By MICHAEL GINGOLD
The filmmakers not only made a movie about a movie that didn’t exist, they made it exist.
Directors Sophia Cacciola and Michael J. Epstein got in touch to tell us about THE ONCE AND FUTURE SMASH, a mock documentary that Epstein scripted that’s out on the festival circuit. The synopsis: “THE ONCE AND FUTURE SMASH is the story of Mikey Smash [THE GREASY STRANGLER’s Michael St. Michaels] and William Mouth [SGT. KABUKIMAN NYPD’s Bill Weeden], who both played Smash-Mouth, the football-themed slasher character in the lost 1970 cult film, END ZONE 2. They are now on the convention circuit 50 years later, trying to reclaim the iconic role in the upcoming reboot sequel that starts one hour into END ZONE 2. In addition to telling the history of the END ZONE series, the film also features horror franchise directors, writers and actors speaking about the influence END ZONE 2 had on their work.” Those talking heads include A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET PART 2 star Mark Patton, FRIDAY THE 13TH scripter Victor Miller, JASON GOES TO HELL director Adam Marcus, JASON X scripter Todd Farmer, FORBIDDEN ZONE director Richard Elfman and many others.
In addition, Cacciola and Epstein went ahead and actually made END ZONE 2 as well, allegedly directed by August Kane and written by L. Ray Hobbson. That synopsis: “Fifteen years after the events of END ZONE, Smash-Mouth is back to finish off the cheerleaders who killed his mother.”
“The concept for THE ONCE AND FUTURE SMASH grew out of an interest in the rise of horror conventions,” the duo tells us. “It’s been fascinating observing a renewed interest in actors from the horror films that we grew up watching. At the time, many of these actors were maybe in bigger films or had big TV roles, and no one could have predicted the lasting power of the smaller horror films they did. We thought it would be interesting to tell the story of some of these actors. We also heard about some rivalries in this space, with things like actors from the same movie refusing to sign the same memorabilia [FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2’s Steve Daskewisz and Warrington Gillette, anyone?]. In THE ONCE AND FUTURE SMASH, we tell the story of two of these feuding actors, who had played the same masked character in END ZONE 2.”
When it came to securing the real horror celebs who appear in ONCE AND FUTURE SMASH, Cacciola and Epstein turned to their producer Neal Jones, from the WITHOUT YOUR HEAD podcast. “Neal was able to get access so we could film at [North Carolina’s] Mad Monster Party, who were very kind to let us run wild during the convention. Neal reached out to many of his previous podcast guests and asked if they wanted share their thoughts about END ZONE 2. Because Neal had such a friendly relationship with many horror greats, they were willing to take part in the film. We had a fantastic time interviewing everyone, and they were all so generous with their time and energy. It is a great honor for us to have so many people we grew up watching be a part of the project.
“The convention portion of the movie was one of the most challenging shoots we’ve ever done,” they continue. “Normally we do as much planning as we can, and we have a lot of control over what we shoot, but because it was a live convention, we had to be flexible and ready for anything. This made for some happy surprises, but was also really difficult. For instance, a scene that played out at the official costume contest ended up being a major emotional moment for the actors, but wasn’t even something we knew was going to happen. We shot with multiple cameras and tried our best to cover everything important that was going on.”
THE ONCE AND FUTURE SMASH/END ZONE 2 world-premiered last month at London’s FrightFest. Upcoming dates include:
- Screamfest, Los Angeles, CA (North American Premiere): October 19
- Nightmares Film Festival, Columbus, OH (Midwest Premiere): October 23
- Be Afraid Horror Fest, Gorizia, Italy: November 24-27
- STUFF–South Texas Underground Film Festival, Corpus Christi, TX: November 30-December 4