Dylan Clark Tuomy-Wilhoit [Interview]

Here at Trainwreck’d Society, we have always attempted to reach out to folks from all across the spectrums of the expansive artistic community. It is a known fact that it takes a whole lot of folks to make a great project truly work. We have spoken with not only writers and directors, but art directors, editors, cinematographers, choreographers, location scouts, and on and on. But, one profession we haven’t really gotten into enough, would be in the art of sound. Which is obviously something that needs to be recognized and respected.

So, why not go to one of the best to discover what it makes to create the art of sound within the world of film and television and even video games! Today’s interview subject is none other than the Emmy Award winning foley artist and sound designer Dylan Clark Tuomoy-Wilhoit. This young man is an incredible talent who has worked on some amazing shows and films of the highest caliber. He has won a couple of Emmy’s for his work on such esteemed projects like Black Sails and Game of Thrones, and has provided outstanding work to film projects like Furious 7, and a film that we have been raving about for months entitled The Glass Castle. He is a genius in his field, and we were so excited that he was willing and able to share a few words with us.

So ladies and gentlemen, please enjoy some amazing words from the great Dylan Clark Tuomoy-Wilhoit!

How did you find yourself in your line of work? When did you discover you had a passion for the world of sound design?

At first, I got into audio through my love for music. Growing up I was always singing and dancing, in choir, and going to music festivals and shows as much as possible when I first graduated High School. I wanted to make music, both acoustic and dance music- the two types of music that have influenced me the most. I had a few options for college- I could have majored in Music/Opera singing at UCLA, gone to CSUN for Computer Science, or join the Officer’s Academy to become an Air Force pilot… I took the year off and made my way into a Trade School called SAE Institute in Los Angeles. At SAE I learned the skills required to become anything I wanted to be in the audio world, only to find myself fascinated in Video Game Sound Design. Soon afterwards, my father Jeffrey Wilhoit began mentoring me in his studio as a Foley Artist.
And what keeps your passion going? You’ve obviously had some great success in this world, but what is it besides monetary triumphs that makes you want to continue working in your field?
 
In MEDIA I have the luxury of creating a sound and music atmosphere that engulfs viewers into other worlds and stories. Music and Sound Effects are such a vital part of creating these other worlds and experiences for people, and I am proud and excited to be a part of that. When people come up to me excited, saying “oh my god that episode was amazing! How did you make that scene sound so real?! I almost puked when that guy’s head exploded!”  Making people FEEL through sound… those are the rewarding moments of my job 😛
 

For those of us who may be ignorant to the oh-so-important behind the scenes work that goes into creating wonderful cinema and television….can you tell us what a Foley Artist really is? As a very experienced professional in the field, please let our readers know why a Foley Artist is absolutely crucial to a project.

 

When a movie has finished recording there is little to no sound in the movie because the microphones on set were there to pick up the actor/actress’s voices… So the actor’s footsteps, the sound of people drinking from cups, and even the sound of drawing and sheathing their sword are all lost. Even when some sound does stay after filming, actors and actresses often use props so their sword may actually be plastic, and we add the steel sounds to create realism. Additionally, many movies are filmed on sets- So everyone’s footsteps in a big cave may sound like they are walking on hollow wood instead of hard gritty stone, or dirt.

Now imagine a room full of microphones and random stuff like bicycles, bowling balls, swords, weapons, and ski boots. The Foley Artist Performs all needed sound effects to the picture almost like playing that game Dance Dance Revolution, where you have to stomp on the correct arrow as it passes the screen, but with Foley, your ‘arrows’ are human actions… And instead of stomping on a pad, you are wielding a sword, breaking glass, or stepping to rhythm of Jon Snow walking up stairs. The human quality ensures that there is a natural ebb and flow to every action and motion you can hear on screen.

Without a good Foley Artist, the project’s sound is unnatural… pulling people out of the world or story.
 
 

And how does your work in sound design differ between projects? Beyond the most obvious differences, what is the difference between foley work on a series like Game of Thrones to, say, a film you worked on featuring our old friend Dominic Bogart entitled, The Glass Castle? How does setting and scenery effect your work?

 

Every project is different- although some ‘tricks’ can be used to recreate similar sounds, there is an inherent energy in every story. Game of Thrones is a very gritty and violent world with lots of energy, therefore dirty texture is very important. Texture brings worlds to life, like the sound of a leather saddle while riding a horse, or adding wet dirt to a blade when it is picked up off the floor to make it sound connected to that gritty world.

In projects like The Glass Castle there are scenes that take place in very different places. There are very clean, high fashion type of scenes where everything must be very clean and almost “shiny” sounding. When people are at a nice dinner party, we use finer cloth when making the sound of dresses, harder shoes to make the sound of business shoes or heels, and we clean off all of our surfaces so that there is a very ‘clean’ element to every sound. During other parts of the movie, we are in poorer areas, where there is more dust, rough clothing, and softer shoes.
 

We always ask our statue holding friends this one question: Where do you keep your Emmy’s? And does their physical location hold any sort of real significance to you?

