I became interested in film, and horror films specifically, at an early age. By coincidence the year I was born was the same year that SHOCK THEATER with Dr. Creep began broadcast in the Dayton, Ohio area. The program, which featured horror films hosted by the lovable ghoul was a hit throughout the Dayton area, becoming a local institution. I was being raised in a dysfunctional, alcoholic and abusive home situation that only settled down during this program. The ONLY time the screaming and beatings stopped from age 1 to 7 was when SHOCK THEATER was on. For some miraculous reason that show brought the family together for a few hours of Safety.
Thankfully the Abusive Father left at age 7 and was replaced by a step Father was also a Horror fan. Though for some reason I had become terrified of horror films (and everything else) during those years. It wasn’t until this Step Father explained to him how the special effects for THE HOWLING where done that something was sparked inside. Suddenly I could not get enough information on special make up effects and horror films were not scary anymore.
I wanted to be a Make up F/X artist for many years .It wasn’t until I saw the one two punch of THE EVIL DEAD and THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE that my interest switched to becoming a filmmaker. After seeing those two movies, I distinctly knew I wanted to be the man in control of the reigns.
In my late teens I met Jim VanBebber. I contacted him in hopes to assist in the Make up on what was then called CHARLIE’S FAMILY. I didn’t know him at all. I just knew there was a film being made locally. He took me under his wing and was my mentor for many years. He was like a big brother to me and I learned a tremendous amount from him. I ended up doing a lot of the effects work on CHARLIE’S FAMILY (now THE MANSON FAMILY) as well as MY SWEET SATAN.
I grew up in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Dayton, Ohio. To call it a white trash Ghetto would be Kind. So I learned quickly to fend for myself. My home was situated right behind one of the more violent bars in the area, so I grew up with the sound of gunfire as a constant background noise. The neighborhood was rife with robberies, prostitution, rape, pedophilia, murder and once the crack epidemic hit in 1985 all bets were off. But somehow I stayed clean. I’m proud to say that I never fell victim to the temptations of those streets.
I went to Catholic school for the first 9 years of my education. Something my Grandparents insisted upon. I got a terrific education, but also got a load of guilt and terror heaped upon me that I still deal with to this day. By 8th grade I had had enough and chose to end my relationship with the tyrants that ran that institution and began to go to public school. I was told by the counselors and teachers at catholic school that I would literally be killed by the out of control kids at public school. One counselor told me that I would be pulled into the bathrooms and forced to take drugs and probably raped! But I knew they were full of shit and went anyway. Best decision I ever made. I cruised through middle school due to the high quality of education I had gotten. And no one ever forced me to take drugs or raped me…
But then due to bussing issues I was forced to go to one of the WORST high schools in the city, maybe the whole state. If you’ve seen movies like The Substitute or The Principal, you get an idea of how my High School was. Kids would cut crack rocks in the middle of class, punch out teachers, fuck in the stairwells, have riots during lunch, and stab each other in the hallways. After two years of keeping my head down and convincing the other kids I was a serial killer so they wouldn’t fuck with me (it worked by the way) I dropped out and got my GED and went to College.
In film school I learned my craft. I was ghettoized for wanting make horror films. This was literally a year or two before Tarrantino legitimized Exploitation films again, so I spent my time fighting the system there. I got good marks for my technical skills but was criticized heavily for my stories being too violent. One teacher said I was a Misogynist, which is a huge misreading of my work. One teacher, who incidentally was gay and had tourrets syndrome, singled me out for some reason and spearhead a campaign to keep me out of the film program. To enter the third year of the film program you had to basically go through a tryout and naturally I didn’t make it. This particular teacher made it a point to make it personal, and another instructor whom I had never even met accused me of making these kinds of films just to shock and get attention and that I had not experience with real world violence!!! I fought the decision to the Dean of the school but lost because this particular teacher was basically protected due to his handicap. I went to the ACLU and they said the same thing. Funnily enough the short film that was the bone of contention, called SOUL POLLUTION about a couple of Heroin addicts was sold to a drug rehabilition unit and made my budget back directly after this. The doctors on the unit said it was dead on. The film has gone on to show as the Mondo A Go Go film festival and Scary Camp Festival.
