Joe Zaso: The King of Underground Indie Screams Interview by Greg Tiderington

Joe Zaso has acted in many underground independent horror films and alot of them are tongue-in-cheek horror. He has been active as an actor since he was a child doing school plays but years later he got his first acting gig doing regional theatre and then did extra work in TV and film. His first paying gig in a horror film was called '5 Dead on the Crimson Canvas' which led on to his work in other horror films with his own company called Cinema Image Productions. Joe also works as a producer, writer and director.
He was also remembered in other independent horror flicks such as the Andreas Schnaas splatter flick 'Nikos the Impaler' starring alongside with Felissa Rose, as well as Schnaas' other project that he travelled to Italy to be in titled 'Demonium', 'Addicted to Murder 3: Bloodlust', the horror anthologies 'Creaturealm of the Dead' and 'Red Midnight', 'Rage of the Werewolf' with Debbie Rochon and 'And The They Were Dead'.
I had the pleasure to go online to talk to this talented scream king as we had alot to discuss.



At what age did you see yourself as an entertainer?

Joe: As far as back as I think the age of 9. Perhaps even as early as 6. I always liked to perform in school plays or backyard plays with the neighborhood kids where I lived. My brother - who is now a pediatrician - used to make home movies (sci-fi movies and vampire movies) and that inspired me to make my own.

Greg: Did you see yourself acting in horror films?

Joe: My first movies - even as a child - were horror movies. A vampire movie, a movie that was inspired by The Fury, a movie that was inspired by Motel Hell.... I've always enjoyed horror films and I've always seemed to work within the genre. I wouldn't mind doing non-genre stuff in the vein of Robert Altman or Woody Allen. i'm actually stuck in the 70s as far as films as concerned. Even when movies were bad in the 70s, they were always interesting.

Greg: I thought that Motel Hell was quite a weird film.

Joe: Motel Hell was a fave of mine as a 10-year old. It still holds up - as a grisly dark comedy.

Greg: A comedy-horror.

Joe: Yeah, a unqiue hybrid. Not a spoof. Fearless Vampire Killers is considered to be one of the best horror-comedies because it manages to keep the genres really separate within the film.

Greg: What was your first taste of acting?

Joe: Professionally?

Greg: Yes, or amateur acting.

Joe: Well, I did school plays when I was 9. Professionally, I started acting when I was around 21 (as in - I was paid to act). I did regional theater, doing stage comedies like I Hate Hamlet! which was awful. I did a funny send-up of the McCarthy-scare in Hollywood called Red Scare on Sunset. I did a lot of "extra" work in movies like Indecent Proposal, Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, Six Degrees Of Separation, All My Children, Oz. Nothing more than being a glorified blurr in the background. Although, I did get a slo-mo shot in Dragon.

Greg: What was the name of your first horror film?

Joe: The Hypnotisem. It was a take-off on The Fury (which I just seen on cable). The plot make less sense than the average Italian horror movie. Telekenetic teenagers causing people to bleed and authories chasing after them. Imagine 9-year olds interpreting this! My first PROFESSIONAL horror film was 5 Dead On The Crimson Canvas. Everything else before then, was amatuer stuff. I did a salute to Hammer horror called Frankenstein Reborn (In my senior year of college at NY Inst. of Tech). It was great, but NEVER finished. All that people could see what the work print off a flat bed. Because of the dispute between the director and producer, it was sadly never finished. On that film, I met Debbie Rochon (a few years before she started to become famous). I also met Joe Parda on the set (he wrote and acted in the film) who would later become my friend and one of the directors I work with the most. A lot of my friendships and best collaborators - and best life experiences - have all been because of horror movies. Even though, I loathe modern ones. the only horror director I can continuously watch is Argento.

Greg: Was Joe Parda the editor who did Honey I Blew Up the Kid?

Joe: No. I didn't know there was another Joe Parda

Greg: Oops! It says Parra.

Joe: It's funny, when 5 Dead first came out on VHS long ago, every critic misspelled Parda's name. He was Joe Prada, Joe Parder, Joe Pardo, etc.

Greg: What was your reaction when you were going to be working with Debbie Rochon?

Joe: On Frankenstein Reborn or Alien Agenda?

Greg: Well she is a name for horror films and before you met her and found out that you were going to work with her what was your reaction that you were going to be working with an actress who is a name in b-horror films as well as Troma Team dark comedy films?

