Quantcast Rolfe Kanefsky interview

Rolfe Kanefsky!!!
Filmmaker ROLFE KANEFSKY has had a long, interesting & unique career writing and directing dozens of films in various genres. But for him it all began with the cult indie horror flick 'THERE'S NOTHING OUT THERE'. He later teamed up multiple times with rising scream queen Tiffany Shepis in films such as THE HAZING (with Brad Dourif) and the upcoming NIGHTMARE MAN (featuring a cameo with Richard Moll) We got to talk to Rolfe extensively about his entire career & the various genres he's tackled! Read on for the FRIGHT exclusive interview! - by Robg. & Mike C. 5/07

Hey, Rolfe! What are your personal earliest recollections of the horror genre? What were the first films to really have an impact on you as a kid?

The films that really got me into the film industry were the Abbott and Costello movies. And obviously ABBOT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN was a major influence of my blend of horror and comedy. I was probably about 4 or 5 years old and it took me a long time to get through the first 5 minutes of that movie, because the werewolf transformation always scared me! So, I finally stuck it out and got to the part where he tells the “doggy to get off the phone”. From there I was able to sit through the whole thing. That one definitely scared me and affected me a lot as a child.

Then, in theaters – the one that scared me and gave me nightmares for weeks was the 1979 remake of INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS. I saw that when I was about 10 years old.

It’s obvious you’re a big movie fan. But at what point did you get an interest into what went into actually making films?

Well, my parents were in the business. My mother was an actress and a singer/dancer on Broadway, and my father was a film editor, so I grew up around it. My father did mostly documentaries, but there were a few infamous films that he’s edited over the years, such as BLOOD SUCKING FREAKS. He supervised JUST BEFORE DAWN. So, I remember we had a 35 mm print of DUMBO, and I used to watch that for every birthday right before VCR, so I got interested in film very early on. It was probably around the age of 13 when I really decided I wanted to be a director. That’s when I got my video camera and started making home movies.

And I assume that since your father was in the film industry and edited numerous films, that he and your mother encouraged your filmmaking?

Yeah, they were always behind me making films. They let me basically do my own stuff. I was always writing practically from before I could write. I would translate stories to babysitter. (Laughs) I took a screenwriting course at 14 at HP studios in New York City with a friend of mine, and I started learning about writing – the format, and reading screenplays. And I started writing scripts throughout that time. Horror films always did scare me and I wasn’t a big fan of them at first. It was a love/hate thing with me.

I used to watch the black & white films on Saturday afternoons and they’d give me nightmares! But when I knew I wanted to make a career in the business, that’s when I started watching a lot of horror films, because most first time filmmakers start with a horror film. Sam Raimi with EVIL DEAD, for example. So, I decided if I’m going to be a film director and I’m going to start with a horror film, I better know the genre. That’s when I started renting out every horror film on video to sort of study the rules and figure out what made a good or bad horror film.

How’d your first feature ‘THERE'S NOTHING OUT THERE ’ come together? What was the inspiration behind it?

Well, basically I wrote the first draft of that when I was a senior in high school. And I did it almost as an exercise to see how long it would take to write a low budget exploitation horror film. So I sat down and about 5 pages into it, I decided to make it a monster movie. But as I was writing it, I couldn’t get myself to do the same clichés and conventions from other horror movies, like the “cat scare”. I’d been a big fan of horror at this time and I’d been going to the Fangoria conventions. But I discovered from watching all these films that there had been a lot of laziness I felt in the horror community where they would put the same jumps and scares in.

So, I figured why don’t I put a character in the movie that had seen every horror film on video tape, and back then I’d never seen that done. This was 1987. I thought it’d be kind of fun to have the audience as part of the film, and he actually says and does what the audience always yells at the screen. So, that’s where the character of Mike came in and I wrote the script in about 5 days. It was a send-up of the clichés of the horror genre, but not making fun of horror films! Just pointing out the laziness of some horror films. A few friends read it and liked it, but I put it aside.

