SOV Flashbacks Classics – Twisted Batman Theater

In 1998 coming off the short film Teen Suicide, another project was in the works that was being created by my brother Bryan called Twisted Batman Theater and this was so much different then Teen Suicide as this film did not have any live action actors, it was done completely with action figures with only two voice actors. But I am getting ahead of myself here so let’s take a look at the making of Twisted Batman Theater, the second film ever made in the world of Independent B Movie’s long and winding history!

In 1998 my brother Bryan was attending Sinclair Community Collage in Dayton, Ohio. He was taking a class about the works of William Shakespeare, and for one of his class projects he decided to do a video that would combine the Shakespeare stories Romeo & Juliet as well as Macbeth with DC Comic book characters Batman and Robin, more specifically the 1966 TV versions of the cape crusaders…and he decided to do the film using action figures and make it stop motion! So he spent a couple of weeks writing the script and taking elements from the plays and added in cheesy jokes filled with pop culture references as well as cameos from many super villains and actors. Before the script was done, he contacted our grandparents on my dad’s side and borrowed their VHS camcorder as it had some great built in effects and was perfect for what he needed. He also started digging through our old action figures using his Kenner Superpowers Batman and borrowing my Superpowers of Robin, The Joker and Penguin, my Catwoman figure from Kenner’s Batman Returns toyline not to mention my Toy Biz DC Superhero Figures of The Riddler and Mr. Freeze as well as many other figures from both of our old collections. And once the script was written, he asked me to run camera for him as well as voice a few of the characters and he created the production company Brass Bros, and with that, a second film was in my future.

My brother spent time building sets out of cardboard, construction paper, and we messed with the camera to make sure the angle and zoom was just right to pull off the effect of the figures moving, and of course like all good brothers we argued about many of the technical aspects as at the time of filming Twisted Batman I was also working with the Fairmont Production crew on a few ideas and we were talking about doing a sequel to Teen Suicide and was asked to help my fellow students on some class projects, that I was not fully involved in, but was happy to help on. And of course, this made me think I knew it all about making shot on video films…and of course I didn’t and this production helped me learn that as well as that when its’ someone else’s vision and film, you do what they ask to make it come alive for them. It’s not about me, it’s about them. My brother set up his “sets” in the basement and used the kitchen table we had down there as his base, and once the script was locked and figures selected to play the parts he needed, the true production started. It was a very time consuming production as it had to be done just right as the camera was not only for filming but was also his editing machine so I had to be on and fast moving on that record button. I remember that we did do some test filming, but I honestly do not remember what we shot or used to make sure that the stop motion movements would also be good for the film. Also to keep some figures in place my brother came up with the idea of using poster putty on the bottom of the figures’ feet.

It took several weeks to film it, and I had to film it between school and running around with my friends. What helped make the shoot smoother was that he needed it filmed in order so we started with the credits and with the lights off and a flashlight in hand we filmed the cast near printer paper that looked like brick walls while the classic Batman TV show theme played. It was a really cool opening credits and a great idea by Bryan. We next filmed Batman and Robin investigating the suicides of Romeo and Juliet, and they of course are bumbling around with cheesy dialogue as most of the characters around them were talking from lines from the Shakespeare writings, and best of all Bryan was also voicing the characters and even playing music cues from a boombox and all the while I had to man the record button to get it all just perfect. And even in the middle of this segment, we had to switch backgrounds to make gag that was tied into the 1997 film Titanic! After the case of Romeo and Juliet was “solved” Batman and Robin along with the Gotham Police head to investigate the murder of King Duncan and have to question Macbeth about it only to have run ins with Super Villains and even sinister witches. And after filming a shocking and cliffhanger ending, the principal photography was done and it was a wrap! And once done my brother took the footage and hooked up two VCR’s and editing started. It was a grueling process that took him a while to get just right, but finally the film was done, Bryan had me and my parents watch it as the test group, and it was lots of fun and even while stressful to make, as I have said we had lots of clashes that even had me quitting and coming back several times…the film was something I am proud of being a part of. Oh and on a very cool note, the end credits were written on paper and done INXS style from the music video for Mediate.

So Bryan then took the film to show his class at Sinclair, and it went over very well with his fellow classmates and his teacher really liking it and of course he got a good grade for it, showing that all his hard work was worth it. The crazy thing was that Sinclair even asked Bryan if they could show the film on TV Screens in their newly designed media building for other students to see, and as far as we know, they played it for a few years. Once the film was done, Bryan donated it to the growing Independent B Movie film library and it became apart of the Indie SOV history for us. Bryan after making the film toyed with the idea of making a sequel as the original film ended on a cliffhanger and he figured it would be fun to mix Batman with a few more Shakespeare stories, but sadly it never went past just talking about it that went on for a few years after. The film would make its way to VHS and sold pretty well at conventions for Independent B Movie, but was done in limited amounts as the same thing could be said for the DVD that was very limited in release. Bryan would go on to make a short film called “Nightmare” in 2001 and that year also started a film called “The Kenny Rogers Project” that had stuff filmed but never finished…but more about those on a future update. On another side note, some time around 2006 my friend Joe Grunenwald and I were developing a spin off movie of Twisted Batman that would have been based around Superman and would have had him doing 12 Labors like Hercules in order to save his friends from such super villains as Lex Luther, Brainiac, Doomsday and King Shark, but sadly this film did not make it too far into creative as both of us were short on time. So while Twisted Batman at this point is not available on home media, you can catch it from time to time on the show “Moraine Playhouse Theater” with host The Creeper has hosted it and it plays on Dayton Public Access stations DATV and MVCC and online station The Monster Channel, and for some years many moons back DATV did play the film on air un-hosted.

