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IDYLLOPUS PRESS : BIG SOFA : The Urlybird Times : An interview with Martie Grey on the direction of Danny Boyd in the cult classic "Strangest Dreams: Invasion of the Space Preachers"

the urlybird times

Strangest Dreams!

Special to the UrlyBird Times:
An interview with Martie Grey on the direction of Danny Boyd in the cult classic "Strangest Dreams: Invasion of the Space Preachers"

URLYBIRD: OK. I don't know what happened. I was disconnected by the remote computer and then had trouble reconnecting with ICQ for a bit.

GREY: Okay. ICQ can sometimes be unstable. I think if there are large numbers of users online they get overloaded.

URLYBIRD: I experimented with interviewing a little last night and I was very lame at it.

GREY: Well, it's not that I have much experience on this end of the interviewing table, so we're even.

URLYBIRD: Did you do any interviewing in radio?

GREY: Oh, yes...I did news for a number of years.

URLYBIRD: So, you have way more experience than me. See.

GREY: As the questioner, not as the subject.

URLYBIRD: Yes, well....the few times I've been interviewed I realized I would have nothing to say and rather sat there and stared. I wasn't a good subject.

GREY: Well, I have no way of knowing whether I am so let's try it and find out.

URLYBIRD: How did you get involved with the filming of "Strangest Dreams"?

GREY: Well, Danny's no dummy. He knows the importance of promotion. That is why so many local celebs were in his films. When we found out he was making a second film, (meaning the morning team I was working with in radio at the time), we contacted him and offered our assistance in promoting the film. We did this so we could get him to come on the air and discuss the film and its progress. I, quite frankly, was surprised when he offered a bit part to me.

URLYBIRD: Did everyone else at on the morning team get bit parts?

GREY:'s the funny thing. If the radio station paid a promotional fee to help out with the film's costs, he would have found the morning show a spot. But, since I was his initial contact and had been on the morning show longer than the others (this is what he told me) he thought I had the greatest name recognition.

URLYBIRD: How long had you been on the morning show?

GREY: Radio is a revolving door. It is better to tell you how many morning men I outlasted than to measure it in years. I went through three morning men before this film was being made.

URLYBIRD: What was your familiarity with Troma films before this? Did you have a personal interest...did you appreciate the fine art of Troma films?

GREY: Actually, "Strangest Dreams" was an independent project. Troma only picked up the video rights to it and I think that was well after the local premiere, etc....

URLYBIRD: Well, then, I'll rephrase. What was your familiarity with Danny before this...with his films. Did you have a personal interest? Did you appreciate his.....

GREY: Yes. Danny's first film "Chillers" was actually a pretty damn good 'B' grade movie.

URLYBIRD: I'll have to look up "Chillers" and see what it was about.

GREY: He won a national science fiction film award for it. That was why we were so interested in his second film. He, of course, is a local boy and teaches at West Virginia State.

URLYBIRD: What does he teach there?

GREY: He teaches film and communications.


GREY: "Chillers" was a horror flick, too.

URLYBIRD: Did you know what part you were to play in the film.

GREY: I'll admit he told me just a little bit about my part. You see, we are talking low budget and I had to bring my own costume. Turns out it wasn't ratty enough and I ended up wearing someone else's clothes.

URLYBIRD: You knew you were to play a hillbilly...and what clothes did you think were appropriate for the part?

GREY: I wore some jeans and a flannel shirt. He said my flannel shirt was too nice and found me one that wasn't so nice. He said the colors were far too flattering.

URLYBIRD: Ah. No make up I take it?

GREY: Oh no.....that was the wierd part. There was make up indeed. Of course, any movie role requires make up because of the lighting and all. But I had a couple of tubes of hair gel applied to my hair to grease it down real good. Several teeth blacked out as well.

URLYBIRD: I would love to see this. So, where was the scene shot? Tell me a bit about it since I haven't seen it.

GREY: I'll just tell you this as an addendum to the above and then I'll answer your next question. I had to find a babysitter for my daughter when we shot the film. So, I have no dressing room or other facility to get back to normal , right? Rachael did not recognize me, was afraid of me and did not want to go home with me.

URLYBIRD: How old was Rachael?

GREY: Uh, around 9 I think.

URLYBIRD: Nine years????

GREY: Yes.

URLYBIRD: Wow, and didn't recognize you? What a transformation.

GREY: She recognized the voice and that was what finally won her over.

URLYBIRD: Amazing. Or did she just not want to be seen with you?

GREY: Maybe both.

URLYBIRD: Not a glamor part.

GREY: Oh, good no.

