A Horror Film with an Armenian Touch


Amy (Harootian) Wade stands by a billboard promoting her new film ‘Condo Hell’, which premiered in Rhode Island and is headed for the Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival in California.

NORTH SMITHFIELD, R.I.—Contrary to public speculation—and film innuendo—Armen Harootian is alive and well, still making noise at his long-time home in Reading, Mass.

But you’d never know it after watching the horror flick his daughter, Amy (Harootian) Wade, wrote, co-produced, and directed called “Condo Hell.”

In the film, which co-stars her dad, the man dies a terrible death. Not the type of thing you might expect of someone bionic who was inducted into two Athletic Halls-of-Fame (track and soccer) at Fitchburg State College.

Not someone who’s been revered and treasured by the Armenian community for his athleticism in the AYF Olympic Games. The same Armen Harootian who served with the United States Coast Guard Search and Rescue Team, a stint that extended eight years working out of a lifeboat station off Cape Ann.

Yet, his acting was so realistic, you might have taken him for Vincent Price or Boris Karloff—two of the greatest actors of their generation when it comes to the macabre.

“Well, that’s show business for you,” says Armen. “My daughter approached me with this film idea and I couldn’t resist. It sold out a Rhode Island theater and is now off to a Hollywood film festival. Glad I’m alive (in real life) to watch its success.”

A packed house at the Stadium Theater in nearby Woonsocket on Jan. 31 still has the shivers, we’re told. From here, it’s en route to the Beverly Hills Music Hall, where it will appear Feb. 25 in the Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival. Should it succeed, look for it at other marquees throughout the land.

Making this 77-minute horror film was the real terror for Amy. She had a long and winding road to reach “Condo Hell.” Had she chosen “Condo Heaven,” it may have been an easier approach.

The film was shot at the old Tupperware Mill in North Smithfield, which is now Hard Rocks Condominiums. She chose the site not only for its setting, but because it’s where dad is one of the developers and property manager.

Amy took one look at the mill and thought it would make a perfect movie set. She compares it very favorably to “The Shining,” which starred a youthful Jack Nicholson.

The 43-year-old grew up in Reading, Mass. She left home at 17 to pursue an acting career in Los Angeles. To her, it was the “Promised Land” in living out a dream.

“Talk about pounding the pavement. It’s a cutthroat industry saturated with people,” she notes.

Amy returned to New England six years ago and went to work for her father at High Rocks Condominiums. Acting in a movie you’ve produced and directed with your dad has to be a special undertaking.

Although Amy prefers comedy over terror, she believes it’s horror flicks that are taking Hollywood by storm these days. It’s the top-selling genre, she says.

Picture “Friday the 13th” and “Halloween” and you get the idea.

Theatrical poster for ‘Condo Hell’

The movie was shot on a tight $35,000 budget and Amy learned the ropes as she went along. It was baptism by fire as many scenes were shot twice before approval. A kick-starter campaign brought in about $5,000, only to lose it when she became bamboozled by the wrong person.

Amy learned a valuable lesson: Don’t trust someone with your money until they finish the job. Running out of cash, she started selling her possessions on Craigslist. Then, the unexpected occurred. Fellow residents at High Rocks where Amy resides knew about the movie.

Soon, they were leaving items outside her condo door to help support the project. People were donating their unwanted china and ransacked their living rooms for art and antiques.

The gesture brought tears to Armen’s eyes. According to Amy’s dad, 300 people reside inside those condos. Many of them were downsizing and had lots of stuff to donate. Out of it came $10,000—enough to ensure the project.

“It was a long process,” says Amy, “I went through depression and almost had a nervous breakdown. But I was always able to climb out of that hole.”

The filmmaker also believes that “fright makes right.”

“It’s very scary,” she admits. “If people walk out on the film really horrified, I’ll be very happy.”

Source: Armenian Weekly
Link: A Horror Film with an Armenian Touch

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