Friday, December 27, 2013

INTERVIEW: Thou Shalt Not Kill: An Interview With Filmmaker Josh Becker



Josh Becker is the writer and director of such cult classics as Lunatics: A Love Story, Thou Shalt Not Kill...Except, Running Time, If I Had A Hammer. Becker has also directed television shows such as Xena: Warrior Princess and Jack Of All Trades...

TV STORE ONLINE: What was your initial inspiration behind getting into filmmaking?

BECKER:  I've been a film geek as long as I can remember. It started for me with cartoons. I think I was five years old. I made my parents teach me how to tell time, so I could get up to watch all the Saturday morning cartoons. In fact, I loved all the Warner Brothers cartoons, and those took me into Warner Brothers movies. I was watching them all, the Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall movies, and all the Edward G. Robinson stuff.  I can remember seeing in 1962, HOW THE WEST WAS WON in downtown Detroit in Cinerama in the three screen projection process. At this point, I was thinking that this was better than life. And I knew somehow I had to be involved with it. And in '68 I saw, OLIVER and I was like, "Wait a minute! That kid is my same age... Why am I not up on the screen?" Then I figured that I didn't wanna be in movies, I wanted to make them.

TV STORE ONLINE: If someone walked up to you and gave you enough money to make any film you wanted, and said " Just make the film that you want to make and don't worry about making the money back..." What would you do?

BECKER: Well, I've just completed my thirty-seventh screenplay. Right off the bat, what's coming to mind, is a World War 1 screenplay I wrote called DEVIL DOGS which would be amazing. People aren't making pictures like this anymore. It's not anti-war or pro war. It's showing you the very first battle that Americans were involved in during World War 1. This battle was a turning point in the war. The lead character is great, Gunny Sergeant Dan Daily, who's the most decorated marine of all time. And quite frankly, I did a damn good job writing the script.

TV STORE ONLINE: How do you feel about the current state of film criticism as a former critic yourself?

BECKER: I feel like...and maybe this is me projecting..But I feel that critics are afraid that if they don't say anything nice about a film, they'll lose their job. You pick up the paper and you read these huge reviews, and you're asking yourself, "Did they like the movie or not?" They're delaying it, recapping the film blah blah blah.. The current state of movies is horrible. It's a mess. It's gotten to the point to where Hollywood is only making, sequels, remakes, or best selling books and it's just disgustingly gutless if you ask me.

TV STORE ONLINE:  If you Google "Josh Becker" you get the reference to your infamous Film Threat magazine article; the one you wrote about Quentin Tarantino back in 1992. Has that relationship with Tarantino been repaired?

BECKER: No...I probably should get that article taken down off the web. It's probably wrong of me to have that up. I interviewed QT on the set of RESERVOIR DOGS (1992), and I just found him really pretentious and funny looking and no one had ever heard of him yet!

TV STORE ONLINE: What's the greatest film of all time?

BECKER: One of the biggest influences on me of all time is THE BRIDGE OVER THE RIVER KWAI (1957). I love it. It's one film that you can watch and learn everything about filmmaking from it. And the screenplay to it is just one of the best written of all time. Another pick, and, it's a very damaged film... Orson Welles THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS (1942). Which has so many great moments in it. The film haunts me.

TV STORE ONLINE: What is the worst film of all time?

BECKER: I was just sent a DVD of LISZTOMANIA (1975) by Ken Russell. It's just so bad. And I fucking love Ken Russel!  All I can ask myself when I watch that film, is what drugs where they on when they made this. I hated Tommy, but LISZTOMANIA makes TOMMY (1975) look like GONE WITH THE WIND (1939). I hate TITANIC (1997) as well. It's terrible.

TV STORE ONLINE: How did LUNATICS: A LOVE STORY (1991) come about?

BECKER:  I was living in Hollywood. No money, no food, and I couldn't pay the rent. It was about 1987. I was sitting outside on the porch step. I kept thinking to myself, how the hell can I get out of this hole. So I started brainstorming. I then decided, I should just come up with a good film title and I started thinking about Hitchcock's PSYCHO (1960).  I started thinking about film titles that you could associate with a crazy person.  I thought about PSYCHO, THE CRAZIES (1973), MANIAC (1980)...Then I noticed in the background that someone was playing Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon and I heard that line "The lunatic is on the grass..." And I thought right away, "Lunatic...Lunatic...Lunatics." Crazy boy and crazy girl love story..

I got up, jumped in the car and headed over to Universal Studios where Sam Raimi had his office, which was just a trailer at that time. And I pitched it. He looked at me, and said "We'll buy that!" And they wrote me a check for one thousand bucks.

TV STORE ONLINE: How did Debby Foreman get involved with LUNATICS?


BECKER: Bruce Campbell had worked with her on this really bad movie in Utah, which he invited me out onto the set to visit. So I met her there. Bruce came in to produce LUNATICS: A LOVE STORY and when we were casting Bruce mentioned her, and I said "Yes." So we sent her the script and she loved it.

TV STORE ONLINE: Was it always the plan to make LUNATICS a very wild and colorful film visually?

BECKER: Oh yeah, of course. That was always the plan. We used lots and lots of gels on LUNATICS. And it's in the production design as well...We were choosing certain purples ect..

TV STORE ONLINE: Will LUNATICS: A LOVES TORY ever see an official DVD release?

BECKER: I hear rumors. Anchor Bay wanted to do it. Synapse was ready. But no one could cut through the red tape at Sony. So it's kinda up in the air.

TV STORE ONLINE: Ted Raimi is the "Dick Miller" of the post 60's B movie generation. What is it like working with Ted Raimi on a film like LUNATICS?

BECKER:  Ted was great. I've worked with him a ton as well on Xena: Warrior Princess. He's got brilliant comic timing. He's unlike other actors. He has a hard time getting words out of his mouth, but once he does it's amazing. Ted is great in outtakes. When he screws up, he really screws up. But when he gets it right, it's perfect and brilliant.

TV STORE ONLINE: What are you working on these days?

BECKER: I working on putting together a package of movies for production at the SyFy Channel. We'd love to shoot these in Michigan and not out of country in like Bulgaria.

TV STORE ONLINE: How did your Guide To Low Budget Filmmaking book come about?


BECKER:  I was living in a trailer in Oregon, about a mile up the road from Bruce Campbell. I had left Hollywood. Bruce leaves for his book tour. I was living in this trailer... So instead of becoming the Unibomber, I wrote that book. I was tired of seeing these types of book on the market. They're never written by people that have actual low budget filmmaking experience.

TV STORE ONLINE: How do you sell your low budget independent film today?

BECKER:  It's gotten really hard. When I first started out with THOU SHALT NOT KILL (1983) it was easy.  In 2001, when I made my last indie film... It never got an release. So I really don't know honestly..

TV STORE ONLINE: Did you ever run into any issues when you were shooting your low budget stuff that forced you to think outside of the box creatively to solve the issue?

BECKER:  Well, I've stole a lot of shots. I've quietly walked into buildings and shot stuff. We've done all kinda of crazy stuff. If you wait for permission to do stuff like that, you'll be waiting forever.

TV STORE ONLINE: How do you feel about internet film piracy?

BECKER:  It's a very negative thing. It's costing me money. Everyone under the age of 30 thinks that culture is free. Technology has created this. So it's our job to come up with an alternative way to sell our movies or fix it.

