John Karyus is an eclectic character actor and Jack of Any Trade on an indie film set. We met at the B-Movie Film Festival in Syracuse, NY in 2000. He overheard a conversation and asked if he could chime in. Below he reflects of this, but it’s a moment I’ll never forget. He asked if I had any copies left of my film. I opened my book bag and offered him a VHS of MY CREPITUS. John inquired what they cost, I stared at him dazingly. He urged me to ‘get used to it’ and shoved a $20 bill in my hand in exchange for my film. John shook my hand and shared a personal anecdote of thriving to survive as an artist. Believing in ones skills. He was the first to buy one of my films. Then he asked how he could reach out to me, so that we could correspond. He did write back after watching my film. Over the next six years, we kept in touch. Then as he was nearing a crossroads and about to make the dive toward his cinematic dreams and move to LA. He said I was on his bucket list of artists he wanted to work with before he made the move. John drove straight from the set of TROMA’S POULTRYGEIST: NIGHT OF THE CHICKEN DEAD. He arrived directly on set of …AND THEN I HELPED. We were shooting a massive blood bath and he jumped right in and helped puppeteer the faux victim. Once we broke, we had a chance to catch up and he eagerly popped open the trunk of his car to show the prop ass from the Troma film. He had played a gravedigger who gets his ass reamed literally…
We shared many a laugh and filmed a plenty… Below is John’s own personal reflection:
“Hot on the tail of announcing that the nearly 6 years in the making PIGSTER (formerly FEAST OF FEAR) is finally available, another long dormant project has surfaced. This one dates all the way back to 2002…the long anticipated OPENING THE MIND from Michael Todd Schneider.
I first met Michael in 2000 or 2001 at a genre themed film festival. I am not sure if he sensed I was of a similar mindset or what, but he came up to me saying his film was too disturbing to play at this festival. He then opened a backpack full of VHS tapes, somewhat covertly like a drug deal was going down. The movie was MY CREPITUS and the cover was himself in homemade but very creepy demon makeup. Of course I bought one of these bad boys. $15 I think.
Over the next couple of years I kept in touch with him online. I was doing movies and he was doing movies. He was starting to get known in the weirdest corners of the underground for some of his movies and music projects. We traded tapes back and forth. At some point, he offered me a role in his avant garde epic OPENING THE MIND, which he had been working on for a couple years at that point. He showed me a trailer for it, which I couldn’t make heads or tails of. It was all weird eyeballs and screaming. But I liked it. A lot. I said yes immediately. I didn’t know what this movie was ABOUT (still don’t!) but I did know it would be INTERESTING.
A couple of years went by before we would shoot it. In the summer of 2006, I drove from Buffalo to Pittsburgh and shot not only my bizarre scene in OPENING THE MIND, but a brief cameo in another movie he was making at the time ( called …AND THEN I HELPED) as well as an impromptu short film. 3 films in one weekend, not bad!
And then a week later I packed my car and moved to LA. And gradually fell out of touch with Michael. I worried here and there about OTM, and it didn’t help that it seemed to disappear from IMDB. But then, just a few days ago…I saw him posting that pre-order was available on this film that had become an urban legend. It existed!
I read a blog on his webpage that went into some detail about how hard the project was to resurrect. The tapes were impossible to play on any deck or camera he had. A whirlwind of other issues. And other films to make. But somehow, some way, after 17 years, he carved this beast. I still don’t know what to say about it, but not quite knowing what it is is the joy of it. I can guarantee it is very, very far out there.
OPENING THE MIND is available for pre-order on his website, in two collector’s edition versions. One that’s $40 with all sorts of extras like documentaries….and one that I think is just the movie for $25. Also, listed right underneath, is …AND THEN I HELPED also for $25. These are pricey I know, but keep in mind they are very independent releases….as well as collectable packaging and such that all those collector types seem to love!
I haven’t seen either of these yet. But I can say both are pretty extreme and force you to leave your sanity at the door. I know I did!” – John Karyus, 11.6.2019