Ted A. Bohus is a legend, no two ways about it. He’s worked in the horror and exploitation genres as a director, actor, writer and producer. It’s for the latter credit as producer he’s most known for, especially in conjunction with the great horror film The Deadly Spawn. Readers of DVD Holocaust need to immediately check out the Synapse release of The Deadly Spawn. A pristine print and loads of extras has finally brought this film to the attention of a whole new generation of gorehounds.
Crimson Celluloid: Thanks for your time Ted. It must be rewarding that all these years later people still talk fondly about The Deadly Spawn? What kind of feedback do you get on the film? Doing the DVD commentary must have brought back some fond memories?
Ted A. Bohus: It’s amazing! People really like the film. It was such a small production so I’m always surprised when people say how much they enjoyed it. Yes, the commentary opened the floodgates. When I went back and checked through my notes and picture books I found a bunch of stuff I’d forgotten about. There were a lot of great memories…but some horrors as well, as there are with most film productions.
Crimson Celluloid: I remember seeing pics from it in, I believe, Fangoria magazine, back in the day and thinking to myself “I have to see this film!!”. When I finally did see it it exceeded all my expectations.
Ted A. Bohus: Thanks! As I said, for a very small production I think we did a pretty good job.
Crimson Celluloid: What was the budget of the film? As producer, aside from seeing the film came in on budget, what particular difficulties were involved in the making of the film?
Ted A. Bohus: The budget was only between 19 and 20 thousand dollars. Most articles always got the figure wrong because I always had to lie about it. You didn’t want to have a potential distributor read a magazine article that said the budget was $19,000! (laughs) When I make a film even as the producer it’s MUCH more than just the budget. On Deadly Spawn I came up with the concept and story, worked on the creature design, found cast and crew, found financing and was there for every shot. If there was something going on I didn’t like, I’d certainly ask for it to be done again. Then there is post production…editing, titles, music, sound effects. I had to hire those people. Then I had to take the film to screenings for potential distributors. Early on I asked John Dods to be my partner as we worked together before on Nightbeast and got along great.
Crimson Celluloid: Most low budget films can’t afford special fx as good as the ones that appeared in The Deadly Spawn, how crucial do you think the fx were to the success of this film? One of the things I liked most about the monster in the film is that it didn’t look like the typical “guy in a monster suit” as epitomised by so many low-budget monster films. Did you keep any souvenirs from the film?
Ted A. Bohus: Yes, John Dods worked magic with a very low budget. The first designs I had for the Spawn creature was a man in a suit with 3 puppeteers behind him. One for the side heads and one each for the extra arms with the pinchers on them. You can see a picture of the original art on my website. (www.deadlyspawn.net) When I showed the idea to John he said…“Oh no, not another guy in a rubber suit!” I said that if had a better idea with the same budget, go for it! As long as he kept the basic idea of something with 3 heads full of teeth, no eyes and the long pincer arms. He just took out the body part and made it a globular mass with heads and teeth. GREAT stuff! He also had other designs, but I felt they would have been out of our range. Yes, I had a few souvenirs including a few of the small Spawns and a couple of teeth. I gave some away and sold others so now I only have a couple of things left. I still have one of the big bloody teeth!
Crimson Celluloid: It’s baffling to me that Director Douglas McKeown to date hasn’t made another film. What’s the deal there?
Ted A. Bohus: Well, John brought Doug to the film when I realized I couldn’t produce, direct and write as we all had regular jobs. They were friends. By about the middle of the film, they turned into enemies and it was a nightmare! You know…“I won’t come to set today if HE’S there!” type of stuff. I finally had to make a decision and chose to stay with my partner, John, and so Doug left the film. We finished up on our own. John re-shot a few monster shots and now we had to find a good editor. My friend Marc Harwood did most of the editing and John did some as well. It was very cool seeing the film come together in the editing process. Good editing can really make or break a film…especially a low budget one.
Crimson Celluloid: You directed Metamorphosis: The Alien Factor, a great little alien horror film. Looking back what do you like most about that film and what would you change?
