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Rolfe Kanefsky

Rolfe: "I had terrible nightmares
when I was young".

Conducted by Phil Davies Brown
May 25th, 2005

Whilst Rolfe Kanefsky has been making movies for many years, it is his most recent movies that are gaining positive reactions from the horror community. His last film 'The Hazing' a.k.a 'Dead Scared' in the UK, was a huge success worldwide thanks to it's cool cast and perfect blend of comedy and horror. That trend is set to continue with his latest release 'Corpses', hitting UK stores on the 6th of June, and US stores later this year courtesy of Lions Gate Films. Read on to hear all about Rolfe's experiences working with some of the genre's finest stars, including Brad Dourif, Tiffany Shepis and Jeff Fahey.

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a director?
I first got interested in film when my father introduced me to ABBOTT and COSTELLO movies. I caught the end of ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET DR.JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE and was hooked. I would watch them every Sunday morning for the next twelve years or so. After that I started writing my own Abbott and Costello stories which led to my "Nick and Neal" adventures (a cross between A & C and THE HARDY BOYS) and I started acting. I wanted to be a comedian. At 13, I got my first video camera and started shooting shorts with friends. I made my first 12 minute short called, "BREAKING AND ENTERING, followed by UNDEAD (my first horror short, 52 minutes long). I also took acting and screen writing courses at HB Studios in New York City over that same summer. At 16, I began my first feature length video production, STRENGTH IN NUMBERS, a comedy/action/thriller. It turned into a two year project and that was probably the deciding factor on knowing that I could be a director. I began doing P.A. work over that same summer, once working on a slasher film called POSED FOR MURDER and did four weeks on TROMA'S WAR. I followed STRENGTH IN NUMBERS with my feature length senior high school project MURDER IN WINTER, an Agatha Christie-style comedy murder mystery. After that, it was off to Hampshire College and two horror shorts on Super 8 later, PEEK-A-BOO and JUST LISTEN, I was ready for my first professional independent film, the now kind of cult flick, THERE'S NOTHING OUT THERE. I pretty much decided when I was 14 that I wanted to be a director and after working on some bad high school plays as an actor, I knew. I realized that you have to work extremely hard and in the hands of a bad director, no matter how hard you try, it will still be a bad production. So, if I was going to work this hard, I better direct myself so the final result would turn out the way I wanted it to. That's when I moved from being on the stage to behind it.

What were your hobbies and interests when you were a kid?
Film, film, and more film. My father was and is still a film editor in New York City and runs his own post production company VALKHN FILMS. He focuses mostly on documentaries but has edited and supervised some horror "classics" like GANGA & HESS, JUST BEFORE DAWN, and the infamous BLOODSUCKING FREAKS. My mother was a singer/dancer on Broadway so luckily my parents were very supportive of my interest in the arts. They always hoped I’d get other interests but film took over. Writing, acting in plays, and directing was pretty much my childhood.

Were you a big fan of horror movies when you were younger?
Well, horror films scared me. I had terrible nightmares when I was young. But I was always attracted to watching the black and white horror films on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. The television movie DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK really scared me and when I saw the 1979 version of INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS when I was ten in the theaters, I had nightmares for two weeks straight. It took me five times before I could finally make it through the opening of ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN because it was too scary. I was five years old and that first werewolf transformation is very scary but once Costello started hearing the growling and yelling back "Get your doggie off the phone", I was able to watch the whole thing.

My love for horror comedy started there. At 14, when I knew I wanted to make my living as a director, I started researching, reading FANGORIA magazine and realized that many directors started with horror films. Steven Spielberg (a big influence), Coppola, Oliver Stone, the list goes on and on. So, it was then that I started to rent out every horror film on video. I started seeing a lot of bad clichéd films that just capitalized on the success of HALLOWEEN. Sam Raimi's EVIL DEAD stood out and was (still is) very influential. You could see that here was a young filmmaker really trying to do something special and he had so much energy and creativity. I always loved HITCHCOCK movies as well and he was always experimenting and trying new things. I love that side of making movies. It's the most fun.

