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Fear Factory: Ken Hall PDF Print E-mail
Written by Written by Eric Spudic   
Aug 13, 2005 at 02:00 AM
Ken Hall came to Hollywood in 1982 quickly becoming an extablished special effects artist. You may have seen his work: the 16-foot star of Roger Corman's CARNOSAUR and the giant octopus prop from Tim Burton's ED WOOD. Ken also began a screenwriting and directing career: he's worked on THE TOMB, EVIL SPAWN, PUPPET MASTER and even LINNEA QUIGLEY'S HORROR WORKOUT. After years of operating his own effects company, he recently, he resumed his independent production by starting BV Entertainment.

DG: What were some of the movies/filmmakers/actors who influenced you while growing up?

KH: There were so many. You see, my mother would take my brother and I to the movies with her rather than leave us with babysitters when we were toddlers. Some of my earliest memories were images from MOTHRA, BRIDES OF DRACULA, DINOSAURUS, THE TIME MACHINE, CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF, and PIT AND THE PENDULUM. I enjoyed the Japanese giant monster films but my favorites were the horrors, especially the Hammer films but also the Corman adaptations of Poe and Lovecraft from AIP.

Most kids of my generation remember seeing PLANET OF THE APES for the first time. I'm no exception and, even though I'd seen dozens of classic genre films by that time, I was still blown away by it. I hadn't had a chance to see it on a big screen for decades and went with Dave DeCoteau to a screening at the Egyptian a few years back. They showed a brand-new widescreen print and Charlton Heston spoke afterwards. It was great.

As for filmmakers, I would have to say the first I took notice of was Hitchcock. Not only were his movies still playing theatrically - I remember seeing THE BIRDS when I was very young - but he was very prominent on television. I remember watching him interviewed by Charles Champlin on some PBS show back in the late 60's or early 70's. It was the first time I'd heard anyone talking about film style or technique and who better to hear it from than the master? I'd love to find tape of those shows after all these years.

When it comes to genre actors that I grew up with, there were (in order), Vincent Price, Peter Cushing, and Christopher Lee. While I also grew to love Karloff, Lugosi, Chaney, etc., they were in older movies on TV. Price and the others were up on the big screen, in color, so they made the biggest impression. Of course, there are many other actors I like, past and present, that are too numerous to mention. One, however, who fascinated me long before he did horror films was Clu Gulager (RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD). He was just one of those performers I never tired of watching and I'm pleased to know him as a friend now.

DG: Any cool on-set stories from DR. ALIEN or NIGHTMARE SISTERS?

KH: We cast DR. ALIEN during a writer's strike. Every actor in town was available and we got to audition a lot of cool people, many of whom we didn't have room for in the picture. The gym teacher was originally written with Kitten Natividad in mind, since I'd worked with her before. She ultimately had a schedule conflict but came in and mortified our casting director by ripping her shirt off during the reading. Of course, Edie Williams did the same thing in her audition and we hadn't asked either of them to do it!

Judy Landers would never be seen in public without makeup, even when she showed up to have her life cast done at Greg Cannom's shop. On set, she spoke so softly that she usually had to wear a radio mike. The only time she didn't was when she was in the alien makeup. Because her ears were covered, she couldn't hear herself so she spoke up louder. She did most of the makeup shots but Michelle Bauer doubled her for a few action scenes.

NIGHTMARE SISTERS was made first and was originally titled SORORITY SUCCUBUS SISTERS, which is referred to in the title song by Haunted Garage. It was changed by the foreign distributor because there was no equivalent for the word "sorority" in any other language. Besides, no one knew what a succubus was anyway.

I wrote the script for that one over a seven day period and it went before the camera eleven days later for a four-day shoot. The fact that anyone can remember anything about making it is a miracle. I had to devise the girl's nerd looks, which included making Linnea's buck teeth and Michelle's fat suit. They were all really into getting to be goofy on camera and did a great job.

Dukey Flyswatter was the lead singer of Haunted Garage and happened to have a prop severed head of himself that he used on stage. I wrote the fortune teller part for him so we could do the decapitation gag without having to make the head ourselves.

The succubus itself was a redress of a puppet head I'd made for a nightmare scene in my own film, EVIL SPAWN. I operated it and actually did the voice, assuming Dave would put a better one in later. He must have liked my performance because mine is the voice you hear. Linnea provided the arms in the close-ups.

DG: If you could write a sequel to one of your movies, which one would it be?

KH: Well, PUPPET MASTER has had countless sequels that I didn't write. I generally don't like sequels since they're inevitably afterthoughts that come when a movie is successful. The fundamental difference between a feature and a TV show is a movie should be self- contained, with a beginning, middle, and end. When it's over, you're done with those characters and it's time to move on to something new. Of course, if I had another film as successful as PUPPETMASTER, I'd figure out some way of doing it. The one other script I wrote that had real franchise potential was THE CLOWN AT MIDNIGHT. The film turned out okay but it was so badly distributed no one in the US has heard of it.

DG: How would you describe THE HALFWAY HOUSE?

KH: THE HALFWAY HOUSE is not a broad comedy like DOCTOR ALIEN nor is it a totally serious horror film. It's a retro horror/exploitation film with a sly sense of humor that still delivers the goods. It's a blend of the 60's Corman/Lovecraft films, 70's women-in-prison movies, and 80's slasher flicks that's chock full of sex, nudity, violence, and monsters. The story is set in the Mary Magdalen Halfway House for Troubled Girls where young women are disappearing mysteriously. Our heroine goes in undercover to find her missing sister and encounters all sorts of weirdness and depravity. Mary Woronov plays the sinister Sister Cecelia. I think this is the best role she's had in years and she's absolutely wonderful in it.

DG: What details can you spill on your upcoming PREGGERS project?

KH: NYMPHOMANIAC MOTHERS GIVE BIRTH TO MONSTER BABIES! That pretty much says it all. Frank Dietz and I are working on the script right now so I don't even know exactly what it's going to be yet. I do know we're trying to go beyond the films of Larry Cohen and David Cronenberg, who've explored this subject matter, by virtue of being more outrageous. So far, our teaser poster has succeeded in that. We also hope to have several cool genre names in the cast as well as some hot scream queens. Of course, there'll be plenty of creature effects and gore as well.

Keep up with Ken's latest adventures in moviemaking at http://www.bv-ent.net!


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