Kevin Lindenmuth: The Man Knows His Business: Talking With the Horror Writer/Director by Owen Keehnen

Kevin Lindenmuth is a well-known figure on the horror front -- writing, and directing quality films on a slim budget. His projects include the recently completed ‘Rage of the Werewolf’ with Debbie Rochon and Joe Zaso as well as such previous films as ‘Twisted Tales’, ‘Vampires and Other Stereotypes’, ‘Addicted to Murder’, ‘Addicted to Murder 2: Tainted Blood’, ‘Addicted to Murder 3: Blood Lust’ (with Joe Zaso), ‘The Alien Agenda: Out of the Darkness’, ‘The Alien Agenda: Under the Skin’, ‘The Alien Agenda: Endangered Species’ (with Debbie Rochon), ‘Date with A Vampire’, ‘Creaturealm: From the Dead’ and ‘Creaturealm: Demon’s Wake’. He is also the man behind the big desk at Brimstone Productions and the author of Making Movies on Your Own: Practical Talk From Independent Filmmakers. Talking briefly with Mr. Lindenmuth it was immediately apparent this man knows the world of low-budget horror backwards and forwards...and he offered more than a few words of wisdom.


  Owen: Hello Kevin. I've read you began making films at the tender age of 8 with an 8 mm film camera. Do you see anything about your sort of instinctive filmmaking at that age which has carried over into your filmmaking process today?

Kevin: Well, yeah. But most of that ability of filmmaking comes from watching a lot of television, seeing a lot of movies, being exposed to the medium.

Owen: As a writer/director do you like having control over the external creation of that internal vision? Does it help you keep the production focussed?

Kevin: I do like having control as producer over the movie(s), especially if I wrote the script to begin with. First, it makes it much easier to complete, as there’s less people who have a “vision” and I’m usually a workhorse on these things. Also, I like to match that “movie in my mind”, which is the script I wrote—trying to make it a reality. Sure, there are lots of things that can interfere, like bad weather, sudden change in location, an effect that didn’t turn out quite how you expected, but for the most part, the ones I’ve done turn out 75-95% of how I want them to.

Owen: As the head of Brimstone Productions where do you see the company headed in the future?

Kevin: I think you’ll start seeing more of these movies on the Internet to watch and hopefully some bigger budget movies. With all this cheap, new technology and cameras that look as good as anything shot on television, there are a lot more low/no-budget movies being made, to such an extent that there’s a huge glut in the market right now. Years ago I used to self-distribute some of my own stuff and also other filmmakers’, but got out of that at the beginning of this century (too frustrating, too much work). Sure, there are companies that distribute these movies but the profit for the filmmakers are so low it’s almost not worth all the effort in making the movie. Now in this business, the distributors make all the money, the filmmakers don’t. If there’s anyone out there who is thinking of going with a certain distributor they should shoot me an email ( and I can let them know if they’re bad news or not. I have a sizeable list.

Owen: I am rather amazed by the quality product you put out on such a tight budget. 'Rage of the Werewolf' starred Debbie Rochon and Joe Zaso cost "only" $12,000. In your experience as a filmmaker how have you managed to pare your budget down so successfully?

Kevin: Costs are kept down primarily by writing the script with the locations we have available and also by doing half a dozen jobs. With RAGE, I was co-producer, director, co-writer, editor, camera, gaffer, sound, publicist, et cetera. The house we had shot at was at a friend’s in Brooklyn and the city shots (like Coney Island), were done early in the morning, before there were too many people outside, to make it look so deserted. And, of course, I don’t make any money until the movie starts being sold. So the “Budget”, as it were, is for the real costs (special effects, food, transportation….).

Owen: Tying back to guiding that artistic vision. You also edit your films. Is it exciting to sort of piece together that creative puzzle? After over a dozen genre films do you have a pretty good sense of what you need when you shoot or is it still really tough to trim footage and such?

