knocked a few ideas around but
couldnít really come up with anything until a friend of mine mentioned
the local woodchipper killing. At the time I was living in
Connecticut and there was a real life murder case where a husband killed
his wife, froze her body, chopped it up and fed the pieces through a
woodchipper in their back yard. I thought about it and decided that a woodchipper
movie might be topical and get some added exposure if it
was similar to a real crime. That was basically the seed of inspiration
but I still didnít know how I was going to approach the subject.
Actually it wasnít until I saw Tom Casiello and Denice Edeal in a local
theater production that the story for Woodchipper Massacre formed in my mind. They
were so good and really stood out and I knew I wanted to use them in the
movie. After meeting them and having them agree to be in the movie I
shaped the script around their characters and suddenly I found the project
morph from another gorefest, which was the original plan for Woodchipper Massacre,
to a dark comedy of sorts. And working with the kids was a blast. Both Tom
and Denice were highly professional, and really got into their roles. I
also enjoyed having complete control over the shooting schedule and not
having to cart equipment off on various locations. Most of the movie was
shot at one location and it made the process much easier. Faster too. I
also enjoyed the comic element of the movie. It really does play like a
sit-com and thatís what I intended.
were the films received upon initial release?
I was totally thunderstruck at how
Campout was received. You have to understand that I never really
thought anyone was actually going to see it. Making the movie was really
just a lark and a test of sorts, a chance to get together with some
friends and have fun. Everyone involved loved low budget horror movies and
spent most of their free time either watching or talking about them and
none of us thought the movie would be seen outside a small circle of
friends and family. The plan at the time was to try and sell a few copies
to local video stores, which we ended up doing, however when I eventually
learned that a distributor in Hollywood was interested in selling it I was
I was also shocked at how well it
sold but that was just good timing since it came out at a time where
anything new on a video shelf was immediately snatched up and rented and
video stores were buying anything out of the ordinary so timing had a
great deal to do with that. Iím still amazed that so many people have
seen it and that itís still in some video stores. Just about anyone
whoís into low budget horror is familiar with Cannibal
Campout and it seems to
be somewhat of a cult movie now.
Woodchipper Massacre wasnít received
nearly as well. But then everyone was expecting another bloodbath.
Including the distributor. They were disappointed after seeing it for the
first time and I suppose anyone who was familiar with Cannibal
Campout was too. It
was suggested that I add more gore but once the movie was completed I
liked it the way it was. Gore for goreís sake doesnít appeal to me. It
worked for Cannibal
Campout and was even necessary but for a movie like
Woodchipper Massacre I felt it would have detracted. I really was trying to focus
more on the plot and the characters and was hoping to make Woodchipper Massacre
appeal to a wider audience. Cannibal
Campout wasnít exactly the sort of thing
youíd find in the family section and I thought Woodchipper Massacre
viewed by a more diverse audience.
I was disappointed by the reaction to Woodchipper Massacre
in relation to Cannibal
Campout. I still think Woodchipper Massacre is superior to
Campout in plot and characterizations but somehow it just didnít connect with a
lot of people. It was a farce and a spoof and either you like it or you
donít. That became obvious to me after the initial screenings. Some
people didnít get it at all while others howled with laughter. I think
it depends on your sense of humor. One interesting note, and this really
surprised me, kids love it. Mark Poloniaís daughter called it her
favorite movie and preferred it over Disney fare when she was little.
Were you at all
surprised that these films got a second lease of life?
Very. I was contacted by Camp
Motion Pictures who told me about their new company and interest in
releasing both Cannibal
Campout and Woodchipper Massacre on DVD to start
out their lineup. I was very excited about the idea and happy to
contribute as much as I could to the releases. Over the years a lot of people have asked me when these movies
would be released on DVD and I never really thought it would happen until Camp
Motion Pictures contacted me and the experience has been great. They did a fantastic
job putting the DVDís together and the fans of the movies are thrilled
with the finished product and extras. These releases have more extras than
most of the big Hollywood DVD releases. They also give a great insight
into the world of low-budget movie making and would be of interest to
anyone who ever thought about making a movie on their own.
also taken the lead roles in these two films (as well as a host of other
films). What do you enjoy more, acting or directing?
