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The making of







The Cast of the Stone Ridge segment of MINDS OF TERROR and LOST SOULS

The following are excerpts from Mark’s book TRULY INDEPENDENT FILMMAKING;

                Of the two segments I wrote and directed for MINDS OF TERROR/LOST SOULS, the short segment with Joe Estevez was the first one I shot and edited.

The original plan was to shoot both of my two short segments during the summer of 2002. Chris Watson really wanted them to be shot on digital videotape, and he knew two people in Wichita and Kansas City with the cameras we needed who were willing to travel to Great Bend and be my camera operators. So we had to shoot both segments in a weekend when we could schedule the camera operators to come, which meant we had to have an intensive two days of shooting in order to get it done.

For the segment to be shot in Great Bend with the three college friends finding a former mental institution, I wanted Yancy Young and Bobby Sloan, from my previous two films DECONSTRUCTION and END OF THE LINE, to be two of the friends. The original idea for this segment was that the three friends (all of them male) accidentally find Vandoren after their car breaks down, and they were not reporters trying to write a story about the ghosts at the former institute as in the final version of the film. I wanted Brad Freidenberger to be the third friend, but he was going to be out of the state for the summer. The only other actor I considered to be the third friend was Chris Aytes, although I never actually got to the point where I talked to him about it. The former counselor living at this former mental institution would be played by Randy Allen.

The segment of the man with a head injury from a car accident stranded at a farm house and start seeing ghosts was to be shot at the Battmer farm near Smithville, Missouri where I shot THE UNKNOWN HORROR in 1983. I originally wanted Johnny Johntz to play the lead character, and either myself or Adam Leatherwood to play the man he meets at the farm. Andy Battmer would play the owner of the farm who shows up at the very end of the segment, and that would make this essentially THE UNKNOWN HORROR Part IV. I would shoot some extra dialogue where Andy tells the story of his previous experiences at the farm and I would use clips from the first three THE UNKNOWN HORROR films. Since I wasn’t being paid to make these movies I told Chris that I wanted to take the footage and edit my own two short films to enter into film festivals, so these clips from THE UNKNOWN HORROR would only appear in my short film and not in MINDS OF TERROR. Although in the end I never used the clips from my earlier films, because I quickly learned that plans changed every week and even every day with Chris Watson. He wanted to have some B-movie actors in MINDS OF TERROR, and he wanted them to be in my short segment to be shot at the Battmer farm. The possible stars changed from Tommy Morrison and Bill Smith to Joe Estevez and Robert Z’Dar to people I’ve never even heard of, and back again. I also found out that Chris was making another horror film in the summer and was bringing in some of these actors from Los Angeles for a day or two to shoot their scenes. The plan was to shoot the segment at the Battmer farm on a weekend when a couple of these L.A. actors would be working on his film, and they would just go work on my film for a day. So we set the date for when we would shoot with the actors at the farm: Saturday, July 20th, 2002.

But before the weekend came there was another major change. Chris told me at that a filmmaker in Australia named Johan Earl was going to write and direct the main segment for MINDS OF TERROR, and at one point he was going to shoot it on 35mm film. But he wanted to change the story and make the short segments more dream-like nightmares rather than stories of what the various patients actually did in ‘real-life’. So I started to re-write the segments to be more surreal when Chris informed me that Johan now wanted to just make his own film based on his script without the short segments, and now we were making segments for a pseudo-sequel of MINDS OF TERROR. (I have no idea if Johan Earl ever made his film.) So we could go back and do the original scripts and not try to make them dream sequences. But Chris asked me if I could expand my short segment about the former mental institution to be the main segment of the film. (In the end most of the other filmmakers dropped out of making the other short segments for MINDS OF TERROR, so I ended up being the writer and director of the majority of the movie.) Chris still wanted to shoot everything over the summer, but realized that the main segment might take two or three weekends rather than just one. So I basically added scenes to what was already in the script to make the main segment of the film, but I wasn’t really happy with the result. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to work on a major rewrite since we wanted to shoot the main segment in June and the short segment in July. But then I ran into a major problem with the main segment – Yancy Young told me he had to pull out of the film. He never really explained why, although I got the impression he wasn’t interested in acting anymore and this was becoming a bigger time commitment than we originally thought. Now I only had Bobby Sloan and Randy Allen, with no time to find two other actors.

I told Chris Watson that I lost another actor and I wasn’t happy with the script for the main segment, so I suggested that I wait to shoot the main segment of MINDS OF TERROR as my next big production during the school year at Barton County Community College. I could find new actors in the fall (Since Bobby Sloan was attending KU in the fall, he wouldn’t be able to play a major role in the film) and shoot it with the same equipment that I’ve made my other films. Then I could take the time to re-write the script and make something better than originally thought. I felt like MINDS OF TERROR had become my movie, rather than just making two short segments for someone else’s project. So if this was to be my film overall, I wanted to take the time to make the script something I would be happy with and the time to make the film the way I wanted. If this was going to be my first film that would be distributed to a national (and possibly international) audience, I wanted to try to make it something I could be proud of and better than a project rushed together over a couple of weekends. Chris agreed (I suppose he didn’t have much choice in the matter) and I started to re-write the script for the main segment. 

The biggest change I made was that it was no longer three friends who were lost and accidentally find the former mental institution. I wanted to have a college professor (who is also a paranormal investigator specializing in proving that there is no paranormal activity) go to the institution with several of his students to investigate a murder and to show there were no ghosts involved in the crime. But, of course, they discover there are strange things happening there. Randy Allen’s character would turn out to not be a former counselor, but a former patient who still lives there. I also thought that since I was making both the main segment and the short segment, I could have them be more closely related to each other. I wanted Randy Allen to play the lead in the short segment and have that character be the same character in the main segment, and thus when Randy’s character (named Mr. Vandoren) in the main story reveals who he really is, you would then go to the short segment at the Battmer farm and see what happened to him after he left the mental institution and before he returned to live there. Finally Randy agreed to be in the short segment as well as the main segment, so I was ready to shoot at the Battmer farm. 

I also found out that Johnny Johntz was planning to be out of town the weekend we’re shooting at the farm, so he couldn’t play the lead character anyway. Chris wanted Joe Estevez and Robert Z’Dar to be in the segment at the farm, so the cast consisted of Randy Allen as Jeff, the man with the head injury who finds the farm. Joe Estevez as Brad, the man he finds at the farm and assumes is the owner (but he turns out to be another stranded motorist). Adam Leatherwood as Kyle, the actual owner of the house who shows up in one scene at the end. Andy Battmer as a ghost that keeps appearing to Jeff, and he isn’t sure if he’s really seeing ghosts or if it’s his head injury causing hallucinations. Hedrick Allen, a friend of mine who also went to Pem-Day with us, was going to be another ghost and help behind-the-scenes. And finally Robert Z’Dar was going to be the Dark Angel, a physical manifestation of the evil that resides at the farm and that appears a couple of times to Jeff. I wrote the character of Dark Angel specifically for Robert Z’Dar after Chris told me he wanted him in the segment, and he really didn’t fit into any of the other characters. Robert has a unique physical appearance; he basically has a huge jaw. So he ends up playing villains/aliens/demons, etc. He was in MANIAC COP, as well as TANGO AND CASH and MOBSTERS. The first place I ever saw him was in a movie he made with Joe Estevez called SOULTAKER, which I actually saw on MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000.

Randy was very nervous about acting with Joe Estevez. He knew Joe was an actor from L.A., but not until about two days before the shoot did he find out that Joe is the brother of Martin Sheen. Randy became REALLY nervous, since he was a big fan of Martin Sheen and the TV show THE WEST WING. I thought he might want to back out of acting in the short segment at the farm, but he decided to hang in there and still go with me to Parsons and Smithville. Randy recalled, “I had a lot of reservations about doing (the short segment), and kind of procrastinated whether to agree to do it (or not). When we finished END OF THE LINE I was sort of comfortable with the idea of just stopping and not doing any more of these films or acting at all. I was hoping to just end it on a more positive note and not do any more of that stuff. And then when had you told me that these California actors were going to be involved – that was very intimidating. Having done many of your movies there’s always so much funniness and so much silliness that goes on behind the camera and all of the blooper stuff – which was particularly profound in END OF THE LINE, more so than some of the other ones! (Laughs) – that they’re all pretty much comfortable experiences. Everyone is not entirely serious about what they’re doing so that if they make mistakes it’s all right, and I was very concerned about what it was going to be like to make mistakes (with the professional actors). But once you told me (Joe Estevez was Martin Sheen’s brother – I’m a big fan of Martin Sheen) and I regularly watch THE WEST WING all of the time, and watch it religiously. So learning of that it did ratchet up the anxiety! (Laughs) But at that point it was pretty much too late to say no. I didn’t want to screw up what was going go into this weekend which naturally screwed up on it’s own (continues to laugh) without my assistance. Intellectually I thought it would be an interesting experience. Emotionally I was a mess!”

In order to understand what happened during the shoot at the farm, it’s important to know what happened that entire weekend of July 20th to see how one thing affected another. Randy referred to it as ‘The Lost Weekend’. I just called it ‘The Weekend From Hell’. The plan was this; I would drive down to Parsons, Kansas on Friday, July 19th to play a small part in the other film Chris was shooting there. I was going to play a cop with Robert Z’Dar, where he did all of the talking and would not let me say anything, so I didn’t have to memorize any dialogue. (Chris told me that he would have a police uniform for me and I had sent him my measurements. Keep this in mind!) Since Randy was coming with me to be in the farm shoot, he and I could stay the night in the college dorms that they were using for the production. In fact, they were shooting the majority of the film at the college in Parsons. Saturday morning we would leave and pick up Joe Estevez at his hotel near Kansas City, then we would get Andy Battmer and we would go eat lunch together. Then we would film all afternoon at the farm, and Chris would bring Robert Z’Dar up to the farm around 5:00 or 6:00 p.m. to shoot his footage. Then we would break for dinner, and Andy Battmer would cook some burgers and brats on the grill for us. After we were done with Joe and Robert, they would return to their hotel and we would shoot the rest of the night until after midnight sometime (I knew it could be as late as 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning), and then sleep in Sunday morning. Sunday afternoon we would finish up shooting what was left, and we would drive back Sunday night or Monday morning to Great Bend. Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it?