Joe: Well, on Frankenstein Reborn, she wasn't known yet (this was 1992). But I met her I heard I would be working with her in '96 when Kevin Lindenmuth cast me in Alien Agenda: Endangered Species. I thought it would be great to work with her - and it was. I really wasn't too familiar with a lot of underground horror actors/actresses, but because of my experiences working with Kevin Lindenmuth, I made a lot of connections not Hollywood level, but good for low-budget horror films.

Greg: Was it a horror film?

Joe: It was a short film - kind of an homage to Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell. I played the monster. We filmed in a lot of interesting mansions and locations near the NY Tech campus - in 16mm - but the weather was damp, the foam latex was uncomfortable. Although, I look back fondly at that brief exprience.

Greg: Was that the flick by David DeCoteau?

Linnea: Frankenstein Reborn? No, it was made by a guy named George Reis who runs the site. He was a classmate

Greg: I just saw you play Bill Streeb in 5 Dead on the Crimson Canvas since that one is your most popular horror flick. I noticed that it was made on both a film and video budget. How did you get the funding for the film?

Joe: It was mostly funding between Joe Parda and myself which was not easy because at the time, we were working standard day jobs, and scrimping and saving during 2 full years to complete this film. The budget was $25,000. A couple of thousand came from friends and associates.

Greg: That sounds like quite a struggle.

Joe: I ate a lot of corn flakes for a while. At the time, I had gotten my first apartment so I had bills bills bills. Not an easy task to finance it by yourself. Because - as a production company and as film makers - we were fairly new, it wasn't easy to convince people to invest cash just like that. A lot of people were able to contribute their time and efforts.

Joe: Actually, no. we hardly saw any returns in the beginning. getting our investment back has been a very gradual process.

Greg: Were you at least glad the film was completed?

Joe: Oh yes! In the past, it never took me 18 months to finish a film (because I worked with video). Because of the fact that we were working with film, transfers, Rank Cintel transfer, splicing, editing, dubbing, etc, it was wearing.

Greg: Whew! Alot of work. Your character was different than the other roles you usually portrayed. Did you feel that your role as Bill helped you as a versatile actor?

Joe: Up until playing Bill Streeb, I was always playing very indifferent characters (neither the hero, nor the villain). At that point, I was starting to get leading man roles (even though they were all mysterious and at times, downright bizarre leading men). Although it was enjoyable, the role of Bill is really the reactor for a wide array of loony, colorful characters. Bill is the typical giallo hero: clean cut, befuddled, gullable, determined, but not the most intriguing.

Greg: I remember the scene with the piranah's. Were they really pirahna's and when the guys head was in the tank by the killer a dangerous scene to do?

Joe: They were PACU's - fruit-eating pirahnas. they are related to the man-eaters, but they're not interested in meat.

Greg: A nice scene was an outside scene where theres a dialogue of your character as well as Liz Haverty's character as she played your in law Gloria Streeb when Xavier Domingo's character Inspector Andez notified you about your uncle being murdered by the pirahna's. Where was that scene shot at?

Joe: Actually, the victim was my brother's agent. But, that scene was filmed in the back yard of one of our associates who shared a portion of a horse farm. It simply added production value.

Greg: Did you enjoy that scene the most out of all the scene's? It looked like a summer morning.

Joe: It was a nice Autumn morning - and one of the more pleasant ones of the shoots. I remember that our production manager had cooked up 6 scrambled eggs for a prop - and because I don't eat during the hours that I act, you can imagine how easily a devoured those eggs when we wrapped.

Greg: Sounds like you had a good time.

Joe: It was a happy experience. Not easy and at times, very frustrating, but an experience I look back very fondly at. We had a nice group of people who all worked hard and more importantly, they all believed in what we were doing - even though most everyone on the set had never seen a giallo film before.

Greg: What was it like working with Liz? Anything you'd like to share with us?

Joe: She was a doll. Really spirited and nice. An interesting character. In the South, there is a big furniture company called HAVERTY FURNITURE and Liz is one of the Haverty's. She was a living Southern Belle and she was married to a stock-broker. They lived on Central Park West and she drove a Porsche to the set (and made herself late every day). I know that Liz took her acting very seriously and would always be wanting to rehearse as much as possible. She wanted to create backstories for her character. A consummate professional. She also had this major Southern drawl and she would entertain everyone on the set with her stories of her childhood and family.

Greg: I also like the neat 3D effect when you walked into a hallway after the cult ceremony in the café. Were you hallucinating in that scene?

Joe: 3D effect?

Greg: Well remember when you walked into the hallway the colours were a little different.

Joe: Ah yes. The mario bava/argento lighting.

Greg: Were you hallucinating in that scene?

Joe: I was supposed to going in and out of a drug trip caused by the coffee I drank at the bar. Some pills had been put in my coffee just before the beatnik poetry.

