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Spawning A Cult Classic: An Interview with Ted A. Bohus (part one) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Written by Joe Sherlock   
Aug 13, 2005 at 02:00 AM
DG: I've seen this movie in packaging as "Return of the Aliens: The Deadly Spawn," which makes it sound like a sequel. Was this actually a sequel - was there a movie that you did before this?

Ted: No, that whole thing was bulls**t.

DG: Was that the original title?

Ted: No, the title was THE DEADLY SPAWN, it was nothing other than The Deadly Spawn. What happened was, when they opened it up theatrically in 1983, all of a sudden there were rumors of an Alien sequel or something.

DG: Ah...

Ted: So the powers that be, those idiots, at 21st Century said, "Hey, why don't we pull these prints back, and retitle it with Return of the Aliens." I mean, what was I thinking, that someone would confuse this film with Alien? I don't know, but they reissued it with that title, and unfortunately that was the last title on the theatrical release so that was the title that stuck for one version of the video release.

DG: Yeah.

Ted: But now that it's been reissued the title is back to THE DEADLY SPAWN

DG: Well, good. So on that one, you didn't direct. Were you wanting to get into direct at that point?

Ted: Oh, I fully intended to write, produce and direct the whole thing, but as you start to realize, when you have a full time job, it is very tough to do that. So every minute I could spare was taken up just trying to produce the film, meaning y'know get the story together, get the crew together, get a cast together, get all the stuff ready to go. It was just impossible that I would be able to do everything. There was no way I could try and get equipment for free and find a crew for free and also be working with the actors, it just didn't work.

DG: Yeah.

  Ted: So my friend John Dods recommended a friend that he knew about possibly directing the film. That's how that came about and we just divied up the duties; John worked with the effects and we all just got together, y'know it was like a big happy family. I mean, we had our moments, believe me there were some horrifying times. Anytime you're shooting a film that is taking a year to film, you're going to end up with some problems.

DG: So THE DEADLY SPAWN took a year to film.

Ted: Yeah. We shot once for four days straight, but the rest was all shot on weekends. Everybody was working and who got killed in the film was determined by who had something to do, like the girl that was supposed to be the girl that survived at the end, ended up getting a paying job acting in an off-Broadway thing, so...

DG: So you had to kill her!

Ted: Yeah, I mean you have to realize the scenes that we shot in the attic at the end of the film were shot a year later, and so people went off sometimes to work for months and they came back and their hair was totally different, but no one seems to notice!

DG: I love the part where the old ladies are having the tea party, because it was supposed to be all proper and everything and it just turns into a bloodbath. It cracked me up!

Ted: Swedish soyballs! Yeah, that was a lot of fun. I kept thinking up some other lines I thought were funny so we actually went back and ended up dubbing in some other lines.

DG: How long did that take to shoot - was that just one weekend or did it split over several days? I mean, there were a lot of monsters in it.

Ted: That one was over a weekend. That we actually shot right here in my house.

DG: I was impressed by how many aliens were in that sequence.

Ted: Well, don't forget, every time you see one of those little things moving it means it was controlled from beneath or around the other side or somewhere. Y'know if you saw it on the floor, we had to build a fake floor and match the carpet and everything, if you saw it go up a wall, we had to build a fake wall and paint it to match and everything. You had to be able to put your hand through it and control it.

DG: Wow.

  Ted: So every time you see one of those creatures, we had to build an entire rig to be able to use it whether it was a fake piece of wall of floor or furniture or something, but that's how that was done. It was tough.

DG: I interviewed Fred Olen Ray a few issues ago and he shot this film a while back called Star Slammer, that was originally shot as Prison Ship and it had the Deadly Spawn in it.

Ted: He called me up and he said he's doing this film and he said would you mind if I borrowed the Deadly Spawn to use in his film. I said well no, as long as you pay for shipping. SO we wrapped it up and shipped it to him. He called me up and something horrible happened - he was being very careful with it because he thought, hey this is a creature and people know this film, it's like a little cult classic and he really wanted to show it off and he took like a whole day to really get this footage. The footage was evidently ruined in the lab or something, so he had to go back and shoot all that stuff real fast and that's why he said the stuff doesn't look that good.

DG: Oh, bummer. So, the opening music to THE DEADLY SPAWN was really cool - was that all original music? How was that done?

Ted: Yeah - it was all original music. There were three guys who ended up doing music on it; Michael Pearlstein from Pennsylvania, Ken Walker and Paul Cornell, I believe.

DG: So were these friends of yours?

Ted: Yeah, they were people I knew. I just told them look, I don't care what you do, I just want that cool instrument in there that they used in Day The Earth Stood Still and we ended up talking about it and we found out it was the theremin.

DG: Right!

Ted: So I've tried to include a theremin in just about every score that I've used in a film.

DG: That is so cool - so that is actually a theremin?

Ted: Yeah.

DG: Because I wondered if it was some sort of synthesizer imitating it.

