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Article: Quick Glance At Oeuvre Of Simpson

The Atlanta Journal Constitution
April 28, 1989
By Steve Dollar

Here's a quick run-down of Michael Simpson's films, all of which are available as videos, or will be soon.

"Impure Thoughts" (1985; Embassy) - "It had the lowest budget [$279,000], was the least commercial and probably had the most critical acclaim," Mr. Simpson says. A finalist at the 1986 U.S. Film Festival, a showcase for American independent films, this Catholic coming-of-age comedy is framed by the recollections of four boyhood friends who find themselves reunited in Purgatory. Brad Dourif ("Mississippi Burning") stars.

"Funland" (1985; Vestron) - A black comedy about the mob takeover of an amusement park, with a schizophrenic clown ("Laverne and Shirley's" David Lander) as its hero. "This was an exorcism for me," Mr. Simpson says, "having worked three years at Six Flags Over Georgia. . . . There's something strange to me about going to a place where you're compelled to have fun." Features Atlanta's Jan Hooks, pre-"Saturday Night Live," and a script by future "SNL" writers Bonnie and Terry Turner.

"Mace" (1986; Vestron, available in July) - Hugely successful in Europe, this cop thriller was shelved by its distributor - the pre-"Dirty Dancing" Vestron. "It's a straight genre piece," says Mr. Simpson, who wrote and produced, while former associate Bill VanDerKloot directed. Ed Marinaro ("Hill Street Blues") plays a tough Atlanta cop, and Isaac Hayes is an underworld kingpin. Then-unknown Corbin Bernsen has a small role. "I regret he didn't have the second male lead," Mr. Simpson says. "Maybe they would have released it."

"Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers" (1988; Nelson) and "Teenage Wasteland" (1989; Nelson; available in the fall) - Shot back-to-back in Bremen, Ga., during the summer of 1987, these spoofy slashers feature Pamela Springsteen as a transsexual psycho who whistles while she, um, hacks, strangles and drowns just about everyone else in the picture. "Boy, if there ever was a run for the roses and a grab for the money, these were it," Mr. Simpson says. "I did these because Double Helix [his distribution company] asked me to." Great fun was had by all. And, says the filmmaker, "I learned a lot about special effects." Sequels - yikes -are in the works, including one titled "Lights, Camera, Axeman!" Be warned.

Copyright 1989 The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution



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