Greg: Almost reminds me of Clockwork Orange.

Joe: Surreal and bizarre all way.

Greg: What kind of lighting gel was used for it?

Joe: Very simple small lights with the typical gels taped over the lamps. Nothing unusual.

Greg: What was racing through your head during the intense dialogue when you were close to being murdered by Mony Damevski's character who played your brother Richard?

Joe: It was very intruiging working with Mony for that scene because he was a VERY intense actor. Not crazed, but very deep into his interpretation. He would make our exchange into a game by trying different techniques for each take (which made contunity a headache). It helped keep the moment from being too automatic-pilot. Mony - who is almost a foot shorter than me - was able to command the room with his intensity. He is from Macedonia and I think that's where he returned to years ago.

Greg: I never understood the ending when you were put away in a straight jacket as you were innocent and sane?

Joe: I went bonkers after the whole nightmarish experience.

Greg: Yikes. Will this leave a door open for a sequel?

Joe: Probably not. The story is over. I prefer some stories to be finished.

Greg: What kinds of film festivals did the movie play at?

Joe: It played in two film festivals in Rome, Italy: The 1996 FANTAFESTIVAL (where it won an award) and the LA PORTA SUL BUIO II Festival in Rome (for Halloween, 1998). I tried to get the film entered in festivals all around, but many of the bigger festivals want 16 or 35mm prints only.

Greg: Was it a good turnout during the showings of them?

Linnea: Yes. We had a good amount of people at every screening. And the Italians seemed to admire the fact that we respected the Italian thriller so much. They don't respect their own work as much.

Greg: But this film was more of a horror than a thriller.

Joe: Well, it was a giallo (who-dun-it) with more lurid moments that usual. It's definitely a thriller than usual, I mean.

Greg: But still you must admit it is a horror film as it reminded me of slasher flicks like Blood Hook, Friday the 13th, My Bloody Valentine and others like that but made on a lower budget.

Joe: Well, it was an artsy slasher flick with a little David Lynch and H.G. Lewis tossed in.

Greg: Did horror magazines like Fangoria or Rue Morgue review the film at all?

Joe: I sent a screener to Rue Morgue (they seem to already know about it). While many of the horror mags including Cinefantastique liked the film, there were its detractors. Fangoria - for one - called the film 'boring, pretentious and inept." In response to their drubbing, we had created special posters with all good quotes and one bad quote from FANGORIA (in the style of LOST HIGHWAY's movie posters). They were posted up at the Chiller Convention a few months after the film came out.

Greg: How well did it do on VHS and DVD?

Joe: Well, it only just came out on DVD, but we had a lot of pre-sales, most likely the result of years of a slowly-building cult interest in this title. E.I. released 5 DEAD on VHS almost 10 years ago - and although the VHS seems to pop up everywhere, we didn't see much money.

Greg: This film seemed to help you have parts in other horror films and crowned you as a scream king don't you think?

Joe: Actually it did open doors for me. Kevin Lindenmuth cast me in a few of his films - which led to other directors taking interest.

Greg: Guilty Pleasures was an interesting 2 chapter anthology for the budget it was on. The first chapter Method to Madness reminded me of Scream in a way but this film was out about a couple months before Scream hit the cinemas back in 1996. What brought up the idea to make it?

Joe: You mean the episode with Sasha Graham. Actually that was the second episode, but never mind. The idea came about after Joe Parda and I finished 5 DEAD. We had various ideas we wanted to do, but our ideas were in different directions. Anthologies have always been something we wanted to be involved with. I'd say Two Evil Eyes was the main inspiration for the two episodes with two different directors. Originally, we were thinking of doing a VHS series called Guilty Pleasures with more episodes, but that never reached fruition since Guilty Pleasures didn't catch on that well during its initial release back in 97. It's doing nicely on DVD now. We decided to set the action in an apartment building with various tenants having a horror tale to tell. Joe Parda wanted more of an ongoing plot that connected the various stories together (not just the location of the apartment building). He - at the time - was inspired by The Kingdom and wanted to do experimental things.

Greg: Now why did it show you running after a suspect and have a background special effect instead of actually running someone really outside?

Joe: Joe wanted to do weird experimental things visually and that was one of the ideas. He did a lot of hand-held verite-kind of camera work which was inspired by The Kingdom.

Greg: Was it a lot of fun acting playing your role as a psychopath in it?

