{Watch} Nightmare Nostalgia’s 10 Favorite Halloween Specials

Fruits of the loins from the late ’70s, ’80s or early ’90s, can probably remember that sweet, repetitive October television and all its glory with the magic of Halloween specials that only aired once a year. While yes, television still continues the trend of annual Halloween traditions with certain programs to look forward to such as The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror, The Great Pumpkin, and the beloved repetitive viewings of Hocus Pocus with, of course,  the occasional Primetime sitcom that runs its yearly Halloween episode. However, the issue I have in the modern age of the boob tube is that most of the holiday programming, that many of us looked forward to so fondly has fallen into obscurity in regards to annual airings. There is no rhyme or reason why they have become so obsolete in the world of primetime, and I’m going to be quite frank here- I’m a little pissed off about it. The era of streaming I’m sure has a bit to do with thine predicament. But nevertheless, in so many words- it kinda blows.

During my early writing years, I had compiled a similar list that has since been swallowed by time and ugly Internets. So I’m here to remedy the situation, update the fucker, and daydream of the glory days that revolved around a disco dancing vampire and Gilda Radner as a bumbling animated witch.

And OK… my own as well.

10 Nostalgic Halloween Specials You Can Watch Right Now!

 

10. The Midnight Hour (1985)

Originally premiering as a TV movie on ABC in 1985, The Midnight Hour follows four friends who unwittingly awaken one of their dead ancestors, who just happens to be a witch hellbent on bringing back the dead. With a ’50s cheerleader ghost by their side, it’s up to the group of kids to return things to normal. The Midnight Hour was briefly released on VHS in 1999 and then on DVD in 2000. However, it has long since been out of print and is among a treasured rare film to have in your possession and highly valued among collectors. So start searching your parent’s garage, or hit up your local yard sales. If you find this gem, I suggest you snatch it up! But in the meantime, here’s a pretty clear copy on YouTube.

 

9. Halloween Is Grinch Night (1977)

According to Suessfandom.com, Halloween Is Grinch Night is actually a prequel to the How The Grinch Stole Christmas. And how this has fallen into Halloween special obscurity is about as understandable as pubic hair.  This grinchy tale premiered on ABC in 1977, played for a few years and fell to the wayside. Halloween is Grinch Night takes place one evening when a ‘sour-sweet wind’ blows through Whoville and warns the Whos’ that the Grinch is coming down from Mt.Crumpit to celebrate the much-feared “Grinch Night.” One boy, named Euchariah, is swept away by the wind and comes face to face with the Grinch himself. Now Euchariah must stall the Grinch until the wind dies down, even if he has to face the horrors in the Paraphernalia Wagon. Yeah, you read that right. Paraphernalia Wagon.

Fantastic stuff folks.

8. Mr. Boogedy

Originally broadcast as part of Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color, Mr. Boogedy (and later sequel) was a staple of Disney’s rotated Halloween programming for a number of years up until the mid-’90s. This long-forgotten classic follows a novelty salesman and his family of pranksters that have moved to a town called Lucifer Falls- rad. And 0f course their new humble abode is haunted by a three-hundred-year-old ghost by the name of Mr. Boogedy, known in life as William Hanover before he sold his soul to the devil. With stars such as Richard Masur (Adult Stan inIT), a young Kristy Swanson (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), David Faustino ( Bud from Married With Children) and the legendary John Astin (Gomez Addams), I gotta give Disney a thumbs up for this one. While this one is not available fully for free on the Youtubes, you can absolutely rent this for the reasonable price of $2.99 at Amazon

 

 

 