In 1991, you directed 'There's Nothing out There'. Can you tell us all about the project, as it has never been released here in the UK, to my knowledge?
Well, THERE'S NOTHING OUT THERE, (TNOT for short), began as an exercise. I was still in high school working on MURDER IN WINTER and I was creatively bored. I had a week free and remember seeing that Siskel and Ebert report on how lousy all these teen slasher exploitation films were. I wondered how long it would take me to write a teen exploitation horror film. That was my goal. Five pages in, I decided to make it an alien creature rather than slasher. I thought you could do more with that. However, as I started writing (this was Spring of 1987), I realized that I just couldn't do the same old clichés so I added a character named MIKE. You see, the plot of TNOT was simple. A bunch of high school students on spring break drive up to a country house in the woods and get attacked by an alien creature. I had all the stereotypes; jock, blonde bimbo, computer nerd, foreign exchange student, and MIKE- a horror geek who has seen every horror film on videotape and knows the warning signs. As soon as they pass an accident on the road, MIKE sees the danger and begins to warn everyone on how to survive a horror film. Of course, nobody believes him until people start dying. MIKE gave me the chance to send-up every annoying horror cliché like the cat scare, the wandering off in the dark alone, the skinny-dipping scene, standing in front of an open window etc etc. In my mind, MIKE was the audience that yells at the screen, "DON'T DROP THE KNIFE! DON'T GO INTO THE BASEMENT!" I had never seen a character in a movie that had seen and commented about other horror films before so to me it was a little fresh and original. It parodies the silly conventions of the horror genre without making fun of horror. It was my first comedy horror script and I wrote it in 5 days. Two years later, when my parents thought I was ready to make my first film and I agreed, we looked through the five or six scripts I had written by then and decided that TNOT was the easiest. One location, seven characters and a creature. It was a horror film, which in 1988 was still a very popular genre and would be the perfect project to break me into the film business. We raised money through friends, family, and some private investors, and shot the film in the summer of 1989. TNOT was finished in 1990, the same year that the horror market collapsed! TREMORS bombed in the theaters, NIGHTBREED was sold as a slasher film and did poorly. Luckily, TNOT was a comedy horror and in festivals, we kept getting a great response. Variety, Hollywood Reporter, Billboard magazine, and when we finally got a small theatrical release, The New York Times, The L.A. Times and many others gave us great reviews. But with no names in the film, a final budget of around $200,000, shot on Super 16, the studios didn't get it. Agents and studios didn't understand how you can combine horror and comedy. They said, "It's too funny to be scary and too scary to be funny". Eventually after a small release independently ourselves in New York and L.A., we sold it to video and cable (HBO). The film was a modest success but didn't really open up the Hollywood doors for me. It was frustrating because audiences and most critics really liked it. I knew that if a film was made with enough money and some star names like TNOT, it would make a fortune. Audiences were ready for this in 1991. However, it took five more years before I was proven correct when SCREAM came out.

Now, I really liked SCREAM and with the exception of the character of RANDY, I do not see too many similarities. Well, there are a few. I do not know if Kevin Williamson ever saw TNOT on cable. It played a lot on Cinemax for a while. However, I do know that I met Jonathan Craven, Wes Craven's son (also a producer) at a FANGORIA convention when Wes was promoting VAMPIRE IN BROOKLYN. I gave Jonathon a copy of TNOT and met him for lunch a week later. He loved the film and told me he was going to give it to his father to have a look. I never heard from him again. Two years later, SCREAM came out. I also recently found out that Wes Craven actually talked to one of our special effects people who worked on TNOT before he made SCREAM and was asking the f/x guy how we combined the horror and comedy so well in TNOT! So, that's the history/connection as far as I know. Well, after SCREAM came out and went through the roof, I started seeing other people comparing TNOT to SCREAM and over the years, (thanks to internet); TNOT has developed this reputation as being the "inspiration" or pre-SCREAM. Years later when I was making TOMORROW BY MIDNIGHT with Carol Kane, she told me that a few people have problems with SCREAM. She starred in WHEN A STRANGER CALLS and Fred Walton was not to happy about having his first act ripped off for the opening of SCREAM. Although, Bob Clark could also state a case with his much-earlier released BLACK CHRISTMAS. Anyway, I'm just happy SCREAM was so successful because it brought back the horror genre which in part, did lead to THE HAZING aka DEAD SCARED finally getting made, eight years later.

