Chris, start us off with a visual and describe
the room where you are answering these questions.
If 'Sanford and
Son' and 'Pee Wee's Playhouse' converged in a
dungeon with movie posters, props, makeup fx,
guitars, set pieces, computers and ashtrays, I
would feel right at home LOL Most people are
creeped out to even step foot in here. Can't say
I blame them.
Looking over your
career credits in horror, I see you've directed,
been a cinematographer, performed, edited, and
composed. Which do you consider your greatest
strength, which gives you the greatest personal
satisfaction, and which is like pulling teeth?
Greatest strength is probably the composing just
because not everyone can do it. They might have
ideas about what they'd like to hear when filming
a scene, but can't express it. I pretty much have
finished music in mind before I even grab the
camera. I love directing. Usually I get a lot of
blank stares and "what does that have to do
with anything ?" questions during shooting,
but when finished, there's a collective sigh
since everything makes sense finally. At least I
hope it does LOL. Getting me to do anything in
post production is like pulling teeth, especially
if I have no schedule. I'm a pain in the ass
about footage since I would've shot it
differently or edited a scene differently or a
million other things. I'm obsessive over details
that nobody in their right mind would likely
notice, but I cringe every time I see or hear it.
It's even worse if I'm working on someone else's
movie that I have no control over since it's
"not my department".
Tell me about
your latest composing project 'Spring
Break Massacre' with Reggie Bannister
and Linnea Quigley. How did that job come about?
I had met
Mike Hoffman through my buddy, Frank Wales, since
I'm in Chicago and it was being filmed just
outside of town. I was about to return to North
Carolina at the time for another round of
shooting on 'The Shrieking', but a last minute
schedule change freed me up to work crew locally.
Reggie and Linnea ! What horror fan wouldn't jump
at the chance to work with them? I had a blast
and met some terrific people as well.
Unfortunately, I have no idea about composing
anything on 'Spring Break Massacre'. I had talked
to the producer about it at the time and I'm
listed on the IMDB page, but other than that ....
So when it comes
to composing, what exactly is the most effective
way for you to work? I guess my question is how
do you go about scoring a film?
generally edit scenes I film to music I've
already composed. There is a certain rhythm to it
that way. I know what I want happening on screen
at certain cues and it's pretty simple. Scoring
other people's films gets a bit tricky. I know
there's a device that will count off the beats
per minute or such to get everything perfectly
timed to on screen action, but I never get that
technical I'm afraid. I'll hum a melody, pick out
the notes on a guitar, compose some sheet music,
mix and try to sync from there. I'm a hack in
that department, but it still sounds good to me.
I am also curious
about what it was like to step before the cameras
for 'Spring Break Massacre' with
your role as the Bailiff?
already been bounced from the roles of Stanley, a
deputy and an inmate and it was my big scene in
the movie. I took off to the bathroom with the
uniform, slicked my hair back, grabbed a quick
shave and was informed upon my return that only
because I was seen going into there, nobody
would've known it was me. The director left for
the hospital with a fever so I improvised. I was
brilliant of course ! I saw about 60% of the
finished movie and if my elbow doesn't win an
Academy Award, I'll know the voting is fixed LOL.
That's all that is seen of me. Makeup covered my
tattoos so I am completely unrecognizable. I got
to flirt with a girl in 'ROT: Reunion Of Terror',
Mike's follow up film, and will play a deaf-mute
handyman in 'Demoniac'. Nobody has had this
little dialogue on screen since Harpo Marx.
credits include 'The Shrieking',
'To Walk The Night', 'After
Midnight', 'Around Midnight',
'Midnight Snack', 'A
Spider Beside Her', and 'Slumber
Party Murder Mania'. Which do you think
is the best example of your work?
approached each one differently so it's
impossible for me to say. 'Snack' was electronic
ambiance, 'Walk' is guitar oriented, 'Shrieking'
will be all percussion. I'm pretty exclusive to
doing horror films, but I try to reinvent myself
on each one so they're always unique. The score
for'Spider' was strings only, but I got to do all
the radio and jukebox tunes as well which was a
fantastic opportunity for me. Horror composers
don't usually get to do jazz, rockabilly and
blues tunes on the sly as well in a movie. I'll
be sure to thank Shawn Hunt if I ever get to play
The Grand Ole Opry for that LOL
I want to hear
about your directing debut with 'To Walk
The Night'...how did that project come
about, what was the greatest challenge about it,
and where are you in regards to completing the
it's origins as a Phil Herman short story titled
'Bat Bite'. Model Gashley Darcane wanted to be
the hostess of the 'Always Midnight' anthology
movie, but since she is local, I asked if she'd
be interested in doing a short with me instead.
She agreed so I rewrote 'Bat Bite' as 'To Walk
The Night'. The only resemblance, of course, was
the heroine getting bitten by a bat. The
lecherous husband was replaced by a sympathetic
friend and the whole story took on a new meaning.
