Adam Rifkin { Original interview date Summer 2008}

Adam Rifkin is a writer/director/producer/actor whose eclectic career ranges from broad family comedies to gritty urban dramas. Most recently Rifkin wrote, executive produced and directed all 11 episodes of LOOK The Series for Showtime.  Based on his critically acclaimed and award winning film of the same name, LOOK is a controversial drama that takes us into the foreboding world of hidden cameras. Like the movie, the unique show is shot entirely from the point of view of the hundreds of surveillance cameras we all pass in front of on a daily basis.  Additionally, Rifkin wrote UNDERDOG for Walt Disney Studios, a tent pole comedy based on the iconic 1960's cartoon show, ZOOM, Starring Tim Allen and two hits for DreamWorks, MOUSEHUNT and SMALL SOLDIERS. Continuing in the family film genre, he scribed the big screen versions of WHERE'S WALDO for Paramount/Nickelodeon and HE-MAN for John Woo and 20th Century Fox.  As a director Rifkin helmed the beloved teen comedy DETROIT ROCK CITY for New Line Cinema. He also wrote and directed the car crash epic, THE CHASE, starring Charlie Sheen, a film that James Cameron described as "awesome", the critically lauded NIGHT AT THE GOLDEN EAGLE, a dark drama starring James Caan, Natasha Lyonne, and Vinnie Jones, as well the cult classic THE DARK BACKWARD. In the year of its release THE DARK BACKWARD was named one of the top ten films of the year by the New York Post.  As a performer, Rifkin Starred in, as well as wrote and directed, HOMO ERECTUS, a comedy set in caveman times that had its World Premier at the Slamdance Film Festival.  He also co-directed and starred in WELCOME TO HOLLYWOOD, a mock documentary chronicling the trials and tribulations of what it takes to pursue a career in tinsel town. The film boasts an impressive list of cameos including John Travolta, Sandra Bullock, and Will Smith.  Currently Rifkin is penning a secret project for Disney. 

Interview with Adam Rifkin

How are you this morning?

                Doing great!  Fantastic!  Fit as a fiddle as they say.  Never felt better in my life.  Happy as a clam, lively as a cricket, pleased as punch, smiling like a Cheshire cat!  (Long dramatic pause)  Well…actually I'm a little depressed at the moment if you must know the truth.  Nothing to concern yourself over,  it's just that I found out my ex-girlfriend is writing a tell all book about our relationship.  A spy of mine who works for the publisher tells me she intends to go into great detail about our sexual habits.  Very embarrassing stuff.  Since it's all gonna come out anyway I might as well just spill it to you now…I'm a Smurfophile.  In laymen's terms, I have a Smurf fetish.  Odd as it may seem, I can only get aroused while painted blue and wearing a long white beard and a white Phrygian cap.  As a form of foreplay, my ex and I would apply each other's blue body paint before skipping into the rather elaborate Smurf Village I had built on my wooded property in Vermont for some sexy Smurf play.  Granted, this penchant of mine for "blue-ballery" may seem strange, but seeing as I was first exposed to the lovely Smurfette at a most impressionable age, during my budding sexual awakening, I've formed strong sexual associations with Smurf culture and have since fetishized all things Smurf.  My ex-girlfriend, though not initially a Smurfophile herself, indulged me at first, only to then gradually become quite an active player in the Smurf-sex community.  I'm shocked that she'd turn on me in this way.  Anyway, I digress, on with the interview!

 Sounds you need a good spanking!  First of all, I want to ask you about your film ''The Dark  Backward.'' It was very…''different'' to say the least. Yet, I was glued to the screen until the very end. What, pray tell, was the ''inspiration'' for that one? Or…should I fear to ask?     

