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Interview with Seth Sklarey
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INTERVIEW WITH SETH SKLAREY
Image Seth Sklarey played Orville, the abused corpse and later vengeful zombie, in "Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things." The undead makeup job was augmented by Mr. Sklarey's natural physical attributes (he appears to be both tall and lean). The result is a zombie you would definitely not want to be locked in a room with.

Interview Date: 29 September 2002

Andrew: How did you come into the part of Orville? Did the person making the casting decisions already know you and think you were right for the part?
Seth Sklarey: A girlfriend of mine at the time bicycled up to me and said, "They are casting a horror movie and they described the look they wanted for the lead and it fits your description." She took me to Bob Clark and he signed me on the spot for $350 up front and $350 at the end. I never saw the second $350.

Andrew: What was it like, making the movie?
Seth Sklarey: First, you will be happy to know that Alan Ormsby was an obnoxious asshole when the camera was off as well. I don't think it was acting.

Image "First, you will be happy to know that Alan Ormsby was an obnoxious asshole when the camera was off as well. I don't think it was acting."

Andrew: So Alan was just playing himself, not acting at all.
Seth Sklarey: You got it.

Second, it is not easy playing dead. Bob Clark, who is a great director, purposely shot me slightly out of focus, because he thought I would move. I didn't. Not one reviewer has taken into consideration the "acting" and control of playing dead. Some horror film fans and directors have complimented me on my "performance" and said it was the best they had seen.

It took a great deal of control to keep from strangling Alan throughout the movie. The mosquitoes in the "graveyard" were horrendous. The only way I could keep myself free from them was to close the lid on the coffin and doze off between scenes. Some wise guys started to fill in the grave during one of my naps and I gave them a demonstration of what Orville would have done had he been real. They knew it was me but THEY soiled their pants.

Image "Bob Clark, who is a great director, purposely shot me slightly out of focus, because he thought I would move. I didn't. Not one reviewer has taken into consideration the 'acting' and control of playing dead."

Andrew: I had not thought about the challenge of lying perfectly still before, but you are right. Being still is something that I could do, but, even with my eyelids closed, small eye movements would probably give me away. Is it (staying motionless) something you have always been able to do, or did you have to work out a technique?
Seth Sklarey: When I was a kid I was impressed by the Hindu fakirs and always practiced shallow breathing and trying to hold my breath under water for twenty minutes. I think my record was sixty-one seconds.

Bud Cort, in a movie whose name I still cannot remember, used to pretend he was a murder victim and set up all sorts of bizarre situations in which he pretended to be the victim. I did the same as a kid, many years before the movie was made. When my parents came home they would see what appeared to be a pool of blood, large gaping, running, oozing open sores, and gashes or a haphazardly bandaged semi-mummy, semi-accident victim. They would just step over me and ignore me.

Brainflash: The movie was "Harold and Maude." The old woman was Ruth Gordon. Stacy Keach had a cameo in it where he went careening down a hill in a wheelchair. Cort's love interest was Ruth Gordon. She played Clint Eastwood's mother in "Every Which Way But Loose," but was upstaged by the Orangutan.

It really annoyed me that Bob Clark shot me slightly out of focus on purpose because he was afraid I would move. I NEVER moved on camera; he apologized to me when we shot "Porky's II" a few years later.

One of the techniques is to do shallow breathing through the mouth, with the mouth slightly open. The other thing is to stay slightly stiff while lying down, but completely limp when propped up. You must be completely dead weight. I have always hated watching movies where they picked up a supposedly full suitcase and it was light as a feather. If you have ever tried to move someone who is unconscious or dead you will see the difference. The same technique was used by anti-Vietnam and civil rights demonstrators in the 60's.

Andrew: Were there any dangerous stunts in the movie?
Seth Sklarey: Probably the worst was exposing us to so many mosquito bites. We could have gotten malaria, yellow fever, or dengue fever. I would not have been surprised if there weren't a few tsetse flies out there too. There were a few bats out at the graveyard, but they could not get them on camera. Of course, Anya was kind of batty, but that is a different story.

I did my own stunts. You try to fall flat on your face without having your arms catch you or moving in any way to break the fall. Makeup took three hours nightly to put on and an hour to remove.

The hands are mine and one reason I got the part is that they are so long.