Well, doing both at the same time is a double edged sword. Itís a lot
easier to do one or the other. I basically cast myself in the movies
because I know I can depend on myself showing up and that I will get the
job done. Too often a low budget movie will never get off the ground or
finished if youíre working with unpaid actors that have trouble making
all the shoot dates, and when you cast yourself in a movie that isnít a
problem at all. Itís also fun to act, especially with the troupe of
regular actors that appear in our movies however I am never happy with my
performance. Itís really painful to watch myself sometimes but I think
just about every actor is self conscious in that regard. Personally I
would rather just direct or act. Not both. And I definitely prefer
directing to acting.
your favourite acting jobs?
Some of my favorite
acting jobs were on stage but I think youíre referring to the movies. I
really enjoyed playing the Priest in Black Mass/DaVinci Curse. I also had
a great time playing Wayne in Among Us. It was funny because when John
Dalton, the writer of both movies, showed his family the screener of Black
Mass, his family asked who was playing the Priest and they didnít believe
him when he said it was the same guy who played Wayne. That was a lot of
fun and satisfying to hear as an actor.
I've read somewhere that you once
also had a role on the popular daily soap Days of our Lives. Is
that at all true?
Yes, that is true. Actually I worked on a couple of
soaps and it was a blast. I had so much fun and was lucky to experience that. But learning all those lines can
be a bit intimidating and unnerving. I still havenít mastered it and am
really envious of people who can look at a script once and remember it.
The line learning process has never been easy for me.
I definitely feel that I learned a lot while
working on soap sets. Of course, every soap is different so you get to try
out different ways of shooting. For instance, Young and the Restless
blocked and rehearsed a scene then shot it right
away whereas Days of our Lives blocked and rehearsed all morning then shot in the
afternoon. You also learn how to position yourself with the camera,
eyeline stuff, and working occasionally with teleprompters, which I love.
There's nothing quite like working on a soap set and the experience was
quite different from the way I thought it was going to be. I think working
a full time gig on a soap would be one of the best jobs any actor could
According to my information, your directing
career took a long break after your first two films. Why was that?
I was really busy
producting music videos for MCA Records and just didnít have any time to
work on another movie for a while.
the mid-1990's onwards, you have co-directed quite a number of films with
the Polonia-brothers. What can you tell us about them?
One day, out of the blue, I
received a phone call from Mark Polonia. He told me he was a low budget
movie maker, had really liked Cannibal
Campout and wanted to make a movie with me.
I was a bit surprised by this as I hadnít worked on any low budget
projects since Woodchipper Massacre but thought it would be fun to at least talk
with Mark and his brother John. After meeting them face to face it took
about five minutes for me to realize I wanted to work with these guys. We
talked about different ideas and Mark told me about a sci-fi script he had
been working on. They already had some of the puppets and different props
so we decided to shoot that movie which eventually became Feeders.
Working with the Polonias is like
going to a party every day. And I never laugh as hard as when weíre
working together. Ninety percent of our outtakes have someone busting up.
Words canít describe how much fun we have when we work and I think some
of that comes across in the movies too. We had an amazing on-set chemistry
which is very rare and shot most of our movies so quickly that itís
really a blur.
Our movies are constantly met with mixed reviews.
Some people really love them while others canít stand them. And some of
the criticism is justified. Sure, some of the effects and props are
painfully hokey. Yup, the acting isnít going to win any awards. True,
the storylines are sometimes cobweb thin. But weíre talking about NO
budget movies here. NO budget as in not ANY. It seems like a cop out for
movie makers to always blame their shortcomings on lack of funds but the
unfortunate truth isÖthatís the way it is. You work with what you have
whether itís actors, locations, props, whatever. Then you have a choice
and that is, A) Do we bother making this even though itís not going to
look like Transformers or are we going to, B) Use what materials and
people are available to us, have a heapload of fun, do it anyway and see
what happens. Usually the Polonias and myself just plunge ahead and make
the damn movie just because we enjoy doing it.