                THE DARK BACKWARD was originally inspired by a most uncomfortable evening spent watching a buddy bomb while attempting stand-up comedy at an open mic night here in LA.  He was truly awful!  I mean, REALLY not funny.  Worst was the uncomfortable pall that was cast over the room when each joke of his would hit the ground with a thud.  I noticed that the audience, and I for that matter, almost seemed to feel resentful towards him for inadvertently making us feel bad for not laughing.  Some comics are great at playing off a clunker, but some comics just crumple at the knees.  The audience initially feels sympathy for the pathetic comic, but that compassion quickly turns hostile when you suddenly realize that you came to have fun and now some asshole is making you feel guilty for not laughing at his pathetic jokes.  That weird angry feeling towards a comedian for not being funny was what initially gave me the inspiration for the film.  As soon as I knew I wanted to make a film about an unfunny stand-up comic I then started to piece together a plot.  Because it was the first script I had ever written, I knew that if I were to ever get the chance to actually make it, it would probably have to be made for a real price.  I decided that in lieu of big special effects or movie stars, which I knew I'd never be able to afford, my production value was gonna have to be in the originality of the ideas.  In other words, if I was gonna get a chance to get my first movie made, it was gonna have to be really different than the average fare to get any attention.  That's why I had him grow a third arm.

Well, the effect worked! I laughed so hard my stomach hurt! Your style of directing is diverse, yet so enjoyable too. Have you written your own screenplays as well?

                Yes, most of the films I've directed I've also written. I enjoy interpreting scripts from other writers too, as was the case for me with DETROIT ROCK CITY, but generally I prefer to direct my own material.  I just feel more closely connected to the words and ideas.  I also like having the creative control to interpret my own words my own way.  When I'm writing a screenplay that I know will be being directed by someone else, I never feel frustrated or bad though when the director chooses to change things.  Film is a director's medium and when I write a movie for someone else to direct I fully respect that hierarchy.  Conversely, if I'm directing a script that I didn't write, I feel it is every bit within my right as the director to change the material as I see fit to make the film my own.  All that said, directing my own script is the best of all worlds.

The film ''A Night At The Golden Eagle'' was a real tour-de-force of gritty, grim, inner city drama. Was it based on anyone you've known personally?

                The characters in NIGHT AT THE GOLDEN EAGLE weren't based on anybody I knew personally, but, the film was in fact, inspired by a song written by a street musician I knew growing up in Chicago named Brian Belknap.  The characters and the scenarios in the song were moving to me and I used it as a jumping off point when I decided to write the script.  Supposedly the song was based on real life experiences that Brian had had in some pretty nasty inner-city hotels, but I didn't allow myself to get mired in the reality of what did or didn't actually happen.  The song just got my creative juices flowing and I just let my imagination do the rest.  While shooting the movie we used a lot of the actual residents of the crack hotel that we had secured as our location, many of whom were like the real characters of the song and the movie come to life.  Any hesitation as to the authenticity of what we were up to was quickly squelched when we found ourselves working with people whose real life stories were almost identical to what we were filming.

I understand you know the infamous Ron Jeremy personally. Despite what a lot of folks would consider ''character flaws'' what is he like otherwise?

                Ron is a great guy!  A really sweet and down to Earth individual.  A lot of people don't know this about Ron but he's never done a drug or had a drink.  And he takes his mainstream acting career very seriously.  People have their preconceptions, and probably not without some degree of merit, I mean after all he is a fat, smelly, hairy, warty, repugnant, sweaty, disgusting, grotesque, obnoxious, balding, scaly, infected, abhorrent, abominable, beastly, creepy, detestable, foul, gross, hideous, rotten, wretched, loathsome, nasty, nauseating, obscene, offensive, revolting, sickening, atrocious, horrid, repellent, ugly, vile and down right stinky person…but he also loves animals, so he can't be all bad.  Maybe it's because he relates to them on some deep primal level that most of us have evolved away from at this point.  Ron is after all, very in touch with his Neolithic side.  In fact, that's why I cast him in HOMO ERECTUS, (AKA National Lampoon's STONED AGE.  Thanks Walmart!) because who can pull off an authentic caveman better than Ron?  Not many.  Plus, when making a caveman movie with Ron we saved money on props.  He comes with his own club!  Ba dom-bom!  Hey-O!  I'm here all week folks!  Actually come to think of it, me and Ron have a lot in common….

