Adam Horner [Interview]

 

Hello Folks! Welcome to the 2020 edition of our Month of Horror. It’s almost humorous that we are showcasing the motion pictured displays of horror when it seems as though we simply have to look around us to see the natural horror that is enveloping our daily lives. But nevertheless, a quick escape from the surrealism of our daily lives is often appreciated. In this vein, we honor these wonderful folks who seek to only entertain us with a good scare and a break from the actual horror that is all around us. We have assembled a wonderful batch of actors, writers, directors & beyond, who have worked on so many different projects that you know and love. I am beyond excited to share them with you all throughout the month of October. Enjoy!

Today’s guest is the CEO of the wonderful Australian production company Ignite Pictures, which has been consistently putting out some of the best to be watched in the world of horror. He is also the co-star of the amazing new thriller The Last Exorcist, starring alongside the likes of Danny Trejo and our dear friend and past guest Rachel Brooke Smith. Horner has also been featured in and produced two other of my favorite horror films of 2020, Escape: Puzzle of Fear and Coven. All three of these incredible films are available now from Uncork’d Entertainment. Other works from Adam include the documentary Leftovers, which we have showcased in the past right here at Trainwreck’d Society.

We are very excited to share some words from this mastermind from the world of horror and beyond. So Folks, please enjoy some wonderful words from the great Adam Horner!

 

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What inspired you to get into the world of entertainment? Was it an early aspiration you can always remember having since your youth, or did you just find yourself in this world one day?

When I was younger my parents used to take us to the Pantomines every Christmas. I used to remember as a young kid always watching and wanting to be on the stage. Then when my younger sisters started dance lessons, every year we went to see their annual show at a theatre and asked my parents to sign me up too! The rest is history!

What was your first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And were there any kind of lessons learned from this project that still affect your work today?

I would say my first “Paid” gig in entertainment was when I decided to start busking, in the town of Windsor in Western Sydney! I remember going out with my two band mates at the time, and singing old Rock classics! I think we made just under $100 in our first day, which we though was pretty good going at the time! I remember someone handing me a $20 note that day and offering to be my manager on the street.

In your own personal opinion, what do you believe it is that makes the horror genre special? What sets it apart from other genres you have worked in?

Horror is special because of the fans. Horror fans are special. They’re often the most dedicated fans. They’re the reason why Horror performs so well at the Independent level. Horror fans are generally, from my experience, true movie buffs!

 

 

What is your favorite scary movie?

I would say my favorite is still It Follows. A simple concept, executed amazingly well. I could watch that movie back to back! Get Out is another one that is just a fantastic piece of cinema. They’re pretty close.

I know this year may be a bit different, but I am curious to know if you have any sort of Halloween traditions? Anything you would normally do each year?

Not really to be honest!! Halloween in Australia and England isn’t really like America. It is more of a kids holiday for Trick or Treating. So I tend to decide what I’m doing on the day, and it just tends to be what ever my friends are doing!

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers? 

I’ve had a movie recently released which you can check out on all DVD and all major digital Platforms called Coven, which I star along side Emmy Nominated actress Teri Ivens [as well as] The Last Exorcist, in which I star opposite Machete himself, Danny Trejo! Very excited about the release of that title.

What was the last thing that scared the hell out of you?

The 2016 US election results…

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Some news that I recently got about a new Television show that I produced alongside the Thriller Films and Masterkey Studios team CYPHER. More about that soon….

 

 

Barry Jay [Interview]

 

Hello Folks! Welcome to the 2020 edition of our Month of Horror. It’s almost humorous that we are showcasing the motion pictured displays of horror when it seems as though we simply have to look around us to see the natural horror that is enveloping our daily lives. But nevertheless, a quick escape from the surrealism of our daily lives is often appreciated. In this vein, we honor these wonderful folks who seek to only entertain us with a good scare and a break from the actual horror that is all around us. We have assembled a wonderful batch of actors, writers, directors & beyond, who have worked on so many different projects that you know and love. I am beyond excited to share them with you all throughout the month of October. Enjoy!

Today we have some wonderful words from the brilliant writer & filmmaker Barry Jay. One of his most recent films, Killer Therapy, is an absolute must see for any die hard horror fans out there. It’s highly original, and just a god damned delight! Other works include his debut film The Chosen, as well as work on other projects like Patient Zero & Ashes. He’s a delightful person, and we are so excited to have him as a part of our Month of Horror.

So Folks, as we keep trucking along and nearing the end, I hope you are enjoying what we have brought to you this year, and please enjoy some wonderful words from the great Barry Jay!

 

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What inspired you to get into the world of entertainment? Was it an early aspiration you can always remember having since your youth, or did you just find yourself in this world one day?

I have been a voracious horror fan since I was kid living in NY. I was however always parking in community theatre and managed to teach myself piano and to write songs. I tried the acting thing in NY for a while but ultimately it wasn’t for me. Once I was 20 years old, I decided it was time to move to Los Angeles and pursue songwriting. I’ve had very minor success in that field, nothing to live on really and stumbled into a job at a PR company. That job lasted about 6 years before I was let go.  Being a fitness enthusiast at that point, I took at job at a local fitness studio. There I met friends who would become my biz partners and we opened Barry’s (aka Barry’s Bootcamp).  I went back to songwriting for a bit on the side, but my love for horror was haunting me — no pun intended. I started writing scripts.  Many many scripts.  And I met some friends at Barry’s that were in the movie biz and one of them asked to see my scripts.  He suggested we write something together and that script became The Chosen.

What was your first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And were there any kind of lessons learned from this project that still affect your work today?

Well I made little bits from here and there from songwriting along the way. Got a song on Ugly Betty that paid well.  But The Chosen was my first script I sold and it was an incredible experience! I loved being on set, it was a very upbeat environment and I got a rush from rewriting on the fly to improve scenes as we shot them.  That was produced by Terror Films and they hired me to write the wrap around for Patient Seven after that.  I learned a lot about what worked well, how a happy set is a productive set (and just more fun!) It was in a way film school for me and gave me the confidence to know I could write/direct Ashes, my first film I produced.  I would say creating a positive environment and surrounding myself with extremely talented people is something I learned and keep with me as I grow as a person and director.

 

In your own personal opinion, what do you believe it is that makes the horror genre special? What sets it apart from other genres you have worked in?

I feel something when I watch horror — my blood flows, my heart races, its the only genre where screaming at the character on screen is acceptable and appreciated! To experience fear, like a roller coaster ride is something unique to horror movies. Also that old adage what you don’t see is scarier doesn’t always apply with other genres — you need to see the light saber battle in Star Wars. But not knowing where the killer is in the house… terrifying.

What is your favorite scary movie?

Okay — so I go back and forth between Halloween (1978) which is a master class in horror filmmaking IMHO.  And Night of the Living Dead, a movie that has inspired me in so many ways since the first time I saw it. George Romero putting everything he had into that movie reminded him many days that its worth betting on yourself.

I know this year may be a bit different, but I am curious to know if you have any sort of Halloween traditions? Anything you would normally do each year?

For a while I was known for my way-over-the-top Halloween parties — think big then multiply that by 10.  However, they were a LOT of work (we’d start planning in July) and costly and messy… so we stopped.  Other than that I watch the iconic horror every night of October, and I can be found at UNIVERSAL HORROR NIGHTS about 3 or 4 times a year. Also on Halloween night and the night before I write, love to work on script on those days. (The night before Halloween was called GATE NIGHT where I grew up and I wrote a script with same title)….

 

 

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers? 

Killer Therapy was released on September 15 for North America and Canada, And other territories will be released on December 4th.

My latest script Aroused, a psycho-thriller is in pre-production.  And I am really excited about this one!

What was the last thing that scared the hell out of you?

It’s 2020 — take your pick.  BUT in terms of horror…. sadly nothing yet this year in films. But the trailer for Unhinged did get my blood pumping. Can’t wait to see it.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My pups — I can always count on them for that.

 

 

 

Anna Shields [Interview]

 

Hello Folks! Welcome to the 2020 edition of our Month of Horror. It’s almost humorous that we are showcasing the motion pictured displays of horror when it seems as though we simply have to look around us to see the natural horror that is enveloping our daily lives. But nevertheless, a quick escape from the surrealism of our daily lives is often appreciated. In this vein, we honor these wonderful folks who seek to only entertain us with a good scare and a break from the actual horror that is all around us. We have assembled a wonderful batch of actors, writers, directors & beyond, who have worked on so many different projects that you know and love. I am beyond excited to share them with you all throughout the month of October. Enjoy!

