Monday, September 30, 2013

Design A Jason Hockey Mask Charity Fundraiser: Update #6

Not many people like Mondays. But how can you feel that way when you've got such great photos to share!?!?  Here's a very cool update from two of the nicest folks you'll ever meet who are taking part in our "Design A Jason Hockey Mask" charity fundraiser for Toys For Tots.   Midwestern artist Lydia Burris has sent in some great photos of her mask design in-progress.  Also, David Katims has sent in photos as well for this update.   Katims, a actor and comic is best known to FRIDAY THE 13TH fans as the actor who played "Chuck" in FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3-D.

Check out Lydia's website HERE:
And follow David on Facebook HERE:









Be sure to check our the TV Store Online blog's previous updates for the Jason mask charity fundraiser here:

Friday, September 27, 2013

A Interview With Melvin The Mop Boy: TV Store Online talks with The Toxic Avenger's Mark Torgl


Michigan native and actor in the cult classic THE TOXIC AVENGER (1984) Mark Torgl talks with TV STORE ONLINE about creating a cult classic as well as his latest film project, a mockumentary called TOXIC TUTU.

TV STORE ONLINE:  What were you like as a kid growing up in Detroit? When did you develop an interest in film / filmmaking and was there something that you saw that influenced you? 

TORGL:  I was a completely normal kid, I liked to capture flies and tie a string around their necks and fly them around as my pets. I had a large mayonnaise jar where I kept my collection of toenails like all kids have. I was inspired by Surreal filmmakers like Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali and David Lynch while attending Michigan State University. I loved the way they stretched the normalcy of life into fantastical ideas. Bunuel’s UN CHIEN ANADALOU [1929] especially made me want to pursue movie in some way.

TV STORE ONLINE:  In an interview I read with you online the other day... I saw where you mentioned that you went to NYU to study film and that two of your classmates were Jim Jarmusch and Spike Lee. What were those guys like back in those days? 

TORGL: Yeah what happened to those guys? Ang Lee was also a classmate, we were all just normal students in NYU Grad Film. I worked with Spike in the equipment room. Ang was and still is the nicest guy you could ever meet. Jim had actually just finished NYU as I was starting but he was always running around the building. I ran into Spike shortly after SHE'S GOT TO HAVE IT [1986] and THE TOXIC AVENGER were released. We went back and forth, “You’re the man...” No, “You’re the man...” Turns out Spike was really “The Man”.

TV STORE ONLINE:   I know you're a Terrance Malick fan... What did you think about his latest film TO THE WONDER [2013]?

TORGL:  I haven’t seen it yet. BADLANDS [1973] is a film I never get tired of, DAYS OF HEAVEN [1978]  is breathtakingly beautiful. I loved TREE OF LIFE [2011] even the wacky beginning of the world that went on forever.

TV STORE ONLINE:  I know that you're also a big Stanley Kubrick fan as well.  What are your Top Five favorite Kubrick movies and why are each of them your particular favorites?

TORGL:  That sounds like an essay question worth 50% of my grade!   A CLOCKWORK ORANGE [1971] because it was such a life changing film for me.   Then after that, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY [1968] because it's an inspirational journey of evolution.  Then I'd go with THE SHINING [1980], followed by DR. STRANGLOVE [1964], then lastly FULL METAL JACKET [1986].

TV STORE ONLINE:  While at NYU... Was the plan always to pursue a career in directing or editing?  I think you're a brilliant actor - Was acting always part of the plan?

TORGL: I just wanted to get those demons out of my head and onto film. I always enjoyed acting as a student in high school and while I was at MSU. So when Troma brought me into their world, I loved it. I go where life leads me, I’m not sure why that often involves Toxic Waste sites though. I also love editing and it pays the bills for me. 

TV STORE ONLINE:  Tell me about THE FIRST TURN ON [1984]?

TORGL:  As in any Troma film the direction is to be outrageous and over the top. That is something I have no shyness in doing.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Didn't you actually work on TURN ON as a script supervisor?

TORGL:  I did. Troma posted a notice on the job board at NYU. It read something like: Come work on a “real” feature film. So I met with Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz of Troma and they asked what I wanted to do? I said I wanted to be the Script Supervisor, Lloyd said, "OK, you can be the Script Supervisor, what else do you want to do?" I told him that I like writing and Lloyd said, "OK you can write some additional scenes." So I didn’t sign on as an actor, but typically everyone on the crew ended up in the film somewhere. When the actor who was hired to play "Dwayne" originally didn’t show up, Lloyd said, “Mark you go in and do the part”. The rest is history.

TV STORE ONLINE: Any memories of working with a young Vincent D'Onofrio on THE FIRST TURN ON?  It was his first movie as well if I'm correct....

TORGL:  Yeah, in fact I wrote a couple of the scenes he was in. He was so good we kept giving him more scenes. He was a really nice guy.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Where was the camp stuff shot at for THE FIRST TURN ON?