7. The Worst Witch (1986)

The Worst Witch is a cult fan favorite among many and in my opinion, any film where Tim Curry sings is a delight and a privilege and we should be goddamn grateful this film exists. This Halloween necessity first aired on HBO and the Disney Channel in 1986 for the Halloween season and continued into around the late 90s. The bewitching tale about, duh, a witch academy (move over J.K Rawlings) centers around Mildred Hubble, the school’s “worst witch” her misadventures within, and a scheming plot that threatens the school. Because every great empowerment story needs a touch of drama, right? And with all the Halloween splendor aside, that is exactly why I adore everything about The Worst Witch. The message of self-love and acceptance behind all the dazzling of Tim Curry magnificently banging on tambourines is a lesson that should always be taught to our children.  Based on the 1974 children’s book by Jill Murphy, The Worst Witch stars Diana Rigg, a young Fairuza Balk, the fabulous Charlotte Rae, and Tim Curry as the Grand Wizard. If you got the bones to break out of your wallet, you can get a copy here from Amazon.

 

 

 

6. Witch’s Night Out (1978)

Witch’s Night Out premiered in 1978 on NBC. And AGAIN, aired on the Disney channel in the ’80s through the late ’90s. This personal favorite of mine follows this ridiculous witch ( Gilda Radner) who feels unloved and forgotten. Upon hearing the wishes of two children, Small and Tender, who want nothing more than to scare the jerkoff adults on Halloween, the witch accompanies the pair of Halloweenies and their babysitter (Bazooey) to a Halloween party. Where Miss Witch transorms them into a werewolf, a ghost and Frankenstein’s Monster. Well, the kids get their wish and scare the crap out of the town resulting in a mob them through the night. Also featuring the voice of  Catherine O’ Hara as Malicious, Witch’s Night Out is a fun take me back for kids and adults alike. Also, you gotta love that catchy intro.

 

 

5. Vincent Price: Once Upon A Midnight Scary (1979)

My only question is, why the hell wasn’t there more of these?! I mean the master of horror himself hosting his own Halloween special. It’s a national treasure really. It sort of reminds me of one of those really cheesy but awesome after school specials. But again. VINCENT PRICE. So it makes up for the rest. Originally broadcast on CBS in 1979,  Price introduces three different spooky stories based on children’s books in his own creepy yet flamboyant way that every Vincent fan knows him for: The Ghost Belonged To Me by Richard Peck (1976), The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving (1820), and The House With a Clock In Its Walls by John Bellairs (1973). It was released on VHS, but chances of a DVD release are slim to none. A shame really.

 

 

4. The Halloween That Almost Wasn’t (1979)

Also entitled The Night That Dracula Saved The World, this gem of a tv short aired regularly on The Disney Channel until the late 90s. Notice the trend here?! Time to write a strong-worded letter to that Robert Iger fellow.  This remarkable short centers around Dracula (Judd Hirsh) and his monsters trying to stop the Halloween witch, bitter from not getting top-billing in the monster world, from destroying Halloween forever. This is one of my all-time personal favorites because of all the great monster elements it has to offer. Along with a nice little history of Halloween, it really keeps you entertained with humorous jokes and gags. Also, clearly Adam Sandler took some Hotel Transelyvania notes from the impeccable Hirsh. Although it was released on VHS, it never made it to DVD. I believe I may start a petition for this one. Complete with a monster disco attached.

 

3. Casper’s Halloween Special

I fondly remember this little diddy being one of my favorites’ to watch during the Trick or Treat countdown towards the annual sugar coma. Also, I’m being upfront with you guys here and HAD COMPLETELY FORGOTTEN about this treasured retro gem myself until I sat and thought about what I was going to put into this list.  As a lover of Wendy the Witch- I’m a little ashamed about this, (even though she has nothing to do with this Halloween special whatsoever but hey, she is connected to the Casper fellow). However, it just goes to show how these nostalgic bits of childhood can fall into obscurity. Especially with the stresses of having to adult- and stuff.

Anyways, enough rambling.

