Exclusive Interview with “Death Kiss” Producer Jeff Miller

Jeff Miller attributes the documentary Legend of Boggy Creek to his interest in filmmaking. Years later, the prolific producer has countless films to his name, including recent genre classics The Burning Dead and Clowntown. Miller’s latest film is the vigilante thriller Death Kiss, out in October.

-PH: Jeff, your name is a permanent fixture in horror these days -when did you love of the scary movie begin?

-Jeff: Some of my earliest memories of “horror” are when I was a kid and watching the “documentary” THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK on TV. That and shows like “In Search Of” would creep me out. I was a scaredy cat and would sometimes jump into bed with my parents! In the days of VHS, I would sometimes fast-forward through the scary parts of movies so I’d know when the killer would jump out. Then I could rewind and watch it at normal speed and not be scared. I was a real chicken. As I got older and got into horror more, I realized it fascinated me – the power these movies had to scare and unnerve people.

-PH: Would you say any of the films you’ve produced are directly influenced by those films you grew up loving as a child?

-Jeff: Well, I’ve never made a Bigfoot movie, even though I grew up watching THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK, so that’s on my bucket list. In my teens, I watched a lot of slashers, and I’ve made a few films influenced by those, notably AXE GIANT: THE WRATH OF PAUL BUNYAN (kind of creature/slasher – and, heck, kind of a Bigfoot film!) and CLOWNTOWN.

-PH: Were you a fan of the Bronson/Death Wish movies? Is that how Death Wish came to be?

-Jeff: I liked Bronson and had seen many of his ‘80s Cannon films. (Trivia note: Robert F. Lyons from my movie THE BURNING DEAD – aka VOLCANO ZOMBIES — did three pictures with Bronson.) I only recently saw DEATH WISH V, but now I’ve seen all of that series. Rene Perez and I had done THE BURNING DEAD together. We were talking about doing another movie. It was going to be horror, but I knew Rene had made a movie with Robert Kovacs, who bears a striking resemblance to Bronson, and I thought an action-revenge film would be kind of cool.

-PH: Were there any hurdles to get over in regards to that production?

-Jeff: The usual low-budget hurdles. Never enough time and money to do it exactly how you want. I wasn’t on set every day, whereas Rene was, so he could probably answer that better than I can.

-PH: What was your involvement in Strange Nature? That sounds like a really intriguing sci-fi horror movie?

-Jeff: I’m friends with writer-director Jim Ojala and his wife, Beth. Jim had finished a rough cut of STRANGE NATURE and showed it to me. He needed finishing funds. I thought it was an interesting and different idea – ecological horror, not your typical slasher or haunted house story – so I came aboard to help out financially. Then I also got involved with the marketing of it and selling it to distributors, as I’ve been down that road many times.

-PH: Do you have a favorite among the films you’ve produced?

-Jeff: There’s something I like about all the films I’ve done. And sometimes my favorite changes. Among my favorites so far are THE RUSSIAN BRIDE (upcoming – I’m a sucker for a good scary mansion-type movie), AXE GIANT: THE WRATH OF PAUL BUNYAN, CLOWNTOWN, and THE TOYBOX. And DEATH KISS is definitely one of the cooler films I’ve done.

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