Warlock Home Video is keeping the SOV and DIY dream in focus with SEXQUATCH!
When it comes to preserving the essence of shot-on-video filmmaking, Chris Seaver is a true champion. He’s been crafting his own army of low-budget trashterpieces for over 20 years now, and has recently been recognized by The Buffalo Screams Horror Film Fest, receiving the honor of their Genre Spirit Award which is bestowed on individuals who exemplify the soul of genre filmmaking. Throughout his film career, Chris has also established two releasing entities to help spread his nostalgia-driven, fun-loving works of cinema: the long-running, but now defunct Low Budget Pictures and the Phoenix that has risen from LBP’s ashes, and the brand that most of you Videovores out there may recognize: Warlock Home Video.
Chris’s passion for creating flicks that pay homage to a beloved and bygone era may only be exceeded by his charisma. His fervor and sincere appreciation for the SOV style undoubtedly manifest themselves in his work, but even beyond that, he’s seized opportunities to collaborate with some of the most revered (and underrated) SOV heroes out there, furthering that solidarity and essential mission of SOV and independent filmmakers everywhere. And what may that mission be you ask? To make films the way they want to. To cook up films that are fun to make and fun to watch. To be able to pluck an idea right out of their brain, and shoot that very same day. To flip Hollywood the proverbial bird.
Fostering these core values is the essence of Warlock Home Video. Seaver’s own films along with the flicks he chooses to re-animate on the Warlock label embody this wholly independent, no holds barred, let’s-have-some-real-damn-fun-with-this-thing kind of mindset. He’s doing it the only way he knows how: his way. And by doing just that, he’s preserving an attitude; he’s preserving an era that revolutionized the way movies were made. But maybe most importantly, he’s showing people out there how to have a little fun. Read on, Videovores, and dig those DIY via SOV sensibilities.
Chris says, "An interview? Yeah, man... go ahead and AXE me!"
LM: You’ve been making flicks since you were 7 years old, which is insanely awesome. Do you still have these films, and if so, what’s it like to go back and view them?
CS: I only have a few of the films. Most of them were taped over. I just laugh when I watch them. It is VERY cool to see where my influences started. I am pretty much into the same stuff I was back then and in some ways I have not changed.
The pre-cursor to Warlock was Low Budget Pictures, which was a brand you created to help push your early films. You mentioned Todd Cook (the director and writer and Death Metal Zombies) helped distribute your work. Were you releasing VHS versions of your films? What was the production like (both shooting and releasing it on video – if you did) since they were all shot-on-video?
As you , I was making backyard tomfoolery since I was 7. Seeing Nightmare on Elm Street when it was released was huge for me. My Mom took me to see it and in fact all of the things I got into sort of pushed on me by my Mom and uncles. Sure, I had been into movies before Horror: I was a Star Wars kid; I loved comic books and Marvel super heroes, Indiana Jones and so on and so forth, but Elm Street made me want a video camera. That Christmas I got one and just started making Freddy and Jason films with my friends around town. They were horrid, but I was having a blast. Through the years I just kept making these "epics" and getting more and more into horror. I began to discover SOV flicks through the local mom and pop video store, Video Connection, which was a heaven for me. I saw SO many classic SOV flicks due to that place in addition to all of the horror I love to this day. This place would carry some of the most obscure shit! In 1989 I rented The Toxic Avenger and Bad Taste and was blown away with the mixing of slapstick buffoonery and gore. This was what I wanted to do!
A few years later when I was 13 I created Low Budget Pictures as a way to bring some sort of "professional" name to what I was doing. Low Budget Pictures seemed to be the perfect name as they were VERY low no budget. I began to write scripts and came up with original material. I was also a huge fan of Monty Python and the Zucker Brothers stuff so I would include goofy comedy with the gore and it's pretty much what I do to this day. Around 1993 I started sending my crapsterpieces around to different companies I would see in the back of Fangoria or Blackest Heart Media catalogs. I knew my stuff was rough, but I figured what the hell. It was Todd Cook (Death Metal Zombies) and his Cemetery Cinema that actually saw some sort of potential in me and gave my films a shot. We had a common love of the Friday the 13th films and we both were making fan films. He was making some very ambitious productions and they were such an inspiration. Todd really was the first guy to give LBP a shot and to this day we are friends. As for the productions, I would shoot and edit all on VHS, deck to deck videonics machines, send pictures and video and promo material to Todd and he would take care of the rest: cover designs, boxes, reproduction, etc… It was an amazing time.
Todd Cook's DEATH METAL ZOMBIES as released by Warlock Home Video!
What was the life span of Low Budget Pictures, and when and how did the transition into Warlock Home Video occur?