So I am sure you toy collectors out there reading this are wondering what toys were used in this film and because I am not cruel, I will do my best to let you know! From Kenner’s “Star Wars: Power Of The Force” line he used Lando Calrissian as Lt. Bando the head of Gotham Police. Also used from Star Wars were Stormtroopers as Gotham Cops, Luke Skywalker was Romeo, Grand Moff Tarkin & Luke Skywalker played Romeo and Juliet’s Dad’s. Dengar played the Friar, Jedi Ghost Of Obi-Wan Kenobi played the Ghost of Macbeth, and from Kenner Return Of The Jedi series Princess Leia played Juliet with The Emperor playing King Duncan. From “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse” figures from Matchbox, Pee-Wee played a Gotham Cop and from Kenner’s “Robin Hood Prince Of Thieves” line, Robin Hood played Macbeth. From Toy Biz line for “Hercules And The Legendary Journeys” he had Xena Warrior Princess play Lady Macbeth, Hercules played a dead guard and Iolaus played a cutthroat assassin. From the McFarlane Toys, KISS played the Witches from Macbeth. From the Toy Biz series “Spider-Man” he had Kraven The Hunter be another dead body for Macbeth’s segment. And he used the following Batman baddies from the following toylines: from Kenner’s “Batman The Animated Series” he used Bane, Kenner’s “Batman Returns” he used Catwoman, Kenner’s “Super Powers Collection” The Joker and Penguin, and from Toy Biz he used Mr. Freeze and The Riddler from “DC Super Heroes”. He also used a generic plastic boat that was bought from K-Mart to use for one small gag. So as you can see, many action figures made up the cast of this film!

In my long time in the world of shot-on-video filmmaking Twisted Batman theater has remained the only stop motion film I have ever made, and while I have said above Joe and I were working on a Superman idea and even at one point I had an epic Flash Gordon one in mind that would have had Flash Gordon mix with Star Wars, Star Trek, Wizard Of Oz, Saga Of Crystar, Buck Rogers, Battle Star Galactica and King Kong, they just never came to life. So I want to say that for these I.B.M films I will write about the plot, my thoughts on the film and will in the end give it a Report Card Grade on the classic A-F scale and will only be judging it on a scale that is ONLY for Independent B Movie/Bloodline Video films. Now it’s with great honor that I bring to you the 1998 short film masterpiece Twisted Batman Theater!

Twisted Batman Theater
Starring – Bryan Brassfield & Matt Brassfield     Directed by Bryan Brassfield
1998     Not Rated     38min     Independent B Movie     DVD-R     Full Frame

Movie: Detective Bando and the Gotham Police Force are at the site of a suicide of a young couple Romeo and Juliet, and they call in famed duo Batman and Robin to help solve the crime as it appears to be a suicide but Batman has his doubts as The Riddler and Bane are on the scene and he thinks they murdered the youths! And once the Friar shows up and alerts Bando that the youngsters killed themselves over their love, he is shot by The Riddler, and Batman and Robin take him and Bane down…but Batman also thinks he is still right and that The Riddler is the one who killed them. Bando gets a call that King Duncan has been murdered, and the Cops and Dynamic Duo rush to the castle to investigate the crime. While there, they meet Macbeth and Lady Macbeth who are acting strange and things get out of hand when The Joker is shown to be the Court Jester and the rock band Kiss are Witches who helped set the stage for why the King had to be killed! As Bando rushes Lady Macbeth to safety, she turns out to be Catwoman and knocks him out, as Batman and Robin are captured by The Joker who is joined by Catwoman, Mr. Freeze, Penguin and Kiss and are strapped to the big book of Shakespeare and when a gag trap goes off they will be crushed! And this is how this shot on video film ends.

Thoughts: This film is a true flashback of my early days of shot-on-video movies as it really was the first and only time I ever got to work on a stop motion film and is the only shot on video film that I worked directly with my brother on that was finished. When watching what Bryan and myself were able to pull off with a consumer VHS Camera and some old action figures is pretty great as while their movements are crude, they nonetheless are pulled off and it does make the toys feel like they are actors and not toys. Also I must say that Bryan did a great job of showcasing the stories of Shakespeare and while keeping true to the stories for the most part was also able to add a very cheesy 60’s Batman humor to them and have Batman being a goof and Robin and Bando being the true detectives doing the work to solve the crimes. The film’s backgrounds and “sets” are cheap looking yet charming and are clearly homemade but it really does add to the film’s charm. Over all this film is very dated in spots with dated jokes and lines, but it does do a great job of bring goofy laughs to viewers…not to even mention the classic music that he used was lots of fun and helped bring scenes to life, even if he had to rush and hit play on a boombox to make the cues happen. Also watching this made me laugh when I heard my voice doing Paul Stanley of Kiss as well as the laughs for Pee-Wee and The Joker…terrible! Also re-watching this made me remember how fun and stressful this film was to make and also made me really look back and think, man Bryan should have done a Twisted Batman 2 as I think he would have made it bigger, better and funnier!

