The coordinators of the Trash Film Orgy spent 11 years screening other people’s films before they decided it was time to launch their own horror movie endeavors.Now, after two years of work, months of filming, and about ten gallons of fake blood, TFO Productions are putting the finishing touches on their new feature film, Planet of the Vampire Women. It premieres April 30 at the Crest Theatre.
Though Planet of the Vampire Women is the team’s latest effort, it isn’t their first. Husband and wife Darin Wood and Christy Savage had been experimenting with moviemaking for years without much success, and then, a few years ago, two things aligned: advancements in digital technology made high quality/low budget filmmaking possible, and the Crest Theatre got a digital projector, meaning that they’d have an ideal place to show the finished work. TFO’s first feature, Monster From Bikini Beach, was released in 2008
Savage and Amy Slockbower are co-producers of Planet of the Vampire Women; Wood is the writer and director. All agree that doing a good exploitation horror movie on a limited budget was the biggest challenge.
“This was a $50,000 dollar movie done for $25,000 because of the blood, sweat and tears of our volunteers,” Slockbower said. One of the biggest expenses was the shooting set. They rented a warehouse for six months, building a huge outer-space set; materials alone cost around $4,000. Unlike Monster from Bikini Beach, Planet of the Vampire Women is actually funded by investors.
“This was our first time getting money from other people for money and it worked,” says Savage. Monster from Bikini Beach was distributed in Japan and the filmmakers have high hopes for Planet of the Vampire Women. Indeed, Savage and Slockbower were able to lure investors partly due to the international market for these types of movies. “There’s a global market. You do an off-beat comedy and you’re not selling that in Japan,” Savage said. “But you do blood and boobs and it translates to Japan, to Brazil, to France.”
Slockbower is the straight business one of the bunch – she keeps the artists all focused and attached to reality. “We have to take this seriously as a business – we’re looking at our bottom line,” she said. “Monster of Bikini Beach was mostly for art – Planet of the Vampire Women is also for art, but a business that we take seriously.”
The producers promise that Vampire Women will have lots of boobs, blood and laser-eyes, but that it’s not just about the gore and sex. “My favorite part of the film is the strong women characters,” Slockbower said. “I like how Darin wrote that way.”
Savage agrees. The ladies in the film are no shrinking violets – these sexy space girls can hold their own against a horde of alien vampires. “They might be kicking some ass and then their top gets ripped off,” Savage laughs, “but they’re still kicking ass.” The leading lady is Liesel Hanson, an up and coming actress in her first starring role. Slockbower and Savage are both pleased with her performance. “She just shines,” Savage said.
Savage did most of the special effects and post production work. The producers were determined not to skimp on the score or the extent of the special effects; Savage predicts that the volunteers will be blown away by the finished product. “I think people will be surprised at the extent of our effects. You don’t see that much at this budget level,” she says. “We just happen to be crazy multi-talented artists who say ‘oh you need to make space ships let’s make that happen.’”
Slockbower designed the costumes and assumed one of the most important roles in a vampire flick: she mixed the fake blood. She has thinner blood for squirting, thick blood for the mouths of the vampires (that one is chocolate flavored), old blood, new blood, all different kinds of bloods. They’re still cleaning blood of the cords and equipment.
“I have a magic special recipe, corn syrup is involved,” Slockbower says. “I take my blood very seriously.”
Planet of the Vampire Women World Premiere, April 30, Crest Theatre, 1013 K Street