why don't you start us off with a visual and
describe where you are answering these questions?
I'm sitting here
at my desk typing away in my reconverted loft in
a 130-year old Silk Factory in downtown Paterson,
New Jersey. Outside my windows are the courtyard
where musicians play daily and the street sounds
of the city fill the air. Summer came in quick
this year so the fan is rumbling loudly before my
air conditioner gets installed this week. My
other half, The Amazing Mr. Buttons, an 11-year
old orange Tabby I rescued from a shelter months
ago, is lying beside me on the windowsill. He
could care less as long as his tummy gets filled
2 times a day. My walls are all stripped and
primed for an entire new paint job and boxes with
all my 50's glasses are packed and stacked and my
furniture covered in sheets. A lengthy process
indeed, the walls are 25 feet high and I'm very
shaky on a ladder! But even with the mass
transformation of turning my home into a slick
production studio and showplace, work goes on...
and on... and on... lol! It's been Bohemian
living for the past few months.
have so many things I want to ask you! In the
past decade you have exploded onto the indie
horror scene with such great flicks as 'I'll
Bury You Tomorrow',
'The Blood Shed', 'Dead
'Eat Your Heart Out',
'A Far Cry From Home',
'W.O.R.M', etc. I also find it so
cool that you mostly appear as a female even
though you are kind of a big (6'1") guy.
First off, why do you think the indie horror
world is so inclusive compared to many other
its super cool too Owen! LOL! I felt like I
finally found my home and where I belong in the
Horror Genre. In the indie horror world- it is
pure diversity, uniqueness and individualism.
That was the draw for me - no one telling you
what to be, or how to act. And of course, you
have make good films to be accepted. That's the
main reason I feel I made it in, not because of
my look, but because we made a kick ass feature
that offered something very unique to bored
horror audiences in the late 90's/early 2000's.
Even though indie films then were all being made
primarily on Video with Digital still on the
horizon, we still lit and shot the production as
if it were film; art directed it within an inch
of its life and presented it, as a film. We had
great talent, a fun story, mad locations,
excellent cinematography, music and sound and
150% enthusiasm - key ingredients not to be
ignored in a horror film. As for being 6'1"
and in heels, even taller, I simply have to act
next to taller actors or I actually shrink my
posture and take off the damn shoes to appear
smaller on camera- it always works and no one
notices the discrepancy. People are always
surprised at how tall I am when they meet me...
LOL! They always assume I'd be tiny.
So do you see
your career as one with political implications
such a visibility or acceptance?
all. I'm a filmmaker, producer and an actor in
the horror genre - nothing more - and more than
happy and proud to wear that moniker. But with
visibility comes a responsibility to be smart and
educated about anything you say in public.
Politics and social issues are simply too vast
and extreme for me to be commenting on. I feel
unless you're fully informed on what you're
talking about; you can make yourself look like a
real idiot. But I always speak up for equality,
against intolerance, ecology, and the protection
of self, children and animals. (Christ, that
sounded like a bad Miss America answer, didn't
it?) I know that my "image" can be used
and taken to a lot of extremes for many
purposes/causes by various people and groups who
do not know me at all. But that's what happens
when you make the decision to become a
"visible" person. Everyone has an
opinion, a dislike or something that will point
to you. I came into this business as an adult and
will continue to act like sensible one... off
camera, that is... LOL!
Okay, so tell
me all about your progression from successful
make-up artist to bona fide horror
always dreamed of being in front of the camera
since I was a very young kid ogling over Saturday
afternoon Creature Features and late night
Chiller Theater. Being from a very small mining
town in Northern New Jersey, there really wasn't
an outlet for big dreams of becoming a movie star
and I was way too shy and sheltered for Community
Theater. I just dreamed and fantasized. I was
raised in a family of N.J. State Police and had
somewhat of a strict upbringing. But my parents
were pretty easy on me and supported all my
artistic endeavors... begrudgingly, I'm
sure...LOL! In 8th grade I made my first attempt
at filmmaking with my school friend Frank Greene
with a little 8mm ditty called THE SEAPOD
INVASION. It was such a huge deal to me. Back
then you shot the film, edited it with special
tape on a splicing machine I borrowed from my
Uncle Nick, and dubbed the sound on a cassette
player. I remember my great disappointment when
it came down to the last rung of dubbing and our
cast of neighborhood friends was down in my 70's
basement trying to get it done. They were much
more interested in getting outside in the summer
sun and playing kickball than sitting around
talking into a recorder mic. So they left me to
do the rest myself. I entered the Kodak Film
Competition and, of course, lost. My film reel
was returned to me in hundreds of pieces because
the editing tapes had dried out. It was such a
bummer and that was the end of my magnificent
film career! LOL! I attended high school like
every other kid in town, moved to NYC immediately
after and attended art schools in Manhattan to
become a world famous fashion illustrator.
