The Erotic Horror Of Don Glut

According to the Imdb.com, Don Glut (pronounced GLOOT) was born in Pecos, Texas, February 19, 1944:

As a teenager in Chicago, [Don] Glut began making amateur horror and fantasy films. Although never commercially released, they became cult hits by word-of-mouth, and influential among future genre figures. Years later, filmmaker John Carpenter said, "For a long time, I wanted to be Don Glut."

Was a longtime comic book writer, doing stories for such characters as Vampirella, Captain America, and Kull.

Was in a mid-Sixties rock band called Penny Arcade, who had a record produced by Mike Nesmith of the Monkees.

According to the book Sina-a-Rama, Don wrote (35?) sex novels under the name "Mick Rogers."

I chat by phone 1/19/04 with the writer-director of such movies as Countess Dracula's Orgy of Blood, The Mummy's Kiss, The Erotic Rites Of Countess Dracula, The Vampire Hunters Club and Dinosaur Valley Girls.

Don: "The Mummy's Kiss has played almost every week on Cinemax since the first of October and the end of the year. We've just finished Countess Dracula's Orgy of Blood..."

I chuckle.

Don: "I know. It's a subtle title. That will be followed by a sequel to The Mummy film -- The Mummy's Kiss: Second Dynasty. I'm just trying to raise money now."

Luke: "So you have a special deal with Cinemax?"

Don: "We have a company that represents us that sells movies to domestic television. They put it on pay-per-view first. When it's run its course, they put it on Cinemax or some other pay-per-view channel."

Luke: "What's Son of Tor and I Was A Teenage Vampire?"

Don: "I've been trying to get those off of Imdb.com for years and it's just impossible. Those are two of 41 amateur movies I made as a kid in my backyard and in the basement and other 'locations'."

Luke: "What did your parents do for a living?"

Don: "My father died when I was a baby in World War II. I never knew him. My mother had various jobs. Mostly she worked as a typist."

Luke: "What were you expected to be?"

Don: "The rest of my family, not my mother, expected me to be something respectable like doctor or priest. My mother never discouraged crazy whims. As a kid, I wanted to be all kinds of things - paleontologist, make-up artist, movie director, cartoonist, ventriloquist, magician. Anything that was not working a 9-5 job. I got proficient in a lot of those things. When we'd plan our vacations, I'd talk her into going to some place with dinosaur museums.

"The real celebrity in our family, who is also out here, is a limo driver. He's my cousin. The reason he's a celebrity is that he 'gets to drive the movie stars around.' That I can hire the movie stars has nothing to do with anything. Most of my family don't have a clue as to what I do. I once tried explaining to an uncle -- in fact, that limo driver's father -- about a book I'd written. My name was on the cover. And all he could figure out was that I was an apprentice printer and I printed the book.

"It's not just my family. Most of the people I know in Chicago don't seem to understand pursuing your dreams. Their attitude is that at age 18 you give that stuff up. You have a family and you settle down and get a real job. Anything that you may have had an interest in, be it acting or art or music or sports, are considered childish and you flush them down the toilet."

Luke: "Do you ever consider they may be right?"

Don: "If I ever took them seriously, I'd go crazy. These are dreams I've had since I was nine years old. I've followed my bliss (mythologist Joseph Campbell). If you don't, you're going to hate your job and look forward to when your job ends. I look forward to when my job begins. When it's over, then it's depressing."

Luke: "Have you considered that by pursuing your dreams this has cost you the ability to marry and have children?"

Don: "No. I was married. We didn't have children. I believe that everybody has a creative urge. Some people satisfy that urge through having children. Some people satisfy that urge through their work. They create things, like books, movies and music.

"When you lead a freelance life like I do, where your income is unpredictable, it's not fair to have children. You're obligated to support that child. You can't say, 'We have to eat less this week because daddy didn't make a sale. You can't have new clothes like the other kids because we're on hiatus.' It's difficult to have a regular family life and to be in this business. Just the hours alone. Sometimes you can work for 24 hours or you can be home for half a year or longer. That puts a big strain on any kind of relationship or family life."

Luke: "What about the constant exposure to beautiful women?"

Don: "That's another thing that can jeopardize a marriage. My wife would get jealous because when I dropped my script off at the animation studio, all the women working there were pretty. I was and still am constantly in contact with attractive women. That can put a lot of suspicion in the mind of your spouse whether you're cheating on her or not. And I wasn't.

"I've always had beautiful girlfriends since I was a teenager. I was in the rockn'roll business. I was in all these businesses where you would meet a lot of pretty women (except when I was entering my teen years). I've never had a problem meeting women. It's difficult for me to be focused on one person all the time. My eye is always wandering. It makes a monogamous, structured, traditional relationship hard for me. Sometimes I miss that I won't have heirs but if I were married again, with kids, there'd be problems. I eliminate those problems before they happen."

Luke: "What part of your job do you find most meaningful?"

Don: "That I can go into a project with a completely polished entity in my head. I can see it. I can hear it. I can smell it. Then going through that whole process of seeing it come together step by step. Six months afterwards, you pop that DVD in, and it comes out looking like what you had in mind from the beginning."

Luke: "For how long will you be able to find meaning in making erotic horror films?"

