I was so excited when I got an e-mail from THE Jim Wynorski, praising my site. Naturally, I asked to do an e-mail interview with the director I admire so much, and he agreed! I want to thank you Jim again for being so nice and doing this interview.
Q: How did you start off your career in film?
A: I started off working for Roger Corman in 1981. I wrote films like FORBIDDEN WORLD, SORCERESS
and SCREWBALLS, before directing my first feature, THE LOST EMPIRE.
Q: What were some of your favorite films growing up and nowadays?
A: Some of my favorites as a kid were THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD, BEAST FROM 20,000
FATHOMS, HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, INVADERS FROM MARS, and most of the AIP/Allied Artists
pictures. Today, I really like the Italian horror stuff, action movies like DIE HARD and the James Bond series.
Q: How were the ideas for "Sorority House Massacre 2" and "Hard to Die" conceived?
A: As I mentioned in the last email, I was sitting around the studio with vacant sets and decided to write a picture around them. The first flick, SORORITY HOUSE 2 was produced by Julie Corman and was done in seven days with no producer supervision. When Roger Corman saw how well it turned out, he asked me to do it again, and the result was HARD TO DIE.
Q: Was "Sorority House Massacre 2" originally intended to be a separate film from "Sorority House Massacre," since it's storyline is so different?
A: When I wrote SORORITY HOUSE 2, it was never intended as a sequel. The original title on the slate was
JIM WYNORSKI'S HOUSE OF BABES. I'm not kidding. Somebody on the crew called it that, and it stuck.
When we were finished shooting, I declined to use that title(obviously)and opted for the title NIGHTIE NIGHTMARE. In some foreign territories, it still retains this title.
Q: Why was footage from "The Slumber Party Massacre" reused for "Sorority House Massacre 2" and "Hard to Die?"
A: Litarally, just to add time to the picture. When you only shoot for six or seven days, there's a limit to how much footage can roll through the camera. When I came in a little short on the first picture, I created a montage from SLUMBER PARTY ONE to add running time. I then had Peter Spellos try to camp it up by adding a funny running commentary. It worked so well, that I did it again in HARD TO DIE....making the same footage seem even more inane.
Q: Do you have any idea of why some of the footage (esp. the scene with Fifi Lafeur) was cut from the video version of "Hard to Die?" I've only seen this footage when it aired on HBO a long time ago.
A: Roger Corman likes his films short and to the point. Since this scene had little to do with the actual plot, it got cut. Same with some of the footage of Forrest J Ackerman. In foreign version, they demand longer running times, so this footage was reinstated. When Showtime Network bought the film, they were shipped the shorter video version. A clerical error happened when HBO/Cinemax bought the picture, as they were sent the longer foreign version. I myself prefer the longer version.
Q: The exterior for the Hockstatter house in "Sorority House Massacre 2" looks similar to that one in "Evil Toons," a Fred Olen Ray film. Was it used in any other films that you know of?
A: This house(and the house next door)are two of the most used 'haunted house' exteriors used by independent
film-makers here in Los Angeles. I'm good friends with Fred Ray, and he originally turned me on to their actual location. I recently shot another sci-fi film, PROJECT VIPER with Theresa Russell, and used the interior of one of those rundown mansions. The owner and neighbors swear the place is actually inhabited by ghosts. Not hard to believe when you're shooting in the ancient basement around midnight. Totally creepy!
Q: Was the hilarious squeaking sound intended when the girls were taking showers in "Sorority House Massacre 2" and "Hard to Die?"
A: Yes, that was my doing. I also used it again in HARD TO DIE when the stripper rubs her breasts up against the pole.
Q: Melissa Moore was only in the early stages of her acting career when she approached "Sorority House Massacre 2." How do you think the film affected her career?
A: I liked Melissa, she was a real trooper. She did a lot of films out here through the mid 1990s, then retired back to Tennessee, where I believe she raises horses.
Q: Whatever happened to "Orville in Orbit," which was mentioned in the end credits of "Hard to Die," or was that just a joke? Was there ever any plans to make a third "Sorority" movie?
A: I'm afraid that ORVILLE IN ORBIT was just a silly joke I added to the end titles. Although I wouldn't want to make it myself, I'd love to see someone else do it. And no, there were never any plans to make a third SORORITY movie that I know of.
Q: You happened to work with Jennifer Love Hewitt on "Munchie" and "Little Miss Millions," two of the actress's earlier films. What was it like working with her?
A: Jennifer Love is actually deserving of all the fame and fortune....she's truly a beautiful, caring girl. I can't say that most of the recent teen queens deserve their status...but in Love's case I'll make a strong exception. When I first worked with her in MUNCHIE(her first film anywhere), I knew she was destined for greatness. I wrote HOME FOR CHRISTMAS(aka LITTLE MISS MILLIONS) specially for her.
Q: How do you come up with the wonderful and always imaginative ideas for your films? Do you have many inspirations?
A: I guess a lot of the time, my ideas are born out of the low budgets. If you can't afford a beautiful set or elaborate special effect, you have to resort to humor and 'creating something from nothing' to entertain your audience. I guess one of my main assets during production is knowing what would make me laugh if I saw it in a picture.
Q: Another one of my favorite films of your's is "Chopping Mall." What was that whole experience like, especially shooting in a mall?
