PCR past banners Now in our fifth calendar year
PCR #208  (Vol. 5, No. 12)  This edition is for the week of March 15--21, 2004.

Florida Indies Film Review: "Light of Blood” Update
 by William Moriaty
"Dawn of the Dead"
 by Mike Smith
FL Indie Film Spotlight: An Online Interview With Andrew Allan
 by Andy Lalino
Collecting In The New Millennium....Watchlist--The Comic Industry
 by Brandon Jones
Blimey, It's St. Patty's Day....Classic Monster Collection....Mega-Conned
 by Matt Drinnenberg
Maybe It Was Nessie....TVLand Awards #2....Maybe His Underwear Are Too Tight....Passing On....2nd Time Is The Charm....Meet The Beatles, Part 9
 by Mike Smith
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Andy Lalino
Oddservations by Andy Lalino

"Oddservations" Indie Filmmaker Spotlight:
Andrew Allan

Satanic black basketball players...vampires who retire and move to Florida...support groups for people with black eyes...wheelchair-bound pitchmen named "Roostercraw"...no -- you haven't entered the Twilight Zone, you've arrived at a destination much scarier...the wacky world of filmmaker/screenwriter Andrew Allan.

Andrew Allan has had an impressive impact on the Florida filmmaking scene since the festival run of his short film "Sunshinola", a soon-to-be released comedic trilogy, and a project he produced for a filmmaking competition directed by Chris Giuffre and Wes Pratt entitled "Dead Weight". He is also the author of several feature-length screenplays; one of which, "Spinecrack" is currently in development. Andrew is a prolific and quality-conscious filmmaker whose enthusiasm and love for cinema is evident in simple conversation as well as his work.

In an attempt to get into the mind of this mad scientist of a filmmaker, I posed him some offbeat questions, and he responded the way only he could. Tread lightly.


Andy Lalino: Tell us about your "humble beginnings".

Andrew Allan: Alright. I was raised in Seminole, Florida, and started making movies when I was about eleven years old. This became a great way to get out of writing papers in High School - I'd always offer to do a movie instead. My teachers usually agreed, and not only did I get to make the movie, I usually got an 'A' for it, because the movies were always so much more entertaining than the papers other kids turned in. From there, I went to film school at Boston University. After graduation, I moved to Orlando, where I did freelance production and worked for a commercial production company. I moved back to the Bay Area in '99, created Sunshinola Brand Motion Pictures, and started cranking out more films.

Andrew AllanAL: Currently, you've had success with your short film "Sunshinola" on the film festival circuit. Can you tell us about the film and the run it's had?

"Sunshinola" is a twenty-three minute dark comedy about a Florida citrus baron hell-bent on doing away with a group of black eye fanatics, in town for their first national convention. I wrote, produced, and directed the film when I was living in Orlando. I made it with the help of Valencia Community College's film program.which was quite an interesting experience, because I went from doing five, six minute films with a crew of four people in college to a twenty-three minute film with a crew of fifty students from Valencia. Needless to say, I came through the experience a changed man. It wasn't easy, but it was a great experience.

"Sunshinola" has done well on the festival circuit. It's played around the U.S. and even made it over to Paris and Iceland. It's been well received everywhere. Most recently it was screened at Studio 1515 in Ybor City, for Coffeehouse Film Reviews and for the Ybor Festival of the Moving Image. It also played Movies That Movie, which is a really cool screening series put on by Margaret Murray. Basically, it's like a drive-in movie at various locations. You pull up and hear the movie on your car radio. Very cool.

SatanaAL: Tura Satana or Wendy O. Williams?

AA: Are you kidding? Tura Satana, without a doubt. She's a sexy bad-ass. Can you really recall in film history a woman who's as sexy and sinister as Tura in "Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!"? There have been tough women. There have been sexy women. But, she's the total package. Wendy O. was tough. I don't know about sexy. This doesn't mean I didn't appreciate Wendy O. In fact, she's been one of the inspirations for a character in a new film I'm developing.

AL: Aside from directing and producing, you're a prolific screenwriter. Can you give us a brief description of the various screenplays you have written?

