Archive for the ‘Mail Bag’ Category

Mail Bag! Jack Marino’s KILL ZONE MOVIE!

10 Jul

The Mail Bag brings great news about filmmaker Jack Marino’s film KILL ZONE that has just been distributed worldwide. Congrats, Jack! He writes:

This was my very first film. I came up with the concept and the title, and in 1984 it was the first film I produced. In 1983 I was alone with my partners all deciding to shut down our first production company, SPARTAN PRODUCTIONS, INC. We broke up because we were all burnt out with the massive rejection that comes with the name, Hollywood.

By 1983 I was working in a video duplication house. I had gone from video dupe house to video dupe house. I wanted to make my own film and I told my wife that if I didn’t make a film, which would be a miracle in 1984 we would head back to Boston in the spring of 1985.

I came up with the idea for KILL ZONE and put it all down in a treatment. In the meantime, my ex-partner David A Prior and I collaborated on a dozen scripts over the previous three years. David was directing a movie shot on video called Sledgehammer. He was doing the filming in his apartment in Venice and a location up in Simi Valley.  He called me up and I went down there to see what was progressing. I was impressed with the fact Dave had found a financial backer and had written and was directing the project himself.

Dave and I arranged a meeting and at that meeting, I told him my idea about KILL ZONE and that I had also set up a new company called Spartanfilms, Ltd.  We discussed the story of KILL ZONE and he read my treatment. He was excited about the idea so we came to an agreement and brought Fritz Matthews back into the fold. We started to write the script and I came up with the concept for the cover artwork. The agreement was that I would be the producer, Dave would be the director and Fritz would star in the picture.

Our biggest problem was where would the money to finance this film come from?  My parents were coming out to L.A to see their first granddaughter and I wanted Dave to meet my father. We all sat down and laid out the plan to garner financing. We would get 50 people to put up $1000.00 each to make this picture. Now, remember neither Dave nor I had ever made a 35mm film before however, we were certain and confident we could pull it off.

My father and mother committed to putting up the first $1000.00. Looking back at that moment, that $1000.00 was responsible for launching future low-budget films in the AFM. If my father hadn’t been the initial investor there would have been no way I would have had the confidence to get on the phone and ask 18 other individuals to put up $1000.00 each, including my sister Joan and most of those investors were high school and college friends of mine from Boston. That initial investment from my parents was responsible for launching KILL ZONE and eventually my next two films and when Dave left Spartanfilms and formed AIP he made over 35 films. None of this would have happened without my parents’ investment.

I raised all the funding and we started shooting the film in September of 1984. I hired Victor Alexander, a filmmaker with all his own camera equipment as the Director of Photography and eventually the Editor. Needless to say, we had a blast! It was a fun shoot and we made a lot of friends with the cast and crew. These friendships have lasted to this day. Once the film was completed, we took it around to all the distributors and Shapiro Entertainment gave us an ‘advance’ for the film which was totally unheard of at that time.

KILL ZONE premiered at the 1985 AFM American Film Market and it was a huge hit. In fact, by 1986 most of the filmmakers were making their own version of KILL ZONE. Our film changed the entire marketplace for the next ten to fifteen years at the AFM.  Once Dave and Fritz left Spartanfilms, Ltd., they made over 35 films using the KILL ZONE formula. Dave was one of the most prolific directors in the video market all through the 80s and 90s.

I was all alone dealing with the income stream from my distributor Shapiro and like most distributors they don’t like to pay their filmmakers any of their profit back. I went up to their office every quarter to get a check from them and in the end, they paid me back my entire investment and then some. I managed to pay back all my investors a 180% return on their money.  So here I was a first-time Producer that made back the original investment and 80% profit on my first producing effort.

That was one of the reasons why John Lebert decided to back me on my first producing and direction effort called FORGOTTEN HEROES. He figured if I went through this hell to pay back my investors, I would do the same for his investors.

It had been a long and tenuous journey from the time my father gave us that first $1000.00 and by 1990 I closed out the KILL ZONE partnership since I was the sole partner left. I took all the film elements and stored them in one of the biggest film vaults in Hollywood. The place looks like the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark and that is where I left them to be forgotten forever.

Fast forward to 2022 (and I believe that for some unknown reason, Providence had a hand in this) I get a call from Steve Latshaw who is responsible for the resurrection and redistribution of this long-forgotten film.

Steve raised KILL ZONE from the dead.