Today we have some wonderful words from the brilliant actress, writer, and producer Anna Shields! Anna is the star and writer of not only one of my favorite horror films of 2020, but one of my favorite films overall. It’s entitled Monstrous, and it is extremely intriguing. On its surface, it’s a “Bigfoot movie”. But, as Shields will mention below, it’s so much more. To me, and I’m sure many others, it’s about the human condition and how me manage trauma. In this case the monster is physical, but sometimes it can be metaphorical. And I believe this film covers it all. She also is the executive producer of another film that looks promising and extremely intriguing entitled The Retreat that will be out soon.

Anna is a phenomenal human being, and we are so happy to have her be a part of this year’s Month of Horror. So, please enjoy some wonderful words from the great Anna Shields!

 

What inspired you to get into the world of entertainment? Was it an early aspiration you can always remember having since your youth, or did you just find yourself in this world one day? 

Acting has always been my passion as far back as I can remember. I come from a family that loves movies so I was always watching something new. I found myself memorizing lines and practicing them alone in my room. Growing up in the Berkshires, I was surrounded by regional theater. Luckily, I was able to explore acting from an early age because of that. It was during college that I gained some confidence in the screenwriting world. I was 21 when I wrote, co-directed, and starred in my first feature film called Little Bi Peep. I had the experience helping with pre and post production and I learned so much from it. 

What was your first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And were there any kind of lessons learned from this project that still affect your work today? 

My first paid gig was back in elementary school for a theatrical production of The Miracle Worker at Berkshire Theater Festival. I played Blind Child #3 and I had such a blast wandering around stage pretending to be blind. I took it so seriously and even practiced with a blindfold at home. I’ve seen some actors kind of blow off “small” parts but I’ll always remember that feeling of absolute joy to say three lines. I keep that thought with me for every project no matter how “small” the part may seem. 

I really loved one of your most recent projects entitled Monstrous. I am curious as to how you came up with this very surreal story, which is a whole new look at the world of Bigfoot? 

It’s funny, the script was actually based on a short story I wrote which was a psychological thriller and had nothing to do with monsters of any kind. I wrote the original screenplay off of that. I’m close friends with the director, Bruce Wemple, so we worked together during the development stage. When we pitched it around, we got some feedback to turn it into a horror as opposed to a thriller. We decided it would be a fun twist to add a monster. Bruce was actually the one to suggest Bigfoot. I was hesitant at first because a lot of times Sasquatch can have a sort of silly connotation and that wasn’t the tone I was going for. It dawned on me that this could actually be a good thing. I had an opportunity to take what an audience expects and completely twist that into something fresh and original.

 

 

In your own personal opinion, what do you believe it is that makes the horror genre special? What sets it apart from other genres you have worked in? 

When I watch movies, I’m doing it to feel something- whatever emotion the filmmaker was trying to communicate. Fear is such a universal feeling. No matter who we are or where we come from, at some point we’ve all felt fear. So, we start out knowing we’re going to have that basic primal feeling we all recognize. That way, when we follow the character’s journey, the stakes are upped so much more. It’s all about having strong characters that we as an audience can truly care about. That way, when they’re put in such an extreme situation, we’re invested in their survival. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate movies of all genres, but horror definitely stands out to me because it makes us question ourselves and people in general. How would we react in that kind of insane situation? It can help us learn about what makes us human and in that way, we can become more empathic to others. 

What is your favorite scary movie? Why? 

I’d have to say The Hitcher, (the original from 1986). I find that one so intriguing because of the complicated relationship between the protagonist and antagonist. You have this typical guy being hounded by a psychopathic murderer, yet there are so many moments that seem like they’re just trying to understand each other. It goes back to what I was saying about questioning who we are as people. We’re all so quick to judge each other, particularly now with social media. But, when we see these two wildly different people desperately trying to understand each other, that’s something we can take with us and try to use in our own lives, whether or not we agree with someone else’s opinion. 

I know this year may be a bit different, but I am curious to know if you have any sort of Halloween traditions? Anything you would normally do each year? 

Before COVID-19, I really loved going back to my mom’s house on the east coast and handing out candy with her. We’d blast scary music and every year she’d wear this hideous reptilian mask. We also had a dog who was super territorial so he’d howl like a 

banshee inside the house. It was hilarious watching kids debate whether or not candy was worth coming up the porch. 

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers? 

I have a lot of projects in the works but the newest to come out is a feature I helped produce called The Retreat. It’s written and directed by Bruce Wemple. The story centers around a close friendship between two guys that’s become strained since one is getting married and moving away. They decide to spend his bachelor party hiking a mountain peak but encounter the Wendigo spirit there. The Wendigo was such an interesting monster to play with because you’re able to get a physical creature while also incorporating a supernatural element that torments the characters on a psychological basis. In short, there’s something scary there for everyone. 

What was the last thing that scared the hell out of you? 

This one’s hard because honestly, I scare pretty easy! An obvious answer would be COVID-19. Everyone was suddenly thrust into this terrifying new life with an illness we still don’t fully understand. Our lives were completely flipped upside-down. I’ve heard a lot of comparisons to it being like a zombie apocalypse, since it’s this infection that makes you have to isolate from everyone and plays on your paranoia. It’s easy to relate the whole situation to a horror film in that sense and yet, we’re all trying to learn the best way to handle it together. 

What was the last thing that made you smile? 

Last night, another person told me how much they enjoyed Monstrous. I always stay far away from reviews, but I get so happy knowing it resonated with someone. That’s the whole point in making films! It’s really satisfying. 

 

 

Josh Hasty [Interview]

 

Hello Folks! Welcome to the 2020 edition of our Month of Horror. It’s almost humorous that we are showcasing the motion pictured displays of horror when it seems as though we simply have to look around us to see the natural horror that is enveloping our daily lives. But nevertheless, a quick escape from the surrealism of our daily lives is often appreciated. In this vein, we honor these wonderful folks who seek to only entertain us with a good scare and a break from the actual horror that is all around us. We have assembled a wonderful batch of actors, writers, directors & beyond, who have worked on so many different projects that you know and love. I am beyond excited to share them with you all throughout the month of October. Enjoy!

Today we have some words from the great new filmmaker Josh Hasty. He is the man behind a brilliant film entitled Candy Corn that came out last year, and is absolutely fantastic. It is a very well made, and brilliant homage to all the things that we love about horror. Josh made his big break in creating the documentary about the making of Rob Zombie’s beloved 2016 film, 31, and has been on the move ever since, poised to be a legend in the world of horror. In my personal opinion, Candy Corn already lands the guy in the these reigns, as I truly enjoyed this film so much.

We were so excited to have Josh on the site today, so Folks, please enjoy some words from the brilliant Josh Hasty!

 

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What inspired you to get into the world of entertainment? Was it an early aspiration you can always remember having since your youth, or did you just find yourself in this world one day?

It’s definitely been an aspiration for as long as I can remember. As a kid I always enjoyed creating things for fun. I would watch movies and wonder “how did they do that?”. So to a certain degree the interest was inherent, but the process of eventually turning those interests into a career has been many years of calculated decisions and hard work.

What was your first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And were there any kind of lessons learned from this project that still affect your work today?

My first paid gig in entertainment was a haunted house park that I designed and ran from 2012 – 2014. That was a life-long dream come true for me. Unless you’re in the industry you don’t realize running a professional haunted house is a full time job, all year long. Especially when you have three main attractions like we did. We bought a six acre farm with an actual haunted farm house and old barn on it. I lived there for two years while I worked with my family and friends on turning it into the award winning destination it became. I ended up leaving that world to focus on filmmaking full time. That led to my first big paid filmmaking gig – the documentary I did on Rob Zombie’s 31. I’ve learned a lot from everything I’ve done. I think that’s one huge reason I’m still so excited about what I do. Each thing pushes the needle forward a little more. There’s always something new to learn, and it becomes a personal goal to try and use those lessons on the next thing I do. Everything you see in my most recent work is always going to be a reflection of the lessons I learned on the projects that came before it.

In your own personal opinion, what do you believe it is that makes the horror genre special? What sets it apart from other genres you have worked in?

