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Catonsville duo to premier scary movie at Charles Theatre

Horror comedy about home brewers cursed after killing woman's black cat is filmakers' fourth

By Brian Conlin, bconlin@patuxent.com

10:19 AM EDT, October 17, 2011

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"Witch's Brew," which premieres on the silver screen of the Charles Theatre at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 19, may very well be the end of the line for Chris LaMartina and Jimmy George.

The Catonsville residents have teamed to make four feature-length horror films since 2006, beginning with "Book of Lore," and followed by "Grave Mistakes" and "Presidents Day."

But their most recent is also their most expensive.

The newest film, a horror comedy about a pair of home brewers who have a batch of beer cursed by a witch after they ran over her cat, cost $16,000. It is the most expensive film they've made.

"Our friends and family funded 'Witch's Brew,' and we don't want to do that again," said George, 31. "We're not going to ask people for money again."

LaMartina, 26, said $13,000 was raised through a website called Kickstarter, where people can peruse projects and business ideas and donate to them.

George said they raised $2,000 by soliciting donations from family and friends.

The remaining $1,000, LaMartina said, came from his own bank account.

"I can't expect to get rich off this stuff and don't," LaMartina said. "If someone sees the film and invests in our next project, that would be awesome.

"It could be our last film if we don't find investors."

Admission to this evening's movie is $10 and the pair said they don't expect that to recoup the cost it took to make the movie.

George said the most people they have ever had in the theater to see a film was in 2007 when nearly 400 people came to see "Book of Lore."

Since then, their premiers have coincided with blizzards and closed down streets, which prevented them from exceeding that number, George said.

"This year, we're not going to have a blizzard involved," George said on the pair's third October premiere event. "We're hoping it's the biggest premiere we've ever had."

More than a strong draw at the gate, the pair said they hope "Witch's Brew," catches the eye of an investor so they can continue pursuing their hobby.

George said the pair would likely keep writing screen plays if they no longer made movies.

With more than 40 deaths, the 86-minute movie should catch some eyes and perhaps draw some laughs.

Half of the scenes in the film, LaMartina estimated, were shot in Catonsville.

"(After drinking the cursed beer) the attributes that define these characters end up going against them in very ironic, gruesome ways," LaMartina said. "It doesn't take itself too seriously. It's tongue in cheek."

For example, the character neurotically concerned with going bald turns into a werewolf, LaMartina said.

"All things considered, I think it's better than we could have ever imagined," said George, a 1998 graduate of Catonsville High School. "We worked as hard as we could to make the best movie we could possibly make."

After making four horror films in the past five years, LaMartina said he's interested in dabbling in other genres.

He noted that his screenplay for the romantic-comedy "For the Taking" took third place at the Baltimore Screenwriters Competition in 2009.

But fans of dramas and romantic comedies demand big names and higher production values than LaMartina can afford, he said.

"I would love to produce a love story or a drama," he said. "(But) horror fans are more forgiving."

Whatever happens though, LaMartina is satisfied.

"Finishing a movie is the success," LaMartina said. "I think people seeing our movie and reacting to it is success enough."