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Monday, March 1, 2010

Deeper Dish with Joe Zaso



I wanted to interview actor and filmmaker Joe Zaso for three reasons:

1) He makes scary movies.

2) He enjoys pop culture.

3) He's very easy on the eyes.

So I couldn't be happier to feature Joe, who started his own film production company, Cinema Image Productions, in 1986 when he was only a junior in high school. Since then he has primarily acted in, produced and directed indie horror and science fiction films, including 5 Dead on the Crimson Canvas (1996), Rage of the Werewolf (1999), Date with a Vampire (2001), Barricade (2007), Demon Resurrection (2008), Darkness Surrounds Roberta (2008), and the new horror sci-fi feature, H1N1: Virus X, with Sybil Danning and Dylan Vox. The 39-year-old 6' 3" avid bodybuilder is usually cast as the hunky villain, and I recently read another interview with him in which he revealed that both men and women love him because of his very large . . . shoe size (13 EEEE).  Obviously the guy has got a good sense of humor in addition to having big feet.  So, without further ado, I welcome the talented Mr. Zaso to the Dish to discuss his career and answer a few pop culture questions.

Let's start with your very first film, the 1990 horror musical, It's Only a Movie!, which you wrote, directed and appeared in. What inspired you to make it? And are you a fan of musicals?
Ugh!! I was 19 years old and at the time, I was into movies like Phantom of the Paradise, Little Shop of Horrors, Rocky Horror Picture Show and Shock Treatment - as well as the Lamberto Bava/Dario Argento movie, Demons.  I decided to tackle a musical horror-comedy as a feature (or "the first possession musical" as the ads touted).  I guess we all need an Ishtar on our filmographies.  I do like musicals - the energy, the fun liveliness - but I'm not sure if I'd venture there again.  As Variety said, "It's Only a Movie! is well-meaning."

Last year you appeared in a Nintendo video game, Dementium II.  How did you get involved in this project?  And did you enjoy the experience?
My good friend (actress Raine Brown), who has appeared in several projects I've worked on, was producing this project with the director and she got me the gig. Plain and simple. Fun. Lots of improv and physical agony - but fun.

You also are in the upcoming gay film, BearCity, that has been described as "Sex and the City with fur".  What can you tell us about the movie and Steve, the character you play?
My role is very brief. All I can say is that I appear naked as a jaybird. The movie itself is a "lite romantic comedy," but I think it will be seen a little differently. It filmed in Manhattan the end of last summer.

Out of all the films that you've produced and starred in, which one have you enjoyed making the most?
There are two films I enjoyed working on the most: 5 Dead on the Crimson Canvas and Barricade. Both projects had casts and crews with a strong feeling of camaraderie from beginning to end, and there was definitely a payoff for both of these projects.



You admire the work of three of my favorite directors - Woody Allen, Alfred Hitchcock and Robert Altman. What is your favorite film directed by each of them?
I love Broadway Danny Rose (from Woody Allen) very much. Psycho is my favorite Alfred Hitchcock movie, and I have a soft spot for one of Altman's lesser movies, A Wedding.

According to your MySpace page, The Omen (1976), is your favorite horror film. Why do you like this film so much? And what's your favorite scene in it?
The Omen terrified me like no other movie ever did, even though there are far more frightening films to be found. For me, I think it's the threat in the movie that is most chilling. In Jaws, if you were afraid of the shark, you just don't go in the water. In The Exorcist, if you were afraid of Linda Blair, you just don't go into her bedroom. But in The Omen, you can be zapped anywhere for simply being guilty by association. Of course, the decapitation scene is my favorite. The sequel, Damien: Omen II, is lots of fun, too.

What three films do you think everyone should be required to watch?
Well, you know The Omen is one of them. Also - Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory and Chicago. None of them fail to entertain in some way.





In high school I was:
A goody two-shoes.

My favorite comfort food is:
Chicken Salad.

The last good book I read was:
They Came From Within (the study of Canadian horror films).

When I was growing up, I never missed a television episode of:
I watched just about everything I was allowed to back in the '70s, so it's hard to list. I wasn't a big fan of sci-fi, so you can count those out. But I always tuned into The Flintstones, The Little Rascals, Good Times, The Love Boat . . .

Today I never miss a television episode of:
I honestly don't watch TV that much these days - only reruns on DVD or Britcoms. I highly recommend Keeping Up Appearances.

The very first album, tape or CD that I purchased with my own money was:
The soundtrack album to Exorcist II: The Heretic. I was 8 years old and thought I was the only person on earth who knew what an Ennio Morricone was!

If I was stranded on a desert island for a year, I would want to listen to:
I listen to film scores, so I would say any CDs from composers like Jerry Goldsmith, Pino Donaggio and Ennio Morricone. Forget pop music and otherwise!

If I could have anyone in the world - living or dead - be a guest at my dinner party, I would invite the following three people:
Well, I love to cook and entertain anyhow, so . . . Jessica Harper (she's not only a great cult actress, but she LOVES to cook too), Piper Laurie (I've always wanted to meet her), and Jerry Goldsmith (Rest in Peace, Jerry. In fact, the day Jerry Goldsmith died, I really felt like I'd lost a childhood friend since I listen to his music every day!)

What's next for Joe Zaso?
Tying up loose ends and getting on with more projects. The economy has definitely shaken some progress, but I always love to work! I would like to focus on something "non-horror" as a change of pace.

Thank you, Joe, for getting Deeper with us here on the Dish. You can become a Facebook or MySpace friend of Mr. Zaso - and you can meet him up close and personal at Monster-Mania Con, the 14th semi-annual horror film and memorabilia convention that will be held March 12 - 14 in Cherry Hill, NJ. Go to www.monstermania.net for further information.

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