AA: I've written several features, all of which I'm developing for production. They're off-beat comedies and are pretty unique. They're all set in Florida, because that's where I intend to make all of my films. Also, Florida is just a great, untapped setting that's screaming to be put on film. I feel Florida hasn't been given much justice on the silver screen. There's much more to Florida than just art deco Miami or the Keys.

As far as style of writing is concerned, I draw a lot of ideas from Florida, its archetypes and inhabitants. I'm heavily influenced by two fiction writers in particular, Flannery O'Connor and Harry Crews. Their books and stories are incredible, and always find a way to mix the sinister with the hilarious. So, I do something similar. I create a lot of absurd and extreme characters and try to put them into atypical situations. I also write genre pictures here and there for fun.

AL: List your muses and influences, as funky as they may be.

AA: Muses and influences.let's see.I mentioned Harry Crews, who's just a monster of a writer. Russ Meyer for his outrageousness and business savvy. Gene Simmons for his showmanship. Mike Watt for his d.i.y punk attitude, which is just as applicable to modern independent filmmaking as it has been to underground punk rock. My wife, Vanessa, because I like to make her laugh. And, all the friends and colleagues I make movies with. They're enthusiasm and inventiveness is boundless and intoxicating. It's very inspiring to share a common, creative bond with a group of very talented people.

AL: You're a big fan of Southern Road Movies of the '70s/early '80s. Tell us a bit about this fetish.

AA: Yes, I am. Although, you make it sound so dirty when you call it a fetish.

Actually, I'm a huge fan of Burt Reynolds' work in the 70's and early 80's. His Southern action flicks like "White Lightning" and "Gator" never get old. "Deliverance" is great. And, of course, you can't deny "Smokey and the Bandit" or "Cannonball Run". I know today they're perceived as being hokey - and it's partly justified - but, if you get past the major icons of the films, you realize they're just full of some incredible, seemingly effortless, performances. The influence of Jackie Gleason's "Buford T. Justice" character is evident in much of my work. I'm currently developing a script for a Southern Action film, much in the same vein as "White Lightning".

Rip TaylorAL: If Charles Nelson Reilly, Rip Taylor, and Paul Lynde were greased down, thrown in a pit, and told "only one of you makes it out alive!", who would -er- come out on top?

AA: Well, I think that's fairly obvious - Charles Nelson Reilly. Here's why: Charles understands the power of fear. He gets scared and acts to protect himself. He's not gonna get caught off guard. In this particular scenario, I see Rip Taylor as something similar to the lion in a gladiator arena - bulky and out of control. He'd probably start trying to throw confetti into Charles and Paul's eyes, get 'em off their game, then pounce on 'em. But, Charles & Paul are fleet of feet. They'll dodge Rip, then turn around and crack that toupee right off his head - He's down for the count. That leaves CNR vs. Paul. Now, CNR has the upper hand because he wears very large glasses. This prevented Rip's confetti from getting into his eyes. Paul doesn't come so prepared and probably has to clear his vision. On top of that, Paul seems like he had a deep bitterness lurking beneath his showbiz cattiness. I bet he had a lot of rage inside. And, it's that rage that gets the best of him. He gets frustrated from the confetti, knows there's a lot at stake, so he's prepared to tear CNR's head off. But CNR freaks out in the nick of time and slips the attack. I see Paul charging after CNR, missing him, and breaking his neck when he rams head first into the pit wall. Charles Nelson Reilly stands victorious. I mean, how else could it possibly go down?

AL: "Spinecrack" is a feature film, which you wrote, that is currently in development. Can you tell us about it?

AA: Sure. It's one of the feature scripts I mentioned earlier. "Spinecrack" is about a champion school bus racer named Sweet Cooper. Virtually since birth, Sweet's been heralded as the chosen son of a small Florida prison town named, Spinecrack. He's a bus racing prodigy and a source of great pride for the town. And, he knows it. He does everything he can to give the people what they want. But, when a convicted ex-professional basketball player is transferred to the local state prison to play for its prison basketball team, the townspeople go wild for him, and Sweet struggles to accept his decline in popularity. He doesn't go gracefully. It's a bittersweet comedy about believing in yourself and upholding your ideals in the face of adversity. In this case, the adversity is the impending doom brought on by the townspeople's mob mentality.

