Jim: "DAY was great. I love Romero
Conducted by Phil Davies Brown
October 5th, 2004
Jim O'Rear may not be a familiar name to many of you but he soon will be, as he is the man behind new horror film The Demons 5 that brings together Robert Englund, Gunnar Hansen and Kane Hodder and pits them against many of the genre's finest talents.
Jim truly is a 'jack of all trades' with numerous credits to his name, and many wonderful stories about his experiences in the genre to tell.
Read on for all the latest news on the horror movie that everyone is dying to see!!
You started out as a magician
that sounds very interesting. Was it a lot of fun?
Yes, I had a lot of fun. I toured as “The Youngest Professional Magician”
and worked with a lot of great acts, like Harry Blackstone Jr., David
Copperfield, The Pendragons, and The Great Tomsoni. It gave me a great
opportunity to see and experience a lot of the world at a very young
I know that you toured with
David Copperfield, I must ask you what did you think of his performance in
'Terror Train' and were you pissed that he got to woo Jamie Lee Curtis
instead of you? You could've done that man!!
Well, I think David’s performance speaks for itself. We didn’t see him in
any other acting roles after that, did we? Actually, I thought he did
fine with the material he had to work with and not having an acting
background. I really didn’t expect an Academy Award winning performance…
his area is stage magic. I give him credit for giving it a shot, though.
You soon moved into the world
of film and have worked on a number of high profile projects. Is it all
down to hard work and perseverance, or did you get a lucky break?
It was a little of both, I guess. It’s definitely hard work. You have to
aggressively market yourself daily… make phone calls, mail postcards,
contact casting directors and agents, go to auditions, knock on doors, and
deal with a lot of rejection. You really have to hang in there. Of
course, luck plays into it, though. In my case it came through magic….
much like Copperfield’s acting opportunity. A television director saw my
stage act, one night, and approached me afterwards for a role in a new
commercial he was making. I didn’t accept it, but, after a week of phone
calls from the director, I finally caved in and did the TV commercial.
You did stunt work on 'Day of
the Dead' what was that like to work on?
DAY was great. I love Romero and Savini. I was a fan of their work
before being cast as a zombie in Florida, so I was extremely excited to be
a part of “The Holy Trilogy.” It was long hours but a blast at every
Did you meet
Yes. George and I still keep in contact, actually. He’s a great guy and
wonderful to work with. It’s odd how certain things come full circle in
life. George’s original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, in 1968, was the film
that got me interested and hooked on horror to begin with. I hated horror
before I saw NIGHT. After viewing it, I couldn’t get enough. I followed
George’s career through the years and then I got the opportunity to be in
the final chapter of the zombie series that inspired my love for horror.
I thought it couldn’t get any better, or that the circle couldn’t be any
more complete, until I was asked (a couple of years ago) to be a guest
presenter at a horror award show honoring George for his lifetime of
achievements in the horror genre. Not only did I get to be in a chapter
of the story that inspired my love for horror, but I also got to
personally present the lifetime horror award to the man who inspired me to
be a horror movie actor.
What was it like getting to
work with Tom Savini?
Tom is great. He’s another one that I still keep in contact with today.
Tom and I are actually working together on a few more projects coming up
later this year. He’s a creative genius. His mind is always working and
he’s constantly an inspiration on the set. This guy busts his butt and
gives his all to everything he creates… and he loves it the entire time.
His talent, enthusiasm, and dedication are fantastic.
What do you think about the
'Dead' remakes and cash in sequels currently happening?
You have to love them, really. Even if they’re awful. Zombies are
classic horror creatures that just haven’t been given their due in cinema.
We’ve seen vampires, witches, Frankenstein monsters, and werewolves
everywhere. Sure, we’ve had zombies pop up here and there, but nothing to
compare to the number of other classic creatures. Plus, overall, the more
horror projects the better. Better for the fans and better for the
industry, as a whole. It’s nice to see horror “creature features” making
a comeback. I’m tired of “psychological thrillers,” ghost stories, and
gutless dramas disguised as horror flicks. Bring on the monsters!!
You appeared as Chicklet in
'Psycho Beach Party' on the stage. Have you seen the movie and what did
Yes, I have the movie on DVD, actually. The writer, Charles Busch, is
hilarious. The play was a blast! Shaving my entire body every day for
three months so that I could wear a tight, leather bikini was a bit of a
hassle, but the reaction from the crowd made it all worth it. I thought
the movie was great, even though it was different from the play. I think
it still carries the humor, theme, and feel of the stage version, which is
what makes it all work in the first place.
"..it’s great, escapist entertainment with an odd sense of humor".
Was the film version radically
I thought the film was extremely different. There were additional
characters and A LOT of new story points and twists that do not exist in
the play. But, the changes still worked. Let’s face it, the film is
never going to win any awards… neither is the play, for that matter… but
it’s great, escapist entertainment with an odd sense of humor.
You never seem to settle in
one area of the industry, are you very ambitious or very restless?