I hear you were the screenwriter behind the very amusing film ''Mousehunt.'' Wasn't that quite a departure for you?

                From Ron Jeremy to family fare!  Interesting transition!

Think nothing of it, glad to oblige.

                A departure?  Not really.  I love movies of all kinds, big ones, small ones, funny ones, sad ones and MOUSEHUNT definitely falls comfortably in with my love of kid's films!  Some of my favorite movies are kid's movies; THE WIZARD OF OZ, MARY POPPINS, DUMBO, etc.  All the years I spent watching endless hours of cartoons as a kid certainly paid off when I sold MOUSEHUNT.  It was a really fun experience and it opened up a door to a whole world of family movie writing for me like SMALL SOLIERS, UNDERDOG, WHERE'S WALDO, etc.

 I hear you have even acted in films! A jack of all trades. What films were you in?
                Well, I've hammed it up a little here and there in just about all of my films, but the first film that I actually star in is HOMO ERECTUS, (AKA National Lampoon's STONED AGE.  Thanks again Walmart!).  It's a comedy set in caveman times and I play the lead cave dude.  It's inspired by my love of Woody Allen films and it's about a philosophical, forward thinking caveman who believes that we as a species have the ability to evolve beyond sticks and stones, but my tribe think that I'm an idiot.  Ali Larter plays the cave girl I'm in love with and David Carradine (may he rest in piece) and Talia Shire play my parents.  Tom Arnold plays the first gay caveman to come out of the cave.  It was a blast.

 You strike me as the type of guy who'd make a great fiction writer. After all, isn't a script fictional? Have you ever written any stories?

                Thanks.  I haven't written any proper fiction yet, but maybe I will someday.  I did write a graphic novel that's just hit the bookstores though.  It's called SHMOBOTS and it's a stoner comedy about slacker robots.  It was published by BOOM Studios and it's been  getting some great reviews so far.  You can read them all and check out all things Shmo at SHMOBOTS.COM.  Whoops, shameless plug!

 Now for some of my boring Q&A: What would you say is your favorite horror film? Or book?

Favorite horror film:  THE EXORCIST

Favorite horror book:  FRANKENSTEIN 

Did I stutter?

Nope, I heard you loud and clear. Any interesting projects on the horizon?

                I'm very excited to have just completed our first season of LOOK for Showtime.  The series is based on the movie I made of the same name and I was fortunate enough to get to executive produce, write and direct all 11 episodes.  The film won several film festivals and got tons of great reviews, it played the art house circuit for most of 2008.  After the film experience was complete, my producing partners on LOOK, Brad Wyman, Barry Schuler, and myself all felt that there was still so much to say on the issue of privacy.  The film really only just began to scratch the surface as far as the possibilities.  That's why we felt it appropriate to turn LOOK into a series and we couldn't have gotten luckier when Showtime agreed to jump on board and acquire it.  The series, like the film, explores the conceit that the average American is captured on surveillance camera more than 200 times per day.  The plot follows several interweaving storylines over the course of a random week in a random city, but what hopefully makes LOOK unique is that the entire show (like the movie) is shot exclusively with surveillance cameras.  It's not inherently a political show, but privacy vs. security is very much a political issue.  LOOK doesn't attempt to answer any hard questions, but it does seem to illicit debate.  The TV show picks up where the film leaves off.

                Additionally, since we started this interview my people have just informed me that we've obtained the film rights to the tell all book my ex-girlfriend is writing about our illicit sex life.  I intend to make it into a hard hitting dramatic film about one man's struggle with a bizarre sexual proclivity that not only leaves him feeling empty inside, but also leaves his pores clogged and his skin broken out due to all that toxic blue paint.  I see Brad Pitt as the lead.

Well, Adam, it was very interesting to have you here with us, and I most definitely wish you the best of luck in the future. Ta-ta for now….

                Always a pleasure, never a chore.  Thanks!