Randy and I headed for Parsons early Friday morning, knowing it would be about a 4-hour drive. The day started out strangely when we came across two bad car accidents along the way, which was possibly an omen of the weekend to come. We did arrive on time in Parsons and discovered that the college was LaBette Community College. Somehow Chris Watson was able to take over the campus for his shoot, and we discovered the name of his production: ZOMBIEGEDDON. (Like Armegeddon with Zombies, get it?) They had been shooting all week on this low-budget zombie horror film, and when we arrived they had just finished shooting a scene in the morning with vomit spewing zombies and the two main characters, two cops played by Paul Darrigo (an actor from Los Angeles) and Ari Bavel (an high school teacher, coach and actor in Chris Watson’s earlier film, MOB DAZE), fighting the living dead. Chris took us over to the ‘set’ on the campus, which was a very small campus compared to Barton. There was the Main Building (an old, converted high school), the Main Building Annex and the Student Union. That was it, except for the dorms down the street and the gym next door.

Randy wasn’t overly impressed with the sleeping arrangements, “The dorms (of LaBette Commmunity College) were all one level, three separate buildings, and they looked something like the Bates Motel out of PSYCHO. They were just these really boring looking dorm rooms. They looked terrible.” In one section were the make-up, costume and food rooms. The zombie make-up was very impressive, but they had made an incredible mess in the dorms with make-up spilled everywhere. The three zombies were in the bathroom cleaning off their make-up when we arrived, and the bathroom was a complete disaster of multi-colored residue smearing the walls. Most of the actors and crew were staying in the other dorm rooms, so that was the central base of operations for the film. We met Ari and Paul, and the camera crew, Jim Siebert and Damon Abraham. Jim was older than me, and seemed to be the director of the film, where Damon was in his mid-20’s and acted like his camera operator. They were shooting the movie on a nice, big, professional MiniDV/DVCAM camcorder with professional lighting and sound equipment. We were surprised to find Joe Estevez there as well, and had just woken up from a nap. He walked out wearing a t-shirt and with an unlit cigar in his mouth, and looked at Randy and me. We introduced ourselves and he immediately talked about the upcoming shoot at the farm. There was one little fact he was not aware of concerning the shoot at the Battmer farm…the farmhouse had no air conditioning. He at first seemed concerned, but was a true professional and did not complain. Randy Allen recalled, “(I had seen a picture of Joe Estevez and) I anticipated what he would look like, but he came out of the bed room and he was still sleepy. Kind of groggy and out of it. He sat down and had this deep sigh, and I said, ‘Are you all right?’ and he said he was fine. I said, ‘Do I need to get you something, sir?’ and he said, ‘Oh, I’m fine. Call me Joe!’ (Laughs) And I thought, ‘Oh, man! I don’t think I can do that!’ That’s just not how I was reared. But it was very odd. It’s one thing to be on a set, but to be more or less where this person is staying and no one is in their most conscious state of mind when they’ve just woken up! I didn’t know what to say to him. I was kind of blank about that. There were some uncomfortable moments, at least for me, when I didn’t know what to say at that point.”

Then Chris asked if I had my costume. My costume? It turned out that he changed the script and now Robert Z’Dar and I were detectives, not uniformed police officers. All I had were shorts and short-sleeved shirts, and Chris never told me about the change until I was standing there in with him in Parsons. So they had to wait until the local thrift store opened after lunch to go buy something for me to wear, and we were suppose to shoot my scene at 2:30. But then I found out the real problem; Robert Z’Dar was not there. He had missed his flight and wasn’t arriving to KCI (Kansas City International Airport) until 9:00 p.m. that night. Which meant we couldn’t shoot our scene until Saturday morning. Chris was taking Joe Estevez up to his hotel in Kansas City (Joe was meeting a childhood friend named Mike who was coming in from Ozark , Missouri ) and was going to wait to pick up Robert Z’Dar at the airport and bring him back to Parsons. Chris mentioned to me that we’ll shoot our scene with Z’Dar at “the crack of dawn” so I can go shoot in the afternoon, and he then left around 2:00 p.m. for Kansas City with Joe. Tagging along with Chris was another guy named Andy (maybe a production assistant and a friend of Chris) and a ‘kid’ (I am getting old) looking like he was still in college named Josh with a second MiniDV camera. His camera was more of a consumer grade camcorder, and from what we understood was shooting behind-the-scenes footage for a documentary he was making.

By 2:30 I got my costume from the thrift store, consisting of charcoal gray pants, a white-stripped shirt, a tie and a trench coat. I actually looked good in the part of a detective, even though it was 100-degree weather and my scenes were all outside. (So why would I wear a trench coat? Oh well…) We rushed over to the shooting location, and no one was there. Everyone was still at lunch. Eventually the two ‘cops’, Ari and Paul, made their way to the location. By 3:00 p.m. Tim, a special effects technician, arrived to start putting multiple squibs on Paul for a scene where I shoot him at the end of the film. Basically Tim put on five or six small explosive charges on his chest, with small packets of fake blood over them, so when they’re set off it looks like he’s being shot. But it took over an hour to get Paul ready, and at 4:00 p.m. they had to shoot a fight scene they started earlier in the week but couldn’t finish because they ran out of day light. They were going to be late starting that scene as well, which turned out to be the normal routine on this shoot. They still wanted me there for this shoot because I’m the one that fires the gun, and Tim was leaving that night to go to another job and was taking the firearms that shot the blanks with him. So they needed the close up of me actually firing the weapon. Then the next day we would shoot everything else with Z’Dar that leads up to the shooting.

Mark Adams takes aim and fires in the film ZOMBIEGEDDON


Paul Darrigo gets blown away

So the time came to film the squibs exploding on Paul Darrigo, and I must admit it looked very real and impressive. Four squibs went off, sending fake blood all over Damon and Jim. Then they filmed me coming around a corner and shooting the gun. Randy took photos and shot behind-the-scenes footage with my big Hi8 camera that I was going to be using for my shoot at the farm. Since only four of the squibs actually worked, I had to shoot the gun only four times in the shot. They did a wide shot then a close up of me. I was really surprised when I was done and everyone applauded me and gave me a thumbs-up sign. All I did was fire a gun, but they seemed really happy with my performance. Then it was about 5:00 p.m. and they started shooting the fight scene.

Filming a zombie fight scene at LaBette Community College in Parsons, Kansas for the film ZOMBIEGEDDON

Everyone invited Randy and I to stay and watch the fight scene, and since we had nothing else to do and nowhere else to go except back to the ‘wonderful’ dorms, we stayed. (Actually I did go back and change out of my ‘costume’ and into some cooler clothes. I still had to wear the detective outfit the next day.) I took some photos and shot some behind-the-scenes footage while Randy worked on memorizing his lines for Saturday’s shoot at the farm - he was becoming more and more nervous about acting with Joe Estevez. It turned out that in the film the zombies are not the slow moving, mindless creatures from THE NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, but can really kick someone’s ass using martial arts in a fight with Ari and Paul. I can only imagine this is a result of films like THE MATRIX and TV shows like BUFFY, THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, where the younger generation expects this twist to the zombie character: Kung-Fu Fighting Zombies. Randy later told me his reaction to the whole action sequence, “(The zombie fight scene) looked good, but if you buy into the whole idea of what zombies are suppose to be and if you’ve watched any movies like NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD or seen the Capcom RESIDENT EVIL (video game) series at all, there are certain assumptions about what zombies are suppose to be like - the kind of foot-dragging, lumbering (dead bodies). Stories have always been like that. But in (ZOMBIEGEDDON) you have zombies doing kung-fu/martial arts moves that might have been appropriate to maybe BUFFY, THE VAMPIRE SLAYER. But that’s not the kind of behavior you expect out of zombies. That stuff was very impressive to see done, but as I was watching this I was thinking, ‘That’s not what zombies do. That’s not the zombie world I grew up reading. It’s not the films I watched.’ ”

But I can say that the zombie make-up looked great and the fight scenes were well choreographed. Randy and I were from the generation that saw zombies one way, and now a newer generation was being introduced to a more extreme version of the living dead. This new approach was not necessarily wrong, but that doesn’t mean it was good, either. But I was discovering that this was not a serious attempt at a horror film meant to be scary, terrifying and dark. ZOMBIEGEDDON was a not-so-serious (dare I say campy?) action flick with lots of gore about zombies and the two cops who are trying to kick their ass. (And the zombies who are trying to kick theirs as well.) At this point Paul Darrigo, who did choreograph the fight, took over the directing duties from Jim, telling Damon where to put the camera and how to shoot the scene. In fact, Jim just sat on a nearby cooler looking like a kid not picked to be on a kick ball team during recess. (It turned out that Chris was the director, but during the production he wasn’t even on the set all the time. So the cast and crew directed themselves. It’s a long story that I won’t get into here…) For a fight scene in a low budget movie it looked good. But once again they were running out of daylight as they scrambled to finish the sequence. Paul and Ari were very upset, however, that Josh had left with Chris Watson to go to Kansas City with the second MiniDV camera. Apparently they were planning on using the other camera to get second angles of the fight and thus more coverage in one take. Also Chris had not told Paul and Ari that he was even going to Kansas City in the first place, so they didn’t even realize that Chris and Josh were gone until after they started shooting the fight scene. But again, this was the normal routine for this production.