After TNOT, you didn't really have that many movies out until the late nineties, what were you doing?
Well, I actually was still making movies. The following year I was hired to "fix" co-direct a family film called MY FAMILY TREASURE starring Dee Wallace, and Alex Vincent (the kid in Child's Play 1 & 2). I then made the move to L.A and realized that nothing I had done in New York counted. I had to start again. I got some writing assignments, RED LINE starring Chad McQueen, Michael Madsen, Corey Feldman, and continued writing scripts. THE HOST, a horror script I wrote in college was optioned by producer Joe Wolf (a producer on HALLOWEEN, NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, and HELL NIGHT among others.) Much development was done but the film was never made. However, I pitched him a sequel to HELL NIGHT and wrote a four page treatment called HELL NIGHT 2: THE HAZING. Nothing happened with it and a few years went by. In 1996, I met a French producer Alain Siritzky (famous for all the official EMMANUELLE movies). I met him at the American Film Market at the same time I launched a company with Mark Collver (actor friend I met on TNOT- he played "Jim"). We started GRAND MASTER PRODUCTION, a company to shoot and edit actor's demo reels. It never really took off but I suddenly got offered to write and direct four "erotic comedies" for Alain Siritzky, based on the comic books CLICK and BUTTERSCOTCH by Milo Manara.

So as SCREAM exploded at the box office, I was making these sex comedies and very busy. Shooting 90 minute movies on 16 mm in 6 days! One of these films, my James Bond spoof- ROD STEELE 0014: YOU ONLY LIVE UNTIL YOU DIE aka BALLS OF THUNDER has also gone on to become somewhat of a cult comedy. Anyway, after these, Alain wanted to make a series called THE SEX FILES. I made ALIEN EROTICA aka THE ALIEN FILES as one of the seven films. But I wanted to move away from all this sexy stuff and get back to horror so I pitched Alain an idea. How about writing two scripts that take place on the same set? It's the old Roger Corman approach and since Alain and Roger are good friends and Roger Corman owned the domestic rights to all these erotic films, Alain agreed. At this time, because of SCREAM, everyone was telling me to do something like SCREAM or re-make TNOT. Well, I didn't want to rip-off a rip-off or redo something I had already done. I thought of my HELL NIGHT 2 treatment. Lose the HELL NIGHT connection (easy to do) and write THE HAZING as an EVIL DEAD meets SCREAM type of film. What are the rules when there are no rules? When anything can happen! So, for little money, I wrote an erotic haunted house movie called RESTLESS SOULS and a straight horror movie, THE HAZING.

You recently returned to the horror genre with the excellent 'The Hazing', which movies inspired you to write the film?
I decided THE HAZING would be a typical haunted house story with characters that didn't follow the conventions. The idea was BREAKFAST CLUB as a horror film. Where you think everyone is just a typical stereotype but once the horror begins, the kids drop the act and become real people! I had never seen that done before. I mean in thousands of horror film, the blonde bimbo is a blonde bimbo. Even in SCREAM. However, I thought what if the blonde is not really dumb. She just acts that way because guys respond to it. When she reveals her true personality, she turns into the tough heroine of the piece. That idea made me excited because it's something different that I hadn't seen! However, the story was purposely filled with in-jokes and situations that you've seen many times. Some of the obvious and not so obvious influences in THE HAZING are HELL NIGHT, EVIL DEAD, EVIL DEAD 2, NIGHT OF THE DEMONS 1 & 2, THE HAUNTING (Robert Wise version), THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE, THE FUNHOUSE, RE-ANIMATOR, SUSPIRIA, SLEEPAWAY CAMP 2, NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET(s), THE CLUB, PATRICK, and BEYOND DREAMS DOOR to name a few. Just for the record, although with A & C MEET FRANKENSTEIN, I'd have to say FRIGHT NIGHT, AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, TREMORS, NIGHT OF THE CREEPS, and most recently SHUAN OF THE DEAD are probably the best horror/comedies I've seen.

