By Tony Masiello
Back in 2009 I interviewed FX Artist David Dalton about his work on Las Vegas Blood Bath. Below is a reprint of that interview as well as some additional information on the making of the film gathered from various posts by Dalton on the web. Enjoy!
What year was the film shot?
It was shot in six days, without a script, in 1989
What were the origins of LVBB?
I called most of the shots, because I knew more about shooting movies than He did, but the supposed "Director", David Shwartz, was trying to sell his 'Perfect 10' clothing line, which was nothing more than a T-shirt with the bottom cut off that was used as a skirt (very cheesy). He also ran the ladies of B.L.O.W. (Beautiful Ladies Oil Wrestling) at a few different bars around Vegas. Which girl would win the match was always predetermined and they just tried to figure out provocative ways of wrestling. David knew a guy with a camera (Darryll Kilby) who had his own sound man (boom operator, Tom Mayhue) so he started asking around town about who would be the best person to do the effects, and my name came up because of my haunted houses (I was the first person to bring haunted houses to Las Vegas in 1983). He made himself sound like a big producer, with a huge poster of himself behind the desk in his office, standing beside a really nice Rolls Royce but within a few minutes of talking to him, anyone with a brain could see right through him. No, it wasn't his car. David Shwartz offered us a piece of the money we would make if the film sold, but always had intentions of keeping it for himself, even having in the contract that if he lost track of the said person, all the money goes to him (I made him change that part in my contract). As far as I know, no one made any money off the movie... obviously (it was the worst). It could have been much better than it was, but for some reason they cut me out of the editing (the most important place for me to be) and ended up using the worst footage we had, while destroying it in the editing bay.
Do you know what kind of camera was used for the shoot?
I don't remember the brand, but it was a Super VHS. We couldn't do any night shots without the lights making lines, which is why we had to do everything in the daytime.
What was the budget?
I remember at the end of everything, including getting us a suite at the MGM for a film convention, the whole thing cost us 1500 dollars that we all pitched in on. 700 of that was my own money that I threw in to re-edit parts of the movie that made it suck even worst than it already does, and I also added in the gardener scene where Sam beats the guys head off with a shovel. I kept it as cheesy as the rest of the film, but was trying to make up for the time that was taken out boring us to death with the girls playing some card game.
Who were the ladies of BLOW and how did they become associated with the film?
They were just hookers and/or want-to-be movie stars that David Shwartz assembled together for his oil wrestling venture. I won't mention which was which, to protect the guilty.
There seems to be allot of improving in the film was there a script or was it strictly a write as you go thing?
Very "write as you go". Whoever came up with the best idea at the time is what was used. And Ari Levin pretty much ad-libbed the whole thing. Sometimes he would say something that needed to be mentioned, and other times he just winged it.
How long was the shoot?
It was a six day shoot to get everything for the first rendition, but probably ended up seven days counting the pick up shots that were needed and the gardener scene.
How did you get involved in the project?
Just happened to be in the right place at the right time... still glad I was in on it, because no matter how bad it was, it was fun... and that's where I met Ari Levin (the lead actor). We became best friends for quite some time.
Have you done FX for any other films?
Not really. I helped out the make-up department a little when I worked on Crime Story (a Michael Mann weekly TV show that didn't fly), but mostly I was just a scenic artist doing Vegas production shows, very few movies and TV shows.
Can you share with us some details about some of the actors in the film (Ari Levin, pregnant girl)?
Just that Ari and I met while we were casting for the lead. He was my second choice for the lead because I thought he was funny not scary... but the scary guy that tried out sucked so bad at acting that Ari got the part. When we went into this movie, we were actually half serious about making a splatter flick, but it ended up being a comedy by how bad it was done. Many shots show us conforming from serious to comedy.
The pregnant girl was the girl-friend of the 'not all there' pizza delivery guy... and I'm thinking even carrying his baby. We thought it would be funny to put her in there in a bikini.
Tiffany was just a pretty girl trying to get her face out there to show it off... but her acting skills were very much lacking, which is why I ended up telling her just to put her face down in the scene when they were all tied up.