Iíve said it before and Iíll say it
againÖworking with the Polonia brothers is the greatest experience there
is and that alone keeps me going back to collaborate with them time after
time. Iíve never worked with other moviemakers who make the process so
enjoyable and so much fun. Even to this day I am stunned that our movies
have had such wide releases and I think a lot of it is luck and having
something available at the right time. Believe me, Mark and John and
myself never once had illusions of grandeur regarding the movies we made
or their quality. We are well aware of their shortcomings. But we do pour
everything we have into them and try our best, no matter how limited our
resources may be.
first collaboration with the Polonias was Feeders (1996). A few
words about this film?
Again, we had a blast. It was like
partying the whole time. All we did was laugh. They were the coolest,
funniest guys I had ever been around.
Just that I was amazed that Feeders was distributed by Blockbuster. My jaw actually dropped when I
heard the news. I still think it was a major fluke that it happened
though. At the time Independence Day had just been released theatrically
and Blockbuster was specifically looking for a sci-fi movie. If that
hadn't been the case I don't think Feeders would have gotten nearly the
exposure it did. Or any at all. Really, so much of getting a low budget
movie out and distributed highly depends on luck and timing.
Iím hoping that a
distributor might decide to release Feeders again down the line with all
the extras that never made it into the first DVD release, including the
original cut of the movie, bloopers, documentaries and commentary tracks.
The outtake reel alone would be worth getting the DVD. Itís hysterical.
In Feeders 2: Slay Bells, you did
play a part but didn't have a hand in directing, right? Why that, and a
few words about Feeders 2 (1998)?
Well, I did a cameo and directed some of the second unit
footage. I was living about 2,000 miles away from the Polonias and it
wasnít possible for me to travel so we decided I would just shoot some
footage myself and they would edit it in. When I shot the footage I really
didnít know too much about the script. It might not have even been
written when I shot my stuff. I do remember being taken aback by the story
when Mark Polonia told me it involved another alien attack during
Christmas and Santa Claus. That worried me a lot and I told Mark that I
thought they were making a mistake going in that direction. Of course,
when I saw the final product I loved it. It was one of the funniest things
I had ever seen.
After shooting stuff on my own and sending it to
the Brothers to edit in with their stuff we joked about doing an entire
movie that way, shooting scenes with actors that arenít even in the same
room and editing it together. It really is amazing what can be
accomplished in editing. Itís still my favorite part of the process. The
first interior van scene in Cannibal
Campout was shot like that too. I could never
get all the actors in that scene together at the same time so we shot
everyoneís lines individually and when they cut together you really
What about Terror
Mark Polonia can tell it better than I can. He wrote this about our Terror
After the success of Feeders we decided to try it
again. This time we would travel to McBrideís area and warmer
weather. We had access to a large mansion that would be empty for
several days so we fashioned a story to fit the location. The
result: Terror House.
Again I was given the task of writing the story. I combined
several ideas from unfinished scripts and added some new twists to create
a story that resembles an H.P. Lovecraft tale; A dark house, people
trapped inside cut off from the outside world and inside something
monstrous lurking in the darkness. Thatís all the plot I can
reveal without spoiling it for those of you who may see it. But in
comparison, it is an updated monster movie like they used to make in the
early 80' s like The Boogens and Unseen.
This time locations wouldn't be a problem. The mansion and
its many rooms and halls would do. Only an additional highway scene
and some exteriors of the grounds would be needed.
As far as effects, the story called for some lightning shots,
several digitally touched up shots of the mansion with brick and boards on
it and the big finale of the house being blown to smithereens.
Make-up effects necessitated a complete creature suit made by Nightview
Productions (based on a design by my brother) a head that becomes severed
but still flops about, arm rippings and other gore FX.
completed effects worked well once we got around to shooting them, the
only problem being that the owner of the mansion strictly forbid any use
of fake blood because of its staining nature. This proved to hamper
the actual shooting but we snuck in some and later would shoot inserts
with blood splashing and gory murders. You can't even tell.
The creature looked pretty good although he is kept in the dark till about
half-way through the movie. We decided the monster would wear a
dirty shirt, in its own perverse way of trying to be human (actually
because we ran out of money and couldn't afford anything else) but he had
goat legs and long grotesque fingers, greasy long black hair and monstrous
feet. It would work fine.
