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An Interview with Walter Ruether, Creator, Co-Writer, Co-Director of Death by VHS (formerly Scream Machine)

by Mike Haberfelner

September 2011

Films directed by Walter Ruether on (re)Search my Trash


Quick Links

Abbott & Costello

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Schoolgirl Report

The Shadow

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Star Trek

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Three Mesquiteers

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Wizard of Oz

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Your upcoming film Scream Machine a.k.a. Death by VHS - in a few word, what is it going to be about?


Scream Machine is about a rogue group of Military elites/high officials who are testing out a new mind control weapon on our own troops, the goal is to use this weapon to cause hallucinations, & make the enemy kill off themselves thru mind control, yet something goes horribly wrong ...


With Scream Machine's anthology-format, you stay true to your earlier films. What is it that makes these omnibus movies so endearing to you?


I've always loved anthologies, & I think I'm heavily influenced by Rod Serling & other TV-hosts that presented their stories, like Hitchcock etc.So naturally I fell in love with the idea of hosting my own films.


For Scream Machine, you retired your horror host Scarlet Fry, who appeared in all of your previous films. Why, and will there be a wraparound story in Scream Machine at all?


I retired Scarlet Fry because I just felt like I was making the same movie over & over. The Horror Hosting scene has gotten really popular in recent years, but they don't really acknowledge a Scarlet Fry-type host, they really are more purist & traditional, & so if you're not hosting a film thats already been made, such as Night of the Living Dead etc, & presenting it to the viewer in a format similar to something Elvira does, then they don't really care. Although i did host one TV-show where we ran Carnival Of Souls, an old black & white film from the 60's. This will be included on the Scarlet Fry's Junkfood Horrorfest special edition coming out Oct 18th 2011.


As far as the wrap around story for Scream Machine, it's going to be more like the old Amicus anthologies, where there will be a story intertwined that ties it all together, which will be the military doing the experiments on soldiers - each story you see will be a subject's hallucination


What were your inspirations for the individual tales of Scream Machine?


Definitly not Troma Or Herschell Gordon Lewis films like in the past [Herschell Gordon Lewis bio - click here]. Scream Machine is definitely more influenced by the old Amicus anthologies like Asylum, & what we've shot so far reminds me of those goofy Tales From The Darkside-episodes back in the eighties.


On Scream Machine, you share directing duties with David Sabal. A few words about him, and what was your collaboration like?


David is probably the most creative cameraman I've ever worked with, a lot of times we will be on set & he will ask me to approve a shot he took, & I know I don't even need to look, he is that good, I have full confidence in his ability, I believe he is currently involved with a hit series called Western X.


How would you describe your own directorial approach to Scream Machine?


Like I said I try to put as much faith in my people as possible & let them do their own thing, I'm really there to just coach them when I feel it's needed, & to oversee everything, I spent a lot of time doing most other duties as well, except cameraman, Dave Sabal, who is also the co-director on this film, which is why you will see a big difference in the shooting style in this film. I wanted to go a lot more handheld this time & get creative with shots, Nightmare Alley was mostly shot on a tripod.


Scream Machine was co-written by Laurence Holloway, who also co-wrote and co-directed your last film, Nightmare Alley. What can you tell us about him?


He is a good guy, he is no longer on this project to the degree he was on Nightmare Alley, he is actually co-directing a film called Voices from the Grave co-written by Gary Bradner from The Howling, so he has moved on to bigger & better things, god bless him.


Anything you can tell us about your cast yet?


So far we got a few unknown actors but I've been in touch with people like Devanny Pinn [Devanny Pinn interview - click here] & Shawn C. Phillips [Shawn C. Phillips interview - click here], we'll see how it pans out. We also have a good amount of local theater talent.


Your previous films haven't exactly been for the faint-hearted. How far do you go concerning violence and gore in Scream Machine?


Actually we are defintley going to tone down the language in this film, we want to go for more of a traditional horror approach. Of course it will still have that Scarlet Fry-flavor but this time it will be more about the story. We plan to still have plenty of gore.


The $64 question of course, when is your film going to be out, tentatively?


Sometime in 2012, We will be released on Chemical Burn or World Wide Multi Media, that's already been agreed on. I would say tentatively Summer 2012.


While Scream Machine is still a work-in-progress, your second-to-last movie Scarlet Fry's Junkfood Horrorfest has received a quite fancy re-release. Want to talk about the new Scarlet Fry's Junkfood Horrorfest-DVD for a bit?


Yes, this is going to be a triple feature special edition, first you get Scarlet Fry's Junkfood Horrorfest as a single release for the first time with bonus Calico Cooper outtakes & bloopers (Calico being Alice Cooper's Daughter), then you will also get Scarlet Fry's Horrorama, which was my first film that was released in 1991 - some say that was my best -, & last but not least the one & only Horror Host appearance I did on TV presenting Carnival of Souls, also there will be lots of special features never seen before. Scarlet Fry's Junkfood Horrorfest's only prior release was in a 50pk box set & was total bare bones.


Any future projects beyond finishing Scream Machine?


I got a few things in the works, one is a documentary that has nothing to do with the horror genre, & my biggest challenge is I'd like to open a vintage horror memorabilia & DVD rental shop, I've been a lifelong collector & i think with my knowledge I can open a cool shop - but it's hard in today's economy & the market is always changing, so that's down the road.


Feeling lucky ?
Want to
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?

The links below
will take you
just there!!!

Find Walter Ruether
at the amazons ...


Great Britain (a.k.a. the United Kingdom)

Germany (East AND West)

Looking for imports ?
Find Walter Ruether here ...

Your shop for all things Thai

Something naughty ?
(Must be over 18 to go there !)

x-rated  find Walter Ruether at

Your/your film's website, Facebook, whatever else?


Scream Machine has a Facebook page :


Anything else you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?


I just wanted to mention that I'm now the Vice President of Acquisitions for Chemical Burn Enterteinment & World Wide Multi Media. So far I have signed some great titles like Indemnity, The Curse of Blanchard Hill, Below, Fell (Jeff Dylan Graham), Gr30k, Fetish Dolls Die Laughing & more, so if you're an indie horror filmmkaker (doesn't have to be horror) please shoot me an email


Thanks for the interview!


No problem, anytime. Thanks for having me.


© by Mike Haberfelner

Legal note: (re)Search my Trash cannot
and shall not be held responsible for
content of sites from a third party.

Thanks for watching !!!



On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD



Stell Dir vor, Deine Lieblingsseifenoper birgt eine tiefere Wahrheit ...
... und stell Dir vor, der Penner von der U-Bahnstation hat doch recht ...
... und dann triffst Du auch noch die Frau Deiner (feuchten) Träume ...


Und an diesem Tag geht natürlich wieder einmal die Welt unter!!!


Bauliche Angelegenheiten
ein Roman von
Michael Haberfelner


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