|Brian: Were you the kid melting down
masking tape and Elmer's Glue to make film stock
for backyard opuses or did you get involved in
film making later on in life?
little of both, actually. I did a bunch of crazy
stuff as a kid in the name of pyrotechnical
research (if you get my drift), and then in
middle school I started screwing around with
video cameras. At a certain point... I think it
was around 6th supersub grade or so... I started
turning in video projects in lieu of writing
papers whenever I could. Fortunately, most of my
teachers let me get away with that. I kept making
movies throughout high school, but when I started
college, I actually was in the Aerospace
Engineering program, with a minor in film. I
guess I was trying to reconcile the two halves of
my personality or something. After about a year,
I realized that while model rocketry was really
cool and romantic as a kid in the backyard, the
actual vocation had lost its luster. I pretty
much realized that I should have been a film
major all along, and switched my coursework
accordingly. There were a few detours along the
way, but here I am, making movies, so I guess I
made the right choice.
Brian: Stephen King seems to be a big inspiration to
you. Are there any more obscure horror writers
that "slice yer veins" that you think
Rack and Razors readers should be turned onto?
Besides King, I'm a really big fan of Clive
Barker, Bentley Little, Joe Lansdale, F. Paul
Wilson, and Skipp and Spector's splatter punk
stuff. Actually, a lot of the really good genre
fiction I've been reading lately has been in the
form of comic books. I'm a huge comic dork, and
there's been a pretty massive resurgence in
horror comics over the last couple years. I love '30
Days of Night', 'The Walking
Dead', the Joe Lansdale stuff that
Avatar did, and 'Criminal Macabre'.
I also dig most of Warren Ellis' work. Even
though a lot of his stuff isn't horror per se, it
still has this weird Lovecraftian tone to it...
like when the Authority fought the weird God mass
made of spear tentacles. That was pretty fucking
Yeah. Speaking of writing, you wrote your first
feature 'Fade to Black'. Are you
planning on scripting further productions?
Mel: I actually did a lot of "behind the
scenes" scripting on 'Closet Space',
and I'm looking to take a more active
scriptwriting role on 'Closet Space 2'
and '3' . This is not meant to
take away from Jason's work at all because he's a
great writer... I just like to mark everything I
do with my scent, if you know what I mean. There
are still a lot of demons that I have to
exorcize, and one of the best ways that I find to
do that is to put characters through the same
kind of strange personal bullshit that I've been
experiencing for 30 years.
'Fade to Black' won the 2001 Grand Jury
Prize at the Bare Bones Film Festival. Did that
award generate work for you - or was it just
validation for a job well done and a bio dresser
upper (Which is all great in my book, too!)?
didn't really generate much work, but it led to a
short-lived working relationship with the guys
that produced 'Witchcraft 13'.
They had a movie showing at the same fest, and we
became friends for a while. It's cool to say or
type "award winning director Mel House"
, though. I use that whenever I can.
'Witchcraft 13' is supposed to be one of
the best entries in the series. Did you go into
the project with specific goals?
I watched the entire series beforehand, and my
goal was pretty much to not do anything that
those guys did. There's a reason that the 'Witchcraft'
series is basically a punch line now. I just
tried to take it seriously and not insult the
audience too much, but still deliver the drama
and boobs, etc. that you come to expect from
those movies. I kind of adopted 'Jason
Goes To Hell' as my approach template.
People get up in arms over that one, but I think
it's the best Friday sequel, mainly because they
tried to make a "real" movie out of it.
"R n R" bows at the feet of the genre
film actress - what was it like to work with Zoe
Hunter in 'W 13'? (I just saw
her in a pre-release version of Happy Cloud's
'Abattoir' and even with her small role
in that, I gotta say, she stole the show!)
Zoe was awesome. She was easily the most talented
actress on the set, in addition to being a pretty
cool individual. It's always a roll of the dice
when you cast someone from across the country
that you've never met face-to-face, but
fortunately, Zoe ended up being great to work
with. I'm hoping to work with her again at some
point in the future on something.
Brian: On the Upstart website there is a great feature
"Texas Horror" documenting all the
great genre work going on in Texas. Are you
planning to continue to make Texas your home base
- keeping the blood and gruesome chills pumping
in the South?