Kevin: The pre-production and actual shooting of the movies is the hard part. The easy, fun part is the editing, as you can quickly see it all come together. Yeah, I do have a good sense of what I need. For example, I’ll just shoot an establishing shot for a scene (wide shot) and then shoot just the close-ups as I know I’ll never need that wide shot again. I sort of edit the movie while I’m shooting. Lately I’ve been co-producing/co-directing documentaries (a few of which are on PBS) and that’s the complete opposite of doing these genre movies. With the documentary it’s shoot as much footage as possible, from as many different angles, so that I’d end up with 30-40 hours of footage for what will ultimately be an hour-long video. That’s a huge shooting ratio. The shooting ratio on a movie will be 3 to 5 for 90 minutes.

Owen: You and Brimstone Media Productions, LLC tend to be involved with a lot of film series --- the 3 'Alien Agenda' films, the 3 'Addicted to Murder' films, the 2 'Creaturealm' pictures, and the “Alien Conspiracy” movies. Is that done primarily for name recognition, are you eager as an artist to further explore the possibilities of the material...

Kevin: I did those series, particularly the ALIEN AGENDA and ALIEN CONSPIRACY because I thought it a unique way to come up with a series of movies using the talents of many different filmmakers. And I was also able to tackle a much bigger project. I’d shoot the wraparound story and then have two or three other directors, in different parts of the country, do a twenty to thirty minute short that would fit in with the context of the rest of the movie. I’d come up with the idea, the individual filmmakers would write and direct. As the Exec. Producer I’d have to make sure they were all consistent in terms of story line and also have to coordinate any props that were used in two or more segments (like an alien weapon). Also, this was a way to make more movies in a shorter amount of time. Instead of just one or two movies a year I could have three more. So it worked out both ways—satisfying a creative urge with these “mini-epics” and also getting more “product” out there. After doing almost a dozen of these “disguised” anthology movies, most recently MONSTERSDOTCOM and a few werewolf movies, I’m going to concentrate on just doing my own features.

Owen: Which do you consider to be your finest films and what about them makes those films stand out above the rest?

Kevin: I think the best films are the first and second ADDICTED TO MURDER movies and RAGE OF THE WEREWOLF. With ADDICTED I wanted to make a dark, nightmarish vampire movie. With the sequel (which is also sort of a prequel to the events of the first), I wanted a completely different tone and approached it from a different angle. Part 2: TAINTED BLOOD is much more sarcastic and focuses more on the “vampire society” rather than the serial killer, Joel Winter. RAGE OF THE WEREWOLF, which I co-wrote/co-produced with Santo Marotta (who also starred as “Jake”) was a million dollar movie idea done with an extremely low budget. But it was a lot of fun to work on and I think it’s very entertaining. The only thing that irks me about that production was the stupid werewolf costumes. The special effects guy I had making them shipped them to us a few days before we were going to use them—and they came unfinished. There was no hair on the masks and they all needed to be painted, eyes put in, et cetera. They also looked like big teddy bears when they were on the actors. I kind of rolled with it though, when we were shooting. In the scenes where the two werewolf brothers are fighting I kept on thinking “WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS” and Japanese Kaiju movies. So, with that in mind, the scenes work.

Owen: When it comes to tone and mood...what is essential for the filmmaker to keep in mind when making horror? At what point do you see horror as crossing the line into camp or silliness and how do you steer the film to that point but not beyond it?

Kevin: The tone and mood you want to get across from the movie has to be established from the onset. If you want to make a serious, grim horror movie then stick with that. For example, I think ADDICTED TO MURDER 2: TAINTED BLOOD is hilarious in parts (particularly the scene with Joel Winter encountering that vampire man at the house), but it’s not a campy movie. To me “campy” means that the filmmaker took the easy way out—you know, if a serious scene he was shooting didn’t turn out he could just say it’s supposed to be campy.

Owen: What is your stand on on-set effects vs. computer generated? Do you have strong feelings either way?

Kevin: It totally depends on the project and what effects are needed. With the ATM movies it’s all blood and makeup effects. With the ALIEN AGENDA and ALIEN CONSPIRACY movies there is much more computer animation, such as with the saucers hovering over New York City. The effects were what was needed for the scene. As far as Hollywood movies—they use far too many computer effects in the horror and sci-fi movies. I think VAN HELSING was the worst movie I’ve ever seen—and that was 90% special effects. If you tune in the Sci-Fi Channel on cable there’s always some giant snake or animal movie on—which is done via computer effects—and looks stupid.

