Date: March 15, 1970
What inspired you to become a filmmaker?
I had polio when I was eight. I was quarantined for a year and had practically no contact with anyone. During this time I read a lot. Mysteries, and then horror fiction… I was powerfully attracted to the writings of Vernon Blake, who is not well known in this part of the country.
During that same period I found a little 8mm movie camera that belonged to my father, who died when I was very young. I bought some black & white film and began experimenting shortly thereafter.
I’ve always been a big horror buff. Horrific imagery appeals to me. (laughs) The world is a violent place, and evil is a purely human endeavor. I mean, just look at some of the footage coming out of Viet Nam… it’s incredible stuff. People are way too sensitive.
Tell us about your first film, “Culture Shock.” It’s gotten a bit of notoriety lately…
“Culture Shock” is based on a 1923 Blake novel about a bunch of smugglers who get caught up in a tribal war between two vicious groups of natives in the Amazon. A lot of action. Great. Bloody stuff. It’s playing mostly at midnight screenings. There was supposedly an incident at one particular theater that caused a bit of uproar, (but shrugs)… as I said, some people tend to be squeamish.
What do you have planned next?
“Culture Shock” did fairly well financially, so I’ve managed to raise the funds to make my dream project: a 1920’s period adaptation of Blake’s “Mortal Remains” as a feature film. I’ve already begun making preparations for the shoot, which will initially take place in and around St. Helens Parish, where Blake was born and where he spent the early part of his life.
A period piece? That must mean you’ve got a decent budget this time around.
Yes. Between a sizeable investment from Mr. Long and a couple of anonymous private investors, we’re putting together a budget that will give us the freedom to find the proper vehicles and set dressing we need for a story set in the 1920’s.
I’ve heard some rumors about how realistic your special effects are…
(Laughs) It’s all about using the right materials.
Apparently some theaters had issues with violence in “Culture Shock”. Have you heard this rumor?
You can never predict how people are going to respond to a film. If they felt something, great. That’s the ultimate goal of any work of art, isn’t it? To elicit an emotional response.
That’s the definition of Art, I believe.
Right, and that’s the problem. People have become de-sensitized. My films force them to feel something.
And if they can’t handle it —
That’s their problem. I’m more interested in the people who CAN handle it.
Is there a philosophy behind your work? An overall “message”?
Poe said it best, “The boundaries which divide life from death are shadowy and vague. Who shall say where one ends, and the other begins?” To me, the same applies to life and film. My films speak for themselves, and if you’re capable of reading between the frames, maybe you’ll understand better what I’m trying to say.
Special Thanks to Legends of Horror – The Journal of the Monstrous and Macabre and Cryptic Pictures