The Black Rose Killer Takes
His Final Bow
By Glen Baisley
In 2001, Fear of the Dark introduced Light & Dark Productions' signature
villain, the Black Rose Killer. Fear of the Dark was self-distributed for a number of
years before finally being picked up and released by Brain Damage Films in
2005. In the interim, The Tenement was released and built upon the mythology of
the Black Rose Killer.
In The Tenement, the origin of the Black Rose Killer was finally revealed and
the mask at long last came off. Joe Lauria was practically cast on the spot to play
Ethan Fernier, a character inspired by Psycho's Norman Bates. Joe instantly took
to the part making it his own and went on to not only reprise his role in the third
and final chapter of the trilogy, Sins of the Father (releasing on DVD on
December 1st) but played his own son Alec in the same movie and in the
forthcoming movie, Fairview Falls.
We discover in The Tenement that Ethan Fernier's inspiration for the Black
Rose Killer was drawn from his favorite horror movie, Dead to Rites, which
featured Rellik, a hulking brute clad in leather and spikes. Since The Tenement's
debut it has been a dream of mine to pit the two villains against each other. Joe
shared the same passion to see the two of them onscreen together.
This past July, Blood Moon Rising approached me about showing one of our
short films at Blood Fest 6. This discussion later led to the idea of shooting a
special short film introduction for the festival. Joe was going to be involved in this
project but sadly, on August 17th, Joe tragically passed away. Joe's friends and
colleagues urged me to continue on but my heart wasn't in it at first. I couldn't
see doing it without Joe. Having given it a great amount of thought I decided that
Joe would have wanted me to move ahead with the project. So it's fitting that
since Joe had passed on, it was time to put the Black Rose Killer to rest too and
let him go out in style.
The short film, Domination: Rellik Vs. The Black Rose Killer, was shot on
September 13th and was one of the saddest days of my life because Joe was not
there to share the experience with us. When the shoot wrapped, the full weight of
our loss finally took its toll. We would never see him again. We would never hear
his laughter again. Joe had a way of making people feel good. He was a
generous and caring person who showed little concern for himself because he
was so invested in the lives of those he loved.
Joe was a consummate professional and poured his heart and soul into the
roles he played. I remember shortly after casting him that he asked to borrow the
black jump suit to practice getting into character. Weeks later I learned that he
had donned the suit at a nearby park and terrorized passersby by chasing them
and wildly waving a stick in the air.
Our first day of shooting together on The Tenement was the finale where he
had to pretend to beat to death another character played by Fangoria Managing
Editor, Michael Gingold. An overzealous Joe swung a fiberglass shovel mere
inches from Mike's head. A similar scene was repeated for the death of Isabelle
Stephen in Sins of the Father but with a camera tripod. Isabelle has gone on
record as saying that her death scene with Joe is her favorite of all the movies
she has worked on.
Joe found his niche in horror and quickly became a valued member of the
Light & Dark family. He delighted in scaring his audience. Joe always looked
forward to when we promoted at conventions because he saw this as an
opportunity to put on the suit again. For Domination, mutual friend Jude Pucillo,
agreed to stand in for Joe so that the Black Rose Killer could take his final bow.
Domination marks the final time that the Black Rose Killer will appear
onscreen. This is my tribute to one of my dearest friends. He adored the horror
genre as much as me and has had a profound influence on me creatively. He
breathed life into my characters and gave me a gift that I'll cherish always. It's the
gift of having had the honor of knowing and working with him.
Star of The Tenement and Sins of the Father.
Talented actor and dear friend.
You're in our prayers.