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.