EATERS FROM OUTER SPACE was the first feature length film I ever wrote/ directed/ photographed/ edited myself. Yes, one person
can do all those jobs on a movie; George Romero co-wrote/ directed/ photographed/ edited his fantastic NIGHT OF THE LIVING
After we finished shooting THE BLOODY DEAD with Sam Sherman, that gave me alittle
working capitol to do something else. My whole plan since I was a teenager was to make movies. I had purchased all the equipment
to shoot in the Hollywood 35mm film format and the professional independent film format of Super 16mm film (a high quality
version of 16mm). The only obsticle was money to buy film stock, pay for all the lab work and pay for whatever things that
had to be made or purchased for use in front of the camera telling the story.
Motion picture film stock is very expensive. Though we had shot THE BLOODY DEAD
footage in Super 16 it was paid for by Sam and Independent-International Pictures. It was extremely frustrating that I knew
how to run all the film equipment, had made a bunch of short movies in film, owned all the hardware so no rental was involved,
and I still couldn't afford to make a 90 minute feature in film.
I hate video, but it is getting progressively better over all these years
and will replace film someday. Right now film is still the perfect mastering medium and all new video formats - even digital
formats - are still judged against the quality of film. Film has been around for at least 100 years and is still
the best. However, video is less expensive and within reach of struggling filmmakers.
A new video format was introduced in the 1980s called Super VHS. I checked
it out. It wasn't film quality naturally, but it looked sort of like film in its grain and had a picture sharper than the
professional 3/4 inch Broadcast format. I believe the unions stepped in and killed it as a home video format in the name of
job security (couldn't allow regular people to shoot higher quality stuff than the pros were) and it shifted to an industrial
video format for cheap TV commercials and shows.
I wanted to vomit, surrounded as I was with HQ professional film equipment that
could produce movies as good as Hollywood if I could raise the budgets, but instead being forced to purchase a Super
VHS camcorder and two old used 3/4 inch decks to make my first feature.
Super VHS proved to be a very good, affordable format for low budget movies.
I purchased one of the first Super VHS camcorders available, a Minolta Master, and to this day, 19 years later, it still works!!!
For the TROMA January 25th, 2005 DVD re-release of FLESH EATERS FROM OUTER SPACE and INVASION FOR FLESH AND BLOOD the audio
commentary track was made using the same Minolta Super VHS camcorder that the movies had been shot with and the commentary
track sound for the TROMA DVD is HQ. In fact two brand new reviews of the FLESH EATERS / INVASION DVD praise the
very high quality of their picture and sound.
FLESH EATERS FROM OUTER SPACE wasn't my title. I called it A TASTE FOR FLESH
AND BLOOD, which was changed by the distributor to FLESH EATERS.
FLESH EATERS was my version of WAR OF THE WORLDS. (One critic even suggested
that the huge budgeted INDEPENDENCE DAY ripped off my FLESH EATERS for ideas! Since my movie came first, who knows?)
Even though I was paying for everything and the budget was very small, I really
wanted to make the best movie I could under the poor conditions. It was a volunteer cast and crew. I had to take the
mostly inexperienced group and teach them how to make a movie, or how to do special effects, as we made the movie. This
is why I was forced to wear so many hats; I was the only one who knew how to make a movie on the set.
Gene Reynolds, Kathy Monks, Tony Anunnziata, Steve Mezo, makeup artist Desire'e
Russo, effects artist Cory Geryak, makeup effects artist Anthony Voluo, Shawn Reich and my father made up the workers
making up props and sets and generally crewing FLESH EATERS. Ruben Santiago, Bob Gutosky and Al Vega from THE BLOODY
DEAD came onboard as actors again. Tim Ferrante of FANGORIA magazine and DRIVE-IN MADNESS played a psycho making a bomb for
us killed by the monster.
Gene Reynolds was suppose to create the CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON style
full body suit alien but about two weeks before we were to start shooting he still hadn't made the suit. He suggested we buy
a halloween mask and dress an actor in ratty clothes and use that for the monster. I freaked. It was only the first instance
where people failed to deliver what they promised; many more were to follow unfortunately.
I called Tony Annunziata and together we sketched the monster we wanted
to have in the movie. Then Tony and I got a ton of clay and started scuplting the huge head, arms, legs, trunk, clawed hands
and feet all seperate and made plaster molds to pour the rubber in. We purchased a skin diving suit and had someone big wear
it - I think it might have been Greg Scott - while we glued the various rubber sections on. Greg was originally going to play
the monster, not star in the movie as Commander Riggs. Kathy knew Greg Scott and brought
him into the movie.
Kathy originally didn't want to play Sandra Lynn either but I kinda forced her
into it. The only times prior to this Kathy was onscreen in something we shot was as a subject for a series of makeup tapes
we were shooting for Gene Reynolds and in a TV commercial we did for BOTTOM LINE AUTO CONSULTANTS.
I wrote a script, inspired by WAR OF THE WORLDS, but translated into something
we could shoot local and with little money. The "thrill kill" killing spree of George A Romero's classic DAWN OF THE
DEAD was fun and I tried to dream up as many monster kill scenes as I could. The script was being re-written all during the
shoot to accomodate the lack of control forced on me by a lack of money. All I knew is I had to end up with enough material
on video that when I cut away all the stuff that didn't work there would be enough left to have a functional 90 minute movie.
