First off you started working in pornography,
were you hoping to work in legit films?
That was always my
goal, even as a child. I started making 8mm films
when I was ten and continued on all through high
school. Mostly using friends, family and
table-top models for my projects. It was always
my intention, if I would be so lucky, to go to
California and work in movies.
What was your first
mainstream one you worked on?
real mainstream movie was 'CHATTERBOX'. I had an
old story outline for an X-rated comedy called
'LIPS'. A producer saw it, liked it and we joined
forces and it became 'CHATTERBOX'. American
International did the theatrical releases
What inspired you to
direct 'Hell Night'?
The same producer
who did 'CHATTERBOX', Bruce Curtis, was a friend
of Linda Blair. They worked together on 'BORN
INNOCENT', a TV movie she did for him about girls
in the lock up. He came across the script for
'HELL NIGHT', talked her into doing it and then
contacted me. We always said we wanted to work
together again after 'Chatterbox'.
Was there any familiar
faces that came to audition but weren't right for
None that I can
remember. We had Linda locked in and agents sent
out other players. Bruce, the producer, wanted to
work with Vince Van Patten so he called him in.
Peter Barton was suggested by his agent and we
read him and liked him as well. All the others
were auditioned and got their parts based on
What was your reaction
when Linda Blair auditioned since she was a big
name in horror films back then?
was NO audition for Linda. She came with the
deal. If she wasnt in it, there
wouldnt have been a film.
Were you a fan of any of
Of course, I loved
What was she like to work
She was very
professional, fun to be around and was always
very generous to everyone. She threw a big
Christmas party at her home since we were all
required to work over the holidays.
You also had some other
people involved who worked in 'Halloween
II'. Were you a fan of Carpenters work
and wanted this film to have a similar feeling to
never saw any of the 'Halloween' series, believe
it or not. The producer, IRWIN YABLANS, had
produced the original 'HALLOWEEN' and he was one
of the producers on 'HELL NIGHT'.
Were you aware after all
these years this flick became a cult classic?
It still surprises
What time of the year did
you shoot the film and where?
We shot in
November and December and all the night exteriors
around the mansion were done in Redlands CA. It
was a long tedious four weeks of cold, damp
nights. Work was slow because of the weather and
the actors were wearing fairly skimpy costumes
and not well dressed for damp nights.
The interiors of
the mansion were done somewhere else, in Pasadena
in an old home we stripped bare and filled with
cobwebs and candles. The tunnels under the house
and the rooftop were sets on a soundstage in
Hollywood at Raleigh studios. We ended up
shooting four weeks in Redlands all night
exteriors. Then two weeks in the house for all
the mansion interiors and the final two weeks on
the stage doing the tunnels, the roof and one
bedroom where the monster comes up through the
was the experience like doing the whole film?
It was hard work.
We had many problems with the weather, the
location and during the first week of the shoot,
some bystander stole my directors script
and all my directing notes, etc. were gone. I had
to work each night at the hotel to try to redo
all my notes and diagrams and charts and stuff.
happened we closed the sets to all bystanders. No
one was allowed to get near the working area
after that. Then the town began to get annoyed
with the commotion and the crowds that came each
night and we were pretty much asked to get done
and get out of there.
Do you have any memorable
experiences you'd like to share with us?
In spite of all
the tedium and sweat
every film is like a
family and the hard times are balanced out by the
good memories. I recall we were shooting over the
holidays and on Thanksgiving night, we stopped
shooting around midnight to break for meals and
the producers had a big Thanksgiving dinner
prepared with all the trimmings and some
entertainment. I recall sitting across a long
table out in the cold, eating off of paper plates
and looking at Linda who was also enjoying the
meal and we said to each other. The glamour
of Show business
if people only knew
What was the toughest
scene to shoot?
The scene where
Jenny gets her head chopped off. It was supposed
to play as follows:
The monster was to
grab her hair, pull her up against the wall,
swing the blade and cut her head off
instead of her head falling off, as in most
horror films, I wanted the body to drop out of
frame and see her head still in his hand, with
here eyes open and her mouth screaming. We rigged
a special wall where she could put her head
through a hole and then we put a fake body up
under it. We attached her neck to the dummy using
morticians wax to look real and to make it
easy to cut.
She had to lay on
her stomach on a long board behind the wall with
her head sticking out. But she had to hold her
head up, through that hole, for a long time while
we rigged the body and made the neck. She was
very uncomfortable. Then we had to practice the
blade swing to be sure her face wouldnt get
hit. It was a long, slow process and very painful
for her. Finally we got it done perfectly and it
played just great. I was a shocking scene.
Unfortunately, when the censors saw it they said
it was just too gruesome and it may have lost us
so we had to cut it. Now in the
film, as soon as the blade hits her neck, the
scene cuts away and you never see the body fall
and her living head still screaming. It was a big
disappointment to me.
I understand that Peter
Barton was injured when he had a scene with his
character Jeff Reed was thrown down a flight of
stairs and in reality he was limping like his
character. When this incident happened did you
stop shooting for a few days and how did you cope
with this issue?
Peter hurt his ankle on the long stone stairs he
fell down during his struggle with the monster.
