For over twenty years, Florida’s Tampa Bay area has been a national leader in horror filmmaking/creativity and events. From film festivals to ultra-exploitative cinematic offerings, the region has been as aggressive as rabid weasels by producing and executing (pun!) a dizzying array of offerings tantalizing to terror-tazed fright fans. Best of all, the long-lived movement is rooted in the grindhouse and drive-in esthetic of the 1970’s & early ‘80s, thanks to the trailblazers who adore films, exploitation, and art from that cherished era.
The movement began in the early 2000’s with regional films that have since become local cult classics:
- Chris Woods’s award-winning feature Bleed
- The Saints & Sinners Film Festivals I-III
- Greg Rivera’s serialized horror anthology The Uninvited, winner of numerous awards.
- The films of Joel D. Wynkoop, Tampa’s very own B-movie icon, dubbed “The King of the B-Movies”.
- Home base of horror hero Marcus Koch, regarded as the “go to” make-up effects talent in the indie and pro arenas, who started his directorial career with Rot in 1999, also starring Wynkoop.
- Early indie curiosities such as Raging Bells, this column writer’s Filthy, and the unreleased sci-fi film ironically titled Unearthed starring Tom Savini and Joe Davison, another prolific Tampa Bay based producer.
- Unearthed Films, a distro company specializing in extreme horror, also has its origins in the Tampa Bay area.
- Dread Central’s Uncle Creepy and The Woman in Black also called Tampa home for a brief but memorable residence.
In fact, there are too many milestones to categorize in this short space, suffice to state that perhaps no other region of America, including Los Angeles, can boast a scene as long-lived and robust as Tampa’s cult movie and horror community that dawned in this new millennium – and it shows no sign of deflating some sixteen years later.
Little has changed. Extreme, bloody, and scantily-clad horror remains the cornerstone. New players populate the scene and old-timers have forged new companies & projects. Some have teamed up, namely the dynamic duo Son of Oddservations will be spotlighting in this column: the aforementioned Chris Woods, director of Bleed and the legendary Amerikan Holokaust and latter-day prolific splatter movie wunderkind Sean Donohue, producer of Die Die Delta Pi and Death-Scort Service, all un-apologetically inhumane slash-fests that deliver the gore in swimming pools.
Years back, Woods and Donohue formed respective production companies specializing in horror and exploitation: The Sleaze Box (Woods) and Gatorblade Films (Donohue). Recognizing alliance trumps competition in this instance, both entities chose to work together in the best interest of the horror consumer. Their recent releases are movie and event projects in which blur the lines between their companies.
Their most recent collaborative achievements have been: The Tampa Bay Screams horror convention (coming in August, 2016) and the all-new splatter epic Chaos A.D., directed by Chris Woods. Tampa Bay Screams earns the prestige as being the region’s very first all-horror convention, beating another current horror con Bay of Blood (coming in Sept. 2016) by less than a month! Chaos A.D. continues the Woods tradition of blood and babes, more than one could ever think possible being stuffed in one feature film!
Sean Donohue is a runaway train of ideas and an wizardic alchemist who makes an astonishing number of projects materialize. Tampa Bay Screams is his latest mutant brainchild. The con is poised to enjoy a great reception among local horrorheads and VHS collectors, as the flavor of the event is cult movie driven.
Tampa Bay Screams will feature in-con events and a table of cult movie vendors, including con co-organizer Grindhouse Video, a Tampa-based video media (DVD, VHS, Blu-Ray, laserdisc) retailer.
Son of Oddservations caught up with the very busy Donohue, who is able to fill us in on the mission of Tampa Bay Screams and what it means to horror fans not only from Florida, but around the world.
Son of Oddservations: Sean, tell us about Tampa Bay Screams; what were its origins and what does it promise attendees and horror/cult movie fans?
Sean Donohue: I started the Tampa Bay Screams Convention for a few reasons. I believe we have a really great group here in the bay area that produces quality horror and exploitation movies. I want to keep that alive, especially here in my home town. The Sleaze Box, Cult Movie Mania and my company, Gatorblade Films are the three main companies currently producing horror/exploitation here in Tampa, so I want to showcase that. What Tampa Bay Screams will give to the fans are quality Tampa made products, a meet and greet with the filmmakers as well as other great vendors and some well known Scream Queens such as Rhonda Shear, Patty Mullen and Forbes Riley.
Son of Odd: Can you tell us when and where it will be happening, and why not only Floridians but fans from other states should consider flying in and attending?
