First introduce me to the readers
I’m a film producer, director, writer and actor.
As a young kid in Northern Minnesota, I had a bad stutter and was bullied. To escape that in my mind, I took up singing in a rock band and decided I wanted to be an actor and film producer, because on the big screen, I wouldn’t stutter or be bullied. My encouragement was that every summer at our cabin we had a regular house guest visit us from Newport Beach, California who would become like a Grandmother to me, Kay Olson, the mother of superstar Rock Hudson.
Through the years they both encouraged me, and in the late 70’s I moved to Hollywood to achieve my dream. During my first 5 years there, I helped produce two of the top cult films in the world, “Malibu High” and “Microwave Massacre”, which would later influence other filmmakers.. And even though I stuttered, I had my own cable TV show, “Craig Muckler’s Hollywood Showcase”, which became a hit. In fact I would go on to influence people with handicaps to achieve their dreams.
What is the best thing about working in horror?
Horror films unlike some other genre’s stand the test of time, in part because of the basic primal images that will stick with any audience, anytime. Whether the film is released today or was released in the silent era, like “Phantom Of The Opera” or the surreal “Cabinet Of Calagiri”. For example, some dramas and some straight comedies date themselves and seem less relevant than many horror films.
Horror films are actually for many, a great escape from reality or even during depressing times. Unlike some other genre of films, people can totally emerge themselves in what’s on the screen and it will take their minds off of real life tensions. Working in Horror to me is a true art form. To scare people, you must be ultra imaginative as a filmmaker. One has to be very creative to make people jump or scream, by taking them off their guard, and always keeping one step ahead of the audience. Or, you manipulate them into thinking the characters on screen are in a safe place, that’s when you hit them with an unexpected scare, even if it’s a false scare, like a screeching cat jumping out of an open window.
Can I say anything about “your movie you have been in?
The current movie I’m starring in is a sequel to a new cult favorite released in the summer of 2020 called “Mind Melters 2”, for which I also was line producer ,. My character, Mark and and another named Clark are monster fighters, out to save the world from monsters with our special skills. We are rather cultish and fun characters.
The success of the film has spawned a sequel called “Mark & Clark World Adventurers” and takes our characters to different locations to fight monsters who are ravaging the populace. We always save the day. It co-stars myself, Bob Cummings, James Balsamo (who is also my film partner) who plays a cop and Lisa Conrad, his assistant.
What inspired me to be an actor?
Actually it was when I was a kid, I had a bad stutter, and was bullied. To escape it, I decided I wanted to be in movies, because my character on the screen wouldn’t stutter. And it worked!As I took acting classes and became confident, I found that it actually helped me control my speech impediment and I became a good actor in the process.
It even gave me the confidence to cast myself in my own films like “Malibu High”, “Microwave Massacre” and “The Flesh Merchant”. I would also have a recurring part in the popular Saturday morningTV series on CBS, “Jason Of Star Command” as the Spaghetti Monster and Space Cadette, working with iconic horror star Sid Hague (The Devil’s Rejects).
How did I prepare for the role?
I always prepare for any role, including as Mark in Mark & Clark, to put my mind in that of the actual character, to forget it’s Craig Muckler, but rather, someone almost out of body. It helps working with other actors who keep me focused on me being that character and not Craig Muckler.
Can you tell us about the greatest moment in my film career.
It was 9 months after moving from Minnesota to LA. I had already graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in theater arts, film and journalism. I was taking a UCLA film class with professor Irv Berwick. I was a great fan of his for directing a favorite horror film, “Monster of Piedras Blancas”. It was a low budget film. From Irv, I learned how to raise money, pick an exploitive script which could be shot on a low budget, and would still entice investors, please distributors and appeal to the young drive in crowd. In a month, my classmate, Larry Foldes and myself decided to put together a film and raise capital for a great low budget, but very exploitive story, called “Lovely But Deadly”. Miraculously we raised the required $60,000 and started a general partnership.
A year after moving from my home in Minnesota to LA, three of us young pups, did what no one does as early 20 year olds, make a feature film. Crown International picked it up for worldwide major distribution and would make millions. Plus, it gave me a name in the business. So much so, I had no problem raising the $100,000 for my next film, Microwave Massacre. Both of these films I produced in my 20’s, through the years, would both become two of the top cult films in history.
What are some of my upcoming projects
My current project is “Mark & Clark”. I’m co-producing and co-starring with a great cast of names like the iconic Eric Roberts, his wife, Eliza Roberts, cult favorite Joe Estavez, Chris Mulkey, Lisa Conrad and maybe Spencer Wilding (Darth Vader in Star Wars Rouge One). A couple of good budget films are also on my list including, Howard Lake, a murder mystery-thriller, a true story of a double axe in 1897 in Minnesota.
Also, “Microwave Massacre: Don’t Go In the Oven”, a stand alone variation of my major cult film, “Microwave Massacre” (now a top 10 cult film in the world). And there are others on our list like “Ripped To Shreds”, a great new- fashioned werewolf film.
What was the project you learned the most from?