Grade: B

While Twisted Batman Theater was going strong and wowing the people of Sinclair, at Fairmont High School two other films were being worked on by the Junior Media Class, and one would go on to be an adaptation of an Edgar Allan Poe story “Cask Of Amontialldo,” that by many of our original crew is considered one of the best films in our early productions and the other is a bit of a forgotten memory! You see many of my classmates were in other classes together and because most of Fairmont faculty hated me, I was only in a small amount of classes with them and spent most of my days in Media Class being a DJ and editing clips as well had many Study Halls. But for one of their classes, they all had they had to make short films and break into two groups to do so…and because my media teacher seen that deep inside my Metalhead Monster Kid attitude mind, there was an extremely creative person, he talked to that teacher and I was placed in a group to lend a helping hand. I was placed in the group alongside Matt Hoffman and Sarah McMurchy among others and I helped on a production that was based on a war story “Sweetheart Of The Song Tra Bong” that was written by Tim O’Brien, and I even played a dead body in the film killed in action and the worst part of it all is that the film is considered a “lost” film from us, but I am working on some leads to find a copy of the film and when I do, I will do a small update here on Rotten Ink about it. But while that one is gone, Cask Of Amontillado lives on so let’s talk briefly about this film from the early days of Independent B Movie.

Cask Of Amontillado was the second film made at that time and was done by the second group and was of course based on the classic 1846 short story written by Edgar Allen Poe. The film was directed by Rion Neeley, and the group cast Dave Wean as the drunken wine lover Fortunato and Dan Salter played the revenge driven Montressor with Brandon Womeldorff on camera as well as editor, graphics and co-producer. The rest of the crew was made up of Josh Razauskas, Linda Webb and Kelly Ramage, and they filmed many scenes at the Wright Patterson Air Force Base Carnival as well as Woodland Cemetery (that they snuck into at night) both places in, of course, Dayton, Ohio! The climatic end of Fortunato being bricked up was done in the basement of Rion’s home and pulled off with a handful of bricks and some cardboard boxes, and the effect looked great for a bunch of High School Media students. The film of course got the group a high grade in the class and the short film would be watched for years at gatherings and parties. I sadly was not involved at all with the making of this film besides releasing it on home media and allowing Horror Hosts to host it on their shows. The short film that was a Fairmont Production had a run on VHS and sold okay for Independent B Movie. It also was released as an extra feature for the DVD release of the 2002 Brandon Wolmeldorff film Razor. It also got the T-Shirt treatment when Independent B Movie decided to celebrate some of the films with shirts. This short film for me also proved that when Brandon Womelforff teamed with Dan Salter, Dave Wean and Rion Neeley, a team like that could not be beat in the world of shot on video films, oh and the film was shot on Super-VHS.

So just like before, for this I.B.M short film I will write about the plot, my thoughts on the film and will in the end give it a Report Card Grade on the classic A-F scale and will only be judging it on a scale that is ONLY for Independent B Movie/Bloodline Video films. Now it’s with great honor that I bring to you the 1998 short film Cask Of Amontillado!

Cask Of Amontillado
Starring – Dan Salter & Dave Wean       Directed by Rion Neeley
1998     Not Rated     14min     Independent B Movie     VHS     Full Frame

Movie: A carnival is going on and Fortunato is drunk on wine and is stumbling around when he runs into Montressor, a man who unknown to the drunken fool has a taste for revenge in his heart as he feels that Fortunato has disrespected him and his family name. Montressor tricks the drunken fool to follow him with the promise of tasting some wine that he is thinking about buying and the pair leave the carnival and start the journey to the wine cellar. Fortunato follows Montressor across a cemetery and finally they arrive at the wine cellar that is empty and Montressor chains his “friend” to the wall and then bricks him up leaving him to die…before blowing out the candle and ending the feud forever.

Thoughts: Edgar Allan Poe is a master of gothic style horror stories and it was a great choice for Rion Neeley and his crew to pick to do as I know that Rion along with Dave, Dan and Brandon all loved the work of Poe and this was one of his short stories that they could easily pull off with the no budget they had. Rion was also super smart to ask Brandon to step in and be the cameraman as Brandon always had a great eye for shots as well as using his surroundings and even slow motion to build up the tension. The fact that they were able to get night shots at Woodland Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio also in my opinion built up the foreboding gloomy fate of Fortunato. I also like how they were able to get Wright Patt Air Force Base Carnival to allow them to film as it added that mood of a festival and why Fortunato was so drunk when he meets his “friend” Montressor. They also did a great job casting as Dan Salter pulls off the moody and broody Montressor who has only revenge on his mind and Dave Wean did a great drunk Fortunato. While sadly I did not get to work on this film and only got to see the finished short film, it is a great little student shot on video film that pulls off an entertaining watch.

Grade: B+

1998 was a great year for Independent B Movie as not only was it the year of Teen Suicide but also Twisted Batman Theater, The Cask Of Amontillado and the The Things They Carried (the only lost finished film in our history) and this was only the start of our long legacy in the world of backyard cinema. When we next take a look at a film from I.B.M’s past, it will be Suicide 2 and good news for you readers that update will be coming later in 2021 so make sure to keep your eyes open for that! Our next update will bring us to our Christmas Eve update and will take us to the jungle to meet the Lord Of The Jungle the man named Tarzan! So until next time, read an indie comic or three, watch an indie film or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next update wait listen “Aaaaah-ah-ah-ah-aaaah-ah-ah-ah”!