SD: The Tampa Bay Screams Convention will be held at the Clarion Inn, 9331 E. Adamo Dr., Tampa, Florida, on Saturday, August 27 from 12-8pm. Out-of -state fans should consider attending this convention for a few reasons. One, it’s cheap to attend. The ticket price is only $7 online and $10 at the door. I wanted the fans to be able to spend their hard earned cash on DVD’s, posters, autographs, etc. and not on the door charge. So many conventions right now are too expensive to attend in my opinion, that’s where Tampa Bay Screams differs. Also If you mention Tampa Bay Screams to the Clarion Inn upon check-in you will get 20% off of your room charge! Not to mention, early birds attending this convention will get a free DVD at the door just for showing up and buying a ticket!!
Son of Odd: What kind of in-conventions events are planned? Can you give us an idea of the vendors who will be in the dealer’s room?
SD: We have a few fun things planned. I have a raffle that I am doing. Its only 2 bucks a ticket for a chance to win a DVD player, a Splatter University poster, an official Tampa Bay Screams poster, a ‘Minions’ lunch bag, a pair of Roar headphones, and a Jimi Hendrix and Amy Winehouse vinyl! Raffle announced at 7pm. In addition we really have some great guests and vendors attached to the event. Here they are:
- Rhonda Shear (USA’s “Up All Night”)
- Forbes Riley (Splatter University)
- Patty Mullen (Frankenhooker)
- Ashley Lynn Caputo (Joe Vampire, Death-Scort Service)
- Krystal Pixie Adams (Death-Scort Service, Naughty, Dirty, Nasty)
- Cayt Feinics (American Guinea Pig, Death-Scort Service)
- Todd Sheets (House of Forbidden Secrets)
- Saharra Huxly (Fetish Model)
- Nakoma Demitro (Cam-Girl)
- Chantily Lace (Britany Dorch- Burlesque Dancer)
- Eigh8t the Chosen One (Crack Baby Billionaire)
- Bob Glazier (Amerikan Holokaust)
- Krista Grote (H.G. Lewis’s The Uh-Oh Show, Joe Vampire, Filthy)
- Plus vendors like:
- Gatorblade Films
- The Sleaze Box
- Cult Movie Mania
- Grindhouse Video
- Zombie Riot Media
- Chamber of Terror
- Curt Wiser (Cam-Girl movie)
- Steve Balewitz (Rock Bottom Creek movie)
- Bay of Blood Horror Convention
- Dustin Hubbard (C-word Productions)
- Rick Danford (Enigma Films)
Son of Odd: Tell us about the celebrities, three gorgeous women who have cult movie appeal: Patty Mullen, Rhonda Shear, and Forbes Riley.
SD: Patty is best known for her character in Frank Henenlotter’s Frankenhooker. She was also a Penthouse Pet of the year in 1988. Rhonda Shear is best known for hosting USA’s “Up All Night” in the early ‘90s. She also starred in Spaceballs, Basic Training, Prison A-Go -Go and now runs her own business selling lingerie. Forbes Riley has starred in Splatter University, The Omega Code 2 and is now featured on the Home Shopping Network. I would also like to add that we have many other cult stars attending such as Joel D. Wynkoop, Bob Glazier, Krista Grotte and great group of vendors! A full bar will be stocked at the hotel!!
Thanks, Sean for the opportunity to interview you!
Chris Woods is a veteran filmmaker and editor who began his career in an epic, feature film fashion with Bleed, winning the “Best Film” of the 2003 Saints and Sinners Film Festival, held to sell-out crowds in sunny downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. He has since puppeteered a non-stop avalanche of cinematic projects and assignments, including editing H.G. Lewis’s last movie The Uh-Oh! Show and forming his own production company The Sleaze Box. In commandeering The Sleaze Box, Woods produced/directed highly regarded short films (Taste Me, Spaventare, To Live is to Die), Sleaze Box YouTube channel episodes, neo-erotica (Naughty, Dirty, Nasty), and of course the features Bleed and Amerikan Holokaust.
Woods’s latest splatter tour-de-force is Chaos A.D.; Son of Oddservations is grateful to Woods for providing a screener copy. Woods touts the new release as being his best directorial work, which is hard to argue although I personally regard Amerikan Holokaust with equal aplomb, given the passionate performances by Jules Sciero (as Michael Mashburn) and Bob Glazier (as Antwan), nods to Vietnam PTSD cult epics Combat Shock and possibly the 1976 near-brilliant The Naked Massacre (aka Born for Hell), fine performances by victimized (and in some cases predatory) ladies including: Cyndi Crotts, Ashley Lynn Caputo, Helen Kelly Thompson, and Rue “Goregrinder”.