And then when I was in college, I was at the point where I was really ready to make a movie. I’d done some PA work over the summer. I’d worked for Troma for one summer. I thought I was ready and my parents got behind me, so I looked over the screenplays I had written, and the most affordable one, and this is back in 88-89 was the script for ‘THERE'S NOTHING OUT THERE ’. The horror genre was huge at that point, there were 4 or 5 magazines being published at the time like GOREZONE and SLAUGHTERHOUSE and HORROR FAN and FANGORIA. The genre was huge, so we felt it was a fairly safe bet.

My idea was to make a fun film that could be shown as a horror film, but also as a comedy that would get good word of mouth. In the same way as say FRIGHT NIGHT or AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, where they were played straight but people discovered it’s actually pretty funny and a lot of fun too. That was how we wanted to do it. We went to a few private investors to raise the money. My parents mortgaged the house, just to show how supportive they were. (Laughs) And in the summer of 89, we were able to get enough money together to make the film.

Now, I know you explain a lot of things in the commentary, but I had to ask you about the opening scene in the video store. Mainly because it evokes the feeling out of me that I felt as a young kid going to the local video shop and seeing aisles and aisles of those really cool video box art covers. Can you talk a bit about what inspired that opening scene? Did you yourself also go to the video store and be in awe of video box covers like us?

Yeah, I had always gone to the video stores. That scene was actually added later on, it wasn’t in the original draft. The film originally began just with the girl driving on the road and driving off the road by accident. But then I actually saw Lethal Weapon 2 that summer, and I loved the way that movie started, right in the middle of the car chase. I thought that was just amazing. So, I thought it’d be fun if we had a big opening scene that’ll just get you right into the movie. That’s when I thought since the film is such a nod to so many horror films, wouldn’t it be interesting to have someone actually chased in the horror section of a video store! (Laughs)

There was a guy who owned a video store where we shot the film and he gave us permission to shoot there, and my idea was that all the box covers would come to life, and you’d hear all the sounds of the rats and the bears. Everything would be pursuing her in a weird dream-like quality because of course she wakes up and she’s actually in the car and drives off the road. I thought that was also something you never see. People wake up from a nightmare in bed, but never behind the wheel of a car! (Laughs)

That’d be a nice little two-punch opening. It was fun to throw in all the boxes. The question was could we legally get away with that. But if you’re shooting in a real video store and it was a real video store, that’s allowed.

How about the title sequence for THERE'S NOTHING OUT THERE? Because it’s actually a really cool impressive little title sequence for a low-budget horror film.

The title scene was in the original script design. I didn’t want to stop the film but to have the tentacle come up and have us sort of travel through the tentacle and have this whole twisty-turny DR. WHO-ish title scene. And then come out at the other side of it in the hallway leading to the classroom, that way the film never really stops. I’m always looking for those kind of transitions. I thought it’d also be fun to throw in lines from the movie during the credit sequence.

They were doing that in movies at the time during end title sequences, so we thought it’d be fun to give audiences a little preview by putting in some of the one-liners of the movie in the opening titles. It was a really nice title sequence. It was all done by this great FX house who gave us a great deal and who had worked with my father for many, many years so it was all deferred. We had to wait a while for the title sequence to be done but it turned out great and it was actually shot on 35. On the big screen in particular, it looked wonderful for a low-budget film to have a title sequence like that.

What about the creature design? Once you decided that it was going to be a monster movie, how’d you decide on the look for your creature?

When I wrote the script, I didn’t really want to have a big creature, because a guy in a suit, usually 9 time out of 10 looks like a guy in a suit! So, I thought it’d be better if it was a smaller thing. Kind of like a gremlin or a reptile creature that would be more of a puppet, that way you wouldn’t see a guy in a suit and we could still make it look dangerous. It was small, and looked like a cross between a frog and an alligator. (Laughs)
And an octopus with the tentacles. That was the design that Scott Hart of Imagine FX studios did based on the drawings. It started out as a cool design, but the fact that it wasn’t an intelligent creature, it was kind of clumsy, stumbling it’s way around and trying to figure out what to do, that played against what normally you expect from the monster.