I wanted to stay up for a while Friday night in order to talk to Chris when he was to return from Kansas City . When talking to Ari and Paul I heard several times that there was a 6:00 a.m. call for the actors to shoot a ‘woods scene’ somewhere outside of town. Knowing that no one would actually be ready to start shooting at six in the morning (I would have been surprised if they were shooting by 8:00 a.m.), and I knew I was going to be late picking up Joe Estevez to start shooting my film no matter when we started, I wanted to see if Chris could take charge and tell everyone to shoot with Robert Z’Dar first thing at, (as Chris originally told me) “the crack of dawn”. Some of the crew had bought a copy of SOULTAKER and we sat down in one of the dorm rooms to watch it. At first it was quite amusing to listen to everyone make fun of the film, resembling the commentary/riffing in the spirit of MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000. But it became an odd duality of intention when Joe Estevez and Robert Z’Dar appeared in the movie. They were in awe that these famous actors were going to be in their film and wanted to get their autographs, and yet they would make fun of the fact that these B-movie actors were in ZOMBIEGEDDON. Finally it was after midnight and everyone decided to try to get some sleep, and Chris wasn’t back yet. So I decided to wake up at 5:30 a.m., since the ‘zombies’ were told to report to makeup at five in the morning, and track down Chris and try to have him change the shooting schedule for Saturday.

I woke up at 5:30 a.m. to find two actors sitting outside waiting for someone to put on their zombie make-up, but no one else was awake. I walked into the section of the dorm with the make-up, costumes and food room hoping to see Chris asleep somewhere, but the lights were off and several people were snoring. I turned on lights and flushed toilets hoping to ‘accidentally’ wake someone up, but no one stirred. Well, one guy just rolled over and covered his head with the blanket. By 6:30 a.m. everyone started to drag themselves out of bed, and I learned that Chris had returned to Parsons at 4:00 a.m. It was another night for Chris where he had only about an hour of sleep. When I found him sitting up on a bed in the costume room and tried to talk to him about my predicament, he mumbled something about Z’Dar still asleep and we’ll shoot my scene after the woods scene. I realized he wasn’t coherent enough to argue the point, so I returned to take a quick shower and get my costume on so I would be ready at any time to film my scenes. After we watched everyone drive off to the shoot in the woods, Chris finally joined Randy and I at the picnic table and informed us that Robert Z’Dar’s plane was late due to mechanical problems and didn’t arrive to KCI until after 11:00 p.m. After arriving in Parsons at 4:00 a.m., Robert told Chris that he wanted at least five hours of sleep before shooting, which means he won’t wake up until after 9:00 a.m. and still won’t be ready to shoot for another hour. After I tried to explain that Joe would be kept waiting if I was late and he would be shooting later into the evening the later I leave Parsons, Chris slowly began to realize the implications of upsetting his other ‘star’ and got on his cell phone to Jim Siebert. By this time everyone was already at the location in the woods, and I could only imagine Jim’s response to Chris telling him he needed to come back to shoot Z’Dar’s scene, “Yeah, whatever! Keep shooting here!”

Chris sent a production assistant to bring Robert Z’Dar back to the dorms by 7:20 a.m. (but it was already 7:10 and I knew if Z’Dar was asleep he wasn’t going to rush to get here as soon as possible) and called Jim again to tell him to be back in an hour. I don’t think Chris was happy with the response, so he asked if Randy and I wanted to go with him to the woods location and see what they’re doing. We had nothing else to do, so we followed him out to find Jim and Damon filming Paul and Ari being followed by a single zombie sneaking around in the trees. (I think over the week they had fewer and fewer people show up willing to be zombies. The one actor still willing to play a zombie, named John or J.R., was actually quite proud of the fact that he had played several different zombies and had been killed several times in the film. He was hoping he might be setting some sort of record for the number of times one actor had been ‘killed’ in one film.) As Randy and I stood back, Chris talked with Jim, who obviously wasn’t very happy, as Randy recalled, “To be fair, Chris allowed that to happen. And so the Director of Photography quite rightfully would be mad that he was halfway through his shoot, that he felt he was being yanked around and pulled from what he was doing there to go do something else when he was already set up for (the ‘woods scene’). Although it probably would not have been a big break to just stop and go shoot (with Robert Z’Dar). It’s not like he had a big set to take down or something. It wasn’t that far from the other location. But I’m sure that he must have felt bad that he was being messed with. But as Jim and Chris were walking forward, Paul said something to Ari or to Jim about, ‘So are we going?’ And Jim said something to that. I don’t know what the first thing Jim said was exactly. But then you attempted to explain to Jim, ‘Well, I have an afternoon shoot. I need to leave at 10:30.’ And Jim (while staring right at you) quite angrily said, ‘We are doing this film today!’”

Needless to say we were surprised by this defiant, ‘don’t-F*CK-with-me’, attitude obviously directed right at me. At that point all I could do was look right back at Jim and say, “Well, I’m making my film THIS AFTERNOON!” I don’t think Jim was expecting such a response from me, and he just walked away to continue shooting in the woods. It was a stand off of two directors (again, Jim was one of several ‘directors’ on a production that really didn’t have a director in the first place) who were both frustrated about the situation they found themselves in and no time to get everything done.

Chris decided that we would just return to the dorms and shoot the footage of Z’Dar and myself with the other, smaller MiniDV camera that Josh had. Shortly after we returned to the dorms Robert Z’Dar arrived, and he was mad. He walked up to Chris, without acknowledging Randy and me, and told him, “I’m pissed! We need to talk!” Chris followed Z’Dar into a dorm room as we noticed the time: about 8:30 a.m. I looked at Randy and said, “I’m screwed.”

Chris came back out and said that Robert was upset he had to get up, and he’s back asleep in the dorm room. But he thought we could shoot some close-ups of me in the very first scene where we arrive. Since I’m just listening to Z’Dar talking, they would shoot the close-up of me walking and listening and then shoot the wide shot once our star was awake. So Josh sat in a wheel chair holding the camera, Chris pulled him backwards down a sidewalk in front of the dorms and Randy walked beside me reading Robert Z’Dar’s lines, and we shot about five to seven takes of me just walking and listening. Just when we got the shot they liked, everyone from the shoot in the woods suddenly pulled up and Jim walked up to me, shaking my hand and apologizing for earlier. Then he said they would go set up for the first scene with Z’Dar and myself and would be ready to start shooting as soon as Z’Dar was ready. I wasn’t sure what prompted such a turn around of attitude about the importance of the Robert Z’Dar shoot, but I tried to be a gracious as possible about the apology. 

Randy observed, “It was a very great polarity. It was a 180-degree turn from what he was before. He was very rude before, now he was very pleasant like nothing had happened.” However, this meant that the close-ups of me were worthless and unusable since the first scene was now going to be shot by the Main Building and not the dorms. It was now 9:30, and Jim wanted to start shooting by ten in the morning and he assured me, “We would be done in an hour.” Now everything would depend on Robert Z’Dar.

Randy Allen and Mark Adams wait to shoot with Robert Z'Dar for the film ZOMBIEGEDDON

Randy and I waited…and waited…and waited. By the time Z’Dar was awake, dressed and had his make-up on it was 10:30 a.m. Once we were in position and ready to start shooting our first scene it was closer to 11:00 a.m. I was surprised that when I finally met Robert Z’Dar he gave me a big smile and told me, and everyone there, to call him ‘Bobby Z’. At the time he was having problems with his hips, and walked with a cane. Jim was very accommodating and attentive to Z’Dar, making sure he always had a chair and a bottle of water nearby. Randy recalled, “The first shot you (and Z’Dar) did was coming around the side of the building and he felt very comfortable improvising bits and pieces and adding cuss words here and there, which he seemed to like doing. I was very surprised by how quickly he learned his lines. He has this long, rolling dialogue while walking down the side of the building and up these steps, and he just hit it – just gave the appearance of being perfect each take. And the cameraman, Jim, said, ‘Are you OK with that?’ Robert replied, ‘Well, if you are.’ And Jim said right back, in this sort of obsequious, ass-kissing, ‘Well, I am if you are!’ (Chuckles) Robert Z’Dar was great. I was very impressed with him right off. He was doing a fine job, particularly because he was in pain. He had his hip injury and had to walk around with a cane. And then had to go up stairs, which I’m sure was difficult for him. That was tough.”

By the second scene I was enjoying acting with Robert Z’Dar, as we worked together on the comic timing of our scenes and our character’s interaction. We ended up shooting the rest of the scene I began the day before, right after shooting Paul and turning to Z’Dar to say my line. When we shot the footage of me shooting the gun it was late afternoon and I was standing in the shadow of a building. When we shot the footage of Z’Dar and myself in the exact same spot, it was nearly noon and we were standing in the sun. It will prove to be a big continuity error when they sit down to edit the scene, but all I could think was, “it’s not my film. Oh well.” It was probably a terrible thing to say, but at that point I knew this shoot was pushing back my shoot at the farm to such an extent that I was worried if we had enough time to film all of Joe Estevez and Robert Z’Dar’s footage, let alone the entire movie. I knew then that I never wanted to schedule the beginning of one of my film shoots so close to the end of someone else’s shoot. It’s inevitable that things will fall behind.

Robert Z'Dar and Mark Adams finish the scene begun the day before

Robert Z’Dar had to take a little bit of time and rehearse his lines with Ari Bavel, as they set up for the shots where Ari finds Paul dead and Robert basically confronts Ari believing he’s the one that killed everyone and not the ‘zombies’. As Z’Dar rehearsed he would tell funny stories about his experiences working on various other movies, especially a recent one with Stacy Keach. I didn’t really listen very closely because my mind was on what I was going to do to salvage my shoot up in Smithville , Missouri . It was nearly noon and I was getting more and more impatient. I wanted to go up to Jim and say, “done in an hour? MY ASS!” but I didn’t. I didn’t want to create more of a problem than there already was.

