Spring Valley is not one of D.C.’s toughest ’hoods, but native son Colin Miller says he turned to karate lessons as a kid “because I was little and was getting beaten up.” Turns out this was good training. The 40-year-old Miller has written, directed, and acted in a kung-fu comedy film, All Babes Want to Kill Me. And in it, he gets brutalized by all manner of people.
It was during his last year of college at Georgetown University that Miller, who has lived in Los Angeles for the past eight years, discovered a second passion that would lead to his film debut: comedy. Pre-dental student Miller met D.C. Comedy Sportz co-founder Gianni Lazuli in 1988. Miller joined Lazuli and others to create the sketch group the Missing Lynx, which became a fixture at Old Town Alexandria’s Laughing Lizard Lounge. Even this amount of “success” convinced Miller to move to L.A. to become a comedy writer. When spec scripts didn’t sell, Miller returned to martial arts.
“Moving to L.A., it’s important to find a group of people who are working on something positive,” says Miller. “Because it puts you in with a group of positive people.” The positive people in his case are at the Association of Chinese Kenpo in Glendale, where the black-belt Miller is a teacher. With many of his D.C. comedy pals also in California pursuing Hollywood careers, he decided to combine his two worlds, enlisting fellow instructors and students as actors, along with Lazuli, former Missing Lynxes Brian Kapell and Rhoden Skyles, and wife Alex Cain, who is both producer and co-star.
All Babes is about a martial artist with a disease that makes beautiful women want to kill him. This doomed karate master, played by Miller, goes on a suicide mission to find love. The disease, called mercritis, is the result of eating massive amounts of paint chips. (At least Miller swears this is an actual disease. He points to a Web site, Mercritis OnLine, as proof.)
The film is a both a romantic comedy and an unapologetic bashathon kung-fu pic. Because both men and women get to do the mauling and wear the heavy bruise makeup, All Babes can get away with a daughter telling her mother, “I haven’t begun hitting you with that pan,” and a father asking each of his sons, “Are you my bastard child?” Along the way, there are fights with ’50s-style on-the-warpath Indians, a happy, babbling retarded fellow, and such lines as “You’re not gay enough to be gay!”
Yet the film is PG-rated, and Miller delights in contending that “All Babes is a movie that all ages can enjoy.” Miller and Cain are currently fielding distribution offers, while simultaneously placing the film themselves.
“We’re in this strange era,” Miller says, “where studios are making movies that are indie-like, and you have some people who are making movies that are actually independent but have a studio concept. And that’s what we’re trying to do. As a result, when you take a kung-fu comedy to a serious film festival, it’s not the right place for it. But if you take it to a comic-book convention, they’re happy to have it.” All Babes drew raves at the San Diego Comic-Con and is now booked for an indefinite run at the Old Town Theater in Alexandria.
Miller is looking forward to his hometown chums’ chance to see his chops. He proudly points to the “new nut-breaking sound” that he and sound designer James Lay created to accompany the smackdowns. “It took us a couple hours,” says Miller cheerily. “It was a Cheetos and Doritos combination. I was really proud of that.”—Dave Nuttycombe