Rock ‘n’ Reels

Okay, before we get down to it, watch this:

What you’ve just experienced is a trailer for a documentary about one of the most infamous indie filmmakers you’ve never heard of, David “The Rock” Nelson. Nelson has produced over 30 genre films — all of them notoriously no-budget. He is certifiably insane, yet somehow has achieved the status of a latter-day poster-boy for indie filmmaking.

Nelson’s work has become something of an obsession for Kaiju Search-Robot Avery, too, so I suggested that instead of hiding in the background, he should write up the article himself. He did. Well done, Avery!

David “The Rock” Nelson, Only Slightly in Focus

by Avery Battles

David “THE ROCK” Nelson, the infamous Z-grade, zero[no] budget backyard filmmaker from Des Plaines, Illinois, is at it again! As stated in the title of a 2007 documentary about him, “Can’t Stop the Rock!”, there  seems to be no stopping this insane and out-of-control madman. He has been dubbed “The Ed Wood Of The 90s And Beyond That, Even” and “America’s Two-Fisted Filmmaker”. Many see him as a nuisance. To others he is an inspiration. Then, of course, there’s the majority of us, who don’t know exactly what to make of him. Whatever the case, he’s here and he doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.

Hard Rock

So who is this one-man filmmaking machine?

In the early 1960s, at the ripe young age of just 7 years old, David Nelson had big dreams of becoming a monster movie filmmaker. He asked his parents to buy him an 8mm camera, but at the time they couldn’t afford one. However, they did manage to purchase him a Kodak 120 photo camera, in front of which he would pose in his Halloween costumes and masks. Later in the mid ’60s, after forming a ‘monster club’ with some other neighborhood kids — one of whom’s father owned a super 8 mm movie camera with which he would shoot short monster films featuring his mates — he made his acting debut. It was in a 3-minute short called “The Ant Devil”. Looking at the film now, no one could have predicted that one of these young boys would eventually grow up to become an infamous filmmaker nor that the title creature of the short, a 6-inch plastic toy ant, would later be revived to star in films from that future filmmaker.

Rock BoxingIn high school Nelson would take two years of photography, which would later help his filmmaking career tremendously. In the early 1970s he would become fascinated with boxing and bodybuilding and would train furiously after school with his boxing coach. Subsequently he would join the marines, serving from 1976 to 1980, where he was given the nickname “Corporal Oo-Rah”. There he joined the boxing team and then found God and, as he puts it, “was saved”. It was also in the marines while stationed in the Philippines that he finally purchased his first dual-8 movie camera.

After the marines he would join a bible college and major in evangelism. While there he also took up wrestling. Upon graduating with a BA degree, he would start preaching at any given opportunity anywhere, from missionary churches to street corners. To make a living he became a door-to-door salesman selling encyclopedias, dictionaries, and medical books. The whole time, whenever given the opportunity, he’d film daily events with his video camera. This material is often incorporated into his films alongside other stock footage.

Finally in the early 1990s his love of “Monsta” movies, as he loves to call them, would take center stage as he began filming a series of short films and features starring such famous monster icons as Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy, the Werewolf, and others. These sport such insane titles as “Frankenstein And Dracula vs. Sodom Insane”, “The Giant Fly”, “Dracula From Space”, “Miss Werewolf”, “Mummy A.D. 1993” and of course the “Pumkinman” and “Devil Ant” series.

Rock and Conrad Brooks

All up, he has produced 33 features and shorts so far. He films them on 8/8mm. film and edits them to VHS, then transfers them to DVD. In his career he has befriend many famous B-movie celebrities, including actor Conrad Brooks (pictured with Rock on the right), director Roger Corman, gore-splattered FX wizard Tom Savini, horror host Svengoolie, Forrest J. Ackerman and others, some of whom would appear and act in films such as “Conrad Brooks vs. The Werewolf” and his personal favorite “Demon Monster From Outerspace”.

Even innocent bystanders can unknowingly become victims in his films as he’s always on the look-out for unsuspecting celebrities and civilians to attack with his notorious plastic “Devil Ant” prop (see below), while catching it all on film to incorporate into his next feature. Nelson has been known to tape public footage of just about anybody and edit it into his films. Just ask Hilary Clinton, Fred Olen Ray, Harou Nakajima and Kenpachiro Satsuma, among others.

Nelson’s personality is quite explosive and unpredictable as he has been regularly known to rip off his shirt and break into an air-boxing match or to flex his muscles for the cameras during live public appearances. He’s been the subject of two documentaries: the aforementioned “Can’t Stop The Rock” and “Baby Food And Monstas”. He is also an annual Guest Of Honor at the “Monster Bash” that takes place each June in Butler, PA, and has appeared on WGN TV News out of Chicago several times, as well as on “Wild Chicago”, Comedy Central’s “Daily Show” and the “Jon Stewart Show”.

Devil Monster
The Demon Monster

He will be making a special return appearance on WGN TV News, his 13th to date, this Halloween October 31st, between 7 and 9 in the morning. There he will be presenting footage of his latest “Monsta” movies in segments during the 2-hour broadcast. You can expect “The Giant Horny Toad Monster” [a.k.a. “Son Of Gila Monster”], the double bill “Killer Cicadas” and “Attack of the Giant Cicadas” [a.k.a. “Oo-Rah vs. The Cicadas”], and the short vids “The Giant Grasshopper Monster” and “The Giant Cricket Monster”. Is this something you can afford to miss?

Giant Fly
The Giant Fly

Information on The Rock and his films, including how to get copies, can be obtained through the links below as well as contacting the man himself.

Reference Info:

YouTube Videos on The Rock:

This entry was posted in Film, Giant Monsters, Horror, Kaiju Search-Robot Avery and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Rock ‘n’ Reels

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  7. lisa says:

    I don’t think I have ever seen his films or short films, but sounds like they may be interesting or at least entertaining.

  8. Avery says:

    If nothing else Lisa, they are very entertaining and at times hilarious. He really loves what he’s doing and it shows.

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