SOV Flashback Classics – Teen Suicide

Way back in 1998 I was a senior at Kettering Fairmont High School, a place that I both loved and hated as my fellow students were great, but much of the facility disliked me as I was labeled a Satanist, a trouble maker, and a scumbag metalhead. They threatened to call the police on me  and they had no issues giving me detention, suspending me, kicking me out of classes, trying to expel me and even calling my parents and telling them that they should make me drop out of school! It’s crazy to think that in the late 90’s I was judged by the teachers and such based on the way I dressed as I wore horror movie shirts, 80’s hair bands and comic & TV characters. Plus I was always poorly judged on my artwork of monsters and demons and my writings of spooky stores about killers….they labeled me a threat to others and that’s how the Satanist label was branded on me, because of one terrible art teacher I had in the 9th grade. But because their small minded judgments I would be pulled from classes even if I was getting passing grades and forced into study halls or other classes that they could tuck me away in, and because of this I was placed in Media Class my senior year and that was the best thing for me, even though when they first placed me in the class they had two security guards and a principal escorted me in and sit me away from everyone. Great first impression, am I right? But because of this move I got to learn how to use Super VHS cameras, shoot live school broadcasts, learned how to deck to deck edit, learned Photoshop, how to edit on Avid and how to become a Radio DJ and even had my own shows one being called “Matt And Matt” that was me and Matt Hoffman, a guy that because of this class I became life long friends with. And that was one of the best things about them putting me in this class, I got to meet so many amazing people and friends like Brandon Womeldorff, Dave Wean, Linda Webb, Rion Neeley, Sarah McMurchy, Abigail Keyton, Scott Hunter and many more, all of whom are great people. And because of this class, the shot-on-video, no-budget backyard filmmaking bug that sparkled a creative part of my brain I did not have a means to let out and sparked the birth of Fairmont Productions that would later become Independent B Movie.

Over the years we shot goofy little skits, self-portraits and us just being goofs in the hallways, but it was because of Sociology Class that some of us got to make our first short film about subject that faced teens. This was called “Teen Suicide,” and it became a school cult classic and was a big part of our grade. Many of the Media Students were placed together in this class, and naturally we stuck together as Matt Hoffman, Brandon Womeldorff and myself became a group and took in Scott Harmon and a dude named Chris, and we started to brain storm the idea of what Teen Suicide the short film would be about. After many different ideas we landed on the idea that bullying can lead to youth suicide and we stuck with that idea. Because we were in media class, we also had a pass to leave school grounds to film it and that was a major help as we could take the bullying out of just the hallways and into our character’s normal day-to-day life as well. The “script” was really just ideas that all of us minus Chris came up with. We cast Hoffman as the young man being bullied as sadly he was bullied a lot in school, and Brandon, Scott, Chris and myself all played people that bullied him (I was “Bully 2″), aka we were the real scumbags. When it came down to who was going to direct plus edit the film we all landed on Brandon as he was the best editor of the class and it seemed right that he should also get the directing credit. When it came to camera work, all of us did our part behind the super bulky and heavy Super VHS Camera, and I was slated to also pick some of the music to be used along with Brandon…and of course my selections were W.A.S.P., Motley Crue and Pantera!

The filming took us all over the hallways of the school and we also used the houses of Hoffman and myself. We shot behind Mavericks Cards and Comics in Kettering as well as State Farm Park in Kettering for the film’s tragic ending. My big bullying scene took place behind Mavericks near a weird manmade concrete creek that had me trying to push Hoffman into the water as he hung on for dear life to a pole that was near by. The whole time I had a David Lee Roth type smile on my face with a flannel around my waist and rocking a Whitesnake T-Shirt. The scene went really well and Hoffman looked nervous and slightly scared in the scene, as he really did not want to go into the water…like the scene was planned out. So a few days later we went back to the creek to film him going into the water to maybe slice into the scene and he did so but wore swimming trunks and the add on scene was terrible and was never used and footage lost, so sadly him going into the water will never see the light of day. The film’s ending scene was our big day of production, and if memory serves me right, the only people on set that day was Hoffman, Brandon and myself. The climax had Hoffman shoot himself and fall backwards down a hill in State Farm Park, and I can remember Hoffman was nervous as the stunt was dangerous but after some coaching from Brandon and I, he did it and it looked pretty dang cool for the time. The “blood” we used for the end shot of Matt after he shot himself was ketchup that we bought from K-Mart that was right down the road from the park. Once done with filming that took about 2 weeks to complete, Brandon took the footage and worked his editing magic on the Avid Editing system and it was official Teen Suicide, our first film under the Fairmont Productions banner, was complete!

The day the film was to play in class, our group had to have two people go up and speak to the class about suicide and the film Teen Suicide and after the movie they would have to do a Q&A. After talking it over, it only made sense if Brandon and Hoffman went up as one was the director and the other the main star of the film. The pre-screening talk went well and Brandon and Hoffman gave facts and such about the topic and then it was showtime and man did the film go over well as our fellow students seemed to be drawn in by the film’s subject and the song by Pantera that was Suicide Death Note Part 1 got comments about being well used from them as well. But after the film was over and the Q&A started, things got a little awkward and sad as Hoffman dropped a bombshell on everyone and admitted he had tried to kill himself in the past and ran from the classroom after admitting it. Everyone was shocked and Brandon did his best to wrap up the presentation. The teacher then let me and Brandon go and find Hoffman and talk with him. I am glad she allowed us to do this, as it was something I think that was weighing on Hoffman for a long time and you could tell he felt really good after talking to his friends about it. When it came to it getting a grade, we all got an A for it and the film was considered a staple for watching among our friends at parties and get togethers, and remains one of the films that lived on with the crew of Independent B Movie with a sequel and a remake (but they are for another update). It has shown at Horror Conventions like Scary Camp and even played at local now sadly gone theater Paige Manor. While Teen Suicide was surpassed in quality and fanfare by other films we made over the years, it’s one that holds a special place in my heart and I am glad it lives on via DVD and screenings. One other interesting thing I should note about Teen Suicide is that for the most part it is a silent film with just music playing over the scenes from bands like Bush and The Offspring, but during the film climax Matt has the only bit of dialogue in the film as he reads his suicide note left behind for his parents.

