THE BLOODY DEAD was a movie I became involved
with around 1987 as a direct result of doing a project for Tim Ferrante of FANGORIA magazine. I met Sam Sherman, President
of Independent-International Pictures, through Murry Dietchwald, and Sam knew Tim Ferrante, who was a contributing writer
for FANGORIA and who worked at ABC TV in NYC. Tim wanted to do a documentary on the history of drive-in movies called DRIVE-IN
MADNESS. Tim had groups all over the counrty shooting interviews for him with famous genre people like Forry Ackerman, George
Romero, Tom Savini, Linnea Quigley, John Russo and others for this documentary. Sam suggested me to Tim as someone who
could shoot Sam's own interview at his New Brunswick, NJ office. We did the shoot and my film crew worked
like real pros; they began on time and ended exactly on time to the minute. Sam was impressed. A few weeks later
I got a call from Sam about shooting footage for THE BLOODY DEAD.
Sam sent his new 15 minute script to me, with frame captures from the movie,
so we could find ( or make) matching clothes and rebuild the asylum sets in a studio in East Orange that effects artist
Gene Reynolds, another friend of mine, knew of. Gene actually designed and built the matching asylum sets, with Tony Annunziata
and myself helping him.
I went with Sam to the city to meet and cut a deal with special effects artist
Ed French. Ed's home and artist's loft were filled with movie and TV related castings and props. The huge wooden indian from
CREEPSHOW 2 was impressive, so were various monsters from CHUD, the TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE George Romero TV show, lifecasts
of all the famous stars he created makeup appliances for. As Sam talked money and finalized the deal, I explored the treasures.
The shoot was going to be one day. In the month prior we had built the sets,
managed to find period nurses' uniforms and asylum security guard clothes to match the German footage.
Sam had hired Ed for effects, (who acted in the movie too), and actress Denise
Coward. I supplied the security guard actors played by Ruben Santiago and Al Vega, and one of the killer cannibals played
by Bob Gutowsky. I also supplied all the film equipment - camera, lights, sound, etc, and a crew to operate them.
We all got paid for the day's work but nobody, including Sam, Ed French and Denise
Coward, got screen credit, which all went to the German filmmakers. It wasn't until the IMAGE ENTERTAINMENT DVD release that
I finally got credit for the work I had done on the movie via Sam Sherman's commentary track and DVD text:
"Sam needed to punch up the film with some gore to make the picture more appealing
to modern-day audiences. That meant new scenes would have to be filmed. With a lucrative video distribution deal already on
the table, Sam went to work and brought in associate Warren Disbrow to re-create the German asylum sets at his facilities
in New Jersey. Hannibal Lector's SILENCE OF THE LAMBS institution cell recreation for 2002's THE RED DRAGON has been hailed
for it's precision, but Sherman and Disbrow's attempt at duplicating Dr.Mangrove's asylum, where most of the newly shot footage
was intended to expand upon, is no less impressive. It is actually difficult to tell the difference between the two sets"
- said Jim Arena, in his liner notes on the IMAGE ENTERTAINMENT DVD.
Sam actually saw the sets for the very first time when he came to the studio
the day of the shoot.
My father took it upon himself to re-create the armoured steal clawed glove the
killer wore. Remaking the killer's claw wasn't in the contract, so Sam wasn't expecting to have the claw to shoot with
and was happy to have it. My father made it out of cardboard with plastic retractible knives as fingers. It was Freddy Kruger's
bladed glove years before the first NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET was made. We still have that prop claw and recently Sam and my
father posed for pictures with it.
Ed French did the gore effects. My father had his neck sliced open by Ed, another
volunteer had his ribcage ripped open, etc. My father's neck slice went smoothly but the other guy had a funny accident. Blood
was suppose to splurt from the slash made by the clawed glove but instead there was no blood when we started the camera. The
blood filled his underwear instead, staining his skin red.
After Sam got all the scenes he wanted based on his script, he told me to feel
free to shoot any other shots I could think of myself. I'm happy to say most of what I came up with got used in the final
I really enjoyed working with Sam and there was talk over the years about doing
other movies together but I guess it just wasn't meant to be.
BLOODY DEAD was released on VHS by a company called VERY STRANGE VIDEO/ EPI in
CA. Very recently it got re-released in a special collector's edition DVD by IMAGE ENTERTAINMENT which contains the
complete original German version called CREATURE WITH THE BLUE HAND and the Americanized version Sam and I made, THE BLOODY
DEAD. You can buy the DVD at places like BORDERS and BEST BUY, and of course the internet DVD shops too.
As a side note in movie history, the original story for THE BLOODY DEAD was written
by KING KONG author Edgar Wallace, starred international movie star Klaus Kinski and was one of Roger Corman's first
feature releases for his new company NEW WORLD PICTURES. It's nice that I got the chance to contribute to this particular
movie's history too.