TORGL:  It was at an actual sleepaway camp in New Jersey somewhere.

Torgl as "Dwayne"
THE FIRST TURN ON

TV STORE ONLINE:  Favorite scenes in TURN ON are the scenes with you as the sexually perverted greaser Dwayne... He is a very funny character...Did you bring that level of insanity to him yourself of was Lloyd Kaufman as director involved in helping to create him?

TORGL:  When Lloyd and I work on a scene all sanity leaves the building...

TV STORE ONLINE: What about that crazy dinner scene with that family...Was that all scripted out?

TORGL:  It was loosely scripted as, "Dwayne has bad table manners...." I wanted to take bad table manners to a new level.

TV STORE ONLINE:  The best line in the entire film is when your character tells his girlfriend Julie's dad "You did your duty? Well, why don't you flush it!" What was in the script or something you improved?

TORGL:  I believe that was actually from the mind of Lloyd.

Torgl assaults a corn cob in
Troma's THE FIRST TURN ON (1983)

TV STORE ONLINE:  What about playing with the mash potatoes, and eating the meat, and felating the corn cob in that dinner scene? The scene is hilariously surreal and insane. How much input did you have into that scene as the actor?

TORGL:  I think most of that was my doing. Taking it over the top is what I do. My thinking was... What can I do here to really make an impression on my girlfriend's parents?  What parents wouldn’t want their daughter dating a geek who felates corn?

TV STORE ONLINE:  Why do you think that coming of age or T&A teen comedies were so popular in the early/mid 80's?

TORGL:  I don’t think that those films were inherently popular only in the 80’s, I think there is always a market for that kind of mindless sexually provocative guilty pleasure.

TOXIC AVENGER has become a true cult film classic
A unknown fan's tattoo of Torgl as Melvin The Mop Boy from the 1984 film



TV STORE ONLINE:  With THE TOXIC AVENGER... Did you get invited back to do that by Lloyd and Michael?

TORGL:
Yeah, the story is that they auditioned hundreds of kids to play Melvin. But Lloyd and Michael didn’t like any of them. What they were looking for in Melvin was something like what I had  done with Dwayne in THE FIRST TURN ON.  So they called me up and asked if I wanted the part.

Torgl (L) with actor Mitch Cohen (R) in 
THE TOXIC AVENGER (1984) 



TV STORE ONLINE:  You also worked as the script supervisor on THE TOXIC AVENGER too right? Were you around for the entire shoot?

TORGL:  Yeah, I was still going to NYU at the time so I asked if I could work on the film as a Script Supervisor. I wanted to be involved in the entire production and help make it happen. We knew near the end of production that this was either going to be the worst and most awesome movie ever made or a big cult hit. Turns out it was both.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Melvin is such a unique character...He's shy, nervous and weak... With Melvin it seems like you'd have to develop some sort of back story for him as an actor. Did you do that? Where did you see him coming from as we the audience enter into his story?

TORGL:  Well yeah, he is the complete social disaster. He is awkward at everything he does. There was actually a scene shot that didn’t make it into the film that I wrote and directed.  It was a solo camping outing where I was even awkward with myself.

TV STORE ONLINE:  What was your experience shooting the pool scene with the sheep?

TORGL: The sheep was really disgusting. It had gnats or some other kind of nasty bugs crawling all over it.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Any memories of meeting and talking with a young Marisa Tomei on the set of THE TOXIC AVENGER?  It was also her first film as an actress as well...

TORGL:  Well, as you can imagine she was all over me...laughing   I said to her, ”I’m going to be a big star someday, so you need to get with me”. She couldn’t keep her hands off of my mop...laughing

TV STORE ONLINE:  Your work as an actor in TOXIC is so wonderful. Did you ever try to continue on and pursue acting after making the film?

TORGL: After we finished the film,  I moved to Hollywood.  I started working regularly in post production and it became something which I really enjoyed and still do today. I did a cameo in CITIZEN TOXIE: THE TOXIC AVENGER IV [2000].  I would love to be in the remake  of THE TOXIC AVENGER that Arnold Schwarzenegger is rumored to be a part of.  I'd like to play the dad of "Toxie".  People reading this should call the producers behind the remake and insist on a part for me. I’m actually acting in my own film which is currently in production now called TOXIC TUTU.  It's the almost true story of what became of THE TOXIC AVENGER's Mark Torgl.

TV STORE ONLINE:  With the success of TOXIC in the home video market of the 1980's and it playing on television...How did the film impact your life immediately?

TORGL:
  THE TOXIC AVENGER has a life that just won’t quit. Being part of this cult classic never gets old.

TV STORE ONLINE:  As you mentioned a moment ago....You've been working in post production for a number of years since THE TOXIC AVENGER... What made you want to get into that kind of work?

TORGL:
  I enjoy working in dark stale rooms with producers looking over my shoulder as I create magic...laughing

Torgl in TOXIC AVENGER IV [2000]


TV STORE ONLINE:  Mentioning again what you're working on now....The new film TOXIC TUTU...What was your inspiration behind bringing this project to fruition?

