Thursday, March 25, 2010

SHOCK FESTIVAL DVD Interview with Mars (Dead House Music)

Interview by Joshua T. Gravel

Meet MARS of DEAD HOUSE MUSIC, composer, musician, horror fan and the composer of the original scores for the Stephen Romano Presents Shock Festival DVD.

MARS Dead House Music

Could you give the Alternative Cinema audience some background information on your career in film or the arts in general?
My pleasure. I grew up in a musical household, and have a background in music ranging from musical theatre, Classical and Jazz, thru Death Metal and Goth rock. I performed / toured in the extreme metal scene of the 1990's and decided to get off the road around 2004 or so. As a fan of genre film, who just happens to be a musician and composer, I figured that by establishing a studio in my own home I could pursue my primary career while simultaneously exploring my other passion: Horror films. I grew up on Universal Monsters and Hammer horror, and later I discovered Italian Giallo and other styles of Euro Horror. So, working within the genre just seemed to make sense.

I decided to sharpen up my orchestral chops, and I began looking for film work in 2005. I opened DEAD HOUSE MUSIC that same year, as a company dedicated to creating quality scores for independent genre film. 17 films later, I'm still on that mission.

MARS Dead House Music

I understand that you composed the music for various menus and intros on the Shock Festival project, what brought you to this project?
I was on Paige Davis' radar, and she called me when it came time to brainstorm for the project. She actually asked me initially to direct a trailer based upon one of Stephen's “films” that was supposed to be a lost H.P. Lovecraft adaptation. Anyone who knows me knows what a Lovecraft nerd I am. Anyway, at the time (directing a trailer) seemed like a bit of a stretch for me time-wise…so, I offered to write some music for a few of the other trailers and perhaps to do a central theme song for SHOCK FESTIVAL instead.

After corresponding with Stephen, we hit it off so well, I just kind of ran with the inspiration as it came. The result was a lot more music than I'd initially intended, but Stephan & Paige really dug what I was coming up with, so no one seemed to mind. Now the music is a really integral part of the project, and I'm really pleased that it turned out this way.

What is the process of composing music for projects like this?
I'd say it begins with 30 years of being a genre fan. Seriously, I have my bases covered when it comes to this world. Being able to reference multiple eras thru several decades of film music styles, let alone being able to reproduce those styles convincingly, by myself, takes some serious effort, I don't mean to sound arrogant, but that's the truth. But it never FELT like work, I was just indulging myself and immersing myself in the fantasy world Stephan had set up already, mixed with all the genre music I had absorbed thru being a fan for so long. The two mirror each other so closely that they crossed over.
From a technical standpoint, I used as many vintage guitars, amps, drums, and various other musical instruments as I could get my hands on. This was to get the correct tones that were crucial in making the music seem truly credible as being from the past. After that, I used selective equalization techniques and vinyl noise to “Age” the recordings properly. I think the results are pretty convincing if I do say so myself.

The Lovecraftian Composer

Are there any current or future projects you would like people to know about?
Sure. Several feature films I've done this year - ("WON TON BABY" "SAWTOOTH" & "SLIME CITY MASSACRE") hit the convention circuit before December, “LOVECRAFT: FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN” is out on DVD & Blu-Ray this month. “DEMON DIVAS AND THE LANES OF DAMNATION” should be out on DVD in 2010. And, the video & music I did for Transfuzion Comics's DEADWORLD re-launch turned out cool.

I'm past the funding stage for a film I'll be directing in 2010 (which, as everyone knows, is the hard part), and into pre-production right now. Lastly, I'm scoring an animated feature film sometime in the New Year. My Bloody Best to all the fans of horror out there.

MARS Dead House Music

For more information on Mars and Dead House Music, check out the following websites, and

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

New Jersey's Night of Dangerous Music

By Michael Raso

Fellow New Jersey filmmakers “Chainsaw Kiss” (Victor Bonacore, Ruby LaRocca, Joey Smack) embarked on the production of their first feature film project this year. The feature, “Blood Wings” stars Linnea Quigley, Ruby LaRocca and Johnny Link to name a few.

