7 Days in Strangeville Day 5: Stiff Jobs


After we took COLONEL KILL MOTHERFUCKERS on the road for a year, I was experiencing some serious burnout. While we’d gotten reviews in Fangoria and Rue Morgue Magazines, countless horror websites, had been interviewed dozens of times and sold our movies to fans all over the country, we were still missing the one vital ingredient I knew we needed to make Hack Movies a true success. We needed a distribution contract.

I felt like I had a solid story that was crazy enough to sell to a distributor, but I just wasn’t ready to make it yet. So instead, I fell back on what I knew I could do. Market the fuck out of Hack Movies. I decided to make a series of interconnected short films starring the two hit men from my new movie idea to put on youtube for free to promote the big feature film I was currently writing. Wolfram and Windgate were born. I wrote the short films and we got to work.

This time period was a super low point for me. I’d gotten out of a messy long term relationship that had lasted 3 and a half years (still the longest for me!) and was transitioning into a new, even messier one. My head space was dark. I felt like I was getting zero industry respect even though I’d been cranking on these movies for years now. I wrote in that headspace and created what I think is a mean, nasty film. But it’s one of the fan favorites of the Hack Minions.

Thaddeus Starbuckle was back in a featured spot for the first time since Dream Reaper and I have to say, his inspired performance as Wolfram really brought me out of my funk during filming. I also rewarded David Wayne Black who had previously done a couple of cameos for me in DEAD SHIT and COLONEL KILL MOTHERFUCKERS with the Windgate role to play the calm and collected foil opposite Wolfram’s hot headed psycho.

A lot of people gave David shit for the performance being too stiff. But I wanted him to play the character exactly like that. We were absolutely on the same page when it came to his acting. I felt so bad about the criticism he received for that role, I made sure to work even closer with him the next time to ensure the same critical fate didn’t await him.

Meanwhile Thaddeus was killing it. I barely had to give him any direction. He was a director’s dream. He’d read the page a couple of times and know exactly what inflections to hit and how to stay on accent, how to quickly recover from a botched take without causing us to have to reset the scene every time. Just an all around pleasure to work with who always caused me to up my acting game when I played opposite him. Kevin Strange can’t let some young buck upstage him in his own movie, right? haha

As filming wrapped on the shorts, I began to edit them together. I was torn. On one hand, I was thrilled with the performances and felt like we had some really genuine Hack Movies material on our hands, but I also felt like it was missing something. The final short didn’t have any more UMPH to it than the first. They all told a story together, but that story wasn’t as interesting as it should have been. I sat on it for a while, then decided fuck it, I’ll write some more stuff to connect all of the shorts together into scenes, give it a much stronger middle and climax (I always thought the beginning segment with TimO as the Dusty Rhodes impersonating old lady dress wearing rapist was one of our stronger openings) and make it its own damn feature film called STIFF JOBS!

So that’s what we did. Which is hilarious because we filmed the bulk of the material in the dead of summer so everyone is wearing these sleeveless vests and shorts and shit, but we regrouped to film the new scenes in the dead of winter. That’s why you see everyone in the bum rape scene wearing winter coats and hats. We filmed that in December. What we also filmed in December was the Cockhammer goon resurrection scene. Which means Thaddeus and all the rest of the crew had to wear their little skimpy outfits out in a field for hours in below freezing temperatures. That’s why when you see Windgate get his shirt ripped off his scream sounds so authentic. It was. He was laying shirtless on frozen ground.

As the road dogs we are, we took that son of a bitch on tour immediately. I remember distinctly one show in particular. Fangoria’s Weekend of Horrors in Chicago Illinois 2008 or early 2009. A couple of fans came running up to the table with one of those industrial rolls of toilet paper with a bunch of Hack Movies quotes written on it. For those who don’t know, drinking toilet paper as though it was a glass of water is a running gag in all the Hack Movies. Every single one. All the way back to Dream Reaper. Go look, you’ll find it in every movie.

So these fans had flown from New York to give us this gift, which I believe TImO still has in his house. They bought everything we had at the table. All the flicks, all the T shirts. They were so fucking happy to meet us that they came back around and unloaded the rest of their cash on us and just said, “here, make another movie with that.” I hate myself for not remembering their names, but that moment with them is still one of the highlights of my career.

At the end of the show, as we were packing up, the head of the Fangoria web team came up and told me that they’d gotten more Emails asking if Hack Movies was going to have a table than some of the featured celebrity guests. This was it. I KNEW we were about to finally make it. All our hard work. All the dedication and loyalty from the crew. All of Nick’s technical work. All of Jonny’s editing skills. All of TimO’s music. We were about to make it. Only we weren’t. Join us tomorrow for the story of COCKHAMMER and how you were THISCLOSE to being able to watch it on Netflix.