To help ease the burden and lighten the production load, Jon
McBride shot several key flashback scenes with a scantily clad girl
roaming the halls, taking a bath, etc. This proved to be a
good move as the shooting schedule was tighter than it had been before. He
shot four hours of footage. Enough to make an entirely different
movie. We arrived with actors and crew after a long eight hour
drive. After unloading the equipment and a brief tour of the mansion
we were ready to roll.
This time we didn't care if it rained or snowed because of the fact
that 98% of the movie was indoors. This also helped to speed up
shooting. Before we arrived there was a huge snowstorm and the
entire shoot almost went down the drain, but we were determined to see
this movie get made.
Shooting began at 11:00 p.m. and ended at four a.m. Six
scenes were shot. They involved our actors awaking to find
themselves trapped in the house. Then the power goes out.
Naturally they must first find the fuse box and encounter an unwelcome
force who is cranky and a bit hungry. The energy behind the scenes
almost matched the on-screen energy as things really clicked and everyone
During a screening of the dailies several days later we dubbed Jon
McBride the "Prince Of Profanity" as his character speaks in a
southern drawl and constantly adlibs curse words which just seemed funny.
His character was a jerk anyway, the character you love to hate, and we
hardly got through any takes without laughing.
Another fine actor along this time was Bob Dennis. Bob has
appeared in two low-budget films. One, Savage Vows,
recently finished shooting under his direction. He is very talented
and is currently starring in the movie we're shooting right now called The House That Screamed.
Holly Harrington played the mystery girl and did a remarkable job.
Holly had a lot of stage experience under her belt but had never acted
before a camera. You'd never know it though. She was a natural
and a real trooper.
The actor who had to wear the monster suit had a very thankless
job. The costume was hot and stuffy and visibility was low which
necessitated many re-takes as he tended to run into walls and grope for
actors five feet away in the opposite direction.
Lighting for many of the scenes was extremely difficult. The
house was very big and the walls were creme colored so we would bounce the
light from low angles and once again paint the frame. We would then
bathe our actors in a light blue light. This seems to always
bother people. "Why would there be lights and colors in
total darkness," they ask? I try to explain its just a
perception of darkness and a way to make the shots interesting and they
still don't get it! Let them watch a movie shot without lighting and
see how long they put up with it.
There's always one scene in a movie that proves to be difficult
while shooting. Terror House was no exception.
During a lengthy sequence where our surviving characters take refuge in a
small bedroom and discover a diary which leads to the flashbacks we had
some trouble. First of all, the actors kept blowing the lines.
And not just a few times. It happened over and over. Then, the
laughter set in and once that starts it's contagious. Three hours later
the scene was finished. Everyone thought it would be the low
point of the movie because of all the blown takes but we ended up fixing
it in post.
After this scene we filmed a decapitation. Well, not really,
because as the monster lops of Bob Dennisíhead, it really
just flops back and dangles. Because of the "no blood
clause" we filmed the decapitation dry then added blood later and
made it work in the editing.
Finally, days of no sleep and non stop shooting took its toll.
We could barely concentrate. One of the crew stared at a tripod and
couldn't even remember how to unlatch the camera. We were beat.
Sleep came easy that night for everyone.
The last day of principal shooting ended on a Sunday. Our
shooting schedule consisted of a long climactic scene in monsters basement
lair, strewn with body parts. Several dolly shots were set up but
because of the limited space only one proved to be worth using.
As the day rolled on, a fight was staged between Jon McBride and
the monster. Needless to say, Jon lost his arms.
However, the shoot ended on a happy note as we filmed numerous shots of
the monster chasing a character down steps and through dark halls. Again,
dolly shots were set up, this time more successfully. We actually
finished at a decent hour and prepared for our long drive home.
We were very happy with the
end result of Terror House and were proud just to have
completed the project. Especially with a limited budget, time, and
resources. Of course, no movie is perfect and we all have work with
what we have. After all, anyone
can make a film for $50 million. Itís done every day. The
real skill is working with nothing and still coming up with something.
And that's what we did.
