VIRGINIA — Virginia native Craig Muckler is a busy guy.
He will be at Crypticon Minneapolis today and Sunday with retired professional wrestler and actor (and, of course, Minnesota’s 38th governor), Jesse “The Body” Ventura.
Muckler is revamping his popular Los Angeles talk show of the 1980s-1990s for a national audience.
He always seems to be doing some sort of interview, such as his recent chat on The Tom Bernard Podcast with Bernard, host of one of the most popular morning shows in America since 1986 on 92 KQRS-FM, Twin Cities.
And next year, Muckler plans to film a horror movie on the Iron Range.
“Muck,” as he is called, is also working on his biography, “CM — Celebrity Magnate — From Stutterer to Celebrity,” with co-writer Dan Livengood.
But one of his great triumphs during the past year, Muckler says, was being featured in Mark Groffin’s bestselling novel, “All That Heaven Allows: A Biography of Rock Hudson.”
Muckler would not be where he is today — producer of a cult horror film that made a major comeback recently, and a hobnobber with many Hollywood stars — if it wasn’t for the late Hollywood icon Rock Hudson.
The class of 1971 Virginia High School graduate was bullied for talking with a stutter during his school days in Virginia (although he is friends with some of those people now), and was held back a grade because of it, the producer said by phone from his current residence in St. Paul.
But stuttering was really a blessing. It led Hudson to encourage the boy from small-town Virginia to make a name for himself.
Muckler explains: Through connections at the family cabin on Lake Vermilion, Muckler’s grandparents became friends with Hudson’s mother, Kate Olson, in the 1950s.
Olson became like a surrogate grandmother to Muckler, whose family sometimes visited Olson and her famous actor son in California. Hudson told the young Muckler he should shoot for the “big screen” because acting is often a “cure” for stuttering.
And Muckler did just that.
Hudson’s advice gave Muckler the courage to star in high school and community theater productions in Virginia, and then to head to Hollywood after studying theater arts and journalism at the University of Minnesota.
Muckler said within two years of taking film classes at the University of California-Los Angeles, he had produced a successful 1979 low-budget film called “Malibu High.”
But his chief success was with “Microwave Massacre,” a 1983 low-budget horror comedy about a guy who has had enough of his wife’s fancy cooking (he just wants a bologna sandwich), murders her in a drunken rage, and then cooks and eats her using his wife’s prized oversized microwave.
In recent years, “Microwave Massacre” has developed a cult following by the 40 and younger crowd, Muckler said. The film enjoyed a comeback, heightened after it was released on DVD/Blu-Ray in 2016 and screenings were held in Hollywood and at theaters across the United States and Canada.
Muckler is now focused on bringing his talents to the area of his hometown.
“Next year we will be shooting ‘Howard Lake,’” the true story of a 1897 unsolved double axe murder that took place in the small Minnesota town. Muckler plans to film it somewhere on the Range.
He assisted with Ironbound Studios of Chisholm’s production of the mystery-thriller, “The Harbinger,” which was released this year and filmed on the Range.
And he and his team are working on a few other pictures, including “Microwave Massacre 2,” “Ripped To Shreds” and “Zombie Football.”
“All could be filmed on the Iron Range,” he said.
Muckler talks with equal enthusiasm about his other projects.
“I’m bringing back ‘Craig Muckler’s Hollywood Showcase,’ once a hit in L.A.” The Los Angeles program, among the top-rated public access shows in California into the early-1999s, featured celebrity guests Muckler met along his career path.
“We’ve taped 30-some interviews, and 16 episodes are already done … with famed guests like Sheree Wilson of ‘Walker, Texas Ranger,’” Muckler said. Other guests include actors Sy Richardson and Eric Roberts.
The new “Hollywood Showcase” is a combination the old show with a “fresh and different” twist, he said. Muckler plans to “submit it to truTV, MTV, Showtime or HBO.”
And, “just in,” Muckler says, “Spencer Wilding himself — Darth Vader himself in ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ and of ‘Game of Thrones’ hand-picked me.”
The Welsh actor, who owns “The Beast Within,” an agency for horror and fantasy celebrities, “is my agent,” Muckler said. “It’s because ‘Microwave Massacre’ is now a Top 10 cult film out of 4,000. … There are only 45 of us” represented by Wilding, including stars of the television series, “The Walking Dead,” he added.
“I’m also featured in the new Eric Roberts film, ‘It Wants Blood!’ Two scenes were written for me.”
Muckler can talk all day about the celebrities he has met, from Michael Jackson to actress Linda Hamilton of “The Terminator” movies to actor Anthony Perkins, who portrayed Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” films.
It’s a good thing he’s writing a novel.
“The book is 80% done,” noted Muckler, who said he’s been called the most influential stutterer in the world. “Only 1% of the population stutters. I want to sand up for people like myself.”
It’s just one way to honor Rock Hudson’s influence — and to show others that if a kid from Virginia, Minn., can do it, “they can, too.”
“Now I’m a celebrity,” Muckler said, “and in a way, it’s because I’m a stutterer.”