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An Interview with Brian O'Hara, Director of Rock'n'Roll Frankenstein

by Mike Haberfelner

December 2016

Films directed by Brian O'Hara on (re)Search my Trash


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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 Frankenstein, why rock'n'roll, why Elvis ... and why Liberace?


The Frankenstein 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 Liberace - 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…


Other 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?


The 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.


Rock'n'Roll 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!


With Rock'n'Roll Frankenstein 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.


You of course also have to talk about Rock'n'Roll Frankenstein's brand of comedy for a bit!


I’m 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.


What can you tell us about your overall directorial approach to your story at hand?


Just get it done. I’m a hack.


Do talk about your key cast, and why exactly these people?


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.


Rock'n'Roll 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 company, ei 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 Rock'n'Roll 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.


At least according to the IMDb, you haven't directed much since Rock'n'Roll Frankenstein - so why is that, and any future projects you'd like to share?


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:


Over 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.


How would you describe yourself as a director?


I suck. And I’ll never attempt to direct again.


Filmmakers 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?


Recently: 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).


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Your shop for all things Thai

... and of course, films you really deplore?


Anything made by Kevin Smith.


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


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


I guess not.


Thanks for the interview!


You’re welcome.


© by Mike Haberfelner

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Thanks for watching !!!



Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
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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