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Home arrow Entertainment arrow Dark Gallery arrow MATT WALSH - A MASTER OF MANY B-MOVIE CRAFTS!
Written by Administrator   
Dec 22, 2004 at 07:00 PM
Matt Walsh was one of the earliest individuals to work with Sub Rosa Studios (then Salt City). We lost touch with Matt for a few years, but recently made contact with him again and he agreed to an interview.
Matt is most accomplished as a b-movie screenwriter, but he also has done well acting, composing music for, directing and working crew in several other b-movies. We sat down with Matt recently for one of our popular quickie interviews!
Dark Gallery) Bloodletting (a B-Movie Theater Shot on Video Hall of Fame Inductee), your most recent directing venture, did very well on video and got some great reviews. It originally started as a short that is now apart of the anthology Dark Descent, released by Sub Rosa Studios. Can you tell the readers a little about the basic plot of the movie? Do you find yourself preferring one over the other? And do you think the idea translated well to feature length?
Matt Walsh) Well, basically, BLOODLETTING is a Frankenstein story about a woman who wanted to be a murderer ever since she was almost killed by one of the world's most notorious uncaught serial killers -- and witnessed the guy murdering her friend -- so she tracks downs the serial killer and blackmails him into showing her how to pull off the "perfect murder". They fall in love ... and by the end of the movie, the woman becomes an even worse monster that the serial killer is, which kills them both. I came up with the idea years and years ago, when we were shooting MIDNIGHT 2: SEX, DEATH AND VIDEOTAPE, where I had to play a serial killer and I kept thinking "Wouldn't it be funny if this guy acted NORMAL, instead of the usual 'Mwa-ha-ha, I'm gonna kill you!' stuff?" So I went with that idea. The feature became more expansive regarding the two main characters' relationship; it became a parody of serial killers AND relationships, and I'm not sure which one is scarier.
We'd done the 32-minute short, I'VE KILLED BEFORE, a year or so before shooting the feature, and that's what it always was to me -- a short subject. I like them both because of the casting dynamics, because the roles were specifically written for James L. Edwards and Ariauna Albright and they knew exactly what they were doing at all times. People don't expect that, to see that kind of dynamic going on on this level. But the short was something where no one was really telling me what to do, and BLOODLETTING was more of a calculated corporate flick. BLOODLETTING benefits from me knowing what I did wrong the first time, but it was pretty much just me running the show for most of it, so the whole thing felt somewhat thrown together and cheapened because of that. I think everybody was more eager to do something crazy and slick on the short, and it was more of a GROUP effort, and it shows, so, in many ways, I think the short has a warmer place in my heart.
DG) You seem to work most often with prolific filmmaker David DeCoteau - how did your history with him begin?
MW) Wow ... I've worked with DeCoteau on and off since 1990! I had met him while working with J.R. Bookwalter out in L.A., and he'd read a screenplay of mine called THE SANDMAN, which Bookwalter was trying to finance through him, at the time. DeCoteau then hired me to write a vampire script called DRESSED FOR DARK (which evolved into BLONDE HEAVEN), which he was gonna shoot for Academy Entertainment for 1.5 million. It was a heady experience; I wasn't even old enough to DRINK yet, and here I was sitting in on these big-time Hollywood script meetings, etc. Let me tell you, it was a HUGE learning experience.
DG) Tell us about your working relationship with him? At the risk of your next paycheck, do you feel he often captures the essence of your screenplays well?
MW) Well, in a nutshell (laughs), I'd probably drop off a cliff if he asked me to! DeCoteau's one of those icons of the industry that keeps working no matter what, even now, when the market's a dicey proposition. He's got great intuition regarding what he's doing as a director and a person who generates his own projects. I mean, there has to be a reason he replaced Ken Russell on SKELETONS, right? I think very highly of his work (laughs), even the stuff I DIDN'T write for him!
He's also one of those people who winds up pulling the "diamonds out of the rough", as it were -- he got J.R. Bookwalter into Full Moon and pretty much jump-started that career, and he shepherded Dave Parker into the director's chair on THE DEAD HATE THE LIVING, which became a HUGE hit for Full Moon, and me, well, pretty much any legitimate project I've been involved with in my career has been because DeCoteau has brought me onboard as a writer.
Basically, I think I get hired because I know what he wants to do. That's how I look at my projects with him: we sit down, figure out what he's trying to convey to the screen and I come up with the script, mold it until he's happy with it. Trust me, many times, we have a great script going on, like WITCHOUSE or ALIEN ARSENAL or MICROSCOPIC BOY, all three of which we were really happy with when the script was done, and it gets dilluted by the money people, or by how "viable" it's gonna be to the foreign audience, or what's capable of being shot for the money. There's a lot of factors that shape the final product. Sometimes, it's out of everybody's hands. But I'm always pretty happy with the final product.
DG) We get a lot of request at b-movie.com for Blonde Heaven, a movie you wrote the script for. Can you tell the readers a little about your history with that project, and why it's not out on video?