Paul had to go lie down in the grass where he was shot the day before with blood all over his shirt. But he started getting hot and realized they weren’t getting ready to shoot the scene. Paul sat up and suddenly yelled, “Are we ready to do this? If not, I’m going on strike!” I didn’t think he was kidding. He was starting to get quite mad about having to lie there in the hot sun when no one was ready to start shooting. (I guess can you blame him? I mean no one offered to go over and hold an umbrella over him to provide a little bit of shade. It was obvious that everyone was becoming more and more cranky on Saturday, unable to hide their frustrations as well as before.) So they rushed over to start shooting with Paul, and they started the scene. Jim looked up and motioned me to go cuff Ari (with an expression like ‘why aren’t you going?’ – No one had told me anything about what I was suppose to be doing in this shot). The first take I tried to cuff Ari, but discovered his arms were too big and the cuffs didn’t fit. So that first take was useless, as I couldn’t get the handcuffs on. Jim said to start to cuff his first wrist and they would tilt up to Ari’s face, so I would just pretend to cuff the other hand. Take two: I pretend to cuff Ari’s hands and I try to stand him up. At this point Ari was crying out at the beginning of the shot because he was acting like his character is upset about his partner’s death, so when he cried out when I tried to stand him up I thought he was still acting. But he wasn’t acting. Apparently Ari had a bad knee, and when I tried to pull him back and up he was crying out in pain. We had to stop and work out how to get Ari up after hand cuffing him. Paul, still getting hotter and crankier, finally started yelling at Ari and me, “What the Hell is going on? Don’t you guys have this blocked out? Don’t you know what you’re doing?” I didn’t want to say no, in case Paul then went on strike and delayed things even more. So we did another take and it was good enough.

Then as we set up for the big dialogue scene where Robert Z’Dar confronts Ari with a speech full of every curse word you could think of, Jim Siebert and Damon Abraham suddenly realized that their battery was dead and they left the other one back at the woods location. They raced off as everyone sat back down and listened to Robert Z’Dar tell more stories of movies he’s worked on. I just paced back and forth out on the sidewalk, until Ari tried to come out and say we were welcomed to sit with everyone. (Ari was a good guy, and I’m sure he could see how I was getting more and more upset about the whole situation.) Randy and I joined everyone and we waited…and waited…and waited. Even Paul looked around and asked, “What are we waiting for?” When Jim and Damon finally arrived nearly 30 minutes later they apologized for not recharging the batteries the night before, and basically recharged one with enough power to get through the rest of the scene. When Robert Z’Dar completed his confrontation scene, I was actually impressed with his performance. He’s an actor so well known for his unusual face, and has been in so many bad films, that people don’t realize how good of an actor he really is. The final shot of our final scene is when Robert Z’Dar and I drive off with Ari in the back seat to take him to jail. The first take Z’Dar told me to just peel off, since I was driving. It was Chris Watson’s car that we were using (and I assume it was his parents four door ‘OldsmoBuick’) and we didn’t exactly screech our tires when we took off. But there was a stop sign about 20 feet away and I began to slow down. Z’Dar told me to run it and I did, but they wanted a second take where I didn’t start to slow down and simply run the stop sign. As Chris made sure there was no cross traffic, we shot the second take where I ran the stop sign. Because there was a slight bump at the intersection, the car bottomed out and a loud scrapping noise could be clearly heard. Again I shrugged and said to myself, “it’s not my car.” (Chris didn’t seem to mind either, probably for the same reason.)

The Movie Poster for ZOMBIEGEDDON

When we were done shooting it was after 12:30 p.m. and I knew we had already lost most of the afternoon for filming my movie at the Battmer farm. Even if we got up to Kansas City in two hours, it would be 3:00 by the time we would reach Joe Estevez’s hotel, and after 4:00 by the time we get to the farm, set up the equipment and would actually start shooting. I called Andy Battmer to tell him we just finished shooting and we were going to be late. He said that he would meet us up at the farm. I asked him to call Hedrick Allen and Adam Leatherwood to tell them we we’re going to be later than we thought. Andy said he would let Hedrick know, but added, “Adam can’t make it today. I thought he said he told you.” I later found out that he had emailed me after I had left for Parsons, so I never got his message. He needed to study for his bar exam the following weekend, and I understood why he was busy. But losing Adam was the least of my worries, so I changed out of my costume and Randy and I hit the road after 1:00 p.m. After making a wrong turn (it was my fault – I guess I wasn’t thinking straight at that point) we headed up 69 Highway towards Kansas City . By 3:00 p.m. we were nowhere near Kansas City. After seeing a sign with, “Kansas City 82 miles” I knew Chris Watson’s estimation, “Kansas City  is about 2 hours away” was as wrong as, “We’ll be done in an hour.” It was, in fact, about a three and a half hour drive (unless you were going over 100 mph, like I’m sure Chris did at three in the morning). 

As I continued to drive I tried to think of what I could do to salvage my Saturday film shoot at the farm. I thought about cutting down the amount of scenes and footage that Joe’s character of Brad would need to be in, if he couldn’t shoot late into the evening. I thought about throwing out the script all together, and just saying to Joe, “What would you like to shoot for a horror movie?” We could shoot some short, bizarre, improvised scenes for an experimental film version of the script. I even thought we could pick up Joe, go up to the farm and cook the burgers and brats, drink some beers and when Chris shows up with Robert Z’Dar invite them to join us since his late ZOMBIEGEDDON shoot ruined any chance of me finishing my film. The last thing I thought of was to offer Joe the part of Kyle, the farm owner who shows up at the end of the film in just one scene. Randy didn’t think he would go for that idea, since it was a smaller role than Brad.

We arrived to the Raddison Hotel along I-29, exit 13, near Kansas City International Airport (KCI) just before 4:00 p.m. As Randy waited downstairs, I went up to Joe’s hotel room to talk to him and apologize. I walked into Joe’s hotel room and met Joe’s childhood friend, Mike, who came in to see him from Ozark , Missouri . We sat down and I tried to offer the different choices of what could be done with the little time we had left. He sat back in his chair listening carefully to every suggestion. I said we could try to cut down the amount of shots and dialogue that his character, Brad, had in the film. There was no reaction from Joe. I jokingly said we could improvise an experimental film. There was still no reaction. I once again apologized for being late and said if he didn’t want to be in the film I would understand. No reaction. I finally threw out the idea of him playing Kyle, who shows up at the end of the film for just one scene and we could have his footage shot and done in about an hour. Joe sat up and told me that was a great idea. He said ‘let’s go’ and headed for the door. We said good-bye to his friend, Mike, collected Randy and headed to the farm. 

Randy remembered the drive with our guest, “(Joe Estevez) talked about different things (on the drive up to the farm). He talked about really liking the script. He thought it was really interesting. He liked the Jeff character. He asked you about your schooling and background, and I don’t know if he asked you if your films were distributed or not. I made the mistake of calling him ‘sir’ again and he corrected me and told me to call him ‘Joe” again. (Chuckles) Something was said about Ohio . The hilly areas reminded him of Ohio (where he grew up). And he asked me where I was from and I told him I was from Oklahoma , and he mentioned his first film, I guess, was the story of Pretty Boy Floyd. It was either filmed there or dealt with the character from there. I told him the story of my Grandmother having some association with Floyd. And we got to the farm and he was very impressed by just the sight of the house.”

When we arrived to the Battmer farm I quickly unloaded the equipment and started setting up the camera and lights in the living room. I had every shot planned out and marked in the script so I wouldn’t take a lot of time to try to figure out what we were doing and where. All of Joe’s shots were from the same angle in the living room, so we wouldn’t need to move the lights around once they were in place. Joe sat outside looking over his script and enjoying a soda. I wish I had taken a photo of him seeming to enjoy the tranquil rural setting of the farm as he looked over his lines, but I was too busy trying to get everything ready inside. Hedrick was still there with Andy waiting for us, and I apologized for keeping them waiting and explained why I was late. Since it was already after 5:00 p.m. I asked if Andy could start up the grill so we could eat when we’re done shooting with Joe Estevez. Later I felt bad about that because Andy and Hedrick spent most of their time out at the grill as we shot with Joe in the house. I was afraid they felt like I exiled them to the grill to make us dinner and leave us alone, but they seemed to not mind.

The Farm Owner confronts the intruders

Joe Estevez waits for his cue in Smithville, Missouri

Because Joe was playing Kyle I had to step into the role of Brad, which I wasn’t prepared for since I was planning to stay behind the camera for such a short and intense shoot. It turned out that I had to be in half of the shots with Joe, with Randy standing just off-camera. So it was the old trick of locking off the camera on the tripod, start recording and leaving it unmanned as we acted out a scene. But with the first shot Joe proved to be a great actor. He had a great intensity that made the character of the farm owner come to life and compelling. He looked and acted like someone who had seen and been through a lot while living with evil. In between takes he did have some fun with ‘The Gun Dance’ and taking the unintentional cue from Randy when he asked if he wanted to wipe off the sweat on his face to reply, “why, do you want me to remove the SHEEN off of my face?” and then turned to the camera, took a bow and said with a smile, “Thank you! I’ve been waiting all week to say that! Thanks for the cue!”

"This is a place of lost souls and evil thoughts..."

Having fun shooting with Joe Estevez

Randy recalled working with Joe Estevez, “(Joe) does the first scene where he comes around the corner, and it just struck me how convincing – how good of an actor, how wonderful an actor he really is. There was one point where he delivered some kind of line as I was standing next to the camera, and he delivered it in such a creepy manner that it was unnerving. It scared me a little but because he was making direct eye contact with me and saying these scary things, and I can’t be rude and look elsewhere because I’m being creeped out by this. So I kept looking at him so he knows I’m reacting to this. And I kept thinking, ‘Oh, God! This is scaring the Hell out of me!’ He was thoroughly convincing - a wonderful performance. I know that after one of the takes you started clapping and I just began clapping at almost the same point. It was almost simultaneous that we both had the same reaction to his delivery of one of his lines. And he said something extremely modest like, ‘Oh, you’re too kind.’ But it was wonderful. I don’t know that he messed up any lines at all. Joe would do these takes and you would say, ‘Could you do this?’ And I was just standing next to the camera looking at you and thinking, ‘What is wrong with you? He just did this great performance and you’re going to ask him to do it again? Are you crazy?’ Every performance he did was just brilliant! He was a very professional actor. Afterwards I thought about those guys last night saying all of those terrible, mocking things about SOULTAKER. I thought, ‘If you had been standing here watching him do it as he does it, you wouldn’t say any of those things whatsoever because it was an incredibly good performance.’ "


Click here to see the behind-the-scenes story of filming with Joe Estevez for "LOST SOULS"/"MINDS OF TERROR"


Has the Farm Owner gone insane...?