I love the scene with the cat falling off the ceiling. When I first saw it, immediately I thought where the hell’d that cat come from?! And THEN the character of Mike says it! Obviously, you wanted to play a lot of these gags for laughs…

That was the cliché, there’s been so many movies where it always ends up being a cat. So, I thought let’s just send the thing up once and for all. Do the scare, get the jump and then say what everyone always asks. Where the hell’d the cat from? Out of nowhere? I’ve actually cut together 10 minutes worth of cat scares from tons of movies.

We’d love to see that!
I did a montage of all the cat scares from all these horror movies. And it’s always fun to watch. I thought it’d be great to actually do it in a movie and have a character say it. Because the audience always jumps and thinks that it’s just stupid! So, I figured let’s just have a character say that, and maybe people will come up with something better next time. I don’t know. Maybe it’ll be a bird next time! (Laughs)

Why does it always have to be a cat? Moving on to ‘THE HAZING ’ for a minute, there was a gag meant to be in The Hazing, but the producer didn’t get the humor of it so we cut it. But in THE HAZING, when they break into Professor Kapps house, when they’re looking around, there’s supposed to be a gag where Tiffany sees a pair of shoes, and then a coat hanging on a hanger, and above it there’s a shelf and a tail whips by and she jumps. And there’s a cat sitting with her back to her on the top of this shelf. And she looks around, jumps forward and grabs the cat by its tail, the cat shrieks and jumps off the shelf, and she says, “I love a good cat scare.” (Laughs) I thought that’d be fun, let the humans scare the cat for a change! Maybe I’ll put that in something later on.

I hope so! (Laughs)

If you put your mind to it, you can come up with variations of things rather then coming up with the same old thing!

'There's Nothing Out There' trailer

One of my other favorite things is that in ‘THERE'S NOTHING OUT THERE ’, the main character Mike attacks the creature with shaving cream in it’s mouth. And he says, “Nobody like shaving cream in the mouth.” (Laughs)

(Laughs) That’s more of a New York thing, that around Halloween people would have these shaving cream fights. There was a certain way you melt the top with a little needle to get the good spray out.

We used to do that for Halloween all the time. And I thought I’d never seen THAT in a movie before either. If a creature doesn’t know anything, it’ll learn that if you put your hand near fire, that it doesn’t like fire. It stays away from fire. So, if the creature gets sprayed in the mouth by shaving cream and doesn’t like the taste of it, it’ll be scared of it and stay away from it. There’s sort of a weird logic to it. And it’s like the pie in the face type of gag using shaving cream.

That’s the first time we ever saw that!

I think I also thought, OK, they’re in the bedroom. What would they logically use as a weapon. So, I thought well, people have toiletry things and shaving cream. All right, well shaving cream? You can squirt it through a key hole, there you go! (Laughs) Again, since this was done all independently, you can get away with that. Would a studio let me get away with that? Probably not!

Where’d you shoot ‘THERE'S NOTHING OUT THERE ’? Was that New York?

‘THERE'S NOTHING OUT THERE ’ was shot in the edge of New York/New Jersey Palisades. We found this great house. It was actually 2 houses with the basement, and a few bedrooms from another house – So we actually used 3 houses for the main house, but the exterior was right there, and it was owned by these two women, it was for recording artists and it had a whole stage because they did a lot of music recording there. It had a very weird structure but it was a great location. Obviously, I had not written the script for that location, so once I saw it, I re-tailored everything in my head on how to make it work.

As an independent film, once you finished shooting, what was the next step? What’d you do once you had a completed film? How difficult was it to get the film out there at this point?

