"BOTW is highly recommended. If Rod Serling would've had a modern take on lycanthropy it surely would've been in this fine tradition!" -
"A very good story. The intrigue and plot twists are very nice. The lycanthrope isn't your typical werewolf, which is one of the only movies I've seen with this type." - NYTEMAER reviews
"Any film that starts off with an intro by director Ted V. Mikels is ok in my book." - FRINGE VIDEO
"Ted V. Mikels and Bruce G. Hallenbeck steal the screen in this werewolf anthology." - GUESTAR
"Kevin Lindenmuth is obviously obsessed with vampires, werewolves, lycanthropes and all variations of blood-sucking, shape-shifting undead bottom feeders. You can't watch a Lindenmuth movie without mentally checking for hidden fangs.
It's sort of like watching a LIFETIME movie of the week, actually. Just as the handsome polite guy on Lifetime always turns out to be an abusive creep, anything resembling normality in a Lindenmuth movie is eventually going to sprout ears, morph into a rat-nosed monster, and start chomping on the cast." - Joe Bob Briggs, Joe Bob's Drive-In 12/2002
Bruce G. Hallenbeck - Director/Writer
Director Bruce G. Hallenbeck never had a chance when it came to making horror movies. Ever since he saw a werewolf movie on television called THE UNDYING MONSTER when he was three years old he was hooked. It also helped that he grew up in a little town called Kinderhook, New York, which was where Washington Irving actually wrote THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW. The legend of the Headless Horseman is big in this town (a distinction it shares with Tarrytown, which is where Irving actually set the story), and there are a lot of "haunted houses" around, so Bruce's Halloween nature was nurtured at an early age.
He turned five in 1957, the year of the big Gothic horror revival; saw all the Universal monster movies by the time he was seven. He saw HORROR OF DRACULA in 1958 in a theater and remembers kids running screaming from the place. He was in Heaven. It changed his life. Of course, it helped that his grandmother, who raised him, let young Bruce indulge his creative interests. He made comic books when he was seven or eight that were based on horror movies of the day; discovered FAMOUS MONSTERS magazine when he was eight, and was fascinated by the fan section in which kids wrote in about the home movies they'd made. He thought, "if they can do it, why not me?" So he started making movies when he was twelve, with his father's camera.
The first one completed was called KIKO, SON OF KONG-it was mostly claymation. You see, he had been in denial for a few years about the Son of Kong's death in the original movie, so he brought him back in his film.. After that, he completed my first live-action movie, THE CREATION OF FRANKENSTEIN, in which he played the monster through most of it, with a Universal Frankenstein mask and his hands painted green.
Numerous other films followed, including a spy movie, a science-fiction film and several vampire films-all short subjects of between three and fifteen minutes. And all were silent, shot in Regular 8mm film.
When he graduated from high school he took a year off and got heavily into writing; He had numerous articles already published in journals such as THE CHRISTOPHER LEE FAN CLUB-mostly film criticism, and in high school had won a top writing prize for his short story, FEAR IS THE COLOR OF DARKNESS. When he was seventeen, he discovered the writings of H.P.Lovecraft and, inspired heavily by them, started writing his own short stories. Three of them were published when he was nineteen in a professional fantasy magazine called MOONBROTH. He was paid very little money but now he was a "professional" writer.
Of course, none of this stuff paid the bills but by this time he had a state job. Three years of civil service drove him nuts, so he got into radio, with a job as copywriter/talk show host/production director/sales/engineering at a Hudson, New York radio station called WHUC. I was in radio for about fifteen years. During that time, Bruce continued to write for magazines such as FANGORIA, CINEFANTASTIQUE, MONSTERLAND and many, many others. He also continued to make movies; his first Super 8 sound film was called LORD RUTHVEN, based on THE VAMPYRE by John Polidori. Then he did another "music video" film based on Jethro Tull's SONGS FROM THE WOOD album.
In 1979 he travelled to England for the second time in his life (the first had been in 1975, when he met Hammer music composer James Bernard and interviewed him for LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS Magazine) and went out to Pinewood Studios, where a script that he had written based on his short story FEAR IS THE COLOR OF DARKNESS was under consideration for filming by Tyburn Productions. The financing fell through for the project but he got to know more Hammer alumna, and felt yet closer to his dream of making movies.