Another model was to play the friend and ended up
being replaced when it became obvious that
working with her would be impossible. Gashley had
her replacement, Michaele Green, already and
since they really are friends, the chemistry
worked even better between them. I still need
some key scenes, basically the gory stuff, and
some ADR, but it's done for the most part.
Scheduling, as usual, is the hold up. It's
wonderful to get everyone together, but always a
task to do so. Gashley has agreed to play
'Resurrection Mary' for me in a feature I've been
putting together for what feels like forever. She
will absolutely steal the show and I couldn't be
happier that she's willing to put up with me
again. Michaele will be doing double duty in a
bizarre thriller that was nearly abandoned by me,
but after working with her, I knew right away she
was perfect for it. She has such a sweet and
personable demeanor, the movie will feel even
more shocking than anticipated in it's original
incarnation. Basically, every screenplay I now
write has one or both of them in mind. I have to
give a shout out to my right hand man, Thom
Oswald, as well. No matter how weird my ideas
get, he's always the first one ready to help me
set them up.
So is it tough to
go from work that is primarily solitary
(composing, editing) to work that is highly
social and interactive like directing?
kiddng ? It's like recess to schoolkids ! I love
to be on the set. There's a certain camraderie
there and it's always a good time. Editing and
composing are mind numbing in that respect since
they are done alone in the longest, most tedious
way. I'll send bits and pieces out for opinions,
but once I realize I'm talking to myself, I need
to take a break from them.
Who are your
greatest influences in horror cinema as a
find it ironic when indie directors talk about
their influences, but are clueless as to why the
greats are considered great. There's nothing
worse than watching a medium shot of a stripper
getting fake blood splattered on her boobs in
one, long dragged out take after hearing about
what an influence John Carpenter is to the guy
who filmed that. Pointless really. Anyways,
nobody did it better than Hitchcock. I've been
reading and watching everything and anything I
can get my hands on recently from him. He
explained so much of the 'how' and 'why' he did
things that made his work so memorable, it's like
a goldmine to me. Although technically not a
cinematographer, Sam Raimi's inventiveness stands
out the most. I don't really think I have any
particular infuence by a composer. It just comes
to me and if it reminds the viewer of someone
else, great. I don't try to sound like anyone but
me. I'm going to have to cheat on the editor
question since he wasn't horror related, but Russ
Meyer was a God to me in that department. People
will always just associate him with big breasted
Amazons, but the guy could probably edit a
feature of paint drying and keep it interesting.
I think the influence of these 3 show the most in
a murder scene I did for Ruben Rox's 'The Chubby
Killer'. At least I hope so or I'll sound like a
pompous jerk LOL
along with that what are a few of your favorite
all time film scores?
'Suspiria', Manfredini's 'Friday the 13th',
Carlos's 'A Clockwork Orange', Hermann's 'Psycho'
and Badalamenti's 'Twin Peaks' scores all have
some heavy rotation with me for different
reasons, but if I had to choose one,'The Omen'
from Goldsmith is my all time favorite.
Seriously, the music during the opening credits
still gives me goosebumps to this day. It's that
What projects do
you have lined up for the future?
directing a western believe it or not !
'Purgatory Junction' is slated to begin filming
in September and is my current main concern.
Frank Wales nailed the script perfectly and my
producer will kill me for mentioning names of the
people we've discussed, but there will be some
familiar faces from the horror genre. I don't
think John Wayne would approve, but Sam Peckinpah
would probably get a kick out of it. Of course
there will be a few horror elements in it, but I
don't want to give anything away. A web site is
up now, but I'm still deciding on content for it.
Trying to keep fantastic secrets secretive is
difficult for me LOL After that, I'll likely go
back to doing more horror productions and see
We're pulling the
car into the Christopher Kahler Drive In...what
three horror flicks are on the triple bill for
the night and what goodies are they going to be
serving up at the concession stand?
The Living Dead', 'The Haunting' and 'Psycho',
but only the original versions of course.
Cheetos, Snickers, and Mountain Dew. I'm on a
diet and can't even think about them presently,
but I've always been a junk food junkie.
What makes you go
psycho in real life?
We're living in some of the most troubling times
and it often seems like nobody gives a shit any
more. A few people walk on the rights of many,
commit a crime and get a book deal, endless
remakes, old tv sitcoms and 'Saturday Night Live'
sketches keep going to the big screen, mindless
reality tv, Tyra Banks having a talk show... When
do people finally draw the line and say
"enough is enough already !" ? It's
infuriating how complacent we've become. I'm mad
as hell and ... you get the picture LOL
What scares you
in real life?
child. That's only natural as a parent and it's a
nagging fear that never goes away. Me personally
? Heights. I was on the verge of an anxiety
attack at The Grand Canyon because other people
were sitting along the edge. I'd joke that it was
"natural selection" if they toppled
over of course, but the thought that somebody
might then was unbearable to me. I did manage to
hike down eventually. Next time I'll try
Thanks for taking
the time to chat Chris.
for having me, Owen. I know there's nothing more
horrifying than listening to someone talk about