Some words about Hellgate: The House that
Screamed II (2001)?
it was another really fun shoot. And if you donít mind here is a nice
recollection of the shoot by Mark Polonia, John Polonia, and myself:
fills the skies as a woman stirs in her sleep. Haunted by dark visions and
ghostly creatures she wakes screaming. A voice calls out to her. Following
it downstairs she is besieged by hands that appear from the darkness,
tearing her head from the shoulders. So begins the backdrop to the Hellgate: The House that
its cues from the original
The House that
Screamed, a 1999 home video release,
Polonia Brothers Entertainment and Jon McBrideís
are retaining elements of the original film, while unveiling more of the
mysterious houseís secrets and the reason for its hauntings.
is much more to tellĒ, says Mark Polonia, one of the films three
directors, ďThe original supplied a framework, while the sequel adds new
dimensions and expounds on the hauntings, plus the first one did extremely
Hollywood Video reported it being a top horror rental in their first
sixty days and it out performed in rentals for the next seven monthsĒ.
Polonias and Jon McBride are no strangers to hot home video releases.
Their first collaboration, Feeders, was a campy sc-fi horror film that was
Blockbusters' #1 independent rental for 1996. They have worked and
collaborated on five movies since, including Terror House, Feeders
2, Blood Red Planet and Dweller. The hard work has finally paid off too as
the three are now in negotiations with a Hollywood company to move into a
bigger arena and produce pictures exclusively for other companies with
much larger budgets.
The House that
Screamed II was a milestone for many reasons. It was the first
movie to be cast off the Internet. ďWe
really needed some new faces,Ē commented Mark Polonia. ďPlus this was
a fairly large cast, larger than we normally work with and since we shoot
most of our stuff in rural Pennsylvania itís really tough to find actors
who are talented as well as available. So we posted some casting notices
on various acting websites and were surprised at the number of inquiries
we received. Weíre always open to new talent and anxious to work with
people who have the necessary incentive and enthusiasm that we look for.
And we lucked out on The House that
Newcomers to the Polonia
Bros/Intercoast fold included Brice Kennedy from West Virginia, Jeff Dylan
Graham from Indiana, and Leslie Culton from Ohio. All did a great job and
are extremely gifted actors. A real camaraderie was built with the cast
and plans are afoot to work again real soon.Ē
Polonia adds, ďWe were a bit worried that everyone might not get along
or that some of the actors might end up not being able to make the
schedule but this was one of those rare occasions that everything just
clicked and worked like clockwork. There were no problems, no
difficulties, no personality clashes, it was like a small family working
together. A real bonding took place and I think itís apparent as you
watch the movie.Ē
effects were also treated differently this time around. There are creature
effects, special make up appliances, and even state of the art digital
The House that
Screamed II.. ďThe original was somewhat limited in
the effects departmentĒ, Mark explained, ďIan Flory, a talented guy
from Scotland who we found on the Internet handled the digital stuff
including electricity shots and a portal sequence. Brett Piper, the
director of Drainiac, handled the creature effects, which included some
head masks and demon hand puppets.
movie is actually gorier than the original, something that wasnít
intended at the beginning. ďWe were trying for a more surreal
atmosphere,Ē says Jon McBride who played the part of Professor Pollenfax
as well as co-directing and producing. ďWe wanted The House that
Screamed II to be the type of movie that didnít have to rely on gore to be scary. We
didnít even plan it but the gore just sort of started to creep in,
slowly, and before we knew it there was a lot more than we had envisioned.
It works really well too. Itís not gore for gore's sake.Ē
locations other than the house were used, including a TV studio, rock
quarry, and local cemetery. As with the first movie, most of the sequences
are night-time based, which made for many a long evening, especially in
the cold Pennsylvania fall season. All the scenes scripted were shot, with
minimal compromise. Mark explains, ďOnly one exception was the end hell
sequence. A more elaborate idea was planned, but we settled on a simpler,
more effective sequence. Shocking is a better word for it. Jon was wrapped
in chains, being torn apart with all this blood on him, screaming so loud
all the neighbors heard him. It looked great when it was all cut together.
I thought for sure the cops
were gonna show upĒ.
McBride recalls, ďYeah, here I am tied up being yanked to pieces and all
this blood is dripping from me and I have to scream over and over again.