In 1983, he got into 16mm production with a project called CANNIBAL CHURCH; it never got finished, but enough was shot or an eight minute promotional reel that was taken to MIFED by Alexander Beck. It was deemed "too outrageous" and never got funded. Bruce rewrote the script and it was transformed into a more Hammeresque project called GRAVE'S END. He got his Hammer friends interested in it, and by 1985 it was announced in VARIETY as a British-American co-production starring Caroline Munro, Ralph Bates, Michael Gothard, Bobbie Bresee and Russell Todd, to be directed by Jimmy Sangster. And the funding fell through. There was actually $400,000 in escrow for the production, but the investors (who were Greek) argued amongst themselves and pulled out.
The project was optioned by two other producers-William Paul and Brendan Faulkner-and fell through both times. Everyone loved the script, from special effects ace Ed French to Hammer alumnus Ralph Bates-but no one came through with the money. Feeling frustrated by dealing with so-called "big boys", he decided in late 1987 to mount his own production in 16mm. He got together with a local filmmaker named Antonio Panetta, who happened to own his own Arriflex camera. He wanted to make art films, and Bruce wanted to make horror films, so they compromised on a remake of Carl Dreyer's VAMPYR-an art house horror film.\
The movie ended up being released by Panorama Entertainment in 1991 under the title of VAMPYRE. Recently it was re-released by E.I. INDEPENDENT CINEMA, who also released his tribute to Hammer films, FANGS.
JOE BAGNARDI - Director
FILMOGRAPHY: SHADOW TRACKER (1998)
BIOGRAPHY: I grew up always trying to entertain in some type of story form or another. It stared out with acting out action figures as a live play in front of brothers, sisters, birthday parties, et cetera. My parents were divorced so I spend Sundays with my father and brother at the movies.
These movies affected me the most. Everything about them-the story, the camerawork, the music, the posters-all of it had an affect. This was a world in which I could escape to, no matter what was going on in my life. I wanted to create this world for others to escape to, too. I wrote two page stories, then audio cassettes like the old radio shows. In 1967 I finally received my first projector and I collected the old CASTLE FILMS, which were cut down to four and twelve minute versions. I entertained family members and friends. They'd laugh as I would repeatedly show Roy Rogers punch someone out.
But I wanted to MAKE my own movies. In the Christmas of 1969 I got my first Super 8mm film camera. I shot a film almost immediately. It was called CHRISTMAS TIME. The following year I did my first narrative film, entitled MANIAC's MORGUE. The James Bond films inspired me. The look, the music, the sex, the action, the posters. All of it. I created a spy series, JASON SCOTT, starting with TO KILL A SPY. The series went to thirty short films.
Of course, there were other inspirations. Old films, new films, horror, science fiction, action, adventure, war-everything! Over the next twenty years, through high school, college, marriage, divorce, moving, life and death, I managed to make a total of 250 short films. No genre was left untouched. These were all silent films with soundtrack music added. They were played to many people over many years and entertained, most of all. Then, in 1992, I sent a series called HORROR HOSPITAL to a Texas filmmaker. He liked the way they were shot. He sent me a script. I wrote down what I thought the camera angles should be and mailed it back to him. The next think I know he sends me a plane ticket and a chance to be "Assistant to the Director" on a film called VERDUN MANOR. The Super 16mm film took us two and a half weeks to shoot, with many sixteen hour days. It was a fun experience that wetted my appetite for filmmaking more.
In 1993 I received a call from Bruce G. Hallenbeck, director of VAMPYRE and the vampire documentary FANGS. He asked for me to help him out on his feature BLACK EASTER, which featured actress Debbie Rochon. Again, a wonderful experience. That year I was also cameraman on a Gary Secor's production, which featured a Witch hanging.
But I wanted to shoot my own feature. I held auditions in 1993 for my film SHADOW TRACKER. It was originally supposed to be a post-nuclear war film called NUCLEAR RAGE, based on my short film series called WASTELAND. It featured a character named "Nomad". I felt, though, that it would be limited with costumes and location. So, I took the look of the "Nomad" character, changed it a bit, and made him into "Shadow Tracker", a vampire hunter.
The crew and I started the film in September of 1993. We shot on high tech video for three days. Something was missing, though. I was not used to the monitors, cables and batteries. The video looked like a soap opera. I needed more freedom to get my various camera angles. I wanted a film look. Then, the Holidays came and the project died.
