Gavin Schmitt Interviews Doug Sakmann
Doug Sakmann is a name that’s probably not familiar to many horror fans, and even less so to people outside of the realm of horror. But for a man with his fingers in so many pies, you’ve undoubtedly seen some of the work (or, as Troma might say, “art”) he’s created.
Sakmann quickly worked his way up the Troma ladder, went solo and now at the tender age of only 26, is directing feature-length horror-themed pornography, hosting a sadomasochistic game show, running a company that photographs women in various poses after (simulated) death, and is a known provocateur on the punk scene.
Doug took time out from his busy schedule to chat with us about his many ongoing projects past and present, and to give us a taste of what’s in store for his next and biggest horror porn yet: “Evil Head”!
GS: Like many of the rising talents today (e.g. Tiffany Shepis, James Gunn), you got your start with Troma. How does one go from being a Troma employee to Lloyd Kaufman’s hetero manservant to a self-made man?
DS: Lloyd himself will tell you it’s my sweet lips that have made me so successful, but it’s not just that. I learned things about all aspects of the film industry from Troma, and when I felt I learned as much as I could, towards the end of 2002 I decided to start my own company with some friends I met while working there. It took a lot of perseverance and hard work, but obviously it’s paying off, slowly but surely.
GS: I have this belief that there’s an incredible story that connects Troma to Chris Seaver (director of “Filthy McNasty” and many other wonderful films), and it involves yourself, Debbie Rochon and Chris. What is the story?
DS: It’s not an amazingly incredible story, but Chris Seaver is a huge Troma fan and had sent a tape pleading with Lloyd for a job. Lloyd asked me to review the tape to see what I thought. I watched it and saw that Chris knew what he wanted and had the drive to try and make that happen, much like I did, so I told Lloyd we should contact him. We weren’t hiring at the time, but we kept in contact and I helped Chris get Lloyd into one of his films. We became friends and I acted in and helped him produce a few films, we got Debbie Rochon involved as I had worked with her through Troma and the rest is history! It’s always fun working with Chris and the LBP crew, their shoots have definitely been some of the more interesting ones I’ve worked on, to say the least!
GS: I have heard a rumor that you had a promotion involving smoking vaginas. I think the world cannot rest until this is elaborated upon.
DS: This was actually 2000 – 2001, quite a long time ago.word gets around, huh? We were doing a lot of live promotions for Troma and one of the things we developed was the Ultimate Tromette Competition, where girls would compete to become the Ultimate Tromette for a certain city or town. There was a talent portion, and at an all-night Tromathon in Long Island we discovered one very talented lady that could smoke cigarettes and cigars with her vagina. We liked her so much that we became friends and she would come around to various live events, and if the situation called for it, she would smoke. Good times.
GS: How does a project like “Punk Rock Holocaust” come about? That seems like a lot of work to involve so many people.
DS: After leaving Troma, I knew that I wanted to direct a horror movie of my own, and since we were working with the Warped Tour already the idea just came together. We asked Kevin Lyman (Warped Tour founder) if he was into the idea and he was all about it. He even helped us recruit the bands. We set out to try and kill as many people as possible and I think we did a pretty good job of accomplishing that!
GS: I don’t mean to imply Simple Plan is a bad band or anything, but what’s the obsession with them in the film? They seem to have by far the most screen time.
DS: Before we left for the tour, we sent letters out to record companies and bands to see who wanted to be involved and Simple Plan’s management was one of the first who got back to us. It just worked out that they were accessible enough to shoot as much as we did with them. We were in a different state every day of the tour and scheduling was a nightmare, so when we had an opportunity to shoot something we did it!
GS: Your next adult horror film (so new that not even IMDB knows about it) is “Evil Head”. What should we expect from this? “XXXorcist” was a dramatic improvement over “Re-Penetrator” — will this likewise be much more advanced?
DS: Evil Head is going to be much bigger and better than The XXXorcist, it will be the first proper porno feature I am personally directing. Unlike Re-Penetrator and The XXXorcist, Evil Head will have a lot more characters and locations, and it will be a lot more bloody and disgusting. Also, it will feature all the chainsaw sex and tree rape that Sam Raimi would have included if he was a porno director! It’s the Ultimate Experience in Sexual Terror!
GS: So far, your adult work has been exclusively with Tommy Pistol and Joanna Angel (with special thanks to Kylee Kross). How did the three of you meet and will future productions (“Evil Head” and beyond) continue with this combination?