 

Both of my Emmy’s are on display at home where they are easily seen. I’m proud of my work, and they are fantastic decorations 😉
 

What does the future hold for you? Anything coming in the near future you can tell our readers about?

 

Through the end of this year and next year our team already has some really cool projects lined up, most of them I can’t mention or talk about. But for my personal future, I am beginning to move away from Film/Television and move into more Video Games/Virtual Reality work.  I may always do Foley, but I am looking towards a Sound Supervising and Design career in Video Games.

What was the last thing that made you smile? 

This question made me smile, to be honest. What a great thing to think about right?!  I smile a lot, but I think the biggest smile i had today was when my cat woke me up by coming under the blankets and snuggling with me this morning. The simple things 🙂
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Sid Haig [Interview]


Welcome to Day 31 of Trainwreck’d Society’s Month of Horror Showcase. Every day during the month of October, we will have a horror related interview and/or film review for your fright-filled reading pleasure! The set up will be the same as usual, but the topics will be far more terrifying. Enjoy!

Well folks, we did it! This is the last day of Trainwreck’d Society’s Month of Horror showcase. It has been quite a ride this year, and by my calculations, we only missed one day! But, in the 30 days we did have articles go live, we managed to bring you some damn fine showcases thanks to the amazing people and films that we were so excited to share with you. We touched on different horror universes from minds like Roger Corman and Steve Sessions, to Troma Pictures and our beloved Halloween franchise. And so much more! And of course, we couldn’t disappoint on the big day!

For our highlight of the series, we have a few brief words from one of the most iconic figures of the cult world of horror, the legendary Sid Haig! Modern day and more mainstream focused horror fans will instantly recognize him as the great Captain Spaulding from Rob Zombie’s truly fascinating films House of A 1,000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects. The more die-hard fans will recognize him from the abundance of horror films he has worked on since Corpses was brought to the world. And die hard cinephiles out there are going to know him for his work in the world of exploitation and art house cinema dating back well into the 1960’s.

Yes, Sid Haig is damned legend to say the very least, and it is a true honor to have him wrap everything up for us here at Trainwreck’d Society during our Month of Horror showcase. It was an honor to have his words here with us today, and it has been an honor to bring you all these fine posts. We are back to reality starting tomorrow (which can be frightening in its own way, really), but for now, please enjoy some great words form the legendary Sid Haig!

When did you first discover that you wanted to act as a profession? What initially drew you into the world of acting?

 I knew the moment I stepped inside the Pasadena Playhouse, which was the Theater Arts College where I studied harder than I had ever studied before.

What was it like working in the world of blaxplotation films in the 70’? And what do you believe is the major impacts of this world of film has had on American cinema today?

 That was a very exciting time to be involved in film. It opened so many doors for people whom until that time had very little chance of working at all. I can remember that there were very few black stunt men or women. Bob Miner, who was the stunt coordinator on Coffy had to find some athletes who wanted to work in film, and he taught them how to do the stunts.

Sid Haig in Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown (1997)

 

I read somewhere that you were considered to play Marsellus Wallace in Pulp Fiction, and would eventually have parts written for you in Jackie Brown and Kill Bill Vol. 2. Where did this brilliant connection with you and Quentin come from? Did he proclaim his fandom to you?

 I wouldn’t say he made any proclamation, however he did say he had always enjoyed my work. Which is always nice to hear.

Your involvement in the truly innovative world of new age horror films created by Rob Zombie has been the stuff that dreams are made of for horror fans. For you personally, what made you decide that you wanted to tackle that first role in House of A 1000 Corpses? And what has had you coming back to this world over the years?

 I thought I could have so much fun with that role it was a no brainer. A good story will always keep me coming back.

 

 

What is it about the horror genre specifically that makes you enjoy working within it so often?

 It’s just fun making people dig deep and find their fears, and then overcome them.

What is your favorite scary movie? 

Cujo. Just think about a 200 lb. dog trying to eat your car while you’re in it.

What are your plans for this coming Halloween? Any traditions you try to stick to each year?

 Nothing special, just taking whatever comes along.

Anything you’d like to plug to our readers?

Look for the film High On the Hog, which is in the final stages of development.

Also, just aired the National Geographic documentary Clowns In Pop Culture, featuring Sid Haig with Captain Spaulding!

[As well as] Many other film projects in various stages of development, so stay tuned!

What was the most recent thing that made you smile?

 The excitement of little kids at conventions.

Check out this amazing clip of Sid Haig doing his amazing performance in the Rob Zombie classic, The Devil’s Rejects:

Katt Shea [Interview]


Welcome to Day 30 of Trainwreck’d Society’s Month of Horror Showcase. Every day during the month of October, we will have a horror related interview and/or film review for your fright-filled reading pleasure! The set up will be the same as usual, but the topics will be far more terrifying. Enjoy!