I want to also say once we started up as a full indie production company Teen Suicide was released on VHS and later as a double feature with the second film in the series. The film sold just ok on VHS and did better on DVD and was reviewed on many websites and even in print magazines. The cover for the VHS release was done by Brandon and the DVD release cover was done by my brother Bryan and both for the time were well done and I really dig the cover for the DVD as I think it’s eye catching for a very cheaply made film series. Oh and for those wondering, Henrique Couto and his Freak Productions is who made the DVD for us way back when. It’s shocking that a film called Teen Suicide being sold at Horror Conventions in the early 2000’s didn’t sell like hot cakes. The film would also go on and get a limited long sleeve t-shirt released that was designed by students at Fairmont High School that had a white figure with a bullet hole in its head with the words Teen Suicide on him…yep, this was made around 2003/2004 and the teacher let a student make that for us…awesome and how the times changed from when I was a student. The shirts sold really well and sadly over the years I no longer have mine but my pal Josh Weinberg still has his and sent a pic of it so that I can share. So as you can see, Teen Suicide made its very tiny mark on SOV cinema here in the Dayton, Ohio area.

This was so much fun remembering back on the production of Teen Suicide and made me feel like I should go back to my roots so during the Stay At Home 2020 Order here in Ohio, Juliet and I decided to revisit one of the filming locations from the film, the site that was where my first scene ever was filmed in any SOV film…and that was behind Christopher’s Restaurant in Kettering Ohio was the opening to the creek that my character Bully 2 tried to push Matt into the water…and man the area like every thing has changed as the plants and weeds have grown taller and the concrete has became way more beaten up. While we barely visited the spot, it was very cool to take a moment and see it again. Take a look at the picture below as I took it on the day we visited that was May 7, 2020.

So let’s now take a look at Teen Suicide the film and characters that made up this universe, and what it was that drove the Matt character into wanting to end his life. So I want to say that for these I.B.M films I will write about the plot, my thoughts on the film and will in the end give it a Report Card Grade on the classic A-F scale and will only be judging it on a scale that is ONLY for Independent B Movie/Bloodline Video films. Now it’s with great honor that I bring to you the 1998 short film masterpiece Teen Suicide.

Teen Suicide
Starring – Matt Hoffman & Scott Harman     Directed by Brandon Womeldorff
1998     Not Rated     11min     Independent B Movie     DVD-R     Full Frame

Movie: The film takes place in the life of a high school student named Matt and follows him through a week of being bullied by his peers. Day 1 has Matt trying to get his locker open when Bully 1 walks by and shoves him hard into the metal lockers. Day 2 Matt is at school again this time Bully 1 shoves Matt’s face into a sink getting it all wet, and Matt is clearly getting more tired of the constant bullying. Day 3 that damn Bully 1 is at it again and this time in the hall way knocks Matt down making him drop all his books all over the hallway. Day 4 has Matt is outside of School driving to a creek to walk around only to run into Bully 2 who tries to shove Matt into the water, ruining his chance to find some peace with nature. Day 5 while driving around he is carjacked by a bully Car Thief, after walking home the Thief follows him home and fake apologizes in order to get into Matt’s house where he steals his CDs and Car again! Day 6 after losing his car and music Matt decides to visit a park and while looking at flowers Bully 3 appears and beats Matt down and leaves him in a field and Bully 3 jumps into Matt’s car still being driven around by the Car Thief Bully. Day 7 poor Matt has had enough of his torment and writes a suicide note that he reads aloud, he then grabs a hand gun and walks across a bridge and goes atop a hill and kneels and puts the gun into his mouth and pulls the trigger and falls down the hill, with the end shot being Matt with blood on his head and the camera fades out.

Thoughts: Watching this film over 20 years after we made it brought back a wave of nostalgia and makes me miss making these old shot on video films with my friends, as this is the film that really started it all for us. Plus to think I was only 17 years old when we made this film…crazy. The film’s plot is very simple as it just takes a week in the life of a kid who is being bullied and beaten up by his fellow classmates who all seem to just not like him for some reason, and finally on this final week of life all the bad stuff he has gone through piles up and with no help from his parents nor the school he does what he thinks he has to do to end the pain and that’s take his own life. The film is an odd mix of drama, action and even a touch of humor with the end of the film being very downbeat and got the impact we wanted from our fellow classmates. Plus I am a mark for Silent Films and this being a mostly silent film has always made me happy, as our group would not make another silent film until 2002 when we did the Horror Comedy Short “Last Man On Earth”. The “fight” scenes are so cheesy with Bully 3 played by Scott Harmon beating up Matt being one of the worst fight scenes any of us at Independent B Movie has ever been involved with or even shot in our company. I mean it’s super bad, and because it’s so bad, it is fun to laugh at. The true shinning star of this film was Matt Hoffman who plays Matt as he did a great job of allowing his fellow actors to knock him around and even put his heart into the suicide note in the film the he wrote himself, because of this role as well Hoffman would go on to be casted in lead roles in many of our films and would also go on to be a director and script writer. This also was the major jumping off point for Brandon Womeldorff as his editing skills for this time and for his first film edited are solid, and he also showed that he understood how to direct his goofy friends in a serious subject film. The downside is because of being edited on an Avid system and its age, the film is a little bleached out and the whites tend to take over some shots.