It was exhausting but exhilarating and fun at the same time. I just prayed
that the camera was getting it all.Ē Jon continues, ďI remember everything about the day we shot that
scene and we approached it with some trepidation. It was one of the only
scenes we didnít have a storyboard for, or even a clear understanding of
how we were going to make it work visually. We kicked around a few ideas,
discussed various angles that could work but didnít when we started
shooting. The amazing thing is, a bottle of chocolate syrup made
everything come together and made the scene work. The FX artist was going
to start applying blood on me for the sequence and since we were shooting
in black and white I had an idea to use chocolate syrup instead. I
remembered reading that thatís what they used in Night
of the Living Dead, plus it was bound to taste good too. Man, was I wrong.
Unfortunately, this was not that delicious Hersheyís chocolate syrup but
some sort of cheap generic brand that tasted absolutely horrible! I have
never tasted anything so vile in my life! So after having my hands secured
into chains and my mouth filled with the stuff the camera started to roll
and the result was unexpectedly disturbing. I started to scream, but
instead of a scream I began to gag. The gagging went on and on as the
syrup just flowed out of my mouth in a never ending stream and drenched
me. What was going to be a short take ended up going on and on and on. And
the camera just kept rolling as I continued to fight against the chains
and bellow at the top of my lungs. At one point I caught a glimpse of John
Polonia who is never affected by gore and he was slack jawed and ashen. I
knew then that we had captured something really horrific and that pleased
me immensely. When we were finally done he had said watching the scene
actually made him sick to his stomach which, if you know John Polonia, is
absolutely unheard of.Ē
have an unusual situation when it comes to workingĒ, says Mark,
describing the collaboration he and his brother share with Jon McBride.
ďFirst, we all get along great, which is rare. We have a lot of fun when
we work, which spills over into the cast as well. We also have strengths
and weaknesses and each of us can hold the other areas up if someone else
canít. We also work quickly. Thereís no waiting around or down time.
Probably our worst problem is we donít stop. Someone usually has to say
stop and that theyíve had enough.Ē
McBride continues, ďItís unusual all right. Three filmmakers all
working together and getting along on a set it virtually unheard of. But
itís more fun than work. Weíre all doing it because we want to and
enjoy what weíre doing. Thatís really important.Ē
Polonia adds, ďI think part of our success in working together is the
fact that there is no power play between us or ego stuff, which can ruin
any working relationship. Thereís just none of that with us.Ē
In my (very) humble
don't get any better than Gorilla Warfare: Battle of the Apes
(2002). So please could you talk about that one for a bit?
started off as a movie we specifically made for a 3D market. The whole
gimmick revolved around 3D and each shot was set up for that. The footage
looked great in 3D too. Unfortunately once it was shot the 3D deal had
fallen through and it sold to a company who has yet to release it. As
usual, we had a lot of fun making the movie and laughed constantly. Itís
pretty difficult to take yourself seriously when youíre running around
in a jumpsuit and ape mask on. John Polonia nearly passed out a few times
during some fight scenes since it was so hot and nearly impossible to
breathe in the masks. I do hope itís released and available someday as
itís really a fun movie. The few people who have had a chance to see
screener copies have enjoyed it and really got into the camp factor.
last film, also with the Polonias, was Black Mass (2005), a World
War II/Satanism-shocker. How easy/hard is it to bring those subjects to
the screen on a very limited budget?
Itís always a
challenge but we manage to make it work, no matter what the budget is. We
just try to get creative. Creativity is the key. Of course, the final
result may not be exactly what we had envisioned but you work with what
you have. Black Mass (which may or may not be released under the name
The DaVinci Curse) is our best movie. I think people are going to be surprised
how good it is when they see it. We hit a plateau with that movie on so
many levels that I almost wonder if we can top it. Iím so anxious for
people to see it. Itís definitely our stand out film.
I know my questions have
by no means touched all of your films. Are there some missing you would
really like to talk about?
Well, you may or may
not have heard that John Polonia passed away earlier this year. He was
only 39 and it was a shock to all of us. He
was such a great guy and words just canít convey how much heís missed.
There is a very nice dedication video for him on Youtube and heíll be
remembered through his many movies. Mark is currently making a movie
dedicated to him called Halloween Night, so you might want to look for
that soon. Johnís last movie was called Monster Movie and will be
available on DVD any time now.
You have also worked as a
composer on some films by the Polonia-brothers (in which you weren't
necessarily otherwise involved). What can you tell us about this talent of
Composing the music is great fun. Itís just
amazing what the extra voice of music can do to augment the visuals on the
screen. Iíve always felt that the music in a movie is one of the most
important aspects anyway.
