The sec­ond part of Schlockmania’s exclu­sive inter­view with Sylvio Tabet (first part here) con­tin­ues with its explo­ration of Mr. Tabet’s thoughts on his cult clas­sic pro­duc­tion, The Beastmaster.  It’s a must-read for fans of the series, as he gets deep into the inspi­ra­tions and phi­los­o­phy behind the Beastmaster mythos…

A note­wor­thy aspect of The Beastmaster is that the cin­e­matog­ra­pher was John Alcott, who is renowned amongst film fans for his work with Stanley Kubrick.  Who had the idea to hire him and how do you feel about his work on the film?

I do not remem­ber but I am a fan of nat­u­ral light­ing .  His light­ing ‘catch­es the feel­ing.’  His pass­ing is a great loss to us all.

The Beastmaster has had a real­ly impres­sive life in ancil­lary mar­kets, earn­ing a lot of its cult fol­low­ing through exten­sive expo­sure on cable out­lets.  Some have joked that TBS should be called  “The Beastmaster Station” because they’ve shown it so often and Dennis Miller once said HBO stands for “Hey, Beastmaster’s On.”  What are your thoughts on the film’s leg­endary sta­tus as a cable-t.v. sta­ple?

The leg­end, the hero, I think the pub­lic relat­ed to this hero who com­mu­ni­cates with the ani­mals.  He is strong but non vio­lent, pure but still pow­er­ful.  So many peo­ple called to adopt Kodo and Podo.  The man-beast con­nec­tion played a role in mak­ing this char­ac­ter a leg­end.

Everybody remem­bers Tanya Roberts.  Marc Singer was not just a body, he had great pres­ence and charis­ma.  The cast and act­ing were great and Don (Coscarelli) did a great job.  The Beastmaster is a leg­end on a high­er scale and he is here to stay… a sec­ond movie, a tele­vi­sion pilot, 66 episodes and now a just-pub­lished nov­el prove it.

On your next project, The Cotton Club, you start­ed as an investor and end­ed up becom­ing a pro­duc­er.  Could you please tell us about the process that caused this  shift in roles?  What was it like work­ing with Francis Ford Coppola?

When I got involved on The Cotton Club, it was already a  mess and shoot­ing had start­ed. I was going home, I advised the investors to do the same.  One stuck with the movie: Bob Evans was ful­ly com­mit­ted.  He asked me to stay as a co-pro­duc­er.  I have a lot of respect for this man. He stood behind his crew in the most dif­fi­cult moments.

I was excit­ed to work with Coppola and decid­ed to stay.  I was prac­ti­cal­ly the only per­son who could com­mu­ni­cate with every­body.  I end­ed up being the “Henry Kissinger” of the movie.

Coppola is a great direc­tor and a pro­fes­sion­al. One day he told me “Sylvio, do your work.  I do mine. If you want some­body to man­age, hire anoth­er cheap­er direc­tor. I am like the oil fire extin­guish­er expert, you do not tell him how to do his work.”

When the time came for a Beastmaster sequel, you wrote and direct­ed it in addi­tion to your cus­tom­ary pro­duc­tion duties.  What was the most sat­is­fy­ing part of the process for you out of the­se many jobs and how do you feel about the fin­ished pro­duct?

I am a film­mak­er, a film direc­tor.  I came to pro­duc­tion by acci­dent. The first film I want­ed to direct had a direc­tor attached, a good one, so I decid­ed to pro­duce it.  This film was one of the biggest in France.  Success is dan­ger­ous… The rest was his­to­ry.

Directing , work­ing with the ani­mals and actors was the best part of Beastmaster II.

There was a mis­con­cep­tion in the sequel’s con­cept.  I should have kept the Beastmaster in his world of fan­ta­sy.  Bringing him to our world made him to sim­i­lar to us.  He has to stay a LEGEND.

Whatever the final pro­duct was, it trig­gered a pilot from Universal.  This pilot was very bad.  They even used a old aging lion instead of our strong beau­ti­ful tiger.  Still, it trig­gered 66 episodes.

I made mis­takes.  I did too many things with a  a very small bud­get.  I was even direct­ing on two sets at the same time, work­ing 18 hours a day.  The good news is I made it and The Beastmaster sur­vived.

The Beastmaster has also enjoyed a long life on tele­vi­sion, via a sec­ond made-for-t.v. sequel and a pop­u­lar tele­vi­sion series.  You’ve con­tin­ued to be involved, even co-writ­ing a con­tin­u­a­tion of the Beastmaster mythos in nov­el form.  What it is about this con­cept that inspires your con­tin­ued explo­ration of it?

I relate very much to tigers.  I relat­ed very much to The Beastmaster, a man in search of his soul.  He is the only hero who is half-human, half-ani­mal.  He is a link between the human and the ani­mal and we have a lot to learn from our ani­mal side.  I co wrote a nov­el Tara, Queen Of The Touargang.  She is a spin­off from the Beastmaster nov­el.  She is half-pan­ther, half-human.  She is learn­ing from her ani­mal side to be more human.  She is the female Beastmaster.

The leg­end con­tin­ues.  We are all male and female in ONE with the Universe. Beastmaster is our rep­re­sen­ta­tive… the explo­ration con­tin­ues.

I’ll close by ask­ing if there is any­thing you’d like to tell the fans of the films dis­cussed in this inter­view.  Any thoughts and feel­ings about the fol­low­ing for your work?

Beastmaster: The Myth con­tin­ues this explo­ration.  Its inspi­ra­tion is my encoun­ters with the yogis of India.

The future is always paint­ed as doomed… the end of the world.  More and more peo­ple live in fear and explore the pos­si­bil­i­ties to extend their greed by killing Mother Nature.

The world of Beastmaster (the past) is a Shangri-La. The Future, the tech­nol­o­gy attacks the past to find the foun­tain of ETERNITY.

Beastmaster, half human and half ani­mal, is the defend­er of  the foun­tain.  He is also in search of who he is, the “I AM” like all of us — all our life ’til we real­ize that we are also Eternity.

The ani­mals are the sav­ior of Nature.

We have to con­tribute.

I wel­come any ideas of our fans to this mis­sion.  The Beastmaster is our lead­er.  Our gen­er­als Ruh, Sharak, Kodo and Podo are wait­ing to please you with new, excit­ing adven­tures… with a mes­sage.

Interviewer’s End Notes:  Your Humble Reviewer would like to thank Mr. Tabet for being gen­er­ous with his time and mem­o­ries.  Schlockmania also owes a debt of grat­i­tude to Neil Butler, who made this inter­view pos­si­ble.

If you want any fur­ther infor­ma­tion on Mr. Tabet and his career, just check out his per­son­al web­site at http://www.smtabet.com/