TORGL:  I was pursued by the promoters of The Mad Monster Party to be a guest at their convention in Charlotte, North Carolina this past March.  I had never done a convention until this one and my best friend from NYU and I decided to film it.  We created a fictionalized story around the monster convention backdrop and continued it on at the next few conventions I got invited to, Days of The Dead Los Angeles and then at ComiCon San Diego where Lloyd Kaufman the creator of THE TOXIC AVENGER and the Troma Crew participated in our shoot.  We are going to be launching a Kickstarter campaign in a few weeks in October to raise funds to continue filming and finishing the project. So please everyone visit our Facebook page HERE and like my personal fan page and watch for the announcement of our Kickstarter launch.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Where can we see you next?
 

TORGL:  I’ll be appearing at Stan Lee’s ComiKaze convention in Los Angeles at the Troma Booth November 1st through the 3rd.  I will be meeting fans, signing autographs, and we will be doing more filming for TOXIC TUTU.   Stop by and say Hi if you're in the area.

Follow Mark Torgl On Facebook HERE:

Monday, September 23, 2013

Interview: Friday The 13th screenwriter Victor Miller talks with TV STORE ONLINE


Screenwriter of the original FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980) Victor Miller talks about a F13 prequel, his relationship with Sean Cunningham, lost scripts, SPRING BREAK, A STRANGER IS WATCHING as well as his work writing for the campiest soap operas of the mid 1980's.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Certainly any fan of FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980) knows the whole back story by now in regards to how you came to write the script....But fans might not know about your impressive backlog of screenplays that you've written that haven't been "realized" for the screen yet...

MILLER:  That's the nicest way I've ever heard that said...laughing    You mean the screenplays that no-one wanted to buy from me or those that ended up in turnaround?

TV STORE ONLINE:  Right...I wanted to ask you about your script that you wrote about the notorious bank robber Willie "The Actor" Sutton...

MILLER:  There was a guy I was working with on that named Brad Talbot and he was very good at finding money and he had struck a deal with Reg Haines who I think was the heir to the Haines underwear company and they bought the rights to the book 'Where The Money Was'.  The screenplay that I wrote was based on that book.   I had worked with Brad before and he knew that I worked cheaply.  So we went down to Florida and I spent a weekend talking with Willie Sutton.   I think I spent about fifteen hours talking to him.  He had just got out of prison at this time.   I wrote a number of drafts of the screenplay and at one point Dustin Hoffman was interested in the project but it never panned out.   

Ultimately, I think that the script was unsellable for several reasons.   Willie invented all of the incredible ways that you can rob a bank.  He was a genius at it.  He once had his wife sleep with one of the guys at a lock company in New Haven, CT. to get a key that would unlock his prison cell.  No one should've been able to get that key.  She succeeded and went to see him in prison, put the key in her mouth, kissed Willie, spit the key into his mouth, and Willie used the key to escape.   So unless you lie, it's very difficult to make this guy even at his best an anti-hero.      He was though ever inventive and very creative.  When he got out of jail he was eventually hired by Chase-Manhattan Bank or some company like that as a security specialist.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Is that script still out there somewhere?

MILLER:  Yeah, every once in a while I hear that someone just acquired the rights to it.  I think that it would make a great TV movie.   I've heard people talk about making it but I think it's problem is that Willie Sutton just wasn't a nice guy and there were never any cops that ever got hot on his trail.

TV STORE ONLINE:  I've seen you mention in some other interviews over the years in passing about another screenplay that fell through the cracks called ASYLUM?

MILLER:  Right, ASYLUM was one of my favorite experiences.   I wrote it not long after FRIDAY THE 13TH.    When F13 came out and it became a major success, I was famous for about twenty minutes.   I went out to California and I had a meeting with an executive at Columbia Pictures.    This executive's boss was Frank Price, who was the head of Columbia.    Frank Price sent word to the office that I was in that he wanted to meet with me.  You don't turn down the head of a studio.  I went to his office and  I sat down after being offered about four different kinds of bottled water and Price asked me, "What do you got kid?"    I told him that I wanted to do a horror movie set in a hospital.   Price picked up the phone and said, "Get this kid's agent on the phone."  The next thing I knew I had a contract for $120,000 dollars to write a movie on that one sentence.    That was what you could do with the success of a movie like  FRIDAY THE 13TH.

I went back to Connecticut with the first installment payment in hand of my new contract and start typing away trying to figure out what the plot would be for this new horror movie set in a hospital.   After three days, I got a call from Frank Price's office.   It was one of his assistants.  He said, "Frank has been doing some research and horror movies set in hospitals don't make any money.  Can you change the setting to an all women's college?"    It was at that point that I knew I was a prostitute because without a hesitation I said, "Sure".    I wrote the script and it was put into turnaround.  It was never made and I went on with my business.

