Indie Filmmaker Cory J. Udler Talks Analog Era Awesomeness and His Affection for Exploitation as He Prepares to Unleash His Film MEDIATRIX Via VHS at Cinema Wasteland 2014!! DIG IT!
Cory groovin' it up with the one and only Chester N. Turner! DOPE!LM: Tell us about how ShaLenn Productions got started? What was the impetus to put your current project together? CJU: I wrote a script in, I believe it was 2004-2005, titled MOONSHINE. It was a very amped up exploitation script, poorly formatted, wordy, totally bonkers. I had been doing short films, some other writing. I wrote DEMON HAUNT for Ted V. Mikels around 2008. I saw a posting on the Troma site saying that Lloyd Kaufman was looking for feature film scripts. So, I sent him that one, except I had to rename it. MOONSHINE is a crap title. So I called Bill Rebane, who I had known for years and told him I was sending a script to Lloyd. He asked what it was about, so I told him and he said, “Call it INCEST DEATH SQUAD!”. I did. Lloyd called me and said he liked it and to keep at it. I met him a few months later at Flashback in Chicago and he told me to just make it and if I did he would come and be in it for free. That was the catalyst to start an LLC and make feature exploitation movies. We’re on number five now: two short films for the anthology HOLE IN THE WALL and now the MEDIATRIX VHS release. The VHS release for MEDIATRIX is something I’ve thought about for a while. I made that movie in 2011 with Paula Duerksen, who starred and wrote it. It also had Kaylee Williams, Joe Hollow, and Shannon Lark. It was an incredible cast and an amazing script. We shot it over about four days, premiered it in Tulsa in 2011. I never knew what exactly to do with the movie; the INCEST DEATH SQUAD movies were a fairly easy promotional sell: Troma fans, weird horror/exploitation fans, etc., but MEDIATRIX was a weird bird. It wasn’t horror at all, wasn’t comedy per se, wasn’t drama; it was just a very fun, very blasphemous exploitation movie. So it didn’t sell well, didn’t get the recognition I thought it deserved. The VHS release is a way for me to introduce the movie to the audience who enjoys these sorts of bizarre flicks.
The mega-rad front cover artwork for MEDIATRIX. Hey! That's my religion, too! Ahh, just kiddin... nice boobs, though.How about the film? Can you give us the lowdown on what MEDIATRIX is all about? What can the Tapeheads expect when they feed this slab to their VCR? Paula came to Wisconsin to film a scene for INCEST DEATH SQUAD 2 and while she was here I took her on the Ed Gein tour in Plainfield and to a place called the “Mediatrix of Peace Shrine” in Necedah, Wisconsin. Very graphic grotto built by a woman and her followers in the 50’s. She claimed to suffer stigmata, had regular conversations with the Virgin Mary. It’s totally gonzo. On the way back we talked about doing an exploitation movie based on that story. About a year later, it was shot. We took the basis of the story and added a rock n’ roll Virgin Mary played by Shannon Lark, put boobs and drug abuse in it. I love the movie; it’s my favorite of anything I’ve done. Sleazy. That’s it in a word. Sleazy and blasphemous. But a lot of fun, if you have a sense of humor. If you don’t, then, I got nothing for you. I also tossed some super cool trailers on there. One for the anthology Derrick Carey assembled called HOLE IN THE WALL starring Greg Johnson. It’s an extended trailer. I did 2 short movies for that one, ED GEIN: DDS and THE ICE MAN. Judith O’Dea plays Ed’s mom in DDS. It’s just silly stuff, lots of fun. Tonjia Atomic, a trailer for one of her flicks, Mark Mackner’s DAISY DERKINS: DOGSITTER OF THE DAMNED trailer, and one for Corey Norman’s THE HANOVER HOUSE. All really cool flicks, all really different. Then I put together a new interview segment with Shannon, Paula and myself at the end of the tape, kind of like what Charles Band used to do. Tapeheads will dig it, I promise. Why choose to put MEDIATRIX on tape? For one, the original artwork, to me, screamed for a VHS release. Not only that, the movie always felt like some oddball gem on a budget VHS label that you’d find on a video store shelf. It just seemed like the perfect movie you’d find shoved on a Mom and Pop video store shelf. And then you’d take it home and