Grade: B+

The short film Teen Suicide and Fairmont Productions are two very important creative elements in my life and helped truly lead me down the path of picking up a camera and filming ideas that popped into my mind and lead to many amazing films, shows and skits that I have made over the years. It’s really crazy to think that all of this happened for me by chance as if not for being treated poorly by the school system and placed in the Media class, none of this would have been in my life. I would have never made Teen Suicide as a class project and I would have never met the creative minds and lifelong friends like Matt Hoffman and Brandon Wolmeldorff who both helped birth Independent B Movie along with me as well as Dave Wean, Josh Weinberg and Patrick Neeley. So when writing this update looking back at the short film Teen Suicide, I feel very nostalgic for it and all the creative hard work that little rag tag group of high school students put into it. Below I wanted to share the original VHS tape of this cult classic SOV film and one day soon I hope that Teen Suicide and Suicide 2 will see the light of day again in some home media.

I would like to tell you readers that this is not the last of the films of Independent B Movie that I will be breaking down here on Rotten Ink as sometime in the very near future we will also be talking about the second film I was apart of called “Twisted Batman Theater” as well as a Fairmount Production I helped on called “Cask Of Amontillado”, so make sure to keep your eyes and ears open for that update! And guess what, that Twisted Batman update is next!! So until next update read an indie comic or three, watch a SOV film or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next update for a fun time with Batman and Robin in the world of stop motion shot on video films!

Horror Host Icon: Tim The Enchanter

Many Horror Hosts over the years have aired on TV and been streamed online with some even having direct to video episodes….but what if I told you about one that was only seen on a VHS tape that was passed around to friends…could your heart and nerves survive learning about Scary As Hell Theater and its host Tim The Enchanter! That’s what I love about Horror Hosts, the world is filled with so many that you find new ones all the time and many of them are very entertaining and make you wonder why they did not get the fame that others have. I found Tim The Enchanter while surfing around YouTube and came across some clips of his show and knew that I had to cover him here on Rotten Ink, so it’s with great fun I bring you readers “Horror Host Icon: Tim The Enchanter”!

Tim The Enchanter is a wizard who hosted his show Scary As Hell Theater from 1998 to, well, 1998 for the show’s original run that had him hosting Black Sunday. Tim is a man with a long white mustache and bushy white eyebrows who wears a skullcap, carries a staff and dons a robe who loves to jam out to the sounds of Jethro Tull all the while hosting his creature feature from his living area. He was not an evil wizard but does have a sharp wit with a sinister side and didn’t mind taking a few jabs at people in the film’s productions as well as other pop culture stars. His hosting style has a very The Ghoul vibe to it as he adds his own sound effects and movie bits into the evening’s flick, adding to the comedy aspect. Scary As Hell Theater started in 1998 and only lasted one episode (that Tim hosted, more on that later) that acted as a pilot and a way to entertain friends of the host Tim The Enchanter. Stevie Gothing is the man who created and played Tim and made it for a fake TV network called SPUD-TV that he as well created. So while Tim The Enchanter might not be a household name, he is a Horror Host that you should check out as he has a very classic approach and look. I have also heard a rumor that Tim and his show Scary As Hell Theater might have a return some Halloween season down the line. Oh and I should also note that while only a small amount of Scary As Hell episodes were made, Tim The Enchanter himself made many other appearances on shows that appeared on SPUD-TV.

Tim The Enchanter is a very interesting Horror Host as he truly was a specialty host who was only marketed to friends of the host himself. So while searching the World Wide Web as well as all the magic shops I could think of, I found the one and only Tim The Enchanter who has been nice enough to take a few moments to chat with us and answer 5 Questions! That’s right we are going to have 5 Questions with Tim The Enchanter!

Me: Welcome, Tim The Enchanter to Rotten Ink.  My first question has to be what or who got you into hosting?

Tim: First of all, thanks so much for the opportunity to dust the cobwebs off of the old SPUD-TV footage, and revisit my vintage “Scary As Hell Theater” activities… Well, my formative years were spent in Southern California, during the 1960s, when regional television stations all seemed to harbor a great deal more initiative and creativity than they do these days. My very first glimpses into the realm of Horror Hosts came with the arrival of KCOP Channel 13’s now-legendary “Jeepers Creepers” broadcasts, which was anchored by three different hosts over the years that it appeared on the air. My memories are understandable fragmented, retained in my awareness as marvelously spooky vignettes, steeped in sort of a misty dream state — but that only adds to the macabre allure of it all, I think. Actually, it required a genuine effort for a 7, 8, 9-year-old to successfully keep his eyes open until the 11 p.m. starting time on Saturday nights, and most often, I have to admit, I would typically be able to see the host’s introductory segment, the first piece of whatever movie they were showing, the second host segment, a little more of the movie… and then fast asleep I would invariably to go. But at the heart of it, I was inevitably charmed and delighted by the host’s gloriously spooky attire, their exceedingly creepy demeanor, all of that fake fog wafting in the on-screen atmosphere, and the ornately fashioned coffin as the studio set’s centerpiece. To me, at that highly impressionable age, it didn’t so much matter which movie they were exhibiting — it could’ve been one of those grand old Universal Horror films (so many of them particular favorites of mine, then and now), or it could just as easily have been one of Bela Lugosi’s el cheap-o Monogram flicks, but it was truly the host(s) that lastingly captured my imagination, and ultimately brought me back for more the following week… Furthermore, it cannot be under-estimated how much of an almost spectral presence and massive inspiration dear old Zacherley was during those times. While he was primarily regarded as an East Coast TV personality, enough of his larger-than-life persona and macabre humor seeped into the prevailing mix of things, through various means (novelty recordings, monster magazine articles, and so on) to help reinforce his presence within the wider Pop Culture of those times… A bit later on, more towards the early 1970s, the other measurably significant host whom really made a lasting mark upon my consciousness was the great Larry ‘Sinister Seymour’ Vincent (who notably did time on KHJ-TV and KTLA-TV, respectively). Since I was a bit older by that point, I was primed to understand and appreciate a lot of the over-the-top cynicism and sarcasm employed by him, and to a great degree, that’s where I really got a lot of the sense of how best to conduct my own grass-roots Horror Hosting efforts.

