This article was last modified on July 18, 2011.


Interview with Jeff Burr, “Whisper to a Scream”

Jeff Burr is an American film director, writer and producer best known for his work in horror sequels, such as Stepfather II, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III, Puppet Master 4 and 5, and Pumpkinhead II. Burr attended the University of Southern California (USC) with R. A. Mihailoff who played Leatherface in Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III.

I had previously spoken by phone with Jeff while he was filming in Louisiana, and he was kind enough to sit down for an extensive interview on July 12, 2011, something of a retrospective of his career up to this point.

I promise you, if you like horror, you will love this interview and learn something.

GS: The story goes that for “Whisper to a Scream” (1987), Vincent Price agreed to do the film because he was so impressed with how brave you were to ask him. I assume it is a little more complicated than that…

vinnie

JB: I don’t know how that “story” got started, but no, it is not true. What is true is that I had the feeling that going through normal channels to get to Vincent wouldn’t get us anywhere, as our film was so low-budget and I was a totally unknown filmmaker with only short films to my credit at that time, so I thought the direct approach might work. I had done this with my student film at USC, DIVIDED WE FALL, made with Kevin Meyer. I got John Agar’s address and went up to his house, knocked on the door, and he answered, and I started talking like a cinematic door-to-door salesman! He did the movie, it won a lot of awards, and he was a total joy to work with and he hung in with the project over many many months. So, with this shaky track record, I went after bigger game in the guise of Mr. Price. Darin Scott, one of FROM A WHISPER TO A SCREAM’s producers, and I went to the address we had received in the mail for Mr. Price, and we had our script in our quivering hands. We park on the opposite side of the street to where we think he lives, and we start talking ourselves out of doing this. Just then, a mailtruck pulls up with a package, a postman goes to the door of the house, he rings the bell, the door opens, and we see Vincent signing for this package! So we know A) we have the right address…and B) Vincent is home at the moment. So we have no choice but to go up to his door and ring the bell, which we did. The door opens, there is Vincent, and I go into the Fuller Brushman’s pitch of our movie. Vincent invites us in, sits down with both of us, and asks us questions about ourselves, talks to us about some of our favorite films of his, and couldn’t have been more gracious and fraternal with us. We leave the script with him, along with a bottle of wine we had purchased at this fancy wine store on Sunset Blvd. Of course we wait on pins and needles for a day or two, and then he calls us a few days later saying that he thought the script was interesting, but he wasn’t sure about it and he was trying to avoid horror films. Basically saying no without saying no. We took it as a “maybe” and then went to Georgia to shoot the stories of the anthology, with the idea that we would shoot the wraparound in Los Angeles with our name, whomever that might be, hoping of course that we could convince Vincent later.

GS: I know that you considered Max von Sydow for Price’s part. I was just watching “Needful Things” last week, and it occurred to me that von Sydow is just as classy, handsome and talented as Price, but never achieved quite the same level of fame. I’m not sure what my question here is, but can you comment on von Sydow?

JB: So, in the early months of 1986, after we had edited the four stories of FROM A WHISPER that were shot in the summer of 1985, we went looking for the “name” actor to connect the stories together. The role was the librarian/historian of the cursed southern town Oldfield, Julian White. Somehow, in the intervening months, I had gotten it in my head that Max von Sydow would be a perfect actor to play the role. Why him I don’t know, maybe I had seen him recently in DREAMSCAPE or something… of course I had seen THE SEVENTH SEAL and WILD STRAWBERRIES. And I guess that I now thought Vincent probably didn’t want to do the movie, based on his first response. So, I look up who Max’s agent is, and write a letter and enclose the script. Max’s agent was Walter Kohner, a legendary figure who, with his brother Paul, had represented many Europeans from Hollywood’s golden age, including John Huston and Billy Wilder. Walter calls me up and asks me to meet with him in his office. I go there, he is very cordial to me, asks me about my background, smiles at me, and then says, “Max will not do your movie. I can tell you that right now. BUT, I have the PERFECT client for your movie.” He pauses dramatically, bringing his hands under his chin, leaning forward towards me. “VINCENT PRICE… now, what do you think of that!” I make no mention of my earlier contact with him and I say “Vincent Price, of course I am a huge fan… he WOULD be perfect!” So Walter recommends the project to Vincent, and Vincent wants to see one of the episodes, to judge the level of quality or professionalism or whatever, and we show him the second episode, which is set in the swamps, with Terry Kiser and Harry Caesar. It was probably the most well-photographed episode, as well as the one with the least amount of gore. So Vincent agrees to do the film, and we shot him at Roger Corman’s Venice studio in April of 1986.