We were done in an hour and Joe seemed to be happy with the shoot. He suggested that he leave his shirt with us, in case we needed to shoot a reverse angle and someone else could wear it. I traded a t-shirt with ‘Yes I Can’ graphic for a basketball camp at Barton County Community College printed on the front. (I’m sure he’ll wear it with pride.) I did a quick interview with Joe in Andy’s living room at the farm. When I asked him about how he got involved in this film he responded, “I have a good friend by the name of Bobby Z’Dar. Bobby Z’Dar of MANIAC COP and TANGO AND CASH. I do not know how in the world he got in touch with this fellow named Chris Watson, who like Mark is a movie maker here in Kansas and Missouri . I don’t know how my friend, Bobby, got a hold of him but he said, ‘Man, these guys are making art down here! They’re making dynamite films. Come on down and work with these kids. See what they’re doing.’ I had just finished a gig, and I think it was like two days and I had to be there. So the timing was perfect. I came down and Chris was marvelous. Mark is marvelous! And Kansas is a great place. I’m from Ohio – reminds me of Ohio. So that’s how I got involved here. But I’ve worked in 46 of the 50 states and there’s really innovated, unique, sometimes brilliant filmmakers all over this country. And to be a filmmaker like yourself, you know Mark, you don’t have to be in Hollywood. Well I pretty much have to be there because when you’re looking for actors that’s where you mostly go. But there’s some unique stuff that is being created all over this country, and I’ve done of a lot of them and I’m very proud to be a part of it. I’m very proud to be a part of this film.”

I asked what he remembered the most about the shoot at the farm, and he replied, “That you were such a nice guy. (Smiles) That, really, you are so easy to work with - that you hire an actor and you let him do what he is best at doing. You don’t try to control that performance, you just let it go. And if there’s something you don’t like you say ten good things about me and then you say, ‘but there’s just this one little thing that maybe you can try different’. It’s you that is my most favorite thing about this. Really, you’re quite a marvelous filmmaker. It’s very hard for us to stand outside of ourselves and appreciate our own work. But I hope you do, because you’re very popular and you’re very well respected in this area and in Hollywood . It’s a shame that you’re films aren’t as widely distributed as they should be, but they very well could be in the next couple of years.”

My final question was his impression of the script when he first read it, and Joe recalled, “I thought (the script) was unique. I thought there was a lot of almost double entendres - that the charatcers were almost repeating the other character’s lines but with a total different intent. And I love the rhythm and the feel of it. And that these two characters (of Jeff and Brad) who seemed so benigned, 14 pages later lay dead on the floor and there’s a mass killer loose, and ghosts and goblins and boogey men all over the place. And it just happens so quietly! And it happens so easily. It guides you into the story so easily and so naturally that there you are with all of this carnage surrounding you and there’s no surprise – well, of course! So I appreciate it – it’s very, and I don’t know if you can say something with a supernatural script, but it was very natural! The flow of it, and we were talking earlier that scripts have a rhythm, and I think you have a natural talent to find that rhythm and to work within that framework.”

Dinner with Joe Estevez at the Battmer farm

With perfect timing Andy walked in just as we finished and said the grill was ready, and Randy, Joe and I joined Andy to have dinner. Unfortunately Hedrick had to leave before this, and was only able to watch us shoot for about ten minutes. We sat and ate dinner and ended up talking for over two hours, watching the sunset and the fireflies. Joe seemed to really enjoy the time we spent together. I knew we were losing valuable shooting time by sitting and talking with Joe, but I knew it was a unique opportunity to talk with someone famous and get to know Joe Estevez as a person and not just an actor and celebrity. I could see that Randy and Andy were enjoying the discussion of films, politics, religion and life in general. Joe himself seem to be enjoying the time sitting and relaxing on a beautiful farm talking with us, so I didn’t want to rush him out and back to the hotel. Randy remembered, “(After dinner Joe Estevez) talked about his background growing up. He talked about some of his career aspects. He talked about politics and personal philosophies. He talked about his family and religion. He sang us this short little stanza of an Irish Folk song that his mother would sing to him. He made a comment about growing up in Dayton , Ohio hating the British, even though he had never been to England or ever met anyone English. But he hated them because of this great Irish Catholic background. And he sang us this really pretty song, but the last line was something like, ‘Bite them in the ass!’ – in this kind of pretty melody. And he sang it in a pleasant manner with an Irish accent, and I’m thinking, ‘Oh, Gosh! I wish I had this on tape!’ And he was talking about how two of his daughters had never seen fireflies, and that was great because as we were sitting out there gradually fireflies starting appearing everywhere, and you could just see he was loving that. I was so happy that he could just rest and experience something fun because he had made comments about living in Hollywood and everything was so noisy and so busy. I don’t know if he enjoyed the shooting we did but I think he earnestly enjoyed that part afterwards, which I’m very happy for.”

Another reason I didn’t rush to get back to filming was to wait for Robert Z’Dar to show up. Chris Watson was bringing Z’Dar to the farm so we could film his few shots in three different locations, and it was planned that as soon as he showed up we would stop what we were doing and just shoot his footage so he could leave as quickly as possible. Rather than start one scene and then have to stop, move all of the equipment around and then go back to what we were doing later, I just wanted to wait for Z’Dar. But it was after 9:00 p.m., the stars and moon were coming out and I knew they would not be able to find a farm in the middle of nowhere in the dark. When Joe was ready to get back to his hotel at 10:00 p.m. to meet his friend, Mike, Randy and I drove him back.

When we returned to the farm Andy told us Chris Watson had tried to call me. Within five minutes Chris called back and I answered the phone. He told me Robert Z’Dar was unable to come to the farm to shoot. Chris said that they were filming “in the caves in Kansas City” on Sunday and maybe they could still get Robert Z’Dar up to the farm before his shoot, or Ari Bavel volunteered to play the Dark Angel for me as well. I told Chris I didn’t need either actor and that I could shoot someone in Great Bend to play the part or rewrite the script to eliminate the character all together. I said the footage with Joe Estevez was so good that I didn’t think we needed Z’Dar. Chris seemed OK with this and I wished him luck on his shoot Sunday. I didn’t want either Z’Dar or Ari because it was Saturday night and all we had shot for my film was Joe Estevez’s footage. I originally wanted the majority of the film shot by this time, and I knew I had to shoot everything the next day. So I didn’t want to take the time to deal with Robert Z’Dar Sunday and fall further behind. It was late, after 11:00 p.m. and at first I thought about trying to shoot for a couple of hours. But everyone was tired (I had been up since 5:30 a.m.) and I thought it would be better to get some sleep and start shooting earlier in the morning. So we went to bed in order to rest up for the long, hot day of shooting on Sunday.

We were up and ready to shoot Sunday morning by 9:00 a.m., and we basically began shooting the film in chronological order of the story. Randy, Andy and I went out to shoot the opening shots of the film with Jeff arriving to the farm. Even at ten in the morning it was becoming hot out, and we tried to quickly shoot the exterior footage of Randy approaching the house and Andy following him while carrying a knife. We quickly went inside to shoot my character of Brad taking Jeff into the bathroom to help clean up his wound, and it is revealed that Jeff has amnesia. With the video lights set up it was hot in the small bathroom, but we were able to get the scene done in a short amount of time. But there was one thing we couldn’t avoid – in the heat I was sweating profusely with my face always completely covered in sweat. So we had to improvise a line where my character adds, “We’re stuck in the middle of nowhere, on the hottest day of the year, with no air conditioning!” We were able to turn a problem into a useful part of the story, and help explain the obvious discomfort of the actors. 

Filming the bathroom scene


Randy Allen and Mark Adams endure the heat as filming slowly continues

For the rest of the afternoon we shot the scenes in the house that lead up to Jeff leaving the farmhouse to find help at a neighbor’s. The heat was incredibly disabling, and Andy was feeling ill and had to lie down. As he tried to lay still and rest, Randy and I continued shooting. I found myself slurring a line about seeing shadows on a wall, and I had to change the line because the heat wouldn’t allow me to do otherwise. Since Robert Z’Dar wasn’t going to be in the film, and the Dark Angel character was eliminated, the scene in the barn had to be changed. Originally Jeff would see someone walk into the barn and follow them inside, where he would be confronted by the Dark Angel. We wanted to improvise something else to happen to Jeff in the barn, but we only had time to use what was available. We came up with a scene where Jeff approaches the barn, and a door in the loft mysteriously opens. He enters the barn and a door suddenly closes by itself, trapping him inside. He makes his way to the loft where Andy’s ghostly character confronts him and forces him to run away and trip into a gate, knocking Jeff out. We finished the scene just as the sun was setting, and when we got back to the house Andy told us he needed to get back to his home in Kansas City so he could get some sleep before having to go into court in the morning. (He worked at a KC law office.) So we quickly set up and filmed his last shot in the movie, and when he left we drove into Smithville to get a late dinner. We went through the drive thru of Burger King (Randy didn’t want to take off the make-up nor go inside, and I didn’t want to spend the time in a restaurant) and returned to the farmhouse to eat.

Andy Battmer in his final appearance as the Apparition

At this time it was nearly 10:30 p.m. and we still had four major scenes left to shoot. Randy was quickly realizing that we were going to be filming after midnight. In the back of my mind I knew I could wait to shoot a scene in the kitchen at the end, and if we needed to we could skip it completely. It was a spooky scene where Jeff goes into the kitchen and sees the back door start to shake violently, as if something wanted inside. But when Brad walks in the shaking has stopped. It would have been a spooky scene, but it wasn’t necessary for advancing the plot. In the end we never filmed the scene. 

