A Life In Blood – Tales of A Horror Queen by Genoveva Rossi #5 – A Death House Special

A Life In Blood – Tales of A Horror Queen by Genoveva Rossi #5 – A Death House Special

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gendh5Shock and sadness ran threw the horror community in November 2015 when Gunnar Hansen died of pancreatic cancer. Horror fans all over the world mourned the passing of Leatherface, but Hansen was able to leave loyal fans with a parting gift: Death House.

What is Death House? It is an incredibly ambitious horror film written by Gunnar Hansen and director Harrison Smith. This film has been called “The Expendables of Horror” due to it’s spectacular casting choices: Adrienne Barbeau, Bill Moseley, Kane Hodder, Sid Haig, Michael Berryman, Tony Todd, Barbara Crampton, Dee Wallace, Tom Savini, Bill Oberst Jr and more. Directed by Harrison Smith.

gendh1I am truly honored to have a cameo among such a talented cast and crew. It was great to spend some time on set with horror icon Kane Hodder. We have both been guests at the same cons a few times, but Death House is our first film together. While on set, Hodder said, “It is truly an honor to be in Death House. This is an amazing film.”

Michael Berryman and I previously worked together on a Sci-Fi thriller called Apocalypse Kiss and it was great to be in a film with him again.

“I was very proud to be a part of this film. Gunner was a good friend and the story is solid with a cast that includes many friends and the best actors in our genre. Harrison is a keen director with an editor’s eye as the scenes are composed. I know that this film will be well received.” -Michael Berryman

gendh3“Harrison Smith is an actor’s director with affection for our genre’s past and a real vision for its future. Gunnar Hansen would be very, very proud of what Harrison has done with DEATH HOUSE, and speaking as a life-long fan of classic horror, so am I.”
-Bill Oberst Jr.

A big thank you to “Scary” Sheri Fairchild and her husband Frank Nicosia. I have worked with both actors on a few film projects in the Buffalo area and Sheri reached out to tell me Death House was looking for more actors.

gendh4I was going through my own spiritual upheaval at the time. I had found my poor mother passed away of a sudden heart attack on Easter Sunday. That huge loss had left me shaken, but not beaten. My mother always said, “My daughter is tough” and lately I have been challenged to continue to prove her words right no matter the obstacle; even losing her so tragically. But God only gives us what he knows we can bear.

So I got in touch with the casting director of Death House and ended up on set in Philadelphia at the beautifully grotesque and haunting Holmesburg Prison. I had the good fortune of being in a scene with screen legends Barbara Crampton and Dee Wallace.

gendh2While on the set of Death House I was able to sit down and talk with producer Rick Finkelstein. He explained, “This film was started by Gunnar Hansen. It has really come together better than we ever imagined. We have the best locations, best cast, horror icons, and an amazing script.”

Even the location was perfect, Holmesburg Prison, which is part of the Philadelphia prison system. It’s history already sounds like a horror movie. For thirty years chemical companies tested on inmates with sometimes horrific results. Also the prison warden and assistant were murdered mere steps from where we conducted our interview.

gendh6Watch for Death House for it’s amazing cast, horrific special effects, and to see Gunnar Hansen’s last blood splattering performance. This film was Leatherface’s baby, it was Gunnar’s dying wish that Death House be finished, and made into a huge success in the genre. Horror fans are sure to enjoy this truly epic film. Finkelstein promises, “When you leave this film you will be questioning your own thought processes and concepts of good and evil.”

gendh7This article is dedicated to the memory of Gunnar Hansen and my mother.

Interview With Actor – Jasper Cole by Stuart Anderson

Interview with actor, Jasper Cole.

