Filmmaker scares up sci-fi cult classics

Using local actors, Disbrow at work on fifth horror flick



For Warren Disbrow, every day is Halloween.Disbrow, you see, is a maverick filmmaker who revels in creating science fiction horror films.

Try this for one: “Flesh Eaters From Outer Space.” And another, “Invasion for Flesh and Blood.”

“I love this stuff,” said Disbrow, who lives in Neptune and does all of his filming in Monmouth and Ocean counties. “I always wanted to make the same kind of movies that I saw as a kid on TV.”

A filmmaker who has been featured in the national press, Disbrow has written, directed and produced four science fiction horror films and is working on a fifth.

One of his most popular, “Flesh Eaters From Outer Space,” was a New York Times Critics Choice. And its sequel, “Invasion for Flesh and Blood,” features local Marilyn Ghigliotti, who played Veronica in Kevin Smith’s “Clerks.” The “Invasion” story follows a housewife-turned-cyborg and her teenage sidekick as they seek to destroy a flesh-eating alien invader. It’s also a cult classic and has won critical praise.

Drawing on the movies he enjoyed as a youth, independent filmmaker Warren Disbrow has focused on the science fiction horror genre with flesh-eating monsters, cyborgs and alien invaders featured in the four indie films he has created.Drawing on the movies he enjoyed as a youth, independent filmmaker Warren Disbrow has focused on the science fiction horror genre with flesh-eating monsters, cyborgs and alien invaders featured in the four indie films he has created. “I want to take the viewer to a different dimension,” Disbrow said. “My goal is to give the viewer an 85-minute vacation from their everyday lives.”

And it seems that after four feature films, he has accomplished just that.

Disbrow is known in places as far off as Russia and Japan. He even gets fan mail from a loyal contingent in Belgium. Indeed, creating science fiction horror films has brought Disbrow notoriety worldwide.

His movies are reviewed next to Hollywood blockbusters like “Godzilla,” and he’s been written about in the same paragraphs as Steven Spielberg.

Just like his idol, maverick independent filmmaker George Romero (“Night of the Living Dead”), Disbrow is making these films against the odds. His movies are shot in New Jersey using local talent and with a fraction of the budget and manpower of Hollywood films.

“Most Hollywood films have 120 crew people,” Disbrow said. “I have five.”

Disbrow’s movies, which are self-financed, are usually made for less than $50,000 and are competing with Holly-wood movies made for $120 million.

As such, Disbrow – who has financed the films with a range of day jobs including a stint at CNN – often does much of the work himself. So when the makeup artist didn’t show up for a recent shoot, Disbrow stepped in to make up the actor.

A renaissance man in every sense, he paints, draws, sculpts, writes, directs, does the lighting/special effects, and designs the monsters featured in his films. He even develops the promotional artwork used for posters and DVD artwork.

And he does it all close to home.

“This area has everything,” Disbrow said. “You have the ghetto, the city, the country and the ocean all within a short distance.”

However, Disbrow admits it hasn’t been easy to produce movies here for the past 23 years. Finding talent has been one of his biggest challenges. Most producers ultimately leave the area for more movie-friendly towns like Los Angeles.

Even home-grown movie pro-ducer/writer/director Kevin Smith now does most of his shooting in L.A.

Disbrow has reveled in anything to do with horror films since the age of 5. That’s when he saw his first horror film, “The Creature From the Black Lagoon” (1954).

Since then he has been learning the craft of filmmaking. It was during his time working for CNN operating the studio cameras that he purchased 16mm film production equipment to shoot his own movies. Today, he continues learning through a temporary job he took to learn the process of authoring DVDs.

“I wanted to complete my education in all facets of making movies, and this was the last thing I didn’t know,” he said.

Disbrow’s next film, “Dark Beginnings,” his fourth feature film, is set to be released in January. And his fifth feature film, “The Deadly Clocktower” (working title), will be the first-ever biblical horror film. Anticipated release: summer 2007.

Through talent and tenacity, Disbrow will continue to hone his craft right here in New Jersey.

“Some stories should be told,” Disbrow said, “and I want to have the opportunity to tell them.”