Now, we got a lot of publicity having Vincent shooting a horror film..he hadn’t shot one in America in a long time, and he was shooting at Roger Corman’s studio, (even though Roger wasn’t connected to the movie) and they had a “reunion” on our set. The LA Times printed a little blurb in the Sunday calender, and Vincent hinted that this would be his last horror film. Forrest J. Ackerman saw this little article, and wrote Vincent a long letter about how FROM A WHISPER TO A SCREAM would be the most embarrassing film he was ever in, because it contained such vile subject matter and had a very repellent atmosphere, and had nudity and gore. Forrest J. had seen the movie at a screening of the 4 episodes that we had for some feedback, and we had invited him to try and get some publicity in his magazine. He was truly appalled at the film, and implored Vincent to not be involved. I found all of this out years later, when biographies of Vincent came out and his papers were examined. We had already shot the movie by the time the LA Times article came out, so whatever effect the letter had on Vincent was immaterial. I do think this letter may have colored Vincent’s view of the film somewhat. But, the shooting went great with Vincent, and he wrote me a great letter which I treasure to this day. I really don’t know if he ever saw the finished film… we invited him to several screenings, of course, but he was undergoing some surgery at that time and was having health issues. I sent him some reviews that we were getting, and he wrote back and told me about his health and that he hadn’t seen the film yet. So I never talked to him about what he thought about the movie.

GS: The follow-up to this is that after the film was done, Price sort of disowned it. He said the movie was “terrible” and that his “agent misrepresented it”. First of all, I disagree. But more importantly, did he voice these concerns to you?

JB: I know that he wrote to some guy who hated the movie and agreed with him, saying the movie was terrible and that his agent misrepresented it. We certainly wanted him to be in the movie, and chased him over almost a year period, and he may well have done the movie to get us off his back, but the movie was never misrepresented to him. The finished movie is the essence of the script, and even a cursory reading of the script would give the impression that this isn’t THE MONSTER CLUB. We were dealing with some pretty dark thematic territory, and I think that is why a lot of fans of Vincent don’t like the movie…that the two sensibilities clash. I am sure this is the lowest-budgeted theatrical film he ever did, and I don’t know if he realized just how small the budget was. The film got some good reviews at the time, from the LA Times, from the Atlanta Journal and others. but it also got some scathing ones too… a very polarizing picture! FROM A WHISPER was a movie made with total love and dedication, and of course it is a first film, and I would do a lot of things differently. But I would still chase Vincent today, and I think that if the film has any shelf life, it is because of the cast. It was an honor, and I don’t use that word lightly, an honor to direct Vincent Price in my first film, and to this day it is one of my fondest professional memories. I hope that explains things a little better.

GS: “Stepfather 2” (1989), despite being direct-to-video, is really on par with the original, even without the lovely Jill Schoelen. Obviously since “Lost”, Terry O’Quinn is huge. What was your impression of him at the time and his level of commitment?

JB: Thank you for the kind words on STEPFATHER 2. Terry O’Quinn was a total joy to work with, and his commitment was nothing less than total. Even though this was a much lower budget film than the original, and was designed by ITC to be the premiere film in their new direct to video division, he gave it his all and was totally supportive of me and the film. As a young, inexperienced director, I was a little worried that he would be the proverbial 800 pound gorilla, as we all felt that the film couldn’t exist without him…but nothing was further from the truth. We had a few days of rehearsal, and he immediately made me comfortable and was really open to ideas. My impression of him then and now is that he is a consummate actor, and still undervalued by some people in Hollywood. I would love to see him get a lead role in a smaller movie and knock it out of the park and get an academy award.