None of us were very good actors, which made the film funny, but again, we were trying to be serious actually most of the time... Ari was the best though. He was the funniest guy I'd ever met. His acting was perfect for the movie. We hung out for years after than. I even took him with me to work on the Ecstasy Cruise Ship where I installed some stage scenery and my ten foot Voodoo God (you might have seen it on my web site). We met the Ecstasy in Boston, before it's maiden voyage, and traveled with it all the way down the coast, stopping in various cities (New York, Philly, etc) staying 2 days in each city... to Miami (where its maiden voyage would begin).Years later you might have seen the Ecstasy on the news for having to be completely evacuated because of a fire on board, which was actually a 'sign' to me concerning some other projects at hand that I'll explain in my tell-all, when the time is right.
Can you tell us about the Director?
Yes, David Schwartz (I think is the spelling) was a rather balding man, with obvious hair plugs (back when they didn't know what they were doing), and he had a raspy Gangster voice, but with a lisp... and a New York accent. He was always on the edge of showing his true colors, but anyone with half a brain could see right through him. He did a cameo in the movie, but you can't see his face. He's the guy wearing shorts standing by a chain link fence while the Mirage was being built, when Sam was picking up the "daytime whore"... the one he pulled her leg off with the car. I haven't seen him sense after the film convention. Our last meeting we got into kind of a verbal fight. He asked me to do something else for him and I was still mad about being cut out of the editing of the movie when our original agreement was that I would be there. I ended up telling him what I thought of him, and he didn't take it well.
I heard later that he married the girl Rebecca (his girl-friend) who answered the door for Sam when he came in the apartment to tie the girls up (yeah, the one who was smiling as Sam threw her to the floor). I think they even had a kid together, but I'm not sure. David Schwartz was the guy who brought it all together, so I'm glad I had the opportunity to meet him, and he did have some good ideas for the movie. He had a good sense of humor... One thing I remember is the multiple takes he insisted on just to see how many times he could get Ari to smell that guys shoes... just to be an ass. He's the one who came up with the idea to chop my head off with the door, and me being a Jehovah's Witness. We basically made that scene just because I had a likeness of myself made of rubber.
Can you tell us about the theme song?
You probably already know from my other sites, but I'll give you some extra that I don't think was mentioned. It became a necessity to have a theme song when I saw the end of the movie. Even though I knew it was going to end on a slow-zoom into Sam's face in the tub, I didn't see the need for a song until I saw it done. They said don't bother, because time was too short for anything like that, because of the film convention, but I was given 5 hours to have it back to the editing bay. So I went home and threw the song together on my 8-track reel to reel (1/4 inch) Fostex.
I did everything myself, using a bass guitar, a Dr. Rhythm drum machine, and an Iceman Ibanez electric. I did the back-ground vocals also, trying to make it sound like a Las Vegas lounge group... heavy on "corn-ball"... Everything was pretty much a one take thing, but by the time I got it done I realized it needed a lead guitar solo. I'm not into leads, so I called my friend Chris Crump to come over and lay down a lead for me. He came right over... listened to the song one time, and plugged in his guitar and started to play... he was only a few bars into the song when he stopped and told me that my bass guitar was out of strobe (tune). He said it might be in tune on this note, but on this other note, it's completely out. He told me that I would have to do the whole song over again after my bass was strobed. My rhythm guitar in the background sounded good enough, so it must have been out of strobe also. But there was no time to do it again, so I asked Chris if he could just do something really off the wall (augmented/diminished) to sound like he was messing up almost on purpose... bend the strings, whatever you need to do. He said sure. So I started the song again and what you hear in the movie is the one take of him laying down the lead, going in and out of key and tempo, while I'm (unheard) in the background yelling, "yeah, that's great... mess it up even more!" Chris Crump was a kick ass guitar player, who had done another guitar solo for some music I made for one of my haunted houses. Again, only in one take that time also.