Me: Sinister Seymour, a true Hosting Icon indeed! Tell us how did Scary A Hell Theater as well as SPUD-TV come about?

Tim: My wife, my son and daughter, and I rather abruptly found ourselves relocating (by the mid 1990s) to a small collage town in Idaho, where my wife was employed (following graduate school at U.C. Berkeley) to teach English and Native American Literature courses at the University in Moscow. Truly a wonderful prospect in terms of her early academic career — but as time went on, to be honest, despite the beautiful scenery and charmingly rustic downtown culture, it became a little tedious having to cope with some of the thorny drawbacks of making a life in those surroundings. I won’t go into dreary detail, but some of the indigenous folks could’ve been from another planet entirely, and their strong suit didn’t include tolerance of people basically seen as ‘outsiders’. But hey, it’s entirely possible that they thought we were from another planet as well. Who’s to say? Regardless, all of us tried very hard to make things work, since there was clearly a lot at stake. After my wife and son gave me a video camera for one of my birthdays, I resolved to let off a little steam by creating a mock TV operation, and an exaggerated cast of characters to populate my various video projects, all of it very much fashioned upon the old-school regional TV station dynamic experienced during my younger years. In a way, it was very much a release, and a way to (hopefully) retain my sanity amid some of the lesser desirable aspects of living in Idaho. I lampooned the whole experience through my many video segments, and they were eventually shared with a small circle of friends that resided in other parts of the country (Los Angeles, Hollywood, San Diego, San Francisco, and Minneapolis). Owing to my inherent love of Horror Hosts, one of my characters became a rather arrogant / pompous fellow known as Tim the Enchanter, and he would host an array of short subject offerings, and macabre clips of one kind or another, things like that. Those segments were always delivered under the title of SPUD-TV’s “Scary As Hell Theater”. Well, the time ultimately came, however, to mount a full-blown program, wherein Tim would host a proper Horror film. I selected Mario Bava’s “Black Sunday” (a.k.a. “The Mask Of Satan”), because I had just seen Tim Burton host it on the old incarnation of American Movie Classics for the Halloween season, and off to the races I went with it all. Naturally, I don’t have to tell you exactly how much work it is to put together such an endeavor. And I was just one guy, and I did absolutely EVERYTHING. I wrote it, I taped it, I performed it, I edited it. It was exhausting, but also great fun. I loved it!!! Also, because I was operating in the murky realm of private home video release, I felt as though it was entirely appropriate to stick in whatever snippets I wished from any given source — whether it was a few song samples from a Goth band, or a goofy novelty recording, or even a Monty Python movie quote. I loaded it on pretty thick with Pop Culture references by design, and I ended up being pretty pleased with how the pilot episode came out. Not too terribly shabby for a beginner, but it was like I had been gradually preparing for most of my life to play the part of a Horror Host.

Me: So there is a rumor of you coming back, can you share with my readers what film you’re hosting and what antics we can expect?

Tim: Funny you should ask that. Well, yes, I’ve spent some of the past month or so in feverishly planning a return and a kind of swan song for “Scary As Hell Theater”. Contrary to my earlier hopes, it won’t end up appearing any time this year (2019), due to equipment problems and health care issues. But I have every hope that 2020 will see the return of Tim, perhaps in an ominous threesome of hosting stints, which I would call the “Scary As Hell Theater” Bat film trilogy. Three public domain movies from the olden days: “The Vampire Bat” with Lionel Atwill & Dwight Frye, “The Devil Bat” with Bela Lugosi, and “The Bat” with Vincent Price. And woven into the mix will be something of a behind-the-scenes story thread, which will show Tim in new surroundings, while being required to adjust to these public domain properties, and occasionally vexed and otherwise tormented by his gray-haired CRAB-TV show runner, who will come off as an effective enough foil for Tim’s brand of cranky / never-entirely-satisfied personality. All in all, it’ll be a real pleasure to revisit “Scary As Hell Theater”, and finally see Tim off into the sunset with these episodes. I’m definitely looking forward to it.

Me: Amazing news, and I myself am looking forward to Scary As Hell’s return! When you bring back Scary As Hell Theater will a new episode be released every Halloween time?

Tim: Despite what the fortune cookies may say, the future is unknown. Naturally, I would love to say “YES!”. However, we’ll have to see where we stand after the Bat film trilogy. Time and energy are at something of a premium these days, especially with doing everything myself as I would have to do. We’ll just leave it open-ended. A return is always a possibility, of course. I mean, if Universal Studios could resurrect their Frankenstein Monster, no matter how they might’ve cruelly dispatched him in the previous film, and if even Mr. Spock can be miraculously brought back from the land of the dead, then anything is conceivable. Still, we’ll have to wait and see how things shake out. Sorry to be so vague in my reply. As long as my heart continues to beat as it does, I will always adore Horror Hosts (both classic and contemporary), and I very much like the notion of popping up now and again.

Me: So if you could host any film, what would you pick?