How long did the script take to write?
First draft, I'd say two weeks. However, the film didn't get made for eight years. Alain Siritzky produced RESTLESS SOULS but pulled the plug on THE HAZING at the last minute. The cast was let go, the sets were torn down, and for the next five years, I tried to set up the project. It wasn't until Tom Seidman came on board that things actually started happening again. However, in the meantime, I did convince Alain to produce some of my favorite films (still unreleased to date) TOMORROW BY MIDNIGHT -a black comedy thriller starring Alexis Arquette and Carol Kane and PRETTY COOL, a fun teen comedy (think ZAPPED! meets WEIRD SCIENCE) starring Alexis Thorpe and Summer Altice. Anyway, Tom was a first time producer and had been a 1st A.D. and line producer for years. He met Alain at the AFM and Alain told him about THE HAZING. Tom loved the script and wanted to do it. But Alain got tied up with other projects and walked away so Tom ran with it. He hired a producer's Rep- LANTERN LANE- to handle the project and try to raise money. They almost did and for a few months THE HAZING was going to be made between Tom's company HONEYCREEK PRODUCTIONS and David Allan's KISMET ENTERTAINMENT (producers of DOG SOLDIERS). It was then that the rewrites began. Although everyone loved the humor, they started to get nervous that the film was too funny and not scary enough. Nobody wanted this to be a comedy and I got very worried. I knew that the plot was not original and if you lose the humor, the film is just a blatant rip-off of better movies. There were three days of hell script meetings with discussions like "What type of film is this? Who's the star? Who's the villain? Why does the film have to take place on Halloween? What if it takes place on New Years' Eve instead? What if we lose all the hospital scenes?" And my favorite, "Don't like the tongue scene. Tongues aren't scary. How about we have a full sized clown doll come to life and try to rape the guy from behind while he's on the girl?!!" Well, luckily Tom didn't agree with many of these suggestions as well and Kismet dropped out. The humor was toned down and because of budget reasons; some of my favorite scenes had to go. The characters and basic situations stayed the same so the final script was not drastically changed from the first draft.

Rolfe: "If it's easy, where's the fun there?".

Did you ever have any of your cast members in mind whilst writing the script?
No, I was just writing stereotypes that I could play with. There was one scene in the original script when the kids pull up to the house and are "warned" not to go in by a crazy older guy. My "Crazy Ralph" Friday The 13th reference. He was supposed to be MIKE from TNOT. However, the producer nixed that idea. He thought the character and scene was too close to SCREAM!

How did Brad Dourif become involved?
Our final casting people, Henderson/Zuckerman knew Brad Dourif's manager. Professor Kapps was always designed as the one "name" in the movie. Brad Dourif was always a top choice so I jumped for joy when he was suggested. He got the script, liked it, the money was good enough and we got him right between LORD OF THE RINGS and HBO's DEADWOOD. Basically, we lucked out and he was wonderful to work with. A true professional. He rehearsed with the actors and added a lot to the character and script. The whole alchemy thing came from Brad. It was also his idea to do the British accent which I thought was cool. The problem was, later when Philip Andrew and Tiffany Shepis get possessed, they too would have to do the accent. So, Brad worked with both of them a lot to teach in two weeks what took him a year to perfect.