Today’s interview subject is a person who has found herself in the realm of so many things that we have always stated that are interesting and compelling to us here at Trainwreck’d Society. First of all, in order to not mask or talk around the obvious, Katt Shea is a brilliant writer and filmmaker, who is a woman. Now, as many of you may remember from past interviews with women who work mostly behind the screen, specifically last April during our Women of the Present Month….we feel like the gender of the creator should not matter, but sadly it is almost imperative that we showcase the fact that women are out there rocking it in a male-driven industry. And while progress does seem to be have been made, now is not the time to let up!

So with that being said, Katt Shea is an amazing artist who, besides being a badass female in the business, has also worked in other fields that we talk about relentlessly here at TWS, including the world of Roger Corman & Crown International, which is a world that is packed into our archives. She also happens to be the brilliant mind behind classic horror films like Poison Ivy and The Rage: Carrie 2. The latter being the main reason we wanted to showcase her during the big week of our Month of Horror showcase.

Katt Shea gives us some delightful, yet also a bit disturbing, insight into some of her past projects that we all know and love, and also lets us know what is coming up in this truly amazing collection of answers she has been so kind to give us. So ladies and gentlemen, please enjoy some amazing words from the legendary writer and filmmaker Katt Shea!

I have always been intrigued with the world of Roger Corman, and some of the amazing work that has passed through his offices. And you have been WELL versed in that world, writing and directing some incredible films The Patriot and Stripped To Kill. I always have to ask what it was like to work in the Corman world? And what did you enjoy about working in that breakneck pace and environment?

The Patriot (not to be confused with the Mel Gibson movie) was made by Crown International. I didn’t direct it but I wrote it with Andy Ruben. It’s incredibly difficult working on such tight schedules but I suppose the good thing about it is you don’t have time to second guess yourself on directing choices. I think our collaboration was great, the movies I made for Roger played several times at MoMa, The British Film Institute, and many art houses, Poison Ivy was at all of the above and Sundance – I find it all very gratifying and I am so very grateful!!!!

Your 1992 film Posoin Ivy was an absolutely incredible story brought to screen, and is a film that I can still go back to 25 years later and absolutely love. It is such a bizarre and unique story that I must as about its origin? How did you come up with such a brilliant story?

The film was made for New Line Cinema and it was actually based on a true life story of producer Melissa Goddard. Andy Ruben and I wrote the script that I directed and he produced. We changed the ending of Melissa’s story to have Ivy die, but I didn’t really want that. In reality the girl got away with it and I thought that’s how it should have been portrayed but the exec at New Line got her way and Ivy died – then they made numerous sequels even though the lead character had been killed off. I had nothing to do with the sequels because they made me kill her. We didn’t even shoot the ending until after the movie was edited because I was still fighting for her to live while we were shooting. I do like the ending we shot, but I just didn’t feel it was realistic, those kind of people get away with stuff. I wrote a novel called Batshit Black (named after a nail color) which is the Poison Ivy for today.


And when you personally look back on the film a quarter of a century later, what are you thoughts on the final product? Why do you think the film still resonates loudly for all of us? And if given the chance, what would you have done differently?

I think the film resonates for people because it was conceived and executed on a very deep level, a soul level if you will, but, as I said Batshit Black is how I would do it today.

And in 1999 you were behind the camera on The Rage: Carrie 2. What was it like to work on leaving your own mark in the world of Stephen King? What do you believe you personally did to make The Rage a Katt Shea story?

I just give whatever I am working on my truth. I think that’s all you can do.

What is it specifically about the world of horror that you find the most fascinating? And how does it differ the most from other projects you have been involved with?

Horror is so much fun to direct because it is so visual. As a filmmaker you are using all the visual components at your disposal to tell the story and scare the crap out of the audience. There’s nothing more fun than that for a director!

I’m a believer that we’ve lived many past lives and we were very badly behaved in them or we wouldn’t be here now. The soul remembers all that bad stuff and we like to reenact it on some level … Perhaps to clear it out? I’m not sure, but I have given this some thought!

What is your favorite scary movie?

I don’t have one. I don’t want to be scared. I like comedies or spiritual material.

What are your plans for this coming Halloween? Any traditions that you try to uphold each year?

I like to get a great costume and go to a party.

What does the future hold for you? Anything you think our readers should be on the lookout for?

My novel Batshit Black is on Amazon. It will blow your mind 🙂

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Answering your last question just did!

Dwight H. Little [Interview]

Welcome to Day 29 of Trainwreck’d Society’s Month of Horror Showcase. Every day during the month of October, we will have a horror related interview and/or film review for your fright-filled reading pleasure! The set up will be the same as usual, but the topics will be far more terrifying. Enjoy!

We have yet another absolute legend in our mix today, folks. Today we are speaking with the brilliant director Dwight H. Little. This is a guy who has been responsible for some of the finest works in the world of film that you all know and love. His impact to the world of horror is not his main focus, but it is prestigious to say the least. Mr. Little is the man who helped bring our old friend Alan B. McElroy’s story to life in Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, as well as the Robert Englund fronted horror version of The Phantom of the Opera

Beyond the world of horror, Dwight has given us other action-packed and drama laced films like Marked For Death, Murder at 1600, and his latest masterpiece entitled Last Rampage. And that is not even mentioning is work in the world of television with several directorial appearances on shows like Bones, and the TWS beloved series From Dusk Till Dawn.

