Day 7. The final days of Hack Movies. They started out bitter sweet, but with promise. By now my movie making family just wanted to work all the time. I was in a better relationship and we’d decided to move in together. So for the first time in my filmmaking career, I was able to use my own home as a base of operations and my relationship as emotional support. Nick Head had been doing a TON of other cinematography work between Hack Movies and was really hitting his stride. So when I wanted to make a Christmas themed, makeup and monster heavy movie, he, and the rest of the crew were right there ready to do the work.
But already in the back of my head I knew I was getting older. I wasn’t making any money off of these movies even though I was hitting a global audience. Nobody wanted to distribute films that sounded like pornos but weren’t hardcore enough to cater to the actual porno crowd. The little voice in my head that had always been a source of strength. An unwavering knowledge that I was talented enough, and that my crew was talented and dedicated enough to make our dreams a true reality. That voice was failing me.
The same distributor offered me the same deal, basically saying, “Let’s try again. Maybe Netflix will take this one.” But I knew in my heart that Hack Movies would never be Netflix material. I also knew in my heart that I had no interest making boring mainstream movies. I was stuck between a passion for magical movie making that couldn’t pay the bills, and the need to have a real world income to support my family.
Undaunted, I wrote what I think is the Hack Movie with the most heart. I credit this with the love and support of my home life and my movie family. I wanted to make a flick that we could pop in every Christmas to make us feel good. It was still full of offensive humor, monsters, and even Santa Claus rape. But it was a feel good flick none the less. A feel good flick for Hack Minions and weirdos!
I brought in as many Hack actors as I could. TimO played the mutant minion Rocco. Nick Head reprised his hilarious role as Don Duepe from DEAD SHIT and for the final time, I got to work with David Wayne Black playing himself in a meta-role as Hack Movies actor DWB inside of a Hack Movie. I love Dave. He was a dude I always wanted to see succeed. After Hack Movies we still stayed in contact, albeit sporadically all through the final days of his battle with cancer. I always intended for Wolfram and Windgate to have one final wild ride where Windgate comes back from hell after they’re killed in COCKHAMMER with Wolfram having to enlist the help of Nixon and Hogan to stop him. I’ve considered novelizing the script and dedicating it to Dave. I don’t know. I still might.
We shot SMOKE CHRISTMAS faster than any previous effort even though the FX were so complex. So complex, in fact, that FX Master PJ got into huge trouble with his wife for keeping his daughter out way too late while applying makeup for the big demonic climax scene with Sasparilla. Speaking of Sasparilla, she was played by the wonderful Triplesix, a local St. Louis area personality who is WAY too cool and busy to be messing around in Kevin Strange flicks, but graciously showed up to every long shoot date and humored me by reciting ridiculous lines and performing vile sacrilegious acts on priests and Christmas icons without ever complaining once. She even showed up to the premiere and sat in front of my friends while they unknowingly talked loudly about how hot she was!
Another actor I got to move up to a feature role was TBag Bech. He’d been doing small cameo spots for me for years. He’s the guy drinking piss in the COLONEL KILL opener. He’s the waiter in STIFF JOBS. The runaway demon in COCKHAMMER and he appeared in various promo skits over the years. He was also a huge junkie so I wouldn’t ever trust him enough to cast him in a feature role. I finally gave in and cast him as Santa in SMOKE CHRISTMAS even though I knew he was lying to me when he said he was sober. In spite of that, he killed in the role and I can’t imagine anyone else being able to give Santa such a fun loving perverted personality. He made my dialogue super funny and brought a manic intensity to role that just resonates Hack Movies. I’m happy to say that he’s clean and sober today and doing a lot of work for addicts in his community. He remains one of my close friends, through thick and thin, thanks to the Hack Movies bond.
Jonny came back once again, and with some extra help from Nick Head we cranked out the editing and some really cool digital effects. Another feature in the can. What happens next? You take it on the road, of course. The rigors of the road and my constant promotion of the movies coupled with my immense frustration with the COCKHAMMER distribution situation led to the end of my relationship, and the end of my emotional stability.
In the months following, I rented some cabins to film a movie called VAMP CAMP which would have been an epic tale of a summer dance camp overrun by vampires. That fell through. Then I planned to shoot in an abandoned school to film the next big Hack Movie called STRANGE TIMES AT STRANGEVILLE HIGH. I tried to write the script three times, but never found the right take on the idea. Finally I knew I had to make the Hack Movie to end all Hack Movies. I had to shoot IT CAME FROM MY PANTS! The long lost, always talked about, never materialized Hack Movie. I bought plane tickets for Babette Bombshell and my new buddy Shawn C. Philips (Cool Duder on Youtube) to have starring roles in the film and even scouted out the main locations till that too fell through (due in no part to Babs and Shawn, just my own stupidity) and I lost the cash on the tickets.
I couldn’t get my head in the game anymore. I couldn’t get a Hack Movie off the ground after all those years and all those movies. I just knew in my heart they’d never make me enough money to take care of myself and a family. So I did what I’d always fallen back on in the past. I shot a short film for the internet. I made NIXON AND HOGAN MEET SATAN. If not the most inspired work in my catalog, it was still fun. We shot it on a new HD camera and wrote, shot, and edited it in less than a week. I set up some con appearances to get on the road and get my head off the failed COCKHAMMER distribution deal and even bought a new editing rig to start working on all my future films in HD.
Unfortunately that was all the money I had left to my name. So when the transmission on my car blew up and I had less than 100 dollars to my name, I was truly fucked. I had to beg, borrow, call in favors from relatives and rely on some insane luck to keep my head afloat and not end up homeless. It was then that I knew that even though my films were being parodied and celebrated in Europe, Asia, Canada and Australia, back home I was broke, almost jobless, and single. Hack Movies T shirts were being worn to cons. Hell, I had to blow off a convention the very same week my car died and a gracious fan brought his copy to the show to make sure it played anyway! But none of those things were putting food in my mouth. Something had to give.
And so I quit. I gave up. I moved out of Strangeville and eventually took up residence here at KevinTheStrange.com where I’m no longer broke and I quietly write bizarro novels and sappy retrospective stories like this where I reminisce about the days I was a mighty cinematic warrior who could shoot a movie faster than almost anyone and write the craziest dialogue in the world with actors who would die before missing a shoot date. Those were the days, gang. I’ve got a Mantis book to finish editing so I can send it off to the publisher. Writing novels is way easier than making movies. But let me tell you guys, nothing and I mean NOTHING on this planet feels better than making your own damn motion picture. Stay Strange.