When I was growing up I, like many kids of my age I suppose, had dreams of becoming an actor. In fact I pretty much had it all mapped out for myself. In my particular case I had no real desire to be a future James Bond or Count Dracula. No, for some reason I always saw myself as one of those familiar, but not too famous horror movie character actors that seem to pop up in seemingly every other film. You know how it goes –  ” oh that’s whats-his-name from that thingamajig movie”. My idea of an acting career was in part to be more concerned with the craft of acting but just as importantly (well in truth, probably more so), I wanted to spend my days biting the necks of beautiful bossomed Hammer horror actress’s rather than simply being famous. It was quite a few years until I realised that this was never going to happen, the fact that I had absolutely no tangible acting bone in my body may have had something to do with that.

It all came to a depressing head during auditions for the School Nativity play when I was 12 and losing out to Craig Witherspoon for the role of shepherd number 5 – Not only did I lose out to the only other boy left in the class, he also had a bloody speech impediment that made ‘Jesus’ come out as sounding more like “JESHUSH’. In my nightmares I can still clearly hear “Hail baby Jeshush, the Messhia!”.

I knew at that point that my career as any sort of actor was dead right there…..not that the painful memory still lingers, you understand.

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Well I’m not going to mess with him – are you?

So It is my absolute pleasure this week to have the chance to speak to an experienced actor (I won’t use the word ‘veteran’ as I always think it makes one sound decrepit and ready for the knackers yard) who has well over a century of television and film credits, not to mention a veritable string of theatre and writing credits to his name.

Jasper Cole definitely has that familiar “I know him from something” look, being a long-time stalwart of TV and film. As recently as 2013  he appeared in the much maligned (well I liked it actually) hit horror film,Hansel & Gretel as “John”, the son of the legendary actress, Dee Wallace. His film credits also Include 18 Again, Alien Nation, Get Your Stuff, Friday the 13th Part VIII, andUrban Assault-TKO. Jasper is perhaps most well known for his portrayal of the genuinely creepy Zeke Pleshette in the film MacGruber, alongside a certain Mr Val Kilmer.

As well as film he’s also appeared in numerous theatrical and television productions, with his TV work continuing notable appearances on shows such as C.S.I., Married With Children, Saved By The Bell, Touched by An Angel,Party Of Five, La Femme Nakita, Tales From The Crypt,Baywatch,PacificBlue and Clueless. Jasper has been regularly nominated for awards (nominated for best actor in the stage production of A Quiet End in 1996) besides achieving best supporting actor in the Drama-logue Awards for his role in Fool for Love in 1995. As recently as he received critical acclaim for his work on Michael Eisner’s Emmy Nominated series, Prom Queen.

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Prom Queen

It’s clear that Jasper’s career has been somewhat varied, though it would be fair to say that in recent years he has become a firm favourite of the contemporary horror community. In the last few months he has become a Facebook friend of mine (I know, get me) and not only is he talented and successful, he’s also a bloody nice guy. As you’ll now see for yourself.

Me) Firstly many thanks for taking time out of your schedule, Jasper. how’s life treating you at the moment?

J) All is good and thank you…just chillin here at my house in Palm Springs. If I’m not working in Hollywood I’m here every chance I get.

Me) For those foolish enough not know much about you, could you tell us a little about yourself – I understand that you are part Native American for example?

J) Yeah I’m part Cherokee Indian and part Irish so needless to say there was a lot of alcohol involved lol…I grew up in Athens Georgia and moved to LA when I was 23 so I have been here 27 yrs this coming September. It’s been an AMAZING journey!

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Jasper & Val Kilmer in the ‘who’s bum looks best?’ competition
Me) I know you’re probably sick of being asked what Val Kilmer was like to work in MACGRUBER – BUT,  I’ll ask you anyway!!  I think he’s often had something of a raw deal over the years in the press. What was the experience like?

J) Well, I was and am a big fan of Val’s so it was an honour to just work with him at all and it was a great time. He’s very funny and eccentric in the best way possible. We shot out in New Mexico and Val actually lives there as well and in fact at that time there were rumours he was gonna run for Lt. Governor of that state so we had some “interesting” conversations about politics. Needless to say he was GREAT in the film and a true highlight of my career.