Look The Series (Exec Prod, Writer, director 2010)

Knucklehead (Writer 2010)                                                                      

Look (Writer, Director 2007)

Homo Erectus (Writer, Director, star 2007)

... aka National Lampoon's The Stoned Age (USA: DVD title. Thanks Walmart!)

Underdog (Writer 2007)

Zoom (Writer 2006)

Night at the Golden Eagle (Writer, Director 2002)

Welcome to Hollywood (Writer, Co-Director, star 2000)

Detroit Rock City (Director 1999)

Small Soldiers (Writer 1998)

Denial (Writer, Director 1998)

... aka Something About Sex (USA: video title)

Mousehunt (Writer 1997)

The Chase (Writer, Director 1994)

The Dark Backward (Writer, Director 1991)

Never on Tuesday (Writer, Director 1989}

Ed Douglas {Original interview date March 2008}

For the past fourteen years, dark music pioneers Midnight Syndicate have been creating Halloween music and gothic, horror, fantasy soundtracks for the imagination. Formed by composer/director Edward Douglas in 1995, their music has become a staple of the Halloween, gothic music, haunted attraction, and role-playing game industries. With a catalog of CDs that blend dark, orchestral horror and fantasy movie score-style music with sound effects, the band consisting of Edward Douglas and Gavin Goszka has had its soundtracks to imaginary films featured in everything from Hugh Hefner's infamous Halloween parties, Barbara Walters specials and Monday Night Football to X-Box games, tracks by the Academy-Award winning rap act, Three Six Mafia, as well as concerts by dark music pioneers The Misfits and King Diamond. The music has also been featured on countless television shows and documentaries relating to horror films and the supernatural.

Often referred to as the first Halloween band or Haunted House band, Midnight Syndicate is the industry standard for the world's top haunted attractions and amusement parks. From Siberia and Hong Kong to Europe and the United States, whether it's a store, neighborhood celebration, or even a themed-cruise, Midnight Syndicate's music has become synonymous with the celebration of the Halloween season. In September of 2009, AOL released a list of the Top 10 Best Halloween Music CDs of all time as ranked by AOL/CBS Radio listeners. Three of the ten CDs were Midnight Syndicate discs (#8, #4, and #3) ranking only behind Danny Elfman's Nightmare Before Christmas and John Carpenter's classic Halloween soundtrack.

From 1997 through 2005, Midnight Syndicate built their following through the release of Midnight Syndicate, Born of the Night, Realm of Shadows, Gates of Delirium, Vampyre: Symphonies from the Crypt, and The 13th Hour.

In 2003, Midnight Syndicate made an impact in the gaming industry when it teamed up with Hasbro and Wizards of the Coast to produce the first official soundtrack to the classic role-playing game, Dungeons & Dragons. Midnight Syndicate's 2005 release, The 13th Hour, was the first music CD to ever receive the industry's top two awards: The Origins Award and the ENnie Award for Best Gaming Accessory. 2007 saw the band take on three new projects as they composed music for Universal Studios' Halloween Horror Nights XVIII, scored Robert Kurtzman's drive-in thriller, The Rage, and began work on their biggest production to date, The Dead Matter movie.

An updated remake of a film that Edward Douglas produced and directed in 1995 for $2000, The Dead Matter is a supernatural thriller co-produced by Midnight Syndicate Films, Robert Kurtzman (Producer of From Dusk Till Dawn, co-founder of KNB FX), and Gary Jones (Xena, Boogeyman 3). The movie stars Andrew Divoff (Lost, CSI: Miami, Wishmaster), Jason Carter (Babylon 5, Angel), FX-legend Tom Savini (Friday the 13th, Dawn of the Dead), and legendary horror hosts Dick Count Gore de Vol Dyszel and Big Chuck Schodowski. The movie tells the story of a girl named Gretchen, whose desire to reconnect with her dead brother draws her into the supernatural world of vampirism and the living dead. Drenched in the dark and shadowy music of Midnight Syndicate and inspired by EC Comics, Creepshow, and Hammer Films, this mix of classic horror and modern twists promises to deliver for fans of the genre.