There were many times where I just couldnít get
together with the Polonias to help with a production and working on music
for their movies still allowed me to be a part of the project.
As far as my
talent goesÖwell Iím a
total amateur when it comes to composing. The only reason I started doing
it was because we had no budget to hire anyone and I just made a stab at
putting some riffs together that might work. The Polonias were pleased
enough with what I did so I just kept at it. Itís turned into a hobby
more than anything and I really enjoy it but I certainly donít think
Iíll ever make any money doing it. John Williams has nothing to fear.
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Your movies, both with and without
the Polonia-brothers, are usually shot on a rather low budget. What can
you tell us about your approach to filmmaking, and are budgetary
constraints hampering your work?
approach to filmmaking is just get out there and shoot. Itís fast and
quick, we shoot and move on. I think we shot Terror House in 16 hours. We
donít have much time or budget and just do whatever we can to make it
work. Dweller, another favorite of mine, was shot in one long weekend and
cost a total of $50. It isnít as well known as some of the others but
itís a great little flick, especially considering our time constraints
and no budget.
There are always budgetary constraints, no matter
what the project is. Again, the key is to just use what you have and try
to find a way to make it work. And involve as few people as possible. The
larger the cast or crew becomes, the more expensive and problematic a
production can be.
Also, your films often seem to
view their horrors from a humourous angle. Why do you think horror and
humour often blend so well?
I donít know if horror and humor really do blend well. I think good
horror shouldnít be funny at all. The original Night
of the Living Dead wasnít a bit funny.
That said, horror is a lot easier
to do than comedy. In a way the two are linked but, face it, when youíre
making no budget movies itís a lot easier to run around in the woods
throwing blood on people than it is to stage a complicated comic scene.
Comedy is just so much harder to pull off. Cannibal
Campout definitely has some
comedy elements to it although they werenít exactly planned, whereas
Woodchipper Massacre is a total black comedy that is really just an expanded
sitcom episode. Comedy is also a lot more subjective than horror and not
all comedy styles are embraced by the same people. Horror is usually more
profitable financially than comedy which is the reason so many low budget
movie makers do them.
I actually do prefer comedy to
horror but the comedy I enjoy isnít exactly mainstream comedy. I like
offbeat comedy and tried that approach when it came to Woodchipper Massacre, which
ended up being totally hit or miss with the people who saw it but those
who got what I was doing just howled, which pleased me immensely.
Personally I get more satisfaction out of making
people laugh than I do grossing them out.
Your website/mySpace/whatever else?
Heh, I donít really
have a current one. People are always asking why and I simply donít have
the time to put something like that together or maintain it. Maybe one of
an actor, who are people you really look up to ...?
I tend to enjoy
character actors the best. People like Johnny Depp, Robert Downey jr,
Anthony Hopkins, Alan Rickman, the kind of actors who can play just about
anything and are willing to take risks.
... and as
I tend to like
individual movies rather than a director. I never see a movie because of a
director. I pick movies for subject matter and story. However
I really do admire low budget directors the most. They have to overcome
incredible odds to get their movies made, let alone distributed. And
itís hard work. Harder for them than directors with huge budgets and
Some films you really liked, both recent and
changes on a daily basis but I really love the classics. Comedies,
Musicals, Dramas, I really enjoy all genres.
But if youíre asking
specifically about horror, I grew up on them and couldnít get enough.
Creature Features was a big deal for me as well as anything that looked
remotely scary on TV and I stayed up all hours of the night to see
anything that even hinted of horror.
The original Night
of the Living Dead was the first movie to seriously effect me and definitely influenced
me to some degree. The Andromeda Strain was another even though itís
technically regarded as sci-fi, however I classify it as horror since it
scared me on a deep, primal level. Don't Look in the Basement is another
gem in my book and a must see for any low budget movie maker. Others that
come to mind include Evil Dead,
The Legend of Hell House, The Innocents, The Changeling,
The Dead Zone, The Stepfather, The Fly (both versions),
Howling, Dawn of
the Dead (original), Horror Hotel, The Nanny, Fiend
without a Face, Them!,
The Stepford Wives (original), The Omen, Invasion of the
Body Snatchers (original), Öand just about any old
black and white Universal movie.
