In the latest Indie Spotlight, Giallo Julian looks at some of the incredible actors working in the genre today.
Happy Friday the 13th, all my ravenous Gorehounds and ferocious Blood Babes. Welcome back to GIALLO JULIAN’S INDIE SPOTLIGHT!… that’s me, I’m Giallo Julian. Pleasure to meet all the new readers out there, we’re going to have a great time.
For those of you not in the know, this is where I spotlight new and exciting ventures taking place in the indie horror landscape! This week’s edition is a bit different, though. You see, I usually try to keep a fair spread across mediums, from feature films to music to books to whatever-else-comes-my-way. That’s not the case here: we’re going to focus exclusively on actors this time around! I haven’t really had a chance to talk about individual performers yet, so let’s make this one all about them.
Before we cut too deeply into all that, I’d like to give a mention to Rick Danford’s upcoming Mistress Mary’s Film FestEVIL! It’s currently accepting submissions, so if you have a film you’d like to put out there, head over to the festival’s website for more info. Also, it turns out that yours truly is one of the judges! With my taste in fine cinema, you can rest assured your films are in suitably bloodthirsty hands.
Now, without further ado, let’s explore these fog-filled woods and see who’s waiting for us among the trees!
1. Chris O’Brocki (Actor)
Kicking off this list, we have someone who’s been in the scene for a good while now: indie horror actor, Chris O’Brocki!
O’Brocki’s dabbled in acting since childhood, being part of various school and church plays before moving on to become the Vice President of his high school’s Drama Club. This was all well and good. But O’Brocki’s real aspirations lay with being a screen actor, both in films and television.
“I knew when I was younger that acting was something I always wanted to do, to be able to step out of my skin and see what it was like to live as a different person temporarily… and I have always loved the filmmaking process, especially when working within the Horror genre. It’s my absolute favorite!”
After being part of several failed TV pilots, he landed a small role in the 2006 dance film, Step Up, working alongside a young, relatively unknown Channing Tatum. From there, he managed to take his first step into horror filmmaking when cast in Kevin Kangas’s Fear of Clowns 2, hooking him to the genre.
“I would go on to work with Kangras several more times. One film in particular we did… is 2008’s Bounty, a found-footage style horror film in the vein of Dog the Bounty Hunter meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It was such an awesome time and I got to play the son of Halloween 6 alumni, actor Tom Proctor.”
Over the years, O’Brocki acted in many productions, including Live Free or Die Hard, HBO’s Game Change, Respire, and Killer Campout. Out of all of them, his favorite role so far also happens to be from his latest film: Shriekshow, which is said to be Fuzzy Monkey Films’s “biggest project to date”.
“In the film, I play a terrifying and sinister clown known as ‘The Ringmaster’, who has been hiding out in this seemingly abandoned carnival out in the woods, but he’s really prepping for something much larger… much more terrifying on Halloween night. It was great just to be able to tap into such a dark and evil character like that.”
O’ Brocki’s favorite horror films include Halloween, The Evil Dead, Scream, Cujo, and Jaws, having a taste for horror that’s more “slow burn”, but loving everything from anthologies to splatter films as well. When asked what film roles he’d love to portray, O’ Brocki replied:
“I actually get asked this a lot, but… I’d would love to portray a biopic of a rags-to-riches Country Western singer! Coal Miner’s Daughter is actually one of my favorite films and my family is originally from close to where Loretta Lynn grew up… I’d say definitely a close second dream would be an action hero in a sci-fi horror film.”
Other personal projects include screenwriting, sailing, gardening, and being a certified diver/aquatic performer known as “Merman Christian”.
“I’ve always been in love and so connected to the ocean… ten years ago I decided to use the iconic image of a ‘Merman’ to help raise awareness for taking better care of our oceans and try to get others involved in conservation… it’s definitely been a crazy ride so far.”