Me) I’ve often thought that it would be preferable to be a regular working character actor than a more wider known famous figure where the craft of acting might be lost in the publicity machine. Would you exchange being well-known within horror and other genre’s but perhaps lesser so in the wider public consciousness as you are now or to be transported into the fame and money stratosphere of a Val Kilmer? 

J) lol the “grass is always greener” right? Honestly, all I ever really wanted when I started out was to be a working actor who is respected within my industry and it has taken me many years to get here but I wouldn’t change a thing…HOWEVER as I get older I would really love a steady television gig….second or third side kick maybe just recurring who shows up periodically and does his thing. Otherwise I’m good to go!

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Frank Giamona (left) & Jasper with ‘mum’ Dee Wallace

Me) Does it bother you (as it does me) that horror is still regarded as the poor man of movies and something merely to “move on from” for an actor?

J) Its a real mystery to me because horror is one of the most profitable at the box office consistently…low budget or studio level and for me I have moved “into horror” rather than “move on” from…I’m truly grateful to be a part of this genre on any level. The fans are the most loyal and diligent in the world.


Me) You have a distinctive look (you know, good looking with more than a hint of menace) 🙂 . Have you had to fight against being typecast in movies as ‘bad guy number 1’ ? 

J) Thanks,,I always laugh and say it took me so many years to be TYPECAST that I hope to stay on this beloved “list” til the very end…Theatre is the place to stretch as an actor and try different parts….TV/film is where you do your consistent thing and I am forever grateful to be typecast.

Me) It seems that you’re not that busy at the moment – well that is apart from appearing in THE PURGE ANARCHY opening in July. You apparently also have two horror thrillers coming out soon, CAPTURED and MODEL HOME. In addition to those I hear that you are about to start the horror film SAVAGE SISTAS.   Oh yes, if that wasn’t enough you’re in the middle of shooting DARK SPIRITS  opposite the gorgeous and talented Lynn Lowry and Mindy Robinson. What can you tell us about some of these productions? 

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Jasper and Erica Renee Johnson from the set of Savage Sistas
J) Wow..when you put it like that I do seem busy..lol…seriously I’m beyond blessed to have worked on these great projects Obviously to work with Michael Bay and Jason Blum in THE PURGE: ANARCHY was a huge  honor and its an amazing script and film. I play a “Homeless Man” who lives in a dipsy dumpster trash can and appears during the purge in a very scary way…….CAPTURED is another great script written and directed by Joe Arias and its stars Brittany Curan and Kristin Prout and a ensemble of amazing young actors…I Play “Shelly” the creepy groundskeeper who holds a lot of family secrets that get revealed throughout the film……MODEL HOME was a thrill to work with Monique Gabrilla Curnen and Emmy winner Kathy Baker. I play “Walker” a desert rat who stumbles into a nightmare and cant get out. Patrick Cunningham was a superb director to work with and his script is one of the best ever and a concept we haven’t seen before…… SAVAGE SISTAS is my first lead in a horror film and it’s a blessing to actually play a “Cop” for a change although he’s not necessarily a good cop after all. Dan Smith has written and directed a true original film and the female leads are unique to the horror genre and KICK BUTT!……DARK SPIRITS was a chance to reunite with one of the CAPTURED producers Ewan Bourne and I play a “Dark Butler” who is up to no good but is enslaved to his “Master” who is played by the stunning  Mindy Robinson.

Me) Would you possibly be ably to tell Lynn Lowry that I’ve been more than a little smitten with her for quite a while and that I’d love to interview her…….pretty please? 

J) Lynn is so lovely and kind and I will most definitely tell her and I’m sure you will love her too!
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The lovely Lynn Lowry

Me) Have you ever worked over here in the UK? 

J) have not worked there but two of my goals left for my career are to do theatre in both New York and London.

Me) Finally, the most important question (remember, I’m a psychologist) – Alien or Predator?

J) Wow that’s a tough one but I’m gonna have to go with PREDATOR

Me) Thanks Jasper, mate for taking the time to answer the questions. Take care!  

