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by Thomas M. Sipos, managing editor.  [January 17, 2006]





[]  Several New York horror filmmakers received very special holiday gifts in 2005 -- Tabloid Witch Award trophies!

While lucky Los Angeles-based recipients of the 2005 Tabloid Witch Awards -- sponsored by the Hollywood Investigator! -- attended the November 26 awards presentation, many winners live far outside of L.A. and were unable to participate.

But because a surprisingly large number of those filmmakers live in New York, the Hollywood Investigator was able to present their trophies during a special sojourn to the Big Apple this past December.

Mole director Rich Mauro (Best Horror Feature Film) and actress Sam Tsao (Best Actress) met with the Investigator near NYU -- former film student Mauro's alma mater -- to accept their trophies. Mauro also accepted trophies for Anthony Savini (who co- wrote and co-directed Mole with Mauro) and James Cox (Best Supporting Actor).

"Mole has been well received in England," said Mauro of his film's latest triumphs. "It was reviewed positively by The Rumor Machine and is going to the American Film Market in 2006 to be sold outside the US."

"Mole has been well received in England," said Mauro of his film's latest triumphs. "It was reviewed positively by The Rumor Machine and is going to the American Film Market in 2006 to be sold outside the US."

Mole is about a TV news crew who gets lost in New York's abandoned subway tunnels and learn the grim reality behind "mole people" -- those born underground and living their entire lives in darkness. Among other attributes, Mole is noteworthy for its guerilla filmmaking -- it was actually shot in New York's abandoned subway tunnels, without city permits.

With the boom in independent filmmaking and inexpensive DV equipment, Mauro says it's easier today to shoot a film than to find a distributor for it. Despite that, he increased the burden by trimming Mole to an one hour -- an unattractive length for distributors. Yet Mauro insisted that one hour was the aesthetically correct length for Mole. An initial longer version bored audiences, while the one-hour length has proven to be a tense crowd-pleaser.

Mauro later found a distributor who included Mole as part of a four-DVD horror film package.  Meanwhile, he continues developing new projects.

"I'm currently working on two documentaries in Maryland," said Mauro. "I may be directing a film I wrote, Visions of Grace, about a Franciscan priest who gives up his life for a fellow prisoner in Auschwitz. It's to be produced by Peter Bove, who produced Capturing the Friedmans."

Mole has been an especially rewarding experience for actress Sam Tsao. She met her current beau, actor John-Luke Montias, on Mauro's set. By all reports the couple is very happy -- despite Montias's character strangling Tsao's character in an extremely realistic choking scene.

"Sam's a very devoted actress," Mauro explained. "She really gets into her part."



Filmmaker Michael Fiore -- who won an Honorable Mention for Cadaverous -- says things are "very hectic" for him at the moment, yet he found time to meet with the Investigator at a Manhattan Starbucks to accept his Tabloid Witch.

Of his current projects, Fiore says, "I am working with Moderncine/Modern Horror as one of six directors on their slate to direct a feature horror. The script I was initially handed has been scrapped and we are currently looking for material suitable for a $1 million budget.

"Cadaverous is being viewed by Chris Columbus and Michael Barnathan of 1492 Pictures. I met them at a special screening of Rent. Upon telling them of my work, they asked to see the film."

Columbus and Barnathan are NYU film school alums -- as are Fiore and Mauro and several other Tabloid Witch Award winners. While not every winner attended NYU, it was the film school best represented among the 2005 winners.

Another NYU film school alum is Sam Zalutsky -- who won a Tabloid Witch Honorable Mention for SuperStore. Zalutsky accepted his trophy at the same Starbucks as Fiore, albeit a week later.

Zalutsky's SuperStore is noteworthy because it was tied with Mole and Legion as the "Audience Choice" at the Tabloid Witch Awards's L.A. film screening/awards presentation. Human No More was fourth among a total of seven films that were screened.

Zalutsky told the Investigator that the Tabloid Witch is the first physical trophy he's ever won -- and that it's already mentioned on his résumé.

"SuperStore.will be playing at the end of this month with my other short films in chashama's windows program," said Zalutsky. "Chashama is a New York nonprofit arts organization. They use storefront windows to stage performances and visual installations as expressions of public art. Since 1995, they've presented over one thousand performances and exhibits. I think SuperStore will screen at 266 West 37th Street.

"I'm also fundraising and casting Mama's Boy, a psychological horror/thriller that I wrote and will direct this summer. I've raised a quarter of the budget. I've a great casting director, Jordan Beswick, who cast my previous short, Stefan's Silver Bell.

"And I'm writing two new scripts, both comedies."

The Hollywood Investigator will continue to follow the the future successes of its Tabloid Witch Award-winning filmmakers and actors! Stay tuned!


North Carolina filmmaker Jamie Renee Williams, who an Honorable Mention for Slinky Milk, was unable to receive her award in person -- as she was in Japan!

She sent this photo.


If you haven't already read about our 2005 winning films -- read about them now!

Read about the Los Angeles Awards.

It's not too early to enter our next search! We're reviewing entries as they arrive.

And if you're a filmmaker, actor, musician, or writer who doesn't do horror -- we want to hear from you too! Email or snail mail us about your project, and if we're intrigued we'll cover it or invite you to submit a report!

Copyright 2006 by


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