According to the filmmakers “Blood Wings” is “a story about a young girl who is ignored & mistreated by everyone who is supposed to love her. She soon finds shelter and warmth within a satanic cult. There's nothing like hell on earth.”

The film is being shot on Super 8 and 16mm film. A trailer was released this month on You Tube.

To raise money to complete their feature, Chainsaw Kiss held a benefit 2/20/2010 at The Clash Bar in Clifton, NJ. Fat Lizzy, Mike Hunchback & The Weird Fantasy Band and Beret donated their time and music.

I attended, 1980s vintage cameras in hand, to document the evening.

Chainsaw Kiss "Night of Dangerous Music"

Chainsaw Kiss "Night of Dangerous Music"

Chainsaw Kiss "Night of Dangerous Music"

Chainsaw Kiss "Night of Dangerous Music"

Chainsaw Kiss "Night of Dangerous Music"

See all the pix on Flickr

Images © 2010 Michael Raso
Michael Raso's Film Photography Blog

Chainsaw Kiss on MySpace

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

SHOCK FESTIVAL DVD Interview with Nicanor Loreti

Interview by Joshua T. Gravel

Argentinean writer, producer and filmmaker Nic Loreti delivers a post-modern interpretation of Grindhouse cinema with ATTACK OF THE SADISTIC KILLER.


Could you give the Alternative Cinema audience some background information on your career in film or the arts in general?
I’m a professional writer and long-time horror fan who has contributed reviews and editorial to several leading genre publications (Fangoria, Shock Cinema), and I just published an interview book titled Cult People here in Argentina.
My involvement in genre cinema dates back to the 2001 Argentinean horror film, “Plaga Zombie: Zona Mutante”, for which I performed a variety of tasks both in front of and behind the camera (actor, best boy). In 2005, I produced and directed a short film, El Kuervo (inspired by Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven”), which screened at the Fantasia Film Festival as well as the Buenos Aries festival Rojo Sangre. In 2007, I produced the horror western LEFT FOR DEAD for cult director Albert Pyun, which was shot here in Argentina. After that, I wrote (with my close friend German Val, who did THINKING MAN'S GUN) the screenplay for BREAKING NIKKI - a cool indie horror pic coming soon to DVD in the US - and the film DYING GOD, starring Lance Henriksen and Erin Brown (Misty Mundae). I'm currently working as a film producer and writer here in Buenos Aries, having just completed a thriller called PARAPOLICIAL NEGRO, and will produce a horror movie titled MEMORY OF THE DEAD in early 2010 (both shot on Red One cameras). I also just finished an animated short film narrated by Billy Drago, with music by Claudio Simonetti (SUSPIRIA).


What attracted you to the project and ATTACK OF THE SADISTIC KILLER?
I'm a big fan of Stephen's book SHOCK FESTIVAL; it's truly a unique work of art. So when I approached the people at Pop Cinema about interpreting one of the faux films for the DVD, they told me to pick a poster for the trailer. I picked ATTACK OF THE SADISTIC KILLER based on the cool art and the amazing name (which was actually a re-title of one of the original faux films).


I really enjoyed the visual style you employed (freeze frames and the picture-in-picture segments) - were there any specific trailers that served as a template or an influence?
My inspirations for ATTACK were trailers for Italian giallos and film noirs, full of crazy colors and picture-in-picture images.

Can you ell us a little about the actors you worked with?
The lead is Guadalupe Cheja, who is also my girlfriend and a cool director/ editor herself. We did a short film called BAD BLOOD, which she co-directed and starred in, so I instantly thought of her when I needed a female lead in the trailer. The guys are all cult filmmakers from the indie scene in my country: Vic Cicuta, Elvira Serio and Hernan Quintana - the 3 of them seen in the Z movie SADOMASTER (released by the US label SRS CINEMA). They are all part of the amazing counter-culture world of the local underground cinema.


Who worked on the technical end of the production, specifically cinematography, music, and special effects?
Guadalupe and I did the special effects, makeup, camerawork and cinematography. Mariano Cattaneo helped in the editing and color correction and the music is by a local underground band called Da Capo, who are truly amazing.