I think it comes down to survival, actually. I love all aspects of film
and theater and wanted to learn as much as I could about them. My mind
craves knowledge of the industry and does become restless if I’m not
learning anything new. But, here’s where the survival comes in. I never
wanted to be famous; I just wanted to be able to work. I thought that if
I learned about everything, I would have more job opportunities. Do you
need a makeup artist? I can do that. Do you need a stuntman? I can do
that. Do you need am actor? I do that! I think you can see where I’m
going with that. It opened up a lot of other job opportunities that I
normally wouldn’t have been offered.
You also do a lot of writing,
and haunted attraction work. Out of all of the fields you have worked in,
which area is the most fulfilling?
I think writing and acting are the most fulfilling. Writing is a good
release because you get to empty your head of ideas and get things on
paper and on screen that were once inside you. Acting is an emotional
release. It purges the soul.
How did you enjoy working on
Charlie & Sadie a.k.a Miss Maniac?
Although MISS MANIAC took up about a year of my life, due to rewrites and
recasting, it was great fun. It’s a quirky story that relates to Charles
Manson in a darkly humorous way. The cast and crew were great. Everyone
on the set was working to make the project the best it could be with no
egos involved. It was a family atmosphere. I’m anxious to see how the
final product looks.
What was Linnea like to work
Linnea Quigley is a real professional. She shows another side of her
talent in MISS MANIAC. It’s not the typical, cutesy, scream queen part
you’re used to seeing her play. She’s extremely easy to play off of, as
an actor, and she’s willing to do what it takes to make a scene work… even
if it means spending 20 hours on the set on a particular day (which
happened on MANIAC). I’m looking forward to working with her again in a
couple projects coming up at the end of the year.
Can you tell us what to expect
from 'Vampire Wars'? Apparently you were injured on set?
I guess the question should be, “Do you expect VAMPIRE WARS to be
released?” I don’t know what to expect, actually. The cast was
fantastic… Robert Englund, Chris Sarandon, Amanda Plummer, and Maximillion
Schell. The sets and costumes were great and the stunt work was brutal.
It has the potential of being a wonderful vampire flick. Unfortunately,
we may never see it, as it is rotting away on the shelves inside Universal
Studios. Rumor is that it’s tied up in a lot of legal red tape and may
never see the light of day. I’d love to see how the stunt scene looked
that I was injured in. It was a fantastic battle scene set during the
Holy Wars with swords and staffs on horseback. Almost all of the stuntmen
obtained some sort of injury that day, but I was lucky enough to have my
entire spine knocked out of place and had to have it reset. OUCH!
What was it like to work with
such a talented cast?
It made life on set a breeze. It’s great when you have an entire cast of
film veterans to work with because they instinctively know what to do. It
makes things roll along much more smoothly and you can really build strong
And what about
SKARECROW is an indie film that comes out this summer about a six foot
tall, cursed scarecrow that kills kids in the woods. It looks like it has
a lot of potential on the indie market and the trailer is very good. I
think you can view the trailer online at www.skarecrowthemovie.com. I
play an old, crazy, blind preacher and do some stunt work. I was the
veteran on this set. It was a cast and crew of “newbies,” but they all
showed a lot of professionalism and were great to work with.
Your latest project 'The
Demons 5' has got me extremely excited as it has possibly the best genre
Me, too. Being a horror fan, I wanted to see a film that featured an
all-star horror cast of actors and key crew members. I wanted that talent
to be compiled of people who have had a major influence on horror over the
past 25 years as well as up and coming horror actors…. people like Robert
“Freddy” Englund, Gunnar “Leatherface” Hansen, Kane “Jason” Hodder, Bill
“ChopTop” Mosley, Tom Savini, R.A. “Leatherface 3” Mihailoff, Jacki “Miss
Maniac” Lynn, Debbie “Toxic Avenger 4” Rochon, and more. There’s never
been a cast like that before. Luckily, these actors wanted the same thing
and came together to form, possibly, the greatest horror cast ever for THE
Can you tell me how the
project came about?
Initially, it all came about by chance, actually. I’ve consulted several
years for the Haunted Attraction industry… teaching haunted house actors,
giving marketing and advertising tips, showing how to set up scares, etc.
A friend of mine in the Haunt Industry, named Myron St. John, heard about
a vampire screenplay I’d just had optioned by some producers at ABC. He
was interested in reading it, so I gave him a copy. When he had finished
he said, “I really liked the flow, feel, and pace of that screenplay. I’
ve got a story idea about a group of demons that trap some kids inside an
abandoned prison.” Myron asked me if I’d take a look at his idea and see
if I’d be interested in writing a screenplay based on it. I read over his
brief treatment, pounded out a 110-page screenplay, and we were on our
"It was, basically, a Hollywood “who do you know” scenario".
You are taking on multiple
roles; does that ultimately make your life easier or your job harder?