We shot the film in late summer of 89. It was finished by the end of 91. We had our first screening at the FANGORIA convention in California as a preview before it was finished just to get an audience reaction. The response was great. Then we showed it at the IFC in New York. Back then, they let most films in there, but there were only two horror films. It was ours and THE SUCKLING. They were both at the last day of the Market because horror films were never really respected that much. But the response for our film was amazing. I was there for two weeks promoting away, and we had a pretty good half full audience when it started, and by the end it was packed and sold out. People were calling from California and talking about this movie. As the film went through this rollar coaster, we got selected to be the closing film of the Florence Film Festival, we played the Houston state fest. We got into all these great festivals, and showed it out here at the Director’s Guild in California. I got signed to William Morris, which… went nowhere. (Laughs) At the time it was very exciting, but what happened was, around that time, which was 90-91 is when the horror market collapsed.

TREMORS was out, they didn’t know how to sell it. NIGHTBREED was sold as a “slasher” film. And the genre was just doing terribly. Our film because it was funny was sort of saved because of the comedy aspect, it wasn’t just a straight horror film. But at the time we were talking to companies like Hemdale, and there was interest, but there was the old you can either get the film released theatrically and get no money, or we can give you money and no release. We couldn’t just give the film away. So it was a bit of a rollar coaster ride trying to get the film out there.

Finally, a filmmaker friend of mine Jay Woelfel, helped get it into a Ohio Horror Film Festival. There were 600 horror fans there, along with myself, and Brian Yuzna who was there showing THE GUYVER and SOCIETY and the response again was great. Finally we convinced a theater chain in New York to give us a run, so they gave us a one week run. Unfortunately it was in January of 92 when there was a blizzard and Superbowl Sunday, so the film did OK, but it didn’t perform that well. So, we went to Midnights for about a month. And then we tried some Midnight shows in April in Santa Monica in California. Hoping for a few LA shows. We got surprisingly good reviews from the LA Times and Variety, Hollywood Reporter. But then… the LA Riots hit. So, there was a curfew over the town of LA and no Midnight shows. So that ended the theatrical run of the film, but it got enough acclaim that we were able to make a deal with Prism (now also out of business) for video and Laserdisc at the time. Someone else helped get it sold to Cinemax and HBO. The film never really was a big hit, but it made enough buzz to get a cult following. And then over the years, with the success of SCREAM, the film sort of generated this bigger cult following on the internet, and that’s when we started a website and found out that there was a small fanbase on the movie. We developed but never made a sequel called ‘THERE'S STILL NOTHING OUT THERE ’. (Laughs) I had a screenplay for it.

I would love to read that!

People liked it a lot. But the chances of it happening are very slim. It was a cute follow up to the first film, but the film never really made enough money to generate interest in a sequel.

Dare I ask you who Rafael Glenn is?

Rafael Glenn is a name I’ve used a few times. My parents were going to name me Rafael, but they didn’t think it’d be cool unless I went into the arts. (Laughs) And Glenn is my mother’s professional name. Rafael Glenn I once used because I was supposed to write something that was done all by women, so I changed it to Glenda Rafelli. (Laughs) So I’ve got the whole Glen or Glenda thing going.

A few years back, you did a comedy called PRETTY COOL. How’d that come about? Watching it, I felt it homaged all the great comedy classics we grew up on in the 80’s.

Yes! PRETTY COOL, it goes back to when I first met a filmmaker named Ken Hall, who did movies like THE HALFWAY HOUSE. He had written a lot of scripts that David DeCoteau had directed like NIGHTMARE SISTERS & DR. ALIEN. When I saw those scripts, I figured I could probably write one of these things. So I went home and wrote a script called “HORMONES: THE MOVIE”. (Laughs) Which was pretty much a throw back to WEIRD SCIENCE/ZAPPED! We almost made it, we came very close. Julie Strain was going to be in it and Brinke Stevens. But the money fell through at the last minute so it never happened. So, this was about 5 years before AMERICAN PIE brought that genre back, because at the time it was very hard to get any kind of R rated teen comedy off the ground. Everything had turned into these WB PG-13 films. I thought what happened? Aren’t there 16 year olds that want to see movies like ZAPPED! and RISKY BUSINESS? POKRYS? All these classics!