TV STORE ONLINE: Do you think that the internet could be used as an important tool for independent film in terms of selling and marketing?

BECKER:  Well, it's going that way. I hear it a lot. It's still got the same issues. You can put anything you want on YouTube, but if no-one's never heard of it, why would they click on it. You have to market it on the internet as well. You just can't throw it up, and hope people watch it, you have to promote it.

TV STORE ONLINE: What's the best advice you can give to a younger person who's trying to get their foot in the film industry?

BECKER:  You just have to be the best you can be. Don't follow fads. Just try to do good work. I'm old fashioned, and I still think movies are art. You have to use them to express themselves. Read as many books on film as you can. Watch as many movies are you can. Try to be very original. That's my opinion.

Interview Conducted By: Justin Bozung
For more information on Josh Becker, please visit his official website www.beckerfilms.com

Thursday, December 26, 2013

INTERVIEW: The InSight Of Father Daddy Bah-Bah Or: An Interview With Filmmaker Richard Gabai

 Actor / Writer / Director Richard Gabai talks with TV STORE ONLINE about his prolific body of films including VIRGIN HIGH, HOT UNDER THE COLLAR, VICE GIRLS, and INSIGHT.

A long long time ago in a galaxy far far away when late night television was very different, and the B movie had a place within that realm, Richard Gabai rode the airwaves. As writer, director, producer and star his films like, VIRGIN HIGH (1991), ASSAULT OF THE PARTY NERDS (1989), HOT UNDER THE COLLAR (1992), and ASSAULT OF THE PART NERDS II: THE HEAVY PETTING DETECTIVE (1995) were big staples in the final years when pay cable didn't suck.

Gabai's fun and raunchy teen sex comedies have become cult classics for many today. His sense of humor, timing and concept predate now typical fare as the dubiously popular AMERICAN PIE films and VAN WILDER series.

Gabai grew up in California. He developed an intense love of music and film at an very early age, eventually starting his own rock band, 'The Checks'. In addition to music, Gabai worked as an actor, maintaining that profession while beginning to write, direct and produce his own films. When Gabai makes a film, he becomes it. He writes, directs and produces it. He casts himself in the lead role, and most often contributes music to the film. He does it all, and Gabai's work has a very distinct feel to it. You can always tell that what you're watching is a Richard Gabai film. His style is his own, and his films are always great fun.

As an actor, perhaps more than any other of his generation, Gabai, is the definition of the everyday man. The next door man-child that's just like all of us red blooded Americans. Gabai, on our behalf, sets out to achieve the essence of the American dream - to be the hero, and to get US laid.

From "Jerry Kaminski" of 'VIRGIN HIGH to "John Skeemer" in Jim Wynorski's and Fred Olen Ray's DINOSAUR ISLAND (1994), Gabai has a unique charm that allows us to accept him as a sort of everyday sex crazed Don Knotts/Groucho Marx offspring. Gabai, playing these characters throughout his fun career and all are Superman types for all us nerds to admire out here in movieland.

Gabai has been in the game for over 20 years. He's worked with everyone from Jim Wynorski, Jennifer Rubin, Linnea Quigley, Michelle Bauer, Dan Golden, Leslie Mann to Christopher Lloyd.

In addition to creating some of the funniest teen sex comedies of their time, Gabai has also directed several "serious" types of films over the years as well. Films like, CALL OF THE WILD 3D (2009), VIRTUAL GIRL (1998), MIRACLE DOGS TOO (2006), POPSTAR (2005), and MOTOCROSS KIDS (2004), have all proven must see's as well as being hugely successful in the home video and television markets.

His 2011 film, INSIGHT is a supremely well crafted film with elements of the supernatural cleverly in play. Natalie Zea is Kaitlyn, an emergency room nurse who attempts to save the life of a woman brought in via ambulance one rainy evening, and without warning, is zapped with the dying woman's dark and traumatic memories.

Becoming obsessed and haunted by these memories Kaitlyn sets out to uncover the truths about the woman's murder that the police can't seem to figure out. Along the way, she encounters a cast of wonderful veteran players; Christopher Lloyd, Sean-Patrick Flanery, Max Perlich, Adam Baldwin, and a great cameo by Veronica Cartwright. They all refuse to believe her and question what she’s “remembering” from the perspective of the murder victim.

What makes INSIGHT worth your time is Gabai's razor sharp direction and how the film's screenwriters; Aaron Ginsburg and Wade McIntyre take the over-used cliche of the psychological thriller (which, by the way has been beaten to a predictable pulp over the last twenty years with films like ANGEL EYES (2001), HEAR NO EVIL (1993), DERAILED (2005) ECT...) and give it this surprisingly new and re-inventive perspective. Plus, there's a twist that would make Hitchcock jealous.

INSIGHT is cast flawlessly. Everything is done outside-of-the-box here. Gabai casts under-rated character actors (Gabai is underrated as an actor, himself) into positions that perhaps fans would never assume any of them would fit into. It's this ideology that allows InSight to stand high above many other films that attempt to exist in this genre. Also, director of photography Scott Peck's camera is wonderfully subjective. It's constantly in motion and this highlights brilliantly that InSight's ultimate victim, the beautiful and tragic female question mark here -- is witnessing events after she's gone.  INSIGHT works. It's one of those under-the-radar films that you'll regret not seeing it if you overlook it.   Richard Gabai is a tireless writer, actor, director and comedian.  Talking with Gabai finds one experiencing a guy who is very funny, insightful, interesting, clever, and also at times a little bit mischievous.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Tell me about how your first film ASSAULT OF THE PARTY NERDS came into being?

GABAI:  Well, before PARTY NERDS, all I had really done was starred in David DeCoteau's NIGHTMARE SISTERS (1987), and then I acted in a little known dramatic film, which is actually really great called, THE WHITMORE'S HAVE COMPANY released as NIGHT VISITORS (1987). So after that, I decided I was going to make my own movie. On THE WHITMORE's I met Michael Becker and Rob Dorfman. Michael Becker and I have been working together for the last 22 years, and Rob Dorfman played "Chip" in ASSAULT OF THE PARTY NERDS. I met him because he was a production assistant and the guy who drove the actor's van on THE WHITMORE'S.

ASSAULT OF THE PARTY NERDS is really the film that is responsible for me getting into the movie business as a filmmaker. As much as some parts of the film make me cringe, I still think it's a classic entry into genre and into Gabai-dom..laughing

TV STORE ONLINE:  You were born and spent the first few years of your life in New York City... How the heck did you end up out in California?

GABAI:  Well, my dad got transferred. I was born in New York City, and lived for the first few years of my life in Washington Heights, an area of New York City. Right before my sixth birthday, we moved to Orange County, California. And after a couple years there, we moved to the San Fernando Valley, and that's basically were I grew up.

TV STORE ONLINE: So as a kid...How early did you develop an interest in acting, film and music?

GABAI:  It was pretty early. I think I've always been a performer, but I really didn't think of myself that way, but the neighbors did. Our neighbor recommended that I go to this summer theater program at Cal State Northridge. It was just a few miles from where I grew up. I did musical theater there every summer. As a kid, everyone has that thing that you can do - that feels right. I always liked basketball and football, but I knew I wasn't gonna be on the school team. So, I knew this was the place for me. Also, it was a major draw to the girls...laughing Even as a kid, I wanted to meet the girls. It was great. I totally loved the people, and the vibe. It just felt really natural - me being there.