I kept Low Budget Pictures going for 20 years: 1991 to 2011. I closed the doors for SEVERAL reasons. It just seemed like the right thing to do at the time. I stopped shooting on VHS around 1999 and then the whole DV movement busted through, so I had to change with the times. Then from DV to 24p, to HD, just kept moving along. I got worldwide distribution for my films in 2000 through J.R. Bookwalter's (Dead Next Door; Ozone) Tempe Entertainment, who was another big influence on me growing up. The Cinema Home Video titles were played a LOT in my house, along with the Dead Next Door, so having J.R. want to put my stuff out was a huge deal. That all happened through Debbie Rochon. She was really the reason the "2nd wave" of LBP happened. Really the biggest years we had were from 2001 to 2007 and then it all started going downhill… which sucks.
Within those years I signed with SRS Cinema ran by Ron Bonk (City of the Vampires), who again was a big influence . I owned quite a few films from the SRS stable (Salt City Home Video and Sub Rosa) and put out eight movies with them. I had a contract with Troma, as well, which went south due to some really fucked up reasons… BUT the bottom line for me was pretty much the lack of FUN making the later films. Things were getting a bit too crusty and the shtick was wearing thin. Bad deals, no money, etc… I yearned to go back to making flicks for fun, for the love of it and on VHS. It was so great to be able to just write something quick, pick up the camera, grab some friends and go shoot some gore filled SOV in the backyard. No pressure. After I closed LBP down I knew I wanted to go back to the magic of SOV so I started Warlock Home Video to give homage to the days of Wizard, Thriller, Continental, Camp, Cinema Home Video and so on.
The premise of Warlock is this: What if a group of SOV hounds got their hands on the rare and vintage catalog of Warlock Home Video, which existed from 1986 -1993, and they decided to re-release the films on DVD and VHS so fans could see these lost classics. You could choose to believe that premise or you could choose to KNOW that it was a crock and we were just creating them all new but Recreating the feel and look, which is what we are doing. I got a hold of Jeffrey Sisson, who is an amazing graphic artist and Special FX dude, as well as musician in his band TROGLODYTE. I hired him to be the Warlock Home Video cover artist. I gave him basic ideas of what I wanted and he went off and made these VERY faithful recreations of old 80's horror box covers. A good friend of mine and former LBP cast member loved the idea, as well, and he jumped on board as sort of the right hand man and we created the visage and mascot of the company, The Warlock, who introduces each film in old Horror Host style. Truth be told, the LBP gang just transitioned over to the Warlock group so it's a lot of the same faces with the addition of some new people thrown into the mix. It has been WONDERFUL. Since launching Warlock in June 2011 we have made five in house flicks and picked up five other old-school SOV's from other filmmakers around the country like Chris LaMartina (Ameri-KILL), Matt Brassfield (Werewolf of Ohio) and even my old mentor, Todd Cook (Death Metal Zombies; Evil Night)! We have had great reactions to the product and I think people get and love what we are trying to do. Warlock has been so liberating and fun. Way less stress and back to the good old days where I do it all on my own terms.
Dig that retro authenticity. No wonder people were confused about the origin of these tapes. This stuff is BOSS.
Yeah, touching back on the origin of Warlock, when I first heard about it, I was under the impression that it was a company that had been re-launched (which I’m finding is true!), but it sort of felt like Warlock was an old brand being rebooted or recovered, and since no one could find anything about it, it had this curious mystique. Did you encounter questions about it? Was it intentional to grab people’s attention?
Part of the fun of Warlock was to wonder about it all. To debate whether or not it was really an old company or something that was freshly created. Most people know now that it was just me creating new films to emulate the old films. I make sure that each script is authentic to the time period. ALL of the dialogue is from the 80's, meaning 80's slang and terminology, nothing modern. All of the clothes and locations have to be as authentic as possible and of course we shoot on VHS. The music is a big factor, as well. I got a hold of this guy Alex O Neil or "Chan Walrus" from England and he began to create music that sounded straight out of that time period, very synth and poppy. He does all of the music for us. We did encounter a few people at the start of all this who just wanted to start shit and did not like the fact that we were playing along with the "found company" shtick, but it was all meant to be part of the magic. No malice intended. It's just part of the ride and if you GET it and can get on board, I think you will have a pretty good time with the films.
I can get down with that sentiment, man. So, in essence, what is it about SOV horror and exploitation films that really excite you?
I love the fact that people just picked up cameras and went to shoot flicks. These people were throwing conventions to the wind and said, “You know what, we don't need millions of dollars or top quality film cameras to make art; we can do it all on VHS and do it the best we can.”
Given the limitations, it was so inspiring to see these people do it and I thought, “Well this is what I want to do!” I also love the Do-It-Yourself attitude. It's a magical thing. Sure, I love a lot of mainstream horror and off-beat horror and films that helped shape who I am today, but these SOV gems were a huge part of my childhood so they bring back truly great feelings from the past. When I see VHS horror today I just get this warm feeling. When I go collection