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Apr 25, 2006 at 02:00 AM
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DG Apr 06 - Bookwalter Returns to Roots
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J.R. Bookwalter recently moved back to his homestate of Ohio, but while he may not be in 'Hollyweird" anymore, he continues to release genre movies and even plans a return to directing. DARK GALLERY caught up with Bookwalter and asaked about a number of recent and upcoming releases.

DG: OCTOBER MOON, written & directed by Jason Paul Collum and starring Jeff Dylan Graham with Brinke Stevens and Judith O'Dea was release earlier this year. I've actually seen a growing number of "gay horror" movies being produced, which kind of reminds me of the "urban horror" theme that seems to have carved out a niche in the market. Do you see this genre as potentially doing the same?

JR: There have already been a number of pseudo-gay-themed horror movies, mostly of the kind where they're specifically trying to appeal to young women and gay men ’Äî a lot of hunky boys in their underwear, that kind of thing. I've even edited a couple of those (THE BROTHERHOOD 1 & 2), but they're pretty empty-headed when it comes to anything going on in the movie itself, and they certainly dance around any homosexual stuff. Jason's idea for OCTOBER MOON was to make a thriller that just happened to be a honest portrayal of gay life. I think he succeeded very well at doing that.

Personally I was never big on the "urban horror" subgenre, especially after having to produce a couple of those (THE VAULT and KILLJOY 2). I think you're really reaching by getting into a niche that specific, although many of those flicks had a healthy rental life at Blockbuster (they fared less well at retail and in international sales). Gay horror... well, we're seeing some better numbers for both OCTOBER MOON and the lesbian serial killer flick GIRLFRIENDS, but it's not significantly more than other titles. There's the theory that most gay men come from a higher income bracket and therefore have more disposable income, so time will tell.

DG: How did you hook up with Brett Kelly, the powerhouse behind THE FERAL MAN, FINAL CURTAIN and the BONESETTER movies? Did he approach you? DId you stumble across his stuff?

JR: Actually, Brett used to review our stuff for his webzine, and submitted THE FERAL MAN and THE BONESETTER to Tempe for acquisition. I'm ashamed to admit that at the time, I was being really lazy about watching screeners, then I met Brett in person at the Dark Xmas convention and we hit it off. He was negotiating with another company for BONESETTER, so I sat down and watched it, and made him a deal for both flicks. We did pretty decent business with THE BONESETTER, so when the sequel came along, it was sort of a given for us to work together again, and his latest flick MY DEAD GIRLFRIEND was essentially made exclusively for Tempe, although it might not be scheduled for release until 2007.

DG: More importantly, is Brett going to be shooting a KINGDOM OF THE VAMPIRE project for you?

JR: Brett has been lobbying hard to do it, but we haven't made a deal yet. Matthew Jason Walsh is also still chirping in my ear about taking a whack at it as well. There's some sick part of me that feels like I should do it myself, just to go back and revisit something from my past that I felt had potential that wasn't lived up to. So... we'll see. (laughs)

DG: You've created another Tempe DVD imprint named after your late cat and the namesake for Fat Cat Post - appropriately named Fat Cat DVD. Why the new imprint?

JR: Fat Cat DVD is a less genre-specific label... we've got Splatter Rampage for the gory or whacky stuff and Bad Movie Police for the old lame-o stuff. The Tempe DVD label was started to just release our own productions, but along the way I've wound up releasing other films like TOWNIES, EDDIE PRESLEY, THE STINK OF FLESH and SATANIC YUPPIES which we didn't make. So Fat Cat DVD is basically the new acquisitions label, and Tempe DVD will be reserved exclusively for new and old productions that we make internally.

DG: PROJECT: VALKYRIE is the first release set for Fat Cat DVD - can you tell us a bit about it and how you got your hands on it?

JR: I think at the same show I first met Brett Kelly at, I was also approached by Jeff Waltrowski, who was there pimping PROJECT: VALKYRIE at his own table. I took a look at the flick and made a loose commitment to releasing it... nobody else seemed to want to touch it, and I thought the movie had a lot of potential. I haven't been afraid to take some chances before with non-horror stuff like TOWNIES, EDDIE PRESLEY and the BENT series, so I decided to give it a shot. Jeff and his gang patiently waited for the right slot to open up, so it's finally debuting this June, a couple weeks before SUPERMAN RETURNS hits theatres (which is the marketing angle, playing it up that Superman isn't the only hero returning this summer). The movie itself is best summed up as the whacky antics of a boy and his giant robot doing battle against some mutant Nazis.

