B-MOVIE GROUND ZERO: VAN NUYS

Aliens. Witches. Serial bombers. Pirates. Giant mutant rats. Cannibals. Lizzie Borden. Can you tell me what these all have in common?

If you answered, ‘an acre of property in Van Nuys’ (pronounced ‘Nice’), then you’d be right. Yes, this Los Angeles neighborhood known for porn and gang bangers is also home to a very unusual house owned by a unique individual known as Film Star Randal Malone.

As an actor he’s starred in MTV’s, “Singled Out” and a multitude of B-movies such as, “Sunset After Dark”, “Hollywood Mortuary”, and the upcoming “Psychon Invaders”. It was back in the late 90’s he purchased the property just as “Singled Out” was winding down. In fact, his very last check from MTV was the down payment.

Originally built in 1921 by a by a well known architect hailing from New Orleans he styled the home in a classic French gothic design. While some of the property was sold off in the 1940’s to build G.I. tract homes an acre still remains that includes the main house, a large guest house (converted into a studio) and a walnut orchard

It’s also been home to 15 + movies including 7 in the past six months. “Every director who set foot here wanted to film it. I like the idea of shooting at home because I’m never late for work.” Mr. Malone explained to me.

When I first met Mr. Malone he was acting in an alien invasion flick, “Psychon Invaders”. Besides being easy to work with, Mr. Malone was talented and had this amazing one-of-a-kind house. So, I tapped him for my film, “Naked Beneath the Water”. In it he plays a sleazy manager who’s orchestrated a photo op of his murderous reality-show client who just blew up the house with dynamite (using a miniature to look like the real thing of course!).

I was amazed at the hub of activity the surrounded this little slab of Van Nuys paradise. Aside from my film and the alien film Mr. Malone was starring in a pirate movie, a witch movie, a cannibal movie, giant mutant rat flick and another film where the place doubled for a Lizzie Borden museum. How did this come to be exactly?

“I never thought horror would be my genre. It happened by accident,” Malone said. “I was still doing Singled Out when I met Ron Ford (“Hollywood Mortuary”) who was directing Alien Force. I did that and the whole B-movie horror thing just kind of fell in my lap.”

Mr. Malone would go on to do at least 10 other pictures with Mr. Ford, but I was interested what started the ball rolling on making Malone Manor a movie star in its own right. “Two of Ron Ford’s pictures were shot here. The Crawling Brain and Dead Season,” he told me. “After those films came out people would write or call Mr. Ford and ask, ‘Where did you get that set?’. Mr. Ford would tell them, ‘That’s actually Randal Malone’s house’. Lots of people would inquire about renting the property, but I would turn them down if it didn’t involve me as an actor.”

I then asked Mr. Malone if he ever would consider renting to a project that didn’t involve him. “Let’s be completely honest. I’m not doing this for the money. As lovely as it is to have people over and have the excitement of movie making at the end of the day it’s still your house and a bit of an imposition. Most people are respectful, but sometimes they have to be forced to be respectful.”

When he mentioned that I thought of all the movie sets I’d been on. From B-movies to bazillion dollar budgets it was the same. There was equipment strewn all over the place, egos run amuck and lots of people hanging at the craft service table. I asked Mr. Malone if he had any really bad experiences and he told me this wasn’t really the case. A few things had been either broken or stolen, but each time the producers reimbursed the loss. He did remember a recent experience:

“You don’t go upstairs. Upstairs is the living quarters of Malone Manor. And it’s not just myself. Other people live there too. [note: the other residents are Malone’s friend and co-producer, Michael Schwibs and famous silent screen legend Anita Page. Ms. Page, now in her late 90’s, is taken care of by the both of them] They were filming a particular movie, I won’t say which one, and an actor decided to tour the place with his girlfriend. My bathroom is right next to my bedroom and I had just taken a shower. So, I was completely naked when I walked in to find them standing in the middle of my bedroom. I was shocked at first, but when that wore off I started to get really angry. That had never happened before until this year. Now when people are shooting we put a little velvet rope at the bottom of the stairs.”

They say there’s not much ‘nice’ in Van Nuys, but if you’re into aliens, witches, pirates, giant mutant rats, or Lizzie Borden then remember Randal Malone and his acre of B-movie paradise. It’s ground zero for the most fun you can have sans porn producers and gang bangers.




Posted on June 21, 2006 in Interviews by
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