LA Horror Presents: George Streicher and Bruce Spielbauer

George Streicher and Bruce Spielbauer on the set of "The Laughing Window"

When creating a film, or any piece of collaborative art for that matter, chemistry is everything.   We often see directors work with the same actors for multiple projects, and why not?  If it works, it works.  George Streicher, a Chicagoland filmmaker who recently made the plunge to Los Angeles, knows all too well about this and has found success using this formula.

Streicher’s interest in horror films began as a child, not out of morbid curiosity, but out of fear.  “I like horror movies.  I’ve feel like I’ve always been afraid of so much, and I’m still kind of a ‘scaredy cat’ and I’m still a little afraid of the dark,” Streicher bravely admitted to LAHorror.com.  But Streicher used that fear to create some of the creepiest films we’ve seen so far.  Ranging from high suspense to high gore, to breaths of relief and moments of laughter, Streicher has created a contrasting portfolio with one major through-line: actor, Bruce Spielbauer.

Streicher initially met Spielbauer through a mutual friend and producer.  Spielbauer auditioned for Streicher’s horror/revenge short, “Total Eclipse,” and Streicher knew that he’d found his killer.  And who could blame him?  Spielbauer has a distinct look that horror filmmakers are constantly searching for.  “He just has the Anthony Perkins element to him…Bruce is very photographable,” Streicher said.

And aside from the “nice guy neighbor who may love to chop up young girls” look Spielbauer has, he’s also a terrific performer and a natural in front of the camera.  “Man, when he showed up, he was creeping everybody out because he was in character the whole time,” Streicher recalled of the “Total Eclipse” shoot.  Well, wouldn’t you be creeped out if this guy was on your set?

The very much alive cast and crew of "Total Eclipse"

But anyone who knows Spielbauer will tell you that he’s one of the nicest people on the planet, and he credits his stellar performances to Streicher as a director.  After all, they both have similar inspirations and together they gel on set. “[Streicher] and I both like excellent stories, stories that go somewhere…He also, I want to say, is a big fan of Hitchcock…he’s a big fan of the old television series ‘The Twilight Zone’…I’m just a huge fan of that same genre, and that may also be partly why we hit it off so well,” Spielbauer told LAHorror.com.

And you can see those influences play out in Spielbauer’s performances and in Streicher’s style as a filmmaker.  Streicher’s horror-esque film, “Viper,” screams Hitchcock, ratcheting up the suspense in each frame masterfully and enhanced by Spielbauer’s (mostly) lone performance.  Streicher is, as Spielbauer puts it, an actor’s director and someone who knows how to get the best work from his actors.  “He has a great ability for sizing up people and realizing the best means of communicating with them,” Spielbauer said.  And during “Viper,” that communication was key for several shots, because Spielbauer was acting without the recorded audio, having to actually internalize each moment his character was feeling.  But could you tell?

Didn’t think so.

They most recently teamed up on a 35mm film, “The Laughing Window,” which is coming soon. While it is Streicher’s largest project to date, it certainly looks like it could be his best.  The set was constructed from scratch and involved some heavy duty special effects.  And just as Streicher knew he wanted to offer the lead role to Spielbauer, Spielbauer was thrilled to be back on set with one of his favorite directors.  “I can’t praise George [Streicher] enough, and I would say he’s one of the very few directors that I would say, ‘Anytime, anyplace, I will work with them.’”

Well let’s hope that anytime, anyplace happens quite often for these two…

You can view more of Streicher’s work at his youtube channel.  Streicher also composes much of the music for his own films as well as other projects, which can be heard here.  Spielbauer’s full resume is available on his IMDB page.

LA Horror Presents: Timothy L. Raynor

Timothy L. Raynor began his acting career as a fighter.  He started studying martial arts as a child and became a Master Level Instructor.  In the early 1980s, Raynor took the plunge into Hollywood, where he very quickly was able to put his skills into action.

“I got into live on stage fight scenes, you know, for demonstrations for Star Trek conventions and things like that— Sci-Fi conventions.  And a friend of mine said, ‘You know, why don’t you try your luck in Hollywood?'”  And that’s where Raynor met Jimmy Huston, the writer and director of the campus slasher, “Final Exam.”  Huston, looking for an actor with combat and weapons experience, asked Raynor to audition for the most important role in the film: the killer.

At the audition, Raynor immediately made an impact. “The night of the audition I come dressed in this three piece suit, this three pin striped suit, decked out.  And I’ve got all of my weapons,” Raynor told LAHorror.com.  And after showing the producers his skills, they only wanted more.

“I did everything I could, and Jimmy Huston comes up to me afterward and he goes, ‘Can you do anything else?’” Raynor recalled. “I also do a six-inch palm strike. I put up a telephone book up to some guys and I’ll do six-inch palm strike and knock em’ ten feet back. So that’s the only thing I could think of at the time.”

And Raynor demonstrated that strike on the largest guy in the room who, unknown to Raynor, just happened to be John Chambliss, one the films executive producers.  After the punishing blow to the chest that left Chambliss on the ground, the audition was over.  Two weeks later, Raynor got the part.


Aside from the camera time, Raynor choreographed each fight scene and murder, and after watching “Final Exam,” you can see a raw intensity in each kill.  In one scene, for instance, Raynor had to jump off a 14-foot plank onto his victim, a “groin busting” stunt that they luckily only had to do once.  In another, Raynor pulls a character out of a moving convertible top with one hand.  In one of the longer action sequences, Raynor battled actor Ralph Brown in the school gym that ended in Brown’s character’s death by weight machine strangulation.  That fight scene, which took only 20 minutes for Raynor to choreograph, received a standing ovation from the crew.  However it was during that scene that real death nearly crept onto the set of “Final Exam.”

The Killer strangles Wildman in "Final Exam"

“Well, there were some reporters there, that were from the local papers and that stuff–TV stations–and they were talking to me.  Jimmy wanted to do a close up of Ralph being thrown up against the machine…[Ralph] goes over; he wraps the chord around his throat himself.  He did it too many times.  He pulls himself out, they said “action,” he throws himself back against the weight machine and it tightens up–starts choking him…they think he’s acting!”

Luckily, Raynor noticed the unsupervised stunt in a nick of time, untied the unconscious actor and administered CPR.  Pretty nice move for a killer.

Now 30 years later, “Final Exam” has hit cult status and Raynor often receives autograph requests from horror enthusiasts (he signed our VHS copy himself).  And while Raynor is flattered by the attention, it is by no means his only claim to fame.  Raynor has appeared on multiple TV shows and films, including “The Sarah Conner Chronicles,”  “My Name Is Earl,” Animal Planet’s “Wildlife Wars” and played a different type of killer in the gangster film, “Drop Off.”  While auditioning for “Star Trek:  Enterprise,” Raynor met the love of his life and fellow actress, Tracey Kimball, who was working on the series.  They now frequent science fiction conventions and are currently in pre-production on two sci-fi series of their own.  Raynor most recently portrayed the character of Death in an upcoming short, “Deathwatch.”

Raynor as Death in "Deathwatch"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It seems that bringing death is just in his nature…

For more on Timothy L. Raynor, please visit his IMDB page.  You can also get a peek into his new Sci-Fi series, “Praetorian,” here.