TV STORE ONLINE:  I'm surprised they didn't ask you to set it in a summer camp....

MILLER:  Laughing...I think they figured I had used that up!   After I finished that script, the next thing I knew I was doing a re-write for A STRANGER IS WATCHING (1982) for Sean Cunningham which was based on a great book by author Mary Higgins Clark.   I totally re-structured and re-wrote the script that he had for it.     That didn't do well as a film because it was marketed as a horror film and it wasn't.  They were marketing it with the tagline "From the people that brought you FRIDAY THE 13TH..."   So all of the horror fans went to see it and said, "That's not a horror movie."   Rip Torn is really great in it though.

TV STORE ONLINE:
  Absolutely.  Torn is amazing in A STRANGER IS WATCHING...That character he plays is so nasty.  How much of that character do you think was from your script and Higgins Clark's book versus what Torn brought to the role?

MILLER:  I think it was all a match.  Torn is a gifted actor.  I don't think he took that character any darker that how he was portrayed in Mary Higgins Clark book.  He was just a horrible guy and Katie Mulgrew is great in A STRANGER IS WATCHING  too.

TV STORE ONLINE:   You have a shared credit on the screenplay for A STRANGER IS WATCHING...

MILLER:  Yes...And I suffered greatly from the "Moby Dick" theory on it.   If you're hired to write the screenplay for MOBY DICK the first writer gets the credit every time the whale appears...laughing    Getting a shared credit was fine with me but I actually did an entire re-write on that script.   

TV STORE ONLINE:   There are some great things in A STRANGER IS WATCHING... Like Rip Torn's costume for example...He's wearing that BDSM leather outfit, there's that scene where he gets beat up by that Latino gang in that men's room....There's that great confrontation between Torn and that old homeless guy who tells Torn, "I bet you've got no pecker!  Let me see your pecker!" That couldn't have been in the Mary Higgins Clark book....

MILLER:  That was all Victor Miller...laughing

TV STORE ONLINE:  One more screenplay question...I know there was another screenplay that you wrote that got put into turnaround that was looking like it was going to be produced by Martha Coolidge....

MILLER:   She was a wonderful lady.   I had written a screenplay called ON THE EDGE for her. She had bought the rights to the novel of the same name and this was back when we were both just starting out. It was my first paying assignment.  I wrote the screenplay but she couldn't find a buyer for it and that was that.

 
TV STORE ONLINE:   Prior to talking to you...I read a couple other interviews that you've given over the years and I've seen you mention a couple times that you have a real interest in writing comedy...

MILLER:   Yeah, my interest in comedy comes from just the insane childhood I had.   I guess, at one point I wanted to write comedy because I had taken an eight week course at Yale in stand-up comedy.   Part of the course was that I was supposed to write and deliver a stand-up routine for myself.   So I did that but I realized that it probably wasn't the best profession for me because I  needed to have four or five dry martinis before I could get up onto the stage.   

The guy who taught the class had invited Larry David when he was first starting out in New York to come and critique us at graduation time.   I was so drunk that I can't remember now what Larry said about my performance...laughing    I see the world as just an insane place to live.  And as I mentioned, my childhood was just insane and when I was younger I was sent off to a prep school too.  None of it made any sense to me.    When I was writing for All My Children [1970-2011] during the mid '80s...We were allowed to be right on the edge of camp.   Those years were magic.   I really like writing for the actors Tad Martin and Michael Knight.  Tad could be as funny as you wanted him to be, so I really gravitated to writing for him.   I tried to write some real funny stuff for him while I was at All My Children.

TV STORE ONLINE:
   Right, and you wrote for "Erica Kane" on All My Children too...

MILLER:  That's right.  She was a comedy onto her own...

Susan Lucci as "Erica Kane"
TV STORE ONLINE:  Why do you think that Erica Kane became one of the most beloved and well known characters in the history of the soap opera?

MILLER:  I don't know.  Part of me thinks that it was just because it was a simpler time.  As a character she had everything and she lost it all.   There was nothing that she wouldn't do either.   I mean, she got away with murder several times on the show.    She was just a fun character.   It was really the glory years of All My Children.   You never knew if we were being serious or being funny, but we never made fun of the medium itself.

TV STORE ONLINE:   What about Another World [1964-99] on NBC?  You wrote for that as well....

MILLER:   Right, I did.    All My Children was actually beating Another World in the ratings when I got there.   Another World was going downhill by the time I arrived.     Prior to the O.J. Simpson trial, the ratings for soaps were huge and when the O.J. trial happened we lost half of our audience to that and they never came back.   It was the beginning of reality television really.   He really put the knife into daytime television.  As far as Another World....I'll go to my grave blaming Proctor & Gamble for anything that caused Another World to go off the air.   They were so cautious and so afraid to do anything that would be fun or  be edgy.  They were terrified of alienating anyone watching at home or someone who was out buying their diapers or hand lotions.    We once tried to write an storyline where one of the female characters on the show slept with two different men in the same night and then got pregnant.    She was to have twins and one of the babies would belong to one man while the other baby belonged to the other man.   That would have been something that would have been a first for daytime television but Proctor & Gamble wouldn't let us do it.  