In 1995 I had a Super 8mm film camera, purchased from SPLATTER books author John McCarty. There was another audition for actors. The cast was cast and we had a reading. All went well. Then, on Memorial Day of 1995 SHADOW TRACKER came back to life, like the vampires he hunts. With help from my fellow producers-Mary Kay Hilko and Ed Dimmer and my actors-Ron Rausch, Bruce G. Hallenbeck, Voni Powell, Amy Naple and Tom Ecobelli, SHADOW TRACKER moved ahead. After forty-nine days of shooting over the next two years, photography was finished. The film was transferred to videotape (for editing purposes) by Brodsky and Treadway up near Boston. The film was edited locally, on weekends. The all original score was provided by David Bourgeois. The title song and love theme lyrics were written and sung by Janice Krystallis.
The movie premiered at the CHILLER Convention, in Secaucus, New Jersey, in October 1997. Then, the actual premiere of the re-mastered stereo audition premiered at off-Broadway theatre and Grill in Saratoga, New York to a sold out crowd. It was accepted at the New York International Film and Video Festival and the Philadelphia International Film Festival.
INFLUENCES/ASPIRATIONS: I wanted to create stories and entertain people as long as I can remember. I had so many ideas and not enough film to do them all. That's why I did 250 short films. My influences have been the James Bond Films, Universal Monsters, Errol Flynn, John Wayne and about every genre of film out there. Sean Connery is my favorite actor. Some of my favorite films and television are Classic STAR TREK, DARK SHADOWS, THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, TRUE GRIT, THE DIRTY DOZEN, THE LONGEST DAY and ZULU. Many inspirations from the 50's, 60's and 70's.
FILM SCHOOL: If given a chance I'd probably go. I learned filmmaking like a guy who learns piano by ear. I watched a ton of film and shot a lot of film. I think learning the history of film is a plus. Film school is probably great for learning equipment and technology. The only problem I've seen in some film school graduates is THE ATTITUDE, which is "I went to film school, you didn't-therefore you don't know how to shoot films the proper way". My suggestion for learning film is to read about it and then do it. Experiment, try different things, different angles, different ideas. Read Jerry Lewis' THE TOTAL FILMMAKER, in which he tells you to do films your way.
If you have the opportunity to go to film school, take it. Just come out without an attitude and an open mind.
SCRIPT: You have to be flexible with your script on a low budget film and willing to change it as needed while sticking to the heart of it. During auditions, when different actors are reading the same lines, you realize they each give it a different interpretation. Simply the way an actor says a line can change the context of the scene. Sometimes this is for the better. For me, a bendable script is better than a stiff one. Better for the director and the actors. In our film SHADOWTRACKER we changed the script because of actor's schedules. I think by being flexible your script will evolve. Maybe not in the way you first envisioned, but in a different way you may like.
EQUIPMENT/FORMAT: I use Super 8mm sound film equipment in my productions. I love the way film looks. I was shooting on film before the video age so it's difficult for me to make the transition to video. I know that some people shoot on video and then put it through a "film look". I just thought I'd start out with film. But it is getting expensive. I am happy as long as I am creating.
COST/BUDGET/FUNDING: The cost of SHADOW TRACKER was around nine thousand dollars. Most of that was on the film cost itself, processing, the film to tape transfer, music and duplication. We had three investors on the film, none of whom were strangers. Basically it was myself and two friends.
Hopefully someone will recognize the film as a good product for the budget and will invest in a future project. I think that if you can prove you can make a film on limited funds you are more likely to get investors on a bigger project.
HOW DO YOU CAST YOUR ACTORS?: First, we put an advertisement in the local weekly entertainment newspaper for interested people to send resumes for our action/horror film. After twelve weeks I went through the resumes/headshots and narrowed it down. We then called the actors and had them do a cold reading, which we videotaped. I then studied the tapes and selected the actors I wanted. Some of the other actors I used in the movie were friends of mine that I grew up with, who had acted in my short films. They and the new actors complemented each other.
We needed two detectives but couldn't decide if it would be big cop/small cop or good cop/bad cop or black cop/Asian cop. After meeting actress Mary Kay Hilko we went with the guy cop/girl cop scenario. He's the older (don't like working with girls) cop to her "don't like working with jerks" cop. It seems to work.
MUSIC: During production I met a girl named Janice Krystallis. She told me that she sang and wrote lyrics and invited me to see her do Kareoke. She reminded me of Shirley Bassey, the singer of the theme song to the James Bond film GOLDFINGER. I even asked her to do GOLDFINGER and she did, she was great. That made me decide I had to have a "James Bond type" tune for my film. She told me she had written a love song called "Don't Walk Away" with David Bourgeois, who would write and perform the music that was used in the film. After seeing his set up and hearing a few improvised samples I felt that he was perfect for this film. I would describe the scene and he wrote the score. Amazing! Janice let me hear DON'T WALK AWAY and I fell in love with it. It became our love theme and song that went over the end credits. Now, we needed to think about the theme song...