I couldn’t get it going, but of course after AMERICAN PIE came out, it was a big genre again. So, I’d been working for the past couple of years with a producer named Alain Siritzky, who is known for the Emmanuelle movies and all these late night softcore films. He wanted to do an Emmanuelle in high school kind of movie. So I said I’d write the script, but I didn’t want to do it (direct it), but I’ll crank it out. The original title was SUMMER FEVER, and he thought it was really, really funny and he wanted me to do it, and I told him I’d do it if I could do it as an R Rated mainstream comedy, not a late night softcore thing. So, he said OK. So, I worked on the script some more and figured out how to make it work.

Basically since I never got to do HORMONES, this was my chance to make a comedy like the ones I’d grown up loving. We produced the film in 2000 and it got a really good response. But then it sat on the shelf for about 5 years, never released. So it was kind of frustrating that we couldn’t get it out there. Finally, it was through MTI, when they released ‘THE HAZING’, I talked to them about some other projects and I had a couple of films that had not been released, so I gave them ‘PRETTY COOL ’ and they thought it was fun, and said they’d put it out. There was very little advertising because there were no stars in the film, but it had very pretty women in it! It sold OK, but nothing special. However, the few places that got it did incredibly well with it. It was renting out non-stop at Hollywood Video like an A-list movie or National Lampoon title. That was pretty cool, so after all this time, finally the film found its audience. And because of that, we just finished PRETTY COOL TOO. Comes out on June 12th. That’s TOO. (Laughs) I haven’t seen a TOO instead of 2, since TEEN WOLF TOO. You have to be very patient for your films to find an audience! (Laughs)

Let’s talk about THE HAZING, which we enjoyed immensely. How’d that get started, because it feels very much like a thrown back to 80’s horror – kind of like a NIGHT OF THE DEMONS kind of thing.

The history of The Hazing – pretty early when I moved out to California I met this producer named Joe Wolf, who was one of the producers on HALLOWEEN and NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET and also HELL NIGHT. And he had optioned a script of mine called ‘THE HOST’ (which has nothing to do with the Korean film that’s out) and nothing ever happened with it, but I started asking him about doing a sequel to HELL NIGHT, because I thought that’d be really fun. So, I wrote a treatment called HELL NIGHT 2: THE HAZING. That never happened because there was an issue with who exactly had the rights to it. Bruce Cohn Curtis I hear is actually still trying to get HELL NIGHT 2 set up as a movie. But since that didn’t happen, it was always in the back of my head. When SCREAM hit, everyone started saying “horror/comedy” is in again, you should remake ‘THERE'S NOTHING OUT THERE’. Well, I didn’t want to remake that movie, I already made it, and I didn’t want to rip off SCREAM necessarily, so I starting thinking about how to do another throw-back 80’s horror/comedy but put a twist on it so it’s different from my first film and what SCREAM did. I thought back to THE HAZING.

Again, the producer Alain Siritzky whom I started with had produced a series of films called “SeX-Files” which was obviously science fiction/fantasy/erotica. He was really good friends with Roger Corman so I suggested, why don’t we take the Roger Corman approach and do 2 movies on one set. Let’s make a really cool set and take advantage of that set. I’ll write one that’s an erotic film that someone else can direct, and then we’ll do one that’s a horror film because horror’s very popular and we could do them on the same set. He approved it and so I wrote the screenplay. Everyone liked it, the problem was trying to raise the money internationally was very hard because SCREAM had not hit Europe yet, and everyone thought that the effects in the film would cost too much money. So, even though they built the set and they shot the erotic film, and we shot some Halloween footage around LA, we weren’t able to get the film going. For years. Every Halloween I went out and shot more footage because I was really determined to make this film. I thought the characters had made it interesting and different. And no one had done that gimmick where the blonde bimbo was NOT the blonde bimbo.

