I had a grand time recently catching up with buddy Rob Long for a long overdue phone chat. We first got in touch almost 20 years ago in the early days of the internet. He was my introduction to the possibilities of digital art and we had a lot in common, namely a shared love for PHANTASM. We managed to meet up back in LA in 2002 for a whirlwind trip across locations. Memorable chunks of that involved faking being related to gain entry to a mausoleum in Compton, and a rollicking lunch with Don Coscarelli & Angus Scrimm.
We’ve kept in touch over the years – he’d introduce me to genre movies that missed my radar, and I’d commission him for a few cross media projects I was developing. It’s uncanny how many times this guy has popped up in my peripheral vision over the years, which is to say a lot. The charming mockumentary WNUF HALLOWEEN SPECIAL did an admittedly better job at playing the “lost” VHS tape angle than DOLL KILLER, which I wrote, did. And who was I surprised to see in that, playing a priest? Rob Long. Who the heck made that gorgeous DEAD HUNT poster and why is it so familiar? Oh, Rob Long. Artist, actor, writer, crewperson, mentor/mentee, you name it.
Importantly, he worked under the late, great Marylands filmmaker Don Dohler, of THE ALIEN FACTOR, NIGHTBEAST, GALAXY INVADER & FIEND – plus first film employer to some guy named JJ Abrams. To watch a Dohler movie is to step into a pocket universe where practical FX, readily available locations and the need to finish filming in time for turkey dinner trump complex storytelling and name-brand actors. Dohler may be gone, but he is not forgotten – people like Rob make sure of that, maintaining sizable archives of behind-the-scenes materials and sharing treasured memories. But it goes further than archiving and celebrating the man’s work. His veritable spirit is alive in his collaborators, whether it be through work ethic or sheer commitment.
To illustrate this: Rob has been working on completing Dohler’s film CRAWLER for years where painstaking CGI FX is being applied in the editing room to realize the titular creature. I eagerly await what the film has in store – a glimpse into a world where Don Dohler lived a little longer, enough to pump out one more production. I can confirm the project is something of a holy grail for Rob, and one that will be worth the wait for Dohlerites and low budget aficionados alike.