say, probably out loud, “the fuck did I just watch?!” I’ve always thought that all of my movie’s preferred format is VHS, but, you know… people buy DVDs… Not anymore. The artwork is killer, man. Who’s the mastermind behind it? It’s a painting, yeah? Paula’s husband, Jeff, did that. A completely original painting. That’s an actual painting, by hand. I remember seeing pictures of the progress of it and I just couldn’t believe how lucky I was to have this talented artist creating an insane original painting for the movie. I have been looking at it for 3 years now and I still don’t have my head wrapped around all of the intricacies of it. The rest of the VHS layout I did. I pulled out my old Paragon tapes and tried to emulate that vibe as much as possible. What’s your take on all the fresh VHS releases and rise in culture? I’m not surprised by it at all. To me, having grown up right in the wheelhouse of the VHS boom in the 80’s, I remember it being as amazing and romantic as it’s being portrayed in movies like ADJUST YOUR TRACKING. I grew up in Altoona, Wisconsin, right by Eau Claire and Eau Claire had a ton of rental places, all Mom and Pop. Every grocery store, gas station, everyone had VHS rentals. I remember Video Vistas had DERANGED and a badass Wizard collection. Video Vistas had the old WWF Coliseum tapes and all of the Mondo stuff like FACES OF DEATH. Duke’s grocery store had ZOMBIE LAKE and some of the Italian stuff from Fulci. Paul Naschy flicks. It was a time of pure discovery. My dad loved the movie BLOOD CULT. He laughed his ass off at that movie and to this day still talks about how funny he thought it was. That was part of the fun: taking that risk on the movie. You’d see that cover, that sensational artwork, that campaign, “grossest movie ever!”, “banned in 34 countries”, “better than Friday the 13th”, you know, all that jive. You didn’t know. A running gag in our house was “do the lips match the words?!” … bad overdubs, you know? To me, it was like 42nd street in the comfort of your own home, without the fear of being knifed by a crackhead. But I totally understand why people are into the VHS culture now. The artwork is better, the tangibility of that big ass tape going in, making that noise, that sound when you know it’s set and ready to play, that click. Our culture and our society is so used to things easy, you don’t really have to work for anything anymore. Want a movie? Click a button. Want a song? Same thing. Want food? Sit on your ass and order it through a window. Better yet, order it online and have some guy bring it to your door. It wasn’t 200 years ago that you had to WORK to discover entertainment, things you loved. I spent 30 years waiting to see BLOOD FREAK. It was worth it. But I think that idea of having to “work for your entertainment” is great. It means more to you when you search out that tape, that movie, that album. When you sit down to fully immerse yourself in it, it means more. I don’t think that’s lost and I think that’s why the resurgence in the VHS market. To this day I do not own BASKET CASE on DVD. Just VHS. That’s how I first saw it, that’s how I want to remember it.
I know this is how I'll always remember it... and own it! This is one nice slice o' analog, indeed!Why do you think it’s important to keep VHS alive? Why do you love the format? Do you still collect yourself? For me, it’s just like albums, records.
And who wouldn't want to escape it all with this insano slab of magentic madness? The scan is from VHSCollector.com in case you didn't notice, man.What’s next for ShaLenn Productions, mang? You planning on dishing out any more magnetic magic in the near future? Shooting THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH THE DEAD right now starring Shannon Lark, Kristen Casey and Lloyd
Hot damn, you’re right about that, man! Boobies are always a good call! Putrid sure does know his shit! And did you read about all the amazing analog goodies that should be in store for Cory’s upcoming exploitation assaults?! Sounds like it’s bound to be anti-digital dope, indeed, Videovores, so be sure to stay tuned to IncestDeathSquad.com to keep up with all of Cory’s sleazy cinematic exploits; and if you’re in the area, GROOVE TO CINEMA WASTELAND THIS WEEKEND! It’ll boogie-woogie on your brain!