Thursday, May 30, 2019

Digging Up the Dirt with KillDozer and Perry Morris of Sorcery (Stunt Rock, Rocktober Blood)

One night at the beautiful Castro Theatre I was lucky enough to experience the greatness that is Stunt Rock. A solid audience of people cheered, laughed and head banged while the screen was lit up with all the action and heavy metal a person could handle. That night I became determined to track down the people responsible for the music, Sorcery. For those that don't know, this is also the group credited for the amazing music of Rocktober Blood. I reached out on Facebook the following morning to see if anyone knew the whereabouts of any of the band members. Less than 2 hours later I received a call from a number I didn't recognize. I picked up anyway to hear a voice on the other end say "Hey Justin, this is Perry from the band Sorcery". I have no shame in telling you that I freaked out like a super fan. Perry and I went on to speak for roughly 2 hours about music films and every amazing story in between. This was the most fun I've had digging up the dirt. I recently ordered the Stunt Rock DVD from Perry and it came with a signed note saying "I hope you enjoy it". 
And you know I did! 

KillDozer: Let's talk about the Sorcery live experience for those who don’t know.

Perry Morris: The show was big enough that I had to scout out venues with large enough stages or at least adjustable stages to fit all the theatrics, even the Roxy was too small! It was very much a theatrical show which included Merlin battling a modern magician and then later became Merlin Vs. the Devil. Ken Whitaker was the technical guy behind the magic. Word got out quickly about how incredible the music and stage show was so we always had major labels coming to our shows looking to see how they could sign us. We could sellout 4 shows in a row at the same venue and still have to turn hundreds of people away. We played six shows and got signed! I can tell you if MTV would have started at that point we would have been huge, we were ahead of the time and we were the most visual band with the music to back it. 

IMDB Stunt Rock

KillDozer: Have you ever opened up for any bands that went on to bigger fame?

Perry: We actually never opened any shows, we only headlined but both Cheap Trick and Van Halen opened for us. There used to be lines around the block to get into our shows and we sold out the Whisky a Go Go in 3 hours! You gotta keep in mind that this is pre-MTV era and that our show were known to be visually striking even by today’s standards. There was also a community of rockers and bands back then like David Lee Roth, Nikki Sixx, everybody knew each other and were friends.

KillDozer: Okay, time to discuss the film that is tied into what is now known as the greatest film trailer of all time, Stunt Rock. I was lucky enough to see this film screened in front of a packed audience at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco. What was your experience making this visually epic rock/stunt extravaganza?

Perry: I can tell you honestly that what you see and experience on screen during the Sorcery concert scenes is the real thing. That was our show except for Burned Alive which we never actually did live. When they sent out special invites to play the audience in the film, those spots filled up in 2 seconds. We actually ended up filming that footage on the same sound stage Gone With the Wind was filmed on. I never thought people would be talking about it all these years later. All the concert scenes were filmed on sound stage 16 and Stunt Rock actually has the first film appearance of Phil Hartman (Writer/actor Pee Wee's Big Adventure, Saturday Night Live, So I Married an Axe Murderer. I just can't believe people still like it, that film was made in 78-79 and people are still talking about it. 

KillDozer: How did you get signed on for Stunt Rock?

Perry: Well it helped that the lead in Stunt Rock, Grant Page saw our live show and was blown away. The film was titled Stunt Rock because the distribution company thought the band was the most interesting part of the film.

KillDozer: The stunts are mind-blowing and make the film very unique but the music/band was the draw for me to see the film after watching the trailer. As a fan I have to ask, what was up with the crazy hooded key board player? Also was that piano pool party at one of your houses? 

Perry: Doug Loch was the masked keyboard player he was only hired for the film. Smokey Huff played guitar and keyboard in the band at the same time. Doug never played a show with us, that was just part of the film. The pool party was also part of the film. In Rocktober Blood we were able to dress ourselves so that was us on stage. In Stunt Rock we were dressed by a costume company we weren't hip on but played along for the film. I actually hated that piano scene, that's not how we hung out at all. We would never hang out around a piano like that and even worse they gave us cases of Perrier water and nice shirts because they needed to throw sponsors into the film. The Dick Clark Shows rep us the best, so look at those for a real representation of Sorcery. My best friend Curtis Hyde played the Devil in Stunt Rock and is from San Francisco. Also the cinematographer on Stunt Rock was the same guy who did This Is Spinal Tap. By the way I still have that white top hat from the film. 

