Producer, Jeff Miller, Talks The Gardener, Exorcist Vengeance & More…

AR: Thank you for your time, Jeff, and welcome to Action Reloaded.

JM: Thank you for having me.

AR: To jump right in, was film always the career path you wanted to take? 

JM: I told stories from a young age, starting with Spider-Man and Star Wars comics I’d draw.  (Not very good, I have to say now, but I was like 7 or 8.)  Eventually that grew into short stories and novellas, then screenplays.  

AR: Growing up, what film stars or directors were your biggest influences? 

JM: Similar to a lot of people around my age. Steven Spielberg of course, John Carpenter, Wes Craven, Tobe Hooper.  For actors, I always liked Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, and Clint Eastwood.

AR: I remember reading that you were friends with the original Leatherface (1974) actor, Gunnar Hansen! What was Gunnar like? 

JM: Gunnar was a gentle giant.  Sweet man.  I remember we were going into overtime on HELLBLOCK 13 (1999) and had a very tight budget, so I asked if he could give us another hour or so, and he thought for a moment and said sure, but he asked if he could keep the pants we had bought him for the role!  He was a big guy, and I guess it was sometimes hard for him to find comfortable pants.  Of course we said yes.

AR: I always felt he got short-changed in the Leatherface role. His interpretation deserved a sequel or trilogy at least, right?

JM: Absolutely.  From what he mentioned, he was called about doing the second one, but I think they only offered him scale?  Something like that.  He said no and was expecting a counteroffer, and I guess it never came.  That’s what I remember hearing.  I have no other knowledge of it.

AR: Are you excited for the new Texas Chainsaw (2022) due out soon? 

JM: Sure.  That’s a fun series.  I worked on a movie BRING HIM BACK DEAD (2022) last summer with director Mark Savage (PURGATORY ROAD), and we both have a fondness for the original TCM.  We quoted many lines back and forth.  I have an idea for a spinoff of the original that I’d like to do with Mark.  But of course, there’s really no money in fan films, so if I ever meet the right person associated with the franchise, I’ll pitch them!

AR: You have quite a few titles under your belt including Kill ’em All (2017) starring Van Damme and Daniel Bernhardt together. What was it like working with both Bloodsport (1988) and Bloodsport 2 (1996) actors? 

JM: I had very little to do with that one creatively.  I put in some money and was on set for a few days.  Both JCVD and Daniel were cool guys.  I think it’s great we have a fight scene between them.

AR: We have a couple of friends in common, one being Bronzi, a fantastic actor in his own right but also a Charles Bronson look-a-like. I have supported Bronzi from day one and you have worked with him through five movies now. Let’s talk Bronzi!

Your first collaboration with Bronzi was Death Kiss (2018), a tribute and recreation of Charles Bronson’s Death Wish (1974).   What what was it like shooting this movie? It had that seventies vibe to a tee.

JMDEATH KISS was a blast.  Yes, that was my first collaboration with Bronzi and it’s one of my favorites.  I liked him the first time we met and knew we’d click.  He’s honorable and sincere.  

Director Rene Perez was really excited about doing that film and I think his enthusiasm shows.  A lot of people think those fountains of blood are CGI but that was an actual blood pump that spewed these huge fountains!  At first, I thought it was too much but it quickly grew on me.  If you’re doing a movie like that, it needs to stand out.  

I think Eva Hamilton did an amazing job.  Her character and the daughter brought heart to the film.  I’d worked with her a few months prior on OUIJA HOUSE (2018) and referred her to Rene for her role in DEATH KISS. 

Richard Tyson was great and Daniel Baldwin was easy to work with. A lot of the supporting cast also fit their parts well and made it a good film.  Fun fact: The RayBan Wayfarers that Bronzi wears when he’s teaching Eva to shoot were my sunglasses.  I still wear them!  

AR: After that, you co-wrote Once Upon A Time In Deadwood (2019) with Rene Perez. What was the inspiration for this story? Was it always written with Bronzi in mind? 