In 2008, the band released it's tenth studio album, The Dead Matter: Cemetery Gates. One of their most critically acclaimed releases to date and inspired by the themes from the upcoming movie, the disc draws listeners into the supernaturally-charged world of The Dead Matter, taking them on a musical journey into a realm of forbidden relics, druids, vampires, and the living dead.

In April of 2010, Midnight Syndicate released their first music video. It was to the song Dark Legacy from The Dead Matter: Cemetery Gates CD. It featured Ed and Gavin performing live together for the first time, as well as scenes from The Dead Matter movie. Produced with the help of Robert Kurtzman's Creature Crew and Screamline Studios, the video was shot in the historic and haunted Phantasy Theatre in Lakewood, Ohio. In June, Midnight Syndicate teamed up with Cleveland-based 529 Films (Hellementary) to release a second music video, this time for the song Lost which appeared on both The Dead Matter: Cemetery Gates and The Dead Matter: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack.          

In early July 2010, the band teamed up with vocalist Destini Beard to release The Dark Masquerade. This six-song EP features existing Midnight Syndicate songs blended with operatic vocals and haunting lyrics written performed by Destini. Plans for a full-length followup CD are currently underway. Later that July, the band released The Dead Matter DVD, The Dead Matter: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack and their Halloween Music Collection CD, which is a compilation of some of the band's favorite tracks from their first thirteen years.

In February of 2011, the band announced their plans to release a dark carnival-themed CD entitled Carnival Arcane in August of this year.

Interview with Ed Douglas

  How is life treating you?

      Good, thanks.  Very busy with a lot of different projects.   It's an exciting time.

 First of all, clue me in on The Dead Matter. How long did it take to record the soundtrack? How long did it take to film the movie?
        We're working on the soundtrack now.   It will probably take us the better part of two months to complete it.    In August of 2008 we released a new Midnight Syndicate CD called The Dead Matter: Cemetery Gates.  It's a "music inspired by the movie” CD done in the same style of Midnight Syndicate's other releases -- dark, orchestral instrumental music and soundscape CDs designed to spark your imagination and fill your mind with haunting and fantastic imagery.  The themes to The Dead Matter movie include vampires, the living dead, Egyptian relics, and the supernatural -- all perfect themes for a Midnight Syndicate disc, so that's what we did with The Dead Matter: Cemetery Gates.

    The Dead Matter movie was filmed over a four-week period in and around Mansfield, Ohio, back in August of 2007.   It's a very story-driven, old-school horror film featuring classic horror themes with some decidedly modern twists to keep you guessing.  Heavily influenced by horror from the late-60's, 70's, and early-80's, I can’t wait to share it with fans of the genre and Midnight Syndicate's music.

 Is it true that the original version of the movie only cost $2,000?

       Yep, that's how this all started.  A bunch of college students in 1995 with a Super-VHS camera (which is just one step above the regular VHS cameras we used to play with as kids).  It was total guerilla filmmaking, using every means necessary - calling in tons of favors from the John Carroll University Communications Department, family, and friends.   The crew consisted of myself and my partner Mark Rakocy, with an occasional friend or family member on boom duty.   We knew that the technical specs were going to limit how far we could take the movie, but we wanted to make it the best we could with what we had to work with, get it done, and then use that version to put ourselves in a position to remake the movie with an actual budget. It took over ten years, but because of the success we had with Midnight Syndicate and our teaming up with FX-legend and director Robert Kurtzman and Producer/director Gary Jones it eventually became a reality.

 Sorry, should have asked this first: How long have you been in the music industry?
       I've been working as a musician for over twenty years and it's been my full-time focus for the past thirteen years.  After several rock and heavy metal bands, my first big project was writing the score to the original The Dead Matter movie in 1995, after that it was thefirst Midnight Syndicate CD in 1997.   We've released eight Midnight Syndicate CDs since then including the score to one film, The Rage (2007).

 Your CD, ‘’Out Of The Darkness’’ was fantastic. I can see why your work is so sought after. How many people are actually in the band?

