Andrew Rausch first got my attention in a Facebook group led by my publisher. His novel Elvis Presley, CIA Assassin piqued my curiosity next. Then when he mentioned that it was in film production, I had to learn more about this imaginative author and was pleased to find that he has an extensive background in horror. With Halloween (my favorite time of year) creeping up, what a perfect writer to profile!
The Godfather of Gore Speaks (with prolific filmmaker Herschell Gordon Lewis*), and the screenplay for Dahmer vs. Gacy are but a couple of his credits.
With obvious savvy, Andrew optimizes his creativity to the max.
CIR: Thank you for joining us on the Rock, Andrew. What constitutes good horror in your opinion?
AR: Everything is subjective, but horror is probably the most subjective. I know adults who are terrified of The Exorcist, and then there are my kids who are not only not afraid of it, but bored by it. But I like The Exorcist a lot. I think maybe it's the parental thing—you know, that it's happening to a child—that makes that movie so frightening. That would also explain why my kids aren't afraid of it...
To me, the scariest films are the ones with story lines that could actually happen. Funny Games is the movie that scares me the most. That movie scared the living shit out of me! Another movie that really creeps me out is the original Kubrick version of The Shining. But then again, I know people who say that movie isn't scary either. It's all very subjective. One man's trash is another man's treasure, and one man's frightening film is another man's tedium.
CIR: Dahmer vs. Gacy boasts some impressive acting credits: Harland Williams (being that I fiddle with stand-up comedy, his name sprang out) and Ethan Phillips has been in tons of things! The movie introduces a unique premise to say the least. Was that your brain child?
AR: My old writing partner Chris Watson called me up one day when I was working as a manager in a video store. He said, “I've got a brilliant idea for an exploitation movie!” I said, “What is it?” And he says, “Dahmer vs. Gacy.” The original plan was to shoot the thing on the cheap for a thousand bucks or so, but we wound up selling it off to Angry Baby Monkey Productions. The final budget for the film was only about $30,000, I think, but it was so much higher than it had been written to be. Seriously, we were gonna shoot the thing with no stars on a budget of what basically amounts to a bus pass and some Kool-Aid points.
CIR: Is Elvis Presley, CIA Assassin being produced by the same talents behind Dahmer vs. Gacy?
AR: It is. Ford Austin is producing. We don't have a director yet. And Ford, who viewers will remember played Jeffrey Dahmer in Dahmer vs. Gacy, is playing Elvis. I, for one, can't wait. And like Dahmer vs. Gacy, the screenplay will be written by yours truly.
CIR: How did you slip into the indie film business?
AR: I helped my friend Chris Watson on a film about eleven or twelve years ago called Zombiegeddon. That film had a great horror movie cast (with Tom Savini as Jesus Christ!) and wound up getting picked up by Troma Video. I've since worked on a number of indie films, some good and some as terrible as you can imagine, and it's been a lot of fun. But Dahmer vs. Gacy is my favorite. When it showed up on Maxim's list of horror movies you haven't seen but need to, I almost had a heart attack. I know the reviews aren't great, but who gives a shit? How many horror movies get really good grades? Not many. And second, how many exploitation horror movies get good reviews? Next to zero. We knew what we were doing when we made that movie, and it is exactly what it was intended to be. If you get the joke, good for you; if you don't, well then, it wasn't made for you. The beauty of Dahmer vs. Gacy is that it features two known entities in its main characters that were “characters” which could be used without permission. So it already had a name recognition factor; it was like a low-budget Freddy vs. Jason in a way. And we had a great cast. It was just remarkable.
CIR: Any reads or films you’d like to recommend for the season. Please feel free to include any of yours.
AR: My favorite horror novels are I Am Legend by Richard Matheson, Pet Sematary by Stephen King, and Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill. I absolutely adore all three of those novels. I also like King's early short stories. Those are great.
I might point out that I recently had my own short story collection published. It's called Death Rattles, and it's heavily influenced by King. It was published by Burning Bulb Publishing. I was rather thrilled with the blurbs I got for that one; if you look, there are blurbs by John Russo (Night of the Living Dead), H.G. Lewis (Two Thousand Maniacs!), and Lloyd Kaufman (The Toxic Avenger). It's gonna be difficult to top those. So I would say definitely pick that one up. You can get it on Kindle for 99 cents, so what do you have to lose?
CIR: What kind of frights are you working on for your next publications?
AR: I'm working on a new novel with William Vitka entitled Monsters vs. Nazis. That one's going to be published by Curiosity Quills. It imagines that the U.S. government established a secret squadron in World War II consisting of the likes of Dracula, the Wolf Man, Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, Frankenstein's monster, and lots of others. It's gonna be a blast. I can't wait for people to read that one.
I'm also working on an anthology for Burning Bulb Publishing entitled Rise of the Zombies: An Anthology of Zombie Terror, which will feature stories by many talented writers, including Night of the Living Dead screenwriter John Russo. The idea is that all the stories will take place in 1968 during the same time as Night of the Living Dead.
CIR: Impressive! Thanks, Andrew!
Interview by Gusto Dave
*Herschell Gordon Lewis is widely considered the father of a horror sub-genre which employed lots of ‘campy’ fun, probably best known for the movie Blood Feast.