The horror genre is special because of the people that love it. It’s as simple as that. I can get into the psychology of WHY horror fans love horror so much, but I don’t really think that’s what makes the genre special. What makes it special is the love the fans, myself included, have for the work that’s produced from it. Everything in horror is so much deeper and stickier than it is with other genres. When you hate something, you REALLY hate it. And when you see something you love, you get it tattooed on you for life. There’s no other genre that can say that. There will never be conventions all year long for romantic comedies. For instance, look at the actors that work in every genre across the board, but spend their downtime at horror conventions meeting fans and charging money for their autographs. You can’t get that anywhere else. Horror isn’t just a genre, it’s a lifestyle.

Can you tell us a bit about one of your most recent releases, the frightening film Candy Corn? What made you want to bring this tale to the screen?

Candy Corn was a passion project for me. After I did the Rob Zombie documentary, I was in a position to direct a film of my own with some of the people I had met on set of 31. We didn’t really have any money at all, but we wanted to make a movie together, simply for the love of making a movie. So I wrote the script around locations I knew I had access to, and with the help of some dedicated friends and family we spent about two and a half years making the film. It’s an homage to some of the slashers I grew up loving. It’s a simple love letter to those films, and to the season of Halloween.

We planned on just making this little project and hoping someone watches it, but it really took on a life of its own pretty quickly. After a couple weeks of shooting, I edited the footage together and started getting it out to some people I know. This ultimately led to us casting some big names in the genre, including Courtney Gains (Children of the Corn), P.J. Soles (Halloween, Carrie), and Tony Todd (Candyman). That took everything to a whole new level and Epic Pictures ended up buying the movie and releasing it world-wide last fall.

It’s been interesting because people see the poster everywhere, they see these big names attached, and they think it’s going to be a big Hollywood movie, but it’s not. In that way the film arguably got too big for its britches. But I’ll never complain or view that as a bad thing. Candy Corn has found its audience and it continues to gain traction and fans from around the world. It’s truly an amazing thing.

 

 

What is your favorite scary movie?

Rosemary’s Baby. I know that’s controversial because Polanski is a verified pervert, but I have strong feelings on separating the art from the artist, especially in film. Over a hundred good people worked on that film, and it shows in every corner of the finished project. Rosemary’s Baby is perfect in my opinion. I can, and do, watch it regularly and always find something new to love about it. But I love a lot of horror films. It would be easier to give you my top twenty and explain why each are my favorite in their own way.

I know this year may be a bit different, but I am curious to know if you have any sort of Halloween traditions? Anything you would normally do each year?

I really don’t. Of course as a kid growing up in Ohio, trick or treating was all I looked forward to. Then as I got a little older my brother and a few friends would set up a little haunted house in my dad’s garage for trick or treaters. Then in my early twenties I opened my haunted house, so for three years that was what I looked forward to. But in the last few years, Halloween has turned into something different for me. I’m usually working. Last year I got to spend the whole season on the road promoting Candy Corn in theaters. That was a dream I didn’t even know I had. This year I’ll be in development on my next feature film. And hopefully next Halloween I’ll be editing that film. As long as I can be dressed in layers and smell a bonfire, I’m happy.

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers? 

I’m currently in development on my next feature film. You can find out more about that by following me on Instagram at josh_hasty. This new film is the thing I’m most excited about. I’ve been wanting to make this movie since we started Candy Corn over four years ago, but the stars haven’t aligned until now. It’ll be the first project I do with a real budget, so I’m excited to be able to work with less restrictions than ever before. On top of that we’ve got some exciting stuff happening with Candy Corn right now. Trick or Treat Studios released the official merchandise and costume line, which you can find at Spirit Halloween, Party City and Hot Topic, to name a few. And Dread Presents put out a new collector’s edition Blu-ray with a beautiful slip case, designed by my friends at Fright Rags. I’m really excited to see the fans enjoying all of that.

What was the last thing that scared the hell out of you?

I was recently in the hospital, and they thought I had lymphoma. Fortunately it turned out to just be a very serious lung infection, which has been treated. But being hooked up to IV’s in a hospital for days and then being told you need to see a specialist for what might be cancer, was the scariest thing I’ve ever experienced. Nothing else compares.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Being told I don’t have cancer! Coming home from the hospital to my fiance and dogs, ready to move forward is the most I’ve smiled in a long time.

 

John Patrick Brennan [Interview]

 

Hello Folks! Welcome to the 2020 edition of our Month of Horror. It’s almost humorous that we are showcasing the motion pictured displays of horror when it seems as though we simply have to look around us to see the natural horror that is enveloping our daily lives. But nevertheless, a quick escape from the surrealism of our daily lives is often appreciated. In this vein, we honor these wonderful folks who seek to only entertain us with a good scare and a break from the actual horror that is all around us. We have assembled a wonderful batch of actors, writers, directors & beyond, who have worked on so many different projects that you know and love. I am beyond excited to share them with you all throughout the month of October. Enjoy!

Today’s guest is the amazing filmmaker & musician, John Patrick Brennan. John has done some wonderful work in the world of horror, specifically for one studio that we have talked about and featured guests who work in it literally dozens of times now, the great Troma Studios. Think of a project you love from the Troma world from recent years, John has probably worked on it in some capacity. He is also the man behind the theme song, and other works, of The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs which airs on Shudder that you should all be watching.

So Folks, please enjoy some kind and interesting words from the great John Patrick Brennan!

 

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What inspired you to get into the world of entertainment? Was it an early aspiration you can always remember having since your youth, or did you just find yourself in this world one day?

On Movies: When I was very young, 5 or 6 years old, in the 80s, my parents rented a video camera to capture our family’s New Years Eve festivities. It was brand new technology at the time; a heavy, clunky camera that recorded directly onto VHS tapes. The first thing I asked was, “Can we make a movie!?” I wanted to film something with karate fights in it. I tied toilet paper around my head, wrists & ankles (because I must have seen something similar on TV at some point) and tried to direct. Unfortunately, I have a very large family – nine aunts and uncles on my mother’s side, with countless cousins – so my karate movie didn’t come to fruition that day. The rest of the family ended up hogging the camera. But, this, along with my love of Star Wars and Indiana Jones, was the spark.

Then, when I was in high school, my parents bought a Hi-8 camera and I basically confiscated it on day one. My friends and I taped hundreds of hours of skits, parodies, and performance art over the next four years. I still have a lot of that material safe and secure in my personal archives. We had so much fun. It’s why I decided to pursue the arts for a living. After that I went to film school. From there, post graduation, I moved to LA to become a screenwriter. I failed miserably in that endevor and returned to NY eight years later. That’s when I got involved with Lloyd Kaufman and Troma Entertainment, and the real “shitstorm” soon began!

On Music:  My parents had excellent taste and started me out young on the good stuff. I had a 45 of Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke” and played it on repeat for hours on end using my Fisher Price vinyl record player. Still my favorite song. When I grew up a little, getting to grammar school, I became obsessed with Heavy Metal. It was the heyday of MTV and my favorite show was “Headbangers Ball.” Then in middle school I got really into rap. Cypress Hills, Black Sheep, A Tribe Called Quest. Music is the best! My top six favorite musical acts are: Ween, Frank Zappa, The Beatles, Wu-Tang Clan, Stevie Wonder & Madonna. As far as learning to play music, I had three guitar lessons in the 6th grade. The teacher taught me bar chords, first thing. Later, in high school, I taught myself open chords from a book of Beatles tunes. With that foundation of bar chords and open chords I started writing my own songs. I’ve written around 700 to date, 42% of them might be enjoyable. I home recorded music as a hobby for about two decades, until finally getting the chance to write and record the theme song for “The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs.” It’s been a blessing working on the show!

 

 

What was your first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And were there any kind of lessons learned from this project that still affect your work today?

My first paid gig came about during my senior year of film school. I was hired to produce a documentary for an insanely rich man, who had made his fortune in software. He wanted to make a documentary about heroin addicts switching over to methadone in order to get themselves clean. It was kind of the dawn of digital video back then, so affordable editing software was able to run on home computers for the first time ever. I got to learn as I worked. The subject was very interesting to me. New York City’s mayor at the time, Rudolph Giuliani, had come out and said he wanted to abolish methadone clinics, which caused a huge uproar for an entire community of people in recovery. I put a small crew together and we interviewed local politicians, clinic workers, recovering addicts, and addicts that had sadly relapsed.

