Messin’ with Mezo: An Interview with Steve Mezo.

Mothers.

We wouldn’t be here without them.

Norman Bates and Jason Vorhees (just to name two) killed for theirs.

Mine tormented mine with viewings of ‘The Exorcist’ and tales of little giggling girls hiding under my bed and creepy old ladies crying in my closet.

For some twisted reason, I love my mother even more for this. Our mutual love for horror bonded us in ways découpage and bird watching simply couldn’t.

Meet Steve Mezo- as a horror enthusiast, he’s been swimming in the dark waters of the macabre for the better part of four decades. As a blogger, Steve runs Tattooed Steve’s Storage Unit Of Terror- a wonderful little corner in the cobwebbed haunted house of horror internet sites that celebrates anything and everything creepy.

Coolest of all- he shares the same awesome relationship with his mother that I do, and recently Mr. Mezo shared with me not only his fondest memory of sharing a day of horror with his mommy dearest, but also talked about his experience as a sea monster, working with a sideshow and his affinity for Vincent Price.

Read on, if you dare….

MM: When did you first begin to immerse yourself in the world of horror? (Who or what drew you to the land of the macabre?)

Steve Mezo: I think loving horror movies and monsters has been in my blood since day one, but at age five I was able to put names to the faces. And I have to thank my Mom for my obsession with them. She’s a huge horror fan too so by the time I was six I had a great collection of Horror Comics and Uncle Forry’s Famous Monsters Magazine. She still goes to see horror movies with me to this day.

MM: My Ma and I always go to scary movies together, too! She’s the queen of finding the really crappy exorcism movies from the 2/$1 bin at the video store.. but horror’s always bonded us. Any fun memories of seeing a horror flick with your Ma?

Steve Mezo: When I six years old my Mother had taken me to one of the last live horror shows (like the old William Castle shows with the buzzers in the seats for The Tingler). It was at The Fowler movie theater in Keansburg, New Jersey and I’ll never forget it.

There was this large wooden hand painted sign that said “Beware of the LIVE snakes, rats and monsters that will be in the theater with you! We went inside and watched “Let’s Scare Jessica to Death”. It was kind of cool when I was six, but when I found it and watched it again last year I loved it!

After the movie was over a man came out wearing a gold sequin jacket and said “Now that you’ve seen the movie it’s time for the real horror show to start, release the rats! The crowd flipped out and I was looking for one to keep as a pet! Then he yelled “Release the snakes, hey girls the only way to keep them away is to scream!” and boy did they ever.

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better he yelled “Release the monsters!” and there they were. I went crazy because I was face to face with all of my heroes Dracula, The Wolf Man, Frankenstein and a Witch. The kids around me were screaming and crying, but I was smiling from ear to ear! I jumped up on my seat and my Mom had to grab my waistband before I broke my ass and yelled for Dracula to come over. He did and I went six year old fan boy on him yammering how much I loved him and the others, the next thing I knew he had told the others and the all made sure to see me so I could tell them too. That was a great day.

MM: You’ve been able to scratch off just about everything a fella could want to on a horror bucket list. What is your most proud accomplishment in the genre?

Steve Mezo: One was not only getting to be an alien sea monster in two horror movies, then getting to see myself in one with my wife and my mother on the big screen in a movie theater. Special thanks to writer/director Warren F. Disbrow for that one.

But I have a second (Because this one was a biggie too) where movie reviewer and writer Scott Ruth had given me the chance to write for DmentD Cinema. He is amazing at what he does and having him giving me a chance to write for his site was like having Eddie Van Halen say “Hey you’re pretty good at guitar why don’t you come up on stage?”

MM: From your days working at a haunted attraction, what was your favorite aspect of that job?

Steve Mezo: Definitely prop building, dressing and aging the rooms and building new corpses. Scaring people was fun at first, but after a while it became a job for me. Once I started working on everything that made the actual haunt, that became my new love.

MM: You worked with a sideshow. What did you do and in how many states is it illegal to do it in?

Steve Mezo: Mainly I jumped in wherever needed.  Most of the time it was working the crowd (Which isn’t easy). You have a few friends with you and you encourage the crowd to stand close to the stage barrier because you’re doing it yourself and getting them really riled up for the acts (Like the crowd workers for Television shows). And I got them on Kevin Smith’s Roadside Jersey Special for “The Tonight Show”.

Then the Sideshow performers would help out with things at The Haunted Attraction between their performance times.

MM: With experience working with animatronics as well as a deep affinity for the classic horror of yesteryear, what are your thoughts on the CGI saturation going on in Hollywood these days?