TV STORE ONLINE:  Was it a point of interest to always push the envelope on a soap for you?  Or did you try to maintain a balance between pushing the envelope and keeping things as they had been?

MILLER:  Well, you were asking yourself what the audience was talking about in the check out line at the grocery store.   Then you also always knew where your heart and soul was in the show too.  The audience was shrinking so there was a thought that you needed to do something that would be new and different to win the audience back that left but we were always told no.   

TV STORE ONLINE:   Going back to your interest in comedy again...What are some of your favorite comedy films?

MILLER:  I've always said that I wanted to be a Zucker Brother.   I think that I'd really like to be a Coen Brother too.   I love the Coen Brothers and their sense of humor really appeals to me.    I just don't think though that I have the right genetic make-up for comedy.   Some of the comics that I'm a fan of, just get up on the stage and let it rip.  I have to be drunk before I can get up on the stage. 

TV STORE ONLINE:   I know that after FRIDAY THE 13TH you wrote the screenplay for SPRING BREAK (1983) for Sean S. Cunningham but the two of you had a falling out over it.   What was the story behind that whole fiasco?

MILLER:   What happened?  Well, Sean and I had met down in Florida on vacation after FRIDAY THE 13TH became the big success that it was.     It was Sean's idea to call the movie FRIDAY THE  13TH and that was about sixty-percent of the success of that film.   Sean and I went to dinner one night and he told me that he wanted to make a movie called SPRING BREAK and that he wanted me to write the script.   So I wrote a couple drafts and gave them to him.  One morning I got a call from him and he told me that he was going to go another way with the screenplay.   Sean and I had been best friends since we had both started out  and I don't know if there was an outside influence on him from the investors for the movie  or if he was just plain sick of me but when he called me and told me that, it really just stabbed me in the heart.  I didn't think a phone call was the right way to go for something like that.
 
TV STORE ONLINE:   If the script for SPRING BREAK wasn't yours....What was your original script for SPRING BREAK about then?

MILLER:   I had taken a similar approach as PORKY'S (1982).    Because PORKY'S was a huge hit by that time.  That was my model.  Hijinks and large breasted women everywhere.    One of the things that shocked me was that there was a plot point in my script about the kids needing to find a hundred dollars and Sean didn't understand that.   He said, "A hundred dollars?  Why so little?"   I said, "I beg your pardon?"   By that time Sean was so rich that he couldn't get behind my idea that these kids had to scrap together a hundred dollars.   Maybe that had something to do with why he didn't like my script.  I'll never know I guess.

TV STORE ONLINE:  You mentioned once that the movies you made with Sean Cunningham never had anything to do with art, but only money.    Surely you had an artistic intention when you first started out with him though, no?

MILLER:  I would hesitate to use the word artistic, but I would say that I did and do consider myself a craftsman.    I wanted to entertain.  Before F13 came out, I was so broke that I was trying to sell my blood.  So I really wanted to entertain people but I wanted to be paid to do that.   I wanted to be paid because at the time my wife was working as a para-legal for an attorney that represented mobsters.  

TV STORE ONLINE:  But if I told you that us fans see wonderful artistry in films like F13 or A STRANGER IS WATCHING what would say about that?

MILLER:  It always sneaks in somehow...laughing   I'm not totally conscious of everything.  Sean and I agreed when we first started working together on F13 that we were constructing a film that was like a roller coaster.  I'm sure roller coaster fans see artistry in every loop but we were trying to build up to scaring the piss out of the audience before we took them to another place.   I had a shrink that once told me years later, "I can't believe that you don't know why you made Mrs. Voorhees a killer."   We had talked about my mother for many sessions.   He said, "She was the mother that you always wanted. The one that would've fought for you."    Things do sneak into your work always.

Betsy Palmer as "Mrs. Voorhees"
TV STORE ONLINE:  Artistically...One of the things that we find fascinating in both F13 and A STRANGER IS WATCHING is that both of those films feature a voyeuristic aesthetic in their visuals and story.  Was that something that you consciously wanted to contribute do you think?

MILLER:  The screenplay for F13 with the exception of the scene with the motorcycle cop was completely my structure.   Once I was hired to write it, I spent a good two weeks just coming up with the venue of the summer camp.   Sean liked that and told me to run with it.   Part of the voyeuristic approach came from the fact that we had Betsy Palmer for five days only.  I couldn't have Mrs. Voorhees running around in the script.  I really cheated.  I think we violated SAG and AFTRA rules too because even with that hand with the ring on it in the scenes were you didn't see her, she should've gotten paid for that even though it wasn't her.   Overall, I was happy with how it turned out because it made it even more spooky.  I think we parked the film on the corner of commerce and art streets.

