A Movie Review by Robert Long II ©2016
Starring George Stover, Fred Olen Ray, Wayne Shipley, Kate Jackson, Erik Kristopher Myers, Kevin Kangas, Mark Redfield, Dick Dyszel, Leanna Chamish, Nick Consol, Jon Cross, Chris LaMartina, Jimmy George, Connie LaMothe, Matt Barry, Brad Twigg, Eric Supensky, Jeff Herberger, Robert Long II, Jennifer Rouse, Lauren Zimmerman Rifkin, Alexandra Hewett, Richard Cutting, Lee Doll, Alfred Guy, Mitch Klein, Sam Lukowski, Louanna Lee, Steve Rifkin, Les Bradley, Brendan Biondi
Documentary produced by Jeff Herberger and Lee Doll
Director/Editor: Jeff Herberger
This is a fun documentary that spans the work of the prolific character actor George Stover. His career spans over four decades and covers a variety of genres: Horror, drama, science fiction, westerns, comedy, fantasy, thrillers – you name it – there is a good chance that Stover has done it. The show starts with a very light touch as present day Stover is being interviewed by inept interviewer Ricky Rickenbocker (Brendan Biondi).
The story begins as the start of Stover’s career. His love of movies got him interested in wanting to be an actor. He did a few college plays (including one based on the television show Star Trek), local Baltimore television commercials and educational films.
From that point he got in touch with a local young filmmaker John Waters and auditioned for Waters’ FEMALE TROUBLE. The production had been having a hard time getting “normal looking” people to appear in the film, and Stover got the part of the priest. This was to be Stover’s first appearance in a motion picture.
George Stover would go on to appear in several more of John Waters early films – all the way up to the hit HAIR SPRAY.
Director Jeff Herberger keeps things running smoothly with interesting segues to the next chapter in Stover’s story. Popping up several times in the movie are well known New York movie reviewers Jon Cross and Nick Consol (from the After Movie Diner). These gentlemen talk about their admiration and love for the acting and characters brought to life from the venerable George Stover.
The documentary continues on with an in-depth look of Stover’s work with the Godfather of DIY independent filmmaking – Don Dohler. Stover had collaborated with Dohler on some early 1970s Super 8mm films, and rose in the ranks to solid principle actor portraying Steven Price in Dohler’s first motion picture THE ALIEN FACTOR, released in 1978. This movie went on to have great success due to the popularity of STAR WARS.
Their next collaboration was when Stover appeared in the gothic horror FIEND (Dohler’s favorite personal movie). This was a story of an alien inhabited corpse that kills people in a suburb in order to survive. Stover played an accountant that finds out too late the secret of the monster that lurks.
Stover went on to reprise his role of Steven Price in Don Dohler’s NIGHTBEAST. Once again he was teamed up with his long time friend, actress Anne Frith.
George would play a very heroic role in this production, as he takes on the Nightbeast not once, but twice in the film.
In 1985, Stover starred in the family-centric science fiction drama THE GALAXY INVADER. Stover plays part of a redneck family that founds a downed alien in the woods.
1987 was a game changer for George Stover, as he was allowed to play against type in the ultra violent production of BLOOD MASSACRE. Stover was able to shed his mild-mannered characters by portraying a crazed Vietnam vet named Rizzo. This criminal character is part of a small band of thieves that knock over a video store. On the run and out of gas, they take a female driver hostage and force her to take them to her family’s home. The gang think they have everything under control, but not everything is as it seems. Before the night is over, an all out assault from either faction transpires, leading to a horrific blood bath. This movie is hailed as one of Don Dohler’s finest hours as a filmmaker, and it is a shame that due to the stupidity of the distributors, it still has remained a rarely seen film. The documentary has editor Jeff Herberger detailing his thoughts of he himself working on the production.
The documentary goes on to relate that George Stover worked with many East Coast filmmakers, including Ted A. Bohus (The Deadly Spawn). There has hardly been a year where George Stover has been idle in the acting realm.
The 1990s found Stover working with numerous film production companies, including the famous Dino De Laurentiis Productions located on the East Coast.
In the mid 1990s George Stover got out to West Coast to to work on the Roger Corman produced ATTACK OF THE 60 FOOT CENTERFOLD. Director Fred Olen Ray goes on to talk about his time working with Stover on the set. Fred Olen Ray has gone on to release several Don Dohler movies (which all feature – of course – George Stover).
The doc then moves on to the early 2000s, where the viewer learns that Don Dohler has come out of retirement and has co-launched Timewarp Films. Actress Leanna Chamish talks of working with George on her first Timewarp Films, HARVESTERS – where they played a married couple with a dark, deadly secret.
The narrative continues to discuss Stover’s involvement with his roles with Timewarp Films, including a hilarious turn in the movie VAMPIRE SISTERS.
The doc moves along to the many roles that George Stover has had with the movie productions produced by Midnight Marquee. Stover got to play two different roles in the retro throwback film TERROR IN THE PHARAOH’S TOMB.
George Stover would go on to do several projects for Lee Doll Productions including four episodes (as well as one movie) of the teen detective series THE ADVENTURES OF LOUANNA LEE. Think Nancy Drew and you’ll be on the right track.
In this series Stover plays Louanna Lee’s grandfather. He’s supportive of his grandchild, as well as being an inventor and one hell of a fighter.
Stover got his chance to play a dramatic role in director Erik Kristopher Myers’ critically acclaimed motion picture ROULETTE.
There is a rather serious scenario that is brought up in the documentary. George Stover came home one evening to be held up within his own house. A robber held Stover at gunpoint and demanded that he open his safe. Once the thief had gotten the money, things turned ugly and he shot George. The documentary goes into great detail as to what transpired, and how George’s friends rallied around him.
Noted filmmaker Kevin Kangas talks about what a legend Stover is, and how he has appeared in hundreds of films and television shows. Kangas goes on to talk about how he was unable to work with George until his fifth film, GARDEN OF HEDON (2011). He had a bigger role for Stover to play, but due to conflicting schedules he only appears in a guest cameo. Kangas goes on to comment what a true Maryland film treasure George is.
The number of professional filmmakers that pay tribute to George Stover on this doc is simply astounding. Producer Jimmy George and director Chris LaMartina have used George in their countless number of productions. Everything from playing a pot-smoking priest to a presidential dressed serial killer, Stover has done every role for them with 100% conviction.
FINAL RATING: I give this documentary an 8.5 out of 10. Super fantastic from start to finish with a tremendous amount of behind the scenes photos, and a rich tapestry of information and stories. The only thing that would have made this movie even better would be if the documentarians could have gotten a few words with John Waters and Mink Stole. But perhaps schedule-wise that wasn’t possible. However, don’t let that deter you from going out and grabbing this wonderful DVD! I am reviewing a screener so I do not know what other special features may appear on it. Get this professional, well-produced documentary by clicking the image below.