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Mountain Home Magazine

Howllywood Comes to Wellsboro

Jul 01, 2024 09:00AM ● By Lilace Mellin Guignard

“Lordy, Lordy have mercy on me
Lay off that whiskey and let that cocaine be”
—from Cocaine Blues by Johnny Cash

Move over Sasquatch, there’s a new cryptid coming to the Tioga County, Pennsylvania woods. Technically Cocaine Werewolf has already been here, since Mark Polonia, the director, filmed this horror-comedy in December 2023. But this coked-up canine will steal Bigfoot’s spotlight on July 5 and 6, 2024, during the world premiere of the low budget cult film at the Arcadia Theatre in Wellsboro at 9 p.m. each night. Mark will be there, along with producers Tim Yasui and David Sterling, and much of the cast. A Q&A session will follow in the 200-seat theater. There’s an after party at the Gas Light Bar & Grill at 35 Main Street.

If B horror movies aren’t your thing, you might wonder what there is to howl about. (I mean, IYKYK*.) The premise according to the trailer is: “Cocaine, cash, and a crew filming a horror movie in the eerie woods of Northern Pennsylvania clash when an unexpected visit from a blood-thirsty werewolf literally enters the picture—with deadly results!” The fact that this movie is being made by our very own cult horror film master, who has 108 movies under his belt and fans around the world, is one thing. The fact that the storyline seems to almost be about him—minus the drugs and killer monster—makes this meta story even more humorous.

The screenplay by Tyger Torrez was originally set in LA. When Mark was contacted about making it, he was coming off a busy year and not looking for another project. “I’d already made ten movies in 2023 and was looking forward to a break,” he says. Mark has a reputation for making good movies fast and cheap, which he’ll tell you is a mixed blessing. But he agreed, and gathered a cast of recent and longtime favorites. According to Cleopatra Entertainment, Cocaine Werewolf stars include Marie DeLorenzo, Jeff Kirkendall, Titus Himmelberger, Ken Van Sant, Brice Kennedy, Yolie Canales, and Noyes Lawton. Mark shot five days of principle photography and four or five days of incidental scenes in Wellsboro, Covington, and Albany. All shooting and editing happened from December 5 to New Years Day.

Mark says, “It went very smoothly other than the weather.” Given the comic-bookish nature of the film, it of course includes not only a werewolf with glowing red eyes but a young woman in a bikini being chased. If this had indeed been set in LA, that wouldn’t have been a problem, but December in Tioga County is another story. So, while Mark adapted the original screen play in ways to fit the location, everyone just had to pretend it wasn’t as cold as it was. Luckily (or unluckily) it was a wet December with more rain than snow. “You have to plan meticulously but also have to be flexible,” he says. For instance, a barn he was planning on shooting in blew down. “It looked good in the background,” he laughs.

Making a horror movie about making a horror movie is fun. Local Wellsborian Cody Losinger plays the director of a clown slasher flick that gets derailed by the blow and bloodthirsty creature. “Mark told me to play it like a cranky version of him,” Cody says. His character sniffs out talent, and sniffs with the talent. The white powder was really confectioner sugar and put in such large plastic bags that the actors joked about how much cocaine that would be. Mark admits that when it comes to the drug scenes there may be factual inaccuracies, and says his wife kept reminding him to take the briefcase of bagged sugar out of his car. In the movie, all the characters are clueless as to what is going on except for one, a cameraman played by Addison Turner. Mark says, “When I told him that he said, ‘Oh, so I’m playing you on the last production.’”

While most of his films are straight horror, Mark’s horror-comedies include Feeders and Bigfoot Vs. Zombies. While all his movies are campy, camp and comedy are different. “Comedy is hard,” he explains. “Not everyone thinks the same thing is funny. Terror is more universal, while comedy is personal. It can be hard to make people laugh at the same thing, but it’s fairly easy to get people to be afraid of the same thing. The best way to get comedy out of horror,” he says, “is to play it straight.”

Cocaine Werewolf plays off the success of the film Cocaine Bear, by Elizabeth Banks, that was very loosely based on a true story of a black bear in 1985 that got into some cocaine that had been dropped out of a smuggler’s plane. That bear did not kill anyone, unlike in the movie, which also made a killing—grossing $90 million worldwide. Cocaine Werewolf is not the first movie to capitalize on this new trope. Released in February 2023, Cocaine Bear was quickly followed by Cocaine Shark in July, directed by Mark Polonia. Only he didn’t know it. Originally titled Narco Shark—and shot well before the bruin of blow—the title was changed after the producers saw Cocaine Bear hit the theaters. When a buddy congratulated Mark on Cocaine Shark, “I told him it wasn’t one of mine, and he told me to look at the bottom of the poster. And there was my name.”

Directors have the control while a movie is shooting, but in all other ways the producers call the shots. Mark had worked with David Sterling from LA before, but it was his first time working with co-producer Tim Yasui. Tim works for Cleopatra Records, which has a film division and also produced the original Gothic industrial rock soundtrack for the movie.

Before moving to Hollywood in 1987, Tim was born and raised in Williamsport and will be at the premiere July 5. “I booked the premiere myself from Los Angeles,” he says. “I found [the theatre] on Google and was fascinated by its 100-plus year history.” The classic downtown movie house at 50 Main Street in Wellsboro opened in 1921, when silent movies were accompanied by organ and even live orchestra. The Arcadia was completely renovated in 1996 and now has four screens, but keeps the classic look and feel. Go to or call (570) 724-9371 for more information.

Tim, who has a cabin in Lycoming County, says, “My goal is to make profit for the owners on this one—so we can shoot another one back home in the Commonwealth.” Who knows, maybe a Cocaine Bigfoot vs. Cocaine Werewolf? Seems like Sasquatch should get a chance to reclaim these woods.

*IYKYK—if you know you know

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