We began to shoot the scene where Randy’s character arrives back to the farmhouse after it’s dark and he had been unconscious in the barn. Randy did a wonderful job showing how mad his character was becoming about the whole situation, that during a rehearsal I thought Randy was actually mad at me. When we started filming the scene where our characters listen to the radio, and there’s a news report about an escaped killer on the loose near Smithville and we both look at each other suspiciously, we realized that by sitting at the dining room table we felt relaxed and thus tired. We were able to energize things with the scene where Jeff and Brad face off. I end up with a knife in my hand and Randy is holding a wooden cane for self-defense. This is where Joe Estevez’s character arrives, and we continued shooting all of the reverse angles of Randy’s dialogue during Joe’s scene. It’s now about two in the morning, and we started filming Jeff and Brad’s fight scene. My character gets shot after we fight for the gun, and eventually Jeff regains his memory about being the killer and ends up shooting Joe’s character. For the entire movie I wanted my character not to wear glasses, and for the entire shoot I made sure I didn’t have my glasses on when the camera was rolling…except for the fight scene at 2:30 in the morning. I realized what I did and re-shot the fight without losing my composure. (I was just TOO DAMN TIRED at that point. Earlier in the evening I had lost it and started attacking the couch after I realized the microphone wasn’t plugged into the camera for a short time.) We filmed one final chunk of dialogue between Jeff and Brad and decided to call it a night at 3:00 a.m.

Vandoren regains his memory

Filming ends at 3:00 a.m.

I was surprised I didn’t sleep in past 9:00 a.m., but it was getting to be so hot in the house again I was uncomfortable and decided to get up and start packing all of the equipment…after a nice, cool shower of course. We had just one scene to shoot Monday morning, where Jeff leaves the house the next morning after killing Brad and Kyle. This was to bring the short segment back into the main segment of MINDS OF TERROR. Compared to the previous two days, the shoot went quickly and by 11:00 a.m. we were on the road back to Great Bend .

Randy later told me, “As a result (of the whole experience that weekend) I’ve grown to appreciate how structured your shoots are. You have all of your shots lined up – what you’re going to do here and here. And it’s just the duration of time to move the camera and readjust the lights and then you’re off to do the next shot. It just struck me how disorganized the shoot in Parsons was, and that’s what everyone reacted to. And I’ve grown to appreciate how organized all of your movies have been - and because there was also humor (on your shoots). The experience with Joe was just great – words can’t describe how great that was. As far as I’m concerned that’s a kind of milestone in my life. Even through those difficult things, it was just a wonderful experience to meet him and to work with him. But I would really like to know what Joe thought – especially comparatively – what he thought of the experience. I’d like to think he enjoyed the experience (shooting the farm segment). It was an adventure. (Chuckles) I’m really happy to end this on a sort of positive note. (The shoot at the Battmer farm) may end up being my favorite of all of them – at least I hope so. Certainly the experience (in making the film) will be my favorite out of all of them.”

I started editing the segment together, and needed a title for the short film that I wanted to make from it. On the shooting script I had under MINDS OF TERROR the alternate title THE UNKNOWN TERROR, as a reference to my earlier film THE UNKNOWN HORROR. But I decided to go with a title based on a line of dialogue that Joe Estevez liked, “This is a place of lost souls and evil thoughts. Evil attracts evil. There have been many murders here. I’ve tried to stop them, but they’re too powerful.” So LOST SOULS AND EVIL THOUGHTS (2002) was born, and to my surprise it was over 20 minutes long and worked well as it’s own short film.

I was happy with the finished short film, but was disappointed about not being able to film some of the more spooky scenes and footage because we didn’t have the time. Where I originally wanted up to three ghosts and an evil presence roaming around the farm, only one actually appears in the film: Andy Battmer. But it worked out where in the end the audience could have two different interpretations to what actually happened to Jeff. Either he really did see a ghost, or he was just crazy and/or was hallucinating. It made the focus of the story more on the characters of Jeff and Brad, and less on the supernatural elements of the film. Thus it became more of a suspense/mystery and less of a horror film.

            With the short segment completed, I had to begin production in Great Bend , Kansas on the longer, or main segment of MINDS OF TERROR and LOST SOULS. In many ways I felt like I was making an entirely new and different film. I had the re-written script where the college professor goes to the former mental health facility to investigate a murder and any possible ghosts, but something began to happen at work that caused me to re-think my re-write of the script.

            Since the nation’s economy had experienced a lot of problems after September 11, 2001 the ramifications were being felt on a state, and thus on a college, level. The state of Kansas was cutting back on their funding of education and Barton County Community College began to warn its employees about possibly having to lay off some of us due to budget problems. It turned out I was one of the people they were looking at, unfortunately. They had done a study of similar community colleges in central and western Kansas and discovered Barton was the only one with a full-time video production person. Everyone else simply hired a local TV station to shoot and edit commercials, and then had nothing else videotaped. But the final decision would not be made until near the end of the school year. I looked at my revised script and realized that it had an ensemble cast of about 6 people and a lot of shooting locations. I felt like I no longer had the time I wanted to spend on the production and post-production, especially if I got the word I’m to be let go and had to start looking for another job. (And I was going to go ahead and start looking for another job any way, since my wife and I were looking to move closer to our families in the Southeast.) So I made the decision to go re-write my re-write in order to make the production a little shorter and more manageable, logistically speaking. I went back to my original idea of the three college students finding Vandoren, but decided I liked the idea of someone going there to investigate ghosts rather than accidentally stumbling upon the former mental health facility. I made one of the character’s a female reporter for the college newspaper named Karla, with her brother, Bobby, who was a student photographer. Then the third student, Andy, became a friend who had seen ghosts at Stone Ridge when he was a child.

            Since my original choices of actors were no longer available I began to look for replacements. The first person I approached was Patrick McCaffery, the son of the Barton History Instructor Linda McCaffery. He was in a fall play called I HATE HAMLET with Randy Allen and another drama student named Matt Mazouch. Both Patrick and Randy thought Matt could play Andy. Patrick suggested Nicole Crawford for Karla. She had been in my previous film, END OF THE LINE, but only in a smaller role. I wasn’t sure if she was interested in playing the lead role in a horror movie, but she jumped at the chance to be in the film. With my principle actors lined up, I was ready to begin filming the main segment of MINDS OF TERROR.

Andy, Karla and Bobby search for ghosts in the Patient's Hallway

            The first day of shooting was the last Saturday of January, 2003. I decided to begin shooting in the ‘Patient’s Hallway’, where the ghosts are seen. But I knew that this particular location would be the most difficult to shoot, so I planned out every shot and storyboarded all of the scenes in the hallway. I decided to shoot one day with just the lead actors, and then another day with the ghosts and the leads. (I ended up shooting a total of three days in the hallway.) I knew there were a lot of dialogue scenes with just the lead characters, and if the actors playing the ghosts were there they would just be sitting around all day waiting for us to eventually get to their scenes. So I wanted to concentrate on the dialogue the first day, and shoot with the ghosts later so I could take more time to deal with them and their make-up.

Karla enters a patient's room on the first day of shooting the main segment

            Nicole remembered that first day, “The first day of shooting, when we were all there and they were asking me, ‘What’s it going to be like?’ Because I was the only person there, other than Randy (Allen), who had done this before. So it was kind of cute to see Pat and Matt thinking, ‘How do I do this…?’ That sticks out in my mind.”

            Patrick McCaffery recalled, “The first day of shooting in the hallway (was the most memorable), because it was the first time and I didn’t know what was going on. We were there ALL day and it was a little crazy. That day took a long time. But it was still fun. I enjoyed it. It just took forever.”

Mark Adams prepares to film Randy Allen in the Patient's Hallway

            For Randy Allen it was a strange experience, “It was a little uncomfortable because we had shot all of that former stuff in Smithville with Joe Estevez, and because of the filming there being so focused for that period (of three days) of no distractions at all – no phones, no TV, or other people – you just got on to what you were doing. It was great. You could just think about that. I mean that must be what a more professional, typical film (shoot) is like, because that’s all you’re doing all day. And so to come back to that (first day in the Hallway for the main segment) and filming this character (Jeffery Vandoren) again, this character seemed far more distant to me. I found it hard to get back into feeling who this person was. Partially because this character was in a different context than what the other part (at the farm) was and I wasn’t sure how he should be quite acting toward these people. I don’t feel I was (back into) that character until the torture scene where things were more nervous and more unsettled. (Chuckles) I’ve often thought I would like to go back and re-shoot everything we did that (first day of shooting). It’s not my favorite day either. (Laughs)”

Matt Mazouch, Patrick McCaffery and Nicole Crawford rehearse their lines on the road to Camp Aldrich

            The second day of shooting consisted of all of the exterior shots of the car breaking down and the Stone Ridge Mental Health Facility, which was in reality the Camp Aldrich Conference Center that I had used before in various films, including my 1995 horror film DEATHGRIP. My original thought was to shoot these exterior scenes when there was snow on the ground, to help convey the idea that the students were trapped at Stone Ridge due to the cold weather. But my memories of shooting the WIZARD OF OZ Kansas sequences in the snow and freezing temperatures back in 2000 made me reconsider. It was February, so the trees were barren of leaves to give it that creepy look of death and decay, and the actors will still be wearing their winter coats. So when the first Saturday in February was a comfortable 60 degrees out I decided to go ahead and shoot the exteriors.

Karla and Bobby ("That's Robert...") argue in front of Andy

            For Matt Mazouch it was a good call, “Shooting out at Camp Aldrich was really interesting. I really liked that. It was a nice day, and it would have been REALLY horrible if it had been a bad day. But it was a nice day and (we got) a lot of interesting shots there.”

            Patrick McCaffery recalled, “ Camp Aldrich – that was the best day because we were outside all day and it was so nice. I was there with Nicci and Matt and Randy, and you were there. It was great. We played on the toys (the various walls and platforms used for the A.B.L.E. Ropes Course at Camp Aldrich ) and got a bit of good filming done. We got a lot done that day.”