The shoots went smoothly and we purchased a bunch of stock footage from local news sources to fill in the information blanks. Unfortunately, about two weeks into editing many months worth of material, the rich man showed our Final Cut Pro timeline to his friend who was visiting from Texas. Unfortunately, my co-editor and I weren’t present. The two of them couldn’t make heads or tails of it, mainly because we were at the dawn of the edit. We needed at least a month to get a watchable rough cut together. Instead, I received a phone call from him saying he wanted to try and edit it himself. That was that.

About a year later I received a VHS tape of the finished product. There was literally no editing on the final product at all. The entire piece was just raw interviews with no discernable theme, context, or cohesion. He sold maybe a dozen copies. I guess the lesson here is that people with money can do whatever the hell they want, right or wrong! I was simply too young and inexperienced to argue with the guy. I do sometimes wish we’d been given the time to properly put that project together. It was a juicy and compelling subject. Could have been an interesting documentary.

In your own personal opinion, what do you believe it is that makes the horror genre special? What sets it apart from other genres you have worked in?

What makes the horror genre special is that it takes a shit load of imagination & skill to create, produce, and execute the best ones, but even the worst ones usually have some redeeming qualities (great special FX work, schlock, etc.). This isn’t true for all genres. A bad romantic comedy is just BAD. A bad horror movie is most likely watchable.

Horror is easily the biggest escape from reality in cinema for me, even films that deal with real life events or socio political commentary. There’s usually enough fantastical elements contained within to help me forget about life for a while and just enjoy the ride.

And, what sets horror apart from other genres I’ve worked in? Honestly, the craftsman that goes into creating practical FX and CGI FX. Watching those elements come to life over the course of different projects has been truly special to behold. There are so many incredible creative people in this industry. I can’t wait to continue working with the artists I know, and meet new artists to collaborate with.

You have done some amazing work with one of our favorite studios in the world of horror, the great world of Troma. I am curious to know how you found yourself in this world? And what sets it apart from other studios you have worked with?

Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz have been my greatest mentors in the entertainment industry. Some people talk trash about Troma – low pay, etc. – but I had extraordinarily valuable experiences there. I started with the company as an editing volunteer in 2013, working on Lloyd’s “Make Your Own Damn Movie” lessons for YouTube. My mindset was to treat Troma HQ like a second film school. I worked hard, gained credits, and networked. Troma is perfect for that. If you go in thinking you’ll co-write and co-direct The Toxic Avenger Part 5 after three days volunteering, you’re mistaken. I encountered some impatient people there who thought that way. Troma wasn’t for them. For any aspiring filmmakers who have extra time in their week, within commuting distance, volunteering at Troma is an awesome opportunity. You’ll get to know like-minded artists, and you’ll work closely with Lloyd Kaufman, President of Troma Entertainment and Creator of The Toxic Avenger. He’s very accessible and takes time to collaborate with anyone who helps in the office.

After about a year and a half volunteering at Troma, Lloyd asked me to be his personal assistant. This meant I’d get paid to do every job from scrubbing the toilets to producing the movies. During my time as his assistant, Lloyd taught me the entire process of making a film, from the dawn of an idea all the way through post-production. Invaluable. Besides this, Lloyd is a skillful improviser, a fantastic on-the-fly joke writer, and a master punster. Gleaning bits of his Uncle Lloydie persona – observing the way he handles situations from crafting a promo to interacting with fans – without a doubt, helped sharpen my skills as a performer and a writer. Lloyd is one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. I laughed every day I worked at Troma. I cried, too, but the tears were worth it!

Michael Herz, Co-Founder and Vice President of Troma Entertainment, is an expert lawyer and an experienced businessman. He taught me how to read and understand contracts. He showed me how to catch complicated wording that isn’t in your favor, and how to negotiate licensing deals. Before working with Michael, my eyes would have crossed three lines into reading a contract. Now, I have a basic understanding of flowery legalese. Thanks MH!

On top of all this, if it wasn’t for my time working at Troma, I would have never gotten involved with The Last Drive-In. I met the show’s producers, Matt Manjourides and Justin Martell, back when they were Troma employees. Not only did we become good friends pretty soon after meeting, but many years later, knowing I’d written and home recorded hundreds of hours of music, they asked if I wanted to submit a demo for consideration as the new Joe Bob Briggs theme song. I did! It was approved in less than 48 hours. This proves the power of networking!

 

 

What is your favorite scary movie?

It’s hard to pick just one favorite, so here are ten in no particular order (and the originals where apporpriate, not the remakes): The Exorcist, The Thing, Cannibal Holocaust, The Lost Boys, Frankenstein, The Haunting, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Alien, Evil Dead 2.

The Exorcist, when I was a child, and Cannibal Holocaust, when I was in my twenties, were the two that hit me hardest and changed my life forever.

I’ve also been really into The Conjuring universe lately. Absolutely loved The Nun.

I can easily list a hundred more favorites! (for adventurous types, definitely seek out the shot on video classic Splatter Farm).

I know this year may be a bit different, but I am curious to know if you have any sort of Halloween traditions? Anything you would normally do each year?

 

Like a lot of horror fans, I do a month long October marathon of genre films, seeking out a bunch I’ve never seen before. I still receive Netflix DVDs in the mail, so some of the ones I have lined up in the queue are: Onibaba, The Sinful Dwarf, Wishmaster 1 & 2, The Toolbox Murders, Woodchipper Massacre, Gutterballs, The Man Who Laughs, The Abominable Dr. Phibes and Dr. Phibes Rises Again.

I’ve also discovered a perfect Halloween double feature that’s fun for the whole family: The Ghost and Mr. Chicken & Ernest Scared Stupid.

Halloween season is my favorite time of year! Cannot be beat!

 

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

 

Lloyd Kaufman’s #ShakespearesShitstorm, a movie I produced in 2018, had its virtual world premiere as part of the Fantasia Film Festival Aug. 29th, 2020. The response has been overwhelmingly positive from both fans and critics alike! We have a lot more festivals lined up and we will definitely do a proper theatrical release once the world returns to normal. This is for sure one of Lloyd’s best films! Stay tuned to http://shakespearesshitstorm.com/ for updates and screening dates.

Besides that, The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs continues to air on Shudder. We have a Halloween special scheduled for October 23rd, a Christmas special in December (date TBA), and Season 3 in 2021. Keep an eye on my social media – @badtechno on Twitter & Instagram – for updates. Also, subscribe to https://www.shudder.com/

What was the last thing that scared the hell out of you?

A tropical storm ripped through my area at the end of the summer and dropped a humongous tree onto my neighbors house, and half onto mine. My girlfriend and I were in the room at the time, right next to where it hit. Felt like the scene in Poltergeist where the tree comes alive. I almost shit my pants. We had no power for three full days. Totally sucked. Thankfully no one was hurt!


What was the last thing that made you smile?
This scene from “Serial Mom” directed by John Waters:https://youtu.be/HvUZvcppVXo

“Fuckin’ Don Knotts”

“He’s the coolest”

Hannah Douglas [Interview]

 

Hello Folks! Welcome to the 2020 edition of our Month of Horror. It’s almost humorous that we are showcasing the motion pictured displays of horror when it seems as though we simply have to look around us to see the natural horror that is enveloping our daily lives. But nevertheless, a quick escape from the surrealism of our daily lives is often appreciated. In this vein, we honor these wonderful folks who seek to only entertain us with a good scare and a break from the actual horror that is all around us. We have assembled a wonderful batch of actors, writers, directors & beyond, who have worked on so many different projects that you know and love. I am beyond excited to share them with you all throughout the month of October. Enjoy!

Today’s guest is the wonderful actress Hannah Douglas, who can be seen in the wonderful indie horror film Clownface, that is available now on DVD and VOD. Hannah’s other work include a role in Andrew Douglas’s 2013 thriller, U Want Me 2 Kill Him?, as well as a lead role in the upcoming film Lapwing, which sounds absolutely captivating. Douglas is also an acclaimed stage actress who is currently on tour with a production of Othello. Enjoy!

 

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What inspired you to get into the world of entertainment? Was it an early aspiration you can always remember having since your youth, or did you just find yourself in this world one day?

I actually don’t remember making the decision to become an actor, I’ve been doing it since I was a kid! Apparently I went along to my big sisters ballet class when I was 2 years old and started joining in. That was the moment my mum gave up all hope of me getting a “real job”! 

What was your first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And were there any kind of lessons learned from this project that still affect your work today?