It was like THE BREAKFAST CLUB as a horror film. All the cliché’s weren’t exactly what you’d think. It took several years before Alain got the script to a first time producer who was looking to do a horror movie, Tom Seidman. He read the script and really liked it, and said he wanted to co-produce it with Alain. He optioned the script. He spent 6 or 7 months trying to raise the money. Tom was able to get the money from his own private investors and family to put the movie together. This was meant to be a fun nod to NIGHT OF THE DEMONS, HELL NIGHT, a throw back to THE EVIL DEAD. But I spent years and years trying to get it off the ground.
When did Brad Dourif come on board for this? Because he’s really funny in it, and you’d don’t often get to see him be funny!

Brad was great! We had a list of actors we wanted to go to and he was always one of the people at the top of our list. The casting agent knew Brad Dourif’s manager. So, they gave him the script and he liked it. He thought it was fun, and amazingly we got him between LORD OF THE RINGS and DEADWOOD. I was so ecstatic! He was a really nice guy and he really got involved too. He didn’t just show up. He rehearsed the part, and he really worked with the actors, in particular the ones that he possesses so they’d get the English accent down, since he’d perfected it for 2 years by doing LORD OF THE RINGS. He recorded all the lines for the other actors with a tape recorder in the English accent so they’d have a reference. He was truly a collaborator.

You had Tiffany Shepis in THE HAZING and in the past few years, she’s really made something of a name for herself in the horror genre. Was this the first time you had worked with her?

We worked really briefly once before. I met Tiffany during the American Film Market. She had a film company called Prescription Films. We both worked for Troma but we never met back in New York. But we went through the same element of working for Troma. Her company was looking to raise money for certain projects so I gave them THE HAZING and she loved the script. She loved the part of Marsha. This was 5 years before the movie actually got made. She tried for a while to raise money and be one of the producers for it was well. I always had her in mind and kept in contact with her over the years.

She had a small part in an Emmanuelle movie I did. No nudity, she just came in for a day. She was going to be in PRETTY COOL, but something came up. So, I kept in touch with her and finally when THE HAZING came together, I said “We have to get Tiffany!” She gave us a great audition. The biggest issue was with one of the producers who had her come in quite a lot. He thought she was very tough, but could she be vulnerable for the role. So, we had her come in and be more vulnerable and the producer said “Well she was very vulnerable but can she be tough!” (Laughs) So, luckily after all the readings, she won the role and was great. And that was the first time we really worked together. And since then we’ve worked together 6 times.

Who’s hand can I shake for putting her in that hot silver outfit? (Laughs)

(Laughs) The outfit for the two girls were specially made. It was in the script that she was wearing kind of a spandex space suit outfit…

Thank you, Rolfe!

… Because it was set on Halloween I wanted each costume to be different from the other, because sometimes it’s hard to tell who’s who in these movies. I figured the costumes would help. One would be kind of a Playboy bunny and the other would be in a silver space suit, so they’d both look good and we could emphasize their best assets. (Laughs) They could be sexy and funny and kick ass at the same time. It was very hot for her being in that suit, since we were shooting in the summer and it was really hot in that house. She was a great sport. She said she’d gotten a whole new fan base emailing her who think she’s awesome from that outfit. (Laughs)

How did THE HAZING do? Because for a while there, it was always on cable.

Well, it did really well on video. MTI released it, Blockbuster and all the video stores picked it up and it sold 50 or 60,000 units which was great. Internationally it’s had a harder time, although it is out there. And with cable, Showtime and all the cable cannels have been showing it all the time, so I assume the response has been good if they keep playing it. So, I think people really liked it. The film was made for about $750,000, which is on the high end of producing without stars in it, although we did have Brad Dourif. The film has done well, but not enough to make a lot of profit or generate a sequel or anything like that.