Joe: Yeah it was interesting. The basis of that character's narcissistic lunacy stems from a conversation Joe and I had once. I go to the gym on a regular basis and Joe commented that, "You must be crazy! You're a narcissist!" and that concept combined with other ideas he had - including The Crimson Executioner with Mickey Hargitay - as well as snippets of Lost Highway became "Nocturnal Emissions."

Greg: Were you nervous doing the adult situations in the film?

Joe: Not really. It was kind of daring. I'm not shy about such things. It is a little awkward to watch this film - and subsequent ones of that nature - with friends and family, but overall I thought it was adventurous and fun and daring. Actors are supposed to be fearless anyhow.

Greg: The second chapter Nocturnal Emissions I enjoyed a lot more as you wrote and directed it. The story reminded me of one of RL Stine’s Fear Street young adult novels which is my favourite books. Have you ever read his books and borrowed some ideas to make this one from it?

Joe: No, I had never heard of them, but I'm curious how you made the comparison. Incidentally, the first episode is Nocturnal Emissions and the second episode (the one I wrote and directed) is Method to the Madness.

Greg: How did you go by casting it?

Joe Zaso: I originally wanted Debbie Rochon to play "RoseMarie" because we worked well together on Alien Agenda. At the last second, she bailed out on us and I thought of upgrading Sasha Graham from a smaller role it was the case of a happy accident because I was really pleased with the job Sasha had done.

Greg: Why did Debbie drop out?

Joe: Not certain, but i suspect a higher-paying job. she's always working.

Greg: I found it truly creepy of a girl having a split personality. Have you ever encountered something similar to that in your life at all when you wrote it?

Joe: I was inspired by an actress I once worked with who was somewhat unbalanced. She happened to mention to me that she knew of some stage directors and acting coaches who very irresponsibly forced actors to search within themselves and reveal the dark traumas and tragedies of their past. Some actors can deal with that, but there are many unbalanced people who shouldn't be toyed with so carlessly. In the case of my stpry, the acting methods spawned a violent disaster.

Greg: Which chapter did you enjoy doing? Acting in Method to Madness or writing and directing Nocturnal Emissions?

Joe: I enjoyed acting in Nocturnal Emissions and I thought Method would be less effective. But I was pleased more with Method ultimately. Remember Nocturnal Emissions I acted in. I wrote and directed Method to the Madness.

Greg: What kind of a release did the film receive?

Joe: Guilty Pleasures was released in 1997 on VHS from EI Cinema, who did a terrible job. They really didn't promote or push the film. The critics also played hot potato with it, but its recent DVD release has proven much more enthusiastic.

Greg: You acted in another 2 chapter anthology named Creaturealm. Was this with another company called Brimstone Productions. Was Brimstone associated with your Cinema Image Productions at all?

Joe: Brimstone is KEVIN LINDENMUTH's company. Creaturealm was such a quickie, I barely remember it. I was actually invited to Kevin's engagement party (which was on a Saturday night) and asked if I was free the following evening to act in Creaturealm. All I remember thinking was "I'm gonna need to come in and dub this film since there was so much noise on the set." Kevin said NO and when I saw the film, I knew we should have dubbed it.

Greg: Did the directors Ron Ford and Kevin J. Lindenmuth see your film Guilty Pleasures and cast you as Jack in the chapter Eyes of the Ripper because of it?

No: No.

Greg: Who were you up against for the part?

Joe: For Creaturealm? Apparently nobody since they couldn't seem to get it cast.

Greg: Why was that?

Joe: No idea. this was such a fast and forgotten project for me, in honestly don't recall.

Greg: Now your role Jack and the title Eyes of the Ripper sounds quite familiar. Are you actually playing the role of Jack the Ripper?

Joe: Basically.

Greg: This sounds exciting. This film must’ve for sure crowned you as a scream king in independent low budget horror flicks for sure. You seem to have a lot of horror flicks under your belt after the release of that one. How did you feel about it?

Joe: Creaturealm. No, this didn't push me in any direction. I think Rage fo the Werewolf was the one that got me noticed by more people. That was another one by Kevin Lindenmuth. I enjoyed playing the villain "Lazlo" because it allowed me to play an interesting character. RAGE is available on DVD in England and Holland, and seems to have gotten a bit of a following with the underground horror scene.

Greg: Did you find your character Jack a challenge to do?

Joe: Don't recall. It was a quick project. I can barely remember it.

Greg: Who did you act opposite to on that film?

Joe: Sasha Graham. Just did a few scenes and that was all.