Unfortunate thing about that career choice was
that fashion illustration was becoming a dying
art and fashion photography was reaching its apex
by the time I graduated. So, for my new canvas, I
became a make up artist. That was my life for
over 20 years. It introduced me to the chic world
of modeling, fashion, travel & clothes - a
very glamorous world, but not a glamorous
profession because it was all about hard work,
climbing the fashion ladder and once again, that
ugly word "acceptance" . I worked very
hard for every penny I made but even with my
great talent for coiffing some of the most
beautiful heads in the industry. I never made it
to "A" level because I wasn't accepted
in that world either. I was still a bit of a hick
with a questionable taste level as far as my
appearance. I looked like a combination of Cyndi
Lauper, Boy George and A Flock of Seagulls, which
I thought was totally awesome on a nightclub
level, but not at all in the beauty industry. I
simply danced to the beat of my own drum and
refused conform to be what everyone was
constantly telling me what I should be. I was
convinced there was nothing wrong with me and
told everyone to stick it. Didn't do me much
good, but at least I still had my identity by
refusing to become a standard fashion clone.
Everyone always commented that I should be an
actor, but I just scoffed at the idea because I
certainly didn't wish to welcome more rejection
into my life. I saw how hard actors worked at the
grind of auditions and hitting the pavement from
casting agent to casting agent that always ended
with the final word "NO". No thank you!
I'll just keep to my brushes and move on. By the
90's I had finally graduated into TV and
commercials for better money and soon started
writing. A literary agent in N.Y. and L.A. picked
me up, but that didn't get very far. So one day I
was on a commercial set with my camera pal Gary
Malick and he suggested we make an old school
horror movie for fun. I jumped on it and wrote
the script 'I'LL BURY YOU TOMORROW', and low and
behold, 2.5 years later we had a small cult film
hit that won tons of festivals and became quite
the talk in the indie horror community. It was
the breakthrough I waited 40 years for. The rest
has simply been my very good fortune, but not
without hard work.
been acting tool for you? Meaning, is the
application of your make-up a huge component in
your transformation into a specific role?
all that time on a set introduced me to every
personality type imaginable. I watched directors
and photographers pamper, maneuver, insult and
brutalize models/actors into submission. I
quietly watched and learned all the aspects of
the industry, not knowing why, but I had a gut
feeling that one day it would come in handy as
training for something. And it certainly did!
Knowledge is power. My acting/directing career
was right around the corner and I didn't even
know it. I'm not a trained actor in any sense.
But I am instinctual and years of watching every
old movie became my template for movie acting. My
roles always require a different hair and make up
strategy. Next to a great script, make up and
wardrobe is the hugest component for me to become
another person. Like a costume, I can slip into a
character and mimic it. It's when I have to play
someone closer to my own skin, such as Lane in 'A
FAR CRY FROM HOME', when I really have to work
hard at being natural and relaxed. It isn't easy.
But after my transformation in 'THE BLOOD SHED',
I was no longer afraid of that demon lens - LOL!
So right out
of the gate 'I'll Bury You
Tomorrow' made a huge impact, you
won awards etc. What was the main thing you took
away from that whole experience?
Owen! 'I'LL BURY YOU TOMORROW' was my film
school. I hadn't a clue about lenses, sound
levels, shot sheets, what a zoom shot was, a pan
shot or sticks, etc., lol! But I learned fast and
continued to learn with each film. I entered so
many festivals with IBYT, expecting we would be a
shoe-in with some of the smaller horror fests. We
weren't...lol! So as a lark, we entered the
Telluride Indiefest in 2002, and shockingly, we
won! We were the first horror movie they ever
accepted. That gave us a great label of
professionalism and validated us in the
community. We went to Telluride for our screening
and it was a magical experience. People really
got a kick out of our "little indie that
could" and we soon appeared in Moviemaker
Magazine. We finally came back to screen in NYC
and met Tony Timpone of Fangoria. Between he,
Michael Gingold, writer Jeremiah Kipp, and Rod
Gudino at Rue Morgue Magazine, I was granted
wonderful press and the beginning of a promising
film career. My life had immediately changed.