Ted: Well, maybe, I mean he listened to it and finally heard the sound, so I don't know if he had it done or if it was synthesized.

DG: That is hilarious that your only requirement was to have that sound in it.

Ted: Yeah, well I said I want to hear what you do, of course. I said do it, I don't care, but put that theremin in there.

DG: So, the Hildebrants were involved with THE DEADLY SPAWN. Were they friends of yours?

Ted: Yeah, I met the Hildebrants at a convention here many years ago and we just kind of liked the same stuff, the Disney stuff, the horror films, science fiction stuff, effects. We just hit it off and we talked about doing the film and they said, "can we help" and Tim volunteered his house and we shot maybe 80% of the film in his house.

DG: Were they involved in comics at the time? Was it a comic convention?

Ted: Yeah, I think one of the Creation Conventions or something. I just met them and I had a copy of the magazine(SPFX) and they thought it was pretty cool and I liked their paintings, so we just started talking and had a lot in common. Tim did the poster for The Deadly Spawn.

DG: That was very cool.

Ted: Yeah, they're getting pretty rare now. I sell some of them at the conventions for like $65 and now of the places in the city want $150 for them.

DG: Wow.

Ted: Well, the Hildebrants didn't do too many posters, I mean there was Clash of the Titans, Secret of NIHM...

DG: Star Wars...

Ted: Deadly Spawn...they didn't do too many.

DG: So, I originally saw Vampire Vixens from Venus on "USA Up All Night..."

Ted: I'm sorry they put you through that.

DG: ...so, I saw the edited version.

Ted: Yeah , it's pretty bad, not that the unedited version wasn't bad. That was a film where we had a lot of problems with the editing.

DG: Oh yeah?

Ted: Well just to give you an idea, just a small thing that happened: they tried to convince me to cut it on film and I had had such a great experience cutting The Regenerated Man on video - just transferring the negatives and cutting on video - that I wanted to do it that way. They wanted to use this great editor and blah blah blah. I said look if you can cut it on film for the same price as on video then go ahead and they ran the numbers and said OK we can do it, so I said OK, go ahead. By the time I saw the film, I had dozens and dozens of changes I wanted to make, but the distribution company activated a clause they had in their contract, because they had to get these screeners out to these companies, that if they needed to, they could actually ask for the film two weeks earlier than our deadline date.

DG: Oh man...

Ted: So now, I was screwed, because I had to turn in the film and I only made like three changes. I didn't like the editing on it at all; comedy is very tough to do as it is and this person had no aptitude for working with comedy.

DG: Wow...

Ted: So then to make matters even worse, when the tapes went out for duplication, the jackets weren't ready so the film sat on the shelf for weeks without being shipped anyway. So it really didn't make any difference! So that's just one of the crazy things that can go wrong, even though I get a lot of letters from people saying they really liked the movie! I know what it could've been with the right editing so it's one of those films that if I ever get a hunk of cash I'd like to go back in there and get the stuff, unfortunately I don't have all my materials back because the guy that was in charge of some of the post-production and with the lab work didn't pay the bill and so they have all...it's just a horror.

DG: Wow.

Ted: Making low budget science fiction films - IS a horror story!

DG: Charlie Callas as the bartender - how did that happen? Did you know him?

Ted: A friend of mine knew him, one of the producers of the film knew him because he lives, like 10 minutes from me. So he made the introduction and I said would you like to do this little low-budget film, it would really be a favor. I thought it would be fun to have a name in the film, that's why I asked Michelle Bauer to be in there, I figured she'd be fun. I was introduced to J.J. and Theresa at a convention and they were great. It was really funny because when I originally wrote the film, I described the girls as a blonde, brunette and a redhead and it just happened that JJ was blonde and Teresa was a redhead. The girl I wanted to use, Stacy Warful, was in a motorcycle accident so she couldn't be in the film so we had to recast. We looked at person after person, but they were all really awful so Penthouse sent over Leslie who was the international Penthouse Pet of the Year. She walked in and she was everything a vampire vixen should be...and she was a brunette! It was kind of cool.

DG: I've interviewed Don Dohler in the past - you had worked with Don on a couple of movies, right?

Ted: Yeah, we made a couple of movies, we made Fiend and Nightbeast. I was producer on those and I did some writing, some story ideas. It was just too much of a hassle driving down for that. I mean, I would get off of work here (New Jersey) at 5:00 on Friday, hop in the car, drive to New Brunswick to pick up John Dods, then drive three and a half hours out to Maryland, to Baltimore, shoot all weekend and then drive back and get home at 3 in the morning and then get up for work the next day - y'know it was just too crazy, so that's when I said, hey look I just want to start my own film production company here. I certainly couldn't do any worse and I was very surprised when my first little movie, The Deadly Spawn, was being bid on the go theatrical. I was like, "Whoa!"

Continued in Part Two: "Peanuts, Goobers and Slime - Adventures in Moviemaking with Ted A. Bohus (part two)!!!
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