“Casper’s Halloween Special” first debuted on All Hallow’s Eve 1979 during NBC’s Halloween hour and serves as a classic Casper tale of the friendly ghost doing what he does best- you know, being friendly and shit. Casper’s fellow dead dudes, Hairy Scary, Screech Ghost, and Winifred Witch are obviously excited about spooktacular Halloween shenanigans they have planned that involve scaring the ever-loving crap out of trick or treaters and invite Casper to partake. But, of course, he declines and decides to take the opportunity to join the living in trick or treat fun. You know, denial and stuff is strong Casper. Regardless, after hitting a few bumps in the road to candy, Casper falls upon a group of orphans who see him for who he REALLY is, and invites him to hang for the night. However, the other ghosts see all this and are hell-bent on ruining the night for them.

 

 

2. Raggedy Ann and Andy in “The Pumpkin Who Couldn’t Smile”

 

Released in the same year as the above Casper special, the stitched iconic duo got their very own CBS Halloween 30-minute block on Halloween night with “The Pumpkin Who Couldn’t Smile”. Later, the Chuck Jones written special aired on Disney (of course) in Halloween syndication alongside many of these treasure troves listed here. We begin with an intro of a deserted pumpkin stand at Halloween dusk where one lone pumpkin is need of some serious Prozac. All of his buddies have been picked by the children while the Eeyore of Jack-O-Lanterns’ remains alone and in danger of becoming pig compost the following day. Across town, the Raggadies along with their pup are severely annoyed by the next-door Halloween Scrooge Aunt Agatha; who is giving her poor nephew a hard time about the glorious holiday. So, of course, they do their due diligence in wanting to cheer the kid up with the idea of surprising him a Halloween pumpkin. Well, you might guess where this going and, SPOILER ALERT, the pumpkin smiles.

 

1. Garfield’s Halloween Adventure

And here we are. In my opinion, the Holy Grail of Halloween specials; from 1985- “Garfield’s Halloween Adventure”! From the catchy tunes that relentlessly get stuck in my head contained within this national treasure, to the aesthetic ambiance of a true ’80s Halloween experience makes it a classic that will NEVER go out of style. Fully equipped with trick or treating in an endless pursuit of candy, ghost pirates, and a creepy 110-year-old man, this 30-minute piece of Halloween Heaven sets the tone for what is to become the scariest night ever for the lasagna lover and his pal, Odie. I remember being a child watching this over and over on a recorded from TV VHS tape, that the scenes with the ghost pirates were actually a bit frightening. But that also illuminates why I watched “Garfield’s Halloween Adventure many times as a kid and returned to it on a regular basis as an adult.

 

 

Well, there you have it. Nightmare Nostalgia’s most memorable and personal favorite Halloween specials! Now gather your spawns around the computer and give them a taste of why ’70s and ’80s Halloween TV was simply spooktacular. And while you’re at it, comment below with your personal favorite! I’d love to hear from you!!

Happy Halloween!

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*And no- I didn’t forget Disney’s Halloween Treat. (Insert maniacal laughter here)

 

Freakling Bros To Retire Nosferatu This Year With “Death Of The Vampyre”

Oh, Vegas. As soon as the first leaf falls from (depending on where you live), the neighborhood tree, it marks the end of boob and butt-crack sweat and begins a few glorious months of favorable weather conditions. If you, like me, live in what we refer to Satan’s Armpit, you know exactly what I mean and how we feel about this. And as we continue a stroke of relief of 90 degree days in October, the long-standing Las Vegas-based haunt Freakling Bros. has been hard at work during those awful Summer days to prepare for the most wonderful time of the year and the October opening of the infamous, Trilogy of Terror.

 

The legacy that is Freakling started over 40 years ago with the Mollner family and their passionate love affair with Samhain. With what began as a simple, yet startling decorated haunted house to amuse trick-or-treaters on Halloween night, ballooned into three separate haunts immersive experience that returns year after year to the Vegas Valley with welcoming arms to both locals and tourists alike. Being a native to the Vegas Valley, I’ve had the privilege to visit Freakling’s haunts annually since my adolescence and it’s been a marvel to watch them grow into what they have become today.

Over the years, the haunts have interchanged to make way for fresh ideas- including the now infamous R-Rated, GATES OF HELL that pushes your anxiety to the brink of terror. And worth noting, your precious nerve endings that will receive the occasional mild electrical shock delivered by some of the sadistically enthusiastic actors. However,  Nosferatu who resides inside the fan-favorite PG Castle Vampyre that has stood on the haunt grounds of the Trilogy for years, is due to take his last flight this Halloween 2019.

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I am a little sad to see the haunt lay to rest, however, I’m also intrigued and excited to see what twisted brainchild of the Mollners’ comes to fruition in the 2020 haunt season. So if you’re in the Vegas area, or plan on visiting the city this October, make sure to pay your respects to “DEATH OF THE VAMPYRE” and bid farewell to Nosferatu, Vampyra, Drucilla, Shadow, and all the other vamp inhabitants of Castle Vampyre!

For tickets and calendar dates, visit the official FREAKLING website and follow them on TWITTER.

 

 

 

Adam Green Saved My Life

I’ve been suicidal since December. For as long as I can remember, the disconnect and loneliness of depression has crept in and out of my life, but this stretch has been different, its grip has been unrelenting for the past seven months. The story never changes, on its face I have nothing to be depressed about, no reason to no longer want to be here—I have great friends, am very active, go to the gym every day, make decent money—but it doesn’t change the fact that thoughts of ending it all are a part of my daily life. When you feel as though you’re trapped in a hopeless prison and derive no lasting happiness or fulfillment in the things you once enjoyed, the idea of it being over is enticing. Some days are better than others, but make no mistake, that monster lurks in the shadows each and every day, and the ideations have intensified to the point where thoughts of actually following through have invaded my mind. But when that happens, you have to find an outlet.

One of the worst days occurred a few weeks ago. I struggled through work, mentally isolating myself from everyone and everything important to me, and when it came time to clear out, the decision had already been made to skip the gym or eat healthy food and pick up a pizza and some Mountain Dew, even some Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and head home to lay down and binge watch a little program I’d just discovered called Scary Sleepover.

I wondered if there were enough episodes to get through the night or if I would have to lean on go-tos like Ash vs Evil Dead or Hannibal, but I was thrilled to learn that there were two seasons to draw from, and knew I had something to distract my mind until I could go to bed.

Scary SleepoverFrom the HATCHET franchise to DIGGING UP THE MARROW to the Movie Crypt podcast, I have long been a fan of Adam Green’s work. Like me, he’s a horror freak and makes me laugh, and what’s more, it just feels like he’s one of us—a horror fan who followed his dream and made good—so we just can’t help but love a guy like that. To say nothing of the (as Tony Todd put it) “eye candy” at the ArieScope studio (circling back to Hannibal), because if there was one place I’d want to live aside from Dr. Lecter’s office, it would be Green’s studio because Mr. Todd was right, the surroundings and humor and camaraderie are a little slice of heaven.

From the moment Kane Hodder walked through the door with a goofy “Hiii!” in the first episode, I was transported to a place where my mind was calm and that feeling of hopelessness dissipated. Though momentary, for those who live with overwhelming thoughts as I do, that temporary reprieve is all we can ever ask for. Adam Green gave it to me that night.

As the episodes wore on (Season 1 in particular), however, I couldn’t help but start to draw parallels to my own life. Not making horror films or commiserating with celebrities obviously, but in the friendships that Green shared with so many.

When Kane fell asleep in the initial episode, Green tossed some unsavory comments his way to see if he’d truly nodded off, and when he directed a sped up “FREDDY VS. JASON” at the horror icon, doing the Dew nearly became a spit take. It was the kind of thing my buddy Tyler would do to fuck with me if he thought I’d drifted on him.

Danielle Harris revealed that E.T. terrified her to this day, and when she opened her eyes and saw Spielberg’s alien facing her from the next cushion over she leapt up screaming and exclaimed “Dick!” Thoughts of my friend Elle and her hilarious reactions to being scared danced through my head.

Later Sid Haig grumpily came through the door and declared “Ya know what? My pajamas are gonna be better than yours” and maintained half-smirked eye contact that kinda sorta felt like “Did I stutter, bitch?” It was exactly that playful shit-talk that my friend Erik unleashes whether we’re together or just texting. And when he blurted “Pizza and pajamas. What’s betterrr?” I knew my initial take was spot on, because Erik too can dance between intimidating and idiotic at the drop of a hat.

HaigThen it was the ridiculously cute ramblings of Laura Ortiz and her constant stream of “Hey Adams” that led to questions like “Why are stars?” Though the gag was that she wouldn’t stop talking and let Green go to sleep, you couldn’t help but smile each time it happened, which of course was the point. Ortiz and my friend Jay have effortless adorability in common.

When Zach Galligan dropped by and Green asked him if he could just talk about what “Phoebe (Cates) smells like that would be awesome,” the size of my smile nearly shattered my face because Ms. Cates being the top of the mountain has been a running inside joke between my friend Chad and I for years. And yes, “Moving in Stereo” is stuck in my head as I type this.

Brea Grant plainly stating “I grew up as a girl” before cracking up at the realization of what she’d said couldn’t help but remind me of Alyssa, who says goofy shit like that all the time. Sometimes it’s deliberate, other times not, but she always laughs it off, and it’s never anything short of endearing.

And when Bill Moseley talked about his children having sleepovers and Green wondered if he’d ever scared any of them off, Otis just replied that while he didn’t think so “I’ve never seen the same kid twice, let’s put it that way.” Me and one of my oldest friends, Dan can be having a serious conversation that quickly has us cackling, and that matter of fact exchange and the laughter it created felt very familiar to me.

The sleepovers conjured memories of an all-night, horror marathon drinking game some friends and I shared a few months back. It was just a stack of movies and laughs and beer until the sun came up, and it was as much fun as I’ve had in a long time.

OrtizIt all culminated in the first episode of Season 2, though, when Tony Todd shared the story of his brother Donald, who had passed a few weeks prior to that shoot.

Todd’s powerful voice softened and tears escaped his eyes as he shared memories of his sibling, who had been institutionalized when Todd was just four years old. The larger than life actor described the image that adorned the funeral form.

“On the cover was this horribly misshapen, man-monster with these spindly legs, accordion arms, big forehead, huge jaw—and I thought to myself ‘Oh my God, some of these monsters that I get offered to play, that’s him, that’s it.’” Todd spoke of legacy and that he was working for his unseen muse, and that his brother no longer had to struggle to walk or deal with pain, that he’d been freed of that burden, and it was more than Adam Green could take.

The host broke down and asked the crew to stop rolling. When the episode came to a close, it faded to black with a single message, “For Donald.”

When you feel like your life isn’t worth living, that you are that misshapen figure, and that you are inconsequential, empathy from others makes you emotional, and that exchange, Green’s reaction, and the lasting image of the episode’s dedication had me pressing pause and purging emotions that had been building up for far too long.

Creatures are as much as part of the horror genre as slashers and buckets of blood, and I am nothing if not a creature of habit. Comfort food doesn’t have to be pizza and Mountain Dew, it can be a series of web shorts or a film or an album that takes you to a better place. For the past few weeks, whenever I need respite, I pull up Scary Sleepover and it helps me get through the day, to get to sleep, to carry on.

But it has less to do with Green or the guests as much as what it reminds me of: the friendships that I share with people who make me smile, who help me through the tough times, who truly care about me.

And what Green said about Ortiz applies to one and all, “my life would suck without [them] in it,” because they are a reason for me to stay, and it was a reminder that I needed very badly.

I’ve made it through the past few weeks and I’m here today, and Adam Green’s Scary Sleepover has been a big reason why. I’ve never met him, he wouldn’t know me if he saw me, but the reality is that he’s saved my life more than once, and I can never thank him enough.

Hodder

New Ride and Cafe Details Emerge From Upcoming Mega Attraction Jurassic World: The Ride at Universal Hollywood

A few days ago, I took my faithful every-10-years-or-so trip to Universal Studios, Hollywood to bask in the glory of my inner passion for cinema and film culture. I was 12 the first go-around and I’ll never forget the true Kodak moments (seriously, there are photos of it somewhere lost in my hoarder piles of ticket stubs) of meeting Dracula, the long-gone Beetlejuice show, and seeing JAWS along with the once upon time animatronic of King Kong on the Studio Tour for the first time.

Good times fellas. Good times inhaling that banana breath.

New Ride and Cafe Details Emerge From Upcoming Mega Attraction Jurassic World: The Ride at Universal Hollywood

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The second time around was in 2008 on my honeymoon with my husband. It was during Christmas Time and the park was decked out in Whoville and Grinchmas attire. It was also the first time I had feasted my eye peelers on the Jurassic Park ride! Of course, it was too cold and late in the day so we couldn’t get on it and this third time around- which was just a week ago- again I’m foiled into experiencing any dino drama. As the Jurassic Park turned World ride has yet to open to the public with still only an opening date of, “this summer.” Progress seems to be booming and nearly done, but my son here in the slideshow shows how I feel too about not being able to experience this wondrous attraction. A bit of a pout session is validated as again- I don’t get to go often.

New Ride and Cafe Details Emerge From Upcoming Mega Attraction Jurassic World: The Ride at Universal HollywoodNew Ride and Cafe Details Emerge From Upcoming Mega Attraction Jurassic World: The Ride at Universal Hollywood

Please note I’m VERY EXCITED about playing with Raptors in the future.

 

Anyway enough of my ramblings and onto why you’re here. Upon my visit, Universal Studios Entertainment sent me a bit of an update today on the highly anticipated ride on a couple of cool attraction features, the awesome new retail store, along with the new cafe and Isla-Nu-Bar that is going to add to the ambiance in nature of a true JP/JW fan experience.

Per Universal Studios:

Universal City, CA, June 17, 2019 – Costa Rican-inspired cuisine and flavorful Tiki cocktails served at Jurassic Café and all-new tropical Isla Nu-bar add to the dynamic guest experience as part of Universal Studios Hollywood’s new mega attraction opening this summer, “Jurassic World—The Ride,” based on the JURASSIC WORLD blockbuster films.

            Along with an array of souvenir collectible, limited edition and one-of-a-kind dimensional dinosaur sculptures from the Jurassic Outfitters store, guests can savor a piece of this exciting thrill ride even after they’ve gone home.

Borrowing its name from the fictitious Central American island in the JURASSIC WORLD movies, the stand-alone, open-air Isla Nu-bar, complete with a thatched roof, serves up tropical-themed Tiki cocktails in three collectible cups:  Etched Tiki, Bamboo-styled Tiki and Tiki God.

Whether blended or made-to-order with fresh juices, every aromatic blended drink is adorned with a pineapple leaf and edible orchid flower.  Flavorable beverages include Tropical Margarita, Piña Colada and Painkiller, along with island cocktails such as Tiki Tai, Bird of Paradise, Ti Peach, Rum Runner and Mai Tai.

New Ride and Cafe Details Emerge From Upcoming Mega Attraction Jurassic World: The Ride at Universal Hollywood

With Universal Studios Hollywood’s Executive Chef Marie Grimm at the helm, the new Jurassic Café caters to a selection of Costa Rican-themed cuisine, inspired by the location of the JURASSIC WORLD movies.  Mouth-watering menu items include Sweet Corn Cakes with Slow Roasted Mojo Pork or Spicy Mojo Jackfruit, Citrus Glazed Chicken, Fresh Roasted Red Snapper and Isla Burger. Tempting starters include savory