Greg: Cult exploited cheesy B-film director David DeCoteau who was famous for his work like in Creepozoids, Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl O Rama, Puppet Master 3: Toulon’s Revenge, and Skeletons had a part in it playing himself along with some familiar B-film horror film actors like Conrad Brooks, Anita Page and former 40’s and 50’s movie star Margaret O Brien. Did you ever get to meet these people or do any scenes with them? Do tell us all the details!!!!

Joe: No, I haven't. I have seen these people at the horror conventions like Chiller.

Greg: What budget was the film made on if you know?

Not sure.

Greg: Another film you were in with Debbie was Rage of the Werewolf. What was the story to that?

Joe: I was doing another quick project for Kevin called Addicted to Murder 3: Bloodlust and one of the actors on the set named Santo Marotta told me about this werewolf movie he was preparing. He wanted me to play the villain of the movie and three months later, I was acting in it.

Greg: Was your role Lazlo the guy who was the werewolf?

Joe: Yep. He controlled Manhattan.

Greg: How did you feel about your role?

Joe: It was a lot of fun. I enjoyed being on the set. We filmed in a funky old house in Brooklyn (which I always thought looked like a Canadian boarding school) during the Winter. Except for the ridiculous and uncomfortable werewolf costume, it was fun.

Greg: Any memorable moments you’d like to share with us on that one?

Joe: It was very difficult to talk with the werewolf fangs - so we dubbed some of the dialouge. it hard to get through certain scenes because the whole set was dying with laughter. Working on RAGE got me accustomed to wearing contact lenses - which I was leery of before then. The costumes were too tight. I was asked to put an entire hand-grenade in my mouth. Ridiculous but enjoyable.

Greg: Did it ever get released anywhere (Film festivals, DVD)?

Joe: In the US, England, Holland (where my Italian friend always sees it in every video he goes in). I think Germany as well. I think it's a very silly movie, but a surprising amount of horror fans seem to know of it and like it for its camp value and the audaciousness of the costumes. It does have a 50s monster movie spirit about it.

Greg: What did viewers compare the film to?

Joe: A lot of people seemed to think it was a hybrid of Japanese monster movies, 50s horror movies, Ming the Merciless...

Greg: How did you know Andreas Schnaas?

Joe: When I was promoting my web site back in September 2000, I wandered onto a discussion board for The Diabolical Dominion (not sure if it still exists) and the moderator, Ted Geoghegan contacted me to mention how much he enjoyed RAGE. He also told me he was working on a German horror film to be made in Rome... It was called Demonium and I was psyched at the possibility of working on a Euro-horror film. He helped get me an audition (over the phone) with Schnaas and his wife Sonja. I was planning a short vacation in Rome around the time of the Demonium filming, and when I got the part I turned it into a longer working vacation. I told Schnaas via e-mail that I was happy with the character (of the brutish Russian artist and sleazy womanizer Viktor Plushnikov) and that I was willing to do what he wanted. I sent them a VHS of scenes of my work and then we spoke on the phone. I got the part just before Christmas and I was thrilled. It was one of the most interesting and happy experiences of my life. Very surreal working in Rome in real castles with the Italian crew.

Greg: Did you get any feedback from horror fans?

Joe: Some responded with interest as to what I was working on. Demonium is known, but it wasn't any sort of hit.

Greg: What kind of an experience was it like for you to do a German flick like that?

Joe: It was exciting and very odd. the cast and crew - mainly Italians and Germans - all spoke Baby English on the set. When I would get direction from Andreas, he preferred to speak in German to his wife Sonja who explained in English what he wanted me to do since his English is so-so and hers is much better.

Greg: Did Andreas bring you on board for Nikos the Impaler because of Demonium?

Joe: Well, he knew that I made films of my own and when we were in San Sebastian, Spain for a showing of Demonium, we discussed the possibility of Andreas coming to New York to make a video feature which returned to the style of his more successful Violent Shit movies. I know Demonium was not well-received and was a finanical failure due to lack of sales to foreign territories (mainly because of the lack of dubbing needed for the broken-English-speaing cast). Demonium was an expensive Super 16mm movie and I think Andreas wanted to do something his legion of fans preferred to see. Demonium attempted to pay homage to Gothic Euro-horror, but didn't take off. Nikos - as silly and deranged as it is - does have a much stronger following.

Greg: How did you feel about the slasher flick Nikos?

