Mike Lombardo is the sick, sick man behind The Stall, My Friend Lawrence, and plenty of other films from Reel Splatter and Drunken Tentacle Productions. He’s kind of twisted, a bit demented, and a lot of fun. He’s also a super nice, friendly, and very cool guy in general. Recently, I had a conversation with him. Here’s what happened:
Amber Fallon: Let’s get the cliches out of the way first… What’s your favorite scary movie?
Mike Lombardo: I’d have to go with Hellbound: Hellraiser II
AF: Any particular reason?
ML: I’ve had an unhealthy obsession with Hellraiser since I was a kid. The vision of Hell they show is just so damn cool. I love the labyrinth and the all the surreal and grotesque imagery. The baby sewing its own mouth shut and the mime juggling his own eyeballs are particular favorites. Bob Keene’s skinned body make-up is among the greatest FX pieces in cinema history. The scene where skinless Julia emerges from the blood soaked mattress and kills the schizophrenic mental patient still haunts me to this day.
AF: If you had to choose a way to die from a movie what would it be?
ML: That’s a tough one. I’d have to go with a Technicolor meltdown ala Street Trash or a good old fashioned Hellraiser or Texas Chainsaw Massacre flensing. I’ve always had this weird thing about skin wearing, probably because of seeing those flicks as a kid.
AF: Favorite horror monster/creature?
ML: Without doubt the Xenomorph and Queen from Aliens. They are the most well designed/executed and terrifying creatures ever put on film. They are a nightmare vision of sex and death and violation. Just as likely to fuck you as they are to kill you. They are absolutely stunning pieces of FX mastery.
AF: What are your inspirations?
ML: I grew up on a steady diet of 70’s and 80’s splatter, Italian exploitation flicks, Troma, 90’s Nickelodeon and weird sketch comedy. The Adventures of Pete and Pete and Ren Stimpy were hugely inspirational to me, as were shows like The Kids in The Hall, The League of Gentleman, and The Upright Citizen’s Brigade. Tales From The Crypt and Are You Afraid of The Dark were playing non stop in my house when I was a kid (hell, I was just watching Are You Afraid of The Dark before I started typing this!). I was also inspired heavily by the films of David Cronenberg, John Waters and George Romero’s original Dead trilogy played a big part too.
AF: What’s your favorite project you’ve worked on?
My favorite project would probably be Womb For Two. It was a gimmick sitcom parody we shot back in 2008. It was about a 16 year old fetus that still lived inside his mother’s womb. It was basically a love letter to Pete and Pete and Ren & Stimpy. It had cartoon logic and I got to build a huge womb set with a working tv and a bed and no joke was too weird to put into the script. We would just make up more and more bizarre shit as we were shooting and it was so freeing to be able to do that. It was definitely the most fun I ever had making a movie. If you’re interested in watching it, it’s on our first dvd, “SuburbanHolocaust: Reel Splatter Volume 1”.
AF: Favorite horror prop?
ML: My favorite horror prop that I’ve made is the skinned face mask “Lori”. I took a lifecast of a friend of mine and sculpted it out as a flayed face stitched to a torn off scalp complete with a full head of long blond hair. I entered a costume contest at a horror convention once wearing heels, a bloodsoaked leopard print dress, and that mask and I weirded out the judges big time. I wouldn’t break character until after the show. It was wonderful. I actually got offered a drag modeling gig by a fetish model while I was waiting to go on stage!
As for favorite prop from a movie I didn’t make, I’d have to say the puzzle box from Hellraiser. I would kill to own one of the originals.
AF: Favorite movie effect?
ML: My favorite bit of FX work I’ve done is a tie between the tentacles from my new short, “The Stall” and buzzsaw evisceration I did for a short film that never got finished called “Til Death”. The scene started with a guy drawing a dotted line on a gal’s chest from neck to crotch, donning goggles (safety first!) and buzzsawing her open. There is a really awesome shot that I was particularly proud of where he spreads her chest open and the camera is inside looking up as the edges of her skin part to reveal his blood splattered face.
Favorite FX scene I didn’t do is the Norris Head Spider crab from John Carpenter’s The Thing. That whole sequence is just so fucking disgustingly realistic it almost hypnotizes you. You cannot look away.
AF: Favorite makeup trick?
ML: My favorite make-up trick adding instant coffee to blood. It melts into a dark muddy red and looks like clotted blood. When I’m on set doing FX I always make sure I have a jar of instant coffee with me. I prefer the vanilla flavored stuff because it smells nice and it tastes a little better so the actor’s don’t mind it as much. I also like to add chocolate syrup to my blood to help darken it and cut down on the amount of food coloring I need which saves money and helps the blood not stain as badly. It also tastes great!
AF: Where have you gone that you think would make an excellent movie set?
ML: I spent a month in Rome, and pretty much any given street would look amazing on film. The coolest place though was The Bone Church, it’s a crypt that is decorated entirely with the skeletons of the monks who worshipped there. There was a child’s skeleton on the ceiling wielding a scythe made of pelvic bones and holding an hour glass made of bones. It was equal parts fascinating and disturbing to be in there surrounded by thousands of the dead. It would look absolutely incredible on film.
AF: What skills do you have that would help you survive the zombie apocalypse?
ML: Is owning a shitload of machetes and chainsaws a skill? I think my ability to operate under extreme pressure without losing my cool and leadership skills (both forged by 10 years of indie filmmaking) would be pretty helpful.
AF: What’s something about you that people may not know or would find surprising?
ML: One of my favorite movies is Toy Story. I have it on my shelf next to Cannibal Holocaust. Everyone assumes that all I watch is ultra violent horror films and it’s just not true. I honestly have more affection for comedy and just plain weird stuff than I do for disturbing, straight horror. People assume that because of the stuff I write about and the things I joke about that I’m a homicidal maniac. I’m really just a big kid at heart and I’m one of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. I still watch cartoons like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (the original 80’s show, not the latest abortion err incarnation of it) and Pinky and The Brain.