I did a few professional acting gigs as a kid too, but I lost interest in the whole auditioning thing, but it stuck with me.

With the music, you can tie together my desire to make movies, and my desire to play music and write songs to one incident that happened to me when I was like 10 or 11. I was going to meet some friends to see a movie at the mall, it was about a mile and a half walk from my house. We had planned to all meet at a certain time. It was in the days of no cell-phones. You couldn't text anyone. We got our wires crossed, and no one showed up. So I sat there and decided that I wasn't going to just walk back the mile and half. I looked at the glass case of the theater and I saw this poster of a guy holding an electric guitar. I said to myself, "This looks cool..." It was THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY (1978). I had no idea who Buddy Holly was, but I went anyway. I dug the music, I loved the movie. When it ended, I kinda touched my face and realized that I had tears coming down my cheek. I looked around really quick to make sure that no one in the theater was looking at me.

The whole thing blew me away. Then I went out and bought a Buddy Holly record, and I hated it. Because, I really liked the Gary Busey versions of the songs. I now have the complete recordings of Buddy Holly, and I can't listen to the film's soundtrack anymore. But at the time, you always fall in love with the first one that you hear, right? So this was important and it excited me because it put the thought in my head that I wanted to someday make films and make music that could effect people in a similar fashion. Also, it made me wanna play guitar and write songs, and I had to get a Stratocaster as soon as possible, and I did... A couple years down the road.

TV STORE ONLINE: So do you have like a Top Five favorite musical artists or Top Five favorite albums?

GABAI:  Tough one... I can't do albums. But I think I could do artists. If I really had to give you a number one. I go with the following in the number one category. The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison. Then after that would be, Queen, Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Johnny Cash....That's enough...That's almost ten, right?

TV STORE ONLINE:  How did the concept for your film VICE GIRLS (1997) come about?

GABAI: It's funny. One of the guys I met in the teen drama program that I used to go to was Michael Baldwin. He is the star of the PHANTASM (1979-98) movies. So he's been a lifetime friend, and we always wanted to make a film together, and of course, he's in VICE GIRLS. So I pitched to the company that was willing to make the film with me, it's "PULP FICTION (1994) meets Charlie's Angels." That was the pitch. They said, sounds great. So I got together with Michael and developed it, and Michael wrote the screenplay. If you're an aficionado of the film, there is a huge subtext of the original Star Trek television series in the film. Very few have picked up on it, but Baldwin infused it in there. I loved how the film turned out.

TV STORE ONLINE:  What was it like working with Lana Clarkson on VICE GIRLS?

GABAI:  She was very dedicated to her craft. She was very serious about what she was doing. I think it meant a lot of her that she was doing the role, and I think she's great in the film.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Would you comment on the Lana Clarkson and Phil Spector incident?

GABAI:  Well, what can I say? It's just so awful. I don't think there is anything I can say. The guy is and was obviously insane. It's not the first time he had pulled a gun on somebody. It's just disgusting. My heart goes out to her family, friends and fans. I hadn't actually seen her in years, but this whole thing really taught me about American culture. Once it happened my phone starting ringing off the hook. I was getting approached by the National Enquirer, E!, Time, and Newsweek.

The National Enquirer was ultimately the most respectful. I gave them a quote. Time and Newsweek pestered and harassed me like crazy. 'Do you have any personal photos of Lana?" "Did you date Lana, sometimes the director dates the leading actress..." One women reporter was calling me asking me to meet her for a drink. It was a shame. The television show Inside Edition offered me $1500 dollars to do an on camera interview about Lana. I passed. It was just really interesting how the reporters that you think are gonna be sleazy are actually the most respectful.

TV STORE ONLINE:  You're making a different caliber of film these days as opposed to what you where you making in the late '80s and early '90s... Why the jump?

GABAI: Well, I've never jumped to anything. I've just grown up. I've changed. I'm not the same guy I was at 29. I directed the PARTY NERDS movies, I acted in Fred Ray's and Jim Wynorski's DINOSAUR ISLAND. I love being in Fred Ray's films. As a creator of product, you never say never. This is what I do. I make films to eat, to make a living. I've been doing it for 22 years. I don't look down on any project, no project is to good for me. I just have made a conscious decision to move toward something else. I wanna tell more personal stories. I want to move people emotionally. I've been married for 11 years, and I have three kids. I want to make stuff that I can share with them. I'm proud of all the work, and when my kids get to the appropriate age, I'll proudly show and tell them about everything I've done. At this stage in the game, I can't give a project I don't relate to the attention it would require anymore, I'm not interested in doing those types of films as a director, my heart's not "in" it. But if it came down to it, I'd certainly do it to make a living - and I'd never say "No" to any of my director pals who might call me to play a role in the films they're making.

TV STORE ONLINE:  On that note, how was your DINOSAUR ISLAND experience?

GABAI:  Loved it. Loved the girls. Not ashamed. It was a blast. It's not on DVD, and it should be on Blu-Ray...laughing...From the first day of shooting through to the wrap party...I swear some day I'm gonna write a book called Blue Collar Hollywood: How I Made 1000 Movies In Hollywood And Never Caught The Clap. We started the wrap party at the late David Carradine's house, and somehow and someway I ended up in some girls dorm room at UCLA, and I don't have any clue or memory of how I got there! I woke up looking at a poster of the Backstreet Boys and I sat up and said, "Where the hell am I... Oh yeah.." Again, it was a different time in my life.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Do you think you've got another ASSAULT OF THE PARTY NERDS in you?

GABAI: Yes, that's one that I do think I have in me. PARTY NERDS 3D. Also, I think we should do a remake of the original ASSAULT OF THE PARTY NERDS. That could happen.

TV STORE ONLINE:  With films like ASSAULT OF THE PARTY NERDS and VIRGIN HIGH wouldn't you say you were really ahead of your time in creating a type of movie, that's now become so popular today?

GABAI: We pushed the envelope for sure. The M.P.A.A gave both those films an 'X' rating on initial screening when they reviewed them. It didn't make any sense. One of the issues they had for example, was that scene in VIRGIN HIGH where I'm standing there with the other guy talking, as we're taking a leak. There was another film that year that was put out by a studio and a famous director, and Huey Lewis whips it out and leeks away. That they considered "art." It was all because we were an independent film. Look at what's come since the AMERICAN PIE movies and the Judd Apatow films. It's interesting - and ironically I discovered Leslie Mann on the set of VIRGIN HIGH. She was an extra and I knew she had something special going on so I wrote that bit for her in the classroom scene. Now she's married to Judd and is a big star.

TV STORE ONLINE:  What was the inspiration for you behind making VIRGIN HIGH?

GABAI: I developed that with my writer buddy David Fulk. My pitch was FAST TIMES IN RIDGEMONT HIGH (1982) in Catholic school. That may be our funniest film. For me the first five minutes of that film really work. Burt Ward is a riot in that. He's a great guy.

TV STORE ONLINE:  How did you get involved with Jim Wynorski's remake of THE WASP WOMAN (1995)?

GABAI:  I was just lucky. I'll always be grateful to Jim for giving me that role. I am thrilled to be in that movie. I like that movie a lot. I was a big fan of Jennifer Rubin too, so it was nice to work with her. How many people can say they shot a love scene with Jennifer Rubin, a body double, and a giant wasp on the same day?

TV STORE ONLINE:  You've directed Christopher Lloyd on a few of your most recent films...What's it like to direct Lloyd? Is it difficult to give direction to an actor of his caliber?