This is a guy who really shouldn’t need an introduction, and I feel like I have rambled enough about him. He is a legend. In credits alone, he is a mad man who has directed some amazing work. So ladies and gentlemen, it is my distinguished honor to introduce some fine words from the brilliant Dwight H. Little!

When did you decide you wanted to work in the world of film and television? Was it something you always aspired to do, or did you just find yourself working in the business?

I started making super 8 films in middle school ! …so I have been at it a long time. I was fortunate enough to be able to study film at  USC.

We have talked with several folks from the world of the Halloween over the years, which you are also a huge part of! You are the man behind one of my favorites, the fourth installment of the franchise known as The Return of Michael Meyers, which happens to be have been written by our friend Alan B. McElroy. I am always curious to know what it is like to jump into a well establish franchise? How do feel you left your own personal marking on the franchise with our contribution to the world of Halloween?

Instead of thinking about a sequel…I just thought about all those years I went trick or treating myself on cold nights in the midwest in October.

The streets , the houses, schools and stores were out of my memory of being 8 or 10. When Jamie is lost, that is me lost. When the parents
leave to go out,that is a memory .  So I tried to capture the emotion of the town and the characters and the night of Halloween as it felt to me.

Alan McElroy is from Cleveland too, so we knew that  world which is safe but also terrifying….

In recent years, you have thrown your hat into the ring of directing for television on some of the biggest shows around. From a couple of dozen episodes of Bones, to Prison Break, and so many more, you have been all over the television map! And including, one of my personal favorites, From Dusk Till Dawn. I am fascinated with this show, and have to ask how your experience was in becoming a part of this frantic and crazy world?

Well Dusk is really Robert’s vision  (Rodriguez)…but he is so amazing with his directors.  He wants you to bring everything you have as a director yourself and doesn’t second guess or micromanage.  If something is off he might mention his opinion but you only know if he’s pleased if you get invited back !

Television is not always a directors medium…but with Robert and Dusk it is. Also…he has an amazing crew and studio so the resources are there.

I am intrigued by your latest film, Last Rampage. What was it about this story that made you want to bring it to the big screen? What do you find the most fascinating?

I saw a picture of the three Tison boys when they were very little.  Donnie, Ricky and Ray. They were dressed just like my brother and I at that exact age.

How did these boys end up dead or in prison for life and I was to have opportunities in the world.  It was of course the roll of the dice with having

Gary Tison as your father…a narcissistic killer with no remorse .  So again…I think I was drawn to the ordeal of these boys…but also to the police officer played by Bruce Davison.  He can’t understand someone like Gary and neither can we. How do we face evil in the world…especially now ?


You even reunited again with Jason James Richter for a third time in the last 20 years. He was but a child when you first worked with him, and you have now worked with him in several different phases of his life. What has it been like to work with an actor through so many different stages of their career?

Jason keeps growing as an actor.  He is of course a different person than he was as a young actor in Free Willy…but I think he is very natural and believable.   We love talking about movies and music. He has an encyclopedic knowledge…!

In your personal opinion, what should our readers be most excited to see when they inevitably all turn out to see Last Rampage, that is surely going to be amazing, when it is released?

It’s a very involving film but also challenging.  Gary Tison was a bad guy. But, like a Jim Jones or Charles Manson…he was a cult leader. People followed him .  Randy Greenawalt followed him…so did the boys and Dorothy Tison. Why ?  Why do we listen to some people and not others…?

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

If I tell you what the next one is, I might jinx it. !  Directors are jumpy because just when you think the financing in all in place something falls out !  But if have three films right now….One of them will go and then we can talk about it !

What was the last thing that made you smile?

 The title sequence for  ” F is for Family ” !

Check out this trailer for Dwight H. Little’s latest film Last Rampage, right here:

Debbie Rochon [Interview]


Welcome to Day 28 of Trainwreck’d Society’s Month of Horror Showcase. Every day during the month of October, we will have a horror related interview and/or film review for your fright-filled reading pleasure! The set up will be the same as usual, but the topics will be far more terrifying. Enjoy!

So we are pretty much going to breaking out the legendary figures for the rest of our Month of Horror series, if you hadn’t noticed. Yes, every single one of the folks we have talked with this month are legendary in their own right, but we are reaching all new levels this week! Especially today!

I have been attempting to steal some answers from the legendary Debbie Rochon for a lot of years now. But, Debbie is just about one of the busiest and hardest working people in the horror business you will ever know about. She seriously does SO much. In fact, Debbie has worked so hard that she is built a legendary cult status around herself so much that she pretty much can pick whatever she wants to do now!

