Filmmakers like J.F. Lawton take on pseudonyms for different reasons

By EW Staff
Updated July 29, 1994 at 04:00 AM EDT

If you directed Psycho Cop 2, would you want to put your name on it? Adam Rifkin wouldn’t. Instead, like other filmmakers who’d rather go unnoticed, The Chase‘s writer-director uses a pseudonym (in his case, Rif Coogan) for his less reputable efforts. ”An Adam Rifkin movie is really a movie that I think of as a career movie,” he says. ”Rif Coogan movies are more for fun, my own personal edification, and for practice.”

Real name: J.F. Lawton
His credits: Wrote Pretty Woman and Under Siege; directed the upcoming The Hunted
Pseudonym: J.D. Athens
His credits: Wrote and directed Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death and Pizza Man
Why the double life? At the time he got then opportunity to make Cannibal Women, his Pretty Woman screenplay had already been selected by the Sundance Institute for its prestigious directors’ workshop. ”I was starting to get a certain reputation as a serious screenwriter in Hollywood,” Lawton says. If people saw his name on something called Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death, he reasoned, ”I might be sending out a confused message.”

Real name: David DeCoteau
His credits: Directed Creepozoids, Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama, and Puppet Master 3: Toulon’s Revenge, among others
Pseudonyms: Ellen Cabot, Julian Breen
Their credits: Cabot directed Beach Babes From Beyond and Test Tube Teens From the Year 2000. Breen directed the upcoming Prehysteria 3.
Why the triple life? ”People begin to associate you with a certain genre, then question your ability to break away from it,” DeCoteau told the fanzine Alternative Cinema. ”By using different names, it allows me the freedom to work more and in different areas, much as Stephen King did with Richard Bachman.”

Real name: Aristede Massaccesi
His credits: Directed Death Smiles on a Murderer, among others
Pseudonyms: Joe D’Amato, David Hills
Their credits: D’Amato directed Emanuelle in Bangkok, The Grim Reaper, and Trap Them and Kill Them, among others. Hills directed The Emperor Caligula: The Untold Story; Ator, the Fighting Eagle; and The Blade Master.
Why the triple life? ”(Ator‘s creators) wanted to make it appear like they were all Americans,” says Miles O’Keefe, who played the title role. ”But there weren’t any Americans working on these films. Nobody spoke any English. Hell, we didn’t even have any scripts.”