TV STORE ONLINE:   I've also seen you mention in various other interviews over the years that you're a fan of the book 'Blue Pages'  by Eleanor Perry.   I was wondering if you were also a fan of her screenplay work in collaboration with her husband / filmmaker Frank Perry?

MILLER:   I read that book almost thirty years ago.  I still quote it today.  The women get it, the men wait for the punch line when I mention that book.   I don't think I've seen any other film that she wrote past DAVID & LISA (1961).   If there would have been a Sundance Film Festival back then she would've ruled it.   The fact that she could come up with something like DAVID & LISA in that world of Doris Day and Rock Hudson movies was incredible.

Ralphie "The Ratboy" "You're All Doomed!!!!"

TV STORE ONLINE:   Do you see FRIDAY THE 13TH as a modern morality tale in any way?

MILLER:  Yes I do.  I've always thought that it was.   I realize that it is a Victorian morality tale though.  The horror genre is pretty well delineated today.  The horror film is about managing your appetites.  If you don't manage your appetites you will die or pay the price.  That applies to the kids in F13.    It's very clear in the movie.  Ralphie "The Ratboy" as he was named in my first draft tells the kids that they're all doomed.    There is that idea that teenagers have no desire to listen to their elders too.

TV STORE ONLINE:  I really appreciate that set-up in F13 too.  I love how you emphasize that disconnect between the generations in FRIDAY THE 13TH.

MILLER:  Right...That worked well.   Look at John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN (1979) too...There's that scene where Jamie Lee Curtis tells the others that the banging on the door is just "The Kids."

TV STORE ONLINE:   FRIDAY THE 13TH....As a vision.... Is it close to how you imagined it would turn out when you were writing it?

The motorcycle cop that shouldn't have been...
MILLER:  Pretty much.   As I mentioned, the scene with the motorcycle cop was something that I didn't write.  That was added and it goes against my better judgement too.  Because there should be no outside force that could possibly help those kids.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Do you watch much reality television?

MILLER:  My wife and I watch everything, but we try to watch as little of reality television as possible.   The closest we get to reality television is when we watch Judge Judy.  We love it.  You can't watch Judge Judy without feeling better about your own life.   There are things that you can learn from watching Judge Judy too.   Never co-sign on a loan.  Never get a dog with someone who you're just dating.  Don't lend money to anyone.  Don't buy someone's cell phone.  Get married or don't do it.   I love Judge Judy.

TV STORE ONLINE:  You've been very vocal over the years about not having ever seen any of the FRIDAY THE 13th sequels...Because Jason Voorhees is your baby in the sense that you created him...Do you ever have any regrets that you didn't get involved in any of the sequels, just so you could have more control over the legacy of the character?

MILLER:  No I don't.  The only thing that would interest me now, and it really interests me actually,  would be if Paramount asked me to write a prequel.  I would be on that like flies on shit.   I would love to do that and there is no one more qualified to write a prequel than myself.  I created those characters and I would do that in a heartbeat.   I really like how it all worked out.  It worked out the way that it was supposed to work out.  It makes me sad that I lost Sean Cunningham as my friend though.   I don't resent any of the sequels that have come out.  The idea of Jason as a killing machine with or without a hockey mask on doesn't interest me though.   I'm glad that those films have a fan base.  I wanted them to be successful.   I guess not being part of those was like going through a good divorce.  My wife got the house though...laughing

Just a dream?  Jason Voorhees rises from Crystal Lake
TV STORE ONLINE:  Why do you think that the F13 films have gained such a fan base over the years.  Why has Jason engrained himself into the popular culture?

MILLER:   I think the timing was right.  Tom Savini  was right.  Harry Manfredini was right.  By luck, by chance, by karma...Sean really assembled the right people.  There isn't a CGI effect that can be done that can rival anything that Tom Savini can do.    It just worked.  It was perfect.   My contribution to that was giving them the most unlikely villain in the medium up to that point.   Instead of Tony Perkins in PSYCHO (1960) killing people...He's in the water and his mother is killing the people.

TV STORE ONLINE:  I love the Hitchcockian homages in the original F13...There's the ax that hits the light bulb hanging from the ceiling that swings, the voyeurism....

MILLER:  Right.  I have to credit Sean with this...In the first act when "Annie" hitches a ride out to Crystal Lake with that truck driver...That wasn't in my first draft.  Sean told me that he wanted to do what Hitchcock did in PSYCHO where he killed off his heroine Janet Leigh in the first few minutes.   Annie got killed in that first act because he wanted everyone to know that the villain meant business.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Is FRIDAY THE 13TH a perfect film?   Looking back on it now as the writer would you tinker with anything if you could go back to make it better?

MILLER:    I think the only changes I would make would be to my contract...laughing    It's not a perfect movie but going back and changing something would be like fixing something that isn't broken.