Tim: Ah, what a vastly appealing prospect! Geez, how to chose? There are so many wonderful possibilities. Hmm, I would say (mostly because I had temporarily flirted with this idea just recently) it would be a real blast to host Rob Zombie’s “House Of 1,000 Corpses”. Just sayin’. The glorious possibilities for unbridled riffing, for genre-aware jokes, for pounding into the host segments presentation (preferably with an over-sized clown hammer) my own spin on all of the cinematic and real world references — it would be an extraordinary opportunity. Just think, to be able to drag my best Bill Moseley impression out of the moth-eaten closet, and send the audience into it by exclaiming: “I’ll bet you’d stick your head in fire if I said you could see Hell.”, and / or the classic “HOPE YOU LIKE WHAT YOU SEE!!!” And if I actually did it, sure, it would be massively satisfying beyond all earthly measure. But hey, thanks to the Copyright Overlords, only a very few people within my circle would ever see the result of those ambitious toils, as it would need to be released privately, with a painfully short list of prospective ‘victims’. Oh well, it’s a nice dream, isn’t it?

Me: And lastly, do you have any advice for future Horror Hosts that might be reading this?

Tim: In all likelihood, I would say: “Let your freak flag fly, my children!” No, seriously though. My advice, offered most humbly, would be to throw all caution to the wind and demonstrate your love of the Horror genre by adding your voice to the esteemed crowd. It’s not only a declaration of appreciation for everything which inhabits the realm of Horror (cinematic, literary… in whatever form that you might covet it), but it’s also an opportunity for self-expression and for adding to the magnificent community which is Horror Hosting. It’s also a way to honor the Old Guard, our Horror Hosting heroes. Most of us have them, regional personalities illuminated by the light of our shared times together, during our most impressionable years. All you need is a camera and a little imagination. Go for it, and never let anybody discourage you. Years ago, I sent my hosted “Black Sunday” episode to a friend of long standing, and I was quite excited to eventually hear what her reaction to it would be. Well, it came in its own time, and wasn’t really what I had hoped to hear. She simply said: “Wow! You must have a lot of time on your hands!” I’ll freely admit, I allowed that to somewhat dampen my spirits, and to hinder my momentum in continuing with a series of similar hosting ventures. Don’t let anybody rain on your parade! If you have the energy, the drive, the passion to do it, then by all means, allow no-one to chip away at your resolve. A decade or so ago, I actually had tangible fears that Horror Hosting might be fading away. Happily, I was mistaken. It has come on stronger than ever once again, all over the country, and it shows no signs what-so-ever of being rudely extinguished. You can be a part of all of that, and you will be, if your heart is dark and filled with desire… In any case, I offer my sincere thanks for your time.

Me: Great advice Tim, and thank you for answering these questions that my readers and I enjoyed! I am very much looking forward to seeing the Bat Trilogy, and I will make a promise to you readers that once they are done, I will have them up here on this very update as a well….so I guess you could say it will be an update to an update!

So we have heard from Tim The Enchanter himself and about the future of Scary As Hell Theater…but one thing I am sure you readers did not know is that a second episode with the movie being Evil Dead 2 was made but was not hosted by Tim The Enchanter! That’s right, Tim was replaced by a Host named Graveyard Guy who a little more raunchy and slightly more mean spirited, and yet still held a goofy tone. In fact this version of the show aired on the fake station called CRAB-TV and is surly the nemesis to Tim! So while Graveyard Guy is part of Scary As Hell Theater’s legacy, he is no Tim The Enchanter and let’s hope that in the new episodes Tim gets his show back and he and SPUD-TV show why their Scary As Hell Theater is the only one that matters!

I have always said that to me there is no such thing as a Horror Host that is too big or too small and that every host means something to their fans and viewers, and Tim The Enchanter is a prime example of that. And now we are at the part of the update where I will showcase the episode I have of Scary As Hell Theater. As always, I will not be rating the episode and will take the film’s write up from our pals at IMDB, and I will write about the crazy antics of Tim during the episode. So if you are ready, let’s see what Scary As Hell Theater has in store for us.

Scary As Hell Theater: Black Sunday
Starring – Barbara Steele & John Richardson      Not Rated      1960

Host: Tim The Enchanter starts the episode lip-synching to a Jethro Tull song and then gives us a history of the night’s film as well as cracks a few jokes. During the movie he inserts himself into it to be part of jokes that he plays off the dialogue the characters deliver. He then comes back with a parody of The Blair Witch Project where he apologizes for the show and movie to all the viewers and their families as he freezes outside doing so. He then talks about witches and how much fun they can be! Tim closes the show with his staff and presents a cool look at classic Horror Host Sinister Seymour and then disappears.

Movie: A vengeful witch and her fiendish servant return from the grave and begin a bloody campaign to possess the body of the witch’s beautiful look-alike descendant, with only the girl’s brother and a handsome doctor standing in her way.

So as you can see, Tim The Enchanter is one of those Horror Hosts that only a few diehard Horror Host fans know about, and I hope that this Horror Host Icon update brings him more attention and more viewers and fans for Scary As Hell Theater. I am sure many of you also have caught on that Tim The Enchanter got his namesake from Tim The Enchanter, the character from “Monty Python And The Holy Grail”…pretty cool stuff indeed. So for our next update I will be leaving the world of Horror Hosting behind and will be heading to the world of the frontier as we will take a look at Night Of The Grizzly and the DELL Comic adaptation of this adventure/western film with a dash of Horror. So until next time, read a comic or three, watch a Horror Movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host. Beware the grizzlies are they are meat eaters!