KillDozer: With all that being said the obvious question is.... what happened to Stunt Rock?!?!? How did it just seem to disappear only to emerge years later as a cult classic?

Perry: The short answer is Allied Artist's bankruptcy put everything on hold otherwise things were going to be huge! Even worse they filed for bankruptcy 3 days before the film's release. We were going to go on a big promo tour and everything, but the bankruptcy put a stop to it. No one saw the film. Even though it sold to 56 countries it was explained that even those receipts wouldn't add up to the US distribution of the film. The promo tour was put on hold and we thought that was that. It took 2 years to get the rights back for the film and the person who ended up with it at the time, Edward Monturo, was a crook who released the film under 3 different titles and paid NO ONE! I think they are actually still looking for him ha ha! As far as Stunt Rock coming out, I'm the guy who put it on DVD. No joke, I had the original film print converted and even ran a series of commercials to promote it.

KillDozer: Sorcery has TWO cult classics under its belt. What was once an obscure heavy metal slasher only known and loved by true genre and metal enthusiasts has now become a well known and celebrated title and sound track. I am of course talking about one of the the greatest Horror Metal titles ever made, Rocktober Blood. What can you tell us about your experience being a major part of that project ?

Perry: I actually got a call out of the blue about a band needed for a horror rock picture. At first we were only hired to do half the album for the film, but after meeting with some people involved they told us what they were looking for and I said "we can do that!" Unfortunately our singer got sick after playing in Vegas so the singer of a band called London filled in on Rocktober Blood, his name was Nygil. So really the film makers hired 3 members of Sorcery and not the full band even though they put Sorcery as the credit for the music.

IMDB Rocktober Blood

KillDozer: I love the song Rainbow Eyes. Okay, I love all the songs in the film, but I wanted to ask who sang Rainbow Eyes since the recording has female vocals?

Perry: I remember her name was Susie Major (Susie Rose Major). She knew the Sabastians who were the writers and producers. They also made the film Gator Bait! We were asked to write a song for her to sing and that's how rainbow eyes happened. She had her own band called Face Down.  

KillDozer: The songs are incredible and honestly make the film the cult classic it has become. What was the inspiration for the songs written?

Perry: We wrote all of those songs specifically for the film and every song is about the film. The song "I'm Back" is just about the killer in the movie Billy Eye. Tray who played Billy in the film liked to hang with the band and we are actually still friends. Those are some of Sorcery's most downloaded songs and bands like Acid Witch have even covered them as a tribute. 

KillDozer: Did you know the film would become the classic that it is?

Perry: Rocktober Blood was much bigger than we expected, it was released in 22 theatres throughout SoCal. Tray (Billy Eye) spoke with me about the recent popularity, his mother was one of the producers. I don't think the other members of Sorcery know about the cult following of the film. I track the band's downloads and that's how I know that anyone still cares. I see how much people down load the Rocktober Blood tracks and it's great. I read about screenings all the time and I'll post about them. 

KillDozer: Now to call out the Heavy Metal "elephant in the room", What happened to Sorcery!?!?!

Perry: We haven't played in a long time, we just moved forward with life. We actually haven't played with the Stunt Rock line up since the film came out.  At some point rehearsals started to feel like a divide between the magic guys and the music. The expenses went toward the music because selling the music made the money. The magic was for the show and promotion. We were speaking with Warner Brothers at one point because the son of the head of the company was a big fan of ours. Warner Brothers only wanted the band not the magic for the show. Things needed to change because the magic guys wanted more of themselves in the show but we knew we had to focus on the band, the music, and less on the magic show. Companies looking to sign us would say  "what you do on the road is up to you, but we are only paying for Sorcery not the magic act, the liability factor is through the roof." We had near major accidents that would have cost a ton of money. We also knew we had to separate from the magic show because tons of money would all go to the magic for switchboards, light effects, etc. etc. and there would be nothing left. It was a lot of work for me always going to meetings and keeping the band organized. Like I said, we just all moved on and I started booking more session work which was great because I got to work with a lot of great musicians. It would have been nice to keep going with Sorcery not because of money, I've never been in it for the money. The perk is making music for a living and making it happen, not how rich you can get. 