Joe: Very mixed feelings. It started off happily enough and I worked VERY VERY hard on it. But after a few weeks of working on it, it indeed became the WORST experience of my life. I was the line producer (in charge of all issues with cast and crew and organizing and such) and the lead actor as well as the chauffeur, costume designer, etc. What should have been a fulfilling experience was anything but. The film gets one of two reviews: it's either so bad it's good (campy party movie fun) or it's just plain bad. The hours were obscenely long (20 hours), the cast and crew worked for next to nothing, Andreas' meticulousness did not translate in the end has major directorial flaws galore. I don't think anyone really was able to shine on this project, even though most of the cast and crew were good sports during and after. I'm pleased that some fans like the film so much, but I think it could have much better. Here is a case where Andreas was the exact opposite of the way he was during Demonium. On Nikos, I guess because he was away from his homeland, he really felt that he was a major superstar worthy of endless respect. That attitude became VERY WEARING after a while. Especially 20 hours a day, 7 days a week, for 3 months!

Greg: I understand that you cast Felissa Rose in it. How did you find her?

Joe: She responded to an ad we placed on the LIFILM.COM message board. I knew of her name from Sleepaway Camp, which I hadn't seen in several years, and she really turned out to be a blessing. Instantly, she seemed wonderful. All during Nikos, she had such an electric positive quality that was much-needed. She is always sweet and fun and encouraging. She moved to the West Coast and I hear from her from time to time.

Greg: What was she needed to audition for the role?

Joe: Actually no. I sent her the script which she read and liked. She introduced herself via email to Andreas and met with me a few times, but her persona really shines through in her role of Sandra.

Greg: Did you feel you’d have great chemistry with her as your girlfriend Sandra Kane?

Joe: Yeah, we got on well and our rapport seemed to work onscreen.

Greg: Was there any issues on set of the filming?

Joe: Such as???

Greg: Well anyone not wanting to do something or location issues etc?

Joe: For the most part, everyone was ok, but little by little, everyone became weary of the excessive hours and demands of the director.

Greg: Now I remember that you guys had to climb a ladder to escape from the art museum did you have to do take after take and was it tiring to do?

Joe: Yeah, but it was fine. I remember this was early in the shoot and I lost my voice for a few days from screaming so much. for me, the workload wasn't the issue, it was the lack of sleep. I wasn't able to and it really took its toll.

Greg: Towards the end Nikos remembers you from his past. What was that all about? Was your character Frank Heller an immortal human but you changed your name over the years and kept it a secret?

Joe: I was supposed to be a descendant of BERIX, who was around during the year 1000. In the opening scene, a man in black is pushing Nikos to the wall. That's Beryx. But the back-story was so sloppily-written that it doesn't have any punch in the end.

Greg: Now there were cameos by other actors who starred with you in your other horror flicks like Darian Caine, Tina Krause and Debbie Rochon. Did they have to audition or did you ask them to be in it?

Joe: No, I simply asked them. We didn't know what to give Tina Krause to do. Then Andreas had the idea of giving Hitler his Eva Braun. Debbie and Lloyd had been in communication with Andreas already. Darian was given the role of the only nude character in the film. When Nikos got delayed in early 2002, we decided to do And Then They Were Dead and gave her a similar shower fate.

Greg: Function Zero played music for the film like he did with your other films. Was Andreas greatful to have you on board since you seem to know a lot of these people?

Joe: I think so. Andreas liked working with Mike Mack (of Function Zero). Mike also did the sound effects and other editorial things for the film. But Andreas is hopelessly devoted to his friend Marc Trinkhaus who did the metal music for Nikos, so anything else was considered very secondary.

Greg: Was a soundtrack album ever released at all and sold on the Nikos site or at the festival venues?

Joe: Nope, but there are some tracks on the DVD and the individual artists have their own CDs, I believe.

Greg: I understand it played at some festivals around Europe like the Weekend of Fear Festival in Germany but did it show anywhere else?

Joe: Not theatrically. I think it was shown in Spain. I think it also had a screening in Canada (by you, of course). No other official screenings.

Greg: Did you ever go to these venues to see the film on the big screen?

Joe: I only saw Demonium in Spain - because I flew myself over there.

Greg: Has it ever been available to rent on DVD besides it being on sale like at Blockbuster or anywhere like that?

Joe: Certainly not Blockbuster. It has not been sold to any big chains, but some of the smaller mom and pop stores rent it. Including 112 Video where Nikos was filmed.

Greg: What kinds of feedback did you get from your fans?

Joe: I get a mixture. A lot of directors/journalists shake their heads with embarrassment, some fans ADORE the film and send me nice e-mails or shake my hand at horror film festivals. For the most part, people feel that it may not be a great or even good film, but it's always entertaining.

Greg: Now I remember the ending so well that it opened a door for a sequel. Does Andres ever plan to have one? I understand he’s doing a monster flick but will Nikos 2 ever see the light of day? It deserved one like other slasher flicks such as Halloween, Friday the 13th, Sleepaway Camp, A Nightmare On Elm Street and even the Z-grade flick that was in the same vein as Nikos but not as good called Bloody Murder.