For more with Victor Miller please visit his official website HERE:
Follow Victor Miller on Facebook HERE:

Friday, September 20, 2013

Design A Jason Hockey Mask Charity Fundraiser: Update #5

Happy Friday!  Here's a very cool update. New York based Make-Up FX artist Cody Snyder has posted up on his Facebook some work-in-progress photos for his design for our "Design A Jason Voorhees Hockey Mask" charity fundraiser and contest.    Can you say Rat-Fink Voorhees?   Follow Cody on Facebook HERE:

Check out these fun photos of Cody's work:



Be sure to check our the TV Store Online blog's previous updates for the Jason mask
 charity fundraiser here:


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Back To The Future's Claudia Wells talks with TV STORE ONLINE


Actress CLAUDIA WELLS talks with TV STORE ONLINE about BACK TO THE FUTURE and her work on the television series' Fast Times, Fame, and Herbie The Love Bug.


TV STORE ONLINE:  In preparation for today I went back and watched that great episode of Fame [1982-87] that you did where you play a Russian student...

WELLS:  I loved doing that show.  That was one of my favorite things that I ever did.   I just went in and auditioned for that.    That was actually my first big screen kiss too.

TV STORE ONLINE:  I know you started out on the opera stage....I was curious if the acting bug was something that had bitten you before that though?

WELLS:  I started when I was eight years old.   I can't remember a time that I didn't want to be an actress.   I liked to sing but I did that because it got me on the stage in San Francisco and I did ten operas by the time I was twelve years old.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Had you seen a particular film or television show as a kid that put the idea into your head to pursue acting?

WELLS:  I wanted to become an actress after I had seen shows when I was really young like Sesame Street [1969-Current], Romper Room [1953-94], and Mr. Rogers Neighborhood [1968-2001].   I can remember going to my mother once and crying because I didn't think I could be on television because I was too big and I wouldn't be able to fit into the television set.  When I was a little kid I really thought that characters on the screen could see me watching them just as I could see them...laughing     I even tried to be on television before I was an actress. There was a show that featured people's inventions so I invented something and I went and asked my mom if I could be on the show but she told me no...laughing   

When I started to sing...I was a founding member of the San Francisco Girls Chorus which was a take off of the San Francisco Boys Chorus.  Not long after that, an agent saw me and offered me a national Volvo commercial and my mom let me do that and the commercial won a Clio award!   That was my start.

TV STORE ONLINE:   Not long after BACK TO THE FUTURE [1985] you worked on a great show that was a take off on the movie FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH [1982] called Fast Times [1986]...How did that come to you?

WELLS:   I loved doing that.  I met Amy Heckerling at a dinner party and she asked me to come in and read for it.   I had actually turned it down several times until my agent called me and she told me to go to the network.  I went and did a cold reading for "Linda" at the network and I got the part.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Given that the character of Linda had already been interpreted by actress Phoebe Cates in the movie...Did you go and look at what she did in the movie prior to starting work on the show?  

WELLS:  I had seen the  movie when it first came out, but I never went back again and looked at it in preparation for the show.  I just made the character my own.   

TV STORE ONLINE: Your interpretation of Linda is much more interesting and sincere than how she is played in the movie.  There's some great moments with that character on that series.  Episode Three for example is really great because of all that emotion that Linda goes through.   How did you find her for that?

WELLS:    Just like how I find every character.    I think that there's a part of every character that is really just a part of who you are.  You just expand on that.  It's kind of that simple.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Why was Fast Times canceled so quickly?

WELLS:  I don't know.  It was one of the very first teenage shows.  We found out two days after we shot the pilot that it was going to be picked up for six episodes.  We shot those six shows and then they decided not to pick it up.   Fast Times had a great cast too.  A lot of cast when on to become superstars.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Moon Zappa worked on the show too!

WELLS:  That's right!   She was a reality consultant on the show and she played the character of "Barbara".

BACK TO THE FUTURE
T-shirts available at 
TV STORE ONLINE.com
TV STORE ONLINE:   With BACK TO THE FUTURE...How did that whole thing come to you?  Had you been aware of the casting of Eric Stoltz and Melora Hardin prior to yourself and Michael J. Fox?

WELLS:  I was actually cast before Melora Hardin.    I had been cast with Eric Stoltz the previous spring before shooting and Eric and I had already started to talk about the characters.  A pilot I had shot with Ed Asner called Off The Rack [1984] was picked up by the ABC and it was scheduled to start shooting at the same time as BACK TO THE FUTURE.  I had originally took the role of "Jennifer" in BACK TO THE FUTURE because no one thought that the pilot for Off The Rack was going to get picked up, and once it did... ABC wasn't willing to share me so I could do BACK TO THE FUTURE because I was under contract.  So I had to release myself from the movie and that's when they re-cast the role with Melora Hardin.