URLYBIRD: Do you know how long it took to shoot the entire film?

GREY: I know that in order to come out okay financially it was sort of a rush job. I don't think it took more than two months, possibly less.

URLYBIRD: Still, I've heard of rush jobs where a film is shot in a weekend, so it was more elaborate than that.

GREY: Well, the weather was a big factor here since a lot of the scenes were shot outside.

URLYBIRD: What season was it during the filming?

GREY: This film was shot ot in early spring and there were some outdoor nude scenes, I imagine that had some bearing. Also, the film, I think, was shot only several days a week.

URLYBIRD: Tell me about the shoot in which you participated. What was the set-up. the story?

GREY: My part was shot in nerarby Tornado, WV, as was most of the film. In fact, we did make-up and costumes at the local fire station.

URLYBIRD: The fire station. And the firemen sat and watched as this was going on.

GREY: We have mostly Volunteer Fire stations.....I don't remember seeing a fireman at all. This is rural WV.

URLYBIRD: We knew someone who was from Charleston, WV. His father was a mining magnate, but that's another story.

GREY: Yes. There is no middle class here, (almost). There are very poor people and there are very rich people. I'd like to know his name sometime when you think about it.

URLYBIRD: His name was X. X was a friendly but somewhat strange character. He said his name was X Y. X was basically "slumming", trying out being a musician before returning home.

GREY: Wonder if he had a brother rnamed Z.

URLYBIRD: Could have. He was very quiet about his family and his ....

GREY: There is a particularly wealthy Y family here.

URLYBIRD: Oh really. Well X was very wealthy but stayed quiet about it. On the side he sold artwork internationally to finance his endeavors during this time. We'd go over and he would be wrapping up an art piece and putting it aside. Finally he decided this wasn't the life for him, I guess, and he went and traveled around China for a year, met a model in Italy (who was from Atlanta) and they married,.

GREY: Wow. Interesting. Small world.

URLYBIRD: He came over with her for a rather strange "farewell" meeting. Like his, "All right, I'm going back to my real world, and I am here to say my last goodbyes." The model looked petrified at being in our small apartment. She said if we ever needed a car to contact her father who owned a (I believe) Mercedez dealership here.

GREY: Ha...that's funny. Oh, sure...send one over.

URLYBIRD: Right! OK, back to you. Tell me about that day. Did you film indoors or out?

GREY: Outdoors.

URLYBIRD: What was the story?

GREY: The story is basically this.......two white collar suburban divorced and one unhappily married decide they are going to take a nice well deserved trip....sort of 'back to nature'. One guy decides to make all the arrangements...renting a cabin, etc..To make a long story short they wind up in Hillbilly Hell. The cabin is atrocious, the people are wierd, etc....Turns out they are wierd because of this alien space ship that has landed nearby. One alien is escaping the others. The aliens in pursuit are mind controlling humans in the area including a televangelist named "Lash"....

URLYBIRD: So, the televangelist isn't from space? He is controlled by the aliens? (NOTE: Martie has since let me know that I was correct, the televangelist is a space alien. He isn't simply controlled by aliens. She apologizes for her error in memory, saying it has been a long while since she has seen the film.)

GREY: Yes. And the big funny line from the film (other than our scene) was "Lash is Love"...


GREY: For a while you saw a lot of t-shirts, etc..with that on it.

URLYBIRD: Did you research for your part as a hillbilly? Did you talk to hillbillies?

GREY: Actually by virtue of having lived here I thought I had the right motivation. I will tell you this one brief story to give you an idea of how underdeveoped parts of this state really are. When I first came here it was to take a radio job here. In my early days I was interviewing a sheriff's deputy and he was telling me a little about his job. He told me about arresting a man and telling him he could make the traditional one phone call. He said the man pulled a worn slip of paper out of his wallet and smoothed it out on the desk top and just looked at it. George (the deputy) waited and waited. He said, "Go on...make your call." The man said, and I quote, "Ive seen phones before, but I ain't never used one."

URLYBIRD: Wow. I wonder how different ...if there are differences between WV mountain people and mountain people in the Ozarks.

GREY: Hmm...don't know.

URLYBIRD: I've been through some deep back roads in the Ozarks and it gets very strange back there.

GREY: I would imagine.

URLYBIRD: But what was wierd was coming upon real shanties with pink mobile homes parked outside them and huge satellite dishes.

GREY: Yes. You see up here that is the mining community set up. You drive down therough deep coal country and you see shacks with Cadillacs and brand new trucks parked outside. I was told this was because of all the strikes miners would enact years back. If they kept their houses modest, they were safe, they would not be foreclosed on. And the cars, shoot...they just let them go back to the dealers. When the strike was off the car dealers would sell them whatever they wanted again.