Joe: I was approached in Summer, 2003 to do Nikos 2. Andreas would have been using an all-new producer (since I don't think Christian Becker was pleased with Nikos due to his silence). I refused to organize this one and asked for more money to ACT ONLY. That ended the discussions.

Greg: I watched your film recently as you played the role of a nutty man named Dr. Mark Reibolt in And then they Were Dead. It seemed like a parody on other horror films like House of 1000 Corpses, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the Shining and Psycho. Was this the intention?

Joe: And Then They Were Dead was a project that came about in early 2002. Nikos was to be shot in March, but got delayed due to funding not coming through as easily. At the time, Nikos' editor Ray Schwetz was going to be the assistant director and when the delay was announced, he was really disappointed. He decided to sell off his video collection on Ebay and make a film at the time we were going to make Nikos. The script was hurried together and thus AND THEN was born. It has its flaws, but it does have amusing moments and is basically a very dark comedy with horrific elements.

Greg: What I never understood was how you killed your wife Rebecca played by Lynn Macri who also starred with you in 5 Dead on the Crimson Canvas. How did you accidentally kill her?

Joe: I was shagging her so hard and I accidentally broke her neck. From all the thrusting, I could have also suffocated her.

Greg: Were you part of the cannibal killers living in the house or were you just an oddball with the company?

Joe: Just an oddball guest.

Greg: Darian Caine who played the maid Gabrielle seemed to have the same performance during the shower murder scene like in Nikos the Impaler. Was this supposed to grab the same kind of attention like her role in Nikos?

Joe: Like I mentioned, she was supposed to do Nikos first, then we decided to use her anyhow in AND THEN, and then back to Nikos. I think her showing experience on AND THEN was more enjoyable for her.

Greg: Was it difficult using the prosthetic make up as when she was slashed it was very different than a typical shower stabbing scene?

Joe: Actually, the FX artist Marcus Koch handled it easily. His hands were the killer's hands for that scene and he and Darian did the shots very smoothly.

Greg: You’ve acted with her in other films and has she been typecast to have the shower murder scene in your other flicks?

Joe: No, just those 2 films we worked on. The shower thing was just a coincidence.

Greg: How did you feel about scream queen Tina Krause’s performance as the troubled Sara?

Joe: I was very pleased with her peformance. Tina also did a fantastic dramatic role in Machines of Love and Hate where she played a troubled daughter. Her reputation as a scream queen and fetish film star has perhaps made people think her skills are limited, but she's VERY underrated and capable of spunkier comedic and dramatic roles.

Greg: I also noticed that the camera wobbled sometimes. Was this frustrating for you when you saw the results cause as a producer as well as an actor I know it can be tough work.

Joe: Although I don't always agree, I allow directors to just do their thing because they might be following a certain style. Wobbly cameras could be leading to a certain motif, sometimes not.

Greg: I saw the closing credits and never saw your name credited as a producer or maybe I’m wrong?

Joe: For AND THEN? My producer credit is only at the beginning.

Greg: Did the film ever show at festivals or underground cinemas?

Joe: Nope. Just one theatrical screening (the premiere) and then direct to video. A British TV show called Shock Movie Massacre did show scenes from it when they did a documentary on weird films and scream queens. Lousy documentary, but publicity is publicity.

Greg: It is now available on DVD as a double bill with your other flick Guilty Pleasures at Is it seeling in stores or avaible for rent?

Joe: I haven't sold it to any chains, but many stores have purchased from us. It's mainly available via XPLOITEDCINEMA.COM, DIABOLIKDVD.NET, CINEMAIMAGES.NET.

Greg: How well is it selling?

Joe: Quite well. Ever since 5 DEAD came out, interest in AND THEN has risen.

Greg: Now you did a non horror film called Alien Agenda as it was like an X-files type of show. What kind of a release did that one get?

Joe: Although it was super low-budget, it showed up in a lot of video stores. It also had a big release on British DVD and VHS.

Greg: Nice. Did you play a David Duchovney type of role?

Joe: No, I actually played a nice NORMAL guy who turns out to be an alien - but a good alien.

Greg: Cool what did he do?

Joe: This alien - named John - had plans for building up his species that live secretly on earth. But his girlfriend (Debbie Rochon) didn't know about his double-life and the story was really a sci-fi soap opera.

Greg: Did it hit any festivals or direct-to-video?

Joe: Not that I know of.

Greg: No festivals then?