O’Brocki has several upcoming indie projects to look out for. He’s producing Brad Twigg‘s Killer Campout Part II and currently screenwriting a “shark thriller” that may potentially become a franchise (“If the stars align for me!”). “I’m also confident that you haven’t seen the last of the Ringmaster yet…”, he said.
To follow/contact O’Brocki, check out his Instagram page here.
2. Angel Bradford (Actress)
Next up, we have a relative newcomer, having acted in the indie-horror scene for the past two years: Angel Bradford!
Bradford wanted to be an actress ever since she was a little girl. But her life went in a different direction before she had the chance to follow this ambition.
“I was pursuing a career in exotic veterinary medicine,” Bradford explains,. “But then Covid hit and shut everything down… I had lots of free time to practice SFX makeup, and that’s how I was able to become involved with indie horror!”
Of the films she’s been in, her favorite set was The House That Eats Flesh, where she performed alongside Lisa Wilcox (A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child). She also worked as an SFX artist with Ariel Stafford, who taught her a lot about how to get things bloody… very bloody.
“There was a TON OF BLOOD. That’s the bloodiest set I’ve been a part of as of my career so far,” the actor said.
Note to self: put The House That Eats Flesh on my watchlist. Can’t go wrong with a nice, refreshing dip into a bloodbath.
“I got to be my own makeup artist for my own decapitation scene… and learned how to make a blood rig, and used a tire pump as a blood splatter tool. I have to say that my role as Jess in Night of the Axe has been my favorite so far!”
Upcoming films on Bradford’s docket include The Hicksorcists (which just got accepted into the GenCon Film Festival), Mothman, Debbie Does Demons, Wolf Hollow, Live Laugh Die, and Witch on Walker… wait, Mothman? Small world! How about that, huh?
Bradford’s top horror films consist of numerous classics: Amityville II: The Possession, Frankenhooker, Pumpkinhead, Terrifier, House of 1000 Corpses, and Midsommer. Hey hey hey… I’m aware Terrifier and Midsommar aren’t technically “classics” yet. But the way they’re talked about, they might as well be.
Of roles she’d like to play someday, Bradford has several:
“I always play the girl next door, someone sweet or nerdy. I would absolutely love to be cast in a role where I play a bully or a killer. I also would love to be a creature or monster of some sort, a role where I am physically unrecognizable!”
Other passions of Bradford include music (especially rock, having concert souvenirs ranging from drumsticks and set lists to memorabilia from Slipknot and Rob Zombie) and alternative performing (burlesque, pole dancing, fire eating, contortion, and poi). She’ll also be competing at two SFX competitions this year (Carolina Fear Fest and Haunted Screams Expo) and will be a special guest at Haunted Pamlico Carnival of Darkness.
3. Jordan Michael Brinkman (Actor)
Coming in next, we have a very close friend of mine who’s landed roles on screen and on stage: Jordan Michael Brinkman!
With eleven years theater experience alongside a solid decade of film/TV involvement, Brinkman is no stranger to the art. How he first got into the whole thespian thing, though, is an interesting story.
When asked what inspired him to become an actor, Brinkman said:
“Honestly, cartoons! When I was a kid, I watched a lot of movies and cartoons. I found that I had a gift for mimicry… I used that and my knack for memorizing dialogue to entertain people… A pivotal moment occurred in elementary school when Sonny Melendrez came and spoke to us. A well-respected radioman, he… lent his voice to a number of cartoon characters, and he demonstrated how he did the voices! It blew my mind to learn that you could do something that fun for a living!”
Inspired to be a creator in some form or fashion, Brinkman dug into what it would take to follow this dream, originally pursuing animation. Having no real guidance, he sought these answers by studying his favorite artists and reading any relevant books he could find at his local/school libraries. Once he reached high school, he took a drama class and started writing his own scripts with the intent of creating his own cartoons.