DG: What can you tell us about DAWN, the August release for Fat Cat DVD

JR: DAWN is another flick that I committed to awhile ago which is finally getting on the schedule, from a very talented guy named Jay Reel down in Texas. It's the story of a young girl born to a vampire mother and a human father... basically the mother dies at birth and the father has to take care of his daughter's "special needs," shall we say. It's really a very touching, tragic story and one of the freshest vampire flicks I've seen in years. On the surface it's an easy sell, but the director chose to tell the story in black & white, which is always a tough sell at retail. I'm gonna push it regardless, because it's a cool little flick that deserves to be seen.

DG: I recently experienced KILLJOY 2 and the important question that came to mind was: who made the commercial for the PIMP doll that runs at the beginning of the tape?!?

JR: You know, that commercial was done outside of Full Moon, I think... usually it was Dave Parker (director of THE DEAD HATE THE LIVING!) that did that stuff, but I honestly don't know the origins of that spot, sorry.

DG: ou recently moved back to Ohio from 'Hollyweird.' Was there a big reason for the move or did you just get tired of the 'scene' or the high rent?!

JR: Indeed I did, and with no regrets. I accomplished much more during my 9 years in L.A. than I certainly ever planned, first doing post work for Full Moon and eventually producing 13 movies in 2 1/2 years for them, as well as launching Tempe DVD and a whole bunch of freelance work. It's kind of the old saying about too much of a good thing can be bad... all that work really burned me out and I was looking for a slower pace. The DVD biz thus far has been pretty good to me, and I continue to do some freelance stuff on the side now & again... it all suits my mood.

I really first decided to leave L.A. about 3 years ago, and it mainly was the reality that I was sort of like the Tim Robbins character in THE PLAYER... remember that scene where he's in the restaurant and everyone is talking about industry stuff, and he stops them and says, "Hey, we're educated people... can't we all find something better to talk about than work?" And they all laugh. Well, that was sort of my life in L.A.... as I grew older and did morework in the industry, it stopped being the sun around which my planet revolved, if you know what I mean. Don't get me wrong, it's still my first love and I'll always do it, but I reached a point in my life where I looked back over 20+ years and found myself wanting to settle down, have some kids, live something more like a "normal" life. And L.A. isn't really the place to do that, because let's face it... almost nothing there is "real". (laughs)

Anyway, I never planned to stay in L.A. forever anyway, it's not a great place to raise kids, and honestly it's not even a great place to make movies because everyone there has their hands out trying to make a buck. It will always be my second home and I'll visit a few times a year on business, but I don't miss it at all. I'm having a blast just hanging out with my family and sort of "starting over" with the next phase of my so-called career.

DG: No DEAD NEXT DOOR sequel, right?

JR: I wouldn't completely rule out a DND 2, but I gotta be honest, I don't have any drive to get it made. Deals have come and gone over the years, but they always fell apart and really there are other stories I'd rather tell. I also didn't want to cheap out and make it for peanuts. So, if it gets made, great... if not, that's A-OK too.

DG: But BAD MOVIE POLICE CASE #5: ZOMBIE COP is still coming out in 07?

JR: BAD MOVIE POLICE is currently in limbo... the first 3 segments we shot did OK on DVD and they got great reviews, but it never caught on the way I hoped it would. I've still got MAXIMUM IMPACT and ZOMBIE COP left to do, but I've been pretty lazy about shooting new wraparounds. They may wind up in a box set with the first 3 discs, we'll see.

DG: Do you have any directing plans right now?

JR: Yes, I plan to get back in the saddle again this year as a director... haven't finalized what the project will be, but stay tuned.

DG: What can Tempe fans look forward to in the near future?

JR: We just released Chris Seaver's CARNAGE FOR THE DESTROYER and DESTRUCTION KINGS is coming in July, which adds Tempe vixen Ariauna Albright to the LBP fold. THE SANDMAN is finally coming to DVD this fall, it's taken forever to wrap up the 5.1 surround remix for some reason and I'm just now assembling extras, which will include about 15 minutes of deleted scenes (rare for my work), a music video, a behind-the-scenes featurette and a commentary with myself and line producer James L. Edwards. I'm also starting to assemble the 2007 lineup so check tempevideo.com for updates!

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