You gained 50
pounds for your role as Beefteena Bullion in
'The Blood Shed'. What was your
favorite weight-gain snack?
them.... LOLl! But easily - CHEESEBURGERS! Lots
and lots of Cheeseburgers!
Was that the
toughest thing you have ever done for a role?
that weight off... LOLl! Special hint... if
you're over 40...DO NOT gain weight ala Shelley
Winters/Robert DeNiro style... very unhealthy!
Get a fat suit and start padding... LOL!
I also want to
hear about the extremely promising
'She Wolf Rising'. Tell me about
that upcoming project.
line producer on SHE WOLF RISING and also played
Tess, casting agent to superstar scream queen
Gina Skylar (played by gorgeous Tiffany Shepis).
I also edited the film which was a very
interesting venture being it was the first piece
I edited that was not my own. But director/writer
Marc Leland and producer/actor Carl Burrows were
amazing to work with and my best pal Tom Burns is
finishing the film's score and sound design. It's
a fun throwback to 80's horror films and a great
homage to all of Ms. Shepis' scream queen roles.
She and newcomer Timothy Mandala really shine and
we also have Ruby LaRocca, Nicola Fiore, Joe Zaso
and Debbie Rochon in great cameos as well.
I am sooo
excited to hear that you are adapting
'Sudden Fear' (Joan Crawford,
1952) as a segment for the 'Slice
of Life' anthology horror movie
coming out this year. Are you a big old movie
OF LIFE' is a ridiculously great horror anthology
by Anthony G. Sumner and I had the pleasure of
co-starring in the segment W.O.R.M., and writing
another segment called AMBER ALERT! I'm so
excited to see it and the production value of the
film is off the wall. As for SUDDEN FEAR, I am
the BIGGEST old movie fan and always have been
since I was a youngster! So I'm hoping to adapt
SUDDEN FEAR into an actual feature to shoot in
New York and San Francisco in the future. I want
to update the story and put my spin on it's tale
and characters to give it an entire new life and
edge without straying too far from Edna Sherry's
original plotline. Of course, the Crawford role
is MINE! LOL!
So if you were
a golden age Hollywood actor or actress who would
are too many that I love so much such as Bette
Davis, Joan Crawford, Humphrey Bogart, Richard
Widmark, Ava Gardner, Simone Signoret, Ida Lupino
and Ruth Roman - But out of all of them, I'd have
to go with Barbara Stanwyck She had the
"smartest" and most brilliant career.
She was loved by all her crew and directors, IS
always amazing and believable from all of her
early films on up to her 80's - and never has a
false moment. She was truly devoted to her craft
and her work is still timeless and not outdated.
And what I meant by "smartest" career
is of all the Hollywood stars, she was one of
very few who managed an "independent"
career freelancing with every Hollywood studio.
She always had control of her film properties,
characters and what she was doing. Of all the
Hollywood bios I've read, she is the one I envy
and admire most and, in my very small offbeat
way, hope to emulate.
I also want to
hear all about your
writer/director/producer/starring remake of the
1973 drive-in flick 'Don't Look in
the Basement'? What made you
decide on that project and how is it progressing?
finally progressing very nicely! There were quite
a few unnecessary snags in the road to get it
moving, but we're on our way now. Director
Anthony Sumner and actor Jerry Murdock oddly
approached me at the same time in 2007 and said
"you have to remake this film. It will be
your crossover movie that could eventually grant
you some higher budgets in the future." I
always loved this obscure little Grindhouse
classic by S.F. Brownrigg and started watching it
again. It hit me dead on and I thought,
"yeah, we can do this" and I would give
it a new life without compromising the original,
as so many "studio" remakes do today.