STEPFATHER 2 was, in a way, my first professional movie, in the sense that I had to defend my creative choices to executives, and was not able to get who I wanted in some key creative positions due to the executives. I learned a lot on it, and was very fortunate to have William Burr, my brother, and Darin Scott, both from FROM A WHISPER as my producers. They at least tried to form a protective cocoon around me! And I must say that Lawrence Garrett and Dennis Brown, two ITC executives, were always supportive and encouraging to me. But, the main thing about that movie, and why it has been issued on VHS and DVD over and over again, and still plays cable a lot, is Terry O’Quinn and his interpretation of the role, and the foundation that was built by him and Joe Ruben. I learned a lot from Terry, and would love to direct him again. Anytime, anywhere.

GS: “Leatherface” (1990) ran into some serious trouble with the MPAA. Can you explain what they had issues with? Also, in general, I have heard many directors complain that from one film to the next, they cannot predict what the MPAA considers inappropriate. Have you had that problem?

JB: On LEATHERFACE, the MPAA at that time was very strict on indie horror films. Remember that in mid-1989, New Line was still an independent, and hadn’t been bought by Time-Warner yet. So you could call that Strike one. Then, remember that TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2 had come out UNRATED, defying the ratings board, released by an upstart indie company Cannon. Strike two. Then, the overall tone of any of the CHAINSAW MASSACRE films is pretty grim, as they all revolve around an alternate family unit who does not have any conventional morality. We included a young girl in that family…and the overall tone was rather unpleasant. So it really was a cumulative effect, a tone, a feel, to the film that didn’t sit well. Strike 3 and LEATHERFACE was out!

At the time, there were much more inconsistencies with the ratings board, and a clear prejudice against independent horror films. What you might see in a studio film you might not be able to show in an indie. Of course, the studios are the basic funding for the MPAA, so you can see the politics right away. Kirby Dick’s documentary was very good and a must see for true film fans. But I am amazed at what falls under an R rating these days! heck, I am amazed at what you can show on network television now! So LEATHERFACE is tame tame tame now, even in its unrated version. Of course, there was never a true directors cut of the film, as we were cutting the negative of the effects shots as we were submitting to the MPAA, to make our release date (which we missed anyway). It was a totally frustrating experience for me, and was front page news in VARIETY! To miss a release date because we couldn’t get an R rating was unheard of at the time. And Richard Heffron told Bob Shaye, “This film will never get an R rating”. So you have to figure there was some payback going on for NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET and CHAINSAW 2.

As for me and the MPAA, I have had to trim FROM A WHISPER, STEPFATHER 2 (the ex-husband’s death scene), LEATHERFACE, and NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW to get an R rating…all those films as originally submitted were “X”.

GS: A film close to your heart is “Eddie Presley” (1992). Let me just list the cast for those who have not heard of it: Clu Gulager, Ian Ogilvy, Ted Raimi, Daniel Roebeck, Joe Estevez, Tim Thomerson, Quentin Tarantino and Bruce Campbell. How the hell did you get such an impressive cadre of cult icons?