I did a couple of jobs as a child… but my first paid gig as an adult was a very small part in the BBC version of Little Dorrit, as a Music Hall dancer. I was still in my second year at drama school and it was an amazing experience. It definitely prepared me for life on set!

I really loved one of your most recent projects entitled Clownface. I am curious to know what drew you to this very insane story?

I liked the fact that it was a very female led story. It’s still quite rare, especially in horror, to have more than one strong female character. I am also a big horror/thriller fan!

In your own personal opinion, what do you believe it is that makes the horror genre special? What sets it apart from other genres you have worked in?

Oh that’s hard! I think horror is really addictive… I feel like it’s a bit like eating spicy food – you build up your tolerance and you crave more and more. You need the next one to be scarier (hotter) than the last! I don’t know if that makes sense to anyone else except me, but there you go!  

What is your favorite scary movie?

Also a tough question… I’ll name a few! Midsommar was amazing. The Babadook really got me as it was about grief. I really like Insidious. In fact, I like that whole world of films. The Haunting of Hill House (I know it’s not a movie!) on Netflix was brilliant. Pans Labrynth (is that classed as a horror?) is one of my favourite films ever, its so dark and beautiful… oh and I feel I would be a bad sister if I didn’t mention The Amityville Horror, which my big brother Andrew directed!

 

 

I know this year may be a bit different, but I am curious to know if you have any sort of Halloween traditions? Anything you would normally do each year? 

Not specifically. I do like dressing up and carving pumpkins though… Oh and watching Hocus Pocus, cause it’s the best!

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers? 

I am currently playing Desdemona in an international theatre production of Othello (I’m so grateful to be part of theatre making a come back during this time!) and I’d also like to tell everyone to watch out for feature film Lapwing, which has just been finished and will be released next year. It is a beautiful yet brutal thriller set in Tudor England. I play the lead role of Patience and it also stars Emmett J Scanlan and Sebastian De Souza.

What was the last thing that scared the hell out of you?

I woke myself up by shouting out in my sleep the other night. That was both terrifying and embarrassing…!

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My fellow Othello cast mates make me smile every single day on this tour… but if I am being really honest, it was probably the really cute dog I saw about 10 minutes ago! 

 

Charlie Steeds [Interview]

Hello Folks! Welcome to the 2020 edition of our Month of Horror. It’s almost humorous that we are showcasing the motion pictured displays of horror when it seems as though we simply have to look around us to see the natural horror that is enveloping our daily lives. But nevertheless, a quick escape from the surrealism of our daily lives is often appreciated. In this vein, we honor these wonderful folks who seek to only entertain us with a good scare and a break from the actual horror that is all around us. We have assembled a wonderful batch of actors, writers, directors & beyond, who have worked on so many different projects that you know and love. I am beyond excited to share them with you all throughout the month of October. Enjoy!

Today’s guest is the wonderful filmmaker Charlie Steeds. His work includes the recently released A Werewolf in England. His other works include films previously showcased here at TWS including The House of Violent Desire, An English Haunting, Escape From Cannibal Farm, & more.

What inspired you to get into the world of entertainment? Was it an early aspiration you can always remember having since your youth, or did you just find yourself in this world one day?

It was an early aspiration. I grew up loving to hear scary stories and horror stories, told to me by older children, and then later on I loved telling them to my school friends. By around age ten or eleven I was so interested in films and filmmaking that I got it in my head that I’d like to direct movies. Tim Burton was a director I idolised back then, I could see how he’d made each of his films uniquely his own, his style was clear in the costumes, make-up, music, production design, and so on. By age 14 I was writing little scripts and shooting them with friends. I made 20 short films this way, continuing on into my years at film school, and when I graduated I got a micro-budget feature made and that started things off professionally.

What was your first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And were there any kind of lessons learned from this project that still affect your work today?

My film Winterskin was the first time a company offered up funding for me to make something, and around the same time this also happened with The Barge People which was eventually shot first (with Winterskin shot only 3 months later). Oddly, it came as a surprise to me that anyone would actually give me their money to me to make a film. I was used to saving up my own funds, crowdfunding and borrowing from family and so on. But making those early lower budget features is where I learned the most. Still today, when the budget is getting tight, or I’m over-schedule, I just think back and remember how much we achieved back then, on so little money, it reminds me how fortunate I am to have the budgets I’m currently working with. I did plenty of paid videography jobs before this, but they taught me nothing really, you can only learn filmmaking by getting out and doing it, and I think the less money you have the more you learn, you’re forced to get creative.

In your own personal opinion, what do you believe it is that makes the horror genre special? What sets it apart from other genres you have worked in?

Horror is a unique genre because of how huge it is, the films can range from funny to terrifying, from depressing to uplifting, a whole spectrum of stories and tones which all fall under ‘horror’. It’s the most popular and most profitable genre of film too. The fanbase/community is massive for all these sub-genres; zombie movies, paranormal movies, cannibal movies, etc. A lot of people turn their nose up at horror, and I suppose it can be quite a geeky genre, but I think everyone likes horror, at least a little bit, whether they know it or not.

You bring up horror around friends or family and even if they say they hate horror films they’ll still rave about this one that scared them, maybe as a child, and recount in detail (and with glee!) all of the scariest moments. We all love the thrill of being scared. I was drawn to horror because, like many people, I’m just drawn to the darker stuff. I don’t feel comfortable and relaxed watching some cheesy rom-com, I just feel bored… Yet somehow I can watch the same horror story done again and again and always find it entertaining and enjoyable. It’s a genre that often allows for the best drama and characters too, it explores deep themes and human psychology, the things we are most afraid to discuss in everyday life.

What is your favourite scary movie?

I have many, but one I’m always coming back to is The Shining. I’m just obsessed with that film. Kubrick’s attention to detail in every frame, the filmmaking and grand style is so mesmerising that I just keep watching, trying to figure out how, how is it so bloody good?! Phantasm is another favourite, it captures the spirit of low budget movie making, but it’s truly inventive and full of wonderful imagination. Black Christmas is a movie that really scared me, and I watched it later on as a seasoned horror lover. Absolutely chilling! [REC] is another one that, just as an experience unfolding in front of you, gets so unbelievably scary… I showed it to my Mum, who enjoys most horror, and we had to turn it off in the last 10 minutes, it really is the most edge-of-your seat horror movie ever I think.

I know this year may be a bit different, but I am curious to know if you have any sort of Halloween traditions? Anything you would normally do each year?

Every Halloween I try to get to the cinema to watch a classic horror movie. The cinemas have been great with this over the past few years, I’ve seen John Carpenter’s The Fog, The Shining, but then also the Halloween remake and last year’s Doctor Sleep were great new release horror movies, all on Halloween. I carve pumpkins, usually listen to a good horror soundtrack as I do it (John Carpenter’s Halloween is an obvious choice) and I watch Halloween 4 and 5 at home with popcorn, 4 and 5 double bill every year, it’s a tradition. 4is the best one!

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

My latest film, A Werewolf in England, has just come out on DVD in the UK, and that has been my big project for most of the year and throughout lockdown. It’s a Victorian-era werewolf horror-comedy, loaded with action and carnage and 100% practical werewolf effects. I also have my 1970s- set tribute to Blaxploitation/Grindhouse movies, Death Ranch, having its world premiere at Grimmfest this month, which I can’t wait for horror fans to see! Aside from that, I’m currently writing my next movie, which as I often tend to do, is something so radically different from anything I’ve made before, trying something very new.

What was the last thing that scared the hell out of you?

Movies/TV-wise it was The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix. I think Mike Flanagan really leaped to the horror top spot with this and Doctor Sleep, he’s the most exciting director working in horror right now. I don’t really get scared by anything, aside from my fear of sharks, but that doesn’t come up very often… Some things on set scare the hell out of me, every time an actor is about to do something slightly dangerous, a fight sequence, a little stunt, that’s when I get scared. They could get badly injured, or even worse, sue me!

What was the last thing that made you smile?

After lockdown, seeing months of editing finally come together for A Werewolf in England! The film is full of humour and silly jokes (such as a werewolf taking a shit on two character’s heads) so it makes me laugh and hopefully horror fans are equally entertained and have a good time with it too. I did a premiere screening in Soho, so it was great to see it with a [socially-distanced] mini audience. I’ve not done comedy-horror before, so this was really fun, it’s very light-hearted compared to some of my other work.