Anthony and I decided to co-produce/direct it
together through our companies SouthPaw Pictures
and TinyCore Pictures. I rewrote the script,
updated it, added new characters and came out
with a very decent storyline. We got all our
legal clearances together from our lawyers (and
for those of you who think you can remake a
Public Domain film without doing proper research,
think again! You're in for a rude awakening if
you don't take the proper legal paths. Especially
with distributors.) "We" were set to
shoot in 2008, but the recession killed us - as
it did everyone - and our backers backed out. It
was frustrating, but who could blame them? It was
happening to many filmmakers at the same time. In
retrospect, it all worked out for the best. We
had time to build more press and interest while
assembling the most amazing cast that includes
Jerry Murdock, Zo... Daelman Chlanda, Debbie
Rochon, Caroline Williams, Jeff Dylan Graham,
Raine Brown, Katherine O' Sullivan, Marv
Blauvelt, Susan Adriensen, Douglas Rowan, Terry
M. West, Carl Burrows, myself, and a lovely
upcoming starlet named Deneen Melody. So yes- we
are remaking a small low-budget classic, and why
not? The film deserves a new life and I truly
believe we have the right combination of talent
to give it it's worth. Everyone gets so up in
arms about remakes, etc. and all I have to say is
get a life and go watch another movie if it bugs
you so much! LOL! With Facebook and the Internet
you HAVE to hear everyone's opinions and I simply
am too darn busy making movies to give a hoot
about what the populace living in "mom's
basement" is saying. Such nonsense. The
proof will be in the finished product, so let's
wait and see then. We are shooting in 2011,
mainly because we haven't the time this year with
other films still in post-production (GALLERY OF
FEAR for me, and SLICES OF LIFE for Anthony).
Plus I have 4 more film roles this Summer/Fall
and I'm shooting another film this October in
collaboration with talented genre directors Bart
Mastronardi, Jeremiah Kipp and Nathan Wrann. (But
I can't speak of it just yet... but I promise,
it's going to be terrific!)
Hey, so if we
were to have a grave warning about not looking
somewhere in Alan Rowe Kelly's house or apartment
what room would it be -- and are you brave enough
to share what we might find?
doubt, it would be my loft - once my bedroom - in
my factory apartment. It now serves as my storage
room for every creepy horror prop, wardrobe,
hideous old mannequins ("Marcia..." ),
and set pieces I've been collecting for the past
10 years. I've been accumulating props for a film
called 'UNHALLOWED GROUND' that I wrote years ago
and it is still my "Baby" project! Once
the right budget rears itself, I'll finally make,
what I think will be, my finest film. I used to
display a lot of the items in my home until
friends finally told me to put them away because
they were creeped out and always felt like they
were always being watched... and they were...
LOL! But in the next month all of these items are
going into storage and I will finally have my
home and studio back...Whew! Talk about
speaking of drive-ins, we're pulling the car into
the Alan Rowe Kelly Drive In. What three horror
flicks are on the triple bill for tonight and
what goodies will you be serving up at the
I'll have to go complete old school on this one!
'ATTACK OF THE 50-FOOT WOMAN' with Allison Hayes
& Yvette Vickers, 'THE BLOB' with Steve
McQueen, and 'FIEND WITHOUT A FACE' with Marshall
Thompson & Kim Parker. ("And trailers
for Barbara Steele movies have to be in between
each film tool... LOL!") As for my
Concession Stand? BEER! Lots and lots of beer!
Rental lawn chairs, cartons of cigarettes, black
& white milkshakes, Ice cream sodas, rolling
papers, Atomic Fireballs, Goobers, Raisinettes,
Milk Duds, and the greasiest pizza, hot dogs and
popcorn available! Let's all go to the lobby....
Do you have
any other upcoming projects you would like to let
the racks and razors readers know about?
OF FEAR' will finally be hitting the fest and
screening circuit this Fall - It's a horror
anthology in the old Hammer/Amicus Film tradition
with three tales and a wrap around story. It took
me 3 years to complete it. It stars Debbie
Rochon, Jerry Murdock, Raine Brown, Don Money,
Katherine O' Sullivan, Benzy, Zoe Daelman
Chlanda, Terry M. West, Mike Lane and a slew of
other talented actors. I wrote and directed two
of the tales, plus the wraparound story, and
Anthony Sumner wrote and produced the 4th. It's
so much fun! It's really a beautifully produced
piece with great cinematography from Bart
Mastronardi, Dominick Sivilli and Anthony Sumner.
Anthony's 'SLICES OF LIFE' anthology will also be
debuting at the same time and I co-starred in one
segment and wrote another called AMBER ALERT!
Then in July, I'm playing the notorious Dr.
Annabelle Voitch in Bryan Enk's THE BIG BAD, and
I'll appear as a doting "mom" in Justin
Power's and Andrew Rose's VICIOUS this fall.