Did the cast all audition, or did you actively pursue any of them?
Well, everyone auditioned except Brad who just accepted the offer. Even Brooke Burke auditioned. The only two actors I knew beforehand were Robert Donavan (ROD STEELE and in almost every single one of my films) and Tiffany Shepis. I met Tiffany about four years earlier at (guess where?) the American Film Market (AFM). She had started her career at TROMA (although we never met on TROMA'S WAR) and had her own small company at the time. I gave her THE HAZING script and she loved it. She was dying to play Marsha and tried to raise the money for the project. She even met with Alain Siritzky back then and discussed it but also couldn't get the money together. So, when it finally came about, I called in Tiffany. I knew she was perfect for the role and would have cast her on the spot but Tom needed to see her. Tiffany ended up auditioning about seven times before Tom was convinced. I was very happy and Tiffany did an amazing job. It was great to be able to give her a real role where she could show her acting skills. So many of those low-budget films she had done were so bad that you just assume all the actors in them are also bad. Tiffany is a really good actress as well as being fun as hell to be around, so it's about time people took notice. After THE HAZING, I wrote a zombie comedy horror film and wrote a role for Tiffany. We made the film, CORPSES, and she was great again although the production was a nightmare (but that's another story).

How long was the shoot?
THE HAZING shot for 18 days which was tight but I've worked with much less. Tom Seidman was very worried. It was an ambitious project but why make something that's not ambitious. If it's easy, where's the fun there?

Any funny stories from the set?
The house where we shot (HACK HOUSE) is a real house. It was 100 years old when we shot the film. Although we painted everything inside, the house is a mess and is pretty disgusting. All the dirty furniture and dirt was real. Cats live in that house and it all smelt like cat piss. With the smoke machines and everything, you'd have to go outside for a breath of fresh air quite often. Then there was the day that the owner of the house, rented out the side lot (about ten feet away from the house) for a 15 year olds birthday party and a live Mexican band showed up in the afternoon. Inside the house we're trying to shoot this scary scene between Justine and the mannequin and we can hear loud and clear this mariachi band playing "La Cucaracha". I think we paid them off to stop playing for two hours but there are definitely some takes where you can hear them in the background between Charmaine’s screams. We also had some special effects issues and had to fire one assistant who was practicing with the real axe one day and fell on it. He went to the hospital and when he came back he almost burnt down the house by turning up the fireplace's propane tank too high so the flames licked the ceiling.

Did everything go well for the most part?
Yes, the cast and crew were great. The schedule was tight so I didn't really get to have much fun while I was shooting but I am happy with the final result. The biggest regret was the day with Brooke Burke. In the script, when Brooke changes into her Halloween costume, there was a scene of her changing her clothes (i.e. - taking off her clothes) but we ran out of the time and the producer deemed it smart to cut the scene to stay on schedule. I almost threw a fit. I mean how can you cut the scene of BROOKE BURKE undressing?! But it happened. Luckily Tiffany, Nectar Rose, and a few other actresses provide plenty of skin in the film and Brooke does look amazing in that harem girl outfit.

How long did post take?
It was about nine weeks of editing and then a month or two for sound. We shot the film in March 2003 and it was completed by end of October 2003. A great score by Christopher Farrell (who's done about eight of my films now) and some fun songs by Ron Zwang (another friend of mine for years.) A new company, The Mission did the mix and we have a wonderful 5.1 mix that has NOT been included on the DVD. I have no idea why. It's just a stereo mix right now. Hopefully, one day we can fix that because, in 5.1, it really sounds incredible.

The reaction to the film has been highly positive, how do you feel about it?
Pisses me off! I want people to hate my films so I never work again. What, are you crazy?! I love it. It seems that almost everyone has really gotten what I was trying to do. Make a '80s style horror throwback with a good sense of humor. I'm delighted that everyone has gotten the joke! So far, this is the best reviewed film I've made. I just wish we could have gotten this into the movie theaters.