Steve Mezo: At times it really gets to be overkill and it all starts looking like a video game instead of a movie. There are so many new materials and technologies available that they should be continuing to push physical F/X more than ever. I mean look at ‘Jurassic Park’, they used digital as a secondary filler where needed. And had a gigantic T-REX animatronic that completely freaked you out because it was physically kicking the crap out of that truck.

MM: You have some acting credits under your belt as well. Tell us a little about your experiences on sets.

Steve Mezo: I was in the  alien sea monster allot so it was allot of sweating, breathing in fog juice, smelling warm Kayro syrup and trying not to swallow ocean water when the bacteria counts were off the charts.

Then there’s was alot of falling off of lots of stuff because I was shorter than or the same height as alot of the other actors and had to stand on whatever was available to be taller. Most of the stuff was unstable or just not meant to be used as a booster, and with the outfit being top heavy I went right over every time. I was hit by a truck while wearing it too while filming a scene. And it looked so good it was used in the take.

MM: As a tattoo enthusiast, is there a horror themed tattoo you’re still dying to get?

Steve Mezo: There’s a “COOP” Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein tattoo I plan on getting on my back.

MM: If you were to host an all-night horror movie marathon, what films would make the cut? (let’s say it’s a 10 hour marathon, so gimme 5 films)

Steve Mezo: ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’, ‘Tourist Trap’, ‘The Corpse Grinders’, ‘The Undertaker and his Pals’ and ‘Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things’.

MM: Nice selection of films! Why’d these ones make the cut??

Steve Mezo: I love the old Grindhouse Drive In Cinema. As low tech as the effects look by today’s standards ‘The Corpse Grinders’ is just a great watch and really keep you in touch with your bloody horror roots, ‘Chainsaw’ is just a “you have to see Leatherface do the dance on the big screen” classic, I absolutely love ‘Tourist Trap’ so I would have to see that one on the big screen again.
‘The Undertaker and His Pals’ is one of my all time favorite horror comedies, and I have a special love for ‘Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things’ because not only do they have the dynamic of performers and directors dead on, but Alan Ormsby who directed and starred in it created one of my all time favorite toys ‘HUGO Man of a Thousand Faces’ that I still have in my collection.

The funny thing with HUGO was he was pulled from store shelves back when I was a kid and I never had a chance to play with him. My wife had found him on ebay for me years later complete, but he was in played with condition that the seller didn’t tell her. But thanks to all of the great people at doll repair sites we were able to clean him and his artist smock up and get his wig back to it’s straight from the factory condition.

MM: If you could have a discussion with one horror legend, past or present, who would it be and why?

Steve Mezo: Vincent Price. He’s always been a favorite actor of mine and I’ve read that his on set stories were legendary. Like when he was hired by Roger Corman to be in ‘Tales of Terror’ and a black cat was used in one of the stories. The only thing was it was a couple thousand dollar fine if the cat were harmed during production. Well unknown to the crew (that later became known) the cat was trained by the cat wrangler to lie down and put it’s tail out where people walked.  Roger told everyone to steer clear of it, but Vincent wound up accidentally being the person to do it.  And I just loooooove his voice!

MM: What is your opinion on the outlook of mainstream horror? (feel free to rant, ramble, opine and/or curse!)

Steve Mezo: I try to ignore it… It’s just become such a “Take a plot from column A, Characters from column B, a Setting from column C and round it out with a Creature from column  D.”

MM: Have there been any recent horror flicks you truly enjoyed? Besides indie projects (which far supersede Hollywood these days, in my eyes), I would say ‘The Woman In Black’, ‘Insidious’, and ‘I Saw The Devil’ would be my favorites of the last year and a half or so. I can’t wait for ‘The Cabin In The Woods’.

Steve Mezo: ‘Dead Silence’ was alot of fun and had a great creep factor, and I really liked ‘Vacancy’ I mean what would you do in a situation like that? And (I know I’m gonna get heat for this one, but I don’t care) my Mother and I really liked Rob Zombie’s ‘Halloweens’, ‘House of a Thousand Corpses’ and ‘The Devil’s Rejects’. Other than that I loved ‘Zombieland’- I saw that one twice in one day! I know it’s a horror comedy, but it was still a favorite that was recent. We are also pretty excited about ‘Cabin In The Woods’!

I thank Steve big time for all his help, enthusiasm and support! Rock on, good sir!!

Check out Steve’s ode to all things horror, young and old!

http://www.tattooedstevesstorageunitofterror.com/

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