I used my father as one of the main characters, Professor Hertz. He did as I
asked and approached his role seriously, as did Greg Scott and Kathy Monks. FLESH EATERS is a more serious movie than its
sequel, INVASION FOR FLESH AND BLOOD.
Shooting was exciting and frustrating as we did our best to get on video each
scene that came up.
I remember shooting some of the opening scene at Brookdale Community College
in Lincroft NJ. They have a wonderful underground maze of large walkways there. We shot the monster smashing down a door and
attacking several security guards (Brookdale students). In the monster suit was a very tall, very lean guy named Damion. We
had 4 1000 watt lights blasting away and shot for awhile. When we stopped shooting for the day, Damion removed the Monster
head and poured water out of it into a trash can. He removed the feet and claws and more body water literally poured out.
Crazed, he looked at our food table, said "SALT!!!" and consumed water and salty items. That was the last time I ever
saw Damion. From that shoot on, others wore the monster suit.
While shooting we didn't always get the cooperation from local people and businesses
we needed here in Neptune, so we had to travel to other towns. The Bayville Police Department helped us alot and many of the
officers acted in FLESH EATERS. The local Neptune convience store refused to cooperate so we found one in South Jersey
too, The Apple Deli. We needed a small cottage for Riggs to stay in and again locally got little cooperation, so we took the
flats used to make the asylum sets for THE BLOODY DEAD and built our own cottage - we weren't going to be roadblocked by
local Neptune jerks.
We built sets out of scraps and we built the sets anywhere there was a space
we could use for free. We didn't have money so we had to use our creativity, our imaginations.
Before I could edit I needed the music score. Tony Annunziata, Lorenzo Conte
and Paul Krautheim gave me original music which I used not only for FLESH EATERS but INVASION too, and on the soundtrack of
the two new soon-to-be- released ones also, SCARLET MOON and DARK BEGINNINGS.
After the movie was done shooting, everyone left except my father.
I was mostly by myself with a bunch of Super VHS cassettes and the editing decks. Out of all the scenes we shot I had
to rewrite, in the editing, a coherent story almost from scratch. I knew how the movie was to start and end, but the inbetween
scenes I organized in what I hoped would be the most logical progression of events. This is not how movies are normally made
but normally movies have the money to hire crews and actors and shoot the original script as written. I didn't have that.
The original script got rewritten out of existance as we shot and all I could do was cross reference everything as much as
The movie was transferred from Super VHS to 3/4 inch for the actual editing
because Super VHS degrades very fast when transferred. On 3/4 inch the video quality held up much better.
Since I was making up the story as I edited FLESH EATERS, and it was analogue
not digital, if I wanted to make a change at any point I had to re-start with a blank 3/4 tape and do everything all
over again from scratch. It was a total nightmare.
I edited FLESH EATERS four times from scratch. And the old Sony decks broke
down all the time too, dragging the whole process out for many months as I was forced to wait while repairs were made. Tenacity
was the only thing that kept me sane and on track. I refused to be defeated by people or machines.
When it was finally finished, it was sold to Legacy Home Video of CA. They
got the masters and all.I never saw a dime from Legacy. They kept changing their address
and kept all the money. I even hired detectives to find them. At some point I gave up. At least, I told myself, it was being
distributed and people were seeing it.
Since FLESH EATERS had sold, it was easy to convince some of the people who worked
on FLESH EATERS that a sequel would sell too, so INVASION FOR FLESH AND BLOOD started a few months later. It was a direct
sequel, starting where FLESH EATERS had left off.
My experiences making FLESH EATERS made me cynical, so I no longer took people
at their word. I fully expected to do most of the work myself from the very start. Again I had to write/ direct/ photograph/
edited the whole movie with the untrained cast and crew doing whatever they could to support me. I also did makeup, lit all
the sets and handled audio while running the camera and trying to direct the actors. It can be done. I did it. But just think
how much better I could make these movies if I had a fully trained crew and a budget.
FLESH EATERS was re-released by EI Entertainment on VHS in the 1990s. Unfortunately
by accident they release my first 2 hour edit which was awful. My superior director's cut went unseen for 16 years until
TROMA recently released it.
May 25th, 2005 FLESH EATERS is re-issued on DVD along with INVASION by TROMA,
INC. Within the first 6 days it broke even and went into profit and suddenly its at one thousand forty outlets almost instantly.
Finally my director's cut is being seen and even the New York Times reviews it. It took TROMA to finally market the movie
correctly and get the best version of both FLESH EATERS and INVASION out to the buying public.
We are now planning to do club and theater showings of INVASION and FLESH EATERS,
as well as selling T-shirts, rubber masks, soundtrack CDs, the works. TROMA are kindly supplying copies of the FLESH EATERS
FROM OUTER SPACE/INVASION FOR FLESH AND BLOOD DVD for sale at the showings too, so you can get cast and crew member autographed
Cling to your dreams, they may eventually come true....some decade :o) .