GABAI:  No, it's incredibly easy. He's a professional actor, and he actually respects me as an director. Which is difficult for me to accept. He takes direction and he wants direction. He's become a very good friend. He's one of my hero's. ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST (1975) was one of those films that took me to another planet, and that's Christopher Lloyd's first movie. That's one of the most interesting things about being in this business. The fact that you get to meet and work with your heroes, and often it's not disappointing.

TV STORE ONLINE:  What are you working on now?

GABAI:  I just shot a movie for IMAX, TIME: THE FOURTH DIMENSION (2014).

TV STORE ONLINE:  What's your favorite movie that you've made? Early career and later career?

GABAI: I'm most excited about whatever is coming next, but early on I'd have to say VIRGIN HIGH. Because it's just so funny,and we had so much fun making it. And more recently, INSIGHT.

TV STORE ONLINE:  When you go out to work on a film as an actor...What's your acting process detail? 

GABAI:  Well my process is that I try to make the guys watching the movie in the theater or at home think that I'm them. My goal has always been to humanize the role. I want people to identify with the character I"m playing. I'm jealous of the guy's your playing in your earlier film's like VIRGIN HIGH.... Yeah, well when I look back at those films, I'm jealous of the guys I'm playing too...laughing

TV STORE ONLINE:  You mentioned 2011's INSIGHT as one of your more recent favorite projects....I was curious to see how you came across the script, and what was it about the script that made you decide that you wanted to direct the project?

GABAI:  Scott Peck, my director of photography and a co-producer on INSIGHT brought me the script. I read it in one go which for me is rare. The script was written by two extremely talented guys Aaron Ginsburg and Wade McIntyre. The subject matter intrigued me - exploring the line between what is real and what isn't. The film is much more than a murder mystery. What's interesting is some people feel that it's a psychological thriller, others are sure it's supernatural. I'm sure it makes the audience think and throws in a few really good scares.

TV STORE ONLINE:  INSIGHT has this amazing cast...How were you able to cull together such an assemble?

GABAI:  Divine providence! Sean Patrick Flanery is one of the only actors who came aboard through the traditional casting process. Natalie Zea from the great TV show Justified was introduced to me by a friend. She read and liked it, we had a coffee together and I hired her on the spot. I think this film is a tour de force for both her and Sean. Chris Lloyd and I had done CALL OF THE WILD 3D together so I got it to him and he said it wasn't like anything he'd done before so he signed on.

The same for Veronica Cartwright who plays Natalie's ailing Mom, we worked together before. She's incredible - she gave "The Beaver" his first kiss, won an Emmy for an episode of Dragnet and had her thirteenth birthday party thrown for her by Alfred Hitchcock when she was starring in THE BIRDS (1963). All this before INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1978),  ALIEN (1979) and THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK (1987). Adam Baldwin and I have some common friends, and that's how that happened. So honored to have him in the film and man is he good. Thom Nicholas, Max Perlich, Lesley-Ann Brandt, and Juliet Landau round out my ideal cast. Just perfect. It's fun also that we got a chance to "introduce" Angeline-Rose Troy, like in an old fashioned movie. She's the helpless victim of course and she's beautifully tragic.

TV STORE ONLINE:  I wanted to see if you could talk some about the visual aesthetic of the film?

GABAI:  That's a conversation I had with director of photography Scott Peck and production designer Gabor Norman early on. I wanted to make a classic noir film set in today's world. So the look is dark and has a retro vibe, yet you never feel like you are watching an old film, or that it takes place in another time. Jeff Murphy, the editor and I wanted to keep the pace snappy and keep the story moving along until the right moments when we let it breathe a bit. I also tried to keep elements that would date the film off screen, so that hopefully it has a shellfire, like maybe a thousand years or so...laughing

TV STORE ONLINEHow do you think INSIGHT stands out in comparison of some of your work that you've done over the course of your career?

GABAI:  Now remember you're talking to the guy that made VIRGIN HIGH, ASSAULT OF THE PARTY NERDS, and starred in DINOSAUR ISLAND, so it does stand out!!! (laughs) The truth is my career has been evolving and I've been working towards INSIGHT and films like it for a long time. I'm really proud of INSIGHT and the last few films we've done like CALL OF THE WILD 3D and BEAUTIFUL BOY (2012) with Maria Bello and Michael Sheen, which I executive produced.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Also...What about the score in INSIGHT?

GABAI:  As a musician myself I focus as much on the score and the overall sound of the film as I do on the visual. The score for InSight was written by Golden Globe Winner and Oscar nominee Lisa Gerrard and Marcello De Franscisi and it is just perfect. Hauntingly beautiful. Again just incredible how everything seemed to fall into place on this one.

TV STORE ONLINE:  I was curious how long it took you to finish INSIGHT from script to screen and did you encounter any sort of obstacles along the way?

GABAI:  From script to screen INSIGHT took us a about nine months. We shot the film last summer and premiered it at the Newport Beach Film Festival in April of this year, and sure there were obstacles. Everywhere!!! But there always is - you just deal with them one at a time. Our main location where we staged a good portion of the movie, had another film shooting at the same time because we couldn't afford to buy out the place, so we were trying to be quite in between takes for each other. At times it was a mess, but we go through it. INSIGHT is truly an Indie shot on a shoestring budget but it doesn't look or sound like it and It is only because of the great team that we've put together that we got through it at all. John and Elaine Constantine are not only my producing partners but have become two of my closest friends. That happens on movies... Either that or... Well, you know. Rich Iott my executive producer and great pal and Larissa Michel have been with me on other films too. Couldn't do it without all of them.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Do you think that INSIGHT exists within any sort of one genre? I mean, there are elements of the possible supernatural at play, then you have elements of the film making it a possible thriller?

GABAI:  INSIGHT is a very personal film for me so no, It's not "just a thriller." There are supernatural elements just as I think that there are supernatural elements in our daily lives. My bed can't make itself and I'm thinking this world probably didn't either. There is definitely something in play. The writers would argue with me...but hey film is still a director's medium, right? I'm most interested in what the audience thinks though, and I can't wait.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Who are some of your directing influences?

GABAI:  Hitchcock, Scorsese, Forman, Spielberg...How's that for cliche'? Well, it's the truth.

TV STORE ONLINE:  What are you working on next?

GABAI:  I'm developing another thriller, and a family film. Also we have TIME: THE FOURTH DIMENSION a educational IMAX film we're working on now.

Interview Conducted By: Justin Bozung
For more with Richard Gabai please visit his official website HERE:

Thursday, December 19, 2013

INTERVIEW: It's All About The Rock! Cult Z-Movie Madman David "Rock" Nelson talks with TV STORE ONLINE


Cult Z-Movie auteur David "Rock" Nelson talks about his films and the 2010 documentary on himself, DAVID "ROCK" NELSON: ED WOOD OF THE 21ST CENTURY.

 David "Rock" Nelson gets no respect. He's the Rodney Dangerfield of really bad movies. He's been compared to Ed Wood. His films have even been called, "Unwatchable Crap". Since '91, The Rock has made over twenty-five short films and ten features. All homemade do-it-yourself tributes to the famous monster films of the 50's and 60's. Nelson's films feature religious and morality undertones, cameos by genre film celebrities such as Roger Corman, Forrest J. Ackerman and Conrad Brooks, even meta commentary over the film's dialogue and action by The Rock himself.