Owen: I am so excited! I read somewhere you plan to resurrect a seemingly long ignored horror icon and have written a screenplay called 'The Mummy from Mars'. Any further word on progress with that project?

Kevin: I’d love to do that movie but it’s been on the backburner for the past few years, as it needs a larger budget than what I’ve been working with. I came up with the plot outline and screenwriter Todd French wrote the script.

Owen: So you have done vampires, werewolves, aliens, (hopefully) and mummies...are there zombies in your future?

Kevin: Actually, I did do a zombie short (30 minutes) for this anthology movie called GOREGOYLES (dist. By Brain Damage Films)—and the zombies in that turned out decent, sort of like that zombie in the first CREEPSHOW movie, all dirt and moss covered. There’s one scene where an actor (Matt Busch ( is tied to a tree and he’s torn apart by zombies…and then later he comes back and is eating his own intestines. But that project, in my opinion, went horribly awry. The Exec. Producer edited the piece—and it was okay—but when he mailed me back the footage he failed to insure it and it was lost in the mail. Over $1,500 down the drain. My intention was to expand it into a feature, with all the extra effects and zombies I had—but now it was impossible to do that. I shot it during the middle of summer in terrible heat, got stung by wasps and half the crew and cast got poison oak. A bad experience overall.

Owen: In doing interviews with horror filmmakers many of the real horror stories I hear them discuss is about the financing and marketing end of the business. Do you have anything to say in that regard?

Kevin: Making the movie is the easy part if you’re financing it yourself. But actually selling and marketing the project is another thing entirely. As I mentioned earlier, these distributors give the filmmaker very little or no money—yet they make a fortune off the work. Therefore, it’s an absolute must to get money up-front and not agree to a percentage—because you’ll never get that percentage. Also, try to check up on the distributor, even ask them for references. If they won’t give them to you then something is up.

Owen: Speaking of...Congrats on having several of your movies ('Addicted to Murder', 'Vampires and Other Stereotypes', and the three 'Alien Agenda') carried by Blockbuster, I know that opens up the sales enormously. I am so curious, do you send a screener to them and they decide? Is there some checklist sheet they have where they won't carry a movie if it has A, B, C & D. What exactly is the process a filmmaker goes through in getting a product carried by that Gorgon of video markets?

Kevin: Basically, I just mailed Blockbuster a VHS copy of ADDICTED TO MURDER and they called me back about five months later saying they were interested in carrying the movie in their stores—and also asked if I had any box art. So they accepted it before I even had that video cover (the guy who did the box for me thinks it got in because of his box). Then, it was just a matter of several months to get everything going—I think it was four thousand copies or something like that. They funneled me through a third company, which shall remain nameless, and they handled getting the tapes to the individual stores. They were also the ones who paid me, not Blockbuster, and I’m sure they made quite a bit of money by marking the price up. But that’s how it’s usually done—you have to go through a middleman of some kind. The other movies got in through other companies I sold tapes to, which was a slightly different route. I think now (ten years later), they have this whole committee the movies have to be screened by—and if you notice the name of the distributors for sci-fi and horror—they are from three or four distributors they work with. So I think BB and these distributors work out some kind of deal that's mutually beneficial to them.

Owen: What are you working on currently and what projects do you have lined up in the future?

Kevin: After working on MONSTERSDOTCOM and BITES I’ve taken a break for a few years, mostly trying to get financing to do the other movies like MUMMY FROM MARS. In the meantime, I’ve been working on the other end of the movie spectrum, making documentaries and getting them shown on PBS. Check out for more info on that. I will get back to the horror soon—most likely with a movie called DAHMER’S DAUGHTER. Footage is already shot with a few actors, such as Joe Zaso and Debbie Rochon. And I’ll finish the story of ADDICTED TO MURDER in RED WORK and THE LAST VAMPIRE.

Owen: What scares you in real life?

George W. Bush

Owen: He’s very scary.