Turns out life had other plans. The shift from hand-drawn animation to digital art caused him to lose interest in the field (“I liked to draw! Not use computers!”). He moved his focus towards acting, enrolling in classes at a community college and auditioning for local plays. He took radio courses, martial arts, voice lessons, anything he could to help further his skills as an actor and give himself more tools to work with.
Over the course of his career, he’s had roles in several movies such as Camino, Hollow Scream, Trippin’ to the Altar (which also features one “Giallo Julian” as an extra… give me a call, Hollywood), and the recently released The Quantum Terror.
On working in horror, Brinkman says:
“I think my favorite thing… is the blood! Getting… covered in blood, or wearing prosthetics is pretty neat!… My most memorable moment… would have to be working on this one film… the scene was set in the summer, but we filmed in winter!… I had to lie down on the freezing cold ground, covered in… blood, with a latex prosthetic on my chest. I remember seeing the crew all bundled up and had some blankets… I considered my position and thought, ‘gee, this is it! This is filmmaking!’ Could I have covered up between takes? Maybe, but I didn’t want to make more work for the makeup artist!”
Brinkman’s favorite horror films include The Thing, Evil Dead II, The Return of the Living Dead, Prince of Darkness, One Cut of the Dead, and Tucker & Dale vs Evil. When asked what roles he’d love to play one day, he replied:
“I’ve always wanted to play a real badass. Anti-hero. Someone who isn’t as concerned with the consequences as they are with the mission. Maybe a reluctant hero… someone who takes the risk for reward but discovers something of greater value… Would love to play a villain, too. But not one who knows what they are doing is wrong/evil; someone who believes what they are doing is the right thing regardless of the cost… Ooh! Also, someone who faces impossible odds… who knows they can’t win but makes the stand because their cause means that much to them.”
As far as other passions go, Brinkman has a great love for playing the guitar, having lent his musical talent to several musical stage productions. Oh, and he also slings a mean pizza… I personally know this for a fact.
To follow/contact Brinkman, check out his Instagram page here.
4. Jackie Kelly (Actress)
Next, we have an actress that’s been in the business for the better part of a decade, starring in such films as In Memory Of, Tennessee Gothic, The Man in Room 6, and Oscar. Tango. Hellwater: Jackie Kelly!
Kelly’s career began in live theater, having done stage shows from childhood all the way through her teenage years. She continued to follow her passion afterward, receiving a film school degree in screenwriting, her intended career. In 2014, she co-wrote the screenplay for In Memory Of, her first feature film, starring Eric Stanze and Jason Christ. It was during this production that she had her first shot to act in a lead role.
“That’s what really kicked off my career as an actor,” Kelly recalls, “and I haven’t stopped since!”
Speaking of her time in the horror genre, Kelly says:
“I’ve been blessed to work with so many talented and kind horror filmmakers over the years. My favorite experiences involve being covered in blood and prosthetics and screaming and crying as if there isn’t an entire film crew around me. I appreciate any role that forces me to be completely vulnerable, as these types of characters offer me the greatest sense of catharsis.”
I’m noticing a trend between “being covered in blood” and “enjoyment” when it comes to actors. To be honest, who doesn’t want to be drenched in blood, screaming at the top of their lungs? Seems like it would be a great stress reliever… hey, don’t make that face. It’s not incriminating as long as nobody snitches.
“When we shot In Memory Of, one leg of the shoot involved a skeleton crew traveling across Southwest USA for 2 weeks. We had a script in front of us… but we also had the freedom to film whatever we wanted as we saw it on the road. It was such a liberating and creatively stimulating experience… We shot Tennessee Gothic in the small town of Viola, Tennessee. During that time the entire cast and crew was living in an inoperative church we had unlimited access to. I will never forget my time making this film and the family that was created during the shoot. That’s one of my favorite things about independent film. You get a group of artists together… You push through long hours and sometimes grueling conditions in the name of art. The majority of my closest friendships were spawned on film sets.”
