Todd Sheets Sets the Record Straight, Part I
Thanks for at least watching that old dreadful cut of Zombie Bloodbath... HERE'S WHAT YOU DON'T KNOW...
The reason the film is so bad and has scenes of gore that go too long— you got a copy of the great ROUGH CUT. Yes, the distributors, being uncaring assholes, released any version they had laying around. Not that the film is GREAT— no it's not— but I consider it my first real try at making a flick. The director's cut will finally be seen on the forthcoming ZB trilogy DVD set, and I admit it's a bumpy ride. However, everyone has to start somewhere, and I did the best I could under the hell that we shot under— including the fact that the GREAT FLOOD of 93 swept away homes and buildings (some were almost entirely underwater and some of these were our locations) and they were destroyed. After filming, we would go down and sandbag the river to keep people's homes safe. THAT was a sight— 300 zombies in make up, sandbagging... hehehe.
Jerry Angell was actually 38 when he made that film and Kasey Rauche was 26. You thought he was the same age as Auggie who was 20 and you thought Kasey was a teenager— I am sure she'd love you for that! Hehehe...*
I have won 6 awards from around the world in various film festivals since this movie— made 12 YEARS AGO. I grew— learned my craft and tried to improve with each film. To say that my career has shown nothing— or that it has shown little improvement over the years is not fair. My later films have all done very well for us— both critically and artistically— but the problem I see is that so many "critics" watch one or two early films and simply write us off... Hell— as artists we all learn and grow everyday. That's the best you can do.
You are right. Most people hide these films— these experiments. I allowed mine to be distributed like a fool. I do appreciate your time though... Maybe one day you'll watch another film— maybe Moonchild or Violent New Breed or Shivers, maybe even Fear of the Dark (people seem to really like it)— all much better— but know that we still have very little money and do our best to make sure every dime ends up on screen. And I do this for the love of it— no other reason. No ego, no riches, nothing— I just love horror movies...
Have a good Holiday
A bit later, the story continues in...
Todd Sheets Sets the Record Straight, Part II: Rage of the Filmmaker
The thanks to Jesus stuff and the "we are not in any way Satanic" stuff was forced upon the films by a producer at the time. Sorry you took it as my own statement. That was simply not the case. As a matter of fact, I never made a religious themed flick other than Violent New Breed. But— then again— you at least WATCHED the film.
Thanks for the personal attack though— it always warms the heart.
And finally, after as conciliatory a reply as a nasty bastard such as myself is capable, we get the motherlode— horror stories from the set!
Todd Sheets Sets the Record Straight, Part III: Micro-Budget Armageddon
Didn't mean to seem like I was attacking back— really... it just seemed that you were perhaps being unfair to say I had no talent and such. I mean, come on— Zombie Bloodbath was made for like a thousand bucks and much of that went to make up and supplies... ZB2 was made for less than that even. But I had a choice— sit around and do nothing like most people, or get off my ass and take what I could get and do the best I could with it.
I noticed you said how much I grew as a film maker between the two films only to say I had no talent. I felt that an attack. So I was legitimate in my being upset. Don't like a movie? That's fine— but the fact that I got a movie at all out of all the hell I went through shows some kind of talent. Not ego talking, just the facts. No movie is easy... I know that— but I was juggling hundreds of extras, a crew of 40 or so people, and I had to shoot in Kansas City where NOTHING is easy. Hell— everytime we'd set up a camera, the cops would show up because some fool driving by would call them to cause us trouble— saying we were "breaking into buildings" with all the lights and cameras is a bit of a stretch... Now there is a small community of film people here, but I kind of paved the road for them— showed the local close-minded idiots that indeed some films could be shot here after I had doors slammed in my face from every direcion and was told that NO FILMS are made in KC!!!
So here I was, fighting with a producer day in and day out— a guy who hated horror movies but wanted to be involved in the films. When he joined I had no idea he hated horror movies. I fought rain on a daily basis, I fought a guy that was trying behind my back to get my crew to mutiny, I fought actors who refused to show up on time if at all— I had a very organized schedule that I had to redo day after day due to the weather and the people not showing up. I was forced to change script pages due to logistics from these problems and from locations being either flooded in Part One or other problems in Part Two. One big location where they were supposed to find the bacteria was an old lab and it BURNED down three days before the shoot— I have that news footage somelpace and I wanted to add it to the DVD but I couldn't get clearance from a local station to use it... go figure, hehe.
Even the simple Barn scene opening Part Two was hell. We set up all the lights and BOOM— the old fuses in the barn blew out. This was on a Saturday night late and in those days only one Wal Mart was open— an hour away. We had to stop everything and actually go and get fuses, and 2 hours and another set of blown fuses later (it was a wiring problem that we also had to fix) we started shooting. We lost half the cult people from boredom and them not thinking we would ever get the problem fixed, and then we lost a big 2K light from it being fried. Nice. And on top of all this, if your movie comes out and people in it do not become stars overnight— not all of them mind you, just a select few— then you are a hack and a loser and you made them look bad.
It's almost too much. Sure, my new films have come a long way, but you know, even after winning awards because someone actually thought I may have some talent— and winning some good critical reviews— it still hurts when I get attacked personally for no really good reason. Some critics say they like my films better than many digital flicks due to the fact that they are never boring— always kind of funny... I dunno— I am simply trying to do my part...
And I love your chosen name there— El Santo. I have all those films, but c'mon now— some of those SANTO movies... OUCH! Hard to find the directing talent in those— but I still see it. Same with HG lewis films and even Doris Wishman...
I appreciate your reply, and you can use any of these e-mails as you see fit— I figure maybe you and I understand each other a bit better now...
Have a good holiday...
* Note, however, that Rausch herself tells me that she was eighteen in 1993, fresh out of high school and newly relocated to Kansas City. She describes her decision to audition for the part of Daria Trumillio as a spur-of-the-moment thing (she originally planned on being part of Sheets' army of zombie extras), so maybe she figured she'd be more likely to get a speaking part if she overstated her age-- El Santo