Are there any current or future projects you would like people to know about?
Hmmm.... THE RAVEN (the animated short) is looking for a distributor, so if anyone's interested feel free to contact me, plus I'm also working on a new screenplay. Oh, Cult People, the English edition, is coming out in January 2010. Look for it then! It features interviews with Henriksen, Argento, a prologue by Lloyd Kaufman and more!

Keep track of all of Nicanor’s film projects and books at his myspace page,

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Conversation With ROT:Reunion of Terror Director Michael A. Hoffman

Bruce G. Hallenbeck

ROT: Reunion Of Terror

This is not your father's high school reunion: five school chums get together at a cabin in the woods to celebrate their tenth year out of school. What they don't realize, however, is that a killer is lurking around somewhere in the darkened forest, waiting to pick them off one by one. The question is: is there an unknown serial murderer that's responsible, or is it one of them?

Michael A. Hoffman, Director - ROT: Reunion Of Terror
Director Michael A. Hoffman

ROT: Reunion of Terror Trailer

That's the premise of ROT: REUNION OF TERROR, a new feature film directed and co-written by Michael A Hoffman (aka Michael Hoffman Jr.), an enterprising young filmmaker from Florida who has spread his considerable talent through many facets of the movie business, from production assistant on such low-budget efforts as Tim Ritter's SCREAMING FOR SANITY: TRUTH OR DARE 3 (1998), DIRTY COP NO DONUT (1999) and DIRTY COP: I AM A PIG (2001). His first feature as a director was the horror anthology film SCARY TALES (2001), which received worldwide distribution and was followed up with a sequel, SCARY TALES: THE RETURN OF MR. LONGFELLOW (2003), which he co-directed with Jason Daly.

Since then, Hoffman has honed his skills working on commercials, music videos, industrial productions and other independent features as editor, director and writer. His latest directorial effort is ROT: REUNION OF TERROR, which was filmed on location in California. At age 29, Hoffman recently told me in a phone interview from his home in Florida that he "feels a lot older." Then again, he's been involved in film since the tender age of fourteen, when he hooked up with Ritter after seeing an ad for a production assistant in a local newspaper.

Smokin' - Internet Ad from Michael A. Hoffman on Vimeo.

His experience with Ritter on SCREAMING FOR SANITY was invaluable: "I learned what to do and what not to do on a film," Hoffman recalled. "It was tough, but I kept working in films throughout high school. I was the worst senior ever; I skipped 45 days of my senior year. But it was worth it."

In more recent times, Hoffman has worked as a writer on Corbin Bernsen's production THE CLOWN and he was production manager of the St. Louis Cardinals' 2008 ad campaign. But it's as director/writer/producer on his own low-budget horror features that gives Hoffman the most satisfaction, despite the trials and tribulations of making ROT.

Clip from ROT: Reunion of Terror

"Of all the productions I've worked on, ROT was the toughest," Hoffman stated. "It was part of a two-picture deal with Disruptive Media, the other being SPRING BREAK MASSACRE. We filmed ROT on location at Big Bear and San Bernardino National Forest in California. Jim Fulton, who is in the film as a redneck store owner, owned the ranch where we filmed much of the movie. It's a great location. Jim Fulton rocks! But we just had one problem after another getting the movie in the can."

ROT: Reunion Of Terror
ROT: Reunion of Terror

ROT: Reunion Of Terror
ROT: Reunion of Terror

Those problems included blizzards, car accidents and floods. "I've never seen so many things work against a production," Hoffman continued. "It was cold - we shot in February and March - and there were some shots we couldn't complete, like when the girl has her head bashed against the tree. There was a flash flood and we couldn't finish the shot. Fortunately, I'm a union editor by trade, so I found a way to work around it. But it was snowing - in California! - during all of the night shoots. We had to backlight everything so you couldn't see the snow. Plus the fact that Big Bear and the cabin we were filming in were 240 miles apart, and we had to make them look like they were in the same spot. And we filmed some scenes months apart. So again, as an editor, I had to ask myself, how do I make these scenes work? I basically had to re-edit the entire movie over the course of eight months."