J) Thanks so much and keep up the great work!

So there you have it. He has a varied & successful career that keeps on going from strength to strength. He lives in Palm Springs, works in Hollywood but has managed to stay a genuinely nice guy with a good line answering my inane interview questions. So I will forgive him for getting the Alien or Predator question wrong – though obviously the man can look after himself so maybe I’ll keep that piece of information from him…..

Seriously though, I would like to thank Jasper Cole for the interview. A good guy & a good actor.
Jasper can be viewed, contacted and researched at the following links;

The Lords of Salem (2012) DVD Review

lords1The Lords Of Salem – 2013 – DVD

101 mins.

Dir: Rob Zombie

Starring: Sheri Moon- Zombie, Ken Foree, Meg Foster, Dee Wallace, Bruce Davison, Jeff Daniel Philips, Patricia Quinn, Judy Geeson.

 

The Lords of Salem is Rob Zombie’s fifth film, and just like his previous four has sparked rather extreme reactions from audiences. How you feel about Lords will greatly depend on how forgiving you are of Zombie’s creative indulgencies and his refusal to give in to what people expect of him, as here he is at his most stubborn.

When local Salem DJ, Heidi, receives a record as a gift from ‘The Lords’ her life collides with Salem’s past in an hallucinogenic nightmare. The music goes out over the airwaves and seemingly has strange effects on the women of Salem leading to a crescendo of craziness that brings the past and the present crashing together.

lords2Plot wise, that’s about all there is to it as this isn’t really a story driven film. Zombie instead opts to step outside of his comfort zone and offers a more visual, surrealist approach. In doing so he has created a lot of debate and alienated a lot of his hardcore fans. This is a shame because there is a lot here to like, and a lot to suggest that Mr. Zombie isn’t far away from a bona fide masterpiece.

Zombie’s insistence on testing himself creatively is apparent from the start. House of 1000 Corpses, The Devil’s Reject’s, and the Halloween movies are all brutally immediate; beginning with unflinching sequences of violence. Here he opts for a slow burn, introducing us to his characters through their interactions rather than their aggressions. His Salem is populated with kooky but likeable folk that mark a departure from the bloodthirsty killing machines of what came before. In fact there is hardly any on screen violence here at all, which seems to be what has irked most fans.

Once Salem is exposed to the music of ‘The Lords’ the film shifts gear. The quiet slow burn of the early scenes gives way to a psychedelic assault of images and it becomes a strange, esoteric affair. It ditches conventional narrative almost entirely and happily leads the viewer into a world of cackling hags, mutant dwarves, and masturbating priests. As I said earlier how you feel about all this will depend on how forgiving you are of Zombies creative indulgencies as he shows no concern for the conventional, and sometimes seems to be out to deliberately alienate his audience. Visually he seems to have taken his inspiration from the surrealist nightmares of Dario Argento and David Lynch, and like their more demented offerings there is a refusal to offer all the answers.

lords3He hasn’t quite got the panache of those directors at their best, but he is not far off the mark. The imagery sometimes barrels into camp territory as it becomes so deranged its almost funny. But when he exhibits a little self control there are some really haunting moments, particularly the scenes of witchcraft in old Salem. Moon- Zombie holds the screen pretty well too. Mrs Zombie has come in for a lot of criticism in the past, but here she proves a strength, giving the movie a dreamlike haunted presence at its centre. She is surrounded by Zombie’s usual collection of genre faves like Ken Foree, Meg Foster, and Dee Wallace to name just a few and they all put in a decent shift. But ultimately they are second fiddle to the movies wild hallucinations.

Ultimately Lords of Salem sums Rob Zombie’s film career up pretty well. You either love it or hate it. But Zombie is evolving as a film maker and is developing a style very much of his own, and when he can shake the clinging shadows of his inspirations, be they the seventies grind house heroes, or the operatic art house auteur, there is a great film waiting to happen.

8/10