DS: I actually met Tommy Pistol through Troma in 2001 (well before he was Tommy Pistol), when his sketch comedy group Cheese Theatre submitted their videos. I contacted them and we became good friends, he acted in a few Troma productions and I helped them out with a few sketches. In 2003, when Backseat Conceptions started working with Burning Angel, Tommy mentioned he was looking to get into the industry. Joanna was just about to shoot her first movie for DVD release, so I introduced them and obviously it worked out! We’re all good friends and we work very well together so I’m sure you’ll see a lot more from us as a team! Tommy is going to play the Ash character in Evil Head, and Joanna will have a good role but she is not going to be the main focus of this film. We’re looking to switch things up a little so it doesn’t get too monotonous.
GS: With your adult horror films, what is the target audience? Are we supposed to be turned on, repulsed or amused? I don’t know what you do in your free time, Doug, but if a girl is vomiting blood, that’s usually time for me to leave.
DS: With the horror-pornos, it initially started as a joke for Halloween in 2004. Joanna saw Punk Rock Holocaust and wanted me to do something for their website, so I did what I wanted to see. something I thought people could have fun with. It was kind of a natural progression for me, going from places like Troma and that extreme to working in the porn industry, I wanted to combine the two. I didn’t really think much about what the target audience would be. Shortly after the release we found out that there is a good amount of people who are into zombie sex, people were hosting parties and having sleepovers featuring screenings of the film! It even won an AVN Award in 2006 for Most Outrageous Sex Scene! I love the varied reactions we get for the film, whether you’re disgusted or excited, you’re definitely affected in some way!
GS: You recently (May 5, 2007) completed the NYC Zombie Crawl. How did this drunken revelry play out and when will Chicago or LA get a chance to join in on the fun?
DS: The NYC Zombie Crawl was a bloody good time! We crawled from the east village to the west village, bleeding and recruiting new zombies (and victims) along the way! The event was inspired by a similar event we attended, the Philly Zombie Crawl, and a love of all things undead. After the Philly Crawl I was still craving brains and did some research online.seeing that NYC did not have anything like that going on (and being from NY) I figured we’d get everyone to bring out their dead! We had a great turn out and we plan on doing a lot more in NYC. There are zombie walks going on all over the world, you just have to know the right ghouls to get in on it!
GS: You have a new show called “Strip for Pain”. I haven’t seen it, so you’ll have to do your own publicity here: what is the show and how can the sadists of the world get a glimpse of these ladies?
DS: Strip For Pain is America’s Most Dangerous Game Show, which pits three men up against the girls of Burning Angel. The girls inflict increasing levels of pain on the contestants (which include fire, electrocution, whipping and much more), and if they can take the pain, the girls strip. If a contestant can take the pain all the way, the girls will take it all off and give the winner a lapdance. We’ve been performing the show live in nightclubs for the last four years, and recently, we just finished a TV Pilot for the show.
GS: Have you had that moment yet where someone you idolize actually tells YOU how much of a fan they are of your work?
DS: I’ve worked with a lot of people who I was a fan of growing up, but I think the biggest thrill so far has to be meeting Stuart Gordon (director of Re-Animator) and signing a Re-Penetrator card for HIM! He loved the idea and said he knows he’s made it now that one of his movies has been made into a porno! Also, Adam Rifkin (the Dark Backward, Detroit Rock City, etc.) is a fan of my horror-porn work too – somehow I ended up talking to him on MySpace of all places.
GS: You have stated you’re a fan of Takashi Miike, known for his excessive violence. Likewise, “Punk Rock Holocaust” holds the record for most on-screen kills. Would it be safe to say you’re a big fan of (simulated) blood, gore and excessive violence?
DS: Saying I am a big fan of blood, gore and excessive violence is definitely an understatement! My parents refused to let me watch horror movies when I was younger, so of course I found a way to watch them. I still remember the first time I saw Faces of Death.I think blood is a beautiful thing, it’s very cinematic, and sexy girls look even better covered in blood! It makes for great paint too! Everything looks better bloody!
GS: Alright, Doug. We’ve covered vomiting, pornography, blood, gore, public intoxication and more. Is there anything I left out that your fans should be watching for in the future?
DS: Aside from the new Strip For Pain TV Pilot and Evil Head, I’m working on finishing up Punk Rock Holocaust 2 for DVD and limited theatrical release, that should be out in the fall. Also, I’ve been working on a still photography series called Post-Mortem Pinups. It’s a series of girls in their final death positions, either through suicide or murder, Femme Fatales in Fatal Positions. We’ve got girls that are dismembered, drowned and hit by cars amongst many other ways to die. It started as a hobby, but now it’s kind of an obsession. What can I say, I like to kill people!