He sent Amy and I a short script for a sequence that was meant to parody outer-space B-movies (specifically the Fred Olen Gray movie “Hybrid”). Four astronauts, stranded on a deserted planet, are being hunted by a monster, but can only focus on bickering amongst themselves. Paul was coming into Pittsburgh for the annual Monsterbash convention (where Thomas appears every year as “Ygor”), and wanted to shoot the short scene then. He asked us to scout for a rocky terrain that would serve as a deserted planet, and we found the perfect location by a local shopping mall.
As it turned out, come time to shoot, Bill had to work. Our co-producer and actor friend, Charlie Fleming, agreed to fill Bill’s shoes (ew!). Much to Charlie’s surprise, the costumes Georgeann had made for us were one-size fits all. Charlie’s about a foot taller than Amy or I, and proportionately wider. He’s not fat by any means, but stuff a six-foot man into a suit meant for someone smaller and thinner … let’s say that he looks exactly like an aging Gil Gerard in the segment.
Upon arriving on the “set” – the previously-mentioned vacant rocky lot alongside a busy intersection – we began blocking out the scene, which required Charlie’s and my characters to bicker and then launch into an elaborate fist fight. Immediately, Paul broke a cardinal rule of working with members of our group: never – ever – ask if we “had any ideas”. We quickly launched into an impromptu fight choreography, based on old episodes of “Lost in Space” – lots of hesitating and telegraphing punches, lots of grunting and mugging. Lots of sweating.
For their parts, Amy and Georgeann played off of each other in a separate sequence – requiring Amy to pull a gun on Georgeann’s intentional bad acting.
The punchline of the sequence had to be shot the most. While we all had our share of blown lines – involving laughing fits caused in no small part by our co-conspirator, Tim Gross (“Severe Injuries”), who was making fun of us as he held the boom – the last bit of the segment cracked everyone up.
This science-fiction parody is the last part of three short gags in the film. “Dr. Horror” is trying to cure Nathan Sears’ character of his fear of sex. But “Leslie” also has a stronger fear of lesbians, and each “erotic” film he’s shown (one parodying Jim Wynorski’s sexy private eye movies, a second parodying Jay Lind’s overly-stylized horror “erotica”) culminates in an implied lesbian scene (girl one: “I’m just too tense.” Girl two: “Here, let me help.”). So guess who gets those two lines at the end of this sequence?
If you guessed Amy and Georgeann, you’re way off track.
Pretending to find Charlie attractive was not my greatest acting trick. Pretending to find Charlie attractive without laughing was a much greater feat.
A year later, “Dr. Horror’s Erotic House of Idiots” was premiering in New York to predominately positive reviews. Well after we wrapped, the movie grew to “The Longest Day” of horror-parodies, in terms of the shear amount of cameos to be found within. And even with liberal cutting, the movie still measures out to two hours and ten minutes – including elaborate old fashioned credits and an intermission.
The story is slow to start – it takes time to get the plot moving – but it’s never anything less than funny. For my money, there are a number of stand-out sequences – the musical number is terrific, and Rachael Robbins (“The Screaming Dead”) takes a hilarious turn as a spooky/sexy horror host. There’s also a very funny sequence involving Debbie and a vibrating phone (it’s exactly what you think I’m referring to). And while it may just be egotism, I’m really happy with the way our segment turned out. Paul’s editing really shines in this sequence, keeping the pace fast and our dialogue faster. And the “surprise” payoff would have worked with any actors – a tribute to the “bad” writing in the scene. From what I’ve been told – perhaps overly-graciously – our sequence was one the best received.
What’s going to happen to the film now is anybody’s guess. I know that Paul is considering going the self-distribution route, fearful of what distributors might ask him to do to the epic. I know of few big houses that would even be interested in a two-hour-plus homage to obscure movies and actors. So I’m doing my turn as a good collaborator and friend to spread the word about “Dr. Horror’s Erotic House of Idiots”.
So if you consider yourself a supporter of the no-budget arts, a fan of any of the actors, or just someone who loves really funny movies, you are encouraged to visit www.scrabo.com and hound Paul for a copy. Offer him any amount of money. There’s no fee too big to pay. Seriously. The movie is worth it! (Plus, I’d really like to get paid next time.
Mike Watt attempts to explore all the things that make Geek culture great, as well as pointing out all the things that make Geeks genetically superior to all other humans. During the course of this exploration, he may undoubtedly have to reveal horrid truths about Hollywood and Mainstream Cinema, as they compare to the riches of independent filmmaking. Ultimately, he hopes to bring higher awareness of and respect to Geek Culture, as well as secure a hefty book deal and the accolades of his (richer) peers. Feel free to lavish him with affection (or bitch at him) at email@example.com.