JB: On EDDIE PRESLEY, just like FROM A WHISPER, there was no casting director, just me. So the cast of EDDIE is comprised of friends of mine, people who we had two degrees of separation with. For example, Dan Roebuck was a friend of the co-producer, Chuck Williams, and of Duane Whitaker. They had done a play together in Hollywood called WHO KILLED ORSON WELLES, which in some ways was the genesis of EDDIE, meaning that the notice of that play probably encouraged Duane to write a play of his own. Clu Gulager had of course been in my first film, and I had studied acting with him in 1984. I had written Ian Ogilvy a letter when he was doing a Noel Coward play in Hollywood, and had dinner with him sometime after that, and always wanted to work with him. Tim Thomerson I had met through Courtney Joyner, who had worked with him on several projects, and Bruce Campbell I had known a little through Scott Spiegel, and Scott also introduced me to Ted Raimi, I think. Quentin I had met at a screening of MANIAC COP 2, Joe Estevez was a friend of Duane’s, and some names you didn’t mention…Lawrence Tierney, who I had met at a bar in 1985 and he had done a little cameo in FROM A WHISPER, Willard Pugh, who had been in my student film DIVIDED WE FALL, Roscoe Lee Browne had done a project with Chuck, I think, and I thought he would be perfect in the role of Doc. He read the script and wanted to play another part, but I convinced him to be the club owner. He was a total hoot, and a total joy. R.A. Mihailoff is in it, as is Michael Shamus Wiles and Tom Everett, all from LEATHERFACE, and Rusty Cundieff has a little cameo as a security guard. All of the actors in the film were very special to me, and that film is very special to me. It is another polarizing film…a few people really love it, and many many people tear their hair out! But look for that film if you haven’t seen it…it is easy to find on EBay and Amazon…go for the two disc edition…and if you are a fan of indie filmmaking, there are a lot of special features that you will get a total kick out of…

I think most filmmakers have films like this…one that they really love but nobody else did! It was a total joy to make, probably the best shooting experience I have had on any movie. It was a very low budget film, but with that low budget came total freedom, and it was like making a student film in a way…running and gunning, but with enough people who knew what they were doing that you could try anything. I am very very grateful for the opportunity to make that film, I put everything I had into it (which I always do on every movie, but often what you have to offer is rejected by people who don’t see the movie the same way as you). I hope somebody that reads this interview takes the time to see the film if they haven’t heard of it until now.

And the reason that the actors wanted to be in it was that the film is a metaphor for any crazy endeavor man attempts, so of course the spirit of it hits close to home for all of us. I also think they sensed it would be a lot of fun in a little time, which i hope it was for everyone involved! I owe all the actors in the film a great debt.

GS: How did you end up getting a part in “Fear of a Black Hat” (1993)? I haven’t seen that film in almost 20 years, but still have fond memories of it.

JB: The reason I am in FEAR OF A BLACK HAT is that Rusty Cundieff and Darin Scott made that movie for very little money and they used a lot of their friends in it, very much like EDDIE PRESLEY, in that sense. I played a Chicago cop that arrests the group for obscene lyrics. It was a lot of fun, shooting in 16mm and getting to act with Larry B. Scott, who I always admired. The movie was a heck of a lot of fun, and was a big hit, and Steven Spielberg was a big fan of it, and brought Rusty in for a meeting. It played Sundance and many other festivals. Rusty is a really talented guy, as is Darin Scott!

GS: “Pumpkinhead II” (1994) is your least favorite movie, I have heard. Oddly, I liked it. My only issue was that I couldn’t figure out how it tied in to the original — clearly this was not the same monster, so are there multiple pumpkinheads? What input, if any, did you have to this script?

JB: I wouldn’t say PUMPKINHEAD 2 is my least favorite movie of mine, but maybe it’s my least effective job as a director. I don’t know, I cant judge these things. But that was a movie that I replaced a director (Tony Randel) who had developed the script. Tony left for a bigger project. The budget of PUMPKINHEAD 2 was under a million. So I came on late in the game, and, given my druthers, I would have re-written the script. The script, I found out later, was a re-tooled existing script that MPCA was developing, and they jerryrigged it into a Pumpkinhead sequel. SO that is the reason it really doesn’t hang together with the mythos from the first movie. At the last minute, I brought in Mark Patrick Carducci and Gary Gerani to try and bring a little Pumpkinhead reality to it, but it was too little too late. But, that said, some people get a kick out of the movie, and I tried to do some new things. I have said it before, and will say it now, my biggest regret on that movie from a directorial standpoint is that I didn’t fight harder for a split screen sequence, it was the RA Mihailoff/Linnea Quigley death sequence, which would have been pretty cool. The problem was that we had to deliver a 35mm print, and the budget for opticals was non-existent. Maybe when I am in my 90s in the motion picture county home, I will go back to the VHS dailies and put that sequence together!