        Thank you.  Midnight Syndicate consists of myself and Gavin Goszka.  Between the two of us, we have written and arranged all of Midnight Syndicate's music since 1998 (save one track on our 2000 release, Realm of Shadows).   Over the years we've also teamed up with various instrumentalists and voiceover artists (including Christopher Robichaud who stars in The Dead Matter and Lily Lane from the horror band, Lazy Lane). 

 What is like working with actors, directors, producers, as opposed to working only in a music studio?

      I've never been involved with anything that is more of a team effort than making a movie.   With all the elements in play, you have much less control as a director in a film as opposed to a producer in a music studio.  You also have a lot more stress as time is big money on a set.

 I see there were even some horror host legends involved with The Dead Matter. Who were they?

        I grew up watching "Big” Chuck Schodowski in Cleveland.  It's where I got a lot of my early education in horror films.  It was an honor for me to have a legend like Big Chuck be a part of The Dead Matter.   Count Gore DeVol of Creature Feature from the Washington, D.C. area was another legendary horror host we had the opportunity to work with.   The best part of working with both of them was not only being able to have them in the film but the fact that they did so well in their roles.  All of the veterans on The Dead Matter were awesome to work with.  Andrew Divoff (Lost, Wishmaster), Jason Carter (Babylon 5, Angel), and Tom Savini (Dawn of the Dead, Dusk Till Dawn) really delivered.  Each of them brought something unique to the movie and the other cast members they worked with. 

 Who were your early influences as far as music goes? Any all time favorite bands? Mine was Pink Floyd.

     I have a lot of CDs, but the bands I probably have the most of are Kiss, The Beatles, ZZ Top, Sisters of Mercy, King Diamond, Black Sabbath, Metallica, and Rob Zombie.  I love orchestral music and heavy metal so I like bands like Tran Siberian Orchestra, Nightwishand, of course, Dee Snider’s Van Helsing’s Curse.  I also really enjoy film composers like James Horner, John Williams, Elliott Goldenthal, Hans Zimmer, Wojciech Kilar, and Danny Elfman - and I think you can readily hear their influence in my work.  John Carpenter is also a personal favorite – as an aspiring director/composer he is definitely an inspiration and an example of someone who was able to do both well.

 How about films? Any favorite horror flicks? Books?

        I can never pick a favorite horror movie.  There’s just too many and the list is always changing.  Some of my favorites are The Old Dark House, Psycho, Carnival of Lost Souls, Horror Hotel, Black Sabbath, virtually everything Hammer Films ever made, The Exorcist, Aliens, Evil Dead, House (1986), Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Dracula (1979), and Changeling.  More recently, The Ring, The Others, Sixth Sense, The Haunted (starring Aidan Quinn and Kate Beckinsale).  I really had fun watching Slither and Descent, and I thought the original Saw had a really great script that was brilliant given the production limitations they were under. Stephen King is my favorite author – just so many great, great stories that I’ve grown up on. I just read The Shining again recently.  I’m a huge fan of the Tales from Crypt comics, too (Vault of Horror, Weird Science, anything ECComics put out).  I read and re-read those all the time.  There’s also a new generation of horror writers out there I am getting turned on to as well.

 What is on the horizon for you right now?
       The Dead Matter movie will be out in 2009.  After that, Gavin and I have already begun to talk about the theme to our next Midnight Syndicate disc.   There has also been discussion of another film based on the Haverghast Asylum theme from our CDs Gates of Delirium and The 13th Hour.  The idea of a live show or Midnight Syndicate DVD is something we are always considering.   It's going to be exciting to see what next year holds and what will be next.

 Well, Edward, it was nice of you to take the time from your busy schedule to do this, and I wish you nothing but the best in your future endeavors. And thanks for the CDs!
          No problem, David!



1997: Midnight Syndicate

1998: Born of the Night

2000: Realm of Shadows

2001: Gates of Delirium

2002: Vampyre

2003: Dungeons & Dragons

2005: The 13th Hour

2006: Out of the Darkness (Retrospective: 1994–1999)

2008: The Rage: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

2008: The Dead Matter: Cemetery Gates (August 2008)