Kelly’s favorite horror flicks include The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Nekromantik(Ah! A fellow person of culture!), Re-Animator, Just Before Dawn, and Funny Games. When asked about what future roles she’d want to do, she said:
“I’ve always wanted to play a character with Munchausen Syndrome by proxy. I love playing roles that require me to access the darkest part of my brain and let go of my personal values and behaviors. I would also love to play the frontwoman/vocalist of an all-female punk band in 1970s UK. I am aware of how oddly specific these roles are.”
While spending a lot of her time making and watching films, Kelly’s sure to take a moment to follow her other passions: fitness, vegetable gardening, and being a committed dog mom to “the world’s greatest hound”, named Herbert West.
As of now, Kelly’s working on a horror feature in Alaska, and recently wrapped up a thriller filmed in Indiana. She also has several more features in the pipeline that she’s real excited to shoot.
5. Estevan Muñoz (Actor)
Muñoz has been acting since the age of six, playing “make believe” with others seeming to come intuitively for him despite what he may have been going through in life. It’s always been a “continual obsession”, as he puts it.
“Not going to lie, it can get pretty obnoxious acting in these kinds of movies because it usually involves a lot of screaming on your end and/or having gallons of fake blood or special effects on you for entire days sometimes,” Muñoz said about working in the horror genre.
“But I suppose that’s also what makes it so fun as things are usually so extreme and absurd that you’re given ultimate permission to really wig out in a way that not a lot of other spaces… will allow you to. It’s also a lot of fun seeing elaborate special effects work out in real-time.”
There’s that blood/scream/enjoyment correlation again. I should write a dissertation on that!
“My favorite experience… was probably the movie I Need You Dead. There’s a scene that was completely improvised on the spot… it involved unsuspecting people in public. I can’t go into more detail… but it was such a rush to improvise something so insane around people who didn’t even realize we were shooting a movie. There’s an intense adrenaline rush to putting yourself in real spaces… as an actor because the stakes feel so incredibly high. I’m addicted to those kinds of experiences and it’s much safer than robbing a bank….”
Along with I Need You Dead, Muñoz can be seen in Este Does Not Make a Movie, a “metaphysical horror-comedy” directed by his brother, Nicky Moon. It also demonstrates his talents not only as an improvisor, but as a writer, given that he co-wrote the screenplay.
“I think the role I was born to play is someone who’s a liar, a conman, swindler type. Someone not being entirely truthful… The blur between reality and fantasy… is a theme I’ve always been obsessed about. I also think a role like this could strategically weaponize my boyish good looks and charm by having an audience fall in love with the character… only to have their perception gradually corrode as the character starts behaving more… naughty. If no one sends me this script in five years, I’ll probably have to write it myself.”
Alongside his acting work, Muñoz also has a career in hip-hop, going by the name “Chaz Matador”. He started creating music when he moved away from Albuquerque, Nex Mexico at the age of 18, writing rap songs and directing/editing music videos from a place of loneliness and boredom. He said,
“Then at a certain point I… got hooked on it and realized my rapping was actually pretty good… I decided to practice it more and do what I could to stretch my natural ability with it… I’m a big fan of any artist having multiple creative outlets, so when one thing is feeling a little boring or maybe auditions have dried up, you can always just do other things.”
All that being said, I feel it’s only right to leave Muñoz with the final word:
“I think what ultimately inspired me… is realizing that acting is a… natural part of who I am and also knowing that we’re all going to die. So, if my life does become a total colossal failure… I wouldn’t have to endure that outcome forever… in other words, just the typical YOLO sentiment… is what fuels me.”
Now, as we’ve all come to expect, I can’t end the article without a few Shoutouts to some awesome creators out there! Check it out!
– Laura Ellen Wilson (Actress): Laura Ellen Wilson’s acted in such films as Friday the 13th: Vengeance, Monster, and Surprise! That’s not all: she also has a black bet in Kung Fu, practices accents along with speaking Spanish, and has worked on film productions in the US, UK, Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary. You can catch her in the upcoming films Project Skyquake and Chained! To follow/contact Wilson, check out on her Facebook page here.