Both. It’s, obviously, harder to be a producer, writer, casting agent,
and actor on a film project than to just take on one aspect of the
production. There’s A LOT more work involved, creatively and
business-wise. But, what makes it easier is that I know EVERYTHING about
what is going on with the film. Many times an actor or writer is left in
the dark about projects they’ve devoted a great deal of time to. That
stresses me out. I’d rather have my hands in the mix… even if things are
not going well. At least I know what’s happening at all times and can
make decisions that I feel are right for my work.
How did you get everyone
It was, basically, a Hollywood “who do you know” scenario. Because of my
association with the horror film entertainment industry for so many years,
I knew and kept in touch with a lot of industry talent. I made many long
lasting friendships with people like Robert Englund, Gunnar Hansen, Tom
Savini, Ben Chapman, Butch Patrick, Dick Warlock, and TONS more. When I
finished writing the screenplay I just picked up the phone and personally
called the actors and other talent that I felt would be right for the
project and asked them if they’d read the script and consider being
involved. Because they were friends, already, they all agreed to read
DEMONS 5. I never imagined, though, that they would all agree to work on
the project. After reading the screenplay, not a single person I
approached turned me down. They all agreed to be attached to the project.
I’m hoping that’s a sign that the screenplay is very strong.
What can we expect from the
Blood, carnage, and brutality! It’s a cat and mouse game. A group of
college students organize a school research excursion to an abandoned
prison that once housed five of the most brutal serial killers in history,
known as The Demons 5. Unfortunately for them, the students become
trapped inside the steel maze by the killers, who have returned seeking
blood and have been granted supernatural powers by an angel of death. The
kids have got to fight for their lives if they want to find a way out.
Expect a lot of action, dark humor, plot twists, and special effects. I’m
not talking about CGI special effects, though… I’m talking about “in your
face” effects that happen in front of the camera lens, like in the good
old golden days of horror films. The type of effects that Tom Savini and
his crew are best at, with DAY OF THE DEAD realism and quality.
Is everyone confirmed to
Everyone is committed and has agreed in writing. We’re trying to lock
down a firm shooting date and then organize everyone’s schedules.
Everything has fallen into place very easily with this project, so I’m
hoping the same luck holds true for scheduling and we can retain our
original casting vision. Of course, if there’s a major scheduling
conflict, we may have to recast a couple of characters, but I don’t think
we’re going to run into that problem.
Is everything on target to
start rolling by years end?
We’re hoping to shoot before the years end. We’re pushing for a firm date
that will work well for everyone. I’m not opposed to putting it off until
the beginning of 2005, though, if it’s best for the project. I’m not one
to rush a good thing. I want it to be a high quality project that will
please the army of horror fans out there.
Jeff Burr is also a great
director how did he become involved in the project?
That was another lucky break, actually. Jeff happened to be looking for
another horror project to become involved with. He did great work with
TEXAS CHAINSAW 3, PUMPKINHEAD 2, and THE STEPFATHER 2, among others, and
enjoyed horror films. When R.A. Mihailoff played “Leatherface” in Jeff’s
CHAINSAW 3 film, R.A. and Jeff became good friends. I had already cast
R.A. as one of the demons when he called me up at home one day and said
that he had mentioned the script to Jeff over coffee one day and that Jeff
was interested in reading it. After reading the first draft, he signed a
commitment letter to be the director.
Are you worried about any
rivalry between Gunnar Hansen and R.A. Mihailoff? After all Gunnar isn't
said to be happy with anyone else's performance of the character he
Those are all rumors. Gunnar and R.A. are friends and have made multiple
appearances together. They get along fine. I’ve never heard either of
them say a negative thing about each other. I’ve heard Gunnar say
negative things about the way the “Leatherface” character has been written
and changed over the years, but those comments have never been directed to
an actor’s portrayal of the character. He understands that the actor is
just doing what he’s been told to do by the script and the director.
Gunnar and R.A. are excited to be working together on this project.
I assume you are aiming for a
wide theatrical release?
A wide release would be ideal and lovely, but that hasn’t been my goal.
Being realistic, I wrote it as an original cable movie for HBO or Showtime
with secondary distribution to DVD stores. I think it has extreme appeal
for the horror crowd, but I don’t think it is commercially appealing for
the mass public looking for another CGI action / adventure film with
monsters. The stars and story behind this project are aimed at a specific
target audience. It’s not a typical, “safe” Hollywood project.
How long is the shoot expected
We’re looking at a 6-8 week shooting schedule… and we’ll be busting our
butts doing it in that amount of time.
Any idea at this early stage
of a potential rating or distribution deal?
It will definitely receive an “R” rating. The demons are brutal and must
be dealt with in brutal ways. There’s lots of violence, lots of horror,
and lots of bloodshed. Distribution deals are currently being negotiated,
but it appears as though we’re not going to have any problem getting it
out internationally. A lot of people want to see this movie and are
already talking about it in various trade papers and websites… and nothing
has even been shot yet! That kind of early “buzz” always helps the
"Thank you ever so much for taking part in this interview
And we wish you the very best of luck in the future."
Check out his official site here: http://members.aol.com/sarcophagi/