I took the song to Embryo Records years ago to do a re-edit, adding a little more bass drum (just me beating on a blank canvas with a drum stick) while screaming "Las Vegas" in the background real crazy. We rearranged the verses a little also to make it sound more like a real song, but screwed it up too, just enough to make it work. I like the re-edit better than the original version, but haven't really posted it anywhere, mostly because I don't know how to.
Can you tell us anything you may know about the distribution history of the film?
Nothing. I don't know how you got it or who you got it from. And I think you might even have the version without the gardener scene... but I don't know. I never did buy a copy of it... and don't even know if I could anymore. Is it still for sell?
Can you tell us about the FX in the film, and if any were cut?
Nothing cut, only added. The movie was pretty much written around the effects. I just had some stuff left-over from my haunted houses, and we tried to come up with ways to use them. Except for the foam latex appliance that I made for the pregnant girl, and the bullet hole dripping blood that I made with some rubber and tissue paper. Everything else was leftover crap.
How do you feel about the film?
The worst movie ever made. So bad in fact that it couldn't even be called a bad movie, but moreover a bad attempt at making a bad movie. We were going for something that was so bad it might make it as a cult-classic, but the editing pretty much ruined it. I was going through the other footage that was shot, only to find that we could have actually come up with a decent movie, if they would have used the better footage, in a much better arrangement. I was going to do a re-edit of the entire movie with the footage I have, but never have gotten around to it.
What’s next for David Dalton?
I'm currently working on theming out a laser tag arena in Des Moines Iowa. I'll be leaving shortly for that project. When I get back I will be finally doing some of my own line of fine art paintings... very bizarre stuff that I'd rather not mention right now. I also have a clothing line coming out that's just as bizarre. And I am always working on a rock opera Vegas production show style haunted house for a year-round Las Vegas venture. Who knows when I'll get that done? No clue... but it will definitely be the largest tourist attraction that Las Vegas has ever seen. I stopped doing haunted houses years ago after only 11 of them. No one can touch me on haunted houses to this day (I'm very conceited because I'm the best). My 12th house will be the year-round one, and the best one I've ever done. I was born on 12/12 at 12:01 pm (I'm a numbers guy).
Here's a little more trivia you might want on me. I opened a web site called Antichrist.com on 6/6/96 and turned some heads with that. I used to think I was the Antichrist and Jesus (yes both)... talk about going nuts. This 'information' came about through a religious experience I had way back in the day. But after almost 16 years of complete sobriety (no drugs of any kind), I went back on drugs (various kinds) coming to the conclusion that nope, I'm not either of those personages, yet only Dave now. I was a feature story in USA today which took me to a national status. I've done 6 radio morning talk shows throughout the US and shut Antichrist.com down about 6 months from the year 2000. I was in hiding from the Christians looking to kill me for the contents of my site, so my name was never on it. I told my webmaster to save my site until a future point in time, but he ended up holding it ransom for 33 hundred dollars. No, I would never pay that for my own site, so he ended up stealing it from me and selling it to someone else, or losing it somehow. He stole my logo and moved it to Antichrist.net where he claims he had something to do with the original site other than just being the webmaster. He was only the webmaster with only one really bad page I let him have on the site. Now I'm off the street drugs and on prescribed medication for my mental and physical problems and life is getting better every day. Am I just a normal guy? Could you be normal after thinking you were the Antichrist AND Jesus for 17 years of your life? No, I'm not normal in conventional human terms.
On 6/6/06 I released an e-book on WhenIThoughIWasTheAntichrist.com, but did no promotions to sell it, and about 4 months later I pulled it down. It was on sale for $6.66, but was never sold... thank god. It was just a series of short stories about strange events that have happened throughout my life, of biblical proportion. Which brings me back to this: Knowing that everything in my life had some sort of religious or bible significance... I was thinking one day about the making of Blood Bath. Then I said to myself, hmmm... I'll bet the book of Ruth is right before the first book of Samuel (Ruth was Sam's wife in Blood Bath) and sure enough it was. Go figure, god has a sense of humor too.
