Allen Halden appears in my Doctor Who fan films 'TARDIS Adventure' and 'Temporary Exile.' He also appears in the original sci-fi comedy 'Gate Crashers.' I met him when he rented a room in my pal Scott's house in Orange, Connecticut. Both the house and Scott made loads of contributions to earlier films.
About Allen, Scott says "we were friends during an intense period in my life in the latter half of the 80s, in a way that forges a lifelong connection." Same goes for me.
On the surface, Allen was just a regular American guy but he had fun with the subject of his German heritage; that's how I know that The Bundeswehr is the German army. He'd seen their logo used fashionably on a load of teen couture and tagged it "Bundeswehr that's fun to wear!"
He enjoyed the SCA. In case you didn't know, the Society for Creative Anachronism holds primarily outdoor events where folks engage in medieval-style combat and culture to varying levels of accuracy and high levels of enjoyment. Allen's 'scadian' name was Baron von Stumfenberg, or 'Shtumfy.'
He also loved anime and collected Japanese toy robots, the kind that are about a foot high and were certainly imported because they had those little spring-loaded missiles that were banned from local toy stores. We devised a sort of table top war game where dice rolls determined how the robots could move and aim.
Allen was very much into table top war gaming. He had stacked drawers of miniature lead figures. He also had real lead, which is to say a German pistol.
He'd dismantle it into a gajillion parts, clean and oil the lot and then reassemble. He was the sort of person you'd trust with a gun; he treated the subject with suitable irony. This included a sticker on his used American sedan that read, 'World Peace through Superior Firepower.'
Shtumfy was a good-natured guy, really open and kind. He wasn't courting or dating anyone when I knew him but that wasn't for lack of social skills. Or hugs.
After Gate Crashers, I went to school thousands of miles away. As a student, long distance calls weren't in the budget and the internet wasn't ready for prime time. So all I had from Shtumfy was the occasional letter, sometimes signed with a quote from The Andromeda Strain: "Allen. 601."
Allen made changes, too. He left Connecticut for New Jersey, and then Pennsylvania, moving in with his dad. Allen's health, however, wasn't something that changed for the better. As a young man in CT he'd already had gout in his feet. He hit a run of bad luck in recent years with worsening health, financial stress and the death of his father.
Then, recently, he posted care packages of possessions to his friends. Nobody really thought anything of it at the time. Nobody imagined he would take his own life.
It's only been a few days since I heard about Allen's suicide from Scott. I've pulled his film appearances out of my boxes of tapes and produced the video above. Allen had recently changed his surname to Hayden, so the original spelling in the credits has become something of a stage name. I called the video a showreel because what he showed us will eventually become more important than the fact that he's left.
Perhaps I'll write more here when I know more. I've been so sad we lost touch as I have thought of him and related him to others many times. It's probably quite selfish to grab more time with Allen in these thoughts and in pictures but hopefully others of you will benefit from this as well.
Missing you, mate.