Steve was a big fan of KILL ZONE and he worked for a dub house that was looking for action films to distribute from the 1980s. He took the original 35mm IP and transferred it to digital, remastering it in 4k Blu-ray. It was Steve’s company that John and I negotiated with since my company, MARINO FILM GROUP was now the owner of Spartanfilms, Ltd. The only film produced by that company was KILL ZONE. John and I made a deal with MVD for world distribution.

Never in my life would I have ever thought KILL ZONE would get a re-release. You can order the Blu-ray on Amazon, Best Buy, Target, Walmart, Apple, etc, and there is a bonus section with two interviews with Jack Marino. One is with Steve Latshaw and the other is with Heath Holland on his own show “Cereal at Midnight.”

I would like to take this time to give a very special thanks to my good friend and fellow filmmaker/writer, Steve Latshaw, who called me out of the blue asking about KILL ZONE and asking what my plans were for it.

— David DeWitt

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Mail Bag! Errol Flynn’s Hobart with Ross Schnioffsky Part 4!

24 Jun

Mail Bag!

Day Two (Part 3) of my Errol Flynn/Hobart Adventure – 60 Duke Street, Hobart

As a child, Errol lived in a number of different houses and lodgings in Hobart, which reflects the unsettled and restless life of his parents. Over the next few days, I will post images of these various “homes” of the young Errol. The first one in Duke Street is a fine and fairly standard Hobart residence, and at the nearby junction of Duke and Parliament Street you can see a scattering of snow on Mount Wellington. Parliament Street is about 20 m from Errol’s home. 
In 1919, the Flynns were living at this address. The small plaque shows the year that the house was built. The 10 year old Errol allegedly conducted his infamous experiment with “the living bracelet of ducks” in the backyard.

Thanks Ross!

— David DeWitt


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Mail Bag! Errol Flynn’s Hobart with Ross Schnioffsky P.3!

24 Jun

Mail Bag!

When Errol was a little tot of about three years old, his mother would take him to the nearby sheltered beach or thereabouts where she taught him to swim. By his accounts, one of the few good things she did for him. The reserve is now a dog friendly area where dogs can be unleashed and run free. Errol would have appreciated this aspect of the reserve. The local council have marked this area with some appropriate signage, but it took a lot of effort by local Errol Flynn fans, particularly Steve and Genene Randall to make the signage happen. Steve and Genene were my guides on day two and more on them later.
The houses are opposite the small beach which is appropriately named Short Beach and little Errol would have seen and walked past them. The 1909 sign is actually part of a Hobart sculpture trail and celebrates Errol’s birth year

Thanks, Ross!


— David DeWitt

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Mail Bag! Errol Flynn’s Hobart with Ross Schnioffsky Part 2!

24 Jun

Mail Bag Part two from Ross Schnioffsky!

Day Two of my Errol Flynn/Hobart Adventure – Good Morning Hobart!
It’s so easy to see why Errol loved the sea. It was all around him and in his blood from the day he was born …

Thanks, Ross!

— David DeWitt

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Mail Bag! Errol Flynn’s Hobart with Ross Schnioffsky!

24 Jun

Ross Schnioffsky sends us news about his recent trip to the birthplace of Errol Flynn in Hobart, Tasmania … Russ says:

I thought it might be a good idea to celebrate Errol Flynn’s birthday in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. So here I am. Errol was born on this day, June 20 in 1909 and this afternoon I was standing in front of the building where he was born. It is now an apartment complex. Some sections of the original building still exist. The other buildings are nearby and in the same street. Already I am in love with Hobart.

Thanks, Russ!


— David DeWitt

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Mail Bag! Granddaughter of Michael Curtiz!

12 Jun

The Mail Bag bring most interesting news!

Hi David,

my friend, Mrs. Ilona Ryder (Curtiz call « The Errol Flynn Blog), the granddaughter of Michael Curtiz, follows the EF Blog and would like to connect with all Flynnmates interested in a conversation with her on her FB homepage: Michael Curtiz – Director of Casablanca | Beaumont AB | Facebook

Thanks and hugs,

— David DeWitt

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Mail Bag! A Pictorial History of Errol Flynn in Two Volumes by Topper Mackay!

10 May

The Mail Bag brings us something that was a bit secretive until now! Our mission, should we choose to accept it, and we do, it to enjoy news of Topper MacKay’s superbly produced new two-volume book “A Pictorial History of the Life and Times of Errol Flynn, Movie Star” …

He says:

I am  introducing the latest published work on Errol Flynn, simply titled volume 1 “Errol Flynn”, and volume 2 “Movie Star”, authored by long-time blog follower, Topper MacKay.