The fact that Hoffman is also an editor makes him feel a certain kinship to one of his favorite classic horror directors, Terence Fisher, who did many of the most famous Hammer Films, including HORROR OF DRACULA (1958). "I have a huge collection of Hammer and Amicus films," Hoffman said. "The fact that Fisher was an editor first shows in the economy of his shooting. He knew exactly how much to shoot, and I try to do that too."

Michael A. Hoffman
“The fact that Hoffman is also an editor makes him feel a certain kinship to one of his favorite classic horror directors, Terence Fisher…”

Along the rocky road to the film's completion, there were some bright spots. "We had a 140-foot crane donated to us, provided we could repair it," Hoffman said. But even that ended up awkwardly: "We managed to do that, but at one point it broke down and the cameraman was stuck in it for nine and a half hours! And he has a fear of heights. We're good friends now, but I think he still wants to kill me!"

Murphy's Law may have applied to the film, but the end result is a tight, suspenseful and surprisingly atmospheric mood piece that both recalls and satirizes eighties slasher films. "We tried to play around with horror stereotypes," said Hoffman. "For example, the opening scene in your average slasher movie was usually a young couple camping in the woods. You'd see a silhouette of them making love in the tent against the lamp light, and then they'd be horribly killed. Well, instead of the usual clichés, in our movie the campers in the opening scene are two girls who happen to be lesbians. They have the scene in the tent with the lamp light. And, by the way, their nipples are hard because it's so cold!"

ROT: Reunion Of Terror
“instead of the usual cliches, in our movie the campers in the opening scene are two girls who happen to be lesbians”

Hoffman also does something a lot of young filmmakers don't do: he takes the time to build up a mood before most of the killings start. "I tried to make it like an eighties movie in that respect," he noted. "Then we took all the clichés and moved them one step forward, and we wanted to throw the audience off, especially in the last ten minutes."

ROT: Reunion of Terror

His magnum opus now completed and in release through Shock-O-Rama Cinema, Hoffman was recently assistant editor on FORGET ME NOT, an indie feature starring Carly Schroeder, and is currently working on BEWARE, a made-for-TV movie that is being shot in both Spanish and English versions for Spanish television.

Hoffman likes having a regular income from his high-profile gigs, but his heart belongs to horror. "I'd rather make fifty low-budget movies than one huge-budgeted blockbuster," Hoffman said with a laugh. "I'd like some bigger budgets than I've had in the past, but I'm still a huge fan of those eighties slashers, and those are the kinds of movies I love doing."

ROT: Reunion of Terror DVD BUY at Alternative Cinema

ROT: Reunion of Terror NETFLIX Link

ROT: Reunion of Terror on FaceBook

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Tuesday, March 9, 2010



Join Michael Raso and John Fedele for this Podcast Blizzard that includes DVD giveaways of the amazing SHOCK-FEST DVD!

Discussions include Super 8 film, Michael Hoffman’s “ROT,” “House of the Devil” on VHS (!?!)

Also, a tribute to the passing of XXX Cinema Legend Jamie Gillis with words from Joe Sarno, Carter Stevens and Eduardo Cemano.

Jamie Gillis Interview
Courtesy of Retro-Seduction Cinema

Available on DVD from Alternative Cinema

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Thursday, March 4, 2010

SHOCK FESTIVAL DVD Interview with Adrian Santiago

Interview by Joshua T. Gravel

The director of the visceral and phantasmagorical TENTACLES IN A TWISTED DEATHDREAM, Adrian Santiago, fills us in on his newest film, GRIM and his involvement with Stephen Romano Presents Shock Festival.


Can you give us some background information on your career in film or the arts in general?
I most recently wrapped on my first self-written, self-shot, self-directed, self-edited, self-financed feature film GRIM (produced for on about $5,000us). I was also a lead videographer for the 2009 AFI Dallas International Film Festival, worked as an extra in seasons 2 and 3 of FOX's “PRISON BREAK", Lifetime's "INSPECTOR MOM", and many years ago as a child, CBS' "WALKER TEXAS RANGER".