Chaos A.D. shifts gears slightly from Holokaust, jetting on a trajectory more outrageous than the downbeat philosophizing of the AH sadists Mashburn and Antwan (but retains the sadism), owing some its influence from Death-Scort Service’s more cartoonish albeit barbarous atrocities. Chaos easily triples the number of demented villains, most now being females of a torture gang “F.R.E.A.K.”, and including the welcome return of cult actor Bob Glazier in the role of sick pervert “Uncle Lester”. But any modern-era Woods film is not recommended for the easily offended, politically-correct or faint of heart, there are more visceral, violent, sexually sadistic and traumatic depictions of tasteless torture and murder that the moviegoer can barely keep stride.
The ladies are in command as Chaos A.D. stalks its prey. The F.R.E.A.K. clan of scantily clad lovelies (and one towering she-brute called “Misery”, played by Saharra Huxly ) mercilessly kidnaps random citizens in Syracuse, New York (where Woods originally hails from), imprisons, and butcher-tortures them in mind-bendingly depraved ways on Halloween night – all effects coutesy of maestro Marcus Koch. But is it a cut-and-dry case of mental derangement, or is there a more ominous purpose to the controlled carnage? Headlining the cast are dependable Sleaze Box regulars Ashley Lynn Caputo, playing an abused but vengeful wife taken prisoner; Lisa Marie Kart, daughter of a verbally and physically abusive father (played by Sleaze Box troupe actor Joe Makowski) – also a clan victim; Cayt Feinics, leader of the lacerating ladies; curvy Amanda Welch as the lethal, power-tool wielding “Vixen”; Paula Tsurara as the horrifying carnivorous cannibal “Lilith”; Krystal “Pixie” Adams (star of Death-Scort Service) as poor victim “Amanda”; Rachael Shaw as “Veronica”, who has a manic nude knife fight in the dark with Caputo; Jesse Towers, Angie McNish and Aurora Cruz as hookers and victims. Most if not all the female roles are served in an avalanche of flesh-y nudity, so much so that the cast seemingly feels repulsion toward being clothed – which will surely meet with approval by a mostly male audience who enjoys extreme horror and erotica.
There are hunks in the cast too; horror fan extraordinaire Eric “Danger” Dionne makes his acting debut (finally!) in Chaos A.D., playing “Vinnie Russo”, brother of Lisa Marie Kart’s “Sarah” character; busy actor David A. Jackson portrays “Jack Foley” a sleazy, sleeparound politician who gets caught in F.R.E.A.K.’s spider hole, the aforementioned Joe Makowski, cult actor Gus Perez, Alec Tristan as “Tony”, an innocent bystander; and last but not least the great Joel D. Wynkoop (“King of the B-Movies”) in a surprise role, who always delights amidst the sinewy super-slaughter.
Chaos A.D. made its world premiere in the city where it’s set: the Slaughter in Syracuse Film Festival 2016. Woods and producer Donohue are eager to serve their offensive offerings to a sicko public. Son of Oddservations tapped director Chris Woods to further elaborate on his celluloid horror-feast.
Son of Oddservations: Chris, how did Chaos A.D. originate in the wake of the extreme horror/erotica hits Amerikan Holokaust, Naughty, Dirty Nasty, and Death-Scort Service? Did you feel any obligation to top yourself in terms of gore and nudity?
Chris Woods: Chaos A.D. is movie I wanted to make for a while. I originally wrote the first draft of the script back in 1995. I rewrote the script two more times in the late ’90s and early 2000’s and then just let the script sit there until 2014 when I knew I was able to make the film. I used some things from the first three scripts and then rewrote the rest of the story. I do think with every new movie I need to try to top myself with the gore and nudity. I try to come up with things that I haven’t done before in my other films and no one else has done in any other films. It’s tough sometimes to come up with new crazy gory kills, but I try.
Son of Odd:The women in the film are exploitatively naked and per the script are required to perform the most sexually depraved acts imaginable. How do you go about auditioning your brave actresses and making them “comfortable” with their characters’ behavior – or do you encourage discomfort?
CW: Most of the actresses I worked with before on other films and have done nudity and sex scenes in my movies, so I know their limit and what their comfortable with. I do talk to them way before we shoot and let them know what they have to do in the film and if there comfortable with it. I’ve been very blessed to have some of the most fearless actresses who give it their all and are willing to push it to the limit. I do make sure there comfortable in the scenes even though a lot of the stuff is very sick and twisted, but we are all professional about it. They know those scenes will make the film good and our important to the story arch.
Son of Odd: Care to comment on the social messages contained within the film? Like Amerikan Holokaust, there’s commentary beneath the naked bodies and flesh-slicing.