It had to have been my first film, “Malibu High”. After taking film classes, I immediately put my education to work and with two other young filmmakers, we actually made a major independent film which played theaters worldwide. We actually did what most young filmmakers don’t do, took a film under our belts, and hired the best in the business with low budget films and we just “did it”
What is the last horror film I saw? What did I think of it?
“Agramon’s Gate” by director Harley Wallen. In the story, something goes very wrong at a seance and something comes over from the other side. Very well done, making the audience actually believe that a supernatural event has happened. Chilling and so great, I expect to hire Harley Wallen in one of my next films as Director.
What is my favorite horror movie and why?
The classic “The Haunting” from 1963. What made it so great? It actually scarred the jeebies out of the audience, without ever once showing the ghost. It was done with creative sound effects, camera angles, and great acting. It made the audience use their imagination and had them always on the edge of their seats! They never saw a ghost, but it scared the hell out of them.
If I could work with any actors or actresses who would they be and why?
It would be Bruce Davison (“Willard”) and Andy Robinson (“Dirty Harry” and “Hellraiser”), both friends who have shown interest in working with me. Also beautiful scream queen Jill Schoelen. She was sensational in “The Stepfather”, “Popcorn” and “Phantom Of The Opera” with Robert England. Actually she’s a star in my major documentary I directed in 2018, “A Taboo Identity” as my star interviewer (The Kay Parker Story).
Where can we find out more about you and your work?
Google Craig Muckler on line. I’ve been written up in countless magazines and newspapers. Major horror publications with stories on me include Delirium and Diabolic (available on line). The Washington Times has a story, the magazine, Wengs Chop and Steel Notes. Also podcasts are available on line like “One On One With Jasper Cole” and “Repo Radio with Lou Pizarro”.
What is your personal definition of horror?
I actually love that horror is really multi layered in scope, unlike say drama or even straight comedy. That’s why I love horror films, there are so many aspects a writer, producer and director can pick from for a great layered story.
Horror can be more than just physical scares. It’s also about the horror that’s inside human beings, the human psyche lets say. How we treat each other, more specifically, some horror films (and books like those from Stephen King) can hit a real nerve in society that other types of films or stories just don’t. Like bullies. Like the cruelty of some teenagers. Or, how some parents warp their children’s thinking to hate certain other people just because their beliefs, race, or creed are different from their own. Great examples are films like “Get Out”and “Carrie”.
But most people love to be scared. It’s a release for many of some negative aspects in one’s life. So most horror films don’t have a negative impact to me. In the days of Covid 19, many people are faced with many real horrors in their lives and it wasn’t a good scare, like my movies, or those of Mick Garris, Wes Craven or the likes of a Freddie, Jason or Michal Myers. Horror films are a great release of tensions of the day for many. It’s when some leave the theater or turn off the DVD, that they now must face the day to day tensions for real, of say a nasty killer virus, the thought of being out of work or not seeing their loved ones because some are in quarantine.
Favorite country or place?
I loved going to Greece. I loved it because as a kid I read all the great stories about Ancient Greece like The Trojan Horse, The Greek Gods and the great 300 Spartans.
Do you know anything abut Sweden?
Yes, it is famed actor and friend Bo Svenson. He has had a great career playing Buford Pusser in the hit movies “Walking Tall” - 2 and 3 and the TV series. He also starred opposite Robert Redford in “The Great Waldo Pepper”. He was born in Sweden to Lola Iris Viola, big band leader and Birger Ragnar Svenson, a bodyguard for the King Of Sweden.
He emigrated to the US and joined the US Marine Corps. In 1985, I had him as a guest on my popular LA talk show, “Craig Muckler’s Hollywood Showcase”. On the same show was scream queen beauty Jill Schoelen (of The Stepfather and Phantom Of The Opera fame).
Anything Else I want to mention
Because of my cool track record with producing two of the top cult films ever, in “Malibu High” (as a young twenty something kid - a Quentin Tarantino favorite), “Microwave Massacre” and a popular LA variety talk show on Group W from the early 80’s into the 90’s - I’m getting a 2nd lease on movie making and TV show life now.
My new show, “Hollywood Showcase with Craig Muckler" is coming back in 2021 nationally. I’ve helped produce 8 films in the past 2 years (like “Angry Asian Murder Hornets , “Mind Melters 2”, “Mark & Clark”, “Space Aliens & UFOs”) and upcoming bigger budget “Microwave Massacre: Don’t Go In The Oven”, “Ripped To Shreds”, “Howard Lake” and “Outdoor Life”. Also, I’m doing my Director’s cut of “A Taboo Identity” the Kay Parker Story, with more great interviews with my beautiful star interviewer, Jill Schoelen (The Stepfather and Phantom Of The Opera) for major cable and another theatrical release in 2021).
My film I co-produced this past year and co-starring me and Bob Cummings (my co-host of my new Hollywood Showcase TV show) - “Mind Melters 2” has done phenomenal business - directed by James Balsamo - great cult director - has spawned a sequel we are filming now for 2021 - “Mark & Clark World Adventurers”, where myself and Bob as Mark & Clark, fight monsters worldwide to save mankind. We have already become cult favorites worldwide for our characters.