It is a two-volume brace, totaling 492 pages, plus 12 pages of  preliminary materials.

The books were published in late 2022 and distruibuted shortly thereafter. Please note  that they were released as a ‘fair-use copyright publication’ with a limited edition of 50.

This means that the books are not for sale or readily available to the public…a true laborof love, so to speak.

Some fun facts are:

The books are 10 1/2″  X  12″ and weigh six pounds together.

There are over  2,364 illustrations and 1,989 of them contain Flynn.

It is chronologically based on his life with some pictures and articles that have not been seen in over 80 years.

I have attached a photo of the two volumes along with a pic of the back covers of each one.



Topper has agreed to share parts of the contents of his volumes with the blog in upcoming presentations of some of the pages.


Thanks, Topper, we take the assignment seriously, and will do our duty!

— David DeWitt


Did Errol Ever Meet Otto?

09 May

Heinz Kampel sends me this private misdive then grants us a new Mail Bag item! Thanks!

I am currently writing an article called “Der Nazi im Mond” (“The Nazi in the Moon”) and during my researches finally managed to locate the daughter of Otto Skorzeny, the SS man who in a daring mission snatched Benito Mussolini from Italy, when the Duce was put under house arrest at a remote hotel high in the Appenin mountains.She is 83 years old kindly agreed to do an interview with me. Her son Robin (!) assisted. Right off  the bat, I asked if she knew, if Otto and Errol ever met. Skorzeny moved to Mallorca after being cleared at the Nuremberg trials and the EF blog`s own Ventu Sala indicated, his house was not too far from Errol`s Es Moli- that being on an island though. Not to her knowledge, but she remembered Rudi`s Bar (Chez Rudi « The Errol Flynn Blog) quite vividly- Skorzeny went there quite often. His idea of an ideal night was being recognized in the streets of Majorca, getting invited to dinner and then recounting his rescue mission of Mussolini to an awed crowd at lenght. “…alpha male and penny pincher that he was…” (O-Tone). I think Errol and Otto would have gotten along quite well, they even may have traded punches. LOL! If they ever met, it could have been in Argentina at the film festival, for Otto established the structures of secret services for Peron, and for Nasser and…King Hussein of Jordan. Saw an inscribed photo of the king in full regalia. I saw a photo of Skorzeny with Hitler in their family album too. The 6 foot 4 henchman and the Austrian madman in unison- SCARY! Manfred Lentner, the convicted crew member of Freddie McEvoy was cut out of the same wood. Same stature, same ideology (volunteered at 17, one year short of graduation). Fred and Freddie met along the so-called rat line (Rome-Genova- South America), the route paved by the Vatican for nazis with dreams of a Forth Reich. This story surrounding the untimely death of Errol Flynn`s best man Freddie Mac has still to be told!

All the best,

— David DeWitt

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Mail Bag! Autographed Errol Flynn Photo!

20 Mar

We got an interesting email from Gary who has an autographed photo of Errol Flynn from DIVE BOMBER he acquired years ago. He writes:


Please forgive this unsolicited email, but I am looking to sell a signed Errol pic I have had since the early 1990’s.

I’d rather it go to a fan-& not a dealer (if you know what  I mean ?).  It was purchased from Fraser’s Autographs in the UK, and was prominent in their catalogue of that year.

Signed 8×10 b&w studio portrait in US Naval uniform for the film Divebomber.

If you could let your avid Flynn fans know it’s available to purchase I’d appreciate it-I’m open to offers around $1,000.

Thanks David.
Contact Gary for more info:
$1500 – reasonable offers considered.
More detail:
Thanks, Gary …

— David DeWitt

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Mail Bag: Errol Flynn & Frank Sinatra Obsessed with a Four Letter Word

16 Jan

The Mail Bag brings an interesting question from Mike Harwood. Whst is the 4 letter word Errol Flynn and Frank Sinatra were obsessed with?

Hi there,

Did you ever find out what the four-letter word beginning with M was that Flynn & Sinatra were supposedly obsessed with?
There’s a copy of the Saga magazine on abebooks but the international postage would be twice the cost of the magazine for me.  The seller does include a picture of the article but the answer is evidently on the next page!
I’m wondering if it is a woman’s name like Mary, possibly an actress, but it would be a funny way of referring to a person!
Mike Harwood.
Thanks, Mike!

— David DeWitt

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