This writer caught up with genre journalist and documentary filmmaker Robert Galluzzo this past Tuesday night at the Burbank, CA hot spot of horror, Dark Delicacies, as he celebrated the release of his documentary The Psycho Legacy (which that day released nationwide via Shout! Factory) with a well attended, in-store DVD signing.
It seemed an appropriate evening to pick his brain as fans and Psycho alumni arrived en masse, as did an intimidating lightning storm that hovered over the Los Angeles basin, not unlike the one Psycho star Janet Leigh drove through on her way to her eventual demise in the original 1960 Hitchcock classic, which, along with its sequels, served as the inspiration for Galluzzo’s The Psycho Legacy.
Galluzzo happily took some time out from the festivities to wax on the trials and tribulations of his long-in-the-making documentary (read our review of The Psycho Legacy here) as well as to riff on actor Henry Thomas’ interest in microphones, his love for the Psycho series, and his gratitude to all of those involved who assisted him making his aspirations a reality.
“From the beginning, this project has always been an out-of-pocket labor of love, and the entire three-plus-year process with every challenge and obstacle that came our way has been a tremendous education for me as a first-time filmmaker,” Galluzzo stated. “When it all culminated with the Screamfest L.A. screening (The Psycho Legacy saw its Hollywood premiere only three days prior), it was all so incredibly rewarding. Everyone there seemed to ‘get it’, and it was so great to have the support of some of the Psycho alumni there as well.”
For readers who may assume that The Psycho Legacy’s development and production mirrored the Hollywood glitz surrounding its premiere, let’s take a moment to clear that up. Independent feature filmmaking is anything but.
“I remember first starting this thing a few years back,“ recalled Galluzzo. “My editor, Jon Maus, and I didn’t even have our own appropriate editing equipment so we sort of snuck into his former college to begin putting this thing together. This school was a good hour and a half away from where I lived at the time in New York,” continued the East Coast transplant, who now calls L.A. his home, “so I recall taking that trek and waiting until everyone left the school just so we could work for a few hours – repeat it the following night. We’d get out every evening at two in the morning to mounds of snow, and I remember thinking, ‘We are never going to finish this thing.’ Eventually we were able to migrate to Jon’s place, and it took us a few years, but we finally did in fact finish it, completely on our own terms. I had other people help along the way, but for the most part, it was two guys that put this thing together with scotch tape and a lot of love.”
Galluzzo, whose love of the genre and erudite, engaging horror journalism has not only over the years generated quite a following (his latest venture is the film site Massive Hysteria), but has also served to open his eyes to the sometimes generational gap experienced by genre fans and their occasional and bemusing ignorance of the daddy of all slasher films, and its sequels, which spawned The Psycho Legacy.
“Writing for Icons Of Fright and Fangoria and Shock Till You Drop over the last several years, I started to realize that a lot of younger genre fans didn’t know of Psycho, Norman Bates or the Psycho sequels. For some reason, Norman (as portrayed by actor Anthony Perkins in an iconic turn) had fallen out of the public subconscious, and I always found the character to have this amazing Shakespearean element to him. He’s often been referred to as ‘The Hamlet of Horror,’ and I wanted to remind people why he’s still one of the best movie maniacs ever. That was the crux of the doc, and once I started tracking people down for interviews, it all starting coming together beautifully.”
Of those involved in the doc, which includes Psycho sequel writer Tom Holland (Psycho II) and director Mick Garris (Psycho IV: The Beginning) as well as series stars Olivia Hussey, Henry Thomas and Jeff Fahey, among others, “Every one was so incredibly supportive,” said Galluzzo. “Once they met me and realized how enthusiastic I was about this, I think that it was contagious and everyone genuinely wanted to help. They all started digging for old photos and any material that they could find. I’ve since become really good friends with everyone involved. Tom Holland and I have collaborated on some stuff together. I’m talking to Katt Shea about potentially doing a documentary together. And I see Mick Garris and his wife, Cynthia, all the time, and they continue to be so supportive. The twelve-year-old version of myself that watched all of these movies religiously never could’ve imagined this ever being possible, let alone ever happening!”
Thorough documentaries of fan-favorite franchises have thankfully become the norm these days — Krueger’s exploits were documented beautifully by director Andrew Kasch in the 2010 award-winning Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy and Voorhees was paid his due in Kasch and co-director Daniel Ferrands in the 2009 doc His Name Was Jason — Galluzzo began tacking his labor of love prior to the success of these films, however, without the knowledge of what would be the positive reception of his doc’s horrific brethren.