He was able to work OK but we had to be careful
on what he was expected to do each day after
Before this film Peter
wanted to retire from acting but Linda encouraged
him to do this one which made him successful for
future work like 'Friday the 13th The
Final Chapter'. Could you see this film
helping him rise to a successful career in future
I thought Peter
was very good and easy to work with. He was
disappointed when he came on the film because he
had just lost out on a big film with Zefferelli
and was depressed over losing it. Linda and the
producer convinced him to stay on and he did.
I found Peter resembled
very much to Donny Osmond and he did briefly have
a teen idol status in his show 'The
Powers of Matthew Star'. Have others
commented to him of that resemblance that youre
I also enjoyed the
performance by Vincent Van Patten as Seth. His
death scene was never shown on film. Did you ever
shoot his death scene but was too graphic for its
theatrical release and will we ever see a special
edition of the film?
No, it was decided
to kill him off camera, in the dark so that we
wouldnt know if there was another monster
or not waiting at the bottom of the stairs when
Linda goes for the gun. We wanted people to
wonder who grabbed him and what actually
happened. When Linda gets to the gun and the
monster jumps out at her its one of the
biggest screams in the film each time I watch it
with an audience. We made the right choice I
Another great actor was
Kevin Brophy as the head sorority of Alpha Sigma
Rho named Peter Bennett. How did you enjoy
working with him?
He was a lot of
fun and we became great friends after the picture
Have you ever thought of
casting him in your future projects?
If I had one I
might have. Sometimes even though an actor is
good and you like them, theyre just not
right for a part. He did work again for Bruce,
the producer, on 'THE SEDUCTION'
these films are coming back as sequels like
'Sleepaway Camp' and 'My Bloody Valentine'
due to the fame they had. Will Hell Night ever
see a sequel with another psychotic sibling from
the Garth Manor that was never discovered to
wreck havoc? This would be totally exciting if it
The producer is
working on a sequel at present. Not sure when or
if it will ever get done.
You directed a ton of
other shows afterwards including two episodes of
the TV series 'Freddys Nightmares' titled "Photo Finish" and "Judy
Miller, Come on Down". How were you
approached to direct these two episodes?
I did many more
Freddys besides those two. I did eleven in
fact. Some of them are out on DVD. One is
"DREAMS THAT KILL" and another is,
"ITS MY PARTY AND YOULL DIE IF I
WANT YOU TO". My agent submitted me to the
producers after I did 'REFORM SCHOOL GIRLS' and
they liked me and we got along well. I did
several shows over two seasons and mostly did the
shows that involved FREDDY in the actual script,
not just in the wrap ups and intros.
I loved doing the
Freddy series. It was tons of fun
blood and body parts on the set every
bursting blood bags, broken bones, heads
getting lopped off. It was a laugh a minute every
What is Robert Englund
like to work with?
He was easy but
the make up process was grueling for him and it
took hours so he was often grumpy and anxious to
get going and get done so he could get that crap
off of his face. We had to schedule all of his
scenes into only two working days a week because
of it and because of the budget. So when he was
there, all his scenes had to be done, back to
back, and then we would allow him to go.
Do tell us which episodes
were about and what they were like to shoot them
as the series was always a fun show to watch even
if it didnt meet up to the film series?
My favorite show,
actually, there were two. "PHOTO
FINISH" was one and "ITS MY
" is the other. Both have Freddy
IN the plot and both had some really fun effects
and moments. I think the script for
"ITS MY PARTY" is really good
because it goes back to where Freddy came from,
how he was created and how the NIGHTMARE STORIES
actually began. Its all fiction, of course,
but very cleverly written.
Were you ever approached
to direct any other horror films or TV shows
Well, no more
horror films but I certainly did lots of TV shows
about 100 more, to be exact.
Check out my web site if you havent.
course you were behind the cult action teen film
'Reform School Girls'. Although
it was not a horror film it was still loved by
the same types of fans and it featured people
like Sybil Danning who worked regularly in horror
films and a supporting role by Darci Demoss who
was well remembered in 'Friday the 13th
Part VI: Jason Lives' and 'Night
Life'. Did most of the people (Cast
& crew) have fun working on this project?
This was by far my
most favorite project. I loved going to work
I always wondered what the
late supporting cult film actress Pat Ast was
like to work with especially with the actors too
as her role as the evil jail matron Edna was
convincingly scary and could easily do terrific
playing a madwoman in a horror flick after seeing
this film as apparently in person she had a great
sense of humor and enjoyed life not worrying
Pat was fun but
had a lot of personal problems I wont go
into. Working with her was very difficult but we
got through the days as best we could. She
couldnt ever ever ever remember lines. She
was always off on her blocking and was sometimes
but, as always, the show went
on and in the end shes what makes the film
Did you ever attend her
No, I learned
about her death after the fact.
Now it said Linda Carol
was 16 when she did this film but she must've
been a bit older as she had to perform nudity
since it's illegal to do nudity with teens?
Linda was well
over 16 at the time
Will you be working in
future horror films as we speak?
Now heres some fun stuff:
Whats your favourite horror film?
Its probably the only one, besides 'PSYCHO'
that ever made me nervous in a theater.
If you were a top horror
movie director for one day whether he was alive
or not who would he be?
What movie project do you
cherish the most?
If there was a project
you'd like to change what would it be?
ALL OF THEM FOR
ONE REASON OR ANOTHER.
What is your idea of
Im at the end of this interview. LOL It was
a long one!