MW) Well, again, I'd developed the script DRESSED FOR DARK for Academy Entertainment with DeCoteau, and it sort of sat in limbo for a while after Academy disbanded. Then, years later, Charles Band put DeCoteau in charge of Torchlight Entertainment, which was sort of the erotic fantasy-label prototype for what Surrender Cinema is now, and DeCoteau decided to shoot DRESSED FOR DARK as one of the projects. What's funny is, the vampire character Julie Strain plays was originally supposed to be played by Brigitte Neilson, and about two years ago, I was at Full Moon and SAW this original poster for BLONDE HEAVEN with her on it. Wild stuff.
The thing is, BLONDE HEAVEN never made it through the MPAA; it kept getting an "X" rating for its sexual content. So it sort of hung in limbo, and when Paramount stopped backing Full Moon, there was a huge dispute over who owned what rights to it. So Band has the rights to play it on cable, which is where I keep seeing it, but the video release is, again, in limbo. I keep hearing they're gonna put it out on DVD, but we'll see.
DG) Witchouse, a recent movie you've written and directed by DeCoteau, did very well. It got into both Blockbuster and Hollywood Video. Was this the most successful of all the movies you have been associated with?
MW) Yeah, it was, and the timing of its release was perfect -- just as BLAIR WITCH PROJECT was playing theaters. It was the biggest renter for Full Moon Pictures last year, even outperforming RETRO-PUPPETMASTER, which is, of course, why they went ahead and made a sequel last February. It's pretty eerie to think I helped spawn a franchise (laughs).
DG) What one movie that you are associated with in any way is your favorite? Which, if a different answer, do you feel was the best translation of your idea or screenplay to the screen?
MW) Right now, my favorite screenplay/finished movie is ALIEN ARSENAL. I had been jonesing to write the SPIDERMAN movie ever since I was a kid, and when it finally sunk in that "Oh, this probably is never gonna happen", it was really nice to transfer that superhero-movie essence into ALIEN ARSENAL. It's a well-done kid's fantasy movie, something I never got to do before, and it really legitimized things for me. I mean, everybody did a spectacular job on it, right down the line. And it's the only movie I've ever been involved with that I can show my parents!
DG) When we worked together in Ohio, you talked often of your novel The Cure. I see you now are serializing it online. Can you introduce the Dark Gallery readers to the basic story? Any plans to make The Cure a movie, comic book or anything else?
MW) I'd written the novel years ago -- one of those things where you HAVE to do it, just once, to see if you can. The novel's about a young guy who has contacted aliens and accidentally convinces them that the Earth worthy of being destroyed, so they come and they're gonna wipe out the planet. The twist is, the guy's had a lot of problems, so instead of your usual "We've GOT to save the Earth!", his take on it is, "Ah, I might as well let them do it" ... and the rest of the novel is him discovering why he shouldn't let them do it.
I'd tried getting it published back in '92, but science fiction was kind of unpopular at the time -- or the novel itself just wasn't in a publishable condition -- so I sort of let it gather dust for a few years. Of course, a few years later, INDEPENDENCE DAY came out, with the "invading Earth" theme, so go figure. A few times, I'd talked to people about vanity-publishing it, or putting it out as a graphic novel (comic book artist David Lange actually did six drawings for it!), but it never panned out. So when I put up my own Web site, I just decided to post the novel. I have no idea if anyone is actually reading it, but it's there.
I dunno, I'd love to see it get made as a feature, but I read the novel now and, like anything you've done years ago and then come back to after having matured as a writer, you sort of wince and go "What the hell was I THINKING?!?"
DG) You've also scored a number of movies? Any favorites among all of them?
MW) I liked the POLYMORPH score the best, because it was a diverse project for me, lots of organic stuff like acoustic and electric guitars, etc. that I had started to tinker with on THE SANDMAN, and because it changes flavors so much -- one minute, it's blues or rock, the next, it's techno, the next, it's this big orchestral thing. Sadly, none of the scores ever got produced the way I wanted 'em to, there was never enough equipment to make it sound "real" -- and of course, now that I'm equipped to do that, I don't score movies much anymore. Isn't that always the way?
DG) Now you write, direct, act, compose music - if you had to pick one, which one area would you most prefer to work in and why?
MW) It's tough to say, though I no longer act, period. Something had to give, and it's important, I think, to be objective enough about yourself where you realize you're not good at something, and acting was clearly something I was lousy at (laughs). Well, obviously, I love directing, I love writing and I love scoring music, and I want to do all three together whenever possible, because that gives you that much more control over the finished product, the way you saw it and heard it in your mind when you first envisioned it. I thought that way ever since I saw HALLOWEEN and realized that John Carpenter had crafted the perfect movie and had his hands in every aspect that I was impressed with: the writing, the directing and the music. I like writing for other people, but sometimes, you want to do something totally your own. So I don't know. Don't think I can answer that question.
DG) And last, tell us about some of your most recent projects!
MW) Well, there's ANCIENT EVIL: SCREAM OF THE MUMMY and PRISON OF THE DAMNED, a Full Moon feature, both of which were written for DeCoteau. ANCIENT EVIL should be out soon, and they're cutting PRISON OF THE DAMNED as we speak. Personally, I'm working on two full-fledged rock albums out of my little studio right now, and I might possibly direct another flick this year with the same macabre-humor mindset as BLOODLETTING ... except this time, with zombies as the subject matter. Should be fun. I just haven't figured out where to stick the exploding baby into this one, yet ...
Thanks Matt! Fans can swing by Matt's site at

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