So with much rage I write THE MUTILATION MAN. The film encapsulates my own childhood in a lot of ways as well as a lot of other personal aspects of my life. I called in personal favors from Jim Vanbebber and spent the next Five years and roughly ten thousand dollars making the film. The film was an intense labor of love to prove to myself that I could make a feature film. The movie went on to get very good reviews and is slowly garnering a cult reputation still.
My next project, BLACK SUN was my follow up movie started in 1999. More of an experimental movie than horror, it ended up stretching out over a 4 year period. Dealing with the fears and frustrations of relationships but using imagery that is more often seen in films like David Cronenberg’s. Once again it is achingly personal and is maybe more a piece of person therapy than a good movie.
Next up was a short film which can bee seen on my MY SPACE video section called AMERICAN GULAG which is my favorite of my films. It is an experimental film about the footage of Penn State Treasure but Dwyer committing suicide on live TV in 1987. I wanted to make a commentary on how this footage has become such a overplayed bit of gore and meat but people have lost the idea that this was a man standing up for what he believed in. I wanted to connect that to how in Asian cultures sometimes suicide is considered an honorable act.
Next up was a documentary called FREAKSHOW DELUXE. This was a quickie shoot, done in two days, following the beginnings of this performance art duo (which has grown into a huge group on two costs now). Both of the guys involved were at that point shooting THE ATROCITY CIRCLE with me and doing this performance art thing on the weekends at the local Haunted Trail, so I simply documented what they were doing.
THE ATROCITY CIRCLE started life as part of Sub Rosa’s Extreme line of DVD releases. At the time they were distributing THE MUTILATION MAN and were starting up several lines of specialty dvd’s with Eric Stanze of SCRAPBOOK fame heading them. Since I’m a fan of Stanze and consider him a friend I got on board and started this film. The original title was HER NAME WAS SAMANTHA (which is a nod to the Roger Watkins film HER NAME WAS LISA). But due to personal issues the shooting went from taking a few weeks to a several long months, then trouble with Sub Rosa started and we agreed to part ways on the project. The only stipulation was that I had to change the name.
The movie was put out first on DVD-R and garnered some of my best reviews to date. People seemed to respond to it being more of a linear project and less experimental, unlike my other films. They also like that it is a throwback to the 70’s exploitation films which I love.
After this I worked on two short films simultaneously. NEPHEW OF SHAFT and FUN ON THE OLD TOWN TONIGHT. NEPHEW OF SHAFT was a short for my real life job at the public access center I work at. It was produced as part of the volunteer recognition ceremony we hold every year. That year it was my turn to produce the ceremony so instead of the typical awards show I made a short film featuring the staff and volunteers as characters in a Blaxsploitation movie (which is my other favorite type film besides horror). The piece went over huge and is one of my best pieces, even though it has no violence, nudity or language!
FUN IN THE OLD TOWN TONIGHT is part of the still in production anthology film URBAN REALITY. The movie features three directors each doing a segment. My story was a commentary on the Bumfights tapes and scumbags who made them, with a cannibalistic twist.
I’ve also written professionally for various magazines and websites for almost a decade now, as well as published my own Fanzine called NEON MADNESS which has been going since 1994. My written work has appeared in SHOCK CINEMA, ASIAN CULT CINEMA, NONE SO VILE, SECRET SCROLL DIGEST, GC MAGAZINE as well as a six year stint reviewing DVD’s for the local news weekly from 1999 to 2005.
I'm also an artist, sculptor and painter with my work hopefully to be showing very soon.
I’ve worked in Public Access since 1997 and have won two Philo T. Farnsworth awards for my Experimental TV show PSYCHOTIC FEED. I’ve produced literally hundreds of hours of local TV.