Cover Story: Lying Down on the Job

'Dead Body Guy' was dying to do local short film

May 31, 2006 at 2:06 pm
Megan Nadolski

Chuck Lamb has become a live wire in the film business.

Here lies Chuck Lamb. It was in a small, unassuming motel room at the Budget Host on Central Parkway where Lamb met his bloody fate, taking two to the chest at close range. The corpse lays motionless and bloody.

Except he wasn't bloody enough. So he had to get up and do it all again. And again.

Such is the life of a professional dead body actor. At least, he's pretty sure this is how it works. Admittedly, he's figuring it out as he goes.

Lamb is a Columbus native but finds himself in Cincinnati on a recent Saturday morning as a red-hot screen actor, an Internet celebrity and the future recipient of a special Los Angeles Indie Film award.

It sounds glamorous, Lamb admits at the Budget Host, but he has other things on his mind at the moment.

"Dealing with fake blood is just nasty, especially when it goes down the crack of your butt," he says, squirming.

His current role has him playing a less than angelic lowlife who tangles with some less than angelic mobsters at the motel that day. The short film — being made by local filmmakers Drew Money and Dan Phenicie — is called The Turtle and features a sizeable body count for a low-budget independent. But that was exactly what brought Lamb to it.

Now known internationally as "Dead Body Guy," Lamb got notice of The Turtle's casting in Cincinnati and immediately called and expressed interest. Money and Phenicie had gathered a sizable stable of local actors for their project, but none had come with the specific area of expertise that Lamb did.

"You look for an actor who can command a scene when they're in it, and Chuck had that," says Phenicie. "He's done a great job, both with his living and dead parts."

The saga of the Dead Body Guy began only six months ago. Lamb had been jonesing for a way to break into Hollywood for a good chunk of his almost 50-year life. He just didn't know how, "Especially at my age and with my looks," he says.

Then late last year, he had his epiphany. He woke one morning from a bizarre dream in which he played a dead guy on TV's Law and Order. And he knew right then what his calling was.

He explained the dream to his wife, who — to his surprise — didn't divorce or commit him. Instead, she helped him cook up the vehicle for this stardom: the Web site, on which Lamb posted staged photos of his death.

It started humbly: death by garage door and death by bowling pin. He e-mailed the site out to some friends, who sent it to some friends, who posted it on blogs. A case study in viral marketing later, and Lamb is getting thousands of hits a day, all logging in to see the new and inventive ways he meets his maker.

The site's popularity led to media interest, and that was truly when the rigor mortis set in. From a Columbus newspaper column to an AP story to a New York Times piece, next thing Lamb knew he was appearing on Good Morning America and Paula Zahn Now. Those visits got him exposed to some pioneering casting directors with larger projects, such as a Danny Aeillo comedy called Stiffs, some television shows for the WB and Starz and larger independent films.

Suddenly the humble Ohioan — who, by the way, retains his 9-to-5 job with an insurance company while pursuing this dream — was a Hollywood commodity.

"I got lucky," Lambs says. " I think people like me, I'm just a down-home guy having the time of his life and I think people appreciate that. They're tired of stiff guys in Hollywood."

Whether Lamb can keep it up or if this is just a wild version of the "15 minutes of fame" theory remains to be seen. But in the short term, Dead Body Guy's future is pretty bright.

He goes to New York to help cast a slasher spoof he's attached to called Horrorween, he's booked at the Fangoria Horror Convention as an autograph signer in Los Angeles in June, he appears on a new show called America's Best Low Budget Superstar later in the month and he receives a special career achievement award for self-promotion at the L.A. Indies in July.

All this, plus his Web site just entered fabled territory. At more than 5 million hits in its short tenure, became one of the top 10 most viewed personal Web sites in Internet history. That puts Dead Body Guy in some elite company.

Back in room 109 on the set of The Turtle, Lamb has other issues with which to deal, like that fake blood in certain crevices. You won't catch Lamb complaining, though.

By dying, he's living his dream. ©