Blue Lights






   Blue Lights (95 min.) Director, Writer, Producer, Cinematographer and Editor. Blue Lights Partnership. Starring Brent Ritter as the ghoul king Loath. Feature video distribution: Magnum Entertainment, Beverly Hills; foreign distribution: Amazing Movies, Los Angeles. DVD release 2014 by distributor Code Red.

Invited feature: Science Fiction and Fantasy Film Festival, Rome.


Of all the films I’ve made Blue Lights as it is known theatrically overseas or on domestic video as Curse of the Blue Lights was the largest project, the most work and personally my least favorite. A purely commercial project which was to have led to other films much more to my liking and taste. I like certain sequences, but as an acquisitions executive from Disney told me “you had a great concept, but not enough money to carry it out”, I couldn’t agree more, but you work with what you have and I wanted to make a feature.


    When I was trying to progress up from documentaries to features I wrote (or worked on with my friend Joel Scherzer or my assistant at the time Brian Sisson) on a number of scripts of various genres for four feature scripts: murder mystery (with Joel) Red Wind, (and with Brian) a children's fantasy Comic Book Hero, an action adventure western Jake and the Overland Stage and La La Land about an independent filmmaker's (mis)adventures in Hollywood.


    Years earlier I had researched a violent episode from Pueblo’s history of the 1854 Christmas eve massacre at fort El Pueblo of a group of transplanted Taos traders by force of Ute and Apache Indians. I found three contemporary accounts of what happened and pieced together a timeline. (I’ve always been interested in history.) Well this would have made an extremely violent, bloody film and I never used it separately, but with my friend writer Joel Scherzer (who had written the grant and the script for Damon Runyon’s Pueblo) it proved to be the basis for the feature script entitled “Red Wind” which had repercussions from the past up to today. The sins of the great-great-grandfathers visited upon their descendants.


  The funding group who were doing the limited partnership for the film simply couldn’t raise enough capital to start production on Red Wind which had a pretty large scope and lots of action. So after two or three times seeing our initial (and significant) amounts of capital raised being returned, I asked how much could they raise. They gave me an amount which was far less than Red Wind would cost to make. I left and two weeks later returned with the script for Blue Lights. I should have followed my inclination to make a small personal story, but the horror genre was a time honored first step for numerous filmmakers, so I went with that as our approach.


    I know quite a lot about Colorado history and Southern Colorado lore in particular so I used two elements as its basis: in the late 1800’s the so called “missing link” was said to have been found and was pitched as such by PT Barnum. Found near Muldoon Hill southwest of Pueblo it was the so called “Muldoon Man”. And secondly, west of Pueblo was a teenage parking area known as “Blue Lights” where kids parking would supposedly see mysterious, unexplained blue lights in the nearby river bottom. I combined these elements into what would become a feature film. Teenagers as they are bound to do in such films, accidentally become involved with the underworld when they interrupt the ghoul king Loath and his henchmen as he attempts to bring Muldoon Man back to life.


    Almost universally panned in every compendium in which it is listed (except the NY Times listing of independent films) the film was made for less than Hollywood films spend on minor items such as catering. It came out well for what we had to work with.


    It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. As the film had a great deal of prosthetics and lots of sets, each of which had their own difficulties in terms of construction and expense. I shot some scenes in bits and pieces at different times over the difficult 1 year shooting period.


    It made lots of money for distributors, though most of it never made it out of Hollywood to me or my backers. With film it is a gargantuan effort to achieve anything even close to what you envision so I have (for now) returned to my first love - photography, where you can control everything perfectly.


    The film was an invited feature to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Film Festival in Rome. It’s achieved something of a cult status because of how bad it is described to be in the various tomes by the critics. Some sequences are, in fact, pretty good like the one you can watch here. Another which comes to mind is where the dead come to life exploding out of the ground as they are called forth by the ghoul king Loath from his subterranean lair while holding his pet python.


    Great makeup effects for King Loath, his minions Bor and Forn and, of course, the full body makeup of Muldoon Man which started more than a few careers in Hollywood. For instance, Mark Sisson (my assistant Bryan’s brother) immediately went to Hollywood and began working with our makeup effects advisors there on such films as the Nightmare on Elm Street movies and other more mainline fare such as the Turner Classics’ Gettysburg for which he received a screen credit.


    Will I ever make the original Red Wind or the other features or documentaries I’ve written? I’d love to, I can watch them in my mind. But as it takes a long time and is difficult to raise the substantial money required for filmmaking and as I really love teaching new photographers and filmmakers, the time to fund additional projects would be hard to find.



    Here are some graphics files which you can download. Note: these are large files so please be patient.


    To download a pdf file of Blue Lights’ domestic video mailer, click here.


    To download a pdf file of Blue Lights’ foreign sales mailer, click here.


    To download a pdf file of Blue Lights’ foreign theatrical poster, click here.


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All rights reserved. © John H. Johnson 2017