The Rock's films have all been shot on second hand camcorders made in the 80's, edited VCR to VCR, and his monsterpieces are rounded it via a Radio Shack video title machine, [not quite a Kyron] that is older than anyone reading this. To appreciate the films of David "Rock" Nelson is to truly understand and admire the man behind the camera. The Rock is hyper kinetic, consider a speed freaked 1980's Robin Williams and the Tasmanian Devil all in one being.   Yet, The Rock's films are auteur loveable.   They are each personal and epic.  Each is a tribute to a genre that Nelson has been obsessed with since he was a young child growing up in the Chicagoland area.   The cinema of David "Rock" Nelson was created with tender loving care deep in the depths of his parents basement.  

Born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, Nelson has an interesting story that everyone should know. He was a one time serviceman, spending time in the Marines. He was an up and coming boxer as a young adult becoming a three time Gold Glove fighter in the Chicago area.

As a child, he was obsessed with monster films. Yet, The Rock as a teenager moved away to go to a bible college to become a preacher. It wasn't until 1984, when he attended a midnight screening of James Cameron's THE TERMINATOR that he decided to leave bible school and follow his childhood dream of making monster movies. He's been doing just that ever since.  Now in his mid 50's, David "Rock" Nelson continues to live in his parent's basement in suburban Chicago. He often stays up all night watching monster movies on Chicago television. He loves Java aka coffee and staying in shape. He's a natural bodybuilder as well.

Along with selling his catalog of films at horror conventions like Monster Bash in Pennsylvania, Nelson makes ends meet by appearing as a extra in various Hollywood productions that make their way to Chicago. Since 1991, Nelson has appeared in over thirty films as a extra. He's been in everything from, GROUNDHOG DAY (1993), FOLKS (1992), THE BABE (1992), GLADIATOR (1992), and LET'S GO TO PRISON (2006) to date.

To see a film written and directed by David "Rock" Nelson is a truly profound and defying cinema experience. The Rock doesn't make bad films, just perversely misunderstood ones. Nelson plays many of the characters himself. When the camera is recording, a first take on a Rock production is the only takes needed. Nelson doesn't sweat the small stuff - like plot, flubbed dialogue, continuity and editing. In his own method, The Rock has redefined cinema and how we understand it as a medium.  His films often go into the two-and-a-half to four hour duration each. His films are very original, fun, passionate, entertaining and energetic, however difficult they actually are to many an audience.

Given all the criticism Nelson has received over the years in regards to his work, there is something to be admired in regards to his passion, effort, and persistence. Even though he has been told to "throw his films into a fireplace" a hundred times, The Rock continues on creating his mad-cap brand of crazy home made monster movie.   As Norman Mailer would say,"  That's a signification of a great artist".   2010 saw the release of a documentary introducing viewers into the 100 MPH vortex of weird that Nelson lives in. DAVID "ROCK" NELSON: ED WOOD OF THE 21ST CENTURY was released by November Fire Recordings. The documentary is a wonderful and very human look into the life of a very original film artist that continues to create work on his own terms, even if no-one wants to watch it. ED OF THE 21ST CENTURY is a wonderful introduction to the insanity that is David "Rock" Nelson. It's highly recommended.

Setting up this interview, Nelson makes it clear that he'd like me to showcase a list of his favorite films. He's a mega fan of the following films: NIGHT OF THE GHOULS (1959), BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935), THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (1951), ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (1948), SON OF FRANKENSTEIN (1939), IT CONQUERED THE WORLD (1956), THE DEVIL BAT (1940), THE MONSTER OF PIEDRAS BLANCAS (1959), FRANKENSTEIN'S DAUGHTER (1958), ZONTAR: THE THING FROM VENUS (1966), RETURN OF THE VAMPIRE (1944), TEENAGE ZOMBIES (1961), THE GIANT GILA MONSTER (1959) , PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE (1959), THE WEREWOLF (1956), FRANKENSTEIN (1931). He's also a big fan of all the sea creature films from the 50's and his favorite director is, Roger Corman.   What follows below is a heavily edited 2 hour conversation with Nelson.

TV STORE ONLINE:  How many cups of coffee do you drink each day?

NELSON:  I probably have around three big cups in the morning. And then some more later. I really don't count them. I'll drink as much as I want though.

TV STORE ONLINE:  What were you like as a young kid? Did you have a lot of friends? Did you get picked on at all?

NELSON:  Yep, I got picked on because I was so skinny. I got into bodybuilding because I wanted to be like Joe Weider, and Dave Draper. I was a little mischievous as a kid too. I used to make fun of people sometimes. I used to egg houses, toilet paper trees. We had what we call a "zitcher". A zitcher is a old wire you take from an old appliance, and you strip back the outside. So when I was kid we'd go around and stick it in the outside sockets on people's house, and it would make their house lights go out...I was bad kid. When I was 8, I started a monster club. I had a friend named Don Stillwell, and his dad had a camera, and he put me in my first monster movie. I was a zombie coming out of the ground with a monster mask on, that my mom bought for me back in 1954 at a Walgreens. Every Saturday, all of us would watch Creature Feature and we'd drink soda and eat cupcakes together staying up all night.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Do you think you have the same personality as a kid, that you do now?

NELSON:  Yeah I think so. Even now I'll be watching a movie by myself, and I'll start talking to myself or to the screen.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago...What is your take on the whole John Wayne Gacy thing?

NELSON:  He only lived a few miles from where I grew up actually. The very first bar I ever went to when I got old enough was a bar he used to frequent. I made a movie about him... FRANKENSTEIN MEETS JOHN WAYNE PAKEY.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Back when you retired from boxing, what was your final boxing record?

NELSON: 5 wins, 19 losses and 1 draw.

TV STORE ONLINE:  As a kid, how did you shift your interest from monster movies, to religion and bodybuilding and then back to monster movies?

NELSON:  I've went back and forth a lot. When I was around age 8 I started to get interested in bodybuilding. Cause I used to get picked on by this kid. He called me 'Chesty Popcorn." And I didn't like that. So I would often shift my interests from monster movies to bodybuilding, and even as I kid I was a church goer. My brothers all had long hair, and my mom always made me get my hair buzzed. I think from early on, my mom thought I needed special attention. I wanted to look like Joe Pepitone...lol...

TV STORE ONLINE:  How did you first appearance on The Daily Show (1996-current) happen? Did you know they were making fun of you?

NELSON:  I was really excited when The Daily Show was at my house. A. Whitney Brown was forcing me to talk slow. I was so excited, but I couldn't show it. I felt like I was being controlled during that interview, even though it was cool that they were interviewing me. At the time, I didn't realize that they were there to make fun of me. In fact, I didn't even see that when it aired because I was just so happy to be on television. I really don't care. It was a cool experience. There was a bunch of stuff they shot that they didn't even use and that bothered me, because I really wanted a copy of that stuff they shot of me afterward.

TV STORE ONLINE:  What do you think of the documentary  ED WOOD OF THE 21ST CENTURY?

NELSON:  I liked it, but I thought it could've been better. I didn't like how they made fun of me, with what happened with that gay guy. I didn't go looking to pick up that gay guy. But they made fun of me with all those titles on the screen. 530am. BEEP. High crime area. BEEP. I didn't go out looking for those guys. I was just driving around. And they make me look like I was out looking for them in the movie. I was trapped in that situation. I didn't wanna give those guys a ride. They looked like trouble. To me. I just wanted to get outta there. I was trying to get outta there. I was trying to go to my twenty-four hour snack shop, and read my monster magazines.