Mark Adams prepares to film in the woods near Camp Aldrich

            For Randy Allen it was a better start of filming the main segment, “I enjoyed that (day of filming at Camp Aldrich). If I were to point to something I really enjoyed I think I would say I really enjoyed that section – maybe because it was so short. (Smiles) I got to watch everyone else do their stuff in the woods and the section where you (holding the camera) chased Matt through the woods. That was fun to watch because I could imagine what that would look like later. But we got really silly after that. I don’t know quite where that silliness came from.”

Filming on location at Camp Aldrich

            The ‘silliness’ that Randy mentioned was the last shot of the day, where I was frantically trying to get the shot of Vandoren walking out to find the three students at the back door. The sun was going down and we were losing the light quickly, and I didn’t want to have to bring everyone back out another weekend just to get this one shot. But for some reason no one could keep a straight face when they should have been standing there in this awkward moment of silence.

            Patrick remembered, “That last take we had to get before the sun went down – that was entertaining. We couldn’t stop laughing. I guess Randy just has a funny looking face. (Laughs) I don’t know. We just had to be serious and we couldn’t be. We’re not serious people.”

            Nicole Crawford remembered my reaction, “That was the time I think you got testy. I kept thinking, ‘Mark’s mad! Oh God! We better do this!’ And then we felt bad because we just couldn’t get the scene. (Laughs) And we were trying SO hard.”

            Matt Mazouch recalled, “I couldn’t stop laughing! I remember I punched the wall and my knuckles started bleeding because I was so angry I couldn’t stop laughing. You don’t want to be the guy who ruins the take as the sun is going down and you have to come back out here on another day…it’s kind of funny. You’re laughing but you’re angry. It’s totally weird.”

            We were able to get the shot done as the sun went down, by the way.

            The day we shot the exteriors at Camp Aldrich was February 1, 2003. That morning the Space Shuttle Columbia broke up during re-entry, killing the crew on board. I’m a fan and admirer of the manned space program and the especially the shuttle program, and vividly remember when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded after lift-off on January 28, 1986. I was a freshman at KU, and hoped I would never see another shuttle tragedy again. So when filming began at Camp Aldrich on February 1st, I was a little down about what happened to the Columbia . But filming with Randy, Nicci, Matt and Patrick proved to be a lot of fun and I was able to forget about the tragedy for a little while. It seemed like there were other factors weighing heavily on me as we were making MINDS OF TERROR, which I don’t think ever came across on the screen or in any performances. Besides the loss of the space shuttle there was also the whole downturn of the economy and my possible lay-off from the college always on my mind. Also the United States was sending more and more troops to the Persian Gulf and it was a continual question of ‘will we go to war with Iraq ?’ (The war began when I was editing the film.) But every time we got together to shoot for MINDS OF TERROR we had fun and I enjoyed working with the group of people who were kindly donating their free time to make a small, no-budget horror movie.

Mark Adams shooting again in the Patient's Hallway

            The longest day of shooting happened near the end of the production. Like many of my previous films made at Barton County Community College shooting for MINDS OF TERROR took place primarily on a Saturday afternoon, and thus it took several months to complete. Nicole Crawford became concerned that filming would continue until May, and she was becoming busy with various classes and projects at Barton. She said she was willing to film all day – morning, afternoon, and evening – so that we could get the film done sooner, which was something I wanted to do as well. So in one day we decided to do what would have taken us three weeks to shoot: the scenes of the ‘Monster in the Basement’, the ghosts in the Patient’s Hallway, and the Boiler Room Scene (or Torture Scene, as Randy called it).

Karla finds Vandoren in the basement

            Not only were the basement scenes shot in Randy Allen’s house, but I put a ski mask on him to portray the ‘monster’, as Randy recalled, “I’m not a young guy any more like these (college students), so playing the spirit person crouched behind piles of crap for (a long) time wasn’t the most comfortable thing; bent down and leaning back and forth like someone is praying or something so the shadow can be on the wall. I just felt like a cobra where you get this weaving, bobbing shadow on the wall. I think physically it was tough sitting behind (the boxes) like that. I enjoyed what we did down there. I liked the confrontation between Nicci’s character and Vandoren. There are so many nice things about this film. There is nice photography in this film. The basement stuff looks terrific visually. The torture scene with Matt in that chair with the light above him and all the blood on him looks really quite dramatic. The basement scene is like that – it’s just a good scene.”

Vandoren and the Ghosts of Stone Ridge appear in the Patient's Hallway

Nicole Crawford applies the blood make-up to the ghosts

            In the afternoon we shot the scenes in the patient’s hallway with the ghosts. In the beginning I had to shoot all of the footage with the actors in the patient’s costumes without blood, and then cut up the shirts and apply the make-up to shoot the ‘bloody’ aftermath. (I only had one set of costumes – this was a no-budget movie, remember?) Nicole Crawford wanted to be in charge of the make-up, as she explained, “(After doing the Hilltop Singers Haunted House during Halloween) I have an idea how (the blood make-up) should look. I’m very critical of these things. So if anybody’s going to criticize (the blood make-up in LOST SOULS) I’m going to criticize it so it might as well be my work. Boys don’t know what they’re doing when it comes to things like that because they don’t pay attention to detail! So I might as well do it. Maybe I got a little too much into it but it’s art! I don’t know, maybe I need help…I don’t know…(Laughs)”

The ghosts surround Vandoren

“There were moments for me that were really quite scary or just convincing. The filming of the ghosts in the hallway were really kind of scary for me – in a good way. A couple of the guys (playing the ghosts), Charlie and Jered, had this persistent expression as I turned back and forward that was rather frightening, actually! (Chuckles) There was a moment where I stepped back from that thinking, ‘I’m a little freaked out by this! I want to get away from these people!’ That was nice. I liked that. “ – Randy Allen

Karla finds Andy in the boiler room

            The evening was spent shooting the boiler room scene, where Karla finds her brother’s body and Vandoren slices up Andy. Nicole Crawford recalled, “I was looking forward to the last scene (in the boiler room). The basement scene was all right and I felt I had more of a grip on it. But that night was the scene I looked forward to through the whole movie, because that was more of a challenge as an actor. There’s Bobby being dead. But it was fun just tying Matt up and also seeing everything come together and being a part of that. It was a long night but walking away from it we felt we actually got a lot done that day and I can put the movie together in my head and see what it’s going to be like.”

Nicole Crawford, Matt Mazouch and Mark Adams filming the boiler room scene

            For over four hours Matt Mazouch was actually tied up in the chair during the filming, but he never complained. Because we only had the one sweatshirt for Matt, we had to shoot the scene in chronological order to help keep continuity as we kept adding more cuts and blood make-up. Matt remembered, “The last day of shooting (for me in the boiler room) was pretty fun. When I got all bloody – that was an interesting time. I’d never done anything like that before. I thought it was a good way to die. I really liked the death scene. I’m glad I got to do it.”

            As we started filming the footage where Vandoren began cutting and slicing Andy, we began to realize that Randy Allen seemed increasingly uncomfortable about doing these shots. Randy explained, “That really bothered me. I’ve experienced being cut and seeing a lot of blood and I’m kind of squeamish about that. Nicci did a really good job with the blood make-up, it was really convincing to me that this was real. And Matt did a terrific job of screaming, I was completely believing that I was hurting him. So it’s a testament to Nicci and Matt that they sort of freaked me out a bit when we were doing that (torture scene). I didn’t like that. I hoped that it would look good later but it sure was unpleasant doing it, though.”

Vandoren tortures Andy and Karla

“I went out that night (to a friend’s house after shooting the boiler room scene) and I had blood all over me and the cut-up shirt. I walked in and they all looked up at me and gasped, and said, ‘Oh my God! What happened to you?’ I said, ‘I got in a fight with this big guy outside. You’re lucky, he was trying to get into your house.’ After the initial two or three seconds they realized it was fake. But you could see the look on their faces (when they first saw me). (Smiles) It was a lot of fun.” – Matt Mazouch  

Vandoren confronts Karla as Andy suffers the consequences

“Matt screaming in the torture scene – that scared me! (Chuckles) I knew that was fake but that kind of scared me. For me, as a participant in those (patients hallway and boiler room) scenes, I was scared by what other people were doing. I think that demonstrates how good those scenes really are – even the participants are scared.” – Randy Allen  


Click here to see behind-the-scenes footage from the filming of the basement and torture scenes from "LOST SOULS"/"MINDS OF TERROR"

Randy Allen, Matt Mazouch and Mark Adams filming in the kitchen at the Stone Ridge Mental Heath Facility (Camp Aldrich)

            When filming was completed Randy Allen seemed a little ambivalent about making this film, as Randy explained, “It’s been a very odd experience. I think this film was unlike anything else I had done because there were long filming days. The circumstances were different with filming on location in Smithville. (Chuckles) That was a very unique experience...All of the other filming that was done on campus and at Camp Aldrich for the main segment were also long days. There were some really nice elements of silliness (during production) that were funny. I mean there wasn’t that much joking around during the Smithville shoot because we had a lot to get done. There were extremes in shooting. It was so freaking hot in the farmhouse in Smithville, and filming in the kitchen (at Camp Aldrich ) was so cold. As an experience it’s hard to put it in a little box and say what the experience was.”

Nicole Crawford, Matt Mazouch and Patrick McCaffery strike the classic 'Charlie's Angels' pose

            For Patrick McCaffery, it was a more positive experience, “I had so much fun doing this. I think everyone else did too. Everyday just flew by because we were having so much fun. It was a good experience.”

            Nicole Crawford recalled, “I had a really good time. It made me have a healthy respect for any kind of filmmaking and what goes into it. From what I read (in the script) in the beginning to what it is now – it turned out a lot differently from the way (the other actors) interpreted their characters versus how I interpreted their characters. So it was interesting to see how they shaped their characters into what they were. It was a really good experience.”

            Matt Mazouch remembered, “It was something I wanted to do years ago when I saw SOMETHING on the Cougar Channel. I thought, ‘I really want to do a movie.’ I had a good time. I’m glad I got to do it. I liked it. It was a lot of fun.”