And for regular readers of Trainwreck’d Society, it should be noted that Debbie has been involved with two parts of the horror world that we love so much, along with all of her other brilliant works. That would be a a couple of Steve Sessions flicks (there he is again!) and the tremendous Troma Studios. Two things that we not only have brought up a lot during our Month of Horror, but on the site in general. We love Steve! We love Troma! And how could we not love Debbie when she obviously knows talent when she sees it, and works with the best! So ladies and gentlemen, I can not tell you how excited I am to share this amazing interview with you fine folks today. Please enjoy some amazing words from the brilliant Debbie Rochon!

Just looking at your film credits alone, it appears as though you are one of the hardest working actresses in the game! You are just always working! What keeps you motivated? And what is your secret to the output of brilliance you are able to continuously put out?

Well most artist type folks go through many different inventions of themselves. I have gone from being a student of film to a blue collar actress to where I am now which is to only take roles that excite me. If you follow your inspiration it takes you down many very different paths. The one I am on now is simply doing what I feel really deeply about. I love extreme roles but I don’t like to repeat myself. With that said I do like characters with a lot of angst and inner turmoil. Those are roles that I feel a special relationship to and feel I can bring the most to.

You worked with our favorite indie horror filmmaker, Steve Sessions, on his debut film, Cremains, as well as appearing in his seminal indie classic Dead Clowns. What was it like working under the guise of a filmmaker like Steve? How does a Sessions film differ from other work you have done?

I love Steve and his work! Sincerely he is a one man band that does so much and has such an incredible sense of style and does it all with very little. How many people can say they made a movie almost completely by themselves and have it picked up by Lionsgate? He’s really a terrific guy. The first movie I did with him was Cremains of course and it involved me just recording the lines he sent me on a cassette tape in my apartment and then mailing the tape to him! Wasn’t possible to record directly (or indirectly very easily) on the computer back then so it had to literally be mailed to him. The second film Dead Clowns we shot in Connecticut and the joke I had with him on that set was the fact that my character only acted with body language not words. I joked with him that the 3rd film we’ll have to bring both the voice and the body together so we can surprise people. It was pretty funny!

You have also spent a great deal of time in the world of Troma Pictures, where many of our past guests have flourished as well. What is that world like? How has your time been working in the world that Lloyd built?

Lloyd is a very longtime friend. I met him in 1992 and worked with him consistently on and off over the years. He’s a really smart man. I started with Troma prior to the Tromeo & Juliet period so I saw the ‘second’ rise of Troma if you will, the first being The Toxic Avenger in the 80’s of course. He has been in the business long enough to see many waxes and wanes of popularity with his movie and company so now that he has a hit musical running in England I feel very happy for him. His ‘world’ of Troma and all that makes it fun is really unique.

The nicest thing about it, besides Lloyd himself, is the dedicated fans. They are so cool and supportive. Love them. Some of the actors over the years that I have worked with in his movies have ranged from becoming great life-long friends of mine to not very supportive of Troma past attention seekers wanting to milk the Troma universe for some fame. This doesn’t have an affect on me though I am very happy and content knowing Tromaville is always there and I love the people that I love in Lloyd’s world.

 

What is it to you personally that you find the most appealing about the world of horror? What do you believe sets it apart from other genres of film?

Everything sets it apart really. If you look at any great TV series that lives in the horror genre you can easily see that it affords the writers and filmmakers the ability to say anything, comment on anything, from within the universe of horror. From The Twilight Zone to Masters of Horror to American Horror Story to The Walking Dead. You can deal with racism, sexism, politics – whatever you want to say and it can fit easily into horror. That’s the big appeal to me. Then you have the visual horror which is glorious, of course because it’s not real. If you attempted to tell similar stories in a drama or comedy it would likely fall flat or come off melodramatic or as too much hand wringing. With horror it just makes it even better, richer and more layered.


What is your favorite scary movie?

That is almost impossible to answer but a couple titles that would be right up there are John Carpenter’s The Thing and Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.

 

Do you have any plans for this coming Halloween? Any traditions you try to uphold each year?

I always have plans! Most Halloweens I am attending a convention, last year I was on the road most of the year promoting my directorial debut Model Hunger. This year I am doing a lot of writing and at night watching a ton of horror films both rewatching and seeing for the first time many great films. It’s a time to celebrate all the wonderful talent working in the industry! In front of the camera, behind the camera, people who write the scripts, compose the music and the editors all deserve great celebration from all of us. It’s not easy to get indie horror films done and out there at this point so there’s so much to be grateful for when they do!

 

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

 

Thank you, yes! I would love folks to watch Model Hunger, it’s my first film as director and I am very proud of it. A few movies I have acted in will soon be released although I have no exact release dates for them… Nightmare Box, Death House, and Fantasma and I am sincerely very proud of all 3 so I look forward to folks having a chance to check them out.

 

What was the last thing that made you smile?

This interview. Thank you for that. 🙂

Check out this trailer for Debbie Rochon’s directorial debut, Model Hunger:

Ellie Cornell [Interview]


Welcome to Day 27 of Trainwreck’d Society’s Month of Horror Showcase. Every day during the month of October, we will have a horror related interview and/or film review for your fright-filled reading pleasure! The set up will be the same as usual, but the topics will be far more terrifying. Enjoy!

