Sunday, 31 January 2021


One of the greatest joys in life is watching a former student bust out and make her own films her own way. I've been teaching 19 years at Nassau Community College Adult Education. Most students come and go. Some excel. One of my students screenplay won a Sundance Film Festival award. But the best thing to come out of my class is Maria Fillippone. She was a student of mine around 2009. She became my main PA for two trailer shoots (Three Slices of Delirium and Rasputin on Campus). She was vital in an industrial film I made around the same time. And she's gone on to making her own short films plus directing local plays on Long Island stages.
Yesterday (12/30/21) I was invited to attend the screening of her latest film, Mid Life Conversations at the Bellmore Theater. The film was delightful, funny and at times incredibly sad. I told Maria that she has mastered the Long Island condition, she has captured the environment very much like Woody Allen captured Manhattan in his films. I am so happy for her. I'm trying to talk her into compiling all her work onto one disc for all to see.
Another great thing happened today. I ran into my old employer, Henry Stampfel. Henry was one of many who trained me as a projectionist. But I later became his "Guy Friday" in helping him manage his theaters. The one great thing I learned from that experience was how much I didn't want to own a movie theater. Prior to that, I thought I did. The other great thing was that we ran horror retro film screenings at his theater in 1994, 95 and 96, long before the current crop of hop-alongs. Those were great times. I enjoyed my conversations with him today. Thanks Maria for having me there, calling me out and bringing warmth to a very cold day!
Maria on her big day of the premier of Mid Life Conversations. 


 Here's a box cover photo and a direct link to the Canadian company Darkside Releasing, who is distributing a Blu Ray double feature of my two films The Bloody Ape and Blitzkrieg: Escape From Stalag 69 in March 2021. Check it out!

Click on Image to see review on website.

 From Severin Releasing comes the Andy Milligan box set. I contributed two audio commentaries (one for The Ghastly Ones and one for Guru The Mad Monk). I also contributed the interviews with Milligan stars Natalie Rodgers and Christopher Broderick, as well as tons of memorabilia. Here is the promotional trailer for the Milligan Blu Ray boxset, which for the first time contains uncut prints of Bloodthirsty Butchers, Torture Dungeon, Man with Two Heads and Rats are Coming, Werewolves are Here! 

Click on this image to see the Dungeon of Milligan trailer!

Thursday, 17 December 2020


1972 handbill for Freaks along with Un Chien Andalou and Kwaidan at the Bijou Theater in Manhattan. It was midnight shows like this that lead me to Freaks and Night of the Living Dead in 1978. 

Sunday, 19 April 2020

Read my latest article for the Dead2Rights blog on my having viewed at 8mm Homes loop in 1978 inspired by Ed Wood and the effects it had on my Woodology!
From left to right, Lee Peterson, Rob Hauschild, Joel M. Reed. Bottom, Don (the Driver) and Janie Gillis. A ride from Hell.