“When I started this, it was before the rash of retrospective fan-made documentary projects,” Galluzzo mused. “The only one that existed was Halloween: 25 Years of Terror, and that was a huge influence on me. So I approached The Psycho Legacy from the beginning with that basic format, following the series chronologically and uncovering the never-before-heard, behind-the-scenes stories on the making of the sequels, intercut with a group of younger horror filmmakers talking about why these films are so influential to them and what scenes stand out for them personally. I needed guys like Joe Lynch and Adam Green and Dave Parker to essentially be my voice in the doc because I personally didn’t want to be in it. They’re all friends of mine, and we’ve had beers together and literally had conversations about the Pyscho movies that are in the doc. That’s the main reason I felt it was important to include them. Besides, it bridges the gap between the new generation of horror film fans and those that grew up on the Psycho movies. If one kid that likes those guys’ movies goes back and checks out the Psycho movies, then ‘mission accomplished’; I did my job.”
”Also, as a die-hard fan, I knew everything that had come before this,” continued the filmmaker. “I own all the making-of books on Psycho, and the original DVD release has an incredible documentary by Laurent Bouzereau that covers everything you’d ever want to know about the original movie. So I didn’t want to repeat that or compete with it. I think of The Psycho Legacy as a complement to Bouzereau’s doc – an unofficial sequel if you will. So if you watch them back to back, you’ll get the entire Psycho series story.”
The journey of filmmaking is always an interesting one, from assembling financing and crew to the acquisition of talent, and often takes interesting turns. Galluzzo good-naturedly communicated to us his storied adventure of opening dialogue with and eventually interviewing E.T. and Psycho IV star Henry Thomas.
“I had communicated with Henry Thomas’ management for several months before they took me seriously,” said the filmmaker, “and what was funny was that I ended up getting ahold of him via Facebook! His interview came together rather quickly after that.”
In true independent fashion, Galluzzo was left to scramble for a key piece of equipment in order to successfully complete the Thomas interview and turned to friend and genre-notable ‘Spooky’ Dan Walker in order to borrow his microphone.
“We went to Henry’s,” recalled Galluzzo following his acquisition of the mic, “and shot an awesome interview in one afternoon. As I was driving home, I realized though that I had left the mic behind! Now, Spooky had a shoot he was leaving for in two days so I knew I absolutely had to get the microphone back. I felt like a jerk, but I called Henry and left a message. I didn’t hear anything back so I sent him an email and then a Facebook message, and still nothing. I felt horrible, but I didn’t want to suffer the wrath of Spooky Dan so I left another voicemail asking if he could just put it in his mailbox and I’d pick it up later that night, and still I heard nothing. So I stopped by later that night … still nothing! Finally, the next day I stopped by his house again, and as I was waiting at the gate, a few guys pulled up with their guitars in tow. They turned out to be Henry’s band, and they were gearing up for band practice so finally he came down to let us all in. He saw me just standing in the middle of his crew and was like, ‘Ah, so that mic is yours, isn’t it?’ I got it back then, but considering he was going into band practice I had the sneaking suspicion that he was going to use it! So although it probably wasn’t the case, I laugh at the idea that Henry Thomas tried to keep Spooky Dan’s microphone. It’s just one of the many fun stories I can tell about this wacky journey making this thing!”
Galluzzo remains thankful to Thomas and everyone involved in assisting him make his doc a reality and in particular to The Psycho Legacy composer Jermaine Stegall.
“Talk about a daunting task – recreating music that was originally done by guys like Bernard Herrmann, Jerry Goldsmith and Carter Burwell!“ said the filmmaker of Stegall’s score. “It became obvious very early on that licensing the music was going to be ridiculously expensive, and I funded this out of pocket so I didn’t have a lot of money for anything! Needless to say, as an incredible composer and fan of those previously mentioned guys, Jermaine perfectly captured the essence of what they did for their respective Psycho movies and made it an homage. The music he came up with for the Psycho IV segment is all original, and my only instructions were that I wanted something that was melodic yet melancholy. This is the movie where we meet a vibrant, gorgeous mother Bates, but at the same time, Norman loves her so much he kills her. So subtly I wanted the music to reflect that, and he nailed it. If anything, I’m glad I did this doc just to get that original piece of music out of Jermaine for that segment!”
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