On 6/6/82 (8-2=6) I burned the back of my right hand with hot tar accidentally, leaving in the swirls of my third degree burn scar 3 sixes... and yes, the six letters of my last name add to 66 (a=1,b=2,c=3...). Do I still think I'm the Antichrist? Nah, just Dave now, but I'm still marked as such. I found through bible word searches that there is a hidden symbolic code making the entire book about the end times (now) only, using only some historical things to set the symbols in place... and no one knows about it but me... but that is another story.
Additional Info from the web by David Dalton
The whole thing was done without a script (obviously). We were taking whatever ideas sounded the weirdest, not even going for comedic, but our sense of humor came out in most shots, which kept things in that should have been deleted, like the perfectly straight cut on the neck stump from the flat end of the shovel beating. What were we thinking? Obviously not much... but it did entertain some curious reasons for being there.
The movie was written around the effects, which were- little more than- things I had laying around (stuff from my haunted houses). I'm the guy who brought haunted houses to Las Vegas... first and foremost the best haunted houses on the planet. Blood Bath is not a good example of my work. I'm sure you’ll notice by the mockery I made of myself with every shot, especially the bouncing baby boy (un-cooked foam latex molded by hand).
Pizza Box's and Oil Wrestlers
Pizza trivia... by the time we shot the pizza scene, we couldn't show it because it didn't fit the box. I can't remember why, but it was important not to show the pizza. You'll notice in the movie they keep trying to keep the lid to the box covering the pizza. And yes... some real great actors there. When they were tied up, Tiffany was so bad that I finally just told her to put her head down so we couldn't see her face.
About his role as the Jehovist Witness
Yeah, that's me sticking my head in the door. I said, "Hello, hello?.. Jehovah's Witness!" And lost my head, just like Ruth (wonder if he chopped hers off that way). The dumb look on my face in the door, I remember was my just trying to look like the prop I was using of my head from a haunted house effect. Funnier still, is that I married a beautiful 22 yr. old on Halloween when I was 42 (it lasted 3 1/2 yrs). She was raised Jehovah's Witness turned Wiccan. I couldn't get her to watch the movie, so I never told her I played a Jehovah's Witness in it, even after I saw her a few years ago, when she turned devout Jehovah's Witness!!!
The other partners cut me out of the editing for some reason, which pretty much destroyed whatever possibilities the movie had. Believe it or not, there were a lot better choices of footage to have used than what they did. It looked almost -to me- like they purposely sabotaged the movie so that it wouldn't be worth watching. I tried to fix it after-the-fact with their blessings, & my own money, but didn't have enough to start over like it needed.
About An Alternate Version of the Film Distributed With Extra Gore Scenes
Not that I know of. I'm surprised you even have that one. Someone obviously sold the unfinished version of the movie, which I used my own money to go back in and cut some of the boring girls-playing-cards or something (like the whole movie isn't boring) and added a few other scenes like the gardener losing his head... and I guess the guy getting his finger shot off (who was Tom the sound man).
The Theme Song
The song was a last minute decision that the movie needed it. As I recall, my voice was dry and cracking that day, but I didn't care. I think everything there was done in one take (as I recall). The movie was already edited and looking really stupid. Chris listened to the song once, then plugged in and played, shortly thereafter stopping, he told me my bass was out of strobe (it was in key here, and out of key there). He said I would have to do it over. I asked, "Can't you augment and diminish it, like you were screwing it up on purpose?" He said, "yes." What you hear was done in 1 take, me yelling at him all the way through, "Yeah, that's great, screw it up some more... MORE... PERFECT!!!" perfectly screwed up, just like the movie was.
One of these days I'll post the re-edited version of the song that I did at Embryo Records in Las Vegas, but they gave it to me in an unreadable format (the dumb bastards). What I didn't realize at the time, was that I would be starting my own religion one day (a project in the works as we speak), and while wondering how that movie fit in with my very symbolic life and the bible, I later found out. The book of Samuel is conjoined with the book of Ruth... go figure. God has a sense of humor.