The Gruesome Secret Recipe with Jeff Hayes by Greg Tiderington

Jeff Hayes is the moderator of the 'Sleepaway Camp' site, he's also an eager independent horror filmmaker and a long time online friend of mine. Writes, directs, produces, make up effects, edits and composes.
He has recently made two successful shorts titled 'Grandma's Secret Recipe' and 'Grandma's Sloppy Seconds' which features appearances by people involved with 'Sleepaway Camp' like Felissa Rose and Daryl Wilcher plus it stars his real life family.
Jeff also convinced Robert Hiltzik to make a true sequel titled 'Return to Sleepaway Camp' which was shot in 2003 and is in the cutting room floor. Jeff was one of the producer's on the film and made a cameo in it as well.
Not only that, Jeff is an R&B musician too and has cut some albums. Go to his site at

  At what age did you see yourself as a horror filmmaker?

Probably about 12 or 13.  I knew that it was something I'd love to do.
What brought up the idea to make 'Grandmas Secret Recipe' and using your real family in it?

When I was a kid, my sister & I would occassionally spend a Friday or Saturday night over Grandma's house.  She would take us to the local video store and let us rent anything we wanted.  We always chose horror movies because my parents didnt want us watching them at home because they knew we'd end up sleeping in their bedroom from being scared. lol.  It was these wonderful times I spent over Grandma's house that gave me the idea to set the story at Grandma's house.  As for making her my lead actress: My Grandmother was destined to be an actress, as I'm sure you can tell from her performances.  But life just never lead her in that direction.  I wanted to share her amazing talent with the world, so I wrote the role specifically for her.  My other family members were easy to write also because I just took their real-life personalities and amplified them times 10.  
Now you seemed to be on your own making the film as well as editing, writing, producing and composing for it.

Was it stressful for you?

It wasn't stressful because I enjoy doing all those aspects of movie making.  It's what I love to do.  The stressful part was that it took 3 years to do the whole thing.  When you're doing it all yourself and your entire cast & crew are contributing their efforts to help you, you have to schedule everything around everyone's normal everyday lives.  And this can present a challenge. But we did it and I'm proud of it.

What was the toughest scene to shoot?

The toughest scene to shoot in "Grandma's Secret Recipe" was probably the scene where Susie gets ice-picked to death.  That scene required a lot of stop and go work.  I'd shoot Grandma stabbing her with the ice pick, then stop to add blood and make-up fx work...shoot a piece, add make-up & blood...over and over again to really make the audience feel like she was being stabbed to death.  But it was fun to shoot it and to pull off the effect.
The toughest scene in "Sloppy Seconds" was probably the scene where Grandma plays Cat and Mouse with Gina on the farm. The farm that we shot this scene on was HUGE and required a lot of physical work for Grandma.  It's not easy for an almost 80-year-old woman to walk around a gigantic farm all day with pitchforks and brush cutters. lol. 

Do you have memorable experiences you'd like to share with us while shooting the film?

It was all very memorable.  We all had such a great time. 
Now the keyboard sound effects you composed sounded great. Were you wanting that 'Halloween' type feel to it?

Yes, definitely.  Since the movie took place on Halloween, I wanted the music to reflect that atmosphere as best as possible.  I like haunting little melodies and have always thought they work well.  

Your Grandma (Barbara O Connor) has had experience doing radio before she started a family. Has she done horror radio plays at all?

No, not any horror stuff.  At that time they didn't do much horror stuff on the radio.  But she has always been a lifelong horror fan.
How did she relate to her part as the demented Grandmother?   

Amazingly!  Some times, she got so into the character that people were afraid she might really slice them with a knife accidentally or pound them with a sledgehammer.  Seriously.  Nobody could play that character the way she did. She was destined for it.
Has she ever seen
'A Nightmare On Elm Street' or 'Leprechaun' to get her humorous side while doing away her granddaughter and son?

She did see some of the "Nightmare On Elm Street" movies and enjoyed them.  In fact, I saw NIGHTMARE 2 for the first time over her house when I was only 9 or 10 and I remember her being a little disappointed that it wasn't as scary as the original.
What did you use for the guts etc while she was gutting her son?  

