On this edition of Parallax Views, July 4th is just around the corner. What better way to celebrate than hitting the beach! Of course, if you're not careful in that water you could get munched up by a shark like in JAWS. Or worse... PIRANHA WOMEN!
Piranha Women is the latest effort of Charles Band's long-running horror/fantasy/sci-fi factory Full Moon Features. It's also a return to said genre for it's director, the legendary independent filmmaker Fred Olen Ray. For a number of years now Fred has been working on TV, including making Hallmark Christmas movies with Chevy Chase and Lifetime thrillers. For him filmmaking is not merely some hobby, but a profession. Simply put, he's a working class filmmaker. Prior too much of his television work, Fred directed a great number of horror, sci-fi, action, and fantasy pictures during the VHS boom in the 1980s and a number of erotic thrillers during that genre's popularity in the 1990s. Among some of the cult classics Fred has directed are Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, The Tomb, Biohazard, Cyclone, Evil Toons, Inner Sanctum (one of the most successful video rentals of the 99s), Beverly Hills Vamp, Witch Academy, Alienator, Deep Space, Star Slammer, Bad Girls from Mars, Mind Twister, Attack of the 60 Foot Centerfolds, Inferno, Possessed by the Night, and countless others. Through it all he's worked with such well-known actors as Ice-T, Don "The Dragon" Wilson, David Carradine, Sybil Danning, Martin Landau, Nightmare on Elm Street's Heather Langenkamp, Eric Roberts, Gunna Hansen (Leatherface in the original 1974 Texas Chainsaw Massacre), Morgan Fairchild, comedy movie legend Eddie Deezen, Bond girl Britt Ekland, Twin Peaks' Russ Tamblyn, Sid Haig, and many, many others. A monster kid that grew up on drive-in horror movies, Piranha Women marks Fred Olen Ray's returns to the type of fun genre fare that's made him a cult figure amongst cinema buffs. And it stars such beauties as Carrie Overgaard and Keep Chambers as the deadly titular fish women.
In this conversation Fred and I discuss a number of topics including:
- The secrets of indie filmmaking from matching shots to filming big name actors on a schedule
- Working with classic actors like John Carradine, Aldo Ray, and Cameron Mitchell
- The tricks he used to film the animated monster in the ambitious low-budget live-action horror Evil Toons
- Working with Full Moon and thoughts on the promotional wizardy of Charles Band
- Filming nude scenes with actresses
- How to make films on low-budgets and tight-schedules
- The craft of filmmaking
- Orson Welles' cinematographer Gary Graves and his sabotaged film Moon in Scorpio
- How he began working on Hallmark and Lifetime movies; what TV networks expect out of him as a director and why he gets the job
- Filmmaking as a job rather than a hobby
- The killer ta-tas gag in Piranha Women
- The rise and fall of the "Scream Queen" cycle of films in the 1980s directed by Fred, Jim Wyrnoski, and David DeCoteau starring actresses like Linne Quigley, Michelle Bauer, Brinke Stevens, and Kelli Maroney
- Advice to young filmmakers and what Fred looks for in young filmmakers (including discussion of Fred's producer credits for Steve Latshaw's Jack-O, which was recently re-released on Blu-Ray by Fred's Retromedia company, and Henrique Couto's Bigfoot web-series Boggy Creek)
- And much, much more!