Ok, it's time for me to say my goodbye to Joel M. Reed. Really, I should have done this virtually, as it's so much better to hear this as a bed time story. But I'm unclear if I feel like going virtual on Facebook. So I'll write it out. I hope you have time to read it. Let me make a few things clear. Some of you will think I'm being mean or obnoxious. I'm not, everything I tell you is Gods truth. This is 100% on the level. I have people who can back this up. I also want to make it clear that I liked Reed quite a bit. But he came with many problems. So I'm not going to white wash my experiences with him.
I met Reed via Rob Hauschild and Wildeye Releasing, a distribution company Rob and I were forming in the late 2000's. I had just been finishing up Blitzkrieg. We were readying Blitzkrieg and my older film Bloody Ape for release on DVD. I believe Rob met Joel via Lee Peterson. My view of Joel at the time was very much colored by Bill Landis. I was friendly with Landis. Long before he wrote that scathing Sleazoid Express issue condemning Joel, I had many phone chats with Bill and he had been bad mouthing Joel to me for a long, long time. Hence when I met Joel, I approached with caution.
My earliest memory is Joel coming to the DVD premier party at an office in Manhattan with my cast from Blitzkrieg. My wife asked me who the homeless man wandering around the office was. I wasn't sure who she was talking about. Then I saw Joel. I told her who he was. He spent the bulk of the party ogling the cast of females. Most of them were Europeans, the rest too young to even know who Joel was. One of the girls thought Rob was caring for a relative with dementia. The experience was surreal. But things were only going to get weirder.
Rob and I started working on a documentary about urban and suburban grindhouses. We went mad interviewing both stars of trash films, makers of trash films, viewers of trash films. We interviewed Joel. He came up to the office Rob was working out of. He mumbled something about "people pay me big money for this". I gave him my Italian expression of "I'll bury you right next to Jimmy Hoffa". He shut up and sat down. I started rolling the camera. I was shooting with my Panasonic DVX 100 A. Next to me was Wildeye intern Sherry. She had formally been a student in my film class at Nassau Community college. She was stunningly attractive. But very, very innocent. Joel didn't take his eyes off of her for a minute. I had my ear phones on. During the interview I kept hearing a "putt, putt" noise. "What the hell is that" I'm wondering. Joel was leaning over and passing wind. At first I thought "Poor man, he must have colitis or irritable bowel. Then it hit me. This was his mating call to Sherry. It was his way of sending up smoke signals and pitching woo. I must have missed the lesson in evolution class about how men and women expressed amorous feelings for each other by farting at each other. But yeah, this was happening. Joel, between takes, also delighted in shouting out his interest in underage hookers from Asia. I don't have to tell you that we never saw Sherry again. But we did get two hours of footage from Joel carrying on about 42nd st and the stories behind his films. This footage alone is the bulk of what you need for a good documentary.
It was at this point that I realized Joel was a Troglodyte. In order to live in Manhattan in the 1970's, you had top be a Troglodyte. But what I always questioned was how this guy made the films he made with a degree of professionalism that eluded the man completely. This wasn't for real. It was a phenomenon.
Ok, now the story of the breaking point, and then the reformation. Rob comes to me and tells me "Guess what, we are driving Joel Reed and Jamie Gillis to Wasteland. we are also going to have a showing of Blitzkrieg there". I said "Guess what Rob, YOU are driving Joel and Jamie to Wasteland, Hell will freeze over before I get stuck in an 8 hour car ride with those two. I'll have an anxiety attack, I might even commit suicide. Fuck that, no I'm not going". At the time, I had enough of Joel's stories. I also knew Jamie Gillis. Gillis I got along with quite well. But, Jamie had around this time forgot to use underarm deodorant on a few occasions. I have allergies. I also knew that Jamie harbored intense dislike for Joel based on the misconception that Joel owed him money for Night of the Zombies. Actually Loren Price, the producer owed Jamie the money. Not Joel, he was a director for hire. I knew a fight would break out, and I was not going to be between those two. Rob got Lee Peterson who was Joel's wrangler at the time. Rob got another friend, Don who drove the car. I stayed home. These guys did make it back. And yes, Jamie and Joel did have a car bound shout over the money. Rob said it didn't last long. I have no regrets not going. The only bad thing was my not being there to introduce Blitz. My bad. I was like Arthur Lee from the group Love, I never wanted to show up for my own gigs...
My next experience with Joel was actually fantastic. Joel wanted to make a spoof of the Asian horror film Ju-on. He wanted to call it Jew-on. He wanted me to play a Hasidim. He had seen a character like this in my film The Bloody Ape. He was focused. He was lucid. He was serious. I agreed pending he found funding and I'd be paid for the day. He agreed. we had a lovely afternoon. He knew I loved Andy Milligan and he told me stories about Milligan. Gone was the psychotic transient I had come to expect. I don't have to tell you he never got the film off the ground. I started shooting trailers for my fourth coming films and I lost touch.
In the past year, John Walter Szpunar's brilliant biography on Joel was released. It was the best read of this past decade. John is a brilliant writer. I'm unclear if he knows this. John will sometimes hide behind other writers that don't even have a quarter of his talent (myself included). I'm not sure why he does this but he doesn't need to. If you haven't read Johns book on Joel Bloodsucking Freak, then you are missing what is the most momentous book written on an exploitation film-maker ever to be committed to tome. I read this book in two sittings. Because I knew Joel, I laughed so hard I had tears coming out of my eyes. John's wide eyed mid West innocence as he recounts his adventures with this lunatic shows how patient and powerful John is as he pursues his subject. I would have bailed ship after day one. Anyhow, it got me to missing Joel, and I reached out to him. I said "lets have lunch". He wrote back faster than lightening "anytime" he said. I was in the middle of teaching courses. I told him to let me wrap up. He said the kindest thing he ever said to me. "And make another film" he blurted out. " You are beyond due". For some reason, that remark took my breath away. I had never stopped to see what he felt about my work. Did he even remember I was a filmmaker. Well, that answered my question.
By the time I was ready for lunch, Joel had broken his hip and was in rehab. Rehab for a man his age is death for most. It was for Joel as well. RIP Joel. I'm still not quite sure how to sum up our relationship, but you were unique. And in order to stand out in this world, you sure have to be unique.

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Ode to Larry Cohen

Alright, as you know I usually don't say much when a celebrity in the film field passes away, death for the most part is a natural occurrence and you gotta roll with it. But I will tell two interesting Larry Cohen stories. First, when I was in college (so we are talking '84 through 88) one of the film professors spotted this notice on the wall of one of the film labs we used when processing film. This guy, being a natural born asshole, brought the notice in and hung it in the classroom. Upon seeing it, I tore it off the wall and taped it to my note book. It's been taped to this same note book for over 30 years now. I viewed it at the time as a challenge. I was pissed off, I thought it was obnoxious and I might have been one of maybe three students who knew who Cohen was and enjoyed his work. But I was furious, where as now I see the irony and the humor in it. Anyhow, I've made two feature films of my own, both getting a redux re-release on DVd this Summer, so in many ways I've had the last laugh. Remember folks, obstacles make for the best launching pads, this piece was designed in many ways to make people work harder, and it certainly did that for me!
Story number 2. Just a few years back, I was offering a made for TV movie called "See China and Die" through my site Cinefear. It was written and directed by Cohen. Anyhow, I get a letter in my P.O. Box from Larry Cohen. I figured "Oh shit, a cease and desist notice". No, it wasn't that at all. He was delighted I was offering it, he didn't have a copy and wanted one. Well, I gave him far more than one and told him whenever he needed any, just write me. He did, a year later, requesting a few more. He couldn't have been kinder. He would send me pictures of him on the set of his films, autographed. I even sent him the obnoxious proclamation he wrote and told him how mad I was about it, yet how important it was in helping me move on and do what I do...Anyhow Larry, God's speed and thanks for the push, I needed it!