Did you have any idea how successful the film would be?
I thought the film would work. I knew the cast was great and I was hoping people would accept this 80's style. Again, it would have been nice if we had been picked up like CABIN FEVER and given a real theatrical shot. With the response the film has received now, I know it would have played. Word of mouth would have sold the film but again, it's a comedy/horror film and still studios are scared of that combination.

How did you go about securing distribution?
Lantern Lane, the producer's rep, screened the film and helped make a deal with Lightning Entertainment, who's handling the foreign sales and MTI Home Video picked up domestic (the states).

Rolfe: "I'll be very curious to see
what people think of it".

Has the movie sold well?
Well, it seems to be. Blockbuster grabbed it and bought 20,000 units. In L.A., it also seemed to be at every Hollywood Video and other smaller outlets. I don't know what's happening with foreign sales except that it hits Australia this Wed., October 13th. Hopefully, other territories will follow.

Any idea when we might see it here in the UK?
I don't know. If nobody has picked it up, it's available. Just contact Lightning Entertainment. I'm sure they're likely to sell it. Most companies want to make money you know.

The title has apparently been changed to Dead Scared here in the UK, was that the distributor's choice
Yes. Lightning told us that they don't have "HAZINGS" overseas. I came up with a lot of titles with friends. One of my favorites was DEAD EVIL. But they liked DEAD SCARED the best. My friend and storyboard artist on the film, Chris Kaneff came up with the tagline "Good Friends are hard to keep...alive!"

Who will be distributing the film here in the UK?
No idea. Sorry. (The film has since been released by Mosaic Movies here in the UK).

Any plans for a sequel?
Well, right from the beginning, the word sequel was mentioned because every company wants a franchise because that's where the real money is. Although there are a lot of openings to continue from at the end of THE HAZING, I haven't really sat down and thought much about it. There are other horror projects that I'm working on and would like to work on. Right after THE HAZING, I did the zomedy "CORPSES with Tiffany (again) and Robert Donavan, and Jeff Fahey. York Entertainment's releasing the film in the states on November 30th. I then started my own production company with Gabriella Halls' Pixie Flicks Entertainment and made JACQUELINE HYDE, a sexy female take on the horror tale of DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE. It will be screening at the AFM this November and Alain Siritzky (ASP) is handling foreign sales. Right now, THE HOST has some interest again and if you check out my website www.rolfekanefsky.com, you'll see trailers and artwork for many of my past, present, and future project. You can also learn a lot about NOTHING at www.theresnothingoutthere.com and more about something at www.gabriellahall.com/jacquelinehyde and www.thehazing.com

What can you tell us about Corpses?
CORPSES is about a town mortician who invents a serum that can bring the dead back to life for an hour at a time. He controls them by threatening not to give them their hourly injection and thus creates a "small" army of junkie zombies to do his bidding. Part of his plan is to get enough cash to pay off the bank and stop them from tearing down his funeral home and replacing it with a shopping mall and trying to prove to his ex-wife, who's now married to the town sheriff (Jeff Fahey), that he isn't a loser. Meanwhile, the sheriff's daughter (Tiffany Shepis) wants to leave town with her boyfriend who happens to be the mortician's assistant. They start to suspect something's not right and before long, everyone is fighting the junkie zombies.

