Kevin J. Lindenmuth is the type of filmmaker who loves his horror. One look at his filmography shows he’s covered the gamut, and instead of relying on producers from Hollywood, he’s all independent! The fact he published many books (Amazon link) about his process says it all. And along with the Special Edition release of Vampires and Other Stereotypes (Amazon link), he’s a talent worth following.
His career started much like a few other well-known names, like Sam Raimi, and as for who else he may have crossed paths with, I’m sure the list is long! Although I’m curious if he’d work with Troma Pictures since he’s based in the same State as this studio, it’s still possible for that to happen. He’s continuing to make movies and teach too! And yes, I got to correspond with him in this interview:
What made you decide to become a filmmaker, and why go indie instead of heading to Los Angeles?
I watched horror movies from a very young age, from the original Dark Shadows to whatever horror movie was on Saturday afternoons, so that was always an interest. They were these worlds that were totally separate from my current reality. So they were subjectively much better! And then I started making Super 8 mm film shorts when I was in elementary school through high school, then went to University of Michigan and went through their fledgling Film/Video program. And during all this time I was a writer, submitting short stories to small press zines.
The best and worst was when I had a short story, “I Scream” accepted by Twilight Zone magazine, and then getting a notice a few months later saying the magazine was going out of business! Stephen King was in that magazine! Well, after graduating from college I moved to New York, primarily because I didn’t have enough money to move to the West Coast.
But right away I landed work at video production companies, working at a few different ones before I became staff at a place that catered to the fashion business. A perk of that job was that I had access to their broadcast video equipment—and eventually took advantage of that to make this first film, Vampires and Other Stereotypes.
Who approached whom when considering making this special edition home video release?
Well, I’ve known Rob from Visual Vengeance/Wild Eye for a while, and licensed him my movies years ago. Then he started concentrating on the shot-on-video movies from the late 80s to early 2000s and those included my films, so that worked out. They were originally released on VHS to “Mom and Pop” video stores in the mid-90’s, then had a brief DVD release. But this is the biggest release this movie has received.
The cool thing about Visual Vengeance is that they truly respect these movies and the context and time period in which they were made—-I mean, who is trying to preserve these little seen films? Vampires and Other Stereotypes has seven hours of extras—I don’t think that the new Guardians of the Galaxy movie has that much bonus material!
And there are some upcoming movies, like the Addicted to Murder trilogy, that have about double that! It’s incredible—the best gift and ultra-independent filmmaker can get!
How would you compare your works to other low budget indie horror filmmakers?
I never compared my work to other filmmakers—everyone is different and everyone has their own movie that they want to make. I always scratched my head when people (non-film people) would ask me about the “competition”—there was none at the time because very few of us, in the 90s, could make these movies.
There’s plenty of room for distribution, if you could get it. Remember, there was this huge bias against “Shot-on-video” movies at the time. And no established distributor wanted to pay anything when compared to a movie shot on film—even though, for all practical purposes, Vampires and Other Stereotypes was shot on film because of the “film look” process I put it through.
Sure, this movie didn’t cost as much as a Hollywood movie, but it did cost money, around $25,000 altogether. Sets were built, a makeup effects team was hired, actors and crew put up in a hotel—and all the food to feed nearly thirty people. Yes, a lot of us “SOV” filmmakers all made movies in the same way— through creativity and resources, but me, Scooter McCrae and Donald Farmer would never make the same type of movie. Why would I want to?
Why do you think this film stands the test of time?
When I wrote it, Vampires and Other Stereotypes had all these horror tropes…the women in distress, the suspicious boyfriend, the cops who aren’t really cops, the “Gates of Hell”, et cetera. You know, horror stereotypes. And I think those still stand true. It’s also influenced by a lot of movies I liked up to that time, from Dark Shadows to Evil Dead.
But the most important thing is I really put myself—my sensibilities and sense of humour, into that movie as much as I could. Prior to working on the extras for the Blu-ray release, I hadn’t watched the movie in over twenty-years.
Was it hard to get in contact with the cast to produce the new bonus material?
I stayed in contact with some people over the years, and others I honestly hadn’t spoken with for nearly thirty! (the movie was shot in the Summer of ’91, not released until ’94). So it took some time to find everyone involved. Two of the lead actresses expressed no interest in being involved. Also, quite a few people had died, including the two “vampire cops”, Bill White and Ed Hubbard, along with Rick Poli, who was the father, as well as my director of photography, Tullio Tedeschi. So the RIP list was long!
The living people, however, had some interesting things to say, and I think probably had a better experience on the movie than I did since I handled the whole thing and had the pressure that went along with that. I don’t even remember sleeping during that two-week production!
When you wrote the script, and were there any ideas/themes you were aiming for?
I wanted to make it fun and although somewhat familiar; I wanted to make it my own and establish its own sort of universe. And there are obvious nods to other movies, like Hellraiser and Evil Dead, and Bert Gordon’s Food of the Gods inspired even the giant rat.
But the main thing is that I wanted it different from the usual vampire movies I’d seen up to that point. These vampires weren’t out to suck blood from victims—they were about protecting the world from demons. So, in that regard, I view it as a success.
When in pre production was the idea to make a fun house of terror type of movie intentional?
With limited funds, I had to write my script with what locations and resources I had available. When I was halfway done with the script, I went to a Fangoria convention in NYC, and there I met the two Scotts from Imageeffects Studios. I told them I wanted to do a movie, and they were interested …and they connected me with Mick McCleery, who was out in Voorhees NJ.
The year before, Mick had directed his own feature, The Killing of Bobby Green, and after meeting with him, we hit it off and agreed I could shoot the movie out where he was, which was his father’s auto body garage. It was an enormous warehouse where we could build the sets. So I guess that’s why it looks like a funhouse. So, when I was writing the script I had most of the “action” take place in this warehouse-like scenario, and then through in outside locations, which were actually a stone’s throw from that warehouse.
I shot about ten minutes of that movie in NYC—and that’s where it takes place, but the other 90% was shot in New Jersey. It was all a matter of budget and I could shoot the movie within two weeks. In fact, this movie wouldn’t exist without the help from Mick and his gang.
What would you say to those who aren’t into films made on the cheap?
That they are probably going to waste their time and interest then if they watch them, aren’t they? They should stick to their reality shows.
Any parting words?
Enjoy the movie! A lot of hard work went into it!