I actually bought real livers, meats, and bones from the grocery store for the viscera.  Nothing looks more real than REAL meat. 
Of course it was a treat towards the ending when Felissa Rose came on to make a special appearance to play a news reporter named Angie Angel and Robert Hiltzik having a cameo as a nextdoor neighbor named Mr. Myers as you shot that in Texas during a Sleepaway Camp Reunion which you are the moderator for at How did you find the time and location to do so?   

Robert, Felissa, and I were sent down to Austin Texas for 3 nights of Midnight SLEEPAWAY CAMP screenings.  The screenings didn't take place until midnight so we had 3 daytimes to go sightseeing, goof around, and do whatever.  We used one of those afternoons to shoot Felissa and Robert's scenes for the movie right at the hotel we stayed at.
Of course we all know Felissa's name was of course a joke to her character in SC but was Hiltzik's name Mr. Myers used from the character we loved in Halloween?   

Actually no.  He wanted his name to be "Mr. X" but I felt that was a little bit too comic.  Sure this movie is a satire, but part of what makes the satire work is making all the normal everyday things (like names and locations) appear normal.  Then the characters can be nutty as long as their environment is realistic.  So he actually came up with the name "Myers" to use and I dont think it was because of Michael, but you never know.

Now your short peremiered at the SCI fi & Horror Film Festival in Chicago with a double bill of 'Sleepaway Camp'. How many people turned out for the show?   

There were a lot of people there.  It was the biggest movie theater I have ever seen and the turnout for both movies was really good.
What other movies were shown there?   

'BUBBA HO-TEP' with Bruce Campbell was premiered there that same weekend.  'BLOODFEAST 2' premiered there that weekend with Herschell Gordon Lewis in attendence.  'CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST' played. And there were some others as well.
 Will we see this flick on DVD at all?

I want to put out a Double-Feature DVD that will contain both GRANDMA movies.  It's all in the works.
Now you made a sequel titled
'Grandmas Sloppy Seconds' which was alot of fun to watch as well. How long did it take to shoot that one?   

3 years!  As I explained previously, when you are doing it all yourself and your friends are contributing their have to organize shoots around everybody's real-life schedules.  But we did it.

Now Granny gets more menacing in this one. Did you feel it was necessary to slash away more people?   

Yes.  A lot of people who saw the first one said that they enjoyed Grandma's kills so much that they wished she had even more people to kill.  They wanted to see the story go on.  The first one layed down the groundwork for the characters, so now with the second one, we can jump right into it and watch Granny knock-off even more "bad apples."
Was it difficult for Barb when she used the chainsaw to kill away one of her victims?   

The chainsaw wasn't too bad.  The chainsaw we used wasn't too heavy and she was comfortable with it.
What was awesome as well, you used Daryl Wilcher from
'Sleepaway Camp 3: Teenage Wasteland' as a news host named Riffley Rogers. Where was his scene shot as he lives in Georgia and you're in Massachussettes?   

Yes. I sent a storyboard of the angles I needed shot.  He filmed it for me in Georgia and sent me the footage.
What was required for him to play his scene?

He just needed to know his lines and make sure that his scenes were shot from 3 different angles.  I sent him the script, asked him to do his best NEWS ANCHOR impersonation, and sent him a disc of how I wanted him to say some of the lines.  He did an amazing job and I am thankful that he was able to do it.  He's a good friend and enjoys performing very much.
You of course shot Felissa's scene on set of the long awaited sequel
'Return to Sleepaway Camp' as she reprises her role as Angie Angel. Was this to let people know that 'RTSC' will be out before we know it?   

I thought it would be great to shoot her scenes on the actual set we used for 'RTSC'.  I thought it would be a nice homage for Felissa's fans to see her back at camp as "Angie" again.
The film premiered at THE ELM DRAUGHT HOUSE CINEMA in MILLBURY, MA as you rented out a theatre. Was it shown to a public audience?

How many people turned out to see it?

I'd say about half the theater was filled.  It had one of the biggest turn outs for any independent movie ever premiered in this area.
Will it be shown anywhere else?   

Next year I'm gonna start sending it out to some of the horror festivals.
Will both movies get distributed?

I'd like to do a double-feature dvd which features both movies on it.  I may go with a dvd company or I may just do it myself through the website.
Will there be a part 3 coming along? I hope so it's gotta carry on like any other slasher film. Will Daryl and Felissa reprise their roles and do you think we'll see new faces invvolved from SC like Jonathan Tiersten, Karen Fields, Katherine Kamhi or even Kyle Holman? 