– Parallels (Feature Film): After seven years in the making, Daniel Goad’s Parallels is in the home stretch for release! Said to be a “Lovecraft-inspired supernatural horror drama”, the film follows a pair of monster-hunters fighting to save a young woman from a malevolent entity possessing her. Sounds up my alley! It stars Ember Burns and Jason Crowe. For more info and to help support the film, check out its Indiegogo here!
– Jamie Langlands (Actor): Jamie Langlands has acted in many features, including P.O.V., The Lockdown Hauntings, and I Am an Addict. From the looks of things, he’s not showing signs of stopping any time soon! Checkout his upcoming performance in C.A.M. (available on VOD soon) and As a Prelude to Fear (coming out later this year). To follow/contact Langlands, check out his Instagram page here!
– Lonely Echoes (Short Film): The third film in a series, Jason Pitts’s Lonely Echoes follows the events of his previous short films, ALONE and Masquerade. This latest chapter involves Detective Kim Spenser investigating the whereabouts of her lost sister. All the clues lead her to a small rural town that holds many secrets, some of which may be deadly… you know, like every small rural town. It’s been described as “SEVEN meets Psycho”, so if that sounds in your wheelhouse, consider supporting their Indiegogo right here!
– Claire ‘Fluff’ Llewellyn (Actress): Writer, rocker, filmmaker, and (of course) actress, Claire ‘Fluff’ Llewellyn is a woman of many talents! She’s acted in such films as Hobo with a Trash Can, Dracula’s Orgy of the Damned, and Transit. On top of that, she’s led two rock bands and has several books published (LOVE is a Killer, RHYME & REASON: Facets of Life). You can catch her in the upcoming film Steal Your Face and is attached to The Adventures of Salem Musk! To follow/contact Llewellyn, check out her Facebook page here and Instagram page here.
– Ghoul Scout Zombie Massacre (Feature Film): Shock-A-Go-Go Film Festival’s own Eric Eichelberger’s latest movie, boasting a ridiculously rad title, has just hit Tubi! The plot involves a group of girls at a reform school being coerced into selling cookies that turn people into flesh-hungry zombies… hilarity ensues, of course! You can watch it right here!
– Raymond Bolden Jr. (Actor): With only a few roles on his ledger, Raymond Bolden Jr. isn’t too well known (yet) in the acting landscape, but he gives it his all in the Strange Films Studios short film Raven! He plays an aging serial killer looking to have one last hurrah before calling it quits, and luckily for him, a few visitors are staying next door… time to dust off the old black leather gloves. Watch it on YouTube here and keep an eye out for his next performance in Human Hibachi 2! To follow/contact Bolden Jr., check out his Facebook page here.
– The Adventures of Cthulhu Jr. & Friends (Graphic Novel): Dirk Manning has a Kickstarter up for his brand-new comic, The Adventures of Cthulhu Jr. & Friends! The plot revolves around a wannabe supervillain wanting to join the “League of E.V.I.L.” to finally get that sweet official bad guy status. However, in order to be admitted, he has to partake in capturing someone… nobody too important, just the SON OF THE GREAT EVIL ONE, CTHULHU. Hijinks (and even a little horror) take place as the villain “starts to realize that perhaps his priorities are misaligned”. Hopefully he figures that all out before Papa Cthulhu comes knocking. This sounds like fun for the whole family… and I’m not being factious about it this time! For more info and to help support the project, check out the Kickstarter here!
Once again, thank you to all the actors/creators who shared their work with me, and a huge thanks to y’all for reading this latest Indie Spotlight! There’s still plenty of spooky trails and abandoned cabins to explore in the sprawling woods of indie-horror, and I plan on checking out as many as I can! What’s the worst that can happen? Have a killer Friday the 13th!
Until next time…