URLYBIRD: One of the oddest things I have ever seen was a shanty type house in Tennessee...back roads...and two limos parked out front. Stretch limos.

GREY: I'll be damned. Probably ELvis.

URLYBIRD: Oh, long after his death.

GREY: He's dead? "Elvis is not dead. He just went home."

URLYBIRD: Point taken. Remind me to give you an URL that is one of the strangest Elvis URLS I've ever come across.

GREY: Will do.

URLYBIRD: A story written from Elvis' point of view during and after his death.

GREY: Okay, cool.

URLYBIRD: Now, back to your shoot. What role did the hillbilllies play in this fantastic story?

GREY: Well, our part was small....and early on in the film....and it was a part of the film that Danny wrote specifically for us....

URLYBIRD: Oh, specially for you!

GREY: Yes. It was almost an afterthought. But the upshot is was the one scene that was edited for news stories and news articles more than any other. And that was basically because of the tie-in to a very popular commercial of the day and the fact that we (honestly now) played it just right. So...Guy and Jim (the two fellows getting away from it all) are lost on a backroad in WV....they pull over to the side of the road to study a map. This is where we enter. We is Bill Richardson who was a student of Danny's. That part was originally going to be played by another media person who at the last minute was called off on a news story. So, Bill was Hillbilly Number 3. Number 1 was Dave Weekly, Sports Director at a local station. And I was Number 2. We are in the epitome of 'ragged pick-up truck'....all three of us, me in the middle. The first part of the scene was just the 'pull up' and you just wouldn't believe how many times we had to turn around and pull up again to get it just right.

URLYBIRD: Do you remember how many times that was shot?

GREY: At least ten.

URLYBIRD: So, Danny is a meticulous director.

GREY: I'm sure he is, but I have nothing to compare it to. Keep in mind everyone, just about, on the sound and lighting crew were college students. Not professionals.

URLYBIRD: OK. Picture much cleaerer.

GREY: Sorry about that. Should have mentioned that before.

URLYBIRD: Well, it makes sense. I should have realized. So, go on.

GREY: Now that we have pulled up 'perfectly' and are right next to Guy and Jim in the car....we have to shoot their reactions another ten times before that is okay. So, we are just sitting there being very quiet and waiting for our turn. Then our part is shot. I have to hold the mike boom between my knees so that Dave's part (he had a line) is heard and so that you can hear Bill Richardson spit a wad at the end of our scene. The one thing I remember more than anything was having to be absolutely still holding that damn thing between my knees.

URLYBIRD: Did you have a speaking line at all?


URLYBIRD: Were you real people or controlled by aliens?

GREY: Real people.

URLYBIRD: What were you doing parked beside the two protagonists.

GREY: Well, we stopped to ask them an important question.

URLYBIRD: And that was?

GREY: "Pardon me...but do y'all happen to have any GREY Puouypon?"

URLYBIRD: OK. That's the punch line. The "commercial" association.

GREY: Yes.

URLYBIRD: Very good.

GREY: The camera then turns on Guy and Jim and they are petrified of us, us , we look that bad. It turns back to us and I have to tell you....I know we did that take at least 20 times.....but I know why now....the expressions on our faces was priceless, the blacked out teeth....Bill spitting that tobacco juice out of the side of the truck. It truly was classic, even if I have to say so.

URLYBIRD: I would love to see this.

GREY: They ate it up at the premiere.

URLYBIRD: Did they (Guy and Jim) have poupon?

GREY: No, they did not have our mustard.

URLYBIRD: And you drove off into film history?

GREY: Yes, that would be it then.

URLYBIRD: Did the film premiere in your town?

GREY: Yes, it was a gala event. Lots of fun. We gave away tickets on the air and some of the cast came on the show that whole week. They were great fun. If you ever get to see the film you will want to pay particular attention to Vic 20...I don't know where he is now, but he was just great and was so much fun to have on the air. He showed up with no shirt and just a tie,


GREY: Oh, and pants, too.

URLYBIRD: Yes, I somehow knew enough to picture him with pants. I guess that's about it, then.

GREY: Yes. If you expected more, I'm was just a small part.

URLYBIRD: Oh no, that's a wonderful story.

Interview conducted 1999-06-18

link to E Online Daniel Boyd's website.

link to Troma Troma

link to Vital Statistics of BigSofa Living Master Marta More history on Martie Grey's film career

link to Urly Bird Times UrlyBird Times Home

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