It wouldn’t be a Month of Horror showcase here at TWS if we didn’t get the Halloween franchise involved! And do we ever! Today we are featuring the lovely and talented actress, Ellie Cornell. Ellie brilliantly portrayed Rachel Carruther in the 4th and 5th installments of this legendary franchise. Ellie also played a huge role in films like House of the Dead II and Room 6, which happened to be directed by our first interview subject of this month, Mr. Michael Hurst! Just another example of brilliant minds coming together to make something wonderful. P.S. Another great example of Cornell working with geniuses in the world of film may be coming very soon, just a head’s up!

So let’s just jump into this fantastic collection of answers we received from the brilliant actress Ellie Cornell. We are honored to have such a legendary presence join our family, and simply can not say enough good things about her. With that, I shall stop saying anything at all, and get right into it! Ladies and gentlemen, Ellie Cornell!

You are by far one of my favorite actresses to take on a role in the legendary Michael Myers saga we all know and love known as Halloween. What was it like to dive into such an established franchise very early in your career as the starring role in Halloween 4?

Thank you, Ron! I was so honored to be a part of this franchise – to go through the casting process and to land the role. I had no idea how well the project would be received when we all got cast – we had big shoes to fill from 1 & 2…to work with Dwight Little, Donald Pleasance, Danielle Harris – we were in such good hands, beginning with a good, smart & scary script. It still amazes me what a large and loyal fan base the Halloween series attract.

And when it comes to reoccurring roles, what was it like to jump back into the role for Halloween 5? Did you feel the urge to do something different with the character? Whatever you did turned out incredible as we all know, but I am curious to know what sort of thought process might have went into re-engaging this character?

I knew before I had even received the script for Halloween 5  that Rachel Carruthers’ days were numbered – it’s just part of the horror genre formula. I had the writers re-do Rachel’s demise to get a little closer to the dignified end I thought she deserved. I just thought it was too bad, in the end – and I know that the late Moustapha Akkad agreed with me, because we talked about it – that it was sad to knock off a good character without a redeeming or logical storyline, but things happen for a reason – it must have been time to move on.  With regard to reappearing as Rachel, I just tried my best to maintain her integrity and smarts that were established with director Dwight Little in H4.

You also appeared in the terrific film Room 6, directed by fellow Month of Horror interviewee Michael Hurst. What was it like working under the guise of a filmmaker like Michael, and being a part of a top notch cast? 

I’ve had the good fortune to work with Mike several times…he’s an intelligent director and maintains an on-set even keel, which is important when work days are long and challenging. He always had a point of view and respected the actors – another feather in his cap! I always learn from other actors, directors, the creative forces behind the scenes. If you want to learn about maintaining laser focus on any set, just hang with a script supervisor for a few hours. Their eye for detail is relentless.

In 2008 you had plans to get behind the camera to direct the anthology thriller Prank, featuring fellow horror legends Heather Langenkemp and Danielle Harris. What made you decide to move from actress and producer, to full blown director? What kicked off this decision, and how did you enjoy it?

Prank never came to fruition, for reasons out of my control. I had a cool script from Tommy Hutson, but it never got to the shooting stage. It was a joy to meet Heather. I don’t have a strong desire to direct a film at this point – I’m having too much fun doing theatre again, studying, and doing the best I can in my auditions.

While you have worked in several other genres, I do have to ask what you believe it is about the horror genre that makes you want to keep returning to it?

I was working closely with a production team that kept asking me to play small roles in the films they were making…so in that respect I was lucky. I got to be a stay at home mom while I continued to work in films. I learn something each and every time I show up to audition, to shoot, to get fitted for wardrobe, whatever it is – I try to be respectful of all the long hours and work that goes into make a movie or TV, regardless of the genre…it’s not for the lazy or faint of heart. We all just need to be kind to one another, everyone’s working hard.

What is your favorite scary movie?

Rosemary’s Baby : a classic

What are your plans for this coming Halloween? Any traditions you trey to uphold each year?

Costumes, costumes, costumes! Did I mention costumes?

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

Keep an eye out for Altar Rock, the incomparable Andrzej Bartowiak directing…working with K.J.Apa, James Remar and Scott Adkins was a blast!

What was the last thing that made you smile? 

Scalloping with my family on the last weekend of summer

Michael A. Simpson [Interview]


Welcome to Day 26 of Trainwreck’d Society’s Month of Horror Showcase. Every day during the month of October, we will have a horror related interview and/or film review for your fright-filled reading pleasure! The set up will be the same as usual, but the topics will be far more terrifying. Enjoy!