A: Quite fun actually. We closed of the Sherman Oaks Galleria(now gone, unfortunately)and played with robots each night from dusk till dawn. I remember, at the time, I was going with the lead girl, Kelly Maroney. I put her through hell on that shoot, hanging her off ledges, dropping her off balconys, and blowing off massive explosions around her. She also appeared in a number of my other films(BIG BAD MAMA 2, NOT OF THIS EARTH and TRANSYLVANIA TWIST).
Q: "Dinosaur Island" seems to be a cult favorite with a lot of people, including myself. What's your thoughts about that movie?
A: A true hoot. Fred Ray and I co-directed this pic in about ten days back in
1993. We then sold it to Roger Corman for a very nice profit. I'd never co-directed a movie before, but it was smooth sailing all the way. When one of us got tired, the other would take over. I'd usually go back to the comfort of the air-conditioned motor home and hang out with the girls. You really can't beat that.
Q: Do you get a kick out of making cameos in your films, such as "Sorority House Massacre 2" and "Hard to Die?"
A: To be honest, I really did it to save a bit of money.
Q: What was it like working with Brinke Stevens on such projects as "Scream Queen Hot Tub Party?"
A: Brinke was(and still is)a hottie. She delivered a great performance in TRANSYLVANIA TWIST and again in HOT TUB PARTY. She currently lives about four blocks away, although I hardly ever see her due to opposing business commitments. She's supposed to meet with me next week because TRANY TWIST is hitting the DVD shelves and she needs copies for her website. A very nice girl.
Q: Do you know what actress Keely Christian ("Slumber Party Massacre 3," "Hollywood Boulevard 2," in which you had a cameo) is doing today?
A: Never met her.
Q: Do you keep much memorabilia from your films?
A: I have stills, slides,video copies of all the version, and usually a 35mm print in my vault. Did you know that HARD TO DIE was at one time called TOWER OF TERROR!
Q: What's one of your best memories of working on a film?
A: As I think back, there are so many memories(mostly good ones)connected with all my pictures. Each flick had surprises and pitfalls that I never expected when I first started out. One of the most vivid memories I had was the final night of shooting on TRANSYLVANIA TWIST. We had such a wonderful laugh-filled three weeks shooting that nobody wanted it to come to an end. Even the usually reserved Robert Vaughn was having a great time. Well, we started shooting the final party sequence on the castle set, finished up around 10pm, then broke out the booze and kept on rockin till dawn. It was like giant dance party at Count Dracula's castle. Everytime I watch that film, I can't help remembering the incredible time we had.
Q: What's it like filming many Roger Corman films?
A: A boat load of fun.
Q: On the b-movie documentary, "Some Nudity Required," you mentioned a film you did in college, entitled "The Co-Ed Killer." Is it possible to acquire that film, or is there any possibility of seeing that released or redone in the future?
A: This picture literally got me thrown out of the film production class at Adelphi University. Five years before slasher films got their start with Carpenter's HALLOWEEN, I did THE COED KILLER. Everybody from the Dean of Students on down was apalled. The picture got banned from the Annual Film Program. I can't say as I blame them much, for at the time, it was pretty non-p.c. to do a film where female coeds were getting brutally killed by a mainiac(who was then carving the name of the next school where he would strike into the back of the victim). The film ran about 30mins. and was in black & white...all I could afford to do at the time. I think after all this time, it would be better if the film stayed in my vault till after I check out.
Q: What are you doing or planning more recently?
A: I am now directing under three names...my own, as well as JAY ANDREWS and NOBLE HENRI. There's just so much going on that I have to cover my tracks a bit(primarily so the foreign and domestic buyers don't think they're buying nothing but Jim Wynorski product. Some of the bigger HBO films recently include MILITIA, STEALTH FIGHTER, CRASH POINT ZERO, RANGERS, among others. But I've still found time to do such little fun pictures like THE BARE WENCH PROJECT and its sequel under my own name.
Thank you so much for answering the questions, Jim. I've always enjoyed your films very much, and I've probably watched them a hundred times before and will continue to do so. I'm so glad you found the site and enjoyed it. Please feel free to come back anytime, and keep in contact!
Take care Tony, and thanks for keep the Orville flame alive.
In addition to the interview, here is some interesting trivia Jim told me about Sorority House Massacre 2:
I can tell you that the first one, SORORITY HOUSE TWO, was written in no more than three days. The sets from SLUMBER PARTY THREE were still up and devoid of furniture. The basement and attic sets, where they find the ouija board and Hockstatter's spanking room respectively, were leftover from ROCK AND ROLL HIGH SCHOOL TWO. Roger Corman and his wife Julie were taking a ten day vacation to Europe the following week. I asked Julie if I could make a film on the sets and she agreed, but asked that I not tell Roger. I kept my word, wrote the script at a furious pace(a record for me, 33 pages a day over Tues, Wed. and Thrus), cast the movie on Friday(where I first met Peter Spellos, a recently arrived actor from New York), and started shooting on Monday for just six days while the Cormans were gone.
The whole thing was so much fun because it was almost half improv. Peter and the girls added so much to the proceedings. The actual script ended at the point where the Gail Harris character kills Melissa Moore and she reverts back to her former voice. But I kept going, doing the whole "police arrive in the morning" scene...which turned out a lot of fun.
Clive Hockstatter came from two sources. Gail Harris' ex-boyfriend at
the time was named Clive; and Hockstatter was the last name of the director of photography--Zoran Hockstatter. As for Orville Ketchum, that name just popped into my head while I was writing the outline. I guess a Muse gave it to me. It couldn't have been more apt.
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