JMI’d never done a western and wanted to do one.  It was written with Bronzi in mind.  I came up with the title and Rene came up with the genesis of the story.  I loved the ticking clock of the poison. It was our homage to ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK (1981).  Rene wrote a lot of it but I contributed as well and wrote a few key scenes.

AR: More recently you have had a string of hits with Bronzi including Escape From Death Block 13 (2021). It was a blast and the finale was awesome. Gary Jones really knows how to direct an action movie! How did you guys meet? 

JM: Gary Jones and I actually met through Gunnar Hansen!  I ran into Gunnar at a Fangoria convention in Pasadena shortly after I moved to L.A. in 2001.  Gunnar said “There’s somebody in L.A. you should meet.”  And it was Gary.  Gary and I met for lunch in summer or fall 2001.  We tried to get THE LAST HORROR PICTURE SHOW off the ground, which Gunnar and Gary had written and that had Robert Englund, Kane Hodder, and Gunnar attached.  We got close but unfortunately never got that one made.  But Gary and I have done a few movies over the years, from the campy horror film JOLLY ROGER: MASSACRE AT CUTTER’S COVE (2005) to what I think is an underrated action film, BALLISTICA (2009), to creature feature AXE GIANT: THE WRATH OF PAUL BUNYAN (2013) to more recently ESCAPE FROM DEATH BLOCK 13, which is Bronzi’s biggest film to date.  Gary knows how to direct action.  He did 2nd unit on XENA and HERCULES so he’s got a lot of experience and ended up directing a few episodes too.

AR: Next up, The Gardener (2021), where Gary Daniels plays the villain! I’m a fan of Gary Daniels’ work. What was it like working with the legend himself? 

JMGary was a gentleman and very professional.  It was a fine first experience working with him.

AR: Gary Daniels’ martial arts talent is phenomenal. What was it like setting up the fight between him and Bronzi? Did Gary help choreograph? 

JM: Michael Hoad was the fight director but I believe Gary contributed to the fight scene, as he did his earlier scene beating up the three goons.  Gary actually wrote most of his dialogue in that scene with the three goons.

AR: Your latest movie, Exorcist Vengance (2022), has Bronzi take on the supernatural! This movie is quite gory and the effects looked practical rather than CGI. Do you prefer the old-school way of filmmaking? 

JM: Absolutely.  We do practical as much as we can.  

AR: Bronzi has been against bandits, murderers, invaders, the lot… Did it take much persuasion to get him on board a supernatural horror movie?

JMIn EXORCIST VENGEANCE, out 8th February 2022, he takes on his biggest adversary yet — the Devil!  He plays this tough priest with a troubled past who has to revisit his past in order to stop the devil.   But I will say, horror is not Bronzi’s favorite genre.  He likes action and westerns.  At the end of shooting EXORCIST VENGEANCE, he said “Jeff, please, no more horror.”  I think seeing people spit up blood day after day disturbed him, haha!

AR: You wrote the paranormal script. What would be your top 5 paranormal movies? 

JM: THE EXORCIST (1973), SESSION 9 (2001), THE EVIL DEAD (1982), WITCHBOARD (1986), THE CHANGELING (1980), and I’m sure I’m forgetting one or two that I could switch out … HAUNTED (1995) with Kate Beckinsale was a pretty good film that no one talks about.

AR: Your next release is Bring Him Back Dead (2022) starring Gary Daniels. Is this a full-on action movie that has Daniels kicking ass and taking names?

JM: Yes, we have a great cast with Gary, Louis Mandylor, and Daniel Baldwin.  Also Katie Keene (from the ROGUE WARFARE series), this is my fourth movie with her.  She’s outstanding and should be working more.  Mark Savage directs, and we have fights, ATVs, horses … it’s a fun movie, and Gary plays a character a little different from most he’s played. He’s a bit of an anti-hero.

AR: Thank you so much for your time, Jeff. I am really excited to see Bring Him Back Dead! Stay tuned for my review of Exorcist Vengeance!