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See Ya Later, Alligator

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deadbeat at dawnIn the early 90s, I was introduced, through a mutual professional associate, to an action/drama film called Deadbeat At Dawn (1988), directed by Jim VanBebber.  I do enjoy the occasional action flick, but the genre isn’t where my attention is usually drawn, so I likely would not have seen Deadbeat At Dawn had it not been handed to me.  However, I immediately became a fan of the movie, and of filmmaker Jim VanBebber.

Deadbeat At Dawn was not a groundbreaking cinematic masterpiece.  However, there was an energy, passion, and heart in the film that made it stand out.  I think it is a far more riveting film than numerous action movies made for many times its budget.  Shot by cinematographer and VanBebber’s close collaborator, Mike King, Deadbeat At Dawn featured the director in the starring role.  VanBebber played a nunchuck slingin’ gang member, hell-bent on some blood-soaked revenge.

VanBebber again directed and starred in a ferocious cult-hit short film called My Sweet Satan (1994), playing a hate-fueled, devil-worshipping drug dealer.  The filmmaker also directed music videos for Skinny Puppy, Frontline Assembly, Pantera, and Necrophagia.  His next feature film was The Manson Family (2003), which I am a big fan of as well.  He played a supporting role in this movie – one of Charlie Manson’s followers.

the manson familyI recently executive produced a half-hour short film called Five (2012), featuring an ensemble cast that included a few past collaborators of mine: Amanda Pemberton (Ratline), Amy Rose (Ratline), and Samantha Voorhees (Deadwood Park).  The movie also starred Jim VanBebber – in a role that was nothing like anything he’d played before.  

After admiring the work of this filmmaker for about a decade-and-a-half, it was great to finally be working on a project with him.  Five, set in a ragged factory town, is about five-year-old Marie’s final summer before starting kindergarten, and the unlikely friendship she builds with her babysitter’s husband, Kenny (VanBebber).  The innocence of Marie (played by Evie Dodson) provides startling contrast to Kenny’s often-grim grown-up problems.

Five took a long time to complete.  It was shelved halfway through post-production for scheduling and financial reasons.  It was finally completed this past year.  Check it out to see a new side of filmmaker / actor Jim VanBebber.

VanBebber’s current project is a feature-length horror film called Gator Green, set in a Florida alligator farm.  Director VanBebber and producer Stephen Biro (2008’s Philosophy Of A Knife) are currently working on a short film version of the project, which will be used to attract financing for the feature-length film.  Rumor has it that VanBebber will play the lead role – this time an enraged war veteran, recently returned from the battlefront.  Bloodthirsty alligators and VanBebber as a bonkers war vet… sign me up!

Thanks for reading.

- Eric Stanze

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