Helene Udy [Interview]

Hello Folks! Welcome to the 2020 edition of our Month of Horror. It’s almost humorous that we are showcasing the motion pictured displays of horror when it seems as though we simply have to look around us to see the natural horror that is enveloping our daily lives. But nevertheless, a quick escape from the surrealism of our daily lives is often appreciated. In this vein, we honor these wonderful folks who seek to only entertain us with a good scare and a break from the actual horror that is all around us. We have assembled a wonderful batch of actors, writers, directors & beyond, who have worked on so many different projects that you know and love. I am beyond excited to share them with you all throughout the month of October. Enjoy!

Today our guest is the legendary actress & producer with over 40 years of experience in and out of the world of horror. Her projects include the recently released Evil Under the Skin, as well as work on projects like Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, The Dead Zone, My Bloody Valentine, and many more.

What inspired you to get into the world of entertainment? Was it an early aspiration you can always remember having since your youth, or did you just find yourself in this world one day?

I was always attracted to creative arts. First I wanted to be a ballerina but as a child even though I was the shortest in the class the teacher started moving me to the back. That was the death knoll. Then I turned to music and formed a band with my bestie Marla Neftin, but it turned out that she was 10 times more talented and had a much better voice … Then I found acting. After watching The amazing Australian movie Galipoli and watching the whole audience in this tiny little rep theatre leave the place sobbing I knew that I had found the best way to feel in communion with humanity and exchange ideas about life & what it means to be alive. I felt connected in an inexplicable way. And so it has always been acting, for that reason. I was subsequently kicked out of theater school at the age of 16. The rest is history.

What was your first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And were there any kind of lessons learned from this project that still affect your work today?

My first paid gig was a super fun pilot of CTV in Canada called Off the Wall at the age of 15. We were treated like absolute stars. It was so much fun! There was so much money thrown at this thing. It was magical. It did not go however. It was like a Canadian version of Donnie and Marie. The lesson?… This is the best job in the world. I can do this…. So in the years to come, rejection was never a hard thing because the 1st thing I ever auditioned for I got and I never lost my confidence after that. It always reminded me that anything was possible. If I did it once I could do it again.

In your own personal opinion, what do you believe it is that makes the horror genre special? What sets it apart from other genres you have worked in?

Well … As an actor it is the people involved on the filmmaking. The horror genre filmmakers I have had the good fortune to work with are incredibly creative and passionate about their visions and they never let a tiny budget get in the way of their massive sense of invention. Horror movies are so fun to work on. And strangely enough I have noticed that horror movie fans are the kindest, least pretentious, most enthusiastic and lovely folks I tend to meet. I was never a horror movie fan myself. And rarely watched them until maybe the past 5 years, when Netflix became a thing and then suddenly the horror genre caught on for me. I now understand that when life gets rough there is nothing more consuming than a scary movie to take your mind off your own woes. And horror is so great for that.

Can you tell us a bit about your recent film Evil Under the Skin? What drew you work on this insane project?

I was extremely lucky to be great friends with the talented writer of the project Luc Bernier who introduced me to the Director Jeffrey Schneider. And that is how I was cast. I sort of feel that knowing Luc beforehand and knowing his intention for the movie, understanding the way he likes to write and the respect he has for actors being one himself, combined with Jeff’s seasoned indie approach made the whole project tantalizing. It’s terrific that it worked out as beautifully as I had hoped for. Sometimes they don’t. But, this was the right movie and the right team. Donna Hamblin, Timothy O’Hearn, and the rest of the cast were also incredibly excellent fun to work with. 

What is your favorite scary movie?

Hmmm…. Well the most disturbing movie I have ever seen if it fits into this category is Roman Polanski’s The Tenant. Also Rosemary’s Baby. And then of course my alma matter My Bloody Valentine directed by the iconic George Mihalka. I’m also a huge fan of the American Horror Story series especially the first 3 seasons. Just terrifying.

I know this year may be a bit different, but I am curious to know if you have any sort of Halloween traditions? Anything you would normally do each year? 

Well my Birthday is November 1st. he day after Halloween. So Halloween was always a big deal at my house. I lived in a great neighborhood for trick or treating and looked forward to it every year. My parents were not keen on candy but that was the one time they let me eat all the candy in my bag without question and normally took almost a month. I’d be sad when I worked my way from the good stuff, the chocolates, hard candies, bubble gums down to the  yucky taffies which I really hated. But you know candy is candy and by the end I would eat it all. Tradition. 🙂 

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

Well I just finished shooting a fantastic Movie in Indiana called The Embalmers directed by Sisters Rebecca Rinehart and Diane Fraker. Just before that I did just finish a sci-fi movie really fun called Bad Voices. In my mind, it is a very indie version of Men In Black. Check on IMDb for when that gets released. In Ocotber I start rehearsals for a mind bending drama called Reflections of a Broken Memory with Director Marco Bazzi that i will be shooting in December.

In between I am so excited to be shooting a crazy wonderful parody drama by the incredibly talented Israeli Performance artist Lior Shamriz. And finally in February, if all goes well, I will be shooting a wonderful atmospheric and heart rending ghost story in England with Kemal Yildrim and his team. And then another mind bending drama stretching the genres between horror and drama I think called Blood Covered Chocolate with Monte Light.

And between all of that? I produce a monthly Cabaret show in my front yard called “Was Ist Das?” were the most fantastic ,and out of this world performance artist and clowns and musicians come to perform for a very social distanced crowd that stands outside on the other side of my garden fence. And our Halloween show is planned for November 1st! You can tune in at Helene Udy Live on Facebook. Please do!!! Or just find me on Facebook at the “Was Ist Das show?” page and stay up on the news. I would be so grateful if you did!!!

What was the last thing that scared the hell out of you?

We just had an earthquake a few days ago. It was scary actually even though it only lasted 4 seconds. With so much going on these days on California from COVID to wildfires and earthquake momentarily just felt like the end of the word. I had 4 gloriously terrifying seconds of terror. And then so much fun gathering with.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

The last show “Was Ist Das? show” I did last night September 20 . It was such spectacular fun!! Thanks for asking. Also my 8 dogs make me smile every moment of every day.

Keith Payson [Interview]

Hello Folks! Welcome to the 2020 edition of our Month of Horror. It’s almost humorous that we are showcasing the motion pictured displays of horror when it seems as though we simply have to look around us to see the natural horror that is enveloping our daily lives. But nevertheless, a quick escape from the surrealism of our daily lives is often appreciated. In this vein, we honor these wonderful folks who seek to only entertain us with a good scare and a break from the actual horror that is all around us. We have assembled a wonderful batch of actors, writers, directors & beyond, who have worked on so many different projects that you know and love. I am beyond excited to share them with you all throughout the month of October. Enjoy!

Today we have legendary producer & writer Keith Payson. Keith has worked on plethora of projects you know and love alongside quite a few folks we have spoken with in the past. His work includes Puppet Master 4 & 5, Dollman vs. Demonic Toys, & Trancers III.

Please enjoy some wonderful words from the great Keith Payson!

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What inspired you to get into the world of entertainment? Was it an early aspiration you can  always remember having since your youth, or did you just find yourself in this world one day? 

When I was a small boy, maybe four or five years old riding in my mother’s Chevy Bel-Air coupe  we would frequently drive from West L.A. where we lived, to Beverly Hills or some other mid-city  address and use either Pico or Olympic Boulevard as the common route of travel.

In those days when you drove on Pico or Olympic you were driving along the edge of the 20th Century Fox back-lot and at certain sections I could see the tops of western street sets popping up  above the chain link fence which was about 16 ft. high. I was enthralled because I recognized  that these wooden flats were related to what I was seeing on TV and I was so hungry to get on that  back lot that I would ask everyone I met, the grocery clerk, the bank teller, our family doctor if  they know how I could get on the other side of that fence.

The next year, having just completed the first grade, I was beginning my first summer vacation  from school and I was determined to use my three months well so I recruited a few neighborhood  kids to help me build our own western town in an empty lot up the road. My mother was a  prolific filmmaker of family documentaries and I planned to use her 8mm Bell & Howell camera  for shooting. She also had an editing table permanently staged in a corner of the dining room  where she regular sat cutting and splicing her most recent projects, so post production was  covered as well.