'DON'T LOOK IN THE BASEMENT!' will commence in
2011 and I'm also writing a new screenplay called
MAXINE. I also have scripts for UNHALLOWED
GROUND, SUDDEN FEAR, YOU BETTER WATCH OUT!, A
MURDER OF CROWS and SPORE! sitting in the
bleachers awaiting budgets and OK's to move ahead
- and as always- you never know what's going to
pop up in between! Anthony Sumner is starting a
new screenplay called BURLESQUE BLOODBATH and I'm
just waiting to sink my teeth into that one as
well! I'd also love to work with directors Billy
Clift, Mel House, Eric Stanze and Steve
Balderson, they are coming out with great films
and put out such quality work! ("Shameless
self-promotion, I know... LOL!)" I was
recently asked by San Francisco Diva - Peaches
Christ' to do the honors of hosting the 2-night
Manhattan premiere of her film ALL ABOUT EVIL
with Natasha Lyonne on July 30th and 31st. Now
THAT is going to be a show, and if you're in town
you'd be a fool to miss it! I'm loving my life
right now. Doesn't seem to be enough hours in one
day lately, but you make the time!
writing, directing, producing, acting, even
editing and make-up - doing all these things.
What gives you the most pleasure and comes the
most naturally...and which skill do you look
forward to developing even more?
ALL of these aspects, no matter which I'm
involved in. Of course, I want to develop more as
an actor/director/producer because most times I'm
doing all three at once. I do have mad
organizational skills and the main key is
thinking ahead of everyone and being at Step 2 by
the time everyone completes Step 1.My favorite
part of any film is "Day One" of
shooting. Acting is my love, writing is my curse,
and directing is a great honor that has been
handed to me. But what I really love is location
scouting! Get me in a car with a full tank of gas
and my camera, and I'm gone baby!
What do you
think is your best moment as an actor - thus far?
I really get a
kick out of Beefteena Bullion in 'THE BLOOD SHED'
because it's such a crazed Kabuki performance and
to look so awful and not care was inspiring. She
was quite the character to emulate and too much
fun - such freedom!! It was a huge playground
everyday and a prime example of make up and
costumes being vitally important in her
portrayal. I also loved playing Urbane in Bart
Mastronardi's wonderful 'VINDICATION' - wonderful
script! But I think Lane, the gay victim in 'A
FAR CRY FROM HOME' (a segment in 'GALLERY OF
FEAR') may be my best role so far. I was graced
with the Best Actor Award from the 2009 Terror
Film Festival and I couldn't have been prouder.
It's a role that speaks volumes to many people
who have ever felt persecuted, hated, or punished
for simply being themselves. I had to dig deep
into some terrible places to get there, but it
was worth it and certainly expelled a lot of
demons for me.
werewolves, demons, witches, vampires, serial
killers, creatures, aliens, telemarketers...what
does it for you horror-wise and why?
(I can never get enough!), witches and creatures
of any sort always do it for me! Serial killers
are far too real and terrify me. And I am sooooo
totally over the recent curve in vampires and
werewolves - they've 'pansied' them out! All this
brooding pathos and "Woe is me, I hate what
I am" teen romance dribble.... Ugh!!
("Sorry guys, but I was asked! LOL!")
What ever happened to mad, ravenous flesh &
blood hungry beasts that hid in the dark awaiting
hapless victims? The evil from within that could
not be contained? Now they all have feelings...
Eesh! It's 90210 with hair, fangs and fashionable
clothes. "B-O-R-I-N-G!" Before you know
it Zombies will be cute and become Vegetarians.
Call me an old school purist if you must, but
what happened to the scares?
best Halloween costume you ever had?
late 70's and 80's we went completely bonkers
with outrageous costumes. "Since I sewed I
made my best costumes as Mae West, Carmen
Miranda" and also made a big hit in
Manhattan clubs going as the Andrew Sisters with
two of my dearest friend that are no longer with
us following the AIDS scourge of the 80's &
90's. Nowadays, I settle into huge comfortable
animal costumes that zip up in the back and have
giant heads... I just can't get enough of my
giant pink rabbit costume once I'm in it....
could live in it for days and I almost got
arrested once for having a fit over the bad
carrots in the produce section at Pathmark... you
think I'm kidding don't you? LOL!
you in real life?
broke is always a constant, scary struggle in
this business. But that's really life for all of
us, isn't it? And not living long enough to
achieve all I want to do in this industry is a
big fear! There's so many films I want to make
("And just for the record, I'm healthy as a
horse and plan on living to at least 98 years old
before getting bored with the idea...
LOL!)." Aside from that? Probably being
eaten alive by huge hairy spiders would be my
biggest fear.... LOL! "Hey! It could