You did move on and you did NIGHTMARE MAN right after that, right?

Well, right after THE HAZING, I had the worst experience in my life doing a movie called CORPSES for York Entertainment. It’s my zomedy, my zombie/comedy.

Jeff Fahey’s in it!

It’s kind of worth checking out because Jeff Fahey’s in it, and it’s not too far off from what he does in GRINDHOUSE right now. He’s great. We got along great on the movie. It’s just everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong. But Jeff Fahey and Tiffany Shepis were in it. It was for York Entertainment, it was a miserable experience. The film is kind of funny if you’re in the right mood for it. But if you’re expecting a scary zombie film, forget about it. (Laughs) It’s completely a joke.
After CORPSES I did JACQUELINE HYDE, which was my female take on Jekyll and Hyde. It’s the first film I sort of produced myself. I had co-produced it with lead actress Gabriella Hall, whom I had worked with for many years before in the erotic genre. We started a company, we made JACQUELINE HYDE and got it released through Warner Brothers, which was cool. You can find that one on DVD. Then we made NIGHTMARE MAN, which was a lot like ‘THERE'S NOTHING OUT THERE ’ in the sense that my parents got involved and we did the whole thing independently. It took us 17 years to save the money to try it again (on our own). So, I did NIGHTMARE MAN with Tiffany again and Richard Moll.

I know you previewed it at Fango last year, and the film’s not officially released yet. Can you tell us what NIGHTMARE MAN is about?
NIGHTMARE MAN is about a married woman who’s having trouble with her marriage. She gets an African mask in the mail, which is supposed to be a fertility God. But she got the wrong mask. So some kind of being or creature (she believes) comes out of the mask and attacks her. After that, her husband and her doctor think she’s a paranoid schizophrenic and they want to commit her to a hospital for a while for observation. On the way there, the car breaks down, runs out of gas. Her husband goes to get gas and she once again gets attacked by the Nightmare Man. And winds up escaping to the woods, and comes upon a house in the woods where two young couples are vacationing for the weekend.

It becomes kind of a mystery/“slasher” type of film. There are a lot of twists and turns and you’re never quite sure exactly what’s going on. Is it real? Is it in their minds? There are some big surprises at the end. What I was trying to do when I wrote it was almost a journey through 70’s and 80’s and 90’s horror films. Where it starts out very subtle with shadows and sound. Very TV-movie-ish type films like TRILOGY OF TERROR, which was a big inspiration. And then it moves into the kind of the FRIDAY THE 13TH “slasher” type film. And then THE EVIL DEAD and then more ARMY OF DARKNESS and the more 90’s flicks. Hopefully it delivers to everyone. (Laughs)

It takes the standard “slasher” scenario and tries to twist it up. So far, the response and reviews have been great. It’s probably been the best reviewed film of my career so far.

Nightmare Man trailer 1

You screened it for the first time at the last Fangoria convention (2006) in Burbank?

We screened it at Fangoria and then we opened the film up for a week’s run in California. It’s since been playing film festivals. It’s won a few awards. Its won best picture at a few. Tiffany’s won best actress 3 times, which is great. It’s the first time she’s gotten attention and exposure for her acting, as opposed to how great she looks in a space suit. (Laughs) THE HAZING started that, but she’s really proven herself to be a really strong actress as well.
Is it still playing at festivals? When can we expect a DVD release?

Hopefully we can see a DVD soon. I have a really nice DVD all ready to go. We have 78 minutes of bonus materials and featurettes and deleted scenes. A commentary is all done. It’s just a matter of trying to make a deal on the film. Again, it’s getting harder and harder in that low budget arena. We might try to get it in a few more festivals. It’s played in 12 festivals so far, and I’m very happy with how people have responded to it. Hopefully we can get someone to pay SOME money so we can put it out on DVD and everyone can enjoy it.