Ted A. Bohus: Metamorphosis was a HUGE horror story! I ended up with partners that had their own agenda and it was crazy! I produced Metamorphosis about the same way as Spawn. I got a good lesson though…you want partners that will watch your back, not stick a knife in it. We had about 1.3 million dollars for that film and it should have launched our careers. Too bad because the last 45 minutes of that film I think is great! My long time friend Dan Taylor did a lot of the miniature and stop motion effects…and now he’s one of the top dogs at ILM!
Crimson Celluloid: As someone who has been-there, done-that where low budget filmmaking is concerned, what advice would you give people about to shoot their first film?
Ted A. Bohus: Cast the film realistically, get good actors, not just your friends. Make sure the film is lit well and most important of all…work on the script! It doesn’t cost anything to take the time to polish your screenplay. You want to make your film look as close to big budget as you can. There are tons of horrible films out there today because just about anyone can get a video camera and edit on their computer at home. Set your film apart from the rest.
Crimson Celluloid: You worked with cult film director Don Dohler on two of his seminal and much-loved horror films, Nightbeast and Fiend. What memories do you have of working with him?
Ted A. Bohus: Some good, some bad.
Crimson Celluloid: He copped his fair share of flack over his films and really didn’t get that much recognition until later in his life. He certainly had a unique vision. Do you think it was just budgetary restrictions that kept him relatively unknown as a filmmaker? Did he take criticism of his films to heart?
Ted A. Bohus: I don’t know, I just think Don did a lot of the stuff himself because he had no one else to do it. He wasn’t a very good filmmaker and only later on did he hire other people direct and such.
Crimson Celluloid: Both those films featured Baltimore’s second favourite son (after John Waters) in the form of George Stover. What was he like to work with?
Ted A. Bohus: George is always great! I brought him in to work on my film, The Regenerated Man. We had a lot of fun!
Crimson Celluloid: You’ve been a producer, director, actor, editor, writer…is there anything you can’t do??? Which parts of the filmmaking process give you the most and least pleasure?
Ted A. Bohus: Going into production is always tough. Once you start that ball rolling, there’s no stopping it. You either finish your film…or run out of money. Working out everything you can in post production is key for low budget. You’ll still get your ass kicked, but, hopefully, you’ll be a little more prepared for it. Every film will be a different battle.
Crimson Celluloid: Your film Vampire Vixens From Venus has been cited as good campy fun. What memories do you have of making this film and working with scream queen Michelle Bauer and the other buxom beauties?
Ted A. Bohus: Somewhere in there is a decent film. (laughs) NOT the version you saw though. Big problems with the editing on that film. We also had to get the film to the distributor contractually by a certain date. We needed more time. Michelle is ALWAYS great to work with! Actually all the girls, Michelle, JJ, Theresa and Leslie were fantastic. They knew their lines, looked fantastic and were always a pleasure. Of course you know we lost Leslie Glass to cancer. Very sad. The actors we had, well, most of them, were competent…all the problems were in post production. There’s a book load of stories…and I’ve written it!
Crimson Celluloid: What are you up these days? What can you tell us about Horror Biz Films and your great websites? Where can people get copies of The Deadly Spawn
Ted A. Bohus: As I said, I’m writing a book called Making Low-Budget Science-Fiction Films: A Real Horror Story. One more chapter and I’m done. We shot a new film called Hell On Earth with my partner Dave Baumuller. It’s a fun campy film that’s a throwback to the gory ‘80s films. Small budget, but I got to work with a lot of friends and have a good time. The websites are really fun. I have a lot of stuff on the deadlyspawn.net website. Not just about the film, but my magazine (SPFX: Special Effects Magazine). We cover mostly the 50s and some 60s sci-fi and horror stuff. The Monsters411.com website has a bunch of nifty info on the classic sci-fi and horror stuff. Deadly Spawn is probably still in stores. Synapse did a great job with their release. I have the rights back now and hope to have another version out soon…maybe widescreen…maybe Blu-Ray…we’ll see.
Crimson Celluloid: Thanks for your time and for all your hard work in the horror genre.
Ted A. Bohus: Thanks for keeping our small films alive!