Image "The hands are mine and one reason I got the part is that they are so long."

Andrew: I hope they had a padded mat or something to take the hard knock out of your fall.
Seth Sklarey: It was a single mattress on the floor. It would knock the breath out of you to fall on it. Fortunately I had some judo training and could take a hard fall. I always fancied myself as a stuntman and loved watching Jock Mahoney, Sally Field's father in the TV show "Yancy Derringer," in which he did his own stunts. Again, I knew if I did anything to break my fall it would show as phony on the screen. So, I opted for reality for the sake of art and was sore for a week.

Andrew: Was acting a career you wanted to pursue? What type of profession did you ultimately work in?
Seth Sklarey: Yes, I wanted to be an actor, but being a procrastinator, I never got around to getting head shots or an agent. So my career was limited. I was also in Bob Clark's "Porky's, the Next Day" (also known as "Porky's II").

Some people who are fans of "Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things" are talking about using me in something upcoming, but they have not talked money yet and I don't work for free. I was in a few things afterward, but nothing to write home about. I am in the last scene of Janet Reno's campaign video, but I have not gotten around to sending her a bill.

I was a bagboy for two weeks when I was sixteen. I drove a cab in the early 70's, became a real estate appraiser, then started investing in real estate. I never really worked much. When I was a kid, I romanticized about some occupations like bartender, hotel desk clerk, journalist, etc. I wound up co-owning and editing newspapers, a bar, two hotels, apartments, etc. Since I did not have any great materialistic goals, I did not work too hard and pretty much did what I pleased, when I pleased. I became a process server, because I liked hanging around the courts. I knew most of the judges, worked on or managed their political campaigns and that led me into the political sign business. We got to be in control of the political sign business in south Florida. I still do that during campaign season.

The sign business got me into the Sign and Display Union which is a branch of the Painters' Union. We also set up trade shows and conventions in South Florida. Because of my political activities, the Painters' Union, IUPAT (International Union of Painters and Allied Trades), made me their South Florida Political Coordinator for the Gore-Lieberman campaign. We wound up running the motorcades and demonstrations and doing all the security for the recount in Palm Beach County.

I hold licenses as a real estate broker, mortgage broker, general contractor, roofing contractor, and painting contractor. I always liked auctions, so I went to auction school in 1985 and became a professional auctioneer. I currently do all of the above except bartending.

Andrew: Where was the movie filmed and how long did shooting last?
Seth Sklarey: The movie was shot in Miami, Florida at three locations. The "graveyard" was the old Dade County plant nursery in South Dade off Old Cutler Road. It was starting to become a very affluent neighborhood, but there was a large tract behind a County Park (Matheson Hammock) where they grew plants and trees for that and other parks. It was heavily wooded and, during the hot, wet summer months, was mosquito infested. The woods were dark, damp, and clammy - ideal for a horror movie.

The "caretaker's cottage" was an actual house in Coconut Grove, the home of Tony Gulliver who was the still photographer for the movie. Tony fell on hard times and lost the house. It was demolished and the lot itself is now worth about half a million. Somebody built a nice house on it. The house was shot pretty much as is. (Tony was a great photographer, but not a great housekeeper.) The only thing they added were some trained rats to supplement those already in residence.

The island was an actual island between Miami and Miami Beach, but it was near the sewer plant on Key Biscayne. So, when the wind was blowing the wrong way, it was quite unpleasant. The boat was The Ram, a nice little sailboat owned by Harry Boehme. He was a local lawyer who I got a part for as one of the zombies. The zombies were referred to by the cast as ghouls, although by definition ghouls are the people who rob the graves, not the inhabitants. The reason for the last scene of the zombies sailing off towards Miami was a setup for a sequel that never occurred.

Image "The house was shot pretty much as is. (Tony was a great photographer, but not a great housekeeper.)"

Andrew: Did the script change during the course of filming?
Seth Sklarey: Not really, but there was some ad-libbing that stayed in. Although, they were on an extremely tight budget of $25,000 for the whole movie. If something was working they kept the film rolling, but most of it was one or two takes. Remember the acting was deliberately bad and I was the only one who was playing it straight. Some good stuff did not get on film because they stopped rolling.