In high school I lived for the
weekends and a night at the drive in or local theater that showed the low
budget horror fests. I vividly recall that period in my life with huge
affection and have always thought it was a great time for Independent
Horror with titles like Without Warning, Pieces (the line ďHe killed her
while she was still aliveĒ has to be one of the best ever), Phantasm,
The Prowler, The
Hills have Eyes, Don't Go in the Woods, Texas
Chansaw Massacre, Motel
Melting ManÖnow those were exciting
times for horror aficionados. Sure, some of them werenít all that good
and wouldnít make it as classics but they certainly were entertaining.
Usually I went with friends who were into horror too although I recall
some truly disastrous dates where my taste in movies was simply not
appreciated. Which leads me to my one and only advice on dating. Never
take a girl youíve just met to see Mother's Day.
I remember thinking to myself how
much fun it would be to act in these types of movies. I never thought that
watching a Hollywood film. The low budget horror films just seemed to fuel
my imagination more and whenever someone asked me what kind of part I
wanted to audition for my answer was always ďA really gory horror
movie.Ē Maybe it was the FX makeup, or that for some reason I thought it
looked like the people in those movies were having a good timeÖIím not
Recently Iíve been watching a lot of Italian
horror movies after a friend turned me on to them, specifically Argento
and Fulci [Lucio Fulci bio -
click here] and I really enjoy their style. Tenebre and
House by the
Cemetery are standouts so far but I still have many more on my viewing
wish list. Iíve also really gotten into Asian Horror too. Audition,
Tale of Two Sisers,
Uzumaki, Cure, and
Oldboy were all highly enjoyable. I have a steady pile
constantly coming in from Amazon and sometimes I wonder if Iíll ever get
the time to watch them all.
Any films you really deplored?
there are tons. I donít enjoy hardly any of the movies coming out now at
all. I canít even recall the last time Iíve been to a movie theater.
I think the American movie
industry is about as bad as you can get these days. And not just bad.
BAAAAAAD! Iím talking bottom of the barrel stuff here. There is no worst
aspect. Itís all horrible.
In my opinion, most movies today
are uninteresting, unoriginal, dull, blatantly terrible films that make me
feel ripped off both time and money wise. I am so tired of remakes and
sequels and I know Iím not the only one. Our country has the best movie
studios in the world with infinite financial resources and a vast talent
pool and look what they are offering the movie going public. There is
simply no excuse for it. Of course, today itís not about movie making or
craft. Itís about money and profit. The studio heads these days are
accountants and lawyers and making movies to them is an assembly line job
and a quick way to put cash in their pocket. Itís not about a love of
film making. And I think things are only going to get worse before they
That said, when it comes to low
budget American horror films, I think itís a very exciting time and the
opposite is true. With the advent of video and the Internet some very
talented people are finally getting a break and able to get their material
out into the public eye. I think the movies shot on video that Iíve seen
recently have been quite entertaining and very well made. I also see
fantastic stuff on Youtube on a daily basis which is more entertaining
than anything Hollywood can put out. I think low budget Indy filmmakers
are the ones who will ultimately keep horror alive and evolving because
Hollywood simply wonít or canít do it.
The only movies Iím watching
these days are either Independent or foreign films. Itís the only way to
see anything original.
That said, I did just caught Michael Clayton on
cable this weekend and thought it was excellent.
else I've forgotten to ask and you are just dying to tell us?
Canít think of anything at the moment. Iíve probably droned on
way too long already. Iím just really thankful
that people have enjoyed some of my stuff. To be honest Iím still amazed
at the number of people who have seen some of my movies and itís a
little overwhelming at times. I never thought that some of them would get
the attention they did and Iím grateful for that. Even if I never get to
make another movie Iím happy that I was able to make a minuscule
offering to the genre Iíve loved for so long.
And to any aspiring movie makers out thereÖJUST
DO IT! If I could make a movie, anyone can. Donít listen to any
negativity. Donít be discouraged. Donít take no for an answer. Donít
be swayed. You donít need a lot of money, exotic sets or fancy
equipment. Just grab your digital camera and some friends and begin
shooting. Starting is half the battle.
for the interview.
Your welcome. Take it