Russ Meyer and Andrew Allan
Legendary cult filmmaker Russ Meyer, left, with Andrew Allan
AL: Russ Meyer is a particular influence. What got you going about his films (as if we didn't know)?

AA: I saw RM's "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls" at the Coolidge Corner Theater in Boston in early '92, at the suggestion of a good friend, and it was a cinematic epiphany for me. It was like nothing I'd seen before, and totally expanded my view of what movies could be. I went back the next night and enjoyed it even more. "Beyond", along with the rest of RM's movies, have a wild, frenetic energy that's very entertaining. Incidentally, the good friend who took me to see "Beyond" is Doug McDermott, who plays the guy who chokes to death on the harmonica in "Cabin Fever". I owe him, big time.

AL: You recently wrote, produced, and directed a comedic trilogy of short films which began its festival run at "Saints & Sinners IV" in St. Petersburg with the debut of "The Joke Explainer". The other two films are "The Whopper" and "The Chalker". Can you tell us about these projects?

AA: With pleasure. "The Whopper Trilogy" will be released in its entirety within the next two months. Each film in the trilogy presents a socially flawed character and the consequences each flaw creates. "The Joke Explainer" is just that: Gene compulsively explains a joke despite the harmful effects on his love life. "The Whopper" is an idea Tom Linkiewicz of Illusion Films and I came up with. It's based on speculation about this strange guy we used to work with. We figured if this guy is this strange at work, what the hell is he like at home? So, we created a scenario where the character gets ready to go out for a night on the town. It's funny and crazy and turned out very well. It has much of the same frenetic energy I find so entertaining in Russ Meyer's films. The Whopper is quite a character. Finally, there's "The Chalker", which is about a mentally handicapped meter maid named Jimmy. The film depicts him confronting a hostile parking violator who gets more than he bargained for. All I'll say is: this is not your typical sappy portrayal of a mentally challenged character's struggle to overcome their debilitation. Jimmy's got everything under control. Though, like those sappy portrayals, there is a fantastic performance by Chris Probst, the actor who plays "Jimmy".

AL: Another "passion" of yours is the Teenage Sex Comedy sub-genre. What sparked your interest in it, and do you think it's alive and well?

AA: I suspect discovering the parental block code to the cable box when I was young accelerated my interest in it. Actually, when I was young, they were a great way to see things we weren't supposed to see: nudity, wild antics, panty raids, etc. Plus, they're very funny. Even, today. They're just very entertaining. And surprisingly, many of them show a lot of heart when dealing with the coming-of-age issues that all teenagers face. Also, like any great genre of film, teenage sex comedies have their archetypes: The hero's pal who's only out to get drunk and laid, the attractive girl that catches the hero's eye, the jerk jock who's dating the attractive girl, the uppity boss who's always on the hero's case, and if we're lucky a Hindu rapper and a mad scientist who has invented some kind of party enhancing device. What's also nice about T.S.C's is that they remind you of what it was like before political correctness overwhelmed the country and media.

The genre is definitely alive and doing pretty well. You could probably say films like "American Pie" keep the spirit alive. But, the style is entirely different. "Road Trip" and "Old School" definitely fit that mold. "PCU" took a stab at it in the early '90's. I'm doing my part to keep it alive - I've got two T.S.C. projects in the works, one entitled "Screw U.".

AL: Fugazi or Klaus Nomi?

AA: Fugazi. I vowed years ago not to support any bands with "Klaus" in their name.

AL: What's your favorite decade for movies and why?

AA: Hmmm...The '80's had some great stuff, but the '70's takes the title. From Chuck Heston sci-fi classics like "The Omega Man" to Burt Reynolds' Southern action films like "White Lightning" to Russ Meyer's wildest years of filmmaking - you can't beat the '70's.

AL: Are you seriously considering re-creating the stage antics of G.G. Allen (any relation?) for an upcoming documentary? Ah, the rumors persist...

AA: No relation, the rumors are false, and Todd Phillips already took care of the documentary.

AL: You produced the short film "Dead Weight", directed by Florida filmmakers Chris Giuffre and Wes Pratt for a New York film competition. Can you tell us about this outstanding film?