As for the design of Pumpkinhead, that was already done when I came aboard. There were minor modifications that maybe I had a say in, but the redesign was done by KNB. It was great to work with those guys again..they had done LEATHERFACE a few years earlier. One thing that was discussed briefly and discarded for budgetary reasons was having P-head actually have wings. Which would have been amazing, if we could have pulled it off! I am still a huge fan of Howard and Greg, and of course Bob in Ohio too.

I tried to put as much style into it as I could, and some of the work is a little forced probably. We also were (as any low budget film is) victims of the short schedule. That meant that we couldn’t really do any shots with Pumpkinhead full figure, because that involved wire work (which would be a little easier now, of course, with digital wire removal. The last time I saw that film was doing the audio commentary for the Lions Gate DVD, and as I finished it, the Lion’s Gate rep said that he thought he would have to talk me down from the ledge a few times. I guess I view commentaries and interviews as more therapy and confessionals rather than puff-piece EPKs!

I have fond memories of Andy Robinson from that movie..I was always a fan of his, and had known him slightly socially, through Courtney Joyner, and he was a very interesting guy to direct. The only problem was that he would dig for the subtext, would intellectualize and try to externalize the character’s inner life, and when the script and the character are so thinly drawn, and the clock is ticking on production, sometimes a “Let’s go” line means only exactly that, no matter how different we want it to be. I would love to work with Andy on something rich and meaty, with stuff to chew on. I do remember Andy saying that he had just had a reading for PULP FICTION, and he thought it was a brilliant script. Don’t know what part he read for, but he could sure as hell recognize a damn good script when he saw it. He was one of the founding members of the Matrix Theater in Hollywood, and I learned a lot from him too. That is one of the true joys of filmmaking…getting to work with people who you saw in a movie as a kid and who impressed you. Every director worth his salt has a long list of character actors they want to work with! Andrew Robinson is the total real deal as an actor, end of story.

GS: “Night of the Scarecrow” (1995) is a great slasher film, a great evil magic film… but the question is not really about that: what is it like casting and directing an orgy scene? And what is up with the old, saggy boobs and thunderous man-ass?

JB: Thanks for your words on NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW. That movie really fell through the cracks and very few people have actually seen it. It still hasn’t come out on DVD, and now probably never will! The two producers who arranged the financing, Barry Bernardi and Steve White, broke up their company during the making of the film, and Republic Pictures, the distribution company, changed management after we finished shooting, so on that level, it was a nightmare… an orphaned movie!

I am glad you singled out the orgy scene, as it is about 30% of what I wanted. Your questioning of it is basically the same questions I got from the producers. If we are going to have an orgy in this movie, why can’t it be with beautiful women??? Well, I thought the horrific point of it was to have the “ordinary” citizens totally lose their inhibitions and have exactly the people you are not used to seeing in scenes like this really into it. I was successful to a point, but there wasn’t money to build any real set, so it had to be a little stylized. And the extras casting service wasn’t as reliable as you would like, so I would see pictures of people who were supposed to show up, and they never did. But at least I got what I got, which could be most people’s idea of the most horrible images in that film! The people that did nudity in the scene were great to work with, and had no problem with anything. I think they might have been local swingers into that lifestyle. If anything, I think the scene is too tame, but it was one of the scenes we had to cut back to get the R rating! I remember John Lazar being particularly horrified that I would pair him up with an older partner, but I gave him the young virgin to deflower. But he wouldn’t take his trousers down for his little moment…he said we weren’t paying him enough to see both sets of cheeks!

GS: You have repeatedly worked with Charlie Band. Pretty much everyone I’ve talked to has a story where they got burned by Charlie, including people who have gone back to work with him again. Do you have one of those tales, or are you going to be the good reference?