CW: Yes, I tried to make the film represent our present time. The world we live in now has our lives always broadcast on social media, there is senseless violence happening all over the world and our current presidential election year is like an insane circus. I wanted the film to represent that with the group broadcasting some of the murders on social media and how there might be some sort of political governmental or wealthy benefactor behind the scenes pulling the strings of the vicious killers.
Son of Odd: Can you give us any tabloid secrets behind-the-scenes? Any funny production moments?
CW: Well the place where we shot most of the film was in a studio where they shoot fetish videos from a company Zombie Riot Media. There were very awesome. They had these great sets already there made by Bishop J. Stark. He was great help in letting me shoot most of the movie there and even making brand new sets for some of the scenes. There were a few funny moments on sets. One that I can remember when I was lifted up in a cage off the floor to get point of view shots from one of the characters and I remember being up in the cage for a while and the rest of the cast and crew teasing me because I’m afraid of heights a little bit. Someone was even poking me with a stick from below that had a dildo on the end of it! That’s what you find laying around a fetish studio.
Son of Odd: Do you see films like Chaos A.D. and Amerikan Holokaust being the future of horror and will you continue to push the limits of exploitation boundaries?
CW: I do believe that they are the future of horror. With Chaos A.D. and even with Amerikan Holokaust I wanted to create new memorable horror villains that we haven’t seen since the days of Freddy and Jason. And with Chaos A.D. I made most of all the villains women and I think it is a refreshing change to see women as the main antagonists. On both the good and evil side of Chaos A.D. you have very strong female characters and that was important for me to have in the movie. It is something different in horror movies and it feels new and it helps expand your audience to women who love horror, but is also a film the male horror audience enjoys as well. With my character of “Misery” I wanted her to be a female version of Leatherface or Jason and when you watch the movie and see her in it I think I achieved that.
Horror fans can man expeditions into The Sleaze Box and Gatorblade Film dungeons by visiting the following websites. And please show your support of extreme horror and erotica filmmaking by purchasing the packed-with extras DVD’s and in some cases, VHS tapes:
Visit Son of Oddservations on Facebook! Chime in with your thoughts and opinions about the Wild World of Fandom! Fan Purists welcome, you have found a new home!
About the Conductor Andy Lalino
Andy Lalino is a filmmaker, event organizer, and horror journalist, noted for co-directing/producing and writing the 2002 award-winning horror featurette Filthy and producing two modern-era cult classics: H.G. Lewis’s The Uh-Oh! Show (2012) and Brainjacked (2010). Lalino has authored articles that have appeared in print and online: Fangoria, Filmrage, and Sirens of Cinema magazines, Dread Central, and Crazed Fanboy. From 2007 to present he has organized film festivals, vintage spook shows, and movie theater screening series, including: The Cult Movie Mania Screaming Cinema Series (Tampa, FL), Wolfman Mac Kelly’s Monster Matinee (Tampa, FL), Satan’s Children and William Grefé’s Impulse 40th Anniversary Cast and Crew Reunion screenings at Tampa Theatre movie palace, the Horror + Hotties Film Festival 2007 (hosted by Dread Central’s Steve Barton a.k.a. “Uncle Creepy”) and the “One Scream Beyond” Vintage Spook Show featuring magician Roy Huston (Clearwater, FL).
Filthy (DVD) – The Most Disturbing Film Ever Made!
For movie fans who appreciate extreme Horror, please visit the official Filthy website. Filthy is a 2002 short horror film, running 32 minutes and filmed in Super 16mm film. Winner of 26 Awards and Honors, all of which are listed on the official website. Autographed DVD is available for purchase directly from the filmmaker. Filthy is the story of sexy and gorgeous reporter Dana Diamond, who while covering breaking news in a decrepit section of Miami on Halloween night (“Devil’s Night”) gets lured into an old house by a members of an insane family. Inside, Dana discovers a house stuffed with stinking, rotting garbage – but greater horrors lie within as more members of the cannibalistic family slither out of the darkness to torture poor Dana relentlessly – pushing her mental and physical boundaries to horrific limits. Multiplying the horrors are hallucinatory monsters also dwell within…further driving Dana to the brink of insanity, led by “MeatMan”, a humanoid creature made of rotting, rancid meat pieces! Will Dana survive “Devil’s Night”? Find out by purchasing an autographed copy of Filthy – this is a real, shrink-wrapped DVD folks – NOT a DVD-R! Packed with extras – over 2.5 hours of goodies! Find out why Filthy is regarded as one of the most disturbing films ever made and enjoys a loyal cult movie fan following by fans who appreciate the real deal.
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