            After I had cut the main segment together and sent the tape off to Chris Watson to be edited into MINDS OF TERROR, I started editing my own version of the feature-length film with my own music and credits. (I did not use the two short segments done by Chris starring Eric Spudic and Conrad Brooks .) I decided to call my version of the feature-length film LOST SOULS (2003), and took the main segment and made it a separate short film called STONE RIDGE (2003).  

The beginning of the end for Vandoren

Karla tries to overcome her fears

            After the premiere of LOST SOULS in the Barton County Community College Fine Arts Auditorium, Nicole Crawford told me, “I liked it. It was scary. There are some really, REALLY good moments. I liked the scenes in the kitchen and after the car breaks down. I thought the serious stuff with Matt and Randy and me (in the boiler room) turned out really well. I was really impressed with how that turned out – especially the slashing. Watch it with the lights turned off and get scared!”

            Patrick McCaffery also liked the final film, “I thought it was very well done, very well produced. I thought the editing was wonderful. Personally, it’s my favorite Mark Adams film yet! And I’m not just saying that because I’m in it, either! My favorite (scene) was Matt getting killed! That was the best! I just want to watch it over and over again. It looks very realistic and I liked it. It was good to do it and I want to do it again.”

            Matt Mazouch told me, “It was nice to see it all put together. I liked it. I liked it more probably because I was in it! (Chuckles) I really enjoyed the film and thought it was a great experience. I’d definitely do it again.”

            I was really curious to know what Randy Allen thought after seeing the completed film. Would he like the movie? Would his perception of the experience of making the film change? I was surprised to find that Randy was very happy with LOST SOULS, “It’s the best one yet. It’s the best Mark Adams film I’ve ever seen. Anybody would be happy to see this movie: the warped, the insane, small dogs, Matt’s friends. (Chuckles) (My favorite scene in the movie is ) the boiler room scene. It’s brilliant. There were a lot of hard shoots, a lot of tough days, a lot of irritating moments. But one look at that 15 minute blooper reel is enough to think it’s all worth it because there were some really funny humor in there. That changed my whole perception of making this movie. Now that I’ve seen the final film – (there are) really some good acting in there by everyone. Nicci was extremely convincing crying over Bobby, although it was really ME (under the sheet doubling for Patrick) that she was crying over, which is a mark of a really good actress – that she can do that with a stand-in. In the scenes where the car breaks down, I really liked the way Nicci and Pat demonstrate that brother/sister relationship. I thought the boiler room scene – Matt’s screams of the repeated cutting (with the knife) were quite good. Every one of the screams sound great – especially where there is a slight whimper at the end of the scream. I’m very impressed every time I see (the boiler room scene). It was fun. I’d do it again if it could be this much fun. It’s my favorite one (of your films) now.”

Karla confronts her fears in LOST SOULS/MINDS OF TERROR

            Eventually Chris Watson completed the editing of MINDS OF TERROR, and had a screening of the film in Los Angels on March 26, 2005. One reviewer of the film, Annika Barranti had some good and bad things to say about the film. Her final comment sums it up, “The movie isn’t great, or even good, but it was kind of fun – especially when you consider the budget.” She did seem to like the farm segment with Joe Estevez, “It doesn’t work very well as a flashback, but the idea of two possible killers, one man with amnesia, stuck in a house together on the hottest day of the year has Hitchcock-type appeal.”

To read all of Annika Barranti’s review of MINDS OF TERROR visit:

The back of the original DVD cover

            A reviewer at The Dog Pile website, Ron Ford, had this to say about MINDS OF TERROR, “A little BLAIR WITCH, a little SESSION 9, this meandering, cerebral and budgetless horror movie is smarter than most budgetless horror movies. Great locations enhance the unease and claustrophobia that the film makers are at least trying for. The stuff with Conrad Brooks makes no sense at all, and the gore scenes are clumsy and infrequent. Forget that, though. The focus here is an attempt at building and sustaining atmosphere, and that is laudable, even if it is not quite up to the task. Worth your time.”

To read the mini review of MINDS OF TERROR at the Dog Pile Website visit:

The Ghosts of Stone Ridge

    MINDS OF TERROR is listed on the web site, and several people posted their reviews of the film. Lawrence Kazmarov from Kansas wrote, “Minds of Terror was shot on a low budget (we’re talking less than $100,000 here). That, however, does not slow it down or hinder filmmaker Mark Adams, who does a splendid job here. The performances are terrific, especially that of Joe ‘Don’t Call Me Martin Sheen” Estevez. Once you’ve seen Estevez in drivel like The Catcher or Blood on the Badge, it’s somewhat easy to discount his ability. That, however, would be wrong. With some real direction here, Estevez delivers a powerful performance that would make brother Marty blush. Newcomer Randy Allen is also interesting here as he seems to somehow channel The Hills Have Eye’s Michael Berryman…he comes across as something like Berryman playing the Angus Scrimm Tall Man character from Phantasm…Minds of Terror is an extremely creepy atmospheric film. Similar to films like The Others and the original Robert Wide version of The Haunting, director Adams works wonders with shadows and darkness—implication if you will—but without any real special effects. This little film is brilliant. At times the performances are a bit wooden and some scenes are a bit too slow, but make no doubt, Minds of Terror is the real deal. If there was anything I didn’t like it might have been the title, which fails to properly convey just what the film is about.”

    Guestar57 from Porterville, CA wrote, “Claustrophobic horror at its most un-nerving, Smells of GOTHICA and One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, If one could pigeon hole this authentic SCARE! The lead is played by Randy Allen, (who reminds us of the unearthly Michael Berryman) Sympathetic – yet pathological. The names are JOE ESTEVEZ, who shows up late in the picture, But gives a performance unseen on West Wing…This is a tight movie. It has a great story and camera work, the ultimate set, unknown leads WHO CAN ACT! We totally believed the film and story enveloped us in it’s padded walls. This film will cost Sanitoriums vacation dollars, seriously makes you think twice about kitchen utensils as harmless. What I didn’t like, is the sorry cover or ad-mat? Work on this, MOT and Adams deserve a better introduction.”


To read the reviews at the MINDS OF TERROR web site visit:

    Nearly 4 years after making MINDS OF TERROR, Chris Mackey took over Chris Watson’s ownership in the film and brought much needed enthusiasm and direction for the marketing and distribution of the unique, low-budget horror/thriller. Finally MINDS OF TERROR was released on DVD, with plans in the works for possible broadcast on a new cable channel dedicated to horror films, as well as becoming available on the, Monsterbash and Horrorfind websites.

Front cover of the current DVD

Back cover of the current DVD


Chris Mackey created a page for the film at the following address:


    In 2010 Chris Mackey wanted to 'repackage' the film for distribution and came up with a yet another name for the MINDS OF TERROR version - look for EVIL THOUGHTS on DVD!


   MJ Simpson of  Leicester , UK wrote a review of MINDS OF TERROR. He had some good and bad things to say about the film, which was to be expected, but overall he seemed to like the film. Here are some of the more positive things Mr. Simpson had to say; “This is an ambitious and intriguing horror picture that punches above it’s weight…The editing, as mentioned before, is often terrific, especially in the transitions between one reality and the next…when all is said and done, MINDS OF TERROR is a fun little Z-movie with a few clever bits in its favour and a few less clever things to its detriment. It doesn’t have pretensions and it features a cast & crew (all one of him) with some skill and talent…But MINDS OF TERROR is a credible effort which succeeds in making something out of (almost) nothing.”

Click here to read the full review from MJ Simpson in Leicester, UK:

    I wrote back to Mike Simpson to thank him for the review, and to my surprise he wanted to interview me about the making of MINDS OF TERROR, low-budget filmmaking in general, and the first film I worked on in L.A. so long ago; PRINCESS WARRIOR, for his website. 

Click here to read the beginning of my interview:


    Mike Simpson sent me a message about his first screenwriter credit in a short film made in England called WAITING FOR GORGO. It sounds like a great film - I would love to see it when it's done!. 

    For those of you who don't know, GORGO was a 1961 Monster Movie made in England about a large man in a costume...oops - I mean a large creature rampaging through London. (Their version of a GODZILLA movie, I guess.) I first saw it on Mystery Science Theater 3000 and even with it's 1961 special effects and cheesy quality I did like the movie itself. But I'm a sucker for monster movies like that.

    WAITING FOR GORGO is - as Mike Simpson, the screenwriter describes it - a "semi-sequel" that takes place over 40 years later, and there's a long-forgotten department of the British Government being audited that only exists to deal with Gorgo if it returns to wreak havoc once again. 

    Again, it sounds like a great premise for a short film and I hope we'll be able to see it soon here in the United States.

Click here to read about the film on Mike Simpson's website:


Click here to read about the film on the Fangoria Magazine's website:


    MINDS OF TERROR was reviewed in Russia in 2010 with an overall positive critique (This was taken directly from the review, and this is his translation); "Never a masterpiece, but it is a decent movie. The film begins as a measure of atmospheric "pugalka" for fans of "houses of ghosts", but gradually grows into a mystical, philosophical drama, reminiscent of...recent series of "Hellraiser". For a film with such a diminutive budget - almost a masterpiece. Rating: 4/5...the hero Randy Allen - magnificent. Sinister bald uncle, pushing the philosophical carts, with menacing ehidtsey in eyes...Joe Estevez - cult actor of numerous bi-muviz. He had a small roll of the owner of the farm, but how expressively played...his facial expressions, especially his eyes give vozmozhnst to experience the tragedy and doom of the characters...The result: a minimalist budget impact on the special effects, but did not stop to make a unique, atmospheric film, which looks with interest and remains in the memory at least some good scenes. The scene of torture, for example, you are unlikely to soon forget."

    Some of those words must not have an English version, like 'ehidtsey'. 

    The reviewer didn't seem to like the three students in the film though, stating that Karla was "not sexual" and all three were; "constantly sobachatsya among themselves on a completely stupid reasons." Again, his direct translation. But it was quite a pleasant surprise to see that a copy made it to Russia for someone to see and review!

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