As much as I'd love to do part 3, I don't know if it will happen because Grandma is getting up there.  She's experiencing some of the problems of old age, as most people eventually do.  I do have a concept for another one but I guess only time will tell.  If I don't do another GRANDMA movie, I will continue to produce horror-oriented projects.
Now speaking of
'RTSC' you were one of the producers from that film and when you first got in touch with Hiltzik you encouraged him to make a sequel. How did you convince him to do so?   

When I first talked to Robert, he basically thought SLEEPAWAY CAMP was dead and buried.  I told him to go look at the website and it really got his juices flowing.  He thought it was amazing that people from all around the world wanted to read a current interview with Jonathan Tiersten or Felissa Rose because of SLEEPAWAY CAMP.  Then I told him that it was going to eventually be released on DVD.  He got excited again.  I told him I was going to try and arrange to get some bonus stuff on there with him and he told me that he would take part if I could make it happen.  All this was really gratifying to him and he agreed with me that it was time to do another one.  I threw out some ideas and he already had many of his own since he had written a sequel to SLEEPAWAY back in 1986.  He decided to dust off his old script and rewrite it.  I talked him into bringing back some characters from the first movie, as his original sequel script didn't include any of them. It was an exciting time.  

Now how did you get people like Isaac Hayes, Adam Wylie and Vincent Pastore to be in the film?

Vincent was one of Robert's first choices for Camp Owner.  He liked him on "The Sopranos" and thought he'd be great in the role.  And he was right, Vincent did fit the role very well.  Vinny met with Robert for dinner, they discussed the project and Vinny was in.  Vinny had told me on the set of RTSC that he thought the original SC was very innovative for it's time. I believe Adam went in for an audition. We got lucky again with Isaac.
What was the experience like shooting the whole film?

It was a dream come true for me.  I grew up as a big fan of the SLEEPAWAY movies and it was my dream to work on a sequel to one of my favorite horror movies.  The hours were LONG.  We worked 12 to 14 hours a day for 5 days straight, got 2 days off, then back to it again. We did this for 2 months.  But, because I was so enthused about the project, the hours just flew by and most of it was just plain FUN.  I wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else in the world at that time.  I LOVED the atmosphere. It was amazing to be living at camp for 2 months.  
 I heard you have a cameo as a counsellor in it. Is that true?  

Yes and also a Paintballer. 
 Its been a long time since shooting has wrapped. Many people ask home come it's taking so long?   

The problems encountered during Post-Production have been CRAZY.  First their was a problem with the original digital CGI-FX which had to be scrapped and totally redone.  Then we had to wait for the executive producer to raise more money to get the new digital FX done properly.  It has been nuts.
 Is there finally going to be a deadline when the flick will be released?

Not that I know of. 
Tom Van Dell said to me that there is going to be a true part 3 titled
'Sleepaway Camp Reunion' which will shoot in the summer of 2007. Will you be involved in the project?   

That's just talk at this point.  We need to get 'RETURN' out first.  But Robert is working on the script for "Reunion" now and if he decides to do it, I would certainly consider being involved in it.
Is it true Deiree Gould will return as Aunt Martha and Karen Fields may return as Judy since she wasn't proven dead? Also, will Tiersten be back for the third time?   

I have talked with Robert about Aunt Martha.  I really think she needs a return.  I expressed to him that there are numerous possibilities for that character and that the fans would LOVE to see her come back.  He is not opposed to the idea.  So we'll see. As for Judy and Ricky... these are also possibilities.
Now here some fun stuff: What are your favourite horror films?

I have so many of them.  Obviously the SLEEPAWAY CAMP movies, the HALLOWEEN movies, the ELM STREET movies, the FRIDAY THE 13th movies, TEXAS CHAINSAW movies, MOTHER'S DAY, SALEM'S LOT (1979), SILENT NIGHT DEADLY NIGHT, THE SHINING (1980), THE CHANGELING, the PSYCHO movies, AMERICAN GOTHIC, THE BLOB (1988), DEADTIME STORIES, WRONG TURN. So many of them.
If you were a top filmmaker for one day whether he was alive or dead who would he be?

Probably John Carpenter.
What are your ambitions?

At this point: To keep working on movie and music projects...because that is what I love to do.