One thing about the documentary that I really appreciate is how they put in there about religion and the stuff about my brother that we lost. I really appreciate that being in there. People don't like some people talking about religion, but it's really important to me.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Do you wanna clear the record here in this interview about the gay guy incident as it appears in the documentary?

NELSON:  Yes. I am not gay. I never set out for that to happen. He just approached me and asked me if I wanted him to suck my thing for ten bucks. I told him I only liked girls to do that, and he pulled a gun on me. He probably wasn't even gay. I didn't pick that guy up on purpose. I almost felt like I was being trapped and kidnapped. I figured if I didn't help them, they would hurt me. I was actually really scared.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Do you think you're over examining the situation? Do you think you come off kind of crazy in the scene in the documentary?

NELSON: NO, I am not crazy. It was a bad situation. I didn't wanna give those guys a ride. They made me. I felt trapped. I didn't do it cause I was looking for a gay guy. I'm not gay. I figured I was in danger. So that's why I did it, they forced me. After it was over I prayed to God, that those guys get fried in hell. I wanted them dead. I'd wake up in the morning and pray, that I wished those guys were dead. To pull a gun on me. I had a Phillips screwdriver in my glove box that night, and I wanted to grab it, and stab him in his head. I wanted him to die. I mean, he robbed me. I gave him my money. So I wished for something bad to happen to them. But now, I've forgiven them. I pray for them that Jesus Christ will save their souls.

TV STORE ONLINE: OK.. So with that being said... Why were you out in a high crime area in Chicago at 530am in the morning?

NELSON:  I was just driving around and they attacked me...

TV STORE ONLINE:  What would you do if someone from Hollywood said, "David... Here's a bunch of money, here's a real crew, go make a big movie?" What kind of movie would you make?

NELSON:  Easy. I would make a sea monster movie out in Hollywood. But I'm not gonna tell you what it would be about. I would film it in Black & White. And I'd want it to be shown in theaters. And I'd want the right to have my friends in the movie. There is no need to have an audition. If you think a person is right for the part, you don't need to audition them. That's how I'd do it. I'll never tell anyone this idea. I've told people some of my other ideas, and they've stolen them.

Interview By Justin Bozung
For more with The Rock check out his official website HERE:

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

INTERVIEW: The Most Interesting Man In The World, Johnny Legend


Ladies and Gentleman, the man you're about to meet in this article is the most interesting man of the last 50 years. Johnny Legend's done it all. He's a Rockabilly music legend. He's an filmmaker, creating such cult classics as, MY BREAKFAST WITH BLASSIE (1983) and the 70's skin flick, TEENAGE CRUISERS (1977). As an actor, he's appeared in such films as BRIDE OF THE RE-ANIMATOR (1989), 2001 MANIACS (2005), and the Milos Foreman Andy Kaufman biopic, MAN ON THE MOON (1999). He's an oddity archivist. Sharing with planet earth, via home video - the brilliant films of Jack Hill, SPIDER BABY (1968) and SWITCHBLADE SISTERS (1975). In addition, Legend has put out a vast series of archival film collections on every subject including: Weird cartoons, Biker films, Mexican Wrestling films, Bela Lugosi compilations, and the early television appearances of Betty White.

Legend's also responsible for providing the public with the best and definitive DVD releases for cult classics like, Arch Hall Jr's THE SADIST (1963), and William Castle's HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (1959). Additionally, Legend was also the creator of the NOW highly sought after out of print videotape series SLEAZE-MANIA (1985), SATURDAY NIGHT SLEAZIES (1990-91), ROCK-N-ROLL WRESTLING, and INCREDIBLY STRANGE WRESTLING OF THE '80s and '90s.

As a child, Legend was friends with the warm hearted and monstrous Tor Johnson. He even met and hung out with Ed Wood. He was the first Ed Wood fan ever. He was practically a brother to Andy Kaufman. He knew the very troubled and talented Beach Boy, Dennis Wilson, and just may have partied with some of the Manson Family girls days before they were arrested for the Sharon Tate murder. He's been involved with amateur and professional wrestling.. As a musician, he recorded and released a Beatles song, before The Beatles did! He wrote the cult classic song 'Pencil Neck Geek' for wrestling icon, Fred Blassie. Aren't you convinced yet that Johnny Legend is the most interesting man of the last 50 years?

In recent years, Johnny's been busier than ever before. He's writing a three volume autobiography, as well as working on an amazing Asian-erotica aviation/martial arts film adaptation of the novel of dropout teen idol Arch Hall Jr, The Aspara Jet. He's playing music -doing several live shows a year. He's appearing at movie conventions. He's at the helm of his own DVD label, self producing amazing DVD releases. Over the last couple years, releasing over 25 titles. He's dealing with distribution companies, selling virtually everything on his own, and he wants YOU to contact him today. As the world's premiere mogul of all things odd, we want everyone out there to know his story....

TV STORE ONLINE:  How did you get involved and become friend's with Andy Kaufman?

LEGEND: Well I saw Andy on several occasions at various wrestling events. He was obsessed with Fred Blassie. But our first real encounter was at a Freddy Cannon show. Andy was opening up for him. Freddy didn't even know who Andy was. It was very funny. I was introduced to Freddy, cause he was familiar with my song 'Pencil Neck Geek.' So Andy was impressed with me I think. So we became friends, but we became pretty close, when my sister Lynne met him, and they got together. Lynne was played by Courtney Love in Milos Foreman's Andy Kaufman movie, MAN ON THE MOON. But here's the background on how they met. I put together a project with my partner Linda Lautrec with Andy Kaufman and Fred Blassie, called MY BREAKFAST WITH BLASSIE.

My sister Lynne at that time was living up in the woods. She had no television, had never seen Taxi. I told her I was shooting a film with Fred Blassie and Andy Kaufman, and at that time, she'd never even heard of Andy Kaufman. The only reason she came down was because she was a fan of Fred Blassie from when we were kids. So when Andy hits on her in the movie, it's really happening. That was the first time they'd met.

Lynne was just there really to work in the background. Cause we figured that when we were editing we might run into a situation during the edit, we'd get a shot of customer's at a table in the background, and then if we cut to another shot, the customer's in the background would be gone. So it was my idea, to stick the girls in the background at the table, purely so we could have control of the background for editing.

If you see the outtakes on the DVD of MY BREAKFAST WITH BLASSIE we released a couple years ago, there are about another ten minutes where Andy convinced her to come back into the restaurant and he continues to hit on her. So really, you see them in the film, meeting for the very first time. And after that, slowly but surely, they just got together, and Andy really became a member of our family.

TV STORE ONLINE: How do you feel about the film, MAN ON THE MOON? Is it accurate in terms of Andy?

LEGEND: Well I get asked this all the time actually. I get in discussions about bio-pics. I could gripe about a lot of things in regards to MAN ON THE MOON. But really, it doesn't matter. All that matters is if the film is good. And it's a good film, for what it is. People get bent out of shape, about things not being accurate. The thing with Andy's work is that it's so scattered, it's hard to scale it down into a two hour bio. Jim Carrey was amazing though, he transformed into Andy. So at the very least, I will say that Jim Carrey was very accurate.

