I recently sat down to talk to Walter Ruether, an actor, writer, and director of several independent horror films. We talked about Walter’s love for anthology films, The Twilight Zone, and 70’s rock and roll like Alice Cooper and Kiss. I found out that while Walter is a man of few words, he is passionate about getting independent films distributed, something he is able to do as Vice President of Acquisitions at Chemical Burn Entertainment.
Cary Conley: Walt, tell us a little about your background in film. What made you want to become a filmmaker?
Walt Ruether: I grew up in Los Angeles so I always wanted to be either a filmmaker or a rock star, LOL. I never got into the "nine to five" lifestyle. I still hate it.
CC: I’ve seen your films and I’m pretty sure I know who and what your influences are, but for the benefit of the Rogue readers, tell us what filmmakers and films have made an impact on your style?
WR: Herschell Gordon Lewis is my idol. Then those old shot-on-VHS movies have a big influence on my style. My humor is a little like John Waters.
CC: You have a real fondness for sleaze and gore. Ever thought about trying a different kind of horror film, even a totally different genre altogether?
WR: Oh, yes! I just don’t have the budget but I will eventually scare you. For now, just laugh!
CC: You also are obviously a fan of anthologies as all three of your films I’ve seen are collections of short films. Why have you chosen to work almost exclusively with anthologies?
WR: I’ve never had the budget needed to make an actual feature length film all at once. Plus, I loved The Twilight Zone as a kid and love the old Amicus anthologies.
CC: While it’s obvious you have little to no money to spend creating your films, it is also equally obvious to me that you have a great deal of technical knowledge for directing and cinematography. What are the most important lessons you’ve learned as a filmmaker?
WR: Don’t believe in rules! Do your art as you see fit.
CC: Some of your earliest film experiments were with a horror-show host similar to the Crypt Keeper who you named Scarlett Fry. Tell us about how you came up with the idea for your alter ego?
WR: I was a huge Alice Cooper Fan and it all comes from there.
CC: You’ve also managed to work with Alice Cooper’s daughter, Calico. Though it was more of a bit part for her, I’m interested in how the two of you met and how she came to work on your film?
WR: We had a mutual friend of Ryan Roxie, Alice Cooper’s guitarist at the time and he hooked me up with Calico’s email. I asked her to do the part and she happily agreed. It was a great moment in my life.
CC: I know you work for Chemical Burn Entertainment, a company that specializes in distributing ultra low-budget horror and exploitation films. Tell us about your association with Chemical Burn Entertainment.
WR: Chemical Burn is dedicated to the pursuit of films that matter to those who make and watch them, creating sounds and images that get under your skin, jarring you to the core to make us question our existence. We look for original and intelligent films from established film makers as well as up-and-coming talent that is yet to be recognized. For example, THE DEFILED is probably the most effective zombie film since Night of the Living Dead, and has not a spoken word throughout the whole film, yet you’re glued to the film and its characters. FELL is another exceptional film that literally transports you into another realm inside the lead characters’ minds. It’s shot mostly in an old, run-down apartment building. BLOODLINE, which shot in Italy (out later this year) is a mind-blowing, multi-layered journey into magick and the occult by one of the most talented film makers to come along in a long time, Edo Tagliavini.
It’s hard to pin it down, but Chemical Burn is trying to combine the best of the 70’s era–when films were so much cooler–with the current digital video age. We’re looking for special films that hearken back to that Golden Age yet are uber-current at the same time and deliver the gore BIG TIME when applicable.
I’m the VP of Acquisitions, so if anyone wants to get distributed, email me at email@example.com.
CC: I know your work with CBE keeps you busy, and you do some writing on the side as well. Any chance you’ll delve into filmmaking again soon?
WR: I’m working on a new anthology called Scream Machine. It will feature Shawn C. Phillips and it will not have a host bit. The wrap-around is going be a story, too.
CC: You also act and have a new film in the can as well as one filming now. What can you tell us about Crushed Velvet and Scream Machine?
WR: I was in Crushed Velvet but I have no idea when its coming out. I can tell you it’s the second film I got to be in with Ron Jeremy, LOL!
CC: Anyone that knows me knows that I’m a huge fan of the rock group Kiss. You were able to finagle your way onto the set of one of their videos. Tell us how that came to be.
WR: It was a radio giveaway. You had to bring cans of food to a radio station truck and you got passes to be an extra in the Kiss video. It was limited, but I got there on time to get in. I saw Kiss in 77 and 87 and four times on the Farewell Tour. I love them.
CC: Aside from the aforementioned films that are in production as we speak, can you tell us about any future projects you are working on?
WR: Only Scream Machine right now and I will be in a film called Voices from the Grave coming in 2013.