Richard W. Haines on cutting Troma, Technicolor Space Avengers and What Really Frightens Him

Starting as an editor for Troma during their most creatively prolific period, Richard W. Haines debuted as a writer & director with the slasher film SPLATTER UNIVERSITY. He then developed their future classic, the original CLASS OF NUKE ‘EM HIGH. Afterwards he became a fully independent New York City based auteur whose filmography incorporated an array of cinephile influences, from the pulp Technicolor sci-fi adventure SPACE AVENGER (aka ALIEN SPACE AVENGER) to the postmodern horror of WHAT REALLY FRIGHTENS YOU. He is also a published author of multiple novels and film history books. Mr. Haines was kind enough to chat with me about his life in the movies:

How did your career begin?

I attended NYU’s film school from 1975-1979 and studied with Haig Manoogian (Scorsese’s early mentor) and film historians, William K. Everson and Leonard Maltin.  I made 16mm student films in both black and white and Kodachrome.  I even did the sound editing, mixed them and made prints.  After graduating, I got a job as the assistant editor on the low budget exploitation film, Mother’s Day, and ended up as the sound editor on the movie since I was the only one who knew how to do it.  It offered me the opportunity to work in 35mm. The film was directed by Charles Kaufman.  He sent me to his brother, Lloyd Kaufman, who ran Troma, Inc which was an exploitation production and distribution company.  They started in porns but then moved into R rated sexploitation and eventually horror exploitation.  I cut trailers for them and some of their features. Since I gained experience in marketing movies there, I always edited the trailers for my later feature films.

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Ian A. Stuart on troglodytes, teddy bears and “The Pit”

(Originally posted December 2011 at Cinemachine)

A nighttime Halloween party. As children laugh, run and play in their costumes, one child clad in ghost sheets invites another boy and girl to come see the “bag of jewels” he’s found in the nearby forest. We’re shown via flashback that this gullible couple are bullies, and the ghost kid was apparently the target of their cruelty. As the boy bully nears a bag placed precariously next to some sort of ditch, ghost kid sneaks up from behind and gently pushes the tricked bully down the hole and out of sight.

Abruptly, the swelling musical score to this scene cuts off in mid-note and flashing lightning accompanies two shots alternating back and forth: a moving teddy bear with glowing eyes – and a deep hole full of some shifting, hairy…things. The movie’s title is superimposed, fading from yellow to red: THE PIT.

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