Andrew: Only $25,000 for the whole movie and they even stiffed you out of your second payment?
Seth Sklarey: The film cost a total of about $27,000 to produce. No one in the original production got much in the way of money. Evidently the producers did not get much either, although subsequent distributors made millions.

A twenty second clip of me attacking Alan was shown on a TV at the beginning of "Fright Night," for which I am still getting residual checks. Thank you Columbia Pictures and the Screen Actors Guild.

Andrew: What are your favorite horror films and/or horror actors?
Seth Sklarey: I always liked the classic Frankenstein and Dracula stuff with Boris and Bela. I loved a movie called "Blood and Roses" as well as "King Kong." I have a lot of great ideas for horror movies; many of the concepts were always taboo in Hollywood, but which now can be made.

I have always been a fan of great makeup and liked Lon Chaney Sr., especially the ORIGINAL "Phantom of the Opera." I don't like stuff that looks phony and computer animation of horror does not do anything for me, although "From Dusk Till Dawn" and "Fright Night" were well done. I am more impressed with Lon Chaney putting painful bobby pins in his nose than masks or trick photography.

I loved Todd Browning's "Freaks," "The Island of Dr. Moreau," "Psycho," and "The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao." I have always felt that great horror movies should be subtle and I have always sided with the monster.

I really enjoyed "Deranged" by Bob Clark, but it never quite made it and probably never got any theater distribution. The problem was that it was NOT subtle and not climactically frightening.

When Norman Bates mother got turned around in that rocking chair, it was the best climax in the history of motion pictures. It looks stupid today, but I have never met a woman over fifty who will use a clear shower curtain or who does not think about that movie every time she takes a shower.

Image "I have never met a woman over fifty who will use a clear shower curtain or who does not think about that movie every time she takes a shower."


I would like to thank Mr. Sklarey for taking the time to answer these questions and for making Orville a truly memorable zombie. Sorry to hear about the problems suffered; unfortunately, that seems to be a standard pitfall when making movies. My best wishes in the future.



Comments:Write CommentPages: [1]
Re: Seth Sklarey Interview
Reply #1. Posted on February 10, 2009, 07:30:47 PM by Anthony
CSPWDT is a cult classic favorite; Long Live Orville!!!
Re: Seth Sklarey Interview
Reply #2. Posted on November 30, 2009, 04:13:01 PM by Roberta Raymond
So what finally happened with Tony Gulliver....is he still alive?  Where does he live?  I knew him in the 60s when I was acting at Coconut Grove Playhouse.
Re: Seth Sklarey Interview
Reply #3. Posted on March 12, 2010, 03:31:00 PM by KyleBrinkmann
Seth Sklarey did a command performance in under appreciated role!!!
Re: Seth Sklarey Interview
Reply #4. Posted on December 04, 2010, 04:10:20 PM by Umaril The Unfeathered
Seth Sklarey played Orville, the abused corpse and later vengeful zombie, in "Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things."


WOW, now this is something you don't see every day. It's so great that some folks haven't forgotten some of the most overlooked players in some of the coolest old movies.  CSPWDT graces my DVD collection and gets occasional play, and rightfully so!


Re: Seth Sklarey Interview
Reply #5. Posted on March 08, 2012, 11:57:39 PM by Sandra Mann
What a flip! I'm the girl who recruited Seth to be Orville in the movie. I'm billed as Sandra Laurie (ghoul). I got paid every week at the rate of 135.00. I was the first scary thing to happen in the movie. My hand comes up out of the grave and grabs a guys ankle. I too was used on T.V. or rather my hand was. It opened midnight movies that were horror movies that played at midnight (or course) but I didn't get any residuals from it. I still stay in touch with some of the people that stay in touch with the producers. Bob Clark is again planning  "Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things II" and wants me to be the Dead Bride Again. I'd love to do it if it ever happens. I'm alive and well and living in New Orleans. I can be seen in my Art Gallery, Great Artists Collective at 815 Royal Street, cleverly disguised as a responsible adult.
Re: Seth Sklarey Interview
Reply #6. Posted on May 11, 2012, 05:16:39 AM by Trevor
I'm alive and well and living in New Orleans. I can be seen in my Art Gallery, Great Artists Collective at 815 Royal Street, cleverly disguised as a responsible adult.

 TeddyR TeddyR TeddyR
Pages: [1]


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