When did you first meet Stephen Romano, and what drew your attention to TENTACLES IN A TWISTED DEATHDREAM?
We were at a horror convention promoting a movie for another independent studio, and just before getting kicked out of the booth for (gasp) giving my business card away and networking, I walked past Stephen Romano and his booth promoting the (at the time) unreleased book SHOCK FESTIVAL. I sat around, shot the shit with him and fell in love with the project! I remember saying something to him like "You should think about doing some fake movie trailers to go along with the book", and he smiled and said "Funny you should mention it..."


A couple of weeks later, Stephen sent over a PDF for the "TENTACLES IN A TWISTED DEATHDREAM" entry... and about a month after that I called him up to tell him it was ready. Good thing he's such a nice guy, because when he heard the good news he sounded like he couldn't believe it: He was excited, but I could swear he was trying to say "Holy shit, someone actually followed through!”

After that, he altered the poster for "TENTACLES" to include my name, our actors and crew which is way cool. He also stole a picture of me and inserted it into the "SATAN INSIDE HER" where he listed me as Italian Director "Enzo Castilliano". Very lulzworthy.

Adrian Santiago "SATAN INSIDE HER"

The monologue in the trailer appears to be shot specifically for a trailer rather than part of a film used for a trailer, much like how filmmakers such as Hitchcock and William Castle would shoot separate trailer material. Were there specific trailers which influenced you?
I wrote everything the night before we shot the trailer while I was pissed off at my girlfriend... I tend to do my best stuff when I'm either crazy angry or crazy depressed. Anyway, I got on Youtube and looked up a bunch of authentic grindhouse trailers (which, post-Rodriguez/Tarantino'cide were hard to find). Of all things, the one that spoke to me the loudest and most effectively was the trailer for DOLEMITE. It was action-action-action all the way through, accented by Rudy Ray Moore's stylized promo. I decided that was the best way to go, as we could establish a wide range of details (historical, political, and maniacal) and soak 'em in blood to show they're all equally futile.


I'd love a chance to take the concept behind TENTACLES (as Stephen wrote it) and translate it to a feature film. Make it real chatty, see if I can't get people to nod their heads in agreement with the guy who ends up being the craziest motherfucker of the bunch moments before he goes on a killing spree... see if the experience does anything to change their perception of right and wrong.


Can you tell us a little about the actors you worked with?
The only actor by trade out there was Christopher Dimock (whose name now appears on the TENTACLES poster in SHOCK FESTIVAL). At that point we had worked with him on a short film we did for Fox’s "On the Lot"... urp, excuse me: I always vomit a little when I mention that show. Other guys out there (the victims) were Garrett Wilkerson (the guy who gets the funny little "floating" animated bullet hole in his neck), a couple of his friends, Mike Peters (been with us since the first short film I ever made), and Tomas Santiago, my younger brother. Poor guy, everyone else gave us quiet deaths, but when Tom gets shot in the knee he was crying, cussing... all good stuff, but by then I figured we could save some time and just NOT record audio!


Who worked on the technical end of the production, specifically cinematography, music, and special effects?
Garrett Wilkerson handled all the sweet blood hits (that was actually the first time they had been used), Cinematography was co-op between myself and Daniel Patterson. Surprisingly I get asked this question a lot, and I'd like to take this time to put the rumors to rest: Yes! You're SUPPOSED to see the boom pole! We planned out a lot of deliberate bloopers/flaws... some shots are in focus, none of the gunshots follow any kind of realistic trajectories, and so on. I had wanted to have the reflection of the crew in a car window as a guy stepped out of it, but we didn't have any vehicles from the era and the camera would've been too modern.


Are there any current or future projects you would like people to know about?
Yes, dammit! Be on the look out for "GRIM", a film by Adrian Santiago at a film festival near you in 2010! Test audiences (who have seen only clips) find the movie immensely troubling to watch... one person summed up the opening of the film best when they said, "It’s tough, it’s brutal, it’s unsettlingly realistic, you find yourself wishing it was over but it only gets worse. If they can get away with staging something like this in a film in broad daylight, imagine what a real-life sicko can get away with when there are even fewer people around."

I'm no asshole... feel free to reach out and touch me!

You can “reach out and touch” Adrian by email at or follow him on, or

SHOCK FESTIVAL is available on DVD Now!

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