Don: "I don't consider them meaningful except that we do them better than anybody else. The competition is crap, made by cynical people who crank them out. We're doing quality. I'd rather make big budget mainstream movies. Everybody would. But I'm realistic. There's such a thing as ageism. When you reach a certain age, unless you are firmly entrenched in mainstream Hollywood, you are not going to get in. When I realized this, I then had to decide which route I was going to take. Did I want to make movies? Yes. Did I want to make movies that were going to be profitable? Yes. I look at this as a business. I know our movies are going to sell.

"We have a huge audience. To be honest, I don't know who they are. I don't know the demographics. I assume they're male. I know I can deliver to them a product they will buy. They're fun to make. I can shoot them in a short time. I wish I had the luxury of a week or two weeks. We usually shoot them in about five days. I like working under pressure. I even like it sometimes when I have to throw out five pages of script and improvise something on the spot because the sun is going down or a prop hasn't been made or an actor hasn't shown up.

"I'm not trying to make films that will win awards or save the world."

Luke: "How much do you consider yourself a part of Hollywood culture?"

Don: "I am part of the Hollywood subculture, the underground. There are two businesses in Hollywood - mainstream movies released by studios, TV shows. And then there are the independents. The independent world is a different world. We work by a different set of rules. The small amounts of money we work with. Resumes don't mean anything to me unless you are one of two main actors I need to sell my movie.

"One of the pleasures of being an independent is that I don't have to answer to some 25-year old guy in an office who's never heard of Humphrey Bogart. I'm limited only by our budgets. I write the scripts. I have almost total creative control. I have friends in high places in Hollywood, Academy Award-winning directors and producers who are dying for work. It's hard for them to work because they're perceived as too old. I don't have to worry about that. I am also the producer and I hire myself. I don't have to worry about someone foisting their girlfriend on me to be the leading lady.

"Aside from it being nearly impossible for me to get a job in mainstream Hollywood because of my age, I am in a position, because we're making nonunion films, to give a lot of actors work who would otherwise never work. Many of these actors are friends of mine. I feel good giving someone who doesn't have a screen credit in a starring or costarring role. You can't do that when you're in the mainstream. I can take an extra and give him lines and a screen credit."

Luke: "Has anyone bounced from appearing in one of your films to a much bigger film?"

Don: "Our movies are so low budget that almost everything is a bigger movie. Not that I can think of."

Luke: "When do you hit the age barrier in Hollywood?"

Don: "Around 35. That's for everybody - writers, actors. My neighbor for many years was Catherine Hicks (born 8/6/51) of the TV show 7th Heaven. She was in her thirties then. She came over once in tears. She said, 'I think my career is over.' What do you mean? 'For ingenue types, they want people in their twenties. For all the parts I'm the correct age to play, people like Meryl Streep are getting. I think my career is over.' Then she got 7th Heaven."

Luke: "What's the best movie you've made?"

Don: "The current one -- Countess Dracula's Orgy of Blood. We did it cheaper, quicker and better. The reason it is better is that I had the most creative control on this one. On the others, one of my two business partners got a little too involved in the creative end, doing second unit direction, putting his input into the script. In almost every case, it was wrong. In this movie, more than any other we've done so far, accurately reflects the vision I had going in. In the other three films, there are things in there I don't like and were out of my hands. On this one, because we couldn't afford a second camera and a second unit, I got to direct everything."

Luke: "What do you hate about your work?"

Don: "One thing -- raising money. I'm not a businessman and I have no interest in business. I'm a creative person solely. It's difficult for me to raise money. I can't talk the language of business. My sources for money are limited. They're mostly blue collar workers from Chicago. Most of them don't understand movies and they don't get the big picture. They don't understand that if they make good money on one movie, they can also put their money into another movie. They don't understand trends."

Luke: "How do your family and friends in Chicago react to your movies?"

Don: "Most of my family really don't know what I do and haven't seen or even expressed an interest in seeing my work. They can't relate to it. They can't understand it. Or, they think it is a passing fad that might go away some day when I grow up. Most of my friends look at me as an oddball, a kook, a joke. 'Look at Don. He can't grow up.' I ignore that. I look ten or twenty years younger than any of them. They hate what they do and they're not passionate about their work. They look like old people and they talk like old people. They can't wait until they retire because they hate their work so much. I love what I do so much that I want to die working. I'm happiest when I'm working."

Luke: "How many siblings do you have?"

Don: "I was an only child, not a spoiled one -- at least, that's my perception. As I get older, I miss not having brothers and sisters. My mother just turned 86. When she dies, my immediate family is entirely gone. As you get older, you realize that the memories you used to be able to share with people, none of those people are around any more. Those memories are only your own."

Luke: "Are you working on a memoir?"

Don: "No. I've done a lot of things in the last five years that have been semi-autobiographical. I wrote books such as Jurassic Classics and The Frankenstein Archive. In both of those books, there's a lot of background material on me growing up. Somebody just did a website for me completely devoted to all the amateur movies I made as a teenager. It's the most detailed and self-indulgent website you've ever seen. It spurred me to go through a lot of old memories. I've got a CD coming out of music recorded in the late sixties when I was in a band. I wrote a booklet for that, going back to my memories of my hippy days."

Luke: "Any reactions to your work that surprise you?"

Don: "Prominent directors like Randal Kaiser and John Landis say they can't believe I made my movies for so little money in such little time. When we were shooting the last one, a grip walked by the monitor, and said, 'This looks just like a Hammer film.' That was my intent. To make it look just like a Hammer film from the 1960s and 1970s."