I love James Bond music. So I wanted to copy that style. We had already shot the slower dance scene for the title sequence and decided to go with a more upbeat theme than DON'T WALK AWAY. I let David listen to the themes of THE LIQUIDATOR (Shirley Bassey), GAME OF DEATH (John Barry) and the theme to GOLDENEYE, sung by Tina Turner. All were Bond or Bond-like. The next day he called me and played what he'd come up with on the phone. It was GREAT, I couldn't believe how Bond-like it was. Now we needed some lyrics, about SHADOW TRACKER himself. Words like "With Vengeance in hand", things like that. Dave and I talked to Janice and in a short time she had the words. She sung them to me in her car with Dave's music blasting. It was great, exactly what we needed.
Dave and Janice then recorded it. He suggested some changes and went over with her a number of times. We finally had our song, which I'm proud of. David is currently working on the CD...
HOW LONG DID IT TAKE TO MAKE YOUR FIRST FILM?: One day would be the answer, if you counted my short films. In twenty years I made 250 shorts. They ranged from horror to sci-fi to comedy to westerns to musicals. I then worked on a film in Texas called VERDUN MANOR, as assistant to the director. Then I worked on Bruce G. Hallenbeck's BLACK EASTER in Upstate New York, a film that featured Veronica Carlson and Debbie Rochon. My own first feature film was SHADOW TRACKER.
The movie was shot on weekends from May of '95 to Fall of '96. There were forty-nine shooting days in all. I then edited all the film onto twelve four hundred foot reels and had it transferred to video by Brodsky and Treadway. Editing started in early '97. This went on for over a year, as we could only get into the editing studio on Sundays. We then had a rough cut of the film for sale at the Chiller Convention in Secaucus New Jersey on Halloween of 1997. Including writing the script, the film took about four years to complete. We then re-mastered the sound into stereo and used a better quality tape and had the actual "premiere" on December 6, 1997 at a theater and grill in Saratoga Springs, NY, to a sold out crowd.
SPECIAL EFFECTS: A man named Ron Rausch does our effects and makeup. We've also done stop-motion dinosaurs, blanks for guns, bullet holes, vampire teeth, hands cut off, heads cut off. Our visual and sound effects are done by Colin Lovelock.
PRODUCTION TIPS FOR THE NOVICE FILMMAKER:
1) Watch and study film angles.
2) Read about filmmaking
3) Experiment with camera angles.
4) Look at comic books. They are like movie storyboards.
5) Start with short films or videos, for practice.
6) Read books on filmmaking then throw them out and do your own thing.
7) Hold the camera steady.
8) Don't overshoot a scene. No fifty takes.
9) Rehearse scenes before you shoot.
10) Try to plan as much ahead of time as you can.
HOW IMPORTANT IS PUBLICITY FOR YOUR FILMS?: Publicity is very important. It's up to the filmmaker to get his film out there. Don't wait for a distributor to come knocking at your door, they never do. Try sending screening copies out to magazines, newspapers, create promotional flyers, go to conventions, have a website-do it all. Also try the festivals. Push, push, push. As with the Drive-in movies of old-advertise!
DISTRIBUTION: First, you can distribute through mail order, through advertisements in genre magazines, but be prepared to work at it! Seek out distributors. They do the leg work and you still get some of the money. Most important, your product gets out there. But you should try to retain your film rights, in case you want to sell it elsewhere. Don't sign an exclusive agreement with a distributor because you may regret it. Right now SHADOW TRACKER is being distributed by E.I. Cinema, which is based in New Jersey.
FUTURE PROJECTS: If SHADOW TRACKER is a success then I'll invest the money I'll make into another project. I've also been the cameraman on Bruce G. Hallenbeck's movie, LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT. I also did a short with Mary Kay Hilko, a ghost story called SWEET SORROW. I may shoot two more short stories and make it into a trilogy called THE EDGE OF REALITY. On the other hand, I may do SHADOW TRACKER II or maybe a James Bond type film.
LAST WORDS: Don't let anyone discourage you from filmmaking. No matter who is or what they are to you. If you want to make a movie then make a movie! Shoot it on whatever format you can get a hold of. But don't just talk about it or think about it. Do it. Believe in your dreams and don't let anyone get in your way. So after you finish this book get the lights out of the closet, grab a camera and yell ACTION!