Q: You have had an amazingly varied career in the movies- working with everyone from Russ Meyer, to Werner Rainer Fassbinder, to Andy Warhol, to Jesus Franco- as an actor, producer and director. In 1980 you made THE BOOGEYMAN (which was known here in the UK as THE BOGEY MAN), a unique film which mixed supernatural elements with, the then popular slasher genre; and was an International hit- grossing $25 million World wide- on an initial budget of $350,000. You had, the previous year, finished the Warhol funded COCAINE COWBOYS and BLANK GENERATION- what prompted you to do turn to the horror genre at that time?
I was in need of a strong audience response. Since laughter is too tricky to create (comedy is very difficult without great comedians), I remembered the intense reaction to "Tenderness" and came up with "Boogeyman". I did a lot of theater in my early years and missed immediate audience responses. I went to many screenings and just loved the audiences' reactions. It amused and entertained me to see them scared or whatever their reactions were.
Q: Of course THE BOOGEYMAN was no run of the mill horror movie; and indeed it wasn't your first foray into the genre- you'd made THE TENDERNESS OF WOLVES (1973)- a fascinating and disturbing film about a child killer in pre-Hitler Germany. Despite cosmetic nods to successful American genre movies at the time it is pretty unlike any of them. There is a mixture of perversity and fetishism- especially in the opening scene which turns the all-American family on its head with a drunken Mother and her silent beau, with the stocking over his head, who's abuse of her voyeuristic son ends in bloody murder. A scene all the more vivid when it is followed by such a contrast, an example of Apple pie All- American family values- the trip to Sunday mass. Were you surprised that the film was such a big hit with mainstream audiences?
I'm always surprised. Even when the movie is a flop. You never know what to expect. Timing and other mysterious elements are such big elements in determining where a film goes.
Q: At that time, in the late 70's and early 80's, the horror movie- especially the slasher film, was incredibly popular at the box office in the States and around the World. Were there any films from that time that especially impressed you? Or indeed you despised!?
I didn't care much for the "Friday 13th" series and "Halloween" sequels. I like to see a clear POV and not just lots of blood for the hell of it.
Q: Correct me if I'm wrong but I detected a nod to Mario Bava in THE BOOGEYMAN, both with the evocative lighting throughout the film; and the graphic lakeside murders which reminded me of his yet black comic gialli BAY OF BLOOD from 1971- am I right?
It may surprise you (as it does me) but I never saw a single Mario Bava Film. But maybe now I'll catch up on that. I don't watch many movies at all. I prefer to go to bed and dream. I don't listen to much music either. I like when it's very quiet and I can hear the wind in the willows tell me another story.
Q: In 1983 you produced THE BOOGEYMAN II (re-named REVENGE OF THE BOGEY MAN in the UK), where you play a director in Hollywood whose plans to film a version of the events in THE BOOGEYMAN sparks off a fresh rash of murders. A quote of yours which interested me was- "I lured the exploitation crowd in, but then tried to surprise them with subversive or radical movies." THE BOOGEYMAN II as well as being a sequel seems to reflect your feelings about Hollywood at that time and the people who hang around the movie business- it comes across that you didn't like Tinsel Town very much and used the film to say so! Is that a fair assumption?
Joseph Goebbels - who is my favorite nasty PR guy - returend to Hollywood during the 80s and has been ruling ever since in the guise of......well, you name them.
Q: I thought it was interesting that, before his death, Lucio Fulci accused Wes Craven of ripping off his film NIGHTMARE CONCERT (1991), which tells the tale of horror movie director who becomes embroiled in his own creations, when he released the equally reflective WES CRAVEN'S NEW NIGHTMARE in 1994. I couldn't help but think when re-watching THE BOOGEYMAN II that your film was the pre-cursor to them all! Do you think your film would have been better received if it had been made later?
Except for a very few reviewers who saw the underlying things in it, most disqualified the film as a slasher. And I suppose that would still be the case today. Most people just don't bother.
Q: Living in the UK I originally saw both THE BOOGEYMAN and it's first sequel on video at quite a tender age back in 1983. They were then promptly banned in this country as 'video-nasties'- what was your reaction when you heard what had happened to them?
On this hilarious double-standard, full of BS and pretenders planet you're not surprised anymore. Just look at J. Edgar Hoover et al. I mean what a riot!
Q: There was another sequel made in 1994, RETURN OF THE BOOGEYMAN (aka BOOGEYMAN 3)- released by Simitar on DVD in the States; starring Suzanna Love (who also starred in the first two BOOGEYMAN films). What was your involvement in that production?
Anyone who wants to use my footage and turn it into another sequel can do so provided they pay me (and that could be as low as $1, depending on my cash situation).
Q: I hear plans are afoot for another BOOGEYMAN film. What will this one be about; and will you be directing it this time?
I may direct, we're creating a comic strip creature who acts as a villain but actually is the hero. The real villain is a young lawyer who is a serial killer, but loved and adored by his fellow men. Comme toujours, non?
Q: Finally, I read that you said: "Unlike many artists, who grow older and their works become more status quo, safe and mediocre, mine will - I hope - become more subversive and rebellious. I wish to make movies in my 80s and 90s that are like the movies Bunuel or Pasolini made before they died." So, Bunuel bowed out with THAT OBSCURE OBJECT OF DESIRE (1977), and Pasolini bowed out with the incredible SALO, OR THE 120 DAYS OF SODOM (1975)- what would your dream project be to ensure you went out with a bang?!
Several bangs, I hope. One of them is a film about the American insanity of what they call "freedom" in this country.