JB: Charlie Band is too difficult a subject to quickly talk about or answer. That said, I am grateful to him for the opportunity to do a film in Romania, and that inspired my independent film STRAIGHT INTO DARKNESS. The films I did for Charlie, other than PUPPET MASTER 4 and 5, were really films for a company called Kushner-Locke. But of course Charlie was involved. I first met Charlie in 1986 when he had Empire Pictures, and they were looking for films to distribute, in addition to their own productions. We showed him FROM A WHISPER, and he soon after hired me to direct a movie called THE VAULT. I worked on that for months, along with a movie called GHOST TOWN, and the upshot being that the company collapsed and the movies didn’t get made. (GHOST TOWN got made, but in title only… the version I was going to make was to be shot in Spain) But there, and certainly at Full Moon, I learned that a movie to Charlie was really only a title, artwork and toys. The actual movie, the core of what it is and what its about, is not so important to him. So, that’s why he has no compunction to “assign” a director one movie, and then later move him onto another movie. In some ways, they are all the same. But, directors serious about their craft dig into the scripts, try to pull out various themes and ideas, and get attached to the possibilities of the projects.

And of course with Charlie there is always money issues. I lost a day of filming on Puppet Master 5 because the crew walked out en masse when their paychecks bounced. I was promised certain financial things that never came to pass. Many stories about that, but all the same. The bottom line is that Charlie always was more ambitious than his resources (but not ambitious to make GREAT movies, however…his ambitions were all about the numbers of movies and the product) and this had vast repercussions in the cast, crew and distributors of his films. Each big company collapsed. That said, he is really not that different than other types of producers like Dino De Laurentis, Lew Grade, Carlo Ponti, Harry Allan Towers, and others. All dealt with a patchwork of foreign funding, huge slates of productions, and living on the financial edge.

GS: I don’t see “Oblivion” on your credits, but I heard you were involved somehow… true or false?

JB: I was supposed to direct Puppet Master 4-5, and about halfway through shooting he calls me and says that I am off that project and now on DARK ANGEL. As I say, the movies to him are interchangeable. So, I really didn’t do any work on OBLIVION, and the movie I had in mind was totally different than the ones that Sam Irvin made (I am not saying mine would have been better, just different!)

GS: You are something of a “kingmaker” in the world of horror, taking people like Caroline Williams and Ken Foree who had one key horror role, and bringing them back to the genre (and today making them convention highlights). When casting, do you prefer open auditions, or do you have fan favorites in mind for certain roles?

JB: Casting is one of, if not the most, important process on a film, and these days it is totally given short shrift on lower budget movies. Now casting is all about lists, and numbers (where these lists and numbers get generated is beyond me) Casting is a process that is very instinctive, and only the director should make the decision, as he is the one who has the total vision of the movie in his head. Every actor can bring something to the table, and it is a constant journey of discovery in the casting process. I don’t know how you can be a filmmaker and not love actors. I mean really love them, and be aware of what they can contribute to the movie.

I have always been a big admirer of the craft/art of acting. When you see guys like Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman in his prime, Johnny Depp now, Joan Allen, Kathy Bates, Jeff Bridges, Helen Mirren, Robert Duvall… it makes you fully aware of what film could be and do. My audition process ideally is to see as many people as I can, to not have an preconception of what the role looks like (physically, racially, or otherwise) and to make the audition process as comfortable for the actor as possible. On some of the movies that I have been hired to do, with casting directors who weren’t hired by me, it is difficult to have the process be like it should be. I can tell you I don’t think of “fan favorites” at all, by that I mean i would not be influenced by message boards or things like that. For every fan who likes someone, there is another fan that hates him. That is just the nature of the animal! And acting (for that matter art) is pretty subjective, and what one person will respond to might leave another cold. SO all you have to go on is your own personality, instincts, experience, and vision of the movie. In short, what they hire you to provide! And when you can’t use that for reasons of horseshit lists and petty prejudices, that’s when filmmaking becomes very very frustrating.

