Tim Ferrante's 90 minute documentary on the history
of drive-in movies was a fun project. It was nice to be working on something that so many people I admire were guest appearing
in, like George Romero, John Russo, Tom Savini and Forrest J. Ackerman.
It was at the very beginning of Visual Experiences, Inc, which was incorporated
in 1984 and was trying to do movies and shooting commercials.
As I said earlier in my coverage of the making of FLESH EATERS FROM OUTER SPACE,
I met Sam Sherman who knew Tim Ferrante who was a contributing writer to a young start-up magazine called FANGORIA and also
worked for ABC-TV in New York and Tim was making this documentary.
We knew that Tim, like all of us, didn't have much money, so we literally did
the shoot for screen credit, contacts and cheeseburger deluxes at a local resturant!
We had a contract for a two hour shoot. Kathy Monks, Gene Reynolds, my father
and Tony Annunziata were the crew. I had done similar camera work at CNN in NY, so I did the camera but let Tony Annunziata
do some too. Tim directed.
The shoot was pretty straightfoward, with Tim asking Sam a bunch of questions.
Sam didn't like the lights, which bothered his eyes, and had to take a break to give his eyes a rest, but we still
finished it exactly on time. Before the second taping after Sam's break, Sam watched the footage and got more enthusiastic
because of what he saw and started suggesting other areas he could talk about, like the future of the whole drive-in
genre. Tim agreed and we started shooting again.
We finished taping and Sam went to freshen up and when he returned to his office
my crew had moved all the equipment from his office and it was just me and Sam in the room. Sam looked up at the clock as
the second hand just hit the two hour mark. Everything had gone, literally, like clock work, which impressed him.
Tim then took us out to lunch as our pay. I told my crew to be kind to Tim and
not order the most expensive items on the menu. When most, if not all of us, ordered the classic inexpensive cheeseburger
delux, Tim looked relieved and knew he was among friends.
A few weeks later Tim came to my house with a bunch of lobby cards and stills
to get them video taped onto 3/4 inch broadcast video to be inserted into the show as graphics. He might have left a few lobbies
as payment, I'm not sure. It's been 18 years now. I'm surprised at how much I do still remember!
Tim later appeared in FLESH EATERS FROM OUTER SPACE for us and we shot his scenes
at his home in Keyport, NJ. Tim was friends of John Russo, who was best friends with George Romero, so he got a VHS of George's
uncut DAWN OF THE DEAD director's cut, and scenes from Romero's MARTIN, which we watched, years before they were commercially
available to the public. (The only Romero film I don't have in my VHS or DVD collection is ALWAYS VANILLA, the feature they
made right after NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD in 1968. My understanding is it was never released. Does anybody have a VHS or DVD
copy I can get?)
The basically "free" DRIVE-IN MADNESS shoot paid off because Sam Sherman hired
us to shoot his Americanization of the German feature film THE BLOODY DEAD for which we did get paid. See how it works?
We got screen credit on both versions of the show: DRIVE-IN MADNESS (90 minutes) and
the shorter version re-released later called SCREEN SCARIES(40 minutes).
Sadly, there is no DVD re-release of DRIVE-IN MADNESS as of June, 2005.
You probably can still find the VHS at Yahoo or on Ebay.
DRIVE-IN MADNESS got distributed by two or three distributors over its life and
got some very good reviews:
"..an entertaining compilation" - Variety.
"..maintains an atmosphere of zany fun" - Video Review.
"..A very entertaining trip down horror lane" - FANGORIA
".. a shock show...packs a wallop" - Fort worth Star Telegram.