KillDozer: What do you think about Sorcery's legacy? How do you feel about music today?

Perry: When I pull up the numbers to our downloads it is incredible! There are people listening to us all over the world. Our dynamic was great and the music was well structured, it even inspired Van Halen to write "Running With The Devil". You can still see screenings of Rocktober Blood and Stunt Rock popping up. People listen to Sorcery all over the place and Rocktober Blood has a whole new group of fans. Also people know me as a drummer, one of my kits was appraised for $5,000 just because I played on it! Music today is different, back then singers had style and we had real diversity, we weren't all trying to sound alike.  I appreciate all the people still supporting our music today, I never expected people to be listening to it all these years later.


Thursday, May 2, 2019

Unnamed Footage Festival's Short Form Footage Part 1 with Filmmaker Robbie Smith

I thought I was going to be late. I woke up at noon, hazy from the edible and drinks I’d taken the night before. My girlfriend and our friend Jessica should be arriving at my house around 12:30 noon. We’ll be driving the short, but congested distance of Oakland to the city of San Francisco where we’ll attend the second year of the Unnamed Footage Festival.

We dusted through the deceptively dense traffic, smoke bellowing from the windows of Jessica’s 2003 Tercel. Parking was a fucking dream. Things were going too well. We arrived about halfway through Paranormal Activity: Tokyo Night, the opening film of the festival. We checked in. I grabbed a beer despite my empty stomach. My nerves were vibrating. After Paranormal Tokyo was the first Short Form Footage Block and my short film, Snake Bite, was playing. There was a decent crowd and all I could think of was the crowd shitting in their hands, tears streaming down their scowled faces as they chucked the excrement at the screen, appalled at what they were seeing, not content until the screen was covered. Then they’d turn to me, howling in pain and tearing at their eyes with their shit filled fingernails. What good was vision after this pie in the face of cinema. All that was good was dead. After tearing me to shreds they’d drag what was left of me into the depths of the ocean and.. 

Which brings us to a film by film recollection of the short film block. I’m just going to do a little blurb about each one, forgive me if my memory is a bit spotty, as I’m doing this a month later. I am a world class procrastinator. 

New Jerusalem

Strong opening to the short block. There were quite a few quality tier actors at play here and there seemed to be some production value. The real gold is in the final moments when things get weird. 

Room 17

I couldn’t stop thinking of how fun this must’ve been for the couple to act and create together. Huddled over their devices and reveling in this found footage inspired weekend getaway. It would have been cool to hear them talk about it. They did a great job for what I’m guessing are first time filmmakers.

Snake Bite

The tall can was a good idea. The joint might not’ve been. My nerves were on the fence. The damn thing started and it could not have gone better. I made a found footage movie in my undies and it went far better than I thought it could’ve. Two hearty tears fell from my right eye and you couldn’t have beltsanded the smile from my face. 

Still Moves

This was a joy. A kind and pleasant meditation on art and creation and letting your inner self pop at all moments.

The Last Vacation

Did I miss this? It’s listed as 1 minute long, so I could have had a restroom break and got caught chatting with Clark? Sorry, Ryan Davis.

Day Jobs

This is why I love UFF. I don’t have to sit through 14 shorts about ghosts in the corner of surveillance camera footage. I can see these fuckin' weirdos fumble hilariously through their odd ‘jobs’. 

Life is Cheap

One of the more effective films in the block. You could see a slice of this thing and think that what you’re watching may be something truly sick and real. I did a Q&A with Benji, the films director, after and I believe he said he was working on a feature version. Should be nice and creepy.

Notion Show

An modern Orwellian game show that might exist in the purge or pre-hunger games universe. An effective villain helped this one. I can’t imagine anyone in our audience wouldn’t have strangled this dude given the chance.

The Lady from Tulon

A mock investigative TV episode.. I gotta be honest, I couldn’t make it through five minutes of this one. I had some insider information that this was the last short and quietly crept out of the theater and into the blinding San Francisco sun where I’d walk two blocks to the east and buy a 6 pack. The rest of the day was a beautiful 14 hours 38 minutes and 16 seconds of people screaming and waving low quality cameras in the dark.


And the audience selected Snake Bite as their shorts winner! Check it out below and follow its creator Robbie on YouTube to see what he makes in the future.