TV STORE ONLINE: Where did you initial interest in rockabilly come from?

LEGEND: Growing up I was highly interested in the music of the 50's and 60's. In Los Angeles, we were scrambling to see as many live shows as possible of groups from the 50's. I saw Chuck Berry and Johnny Otis live. I got to see a bunch of these old rockabilly guys live, and I got in good with them. And then, I started playing with them. Then one night, we were all at this Dick Clark television concert series taping, when he was doing a 50's show. Jerry Lee Lewis was there even.. So that night, I got asked to move in with some of these old rockabilly guys. And when I did, they started showing me all these old recordings, these old recording techniques. I knew then that I needed to start a new rockabilly band. There wasn't any rockabilly bands in the early 70's. No one was doing anything like that. It was passe. I put out a cattle call all over Los Angeles for people who wanted to start a rockabilly band. I got this huge response.

When the smoke cleared, we ended up with 5 lead singers. So we decided we'd call ourselves, the Rolling Rock Rebels. We were the first modern rockabilly band in the 70's. With five lead singers, we could only give each singer three songs, when we played live. We played some famous shows. We started the downtown all-night movement in Los Angeles. We'd play rockabilly from like 11pm to dawn. After a while, the band started to split up, and I went off to shoot my film, TEENAGE CRUISERS. TEENAGE CRUISERS, is the only triple XXX rockabilly Bill Haley Rock Around The Clock adult film ever created.

TV STORE ONLINE: In your touring days, did you ever encounter any of those old school Southern rockabilly guys from Memphis's Sun Records?

LEGEND: Sure did. Sonny Burgess, Ronny Dawson, James Burton a ton of those guys. One thing people don't know about my music career is that I'm mislabeled. It's a proud accomplishment. Music is so categorized. Somehow, someway I've been labeled in Europe as a 50's rockabilly guy. Not the 70's, I'm linked to the 50's somehow. I was only ten years old in 1958. Now, it's really funny. I run into these 50's rockabilly guys, and they just associate me with themselves. They even say, "Hey we need to watch out for these young guys, Johnny, their on our turf." They even say they have pictures from the 50's with me in them. It's amazing. I've even tried to explain to them about The Rolling Rock Rebels, and they just accuse me of not wanting to tell them exactly how old I really am. So, I just go with it now.

TV STORE ONLINE: Speaking of that, how do you feel about getting older?

LEGEND:  I'm not feeling it. Mentally, I feel like I"m 17 years old. I grew up wanting to be a horror star, NOT a movie actor, but a horror star. I wanted to be involved in wrestling somehow. I knew I couldn't be a wrestler, but I thought, how about a manager? And when I was in high school, I just decided I wanted to be a rock star. I've been a rock star on one level, I've gotten to be in wrestling, I've acted in horror movies and I've just stuck with it. I've accomplished all of those dreams. I'm still going at it. I'm still working on movies and wrestling. I'm making DVDs. I've produced a few films myself. Right now, I'm starting to get more serious about film stuff. I've always really liked to be involved in multiple things at once. I haven't missed a beat. My live concerts have gotten more intense and raunchy. Two hour sets. I'm not running out of energy, I'm attacking women at shows. I'm probably gonna get arrested at some point. But I've had no problems. Dry humping a girl at a show, while I'm playing harmonica in bare feet is a lot of fun.

TV STORE ONLINE: What's your take as a wrestling fan in comparison to what you grew up with to what it's become now with for example, modern WWE?

LEGEND: Well the business has really changed. It took me twenty years to crash the wrestling business. By 1990, I was promoting my own shows. I was creating my own characters, bringing in Lucha guys. I was trying to combine rock n roll and wrestling. I created INCREDIBLY STRANGE WRESTLING in 1995. And I think it was ahead of it's time. Just look how wrestling today is combining music, and now their adding in Lucha guys. It's gratifying to see it change, how I'd foreseen it years before. But in regards to stuff like W.W.E, I do keep up on it when I'm able.

TV STORE ONLINE: What do you think about stuff like Mixed Martial Arts and the UFC?

LEGEND: I don't like it. I call it fake wrestling. I relate it to boxing or something. It's not the stuff I grew up watching. I know some of the fighter's names, and I read up on it sometimes. But I don't watch the pay per view specials or anything. I'm really just not interested in it.

 TV STORE ONLINE: How did you get cast in the horror film, BRIDE OF THE RE-ANIMATOR?

LEGEND: I had already acted in a few films by this point. A friend of mine was working for Brian Yuzna (Director of the film) at the time, and he really wanted me in the film. The film was already cast however. He knew that I owned the famous original Spike Jones suit. So he asked me to put it on, and come out to do a sort of screen test. Yuzna loved it, and they wanted to find a place for me in the film, so that's how I got cast as the 'Skinny Corpse'.

TV STORE ONLINE: In your acting career, you're always cast as a certain type of character, the Hippy bum, weirdo, corpse, do you feel like you're being type-cast?

LEGEND: No, not really. I'm lucky. I get cast, whether the film is good or bad, I never get touched. Cause my part usually exists in it's own universe. People hated SEVERED TIES (1992), but they loved me in it. CHILDREN OF THE CORN III (1995) wasn't too bad. I came out smelling like a rose. If I was trying to pursue a career as an actor full time, then perhaps I'd be upset, cause I'm not getting bigger parts. So I have no complaints. In fact, look at 2001 MANIACS. I came out perfect.

TV STORE ONLINE:  How difficult is it for you now to distribute films given the DVD industry's decline?

LEGEND: It's getting very difficult. In fact, over the last six months it's gotten worse. As the market goes south, ironically, I'm getting more productive. I have three titles coming out in the next few months. To supplement, I've been trying to get a film going with the great Arch Hall Jr. I put out his movies during the 80's. He's got his novel. And I've been giving it to some of my film friends, trying to get some interest going in it. We've got a script in the works. The book will make an amazing movie. It's an amazing story about an airborne Henry Miller of sorts, that just so happens to be written by a former teen idol. One thing no one knows or remembers about Arch, is the fact that he was in Desert Storm!

So I'm working on the DVDs, in fact, I have a total of over twenty-five right now, that are all available through me directly. I'm dusting off some old projects. And I'm shopping around new projects, horror ideas. I've got about seven or eight huge projects I"m working on right now. It's really exciting.

TV STORE ONLINE:  One's first exposures to Johnny Legend could have been at their local video store in the '90s when one could rent your work like SLEAZE-MANIA and SATURDAY NIGHT SLEAZIES. Are you aware of just bootlegged those are now?


LEGEND: Oh Yeah I am. In fact, we're taking that into control. I've got a ton of titles I'm working on releasing. A amazing documentary on Jonathan Winters for example. There are no Winter's DVDs in existence. The ones that came before were horrible. The SLEAZE-MANIA compilations are available through me now via amazon.com and Ebay. My DVDs under 'Raunchy Tonk' are available, but not through the Raunchy site. That site is dead now. Don't tell anyone to order from it! You have to get them from me directly. Anything else, any DVD releases you may have seen from Legend House, like JOHNNY LEGEND: LIVE ON THE SUNSET STRIP (1996) are still available through me. I'm no longer working with Ryko on any DVD releases..

I'm completely handling that entire inventory myself now. Every single title I've ever released you can get directly from me. I'm selling wholesale, I'm dealing with distributors, I'm handing sales to the customers myself. I'm doing everything now, D.I.Y. My release for HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL is considered the best, most state of the art version out on the DVD market today. Same thing with Arch Hall Jr's - THE SADIST. I'm even putting out Blu-Ray versions of these films now.