We shot six episodes of Off The Rack for ABC and those were all done in front of a live studio audience and then ABC decided not to pick it up.   A week after that, Eric Stoltz was let go from BACK TO THE FUTURE, Michael J. Fox was hired, Melora Hardin was let go and sent some flowers and I got to do the movie.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Did you shoot anything with Eric Stoltz before leaving for Off The Rack?

WELLS:  We had only done a boyfriend/girlfriend photo shoot together.

Claudia Wells and Eric Stoltz.  Stoltz was originally cast in the role of 
"Marty McFly" before Michael J. Fox.


TV STORE ONLINE:  Prior to BACK TO THE FUTURE though you had also auditioned for roles in GREMLINS [1984] and THE GOONIES [1985] hadn't you?

WELLS:  I did.  I screen-tested for GREMLINS, THE GOONIES, and YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES [1985].   I even screen-tested for ADVENTURES IN BABYSITTING [1987] and it came down to myself, Phoebe Cates, and Elizabeth Shue.  

TV STORE ONLINE:  With BACK TO THE FUTURE...What kind of director was Robert Zemeckis to you?  Was he one that issued a lot of direction or was he one that would allow the actor to try different things and then chime in if he didn't like what you were doing?

WELLS:   He would give us specific directions at times.  Like "Look at each other, then look at the clock tower, now look at the clock tower lady.."   He was very open, very smart, and easy going.  He was also very sweet and kind too.

TV STORE ONLINE:  How was the kiss with Michael J. Fox?

WELLS: Everyone wants to know that!   It was lovely...laughing

TV STORE ONLINE:  What do you think that Claudia Wells brought to that Jennifer character that wasn't already on the written page of the script?

WELLS:  She was me!  I played myself.  Jennifer and I were the same person.  That was who I was.  I did a background for her.  I built her brick-by-brick.  I knew how she did in school.  I knew how long Jennifer and Marty had been dating.

TV STORE ONLINE:   Going back even farther...What are your memories of working on the Herbie: The Love Bug [1982] television series?

WELLS:  I loved that show!   That one only went a pilot and five episodes.  Working on that was a turning point in my life.  I worked with Dean Jones on that and we would spent time talking about God and he and his wife would talk me and my mom to church every week.   He had a huge effect on my spiritual growth and he changed my life.

TV STORE ONLINE: Then what about your clothing boutique in Los Angeles? How did Armani Wells come to fruition?

WELLS:  There were a couple of reasons.  I had often shopped for expensive clothes but got them inexpensively at women's resale shops.  I realized that there was nothing like that for men.   Mens clothing is so expensive when it's high end and beautiful.   I had lived in New York for about six months and I really loved how the men dressed there.  So I decided to move back and open a shop where I could create a niche and dress men and make them feel good by making them feel comfortable and offer them inexpensive clothes.  I opened up on December 19th of 1991.

TV STORE ONLINE:  How are you fighting the dreaded E-commerce industry as a business owner?

WELLS:  I was told when I first opened that I had a recession free business because when people are tight on money they can come here and save. Men can come here and buy Armani suits for $300 or $400 dollars instead of paying $2000 or $3000 dollars.   If they have money, then they know how to save money and end up coming here anyway.

TV STORE ONLINE:   We're seeing a resurgence of '80s fashions these days...Why do you think that fashion trends seem to recycle every couple decades?

WELLS:  I don't know.  It just comes and it goes.   It's always changing.  

TV STORE ONLINE:   Are you still involved with the Kids In The Spotlight charity?

WELLS:  Very much so.

TV STORE ONLINE:  How did you get involved with Kids?

WELLS:  A friend of mine started it.  She invited me to be on the board of directors when it first started.   In fact, I just acted in one of the films that one of the foster kids wrote.  All of the kids write short films about their life experiences.  

Kids In The Spotlight trains youth in foster care programs and other underserved youth to create, write, cast and star in their own short films. Please visit The Kids In The Spotlight website HERE:

TV STORE ONLINE:  What's next for you?  Where can people see what you're up to and where you'll be next?

WELLS:   They can check out my website at claudiawells.com.  I have a schedule on there.  They can see all of the upcoming autograph shows I'll be at.  They can buy autograph photos and they can find out information about the store Armani Wells.

Follow Claudia Wells on Facebook HERE:
Armani Wells is located at 12404 Ventura Blvd  Studio City, CA 91604  
Phone: (818) 985-5899

Monday, September 16, 2013

Design A Jason Hockey Mask Charity Fundraiser: Update #4

Another Update!!!  FX artist Mike Thomas and Robb De Nicola have sent us some update photos of their design for our "Design A Jason Voorhees Hockey Mask" Charity Fundraiser and contest.     Per his email his concept is to alter the mask into a Jason Zombie Skull ripping out of a pumpkin that will light up with Jason Voorhees elements throughout the piece.    You can check out Mike's other incredible creations at Kreationx.com  and Mike and Robb's joint venture projects at MarsVisions.com



Photos courtesy of:  FX artist Mike Thomas

Check out the previous Design A Jason Hockey Mask updates: