Who Will Play Pennywise? 5 To Consider…

With news breaking recently that Cary Fukunaga’s take on It is set to start shooting this summer, horror fans have been all over the place as far as their level of interest in the project.  It certainly is one of the more intriguing remake projects out there and Fukunaga is an even more intriguing choice for director after his phenomenal take on season one of True Detective.  Stephen King purists like myself will insist that there be a lot less cheese and a lot more horror in this adaptation, and from everything I’ve read, Fukunaga seems to be promising just that.

Of course, the most memorable aspect of the 1990 mini-series besides John Ritter’s awesome beard was the one and only Pennywise.  The nightmare-inducing alien/clown/all things evil is still sneering from the Mount Rushmore of Horror and ALL of that credit goes to the man behind the makeup, Mr. Tim Curry.

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Besides the white gloves and eerily simplistic makeup, there are some other prerequisites that go along with playing this seminal character.  Personally, I’d prefer an actor who has either extensive background in stage and screen or an actor who has yet to have a major role in a major Hollywood production.  Because Pennywise is just as terrifying when he opens his mouth as when he doesn’t and body language is going to be everything.  I’d also appreciate a man who has the body frame to seemingly fit and slither into just about any nook and cranny, because let’s face it- what’s scarier than a demented clown?  A clown that can pop up out of anywhere.  From Fukunaga, I demand a Pennywise that is completely free of CGI enhancement.  Above all else, this will be the ultimate deal-breaker for me.  Costume, makeup and prosthetics.  That’s all you need.  Make it happen, Mr. Fukunaga.

Everyone will argue that you simply cannot replace Mr. Curry in what may very well be his most memorable role but it’s a simple fact that he must be filled in for.  With that in mind, I decided to rattle off a few names that I would love to see done the bright red wig. (P.S. – that was Tim Curry’s real hair, just teased to holy hell, so bonus points to anyone who may be able to pull that off)

Andy Serkis

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Not only does Serkis resemble Curry, but he’s also a hell of an actor who can dominate a performance without saying a word.  So imagine the firepower he’d bring to the role with such classic dialogue as “I’ll drive you crazy and I’ll kill you all!”! Serkis has been an ape, a bigger ape and a cave-dwelling, ring-obsessed creeper. Why not add demented clown to that list?  Yes, Serkis has been a part of some of the biggest blockbusters in recent cinema history, but he hasn’t done much as far as non-CGI films go.

Doug Jones

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Not only is he a contortionist, he’s brought some of the most famous characters in recent fantasy film to life (Abe Sapian in the Hellboy series and The Faun and The Pale man in Pan’s Labyrinth).  Jones is quite tall (6-4) but imagine his body twisting and bending in unholy ways.  The only thing that would make that scarier is if you dressed him up as a clown.  Oh wait….

Will Fitchner

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One of the most recognizable actors of his generation with a laundry list of credits to his name, one thing that is missing from his resume is that “ultimate role”, the gig that makes his name synonymous with a character.  What better creature to portray than Pennywise to cement your name in horror lore until the end of time?  He’s been known to play a character with a few crayons missing in the ol’ crayon box in his day, too..

Craig Conway

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If you’ve seen Doomsday, you know what kind of psychotic freak Mr. Conway can portray. One mustn’t ignore the Crazy Factor in this role. Those dark, empty eyes aren’t burning into your soul yet?  Conway is one slick mofo who would undoubtedly rain nightmares down on children everywhere if we threw a red nose on him.

David Hyde Pierce

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This is, without a doubt, my favorite fan casting suggestion of all-time.  It’s quite a stretch, considering Pierce seems to prefer staying out of the limelight but a dude can dream, can’t he?  He has the ability to display the twisted charisma necessary for the role and his body type fits the role, in my opinion.  Not to mention, he’s another consummate professional who would lend his fantastic skill set to one of the greatest characters in horror film history.

As summer nears, one thing is for certain- we are getting a new It movie and it promises to be more vicious and true to the original material than it’s twenty-five year old counterpart.  What we don’t know is who is going to play everyone’s favorite blood-thirsty clown.  So long as we don’t get another Jackie Earle Haley/Freddy Krueger disaster… so help us, God…

So let’s hear what you think! Flame me, suggest your personal favorites, discuss what makes the perfect Pennywise- leave your comments below!

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Posted in fancast, horror lists, Stephen King | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

It Follows: a review

Hype mixes seamlessly with hyperbole in the world of horror cinema. Critics and fans alike are so hungry for the next truly terrifying horror film, they desperately toss around terms and labels like “greatest film since” as if it is going out of style. Sadly, in the horror genre, it is going out of style due to over-use. For every one brilliant title to be released like The House of the Devil, Insidious and I Saw The Devil, there is an overload of anemic flicks and flat out piss-poor remakes. There’s not enough time in the day to list them all from the last two years, even.

It Follows is one of the honest-to-goodness truly terrifying films of the last decade. That statement that is splashed across movie posters and television screens regarding this film is as fair an assessment as any film has received in recent memory.
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The premise is simple – someone can pass along something (“It”) to you through sex. The only way to alleviate yourself from ghastly images and countless sleepless nights is to pass “It” to someone else by, you guessed it, knocking boots with them. It Follows is heavy on sexual metaphors that can be discussed at length for days on end but it is an even heavier film where we want it most- thrills and chills.

The film, an independent project written and directed by David Robert Mitchell, is currently spreading across the nation like wildfire, thanks in no small part to fantastic word-of-mouth via social media and the most simple point of all – it is a fantastically well done film that will creep you the hell out.

Jay (Maika Monroe) is a nineteen year old woman who believes she may be falling in love. A fella by the name of Hugh (Jake Weary) has caught her fancy and the two seem to be head over heels for one another. As is occasionally the case in teenage romances, and always the case in horror films, a spark of youthful lust evolves into a sexual encounter rather quickly. (hey, we’ve only got two hours to work with here!) Following this seemingly innocent sexual rendezvous in the backseat of Hugh’s pretty sweet ride, things take a serious turn for the worse.

It takes Jay a few days to realize the grave predicament she is in but after teaming up with her sister Kelly (Lili Sepe), and life-long friends Paul (Keir Gilchrist) and Yara (Olivia Luccardi), Jay learns more about the curse that seems to be following her every move. Neighborhood crush Greg (Daniel Zovatto) joins in on the fight for survival that includes a quick summary of the curse from now ex-boyfriend Hugh.

As Jay runs for her life, literally, It continues to follow. It doesn’t run and It doesn’t manifest out of thin air. It simply… follows.

The film pays homage to some of the best horror known to man, pulling a cue straight out of The Shining as we are forced to watch a creepy, naked woman slowly stalking towards our lead character and I couldn’t help but reminisce about The Evil Dead during one particularly woods-y shot of a car rumbling down a long driveway.

The acting was superb from the quartet of friends attempting to survive and end this curse. Maika Monroe should be a hot commodity on the casting wire after this breakout performance while Keir Gilchrist really knocked it out of the park in It’s Kind Of A Funny Story and does a fantastic job in this project, as well.

Visually, the film is stunning. Camera tricks, such as a merry-go-round effect and uncomfortably slow zoom-ins, are sprinkled throughout. They are done effectively without being overused. The predominantly night-time backdrop is how all horror films should be made. I dare your eyes not to shift anxiously from corner to corner of the movie screen, in search of the next wandering ghoul.

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I loved the Napoleon Dynamite feel to it, as far as aesthetics.  It’s as if the audience is in a time capsule vacuum, stuck in present day with all of the advancements of the eighties at one’s disposal. It Follows has the same polyester and ponytail feel to it. Combine this with the synthesizers and this was a film just dying to be released on VHS.

I’ve heard many people debate whether the film is a time piece or just a jumbled nod to eras gone by and I lean towards the latter. With the story being based in the lower class of Detroit (neighbors saying “that family is a mess”, lack of parental supervision, dead end job at the local ice cream shop, etc.), I saw the televisions with rabbit ears and mismatched furniture as more a layer of the characters being depicted rather than a hokey attempt at a time piece by the director.

It Follows has the perfect mix of humor (even a fart joke!) to go along with the most tension I’ve endured in a film since The House of the Devil. The slow-burn atmosphere was achieved masterfully and when the jumps or creep factor did show up, they paid off well. Whether it was an old lady shambling through a school corridor or straining to check every corner of the dark movie screen while Jaime ponders her next move in a park at night, the film left little time for a bathroom break during its 107 minute run time.

With an ending that leaves enough open to interpretation, this atmospheric creep-fest is one of a kind. Running neck and neck with The Babadook for Best Horror Film of 2015, It Follows is a film best viewed in a theater followed by a long walk to your car in the dead of night.

-JH

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Heading off to Camp: An interview with Felissa Rose

         “I have not really worked outside of the horror genre and I really don’t think I want to.”     

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     Thirty-two years ago, a campy slasher film called Sleepaway Camp snuck its way into a cluster of theatres across the US.  The film held a robust 11-body count (beating out Friday The 13th by one) and became an instant cult classic, thanks in no small part to arguably the most memorable scene in horror film history.  The mere mention of Sleepaway Camp invokes images of young Angela standing, rigid and naked, mouth agape, as the camera slowly pans back to reveal that Angela certainly isn’t all woman.  It’s a scene that is mentioned as both one of the most upsetting and popular moments in horror history.  Angela almost instantly became a fan favorite, a young girl that certain sectors of the audience could relate to (the film can be seen as a genuine study on bullying) and others could crush on (judging by the dozen or so males over the age of 30 who I have spoken to, they all freely admit that they had a huge crush on the memorable lead character).

That iconic stare and that fantastic debut performance are proud highlights in the career of an actress who has had many.  From stage to screen and spanning almost her entire life, Felissa Rose has enjoyed a colorful career.

Recently, Rose was named co-head of Independent Genre Film Development of Carolco Pictures along with producer/director and personal friend Harrison Smith. Carolco Pictures, many will recall, was a major force in the film industry up through the early 90’s.  As the company looks to rise again, adding a fresh face and mind like Mrs. Rose to the mix should only help.

This is a woman who is so much more than that classic horror film from 30 years past. Sleepaway Camp was a seminal achievement in the slasher film era that gave us perhaps the classiest dick shot in the history of film.  Felissa Rose is a voracious advocate of independent filmmaking and the families that make up the indie community.  A professional who refuses to use the term “fan” when speaking about the millions of people who love and support her work, Felissa sees the word as a way to separate actor/actress from hard-earned-money-paying convention and film-goer.  Spend fifteen minutes at any of the numerous horror conventions Felissa has been a part of over the years and you’ll see that the line so many professionals seek to keep established between themselves and the so-called “fans” is non-existent with the married mother of three.  She’ll out-dance, out-laugh and out-hug even the most hardcore convention attendee and she wouldn’t want it any other way.

Having met her briefly at Chicago’s Days of the Dead: 2014, I was privileged to be able to speak with Mrs. Rose recently via telephone and discuss her career, her love for the horror community and that awesome little slasher flick that continues to traumatize movie goers to this day.


Mangled Matters: Before Sleepaway Camp, were you a fan of horror films?


Felissa Rose: Well, I was young when I got cast. I was only twelve, so I wouldn’t say I was a huge fan, but I was intrigued by them and had a great respect for the genre.  Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Last House on the Left, The Shining, Magic… those were all favorites of mine. I was a fan, but I was scared to death of them, which you should be, right?!  It wasn’t until after Sleepaway Camp where I could enjoy horror films and not be as horrified of them. (laughs)


MM: Sleepaway Camp is regularly atop lists regarding LGBT and homoerotic films.  Most feel the film is a proud representation of the lifestyle. What are your thoughts on this?


FR: It was a very provocative film for the time.  We probably touched on a lot that hadn’t been done in a horror movie yet, in the early 80’s.  I don’t believe we were really concentrating on that.  Robert (Hiltzik, director), even to this day, denies there was an emphasis on the homoerotic context, but I believe it absolutely was a major player in the game.  It’s a great topic and I think it was a very proactive film.  It was all about “be who you are”, you know?  Besides Angela having her issues having lost her family in the boating accident, she was trying to figure out her own sexuality in her own way.  Her father being gay in the film, you know, we were dealing with a lot and I think that was what the movie was about. Just dealing with who you are and figuring your way out.


Creating nightmares for thirty years and running...

Creating nightmares for thirty years and running…


MM: Topics like these are what always makes me chuckle when someone rolls their eyes at horror.  As if there can’t be any serious discussion about a film in the genre.


FR: It’s definitely an intriguing little film.  I never like to make it more than what it is.  We understood what it was, even back then.  It wasn’t like we were working on making the next Citizen Kane.  Although it is forever living on, we knew it was a slasher movie and somehow, some way, it resonated with audiences.  I think it’s because there were actual children in the film, because of all of the gender questions, the darkness of it.  I think that’s the stuff the audiences really gravitated towards.  I mean, the bullying and transgender issues are still very relevant today.  Perhaps even more so than it was even back then.  A lot of people I talk to at conventions and such, they can relate to Angela.  We’ve all been there- with the bullying and finding ourselves as adolescents.


MM: It’s clear you’re not a scripted person and you don’t really have to “force” yourself to get up for your projects and the genre.  It’s awesome to see that you are so receptive to the audience and proud to be a member of the horror community.


FR: I really appreciate that.  I never feel I can thank people people for all of the love and joy they provide me.  Your words and the audience’s words are tremendous and it always means so much to me, so I thank you for that!


MM: You are regularly listed as one of the all-time favorite guests on the horror convention scene.  Like I said, it is just so cool that you embrace the horror community with open arms.  What makes the con scene so special to you?


FR: Oh my gosh, I don’t even know where to begin.  It’s like, you love your family so much and you just know they are a part of you.  When you get to see them, it’s like a reunion of just true friends and supporters of the genre.  I’m pretty open to the fact that I don’t like the term “fan”.  It doesn’t come off as kind to me.  It’s like, ‘I’m here and you’re looking up at me’ and I don’t like that.  We’re a family.  I’m here, you’re here.  I get giddy at these conventions! (laughs) I get to meet people I admire and I just love everybody I see.  I’m there to have fun.  I get to hang out with these cool and amazing friends and it’s a big ol’ party.  I absolutely love it.  I have the best time at conventions.


MM: With that being said, what conventions have you been confirmed for this year so far?


FR: Well, I’ll be on the set of a new project, Wretched, for the month of May but I’m making a stop out to Franklin, Pennsylvania for the Franklin Comic Con, May 8-10.  I’ll be at the Connecticut HorrorFest, beginning July 18 and with so many other news coming out so quickly, the best way to really keep up on where I’ll be is by checking out a website that a fantastic supporter of mine named Andrew runs.


MM: Speaking of the horror convention scene, I was fortunate enough to meet Dee Wallace at the Days of the Dead: Chicago in 2014 and she was just the best.  You’ve had a chance to work with her (on Zombie Killers).  What was that like?


FR: Dee Wallace is one of my very favorite people in the world.  She loves life, she is who she is and she always inspires me.  I always want to be in her energy and be near here.  I had the good fortune of working with her and her daughter and we are like a little family now.  Zombie Killers was the first and only time I’ve worked with Dee, so far.  She is in Wretched, too.  We both play witches but I didn’t even get to hang out with her!  I was already finished up when she was coming in, so.. Dee and I got really close at these conventions, because we’d be at these shows together, then at the airport together, and I kind of just wormed my way into her life. (laughs) I’m such a huge fan of hers and she is absolutely marvelous.  She’s amazing in Zombie Killers!

PJ Soles, Felissa Rose and Dee Wallace on the Women of Horror panel at Chicago's Days of the Dead, 2014.

PJ Soles, Felissa Rose and Dee Wallace on the Women of Horror panel at Chicago’s Days of the Dead, 2014.


MM: Your role in Zombie Killers


FR: I play such a different role in the movie!  It was a real departure for me.  My character is this religious leader and in most reviews I’ve read, they say I’m scarier than the zombies! (laughs) I had one particularly kind review say that this was my best performance.  That meant a lot to me.


MM: I’m a big fan of ‘partnerships’ in films.  I tend to find myself more invested in a film when I see that a director and actor have worked together before, or two actors are joining up again.  It’s just a cool thing to see. In the indie horror world, it tends to happen a lot with some very talented people.  You have such a relationship with director Harrison Smith.  What is it about Mr. Smith that makes you invest in his projects?


FR: Oh, wow… Harrison is just an amazingly talented, competent, strong leader and director.  I know when I’m signing on to his project, I’m safe and I know it’s going to be a very tight ship.  He is loving and giving, and I couldn’t ask for more from a director.  I’ve been very fortunate to work with so many wonderful and amazing directors and people on films.  Over the years, I’ve worked with people like Dave Campfield (Caesar & Otto’s Deadly Xmas, Caesar & Otto’s Paranormal Halloween) and John Callas (No Solicitors), and they are all just such good people and great relationships.  I like to have a lot of fun, I know it’s hard to tell (laughs) but I love to work hard and play hard.  I throw parties in my hotel room for the cast and crew.  Harrison just brings so much joy to his films and he allows me to just stretch out and really get true joy out of the entire process.

I worked on a project yesterday that had that same feel, I just loved it.  The people, the cast, the crew… just everyone was so amazing and it’s like you get drunk on the happiness of the atmosphere.  The film is called Bethany and I had an absolute blast.  The film stars Shannen Doherty and Zack Ward (A Christmas Story), who are also producers on the project.  It’s directed by James Cullen Bressack and it’s going to be a blast.


MM: In 2003, you really jumped back into horror head first.  What was your inspiration for the revival?


FR: Honestly, it was just something as simple as somebody asking.  I was approached about one of Harrison’s projects, read the script and saw the cast and was like, ‘oh my God, yes. Sign me up!’ From that moment on, it just snowballed.  It was very sudden that I just fell into a bunch of awesome projects and roles.  It was great.

(Mangled Matters note: since the beginning of 2003, Felissa has been credit with forty-eight roles)


MM: It’s a great time for the Women in Horror movement.  How proud are you that you are one of the originals, a true woman in horror?


FR: It’s so tremendous.  We are really fortunate to be in a genre where we can play anything- the victim, the villain, we can be behind the camera, producing, directing… I have not really worked outside of the horror genre and I really don’t think I want to.  I’m so in love with it and I hope to be able to continue to just enjoy it.  It’s given me so much in the way of love and feeling love from so many people.  I think it’s been a great thing to see women so much more at the forefront.  You look at ladies like Danielle Harris, Linnea Quigley, Tiffany Shepis, Adrienne Barbeau!  We’ve all been given this gift of working so much with so many great people, it’s just a wonderful genre to be involved in.


MM: I also particularly like to see the horror classic ladies ushering in this new age and supporting the younger generation so much.


FR: Danielle Harris is a woman I love and respect so, so much. I love her film Among Friends.  I’m really hoping to work with her through Carolco Pictures alongside Harrison Smith.  We are fortunate to be working with Adrienne (Barbeau) on her film Love Bites, based on her best-selling book.  The Soska twins are another dynamic force I’d love to work with.  They are so awesome and talented, it’s ridiculous.  I love to work with women directors, writers and stars.  The voice of women in horror is so strong right now and that is so important.


MM: At the Women of Horror panel at Days of the Dead: Chicago, you gave a great answer when someone asked what your dream role would be.  You said you would love to work with Tim Burton, alongside Helena Bonham-Carter in a vampire film.  That is the coolest, most in-depth answer I’ve ever heard- you gave us a director, a co-star and a theme!


FR: (laughs) I didn’t even know I was going to be working on Love Bites at that time, so how cool is that?!  It’s just so unique to be in an entertainment industry where you get to work with people who you looked up to growing up or who inspire you.  In Wretched, I’m working with C. Thomas Howell.  I was obsessed with him as a teen, in The Outsiders, and it’s just so awesome.  It’s just another one of those instances where you are in a position to work alongside someone you’ve admired.  Then you look at how I met my husband!  It’s crazy.  He was a fan of the film, and when he was like twelve years old, he goes, ‘I’m going to marry that girl’.  I mean, who does that?! (laughs)

(Mangled Matters note: Felissa married CKY front man Deron Miller in 2004 and the couple has three children)


MM: One thing, I think that really endears you to the audience is the fact that there is not an ounce of selfishness or self-entitlement in you or your work.  It’s people like you, with everything you’re doing, that keeps this genre fresh and strong.  So I would like to sincerely thank you.  I know I’m not the only person who feels that way, either.  I am a huge proponent of the Women in Horror celebration and a huge advocate of indie horror and it means so much to see people like you putting so much time, effort and love into this. Thank you so much for your time and enthusiasm.  What else do you have currently going on?


FR: Thank you so much.  That means so much to me and I thank you for your time and everything so many people are doing to help support the genre!

We start pre-production for Love Bites in the summer and we start shooting this fall.  I’m super excited for that.  We also have No Solicitors coming out soon.  We are currently discussing with distributors and that project is just a ton of fun.

At this very moment, I am busy working on Wretched.  I play two characters and I’m a producer on it, so I’m really, really thrilled and really, really busy. (laughs)

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‘Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor’ Review: Zombie’s still got it

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While it may be completely fair to question if Rob Zombie has overstayed his welcome in the horror film spotlight, his chops in the music industry are as strong as ever.

The latest from Mr. Zombie, a colorful album both on it’s cover and within it’s twelve tracks, is Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor and it was well worth the thirteen bucks I dropped on it.

This album brings the goods from start to finish.  The lyrics are always as much fun in a Zombie song as the jam itself, and this collection is no exception (“A jack boot monkey with a lightning rod”, “The walla are melting in my head”).  Guitarist John Five is as fresh and violent as ever with his shredding, while Bob “Lady Fingers” Marlette adds a nostalgic ’70s rock feel to the album compliments of his keyboard work that lends a little Blue Oyster Cult/Deep Purple soul to his featured tracks.

Zombie’s group kicks ass through a cover of Grand Funk Railroad’s “We’re An American Band”, while “Dead City Radio And The New Gods Of Supertown” and “Lucifer Rising” should instantly join the ranks of RZ elite jams.

Rob Zombie may not be the master of horror cinema, but there isn’t much room for argument when it comes to his place atop the hardcore rock scene.  If a debate does exist, Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor confirms the man’s still got it.

 

Tracks You Need: “Dead City Radio And The New Gods Of Supertown”, “Revelation Revolution”, “We’re An American Band”, “Lucifer Rising”

 

DvhZO

Posted in music review, Rob Zombie, Uncategorized, Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Tom Sullivan: From the Book of the Dead to Cthulhu and beyond!

Tom Sullivan- the master of low budget effects.
Tom Sullivan- the master of low budget effects.

Whenever I reminisce on my childhood torments, one particular movie scene always slithers its way to the forefront of my mind.  Regan’s spinning head ruined my psyche, Freddy’s accordion arms kept me from taking out the garbage at night for months, but all it took was a strategically placed writing utensil to not only make me squirm but also help mold me into the horror fanatic I am today.

 

THE EVIL DEAD, arguably the most influential low budget horror film of all time, hasn’t flown under the radar since it finally found theatrical release three years after being made in the sticks of Tennessee.  A cult classic that has generated millions of fans, tattoos and merchandise, not to mention two kick ass sequels and one hell of a remake, there is one aspect of the film that still remains relatively quiet.  While everyone can point to one of the many shocking moments of the film as a crowning achievement in horror, the man behind the visual terror manages to lay low.  Tom Sullivan never set out to be one of the world’s most awesome special effects maestro in the horror business.  But he sure did a great job of doing it anyways.Recently, I had the Oh-my-God-I-get-to-interview-a-horror-idol-of-mine opportunity to chat with Mr. Sullivan and the following is our conversation.  From deadites to Cthulhu to Bigfoot, Tom Sullivan dishes on all corners of his incredible career.

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MANGLED MATTERS:  As a true icon of practical effects, and with THE EVIL DEAD being about as independent as an independent film can be, what are some indie films you’ve seen in recent years that have impressed you with their effects work?

TOM SULLIVAN:   Well, these days digital is in everything. But I liked JOHN DIES AT THE END a lot.  Imaginitive and inventive. 


MM:  Why do you feel Hollywood has steered away from practical effects and gone so hard into CGI? Is it simply laziness and a lack of creativity?

TS:  From the reaction I get from fans, they are 100%  for practical and not fans of CGI at all.  I’m not hard on CGI at all.  Like any other effects tool, when the artists have the time, talent and money to do it correctly I feel CGI works brilliantly.  Whereas Ray Harryhausen could usually do the effects for his films alone over a year and nowadays it takes a couple of armies of CGI artists from all over the World taking a year to accomplish the same thing, I don’t find that very lazy.  On the one hand, the seperate digital elements allow for more creative decisions, something artists love.

MM:  While shooting THE EVIL DEAD, did you have any idea that it would be the cult classic it has become?  Everyone mentions how Sam’s enthusiasm for the project really kept everyone positive and believing in this film.  What does it mean to you personally when most people point out the special effects of the first film as a major reason why it is a classic?

TS:  We had no idea it would even be released.   I recall a conversation in the kitchen of the home we lived in during the Tennessee shoot where we decided if our film showed in a Drive In in Texas for one weekend, we’d be on the board and could say we made a movie.  The plan was to get to make a second film.  So it worked out.

MM:  What was the most challenging scene to create in THE EVIL DEAD for you from a special effects standpoint?

TS:  The stop motion finale I created with Bart Pierce was  trip. A great collaboration and a lot of work.  We were left alone and we did all we could to make an unforgettable ending. The stop motion shots were not only matted with live action shots, we double exposed each frame to lessen the ‘strobbing’ effect stop motion has.

MM:  With three months of almost non-stop filming, how did you guys manage to stay sane?!

TS:  I’m not too sure we managed to stay sane.  Fortunately the cast and crew were fun and focused.  Sure, there was the usual griping and stuff but no big egos, psychos or assholes.  And Sam kept the set fun and productive.

MM:  As far as you know, is there any truth to the rumor that there was an actual murder committed at that cabin way back when?

TS:  We murdered that hitchhiker out in the woods.  It saved a lot of time on body parts.  But I don’t know about any murder in the cabin.  According to my attorney.

 

Not much time or money for effects, but a whole lot of terror
Not much time or money for effects, but a whole lot of terror

 

MM:  What are your thoughts on the re-imagining of THE EVIL DEAD that has done incredibly well at the box office?

TS:  It is awesome.  I knew it would hit a couple of nerves.  I had a pleasant chat with Fede Alvarez and he explained his vision and I knew it would work.  I like the film and see it expanding the Evil Dead Universe.  Since horror films rarely make number one at the box office, I’m really impressed.

 

MM:  Speaking of woods, I hear you have quite the Bigfoot story. Care to share?

TS:  Yeah, weird story. I was out in the country north of my hometown of Marshall, Michigan and as I slowed to turn into a friends drive on the left I looked at a tree line at the right and about 80 feet away was a black figure standing behind a group of trees.  It was staring at me between the ‘Y’.  I stopped and stared at it.  It had black hair, a human or primate head and old man, thick gray matted hair on it’s chest. It’s still bugging me I didn’t get out or honk my horn.  I just figured it was a bigfoot and drove down the drive.  I think I was in denial.  It’s kind of weird.  I don’t know what to do with this information.  I reported it to BFRO.

 

MM:  Your Lovecraft-inspired artwork is phenomenal. Have you always been a fan of his work, even before you began drawing it as part of your profession?

TS:  My first experience with Lovecraft was because of the coolest movie never made called The Cry of Cthulhu. It was going to be Lovecraft meets Harryhausen.  Ray wasn’t going to be involved but it would have been an epic live action/stop motion film with lots of practical effects.  Suits and  animatronics would have been used extensively.  I did a bunch of paintings and drawings.  Cary Howe and I also sculpted some maquettes and photographed them.

 

MM:  The Tom Sullivan Movie Memorabilia Exhibit, Gift Shop of the Dead  and Art Print Gallery of the Dead  is something I would love to see in person someday.  Where can fans se this exhibit in the near future?

TS:  I will be at Cinema Wasteland this Oct. and then the Flint Horror Con also in Oct.

Fans can now own prints and replicas of my props from the Evil Dead films.  I was an Illustrator for decades and kept my artwork and now produce my own high quality prints.

We are now producing Book of the Dead replicas.  We are putting customers on a list. The Book covers are made of a silicone material called Dragon Skin.  It has the feel of real flesh and is disgusting to hold.  While it is not the stiff cover of the movie’s version of the Book, it is a worthy prototype that is durable and impressive.  We are only making a handful of the prototype Dragon Skin cover Books.  The pages are printed on archival quality paper with archival quality inks.  They should not fade or yellow for 150 years under sunlight, so you can impress your friends for centuries.  It comes with a stained and varnished box, signed by me.  The book is also signed and numbered by myself and my official Bookbinder of the Dead, Patrick Reese, signs the binding but that is hidden in the spine of the Book.

I also have replicas of the Kandarian Dagger for sale, painted by myself.  The daggers are cast from the original dagger from EVIL DEAD 2 by Master Moldmaker Steve DiRuggiero.  There are also Book of the Dead prints sets of 32 pages, all signed.  A set of 13 Lost Pages from EVIL DEAD 2: DEAD BY DAWN, signed by myself, is also available.

There are also a number of prints available from my website’s Gallery.  They come signed and are printed with archival inks on archival quality papers.  For inquiries and to contact me, simply go to my Contact Page of the site.

 

original artwork by Tom Sullivan

original artwork by Tom Sullivan

MM:  As a horror convention regular, what are a few standout moments of fan interaction over the years?

TS:  The one thing I never expected which has surprised me is when a talented artist or special effects technician comes up and tells me my work inspired them to want to create.

I saw the original KING KONG when I was five years old and that did it for me.  I never expected to pass it forward.  It’s the best compliment I could get.

MM: Your company, Dark Age Productions,  has a fantastic site and offers people a great chance to get their hands on some really awesome work.  What led to this endeavor?

TS:  Thanks.  The webpage is largely the hard work of Kanu Vuong who also runs the Deadites site.  We are planning on getting a catalogue up of my prints and other replicas and goodies.

 

MM:  With ARMY OF DARKNESS 2 reportedly in the works, do you hold out hope for a reunion with the original ED team?

TS:  Wouldn’t that be fun.  It is sounding like a huge film.  If called, I will serve.

MM:  You’ve said you’ve been typecast as an FX guy, which is inconvenient since you never truly pursued the craft after THE EVIL DEAD and THE FLY 2.  What film projects are you currently working on?

TS:  My gung ho filmmaker friend, Ryan Meade, is putting the finishing touches on INVALUABLE, his documentary about my career and art and along the way, some of the unsung heroes of the Evil Dead films.

I’ve been writing scripts and developing several for a first, low budget, indie film.  I need to make a movie.

MM:  Any last words?

TS:  Never.

I would like to sincerely thank Tom for all of his time and insight with this interview.  It was truly an honor and definitely a chat I will not soon forget.  Keep an eye open for news and updates on Tom’s work and where he’ll be heading to next over on his site!

 

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