Between us we were certain we had everything we needed, props and wardrobe included so we  loaded our little red wagons with all the scrap wood our father’s were hoarding in the garage  along with any tools that weren’t locked up and marched the two blocks up Grandview Boulevard  to a huge empty lot where we used to build forts and play games (it’s now a collection of Little  League baseball diamonds and soccer fields) and we proceeded to lay out the design of a western  town set. Of course we didn’t even have enough wood to build half the boardwalk in front of the  entrance to the saloon, but we started nailing pieces together anyway. Then, one by one the  recruits either got hungry or bored and I was left alone with a wagon full of my Dad’s tools that I  had get back in place before he returned home from work, so we didn’t even complete a flat 8  hr./day and the show was over. I realized that day that my dream and my success would be  directly linked not just to other people, but to other people who shared the same dream I was  dreaming.

What was your first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And were there any kind of  lessons learned from this project that still affect your work today? 

Actually the first gig was while I was still attending high school. I was so far ahead in earned  credits because I had a habit of taking every summer school class I could that I was slated to  graduate early leaving open the possibility of an off campus apprenticeship. My photography  instructor, who was very well connected in L.A. held a photo salon at the end of each academic  year and the judge’s were very established fashion, editorial and commercial photographers in the  Los Angeles area. One of them liked the images I submitted and offered me a position as his  assistant on specific photo shoots. His name was Mario Casilli. He was one of the original  Playboy Magazine photographers. I began assisting him shooting 8×10 still images for Playboy test  shots to be submitted each month in the selection process for the monthly centerfold finalist. I was  certainly elated with the opportunity I was presented at just seventeen years old and although it  was, at times, difficult to stay focused on my work, I did learn quite a bit about large format  camerawork and masterful lighting techniques.

But my real first paid gig was after I graduated high school while I was waiting for the scholarship I  had received to Rochester Institute of Technology to begin, I went to work for a TV commercial  production company as an office runner (errand boy) as well as their projectionist and from time to  time they would have me perform tasks on or around the set as well.

I was told one day to report to a particular soundstage in L.A. where the company was completing  a Schlitz Beer commercial – this was in 1973. The scene was a group of people socializing and  partying, many of them drinking, and suddenly a live bull comes crashing through the wall and the  brand name Schlitz comes up on screen in big letters?

In order to have the bull crash through the wall on queue, (no CGI in those days), the set was built  with one stunt wall up against an opening to the stage next door where the bull was kept until they  were ready to roll camera. At that point the bull would be guided by an animal wrangler to a  chute leading to the back of the stunt wall. Upon hearing action called the wrangler would count  down a prescribed number of beats the use an electric cattle prod on the bulls balls setting him  moving violently forward at full speed and crashing through the break-away wall onto the set next  door where cameras were rolling as stunt actors scattered out of the way of a really pissed off bull.

By the time I arrived at the stage the filming was completed most of the crew was gone and the set  was being dismantled by the art department. I was told promptly handed a broom and a dust pan  and instructed to report to the set next door. As a walked away I heard the entire art department  break into laughter. The stage where the bull was kept was one of the smaller soundstages at  about seventy-five feet square. For some reason the wranglers determined it was a good idea to let  the bull have the complete run of the entire stage rather than section off fifteen or twenty square  feet. The entire soundstage was littered with straw and of course, bullshit. It took four and a half  hours to sweep the entire stage clean and to this day I have a distinct ability to discern the  difference between the fragrance of horseshit and bullshit.

In 1993, you jumped into one of our favorite horror franchises, which would be the Puppet  Master franchise. I am curious to know what drew you to this world? What intrigued you most  about working on this one? 

Well I must admit this was an opportunity of proximity and happenstance. I was already head of  production of Full Moon Entertainment when this franchise was put on the slate for production.  A year or so earlier I had reluctantly agreed to help a friend who desperately wanted to get out of a  contractual obligation to continue line producing films for Charlie Band, the owner of Full Moon.  She had been engaged for a while and was anxious to get married, take a one-year honeymoon in  Ireland rent a small country cottage and write the screenplay she believed would launch her  writing and directing career. It’s not that I didn’t want to help her out, but for various reasons I  didn’t want that particular gig. In the end I relented and just couldn’t say no to helping her so I  took the job as a single project deal and as it turned out my instincts were right and it was a truly  painful experience for me. However, before that film was through editing I was asked to do  another film for the company, only this time the script was better and I had developed a better  idea how to approach the production, this time with the freedom to start from scratch rather than  an entirely inherited cast and crew.

I also had come to realize that I could use this new opportunity as a private master degree program  to learn everything about film production, writing, acting, producing, directing, running a small  film studio, even designing sound stages and related studio facilities that the world of commercial  production had not provided me.

By the end of the second film at Full Moon I was Head Of Production with a ten-picture deal at  Paramount Studios and Puppet Master IV and V soon came to me to produce. In actuality I was  supervising and running the studio, line-producing, 2nd unit directing every film, on occasion ghost  directing as well as supervising post production. I completed twelve films during my tenure at Full  Moon and Moonbeam Entertainment, the family film division I helped create.

So, while I grew up watching every genre I could get my hands on and as a young boy horror was  certainly among them, at the time I was working on Puppet Master I must be honest it was not  because I was enthralled with the horror genre it was more that I was enthralled with the process  of filmmaking as a collective mechanism. The idea that a group of creative people could come  together for a prescribed period of time around a script, agree on an interpretation of that script  and then mobilize and choose to behave each day as a synchronized mechanism, a machine that  would produce a singular piece of art yielding the highest production value possible within the  budget and schedule constraints we had all agreed to abide by – this to me was fascinating!

 

 

 

 

In your own personal opinion, what do you believe it is that makes the horror genre special?  What sets it apart from other genres you have worked in? 

The great horror films divulge an aspect of the human condition that is generally inaccessible in its  pure form or at least not easily available in many other genres. Because these other genres exist in  a landscape where the actions unfolding are more or less commonplace to our daily experience of  the world and by contrast not uniquely extraordinary therefore we frequently are not able to fully

pull the curtain back and witness our individual existence for what it really is – a testament that all  life has meaning and all death is justified.

This is not to say that other genres do not deal with many of the same concepts, but they tend to  rely quite heavily on varying definitions of justice that are based on social, religious and moral  precepts, all of which complicate rather than clarify the art of grappling with death as it relates to  justice and seeing one’s own death as the key to a meaningful existence. As represented in a great  horror film the instinct to cling to life regardless of how monumental and incomprehensible the  attack is upon us brings us to an edge of self-awareness most other genres find difficult to  accomplish in ninety-minutes.

An earthquake, a fire, a car accident, a stray bullet – these are all things we ascribe to the will of  God and we may grieve their occurrence and forever ponder their specific meaning in our lives,  but we do not doubt the origin or the characteristic of their being born out of benign intent.  Nature is worth loving and revering even when she is cruel and relentless and deadly. To attempt  to rescue oneself from an unjustified death is the necessary struggle portrayed in the best horror  films. The seemingly meaningless or random attack is misconstrued as an act of pure evil when in  fact whether the life in jeopardy has meaning is not up to the attacker but rather it is in the  behavior and choices of the victim. Whether the life of the victim will overpower the attacker, not  necessarily by stopping the killing, although possibly, but instead from rendering the victim’s life  meaningless. To explicitly show an audience a character in the midst of discovering the meaning  of her or his life under incomprehensible circumstances gives us hope we may discover the  meaning of our life within our mundane and less critical conditions.

What is your favorite scary movie? Why? 

Let The Right One In, is a film that captures the essence of a character becoming more self-aware,  realizing that they possess the capability for expressing and manifesting both good and what they  perceive or have been taught to understand as evil. Yet upon further self-reflection they discover  that evil does not in actuality exist at all, but rather what people have come to understand as evil is  quite simply the absence of goodness or said somewhat differently what many understand as, “the  privation of goodness.”

I know this year may be a bit different, but I am curious to know if you have any sort of  Halloween traditions? Anything you would normally do each year? 

The occasional costume party is the most fun, but they are not as frequent as they used to be. The  allure of giving out candy to kids vaporized a long, long, time ago. And decorating the house has  never been my thing… I much prefer watching the neighbors get creative. So that leaves a dimly  lit room, a big bowl of ice cream, a glass of single malt scotch and a horror film I haven’t seen yet.

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers? 

I have two films in development, each in line to produce and also direct. One is a investigative  crime drama, suspense/horror/thriller and the other a true story, bio-pic, survival drama about four  men on a thirty-five foot sail boat caught in a hurricane while transiting the Gulf of Mexico. These  two films will be full DGA productions. The first one funded will be my DGA directorial debut  and I will happily hand the line-producing responsibilities off to someone else… whew!