Oh what a damn good feature we have for you good readers today! We have an absolute legend joining the TWS family. Michael A. Simpson is a legendary figure in the world of cinema. His work in the Sleepaway Camp series and the campy classic Funland has earned him a cult following in the world of horror.  He has also worked as a producer on several other amazing projects such as the Jeff Bridges fronted, Oscar winning drama Crazy Heart. The list goes on and on, and just gets more and more impressive.
And if Mr. Simpson gracing us with his digital presence wasn’t enough, he was so kind to provide us with pretty incredible behind-the-scenes photographs from some of his most beloved works. Mr. Simpson is as kind as he is brilliant, and we could not be more honored to have him featured in our Month of Horror series. This is one of the greats, people, you’re going to love it! So with that, please enjoy some words from the great Michael A. Simpson!

When did you first discover your love for the world of film and television? How far back does this passion go for you?

I enjoyed watching movies even as a child. We had a cinema in the town where I grew up. It was a baby sitting service on Saturday afternoons showing a double feature matinee. My mom would drop me and my brother off and we would watch movies while she cleaned house and bought groceries. Many of the movies were horror films.

When I was seven or eight, over dinner after an afternoon at the cinema, I asked my parents how do you make movies. They said they were made in a place called Hollywood, which sounded to me like some far away place like Neverland. I asked if I could make movies. To their eternal credit, they told me I could do anything I wanted to, and yes, if I wanted to make movies when I grew up I could.

I also watched a lot of classic horror films on television. On Friday nights in Atlanta we had the Big Movie Shocker hosted by Bestoink Dooley, a deliciously warped persona created by local actor George Ellis. George was part of the first wave of late-night TV horror hosts, and for my money, one of the best. He guided me through my first experiences with The Mummy, The Wolf Man, Cat People, and many others.  I’d often toss and turn in bed for hours afterward, scared out of my young mind by what I had just watched. As I grew older, that fascination with horror stayed with me.

You were involved with two of my favorite horror sequels of all time, the brilliant Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers & Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland. What was it like jumping on board after the cult success of the first Sleepaway Camp? Was there a bit of pressure when you realized you were building a franchise?

For me, it was more a sense of excitement that pressure. The main goal we had for the sequels was to extend the story arc by developing Angela’s character. I was intrigued by the idea of taking her gender orientation and pushing it out so that by the time of the sequels Angela had gone through a sex change and was now transgendered. For me, that felt very fresh. To my knowledge no one had done that with slasher horror.

We also wanted a different tone than the original. We added self-referential humor to break the tension, which later became sort of the thing to do with slasher horror.

What where some other personal touches that were important for you to have in Unhappy Campers and Teenage Wasteland to truly make it your own? What made this story a Michael A. Simpson visual tale?

The pop culture references became one of the signatures of the sequels. We put “camp” into movies with perverse, dark, campy humor. It’s something you either love or hate, but I liked it.

I was intrigued by the idea of setting a slasher stalking movie in daylight in the woods, instead of at night. It was a challenge in some ways but it was also a great way to set Teenage Wasteland apart from Unhappy Campers.

I also liked the introspective, almost melancholy beat in Wasteland with Angela’s daydream. That was not at all common in slasher horror. It was an idea the editor John Allen came up with. It gave an odd humanity to Angela as a character. John later edited Fast Food for me and then went on to edit for some great directors like Ismail Merchant, James Ivory and Bruce Beresford. A very talented guy.

Although we had a very small budget I wanted the best gore and makeup effects we could afford. We found a young man, Bill Johnson, who was literally creating effects in his parents basement and had no film credits, but he was very creative and had great ideas when he read the script.

I was impressed by what he accomplished for the budget we had. He earned the nickname “Splat” on those two films, which stuck.

Splat went on to provide make up effects and prosthetic design for dozens of films through the years, like Pet Sematary II, Boxing Helena, and RoboCop 3. Recently, he was Make Up Effects Department Head for the remake of Jacob’s Ladder. He’s made quite a name for himself.

The New Beverly Cinema in Beverly Hills screened SC2: Unhappy Campers  and SC3: Teenage Wasteland on Tuesday [Oct 24th, 2017] night in 35mm prints, part of their October Horror showcase. Oscar-winning filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, who is the owner and head programmer at the Beverly, made the unique decision to have the cinema solely project film prints. “Grindhouse Tuesdays” remain one of their most popular nights with a tremendously loyal following. – Michael A. Simpson.

Prior to Unhappy Campers, you worked on a little film that was actually the reason I was so eager to do this interview with you. You created the comedy thriller (of sorts) with Bonnie and Terry Turner known as Funland. I have to tell you, it wasn’t Stephen King’s It that put a fear of clowns into me as a youth, it was this god damned movie! Looking back, I realize it is a brilliant campy masterpiece. Where in the recesses of yours and the Turners mind did this come from? And what compelled you to tell this story?

I thought up the idea for the film while working for Six Flags Over Georgia. I was recently out of college and had a job in the marketing department.

The park had a promotional tie-in with McDonald’s. The regional Ronald McDonald did an in-park appearance one weekend.