Can you talk about working with Richard Moll and how he got involved with NIGHTMARE MAN? We all know him from Night Court, but genre fans of course recognize him from HOUSE.

I’m a big fan of HOUSE, and his work on SCARY MOVIE 2 and SPIDERS 2. He’s done a fair amount of genre horror films. NIGHT TRAIN TO TERROR. Remember that one?


With Richard it was a coincidental thing. We were shooting the film up in Big Bear which is where he lives. Because it was unaffordable to shoot it in LA. We had to put everyone up in houses in that area. While we were scouting looking for hotels and places to keep people, we met someone who knew Richard and we made a call and asked him if he’d like to be in the movie.He said to send him over the pages and he said, “if it’s one night, not too far from where I live? Sure, I’ll do it.” He liked the script, and he came up for a day and did a cameo role.
Very cool to be around. When we did Fangoria, we asked him to come down because that was one of the big elements of Fangoria giving us a panel. If we got Richard to come down, they’d show the film and give us a panel. So, we asked him, he said yes, he had never done a convention, but he came down for the whole weekend and was really a great sport about it all.

That’s great. And what else can we look forward to from you in the future? Would you like to revisit the horror genre again?
Oh yeah! We’ve got PRETTY COOL TOO coming out in June. Hopefully NIGHTMARE MAN before the end of the year, sometime soon. Right now currently I’m working a few things, both in and out of the horror genre. There’s a big budget horror script that I’ve written that’s just started making the rounds that I’m trying to get set up called “HORROR WORLD”, which is like the ultimate scream park fun, big horror film. At the same time, I’m trying to develop a series called “ONCE UPON A HORROR”. Actually, it’s “TIFFANY SHEPIS PRESENTS ONCE UPON A HORROR”, and it’d be kind of like a TALES FROM THE CRYPT type show and Tiffany would host, like Elvira. We just shot the wrap around stuff with Tiffany, and we’ve got the first 3 or 4 stories ready to be shot, hopefully as a pilot episode. We’re trying to get interest in it. It’d be a lot of fun. I’m playing into my strengths with both comedy and horror on it. There may be a film I wrote called “IN THE WEB ” which is a horror/thriller movie. I won’t be the director on it, but it might get produced. It’s got a giallo horror element to it.

Nightmare Man trailer 2

Rolfe, one thing I notice is… you’re very busy. What kind of advice can you give to people who are coming up in this business to get them to the point of being consistently busy and working? You always seem to have something going on.

Well with me, it’s mostly been self-motivated. I’ve rarely had any agents or managers in this business that have been any good! It’s really just plugging away and being very self motivated and driving forward. I’ve always written. Writing helps because you always have more material. I go to these film markets. It’s always been very good to me, you get to meet people you normally wouldn’t meet. It’s about being very confident and proving you’re very responsible. Because if anyone’s going to give you money, they want to know that their money is in good hands. And that you finish what you start!
No matter what you do, always finish what you start. Because there’s so many wanna be writers and filmmakers out there, and sometimes they take 10 years to make a movie and they’re never really finished with it. It’s hard to get money if you don’t have a final result. My films haven’t been incredibly successful but I’ve had a small cult following. I have yet to reach that studio level. This summer, maybe I’ll get closer. Because there’s a theatrical script I wrote called BLONDE AND BLONDER with Pamela Anderson and Denise Richards. And just for the record, because I want people to know, this was the last film that Bob Clark directed. Even though his name is not on the film due to a business issue. He was fighting to get his name on the film. But with the tragedy of his death which was just horrible. He did direct this movie, there’s no question of that and people really should know that.

Thank you for talking to us, Rolfe!

VISIT: www.RolfeKanefsky.com
and: www.NightmareManMovie.com

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