I have been a consultant for many years as a specialist in physical production so during the  development phase on my own projects I also work with other screenwriters, directors and  producers as a consultant and production planner preparing complete business plans and singular  components of business plans, i.e. budgets, schedules script and production analysis, etc.  [http://www.filmproductionservices.info]

A few years ago I launched a specialized consulting program for new screenwriters or anyone  really who needs help navigating through the minefield that surrounds Hollywood. There is a lot  of mythology about what can and cannot be accomplished by unknown or uncredited  screenwriters, those who have not yet sold a script or gotten something produced. So I established  a six-week program at heavily reduced consulting rates to coach them through what is and what  isn’t true about landing a literary manager or agent or about pitching and selling their scripts. My  interest is in allowing these artists to shed the burden of false assumption, gossip and mythology so  instead of wasting all that energy fighting negativity and a collection of urban legends they can  strategize a more secure path toward success, whatever that looks like to them.

The reality is that after a writer or writer/producer figures out how to write a good or great  screenplay they then face the daunting challenge of having to learn how to sell it. Well as we all  know, selling a script is easier said than done and it’s a pretty competitive and confusing  landscape you have to travel through to accomplish that task. All too many talented young writers  actually fail and walk away from writing not because they weren’t good writers but because the  business side of screenwriting became an impediment that they just couldn’t overcome in time  and felt compelled to bail out.

And lastly, I continue to pursue my oldest and original artistic passion – photography, by shooting  my own fine art and by teaching the fundamentals of photography and image capture as well as  portrait lighting to more advanced students.

What was the last thing that scared the hell out of you? 

The possibility of Donald Trump, William Barr and Mitch McConnell getting four more years in  office rather than prison or in the later two cases impeachment and forced retirement.

What was the last thing that made you smile? 

My wife and I have two pet Holland lop bunnies who are a constant reservoir of behavioral and  emotional insight and delight. The sight of either one of them approaching and then standing on  their hind legs begging to be picked-up and cuddled is precious.

Dan Yeager [Interview]

Hello Folks! Welcome to the 2020 edition of our Month of Horror. It’s almost humorous that we are showcasing the motion pictured displays of horror when it seems as though we simply have to look around us to see the natural horror that is enveloping our daily lives. But nevertheless, a quick escape from the surrealism of our daily lives is often appreciated. In this vein, we honor these wonderful folks who seek to only entertain us with a good scare and a break from the actual horror that is all around us. We have assembled a wonderful batch of actors, writers, directors & beyond, who have worked on so many different projects that you know and love. I am beyond excited to share them with you all throughout the month of October. Enjoy!

Today’s guest is the wonderful actor Dan Yeagar. Dan infamously portrayed the legendary character Leatherface in 2013’s Texas Chainsaw. He is also a brilliant writer and director with projects slated for release in the near future when the world comes back together. His other work includes roles in Sharknado: The 4th Awakens and A Wakefield Project.

So please enjoy some words from the great Dan Yeagar!

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What inspired you to get into the world of entertainment? Was it an early aspiration you can always remember having since your youth, or did you just find yourself in this world one day?

I started in infancy. I was born two feet tall, pushing twelve pounds, and a full head of curly blonde hair, so I was always used to a lot of attention. I had a Superman costume at three years old, but through the creativity of a dedicated older brother was often transformed into hideous monsters regardless of the season. My mother claimed she always knew I was an actor, primarily based on my school-avoidance deathbed plays performed almost every morning of the school year.

What was your first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And were there any kind of lessons learned from this project that still affect your work today?

I was an extra in a movie in 1984 starring Christopher Lee and a bunch of non-horror non-icons. I never mention the title out of respect for His Majesty as I’m sure he did it just because we all got bills to pay. It was a terrible film, but like every project before or since, I learned a lot and it made me want to do more.

In your own personal opinion, what do you believe it is that makes the horror genre special? What sets it apart from other genres you have worked in?

Horror is the only truly universal genre. Our fears are what unite us as Humans. I used to do British Pantomime on stage, which is where I really honed the craft of working in a mask. I always played the monster there, too.

You stepped into the shoes of a very renowned character in the world of horror known as Leatherface in the 2013 addition to the Texas Chainsaw legacy, the hit film Texas Chainsaw. I am curious to know what drew you to Leatherface? What made you want to hop into this role?

I first saw Leatherface at a drive-in in Las Vegas, Nevada, in 1981. I never dreamed as I leaned back on the windshield of my buddy’s car that hot Summer Night watching the original TCM in a re-release that Leatherface was a ‘character’ that someone (forget about me) could ‘play.’ I wasn’t really thinking about acting at that point, but rather learning architectural drafting at the local vocational high school. I was trying to be a serious person, but when my Mom later bought a VCR, I went out and bought two videotapes that made up my entire film library for at least a year: Eraserhead and Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

It was later observed, after I had begun pursuing acting, by none other than Count Yorga himself, Robert Quarry, that I’d make a living playing monsters. He was right. And while I’d love to play Frankenstein’s Monster one day, I don’t think I am physically suited to any monster in the Horror Pantheon better than Leatherface.

Texas Chainsaw – Poster: ‘Leatherface” (Dan Yeager) ©2013 Lionsgate

What is your favorite scary movie?

The Shining, Psycho, The Wizard of Oz, or The Exorcist, depending on the season, weather, and time of day or night… There is also a short Yugoslavian film from 1975 called The Mallet that scared me so well it made me want to be a filmmaker.

I know this year may be a bit different, but I am curious to know if you have any sort of Halloween traditions? Anything you would normally do each year?

I grew up in Ohio where Halloween is better celebrated than Christmas, so I’m a devout traditionalist. Before I was always traveling for Halloween, I used to love creating Halloween themes to give the local children and their parents pause and question whether they should pass by my house on their trick-or-treat excursion. One year I carved a dozen pumpkins to represent the severed heads of my enemies and placed them on pikes along either side of the walk to my porch. Another time I sat motionless as a Leatherface-like figure on the darkened porch with a tempting bowl of big chocolate bars in my lap. Everyone discovered their limits of bravery that night.

One year I took a reciprocating saw and wired it inside a large pet carrier and placed it on the porch with a sign that said ‘Beware of Dog.’ I added sound effects and a strobe light and hooked it all to a switch. The one flaw in that plan was the peep-hole in the door was so high, I didn’t see this one kid had his three-year-old brother with him, and I flipped the switch. I know I scarred the little fella for life.

My greatest triumph was probably the year I created a porch tableau featuring the shredded costumes and blood-spattered trick-or-treat plastic candy pumpkins and their spilled contents from some beast that grabbed victims and dragged them into the bushes. I also created a little candlelight memorial for one victim, a little boy in a dollar store picture frame, including his little blood-stained teddy bear. It was particularly gratifying when I could hear the mothers with their young children express their reflexive sympathy and then realize what they were seeing and dragged their children away from the madhouse. I love giving candy to the kids, but it was strangely satisfying to know I offended the sensibilities of their parents to such a degree. The kids just thought it was cool and creepy. It was.

This year I will be at a film festival in Scranton, PA, at the Circle Drive-in, and on the Halloween Train in Stourbridge. I hope I can make it back to my lair in New York in time to at least disembowel a pumpkin or two and give out some candy.

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

I’m always working on getting movies made. We have two scripts ready for funding and two more completed waiting their turn, and a dozen more projects in various stages of development.

I mentioned the Halloween Weekend festivities above. I don’t have links to those events yet, but I’m sure they’ll be listed on numerous NEPA websites.

I also have been working on my own line of coffee. You can check that out at killerschoice.com.

What was the last thing that scared the hell out of you?

I haven’t been really scared in a long time, but I live in an old Baptist church built in the mid-1850s. It is full of ghosts. Really… While they don’t seem to try to scare me, they do catch me off guard occasionally, and it can be disconcerting. I want to have a séance, but my wife is scared. I’m looking for local volunteers to participate.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

I watched City of Lost Children the other night. It is such a sweet story, but not cloyingly so, all about those things that connect us, sometimes in such unexpected ways. No! Actually, Adam Marcus, Debra Sullivan, and I did a live-stream commentary on Texas Chainsaw last week. During the Q&A afterward, Adam gushed a little over my performance as Leatherface and made me blush. I smiled at that and remembering the good times we had making that movie, and remembering the friends I made because of it, especially those who are no longer with us.