I have no idea of being any kind of kingmaker. Ken Foree and Caroline Williams are extraordinarily talented, and when you see Caroline in CHAINSAW 2 and Ken in DAWN OF THE DEAD, you know you are in the presence of interesting actors, horror films or not. Certain people and performances stick in the mind, and when you see an opportunity to really use them in an interesting way, something clicks in your mind and the name pops up and out!

GS: You have worked with so many great people and made many films in the horror genre that we simply can’t cover them all. Can you tell a story about ONE of the following THREE people: PJ Soles, Dennis Haskins, or my own personal god Jeffrey Combs.

JB: I can tell you a story about Dennis Haskins. We were making a very low budget kids movie that ended up being called X-TREME TEENS, and we shot in Bucharest, Romania. I cast Dennis in Los Angeles, and I knew he was from Chattanooga, TN, near my hometown of Dalton, GA. He agreed to do the movie, we had a great meeting, and before you knew it we are on the plane… May of 1999. We arrive in Bucharest, and we go out to dinner the next day. Dennis gets MOBBED at dinner, everyone is looking at him, pointing, and I am not kidding, it was like being with a Beatle in 1966!! It is explained to us that during the Ceausescu years and soon after the revolution, one of the only western shows allowed for viewing was SAVED BY THE BELL, which ran constantly. So there was a whole generation of people that had seen Mr. Belding for years on end and learning English from the show. So, for the next month, Dennis was the unofficial Mayor of Bucharest, getting mobbed in the street wherever he went. Usually, when an actor in the past had told me “Well, you know I am big in Malaysia”, I would say to myself “yeah, right”… but not now! The experience with Dennis made me realize the power that the little box has all over the world!

Jeff Combs is a joy to work with… I had him for only a couple of days on SPOILER and he was so great. He is the kind of actor who you can give one idea to and he will build 50 related ideas, all for your amazement and amusement. He is also one of the guys who hasn’t gotten enough mainstream credit. If you are a Combs fan… look at LOVE AND A .45 , CAUGHT UP and DARK HOUSE. His collaborations with Darin Scott are out there and outrageous!

PJ Soles is another total peach. I worked with her on a movie called MIL MASCARAS AND THE AZTEC MUMMY, and we shot it in of all places Columbia, Missouri. PJ played a celebrity announcer for Telemundo, and did color commentary on one of Mil’s wrestling matches. She was so fun and full of energy, and she elevated the crew’s energy with her talent and great attitude. And it looked like very few days had gone by from HALLOWEEN and STRIPES. I remember her from a movie called OUR WINNING SEASON, which played for a week when I was working at the local movie theater in Dalton. (check her out in that movie, she is a bundle of energy) She sent me a picture of herself in a bikini, circa 1978, and wrote “Don’t you wish you had directed me when I looked like this?” She has a great sense of humor, talent and again, underrated by the mainstream.

GS: You are in the middle of directing a project… I believe you may be in Louisiana… is it a secret or can we know what the next thing from Jeff Burr is?

JB: The movie I just directed in Louisiana is called ALIEN TORNADO, and it’s like a Hallmark movie directed by Irwin Allen. It features Jeff Fahey and Kari Wurher, and has a cameo from Terry Kiser, who I had not worked with since my first movie, shot in 1985. So that was a very strange, very beautiful experience for me, directing Terry all those years later and it seemed like the day after I wrapped FROM A WHISPER. I cant believe it has been 25 years since I directed my first feature film, but a look in the mirror quickly reminds me that it has been 26 years! I am totally grateful for all the opportunities I have had to make films, and I have so many more that I want to make, so much to do! I want to thank you for wanting to interview me, and I certainly want to thank anyone out there that cares about the movies I make or how I make them. It is a total privilege to make a film, and to live all these little lifetimes at 24 FPS.

Also try another article under Film Industry
or another one of the writings of Gavin.

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