The critics are loving them, fans are loving them too. If you haven't seen them, pick them up through me. You'll be blown away.(For

TV STORE ONLINE: Going back to SLEAZEMANIA...How did you conceive of that compilation series?

LEGEND:  Those go back to the early 80's actually. Right during the making of MY BREAKFAST WITH BLASSIE. I was at a theater and they were showing all these trailer's that I've never seen before. All these were showing with a couple Ed Wood movies. It was these that we used for the series. It was right when Rhino Video started, and I was helping by giving them projects to release. So I started finding all these trailers. I had a total of like thirty minutes. So then I went to Herschell Gordon Lewis and Jimmy Maslon and then I went to Fred Olen Ray and got that presentation reel for STAR SLAMMER (1986). I was just looking for cool stuff. And those led to JOHNNY LEGEND'S WEIRD CARTOONS (DVD; 2004), DOPE MANIA (1987), COMMERCIAL MANIA (DVD; 2007)  and ROCK-N-ROLL WRESTLING. I got all my old master tapes from Rhino back, and have since released everything worthwhile.

TV STORE ONLINE: Growing up in Los Angeles, what's your take on the recent trend of the last five years with celebrity scandal obsession, TMZ ect.

LEGEND:  I love it actually. It's fascinating. It's research too. If I see something that's fun, I'll take the scandal or idea, and use it in one of my wrestling shows. I've been feeding off of that stuff for years.

TV STORE ONLINE: Growing up in Los Angeles in the 60's do you have any crazy stories that no-one knows about? For example did you ever encounter the Manson Family or anything of that nature?

LEGEND:
Well..we used to have these big house parties. And we lived pretty close to where the family was living, and I'm very certain that some of those Manson Girls were at our party. In fact, we were discussing the murders at the party, cause they had just happened.

TV STORE ONLINE: Do you ever "Google" yourself?

LEGEND: Sure, of course. I'm always thinking of things that I wanna see visual evidence of. I like to look up like old posters for concerts that I played. I just found a poster from a show online I played in 1981. On the poster, under my name, playing the night before me it said - A Flock Of Seagulls.

TV STORE ONLINE: How frustrating is it... When you Google Johnny Legend, you get search results for R&B singer John Legend?


LEGEND:  Well, it happens. I don't mind it. It's good for me... It's good for him.

TV STORE ONLINE: Well if you do another big wrestling event, we think you should do a Johnny Legend Vs John Legend wrestling match. What do you think?

LEGEND:
Well, I would if he'd agree to it. Actually, years back, his people contacted me once and told me that he wanted to meet me. One of these days, we'll meet up. I've never had any complaints. I've never had anyone show up to any of my live shows asking for a refund, cause I'm not John Legend (laughing...)

TV STORE ONLINE: So growing up, you were good friend's with the legendary Tor Johnson of PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE (1959) fame?

LEGEND: 
Yep. He lived in the same city that I did growing up. Eventually we would ride our bikes over to Tor's on the weekend's and hang out. In fact, I met Ed Wood too. I met Wood at Forry Ackerman's house in the 60's. He was nice, and he accused me of being the first Ed Wood fan. When I met him, I had him sign page 1 of my first issue of Famous Monsters of Filmland  magazine, I had Forry sign like in the middle of the magazine, like page 20 or 30. Obviously, it was way before Wood was even well known. I actually got invited to Forry's, because as a kid, my friend and I made these recreations of the alien heads from INVASION OF THE SAUCERMEN (1957). Forry liked them so much, that when we pulled up to his house, he took the heads and put them right out in his front yard to greet everyone!  I was on top of the word that day!

In fact, back in the early 80's I actually wrote an article for Fangoria magazine about growing up with Tor Johnson. If you can find it, the whole story is there. On a side note, the house that Tor Johnson lived in, was the same house that Ed Wood used to shoot those final scenes of Bela Lugosi that you see in PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE, after Bela died. And of course, even though I didn't get much thanks for it, I did a ton of work as a sort of Ed Wood adviser on the Tim Burton ED WOOD (1994) movie that came out a few years back.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Are you the most interesting guy you know?

LEGEND:  Pretty close I think. But I don't know, I've met a ton of interesting characters in my life. I can't think of them right now, but I probably will after we're done here.

TV STORE ONLINE: Do you ever feel like one day you'll retire and pass the torch?  Do you think there will ever be another Johnny Legend once you're gone?

LEGEND: I don't know to be honest. I run into fascinating people all the time. I've run into people that obsessively cover horror movies, music and wrestling. That covers a fair amount. Unless you can count wrestlers who have transitioned into movies. Chris Jericho, he has a band, he's a wrestler, and he told me when I met him in the 90's that he grew up watching my SLEAZE-MANIA series. I've met a bunch of wrestlers over the years, that have told me they were inspired to become wrestlers, cause of my Rock N Roll Wrestling show. But time will tell I guess.

TV STORE ONLINE: What's your favorite film of all time?

LEGEND: That's a tough one. I guess right now, it's probably AMERICAN HOT WAX (1978). I've literally seen it around two or three-hundred times. I can watch it over and over, I never get tired of it. It's like listening to an album over and over.

TV STORE ONLINE:  What's your favorite music album of all time?

LEGEND: 
That's hard to say. I just like the things I like. I'd have trouble answering that now. Back when I was younger, I was huge fan of the first Pink Floyd album, the first couple Leonard Cohen albums, The Fugs, stuff like that.  As a young kid I love Elvis's Greatest Hits. I love Doo Wop, old rock n roll. Oh..Self Portrait in Red by Lee Harvey Oswald (laughing...)

TV STORE ONLINE:  Why the hell haven't you ever written a book yet?

LEGEND: Well, I've been approached. But nothing has came about lately. I wrote a book about the 'Pen Neck Geek' phenomenon back in the 80's. It's not dated. I'd love to put that out.  It's a real "Geek" almanac. It's got geek recipes in it and geek fiction...

If I wrote an autobiography, I'd have to write three. One on wrestling, one on my music career, and one about the stuff I've done in film. I have a lot of writer friends, but I've never been able to make any connections in the publishing world. So maybe. We'll see what happens..

I've contributed to anthology books and magazines in the past. I wrote that Tor article, I grew up down the street from country music star, Wesley Tuttle. I've contributed to the Country Music Changed My Life: Tales of Tough Times and Triumph from Country's Legends book.



We're pitching right now a story about how I released a Beatles song as a single before The Beatles did. Under the band name "Lightmyth" we put out 'Across The Universe' around 1970 before The Beatles released it and they wrote the song! It was produced by Bill Cowsill and Gary Usher, who worked with The Beach Boys. Just Google it, or look it up on YouTube and you can hear it today.

TV STORE ONLINE:  When are you gonna shave and cut your hair, you dirty hippy? Are you really Jimmy Hoffa under there?

LEGEND: 
(laughing...) When I lose that hair match at Wrestle-mania 69. It could stun the world. It's gonna need to have a one-hundred-thousand plus payoff. I have wrestled for it before.. I had a match against a female wrestler.. It was a beard vs. dog food match. Meaning... That if she won the match, I'd shave and if I won, she'd have to eat dog food in the ring. Guess who won?

Interview Conducted By: Justin Bozung
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