How did Tiffany and Robert Donovan become involved? Did you ask them to move on with you after The Hazing?
Well, I had been contacted from York Entertainment for a while to do a project over there. After I finished THE HAZING, I had a little time and was asked to do CORPSES. They had a poster and a one page concept. I had five days to knock off the script and turned the whole thing into a dark comedy, which I assumed they would hate because York doesn't usually make those types of films. I wrote the part of Rhonda for Tiffany Shepis. We got along great on HAZING so I wanted to work together again. She had already done one York film, SCARECROW, so they liked her and agreed. Robert Donavan got the role of the mortician, Fred Withers, at the last second. Originally, they (York) told me that Tony Todd was going to play the mortician but they changed their mind. They knew they wanted a name but didn't know for what part and we went around and around for months. When we locked down Jeff Fahey and had an opening for the other lead, I knew Robert Donavan would be perfect. I fought for him and eventually won out. I have worked with Robert on eight previous films. He's in almost all my movies. Robert is a great comedy actor and if you ever get a chance to see him in my Bond spoof, "ROD STEELE 0014: YOU ONLY LIVE UNTIL YOU DIE" or "PRETTY COOL" or "BUTTERSCOTCH", you'll know what I mean. I was delighted to be able to give Robert a leading role. He had small roles in THE HAZING and TOMORROW BY MIDNIGHT but he almost steals the show in CORPSES. A very nice, funny man who's a pleasure to work with. Just like Tiffany but change the "man" part.

How did Jeff Fahey become involved?
When Tony Todd was out, I was given a list of names that were possibilities. It was a very scary list. You see, York Entertainment can't really avoid name actors so they came up with the idea of "Stunt Casting". Hire someone in the news, who doesn't even know how to act, but people know them. Monica Lewinsky was on the list as was Wolfgang Puck, Pete Rose, Anna Nicole Smith's son, etc... They had recently made a film called ALIEN 51 starring Heidi Fleiss so they thought this was a good idea. There were two actors on the list GARY BUSEY and JEFF FAHEY. Both can and have been wonderful in the past but I heard Busey was having a lot of problems so I pushed for Fahey. Luckily, he liked the script and agreed to do it. Like Brad Dourif on THE HAZING, Jeff Fahey was also wonderful and very, very funny. He nailed the part and completely got the humor I was going for.

How did he get on with Tiff, he plays her dad doesn't he?
Well, everyone loves Tiffany Shepis. That's a given. I don't know anyone who has met her and not completely fallen in love with her. Tiffany is a wonderful force of nature and makes everyone feel good. I thought the casting was perfect. Jeff Fahey is very believable as Tiffany's dad. Their scenes together and apart were great. Both are pros and when you have two good actors working together, you're in good shape which is more than I could say about the making of CORPSES.

How was the shoot?
I could literally write a book about the making of this film and one day, I might. It was the worst produced film I have ever worked on. A complete nightmare production from start to finish. Everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong. Now, before I go into some of this, I do want to say for the record, that the film actually turned out okay. Well, let me say this. If you are comparing this to other York Entertainment films, it's surprisingly good and funny. If you compare it to SHAUN OF THE DEAD, it almost seems like a rip-off made for pennies that's kinda fun if you have had enough to drink. If you are expecting something along the lines of 28 DAYS LATER, you will absolutely hate this movie. CORPSES is a "zomedy". The budget was $100,000 dollars and the producer, Mark Headley, pocketed half of it. This is a 35 mm feature film shot in 12 days. The total special effects budget was $1,000.00 dollars! Besides the actors, who were all great, the crew tried hard but there was no way to make this movie work the way it was handled. Between the lack of permits, locations, no caterer for the first three days, no film for the camera on the first day, shooting in a real funeral home with REAL DEAD BODIES everywhere, directions that got everyone lost, no dolly, shooting short-ends where the cameras run out of footage after 15 seconds, having to shoot only 34,000 feet and using two different film stocks- Kodak and Fuji, not having any doubles for clothing so you couldn't get blood on them or they'd have to be washed for the next take, having the producer put together a secret unit crew for a crucial scene and then telling the crew not to let the writer/director know about it, having your D.P.'s wife give birth right in the middle of the shoot so you need another D.P., having your lead actress tell you that she's four and a half months pregnant and is worried about being around the embalming fluids because of the baby, having to spend four to five hours a day getting zombies into make-up when you have to be wrapped in 12 hours because nobody is paying for overtime, having the fire marshall kick you out of a location because production didn't have the right permits filed....Okay, I'll give you an example of one day on the set.