At lunch, RD insisted that he eat alone behind a closed door. He said he didn’t want anyone to see him if his make-up wasn’t perfect, and he didn’t want anyone to see him with his gloves off. Later, walking through the park, I asked if it was difficult walking in such big clown shoes. Without missing a beat, he said they’re not big, they’re the perfect size.

That was the moment Bruce Burger was born, a character who had no self-awareness that he was a clown. He was Bruce Burger, not a clown.

I wrote a detailed treatment for the film based on that premise and beat out the scenes and other characters. Bruce Mahler’s character Mike Spencer was based on me. In the movie, Mahler even looks a bit like how I looked when I worked for the park.

I met Bonnie and Terry when they were working for Turner Broadcasting, writing for the Bill Tush Show. This was very early in their careers. So many people referred to them collectively as “Bonnie and Terry Turner” that the first line of their resume read “Bonnie and Terry Turner are not the same person.” That made me laugh.

Along with Jim Varney, they’re two of the funniest people I’ve ever known. I thought they would be perfect for Funland, and my belief was justified. They were amazing to work with.

Their draft of the script was done at a fevered pace, almost like stream of consciousness over the course of just two weeks or so. We had agreed that the three of us would write the script and share credit together, but the draft they turned in was so good I had very little work to do, mostly editing and tweaking a line here and there.

Some of the lines in the movie still make me laugh, like Terry Beaver’s character Carl Dimauro chiding his brother Larry for “coming to work without your tools” when Larry forgets to bring his gun. And Robert Sacchi is still mesmerizing as Bogie.

Funny story. When we finished the script I sent it to the financier of the film, who read it on a beach while on vacation in the Bahamas. He goes back to his hotel room and calls me and the first words out of his mouth were: “Where are the tits?”

He thought he was financing a teen sex comedy and we had turned in a very dark comedy. Since he was the money bags, we had to go back in and insert some generic teen comedy, which I believe hurt the film by taking it away from its more inventive premise: a deranged clown who takes revenge when the mob takes over the amusement park.

Over the years, I’ve thought about doing a director’s cut of Funland and re-editing it to focus more clearly on Bruce Burger. That’s the movie I wanted to make then and it’s the one that I think fans of the film would want to see. I’ve been encouraged to do it and it’s on my to do list if I ever have the time.

The Turners knew Jan Hooks, who had also been on Tush’s show, and I hired Jan for the role of Shelly Willingham in the film. When Jan went to SNL right after Funland, she got Bonnie and Terry hired as staff writers for the show. The rest is history.

The Turners helped create the SNL “Wayne’s World” skits with Mike Myers and then the Wayne’s World movie, which was the Turners’ next film after Funland, then they wrote Coneheads and Tommy Boy. They also created several series including 3rd Rock from the Sun and That ’70s Show, which they created with Mark Brazill, another remarkable comic talent.

Bonnie and Terry walked away from the business around 2006 or so. They are missed. Good humans.


What is it about the horror genre specifically that appeals to you? What do you personally believe sets it apart from other genres?

There’s something very primal and visceral about great horror. Cary Jung believed horror taps into primordial archetypes buried in our collective subconscious. Because of that, I think the emotions of horror are amplified when presented visually. We are literally creating and presenting nightmares for us to confront that are buried deep in all of us.

Also, horror often starts from a point of shared experience that the audience can relate to, like going to a summer camp. So there’s this intrinsic paradox, in that a great horror films are both relatable, yet unrealistic.

And let’s face it, there’s a great release in being scared out of our wits while on the journey we take when watching a movie.

Fans of horror are very loyal. In that way, they remind me of country music fans. I love to hear from the happy campers. I’ve received emails from people who first saw the Sleepaway sequels when they were in their teens and then years later shared them with their own teenage children.

What is your favorite scary movie?

Probably depends on my mood. I love Phantasm (1979). I first saw it with my brother; we were both stoned in a theater in downtown Atlanta that had gone to seed. The place reeked of alcohol and piss. Street people were sleeping around us. So much crime was happening in the theater that the manager refused to dim the lights while the movie played. All of that just added to the weird, other worldly quality of the film.

Also, the remake of The Thing with Kurt Russell holds up well for me. The original Hellraiser also comes to mind.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a favorite. I had the pleasure of working with Kevin McCarthy on Fast Food. He shared some great stories about the making of Snatchers. And the film still seems like a very timely and astute social commentary. Given what’s going on in our country’s current political climate, I sometimes wonder if millions of us have been replaced by pod people.

Do you have any plans for this coming Halloween? Any sort of traditions you try to uphold each year?

No plans. I’m pretty spontaneous when it comes to Halloween.

What does the future hold for you? Any upcoming projects you would like to tell our readers about?

My producer partner Judy Cairo and I are just finishing a film, Candy Jar, which is a comedy directed by Ben Shelton, who is someone who is going to be on everyone’s radar. It will be available for your eyeballs in 2018.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My wife came in and kissed me while I was doing this interview.

Behind the Scenes Photos of Sleepaway Camp 2:



Behind The Scenes Photos of Sleepaway Camp 3:


Behind The Scenes Photos of Funland: