28-year-old filmmaker Tony Urban is the real deal. This Somerset Pennsylvania resident is in love with the film process and has been for years. He started off as a journalist and made a success of that. Then at 20 he wrote the screenplay for ‘Poor White Trash’ and saw the critically celebrated flick produced with a cast that featured Sean Young, Jaime Pressly, Jason London, and Danielle Harris. Other screenplays followed but Tony wanted to be more directly involved in the film process and added director and producer to his list of skills.

In 1999 he formed Epic Films and made his first flick, a thriller called HIGH POINT and followed that up with the tellingly-titled comedy LOSING HOPE. After that second Epic venture the clouds above Somerset parted and Tony realized his real dream – to make horror. The long time drive-in fan (I knew I liked this guy!) promptly formed Crazy Ralph Pictures (yep, it’s named for that crazy-ass character played by Walt Gorney in the first two installments of the ‘Friday the 13thfilm series.)

In the 5 years since it’s formation Crazy Ralph Pictures has come a long way. They’ve made KOTTENTAIL (A rabbit-man gone wild tale/tail starring Nathan Faudree which is soon to see worldwide release!), A POUND OF FLESH, KLOWNZ (This rainbow-haired & rubber-nosed psycho ain’t no Bozo), as well as HUNTING SEASON.

In 2004 Crazy Ralph Pictures joined forces with the North Carolina film production company Funhouse Pictures and the talents of Shawn Hunt. Together the Urban-Hunt team (like the sound of that!) is making their very formidable presence known on the independent horror scene with additional projects like THE SHRIEKING, MIDNIGHT SNACK, and A SPIDER BESIDE HER.

But this “head cheese” isn’t content to molder on these laurels alone…no sir. Tony has also lent his (dare I say overachiever?) skills to co-producing the pending UK slasher flick BLEACH as well as post-production work on the Jasmin St. Claire feature SWAMP ZOMBIES.

This guy is what is all about.

So Tony, let's start off with the visual --- can you describe for me the room where you're answering these interview questions?

I’m in my living room and Martha Stewart is playing on my wide screen HD television. I have a stack of DVDs laying on top of my DVD player including BURNT OFFERINGS, THE BEING, IT’S ALIVE 2/3 and THE DEVIL’S REJECTS. I’m sitting on the couch in front my computer/work station. My big, white and tan dog Tobe is sitting beside me. My old, feeble cat Jaromir is on the other end of the couch sleeping. The table in front of me is littered with paperwork, autographs, MiniDV tapes and loose DVDs.

What makes Somerset Pennsylvania the idea place for moviemaking?

Well, I live there so that’s a big bonus. At the end of the shooting day I can go home and unwind rather than be stuck in a hotel room or sleeping on somebody’s couch. Aside from that, it’s a great area because it isn’t “Hollywood”. People here still think making movies is neat and they’re willing to let us use locations and be extras and don’t expect payment (well, most of them).

You started as a journalist, moved on to screenplays (including writing 'Poor White Trash' at age 20!) and then started directing.  First made the thriller ('High Point') and then a comedy ('Losing Hope') before settling starting a new production company (Crazy Ralph Films) and settling into the horror genre.  Was the eventual haven of horror always your end goal?

While I always was a huge horror fan, my earlier goals were to try to make it into “legit” films. As a writer I mostly worked in dramas, more edgy indie far and also period flicks as I’m a big history buff. POOR WHITE TRASH was my first foray into comedy and I discovered I had a knack for it. When I started directing, I still has aspirations of making a hit indie film and using that as my in to better writing jobs and assignments. Eventually I realized I wasn’t passionate about that. What I was passionate about was horror. I decided if I was going to keep making movies (which is a hell of a lot of work with virtually no rewards), I had to do something I loved. And that meant making horror movies.

So what lesson and movie-shoot smarts did you acquire from those first two films that were the most useful when it came time to start in on the horror?

Well I learned not to make comedies and thrillers because there’s no market for them without “stars”. I also learned that, while I wasn’t a great filmmaker, I was a pretty good one and I didn’t need to let more experienced crew/partners try to run the show which happened on one of those earlier projects. I think the confidence I gained was the most important and useful thing that happened from those films.

Crazy Ralph is named for the wonderful character played by Walt Gorney in 'Friday the 13th' Part I & II.  What is it about the character that makes him the ideal embodiment for your film company?

Crazy Ralph has always been one of my favorite “little” characters. The FRIDAY THE 13TH franchise is my favorite horror movie franchise and I love Walt Gorney’s work in the first two films. He’s that prototypical horror character that tries to warn the others but, of course, no one listens to him. I wanted to name my company after him because he epitomizes why I love that style of horror movie so much.

I think I want to hear about KLOWNZ first.  How did that movie come to be & what did you want to say with it?

Oh, wow, KLOWNZ. You know, it’s been three years since I wrote that script and to be honest, I have no idea where it came from. In April of 2002 we had been planning to shoot a zombie movie called AFTER DEATH but it fell apart the week before production was to start because we lost our main location (a beautiful yet horrific abandoned hospital). I was extremely disappointed and was almost ready to throw in the towel. I wanted to write something funny, yet scary at the same time and for some reason, I got the idea for a demon clown. It really is one of the weirdest scripts I’ve ever written and it just left me go crazy in terms of visuals and the story. I love it and can’t wait to get it out there for people to see. It’s such a weird, funny little horror movie.

I know so many people who are freaked out by clowns.  What is that makes them so freakin' scary? 

I don’t get the fear of clowns thing at all. But I know it’s a real fear. One of our lead actresses was actually terrified by clowns and the first time she saw Nathan Faudree in full the “Pisso” costume she broke down in tears. I think we cured her of that fear though! I think people’s fear of clowns must begin in childhood. A lot of clowns are like those ratty, department store Santas who just do it for the paycheck and you can tell they’re faking being cheerful and happy. Add a big, permanent fake smile to it and I guess I can see why that would freak out a lot of kids.

You take on another unlikely horror icon with KOTTENTAIL about a man turned killer after he's bitten by a rabbit.  What was the main quality you wanted your vicious killer bunny to bring to the screen? 

KOTTENBTAIL is one of my favorite films. I actually had the idea around the time we were wrapping up work on an anthology project. One of my favorite films is SILENT NIGHT DEADLY NIGHT and the way it takes a beloved holiday and turns it into a sick and twisted fright fest. I wanted to do that and the first holiday that came to mind that hadn’t already been taken was Easter. The idea of a killer Easter Bunny was just too good to pass up. I told Nathan Faudree about it and he loved it too. He even came up with the title! We ended up not really playing up the Easter elements as much as I’d have liked. I would have loved to have had some kids at an Easter egg hunt get wasted by Kottentail but I dialed it back a bit.

I want to hear about the upcoming CRF - 'A POUND OF FLESH'.  Can you give me a brief plot synopsis? 

A POUND OF FLESH came about while we were making KOTTENTAIL. KOTTENTAIL was a rough shoot filled with lots of stress and drama and I was feeling pretty beaten by the whole process. I was talking to Nathan (again) and was telling him about how Roger Corman made LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS in just three days. I said we should try that some time and he thought it sounded like an interesting experiment too. Well, I wanted something with minimal locations and cast and ended up writing this script about a cannibal who attacked a group of vacationers. That’s basically the plot, nothing real complex about it, but I do think it’s a very layered film. The villain, Ezra Payne, is one of my favorite characters I’ve written. He’s a good guy. He’s sensitive. He’s a family man. He just happens to live in the wild and eat people.

Rumor has it you also move before the cameras in 'A POUND OF FLESH'.  Was that experience more a dream come true, a nightmare realized, or an uneventful doze? 

Oh, God, it was such a nightmare. I ended up in the movie because we lost an actor shortly before the shoot and didn’t have time to replace him. The role he was playing was a mute guy and I thought, “It can’t be that hard” and decided to do it. Awful mistake! I hated every nanosecond I was in front of the camera and I’d never take an actual role again. Maybe a goofy in-joke cameo but a real part – never!

I also want to hear the most memorable moment of filming during your flick HUNTING SEASON.

Well, the most memorable moment was when we had to shoot a scene of the character dumping a body. We had the actor at the top of a small hill and I was at the bottom, shooting up at them. My camera was positioned on the ground and it was a beautiful shot. Logan Hunter, our actor and stunt coordinator had told me he was going to have the “body” (actor James Jaworski) roll twice and then stop. Then we could cut to the “top of the hill” shot and have him roll to the bottom. Well, he thought I relayed this info to James and I thought he told James. So, it’s time to roll down the hill and he rolls ALL THE WAY DOWN, into the camera and into me. My beautiful $1,200 3x wide lens was destroyed but the camera (a Canon – a REAL camera) was otherwise perfect. Losing such an expensive, and uninsured lens, was memorable, but not in a good way.  For good memories, I don’t even know where to start. Hunting Season is by far my favorite film and the most fun I’ve ever had on a set. The actors were all superb, they epitomized the word professional. I think my favorite part of the shoot was the last day when we shot the finale for the film. Every actor was just pitch perfect and it was one of the few times that the actual scene you’re shooting surpassed the way I imagined it when I wrote it.

Tell me about the partnership Crazy Ralph has developed with Shawn Hunt's Funhouse Pictures.  How did that 2004 event come about and what made it the right time for a merger? 

Shawn saved my life when he came on board to executive produce HUNTING SEASON less than one month before filming. Without him, I’d have had to sell a kidney to make the movie happen. That immediately made me like him but over the next few months we grew to be quite close friends. Shawn was preparing for THE SHRIEKING and he needed a bit of help with the producing end of things, since it was his feature debut. I offered my help, it was the least I could do, and that paved the way toward our partnership. Shawn wanted to be able to focus on filmmaking, not all the distractions that go along with the business end, and he proposed the idea of a partnership with me. I was definitely game for it. I could tell he was an extremely talented, driven filmmaker and I like to work with those kinds of people.

Is there some nadir, some pinnacle moment or scene in your mind that a viewer can see as the crystallized Crazy Ralph Film moment? 

Partnering up with Brain Damage Films to get KOTTENTAIL released worldwide is obviously our biggest achievement to date. It’s a huge step forward for us. Technically and artistically, I feel our brightest moment is the climax of HUNTING SEASON. It’s the best thing I’ve ever made. The writing, the directing and especially the acting and music are all as close to perfection as I’ve ever come. I doubt we’ll ever top it.

One often hears about directors prodding actors into disgusting and harrowing stunts and situations. You have such a loyal band of Splat Pack your opinion what is or has been the most difficult or challenging thing you have ever asked one of your actors to do? 

I’m terrified of an actor getting injured so I don’t ever take chances with their safety. Making a low/no budget horror movie just isn’t worth somebody getting hurt, in my opinion. That said, we had one close call on HUNTING SEASON. Logan and Nathan choreographed a very extensive fight scene for the end, which culminated in Logan throwing Nathan off a wooden pier and into a lake. Well, when he did it, Nathan flipped over in the air and his head was no more than 6 inches away from slamming into the dock. I was terrified and refused to allow another take. Logan is a beast and he was willing to do ANYTHING. Nathan is the same way. They are true champs. I think the most disgusting thing that we ever had an actor do was in FLESH and it wasn’t intentional. In the film Nathan’s character forces a captive to eat human flesh. She, of course, pukes it up. Now in reality it was a piece of turkey and some creamed corn and there was nothing gross about it. After she “puked” we intended to cut and replace it with fresh “puke”, from which Nathan would grab the meat and eat it. Maybe it was dedication, maybe it was the heat of the moment, but in the take when the actress spit the “puke” onto the ground, Nathan immediately reached in, grabbed the meat and shoved it into his mouth. It was incredible to watch. I think I was in shock. I still can’t believe he did it. A lot of people you talk to will say our most disgusting moment was in KOTTENTAIL when we had an evisceration scene and used real pig intestines as props. Yes, it stank. Yes, it was gross. But it wasn’t as bad as they make it out to be. If it’s good enough for Savini it’s good enough for Crazy Ralph Films. To be honest, I think one of the most revolting things I was ever part of was in KLOWNZ.   We shot the movie in a “haunted house” in July and the heat was oppressive. The film uses cream pies, cottage cheese and chocolate syrup in a very unique manner. Needless to say, it was pretty messy. At the end of the shoot Casey Barnhart, Keith Singer and myself were cleaning up the house. Between the heat, the cream, the chocolate and cottage cheese (you have to see the movie to understand), the smell was just unbelievably sick. I was gagging the entire morning. Ninety-degree temperatures are not kind to those food items.

And as a director who would you find it most flattering to be compared to or what director's career do you aspire to?

Nathan calls me Raimi and I call him Bruce. While I find it flattering I know I’m not in the same league as Sam Raimi. My favorite director is Tobe Hooper so I’d like to be compared to him some day. But really, I have no desire to make studio films. I don’t have the patience for it. I just want to make fun movies that people remember. That’s what’s most important to me.

Okay - we are pulling the car into the gravel lot of the Tony Urban Drive In, hooking the crackling speaker onto the window, and waiting for dusk.  What three horror movies are on the triple bill and what goodies are they going to be serving at the concession stand?

You have no idea how much I love drive in theatres. I went to the drive in a dozen times last year and seeing a good horror movie at the drive in is as close to nirvana as I’ve ever come. My three flicks – THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, THE EVIL DEAD, FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2. As for food items - pizza please. And nachos are good too.

I know. I grew up with drive-ins and they definitely fostered my love of movies and especially horror. Anyway, you're a horror aficionado Tony - what class or horror sub-genre do you fall into and why?  Is it vampires, werewolves, zombies, witches, psychos, Satanists, aliens, creatures, telemarketers, Paris Hilton...

Psychos – for sure. I can easily see myself living in a cabin up in the woods, going mad and wiping out a bunch of horny teenagers.

Do you have any other upcoming projects you would like to promote, brag about, or inform the readers about?

Please watch out for BLEACH, an incredibly fun, mean spirited little slasher movie that I’m co-producing. It begins filming on the Isle of Wight, U.K. next week (Jan 16) and is shaping up to be an awesome, gory movie. Aside from that, I want people to stay on the lookout for HUNTING SEASON which is our best work. You can visit us on the web at Join our message boards and talk to us! Oh, and we feature a different hot and sexy Scream Queen pictorial every month.

What makes you go psycho in real life?

Stupid teenagers who call films like HALLOWEEN, DAWN OF THE DEAD and TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE overrated. I think they should die. Slowly and painfully.

What scares you in real life?

Not getting to express myself for a living.