It's eleven o'clock at night and we're shooting at a real motel. The next day we are supposed to be filming at the exterior funeral home scenes. Well, to get a real funeral home is too expensive and I'm told, it's not in the budget but the producer (Mark) has a friend with a house deep in the middle of nowhere. It's not a funeral home. It's actually more like a ranch but it's all we can afford. Nobody knows where it is and we're supposed to be there shooting in ten hours. Meanwhile, I get back to the motel room with Jeff Fahey to shoot this scene when I'm informed that we don't have permits past midnight even though we were supposed to be filming until three o'clock. Well, we get four shots of the scene and get kicked out.

The next day at the "funeral home", the producer shows up furious about the permit issue and someone's head is going to roll. The thing is, it's HIS FAULT but you know he won't take the blame. So, he's screaming at everyone only there's nobody here because everyone's lost since they never gave anyone good directions to find this lousy location. I'm here and so is the D.P. and camera department. We are set for the first shot and Mark comes storming off saying we must start shooting. He asks, "What's the first shot?" I respond, "We're all set. It's Jerry, the actor who isn't here yet, riding in on his scooter which isn't here yet, walking over to the mailbox which isn't there yet and going inside through the curtains that aren't there yet." I tell him there is nothing to shoot because there's nothing here. He says, "shoot the mailbox". It's not here. It's with props. "Where are props?" They aren't here! Two hours later, people find the location. The actors are pissed (don't blame them), the scooter has a flat tire and can't be repaired so the actor has to push the scooter into the shot to make it look like it's running. People are ready to quit. We finally start shooting and a cell phone goes off in the middle of the take. Guess whose cell phone? THE PRODUCER!

The make-up woman accidentally locks her keys in the car with all the make-up and has to call Triple AAA to get her car open. As the sun sets, the wolves start howling which start the dogs barking. We keep shooting until one of actor’s stops, thinking that I yelled "Cut" but it was actually the dog barking. Now, he may have been barking "Cut". I don't know. And it goes on like this, only getting much much worse for the next ten days.

This is all true. I swear! Ask Tiffany Shepis or anyone else who worked on the film. It was a living nightmare. If you wind up seeing the film and enjoying it, it is a miracle. But you might like it because for some strange reason, it kinda works in its own weird way. I'll be very curious to see what people think of it.

Any idea when we can see the film here in the UK?
I do not know. It is finally getting released in the states on November 30th. Blockbuster picked it up and because zombie films and SHAUN OF THE DEAD are doing so well, it actually may make money. But despite all the problems, it is still my film but you have to understand it was made for nothing and I tricked York into making a comedy zombie film.

The one good thing to come out of it was that it was the last straw for me. After CORPSES I went right on to JACQUELINE HYDE which I co-produced for the first time with Gabriella Hall under her Pixie Flick Entertainment company. And JACQUELINE was a wonderful experience. We had a great cast, treated everyone right, had a good caterer, and made a sexy horror film that really works as a modern day female take on the classic Robert Louis Stevenson tale, "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde". We are almost finished and screening the film at the AFM in L.A. in November. With any luck, it will be picked up soon and released everywhere.

If all goes well, it will lead to a slate of three new horror films under my own company banner, VALKHN FILMS. I've got the scripts and they're ready to go. Meanwhile, I'm dealing with another producer right now who's trying to put together a slate of ten horror projects and has the remake rights to a bunch of 80's titles like THE HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW, MUTANT, THE UNINVITED, WITHOUT WARNING, THE DARK, THE POWER, and some others. Scripts are in the works for HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW and MUTANT. At the moment, I am attached as director on both projects. So, if things keep up, next year may be very busy and productive. Hopefully, THE HAZING, CORPSES, and JACQUELINE HYDE will lead to bigger and better things.

"Thank you ever so much for taking part in this interview Rolfe.
And we wish you the very best of luck in the future."

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