Joe: You'd have to check with Kevin Lindenmuth.

Greg: OK I will. Now your kids film the Adventures of Young Van Helsing. Was it a take off of the Van Helsing film?

Joe: Yes, it was released one week before the big movie to compete. Walmart was involved in the producing of this film. It's very Goosebumps, but the 9-13 year old crowd seems to dig it.

Greg: I was thinking Goosebumps when I read the story.

Joe: I think it's actually too scary - even in its cut form - for little ones. Oh yeah, you're just waiting for Lizzie McGuire or Frankie Nunez to pop out.

Greg: Did you play a vampire as your role Simon Magus?

Joe: Actually, Simon Magus is a fallen angel, the son of Lucifer. He is mainly a demon, but a vampire-style one.

Greg: Sounds intense. Was it a big part?

Joe: It was the villain - the McGuffin - of the film. Maybe 10 minutes of screen time TOTAL. I think they should have given my character more back story instead of the usual "just wear black, look mean..." direction.

Greg: How did the producers get the rights for the name?

Joe: Not sure, but i know they did a lot of negotiating.

Greg: So this was a kids type of horror film.

Joe: Yes, it was made for kids.

Greg: Was it one of the biggest budgets you acted in?

Joe: It was the same as Demonium - approx $300,000.

Greg: What horror films do you have lined up in the near future?

Joe: Red Midnight is the one I'm working on now. It's an anthology with three episodes (three directors: Ray Schwetz, Joe Parda and Demonium's assistant director Giovanni Pianigiani). Giovanni's episode is being made in Rome and I will be acting in it. It will be shot this Spring and hopefully released as planned on DVD this Halloween. I also have Demon Ressurrection expected to come out this Summer. It was directed by Bill Hopkins who did Sleepless Nights and I played a small featured role as the devil's bodyguard.

Greg: Sleepless Nights was also a song King Diamond did was that track used do you know?

Joe: No, I didn't knoiw off the record, we're hoping to have Jasi Lanier (formerly Roxanne Michaels) who played the lady cop in Nikos to play a supporting role in Red Midnight. She normally frowns upon doing nude roles any more, but this would be a poetic-looking ghost and she might be doing this for us next month it's not signed and sealed yet.

Greg: Do you have any other types of jobs besides acting?

Joe: I sell movie memorabilia, I also act as a notary for my friend's office when he needs me. Believe me, I always work one way or the other. one thing I have learned at this level is that anytime someone (behind or in front of the scenes) says I only act or I only direct - for a living, unless they're massively famous or independently wealthy, they must have some forms of employment. A lot of the people I work with do have temp jobs, day jobs, bartending jobs, carpentry jobs. It's necessary and nothing to be ashamed of. I notice, espeically in Italy and England, people love to brag about all the acting and film making work they get, but they never mention the fact that they need "filler jobs" in between. It's easy to lie from 5,000 miles away. When you see them live in their normal surroundings, you find that a lot of "stars" are no different than you or me, just a little luckier.

Greg: Now here's some fun stuff: What are your favourite horror flicks?

Joe: My absolute favorite of all-time - only because it freaked me out as a child - is The Omen. I know, by today's standards it's pretty tame, but it really did a number on me as a 6-year old. I also love: Suspira, Creepshow, Gremlins, Squirm, anything by Dario Argento, possession movies, Brian DePalma movies. Although I respect and enjoy them, I'm not really a fan of Phantasm, Evil Dead, Return of the Living Dead. My favorite slasher flick of the 80s is Happy Birthday to Me.

Greg: If you have a film you'd like to change what would that film be?

Joe: My own?

Greg: Yes.

Joe: Well, there are always things you might want to correct. I think there are certain directorial touches in Method to the Method (of Guilty Pleasures) that I would do-over. But mainly, I think the way a film turns out is its destiny. This is why I don't like all these new and improved versions of movies like The Exorcist.

Greg: What is the film you acted in that you would cherish the most?

Joe: 5 DEAD because it was my first big role.

Greg: If you were just a top scream king for a day whether this actor was alive or dead who would he be?

Joe: There aren't many. Perhaps Bruce Campbell.

Greg: What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Joe: Not having to struggle so much to make a comfortable living doing what I love most. But the struggle has been part of the adventure.

Greg: What are your ambitions?

Joe: To continue producing and acting. And eventually working on higher-profile films (be it horror or another genre). Above all, I want whoever sees my films to feel entertained and fulfilled ... maybe even a little inspired.  To be respected.

Greg: Well that's all thanks so much for this'

Joe: Thanks so much to you too. I'm honored.