I don't really intend on going anywhere unless
someone gives me a load of cash or something.
It's cheap to do stuff here, any location you can
think of is a few hours' drive away, and people
still get stars in their eyes when you tell them
that you are shooting a movie. Which brings me
back to point number one - when people get swept
up in the romance of the thing, they tend to let
you have stuff for free, or really cheaply.
This summer and
fall it's looking like we'll be producing 3 or 4
horror movies in the Houston area, so the streets
will run red with blood... providing they aren't
flooded or under construction. Houston people
will get that one.
You play in a hard rock band - which is so cool
it gives me happy feet (whatever the hell that
means)! As a balls to the wall guy, though, do
you have any secret musical loves - Shirley Jones
on the 'Carousel' soundtrack or
Depeche Mode re-mixes?
I'm a sucker for loud rock and tons of
distortion, but yeah, I like Depeche Mode,
The Cure, Queen, lots of old country and
insurgent country (or roots rock, or whatever the
hell they call the No Depression-type music these
days)... stuff like Wilco, Old 97's, Son
Volt, Uncle Tupelo... that kind of thing.
And I really love the Go-Go's and the Bangles.
But honestly, I keep none of that secret. I like
what I like, and if someone disagrees or thinks
my taste is questionable, they can suck it.
did you get involved directing 'Closet
Space'? Also - any totally wild, must
tell stories about the making of the film?
I had an eye towards making 'Closet
Space' for a while - my friend Jason had
written this script that was supposed to be
produced, but nothing ever happened, so it was
just sitting there. It was only on my periphery
then, kind of at the back of my mind. Then
'Witchcraft' came along, and ended up being a
total mess and nightmarish experience, and as
soon as I got myself out of that morass, I knew
that I wanted to do something more
"personal" , for lack of a better term.
What I mean by that is that I'm a hardcore horror
guy. I like blood and guts and monsters and
disturbing shit. My favorite movies are
'A Nightmare On Elm Street' and
'From Beyond', not fucking 'The
Craft' or whatever. As a genre device, I
actually hate witches with a passion (along with
vampires). Anyway, I took another look at
'Closet Space', did my directorial pass
on it, we added some more Lovecraft-y horror
stuff, some friends of mine helped me raise the
dough to do it, and we were off to the races.
We actually had a
pretty uneventful shoot with 'Closet
Space'. Things of course got rough, as
they always tend to do on independent movie sets,
but by and large everything went pretty well,
considering that we shot a large part of the
movie out in the middle of nowhere with a pretty
large group of people all co-habitating. Then our
FX guys showed up from Florida, not knowing any
of us prior to this, so I was kind of waiting to
see the dynamic develop on that front as well.
Fortunately, they were all great guys, and really
good at what they do. I think I only caught them
with hookers and blow once or twice on set.
Well, I hope they shared! Lastly, probably a
question that you tire of - are there any release
dates set for 'Witchcraft 13'
and 'Closet Space' - we're all
gnawing on our neighbor's cats to see them!!! Oh,
and if you want - any future plans or tips (IE:
How to survive suicidal blind dates or invasions
of John Tesh loving zombies) that you'd like to
leave us with? And Thanks!!!
There's no release date for 'Witchcraft
13' that I know of.... the movie is done
and in the producer's hands (and it has been for
several months now), so it's up to them. To tell
the truth, I honestly wouldn't care if it never
saw the light of day. That sounds harsh, but like
I said, it was a really shitty experience dealing
with lots of really shitty people. I felt like I
had been through the fucking Battle of Normandy
when I finished that movie. But... with all that
said the fact that the few folks that HAVE seen
it really like it, especially fans of the series,
does make it all a little more worthwhile. Maybe
it can get me a gig revitalizing stillborn
franchises. Leprechaun, here I come.
Space' should be screening this summer
sometime... I just completed a cut and submitted
it to FantAsia, so cross your fingers and hope
that it gets in there. I could literally die
happy after that. FantAsia is Sundance for me.
We've had interest from a few distributors, so
I'm sure the movie will get out there one way or
another. Keep checking the site for info - the
next few months should be pretty exciting for us.
As far as tips
go... don't fall asleep, don't wander on the
moors, don't buy cheap real estate, and don't
bury stuff in sour ground. Oh, and don't direct a