AA: "Dead Weight" is an eight minute suspense film we did for the New York Midnight Movie Madness Film Competition. Basically, we were assigned a genre and subject and had exactly two weeks to complete the film from pre-production to delivery in New York. Me and a group of filmmaking friends, including Wes and Chris, pulled together and knocked it out. It was intense, but a great experience. Wes and Chris are both very talented above and below the line, as is everyone who worked on the project. Because we only had two weeks to complete the project, we didn't get to finesse the final cut as well as we wanted. We're currently re-cutting, and "Dead Weight" will be exhibiting soon. It's definitely worth checking out.

AL: You also direct commercials. What's that like, and how does it differ from independent filmmaking?

AA: Well, it's not nearly as independent. But, it's usually a fun, compelling challenge. I consider myself a storyteller first, so I prefer to do spots with a strong storytelling concept to them. In that case, it can be similar to independent filmmaking. The spots that are less high concept and more just "sell! sell! sell!" are less interesting to me. But, they do provide challenges that are worth exploring and solving.

AL: "Hot Chili" or "American Pie" (actually, they'd go good together...)?

AA: Definitely, "Hot Chili". You're talking old school teenage sex comedy vs. new school. I'll take the old school any day. Plus, "Hot Chili" is exemplary of the resort-based sub-sub genre within the teenage sex comedy sub genre.

AL: There is obviously a lot of talent in Florida and the Tampa Bay area in terms of cast and crew. Can you tell us about those artists you've worked with in making your filmmaking dreams come true?

AA: There's probably too many to list. I work regularly with a group of very talented film professionals. I enjoy working with them because they're usually enthusiastic about the project (which helps) and they embrace production challenges in a way that yields great results. As mentioned earlier, Wes Pratt and Chris Giuffré are both very talented. Wes is a local DP with many years of experience. I use Wes and Jeff Scolaro, another very talented DP, as kind of a DP tandem on shoots. It's worked well, so far. Jeff also stars in "The Joke Explainer". Eddie Sturgeon is like a director's American Express card - You don't leave home without him. He's great in the field and in post. Jill Probeyahn, Jesse McLane, Andrew Hawthorne, Ryan Elvvang, Stan Harhalos, Leslie Webber, Stefanie Seropian, Leslie Holland.to name a few. Tom Linkiewicz is a great editor. Keith Duncan does great animation. And, of course, there's you, Andy Lalino, master of titles and the low-low price quickie graphic turnaround. Absolutely priceless.

AL: C'mon, really...isn't "The Cannonball Run" a rip-off of "The Gumball Rally"?

AA: No, because they're both based on an event that actually happened. And, rip-off or not, "Gumball Rally" just can't hang with "Cannonball". (Insert Burt Reynolds' good ole boy "ha haaaaa!" laugh here.)

AL: Your most recent project is the horror/comedy "Demonlition Derby"; in fact the teaser trailer for the film debuted recently at Too Productions' Movie Night in Ybor City. What the hell-hound is a "Demonlition Derby" for our unenlightened readers?

Nolan Canova and Andrew Allan
PCR publisher Nolan Canova, left, at a recent Romeo Film Series meeting with Andrew Allan, right.
AA: "Demonlition Derby" is a wildly entertaining horror/comedy about a female demolition derby racer, who unwittingly sells her soul to the devil by way of a racing sponsorship, and must fight to escape the devil's track of horrors. It's a very loose re-telling of the "Devil at the Crossroads" legend. It's a great blend of horror, comedy, auto racing, porn star zombies, biker gangs, Satan's henchwomen, and other supernatural delights. It's just a great story that I can't wait to see up on screen. I think people are really gonna like it. Those who love "Filthy" are gonna love "Demonlition Derby".

AL: If you were stranded on a desert island, what 5 DVD's would you bring along?

AA: Beyond the Valley of the Dolls
The Omega Man
(seems appropriate, and I could take heart in knowing there's no fallout albinos trying to kill me.)
Home movies of my wife and kids
The Sunshinola Brand Film Anthology

AL: Do you honestly see yourself sipping Shirley Temples with Eddie Deezen while poolside at your LA mansion 5 years from now?

AA: Yes, but the mansion's in Florida.

"Oddservations" is ©2004 by Andy Lalino.  The Oddservations banner is a creation of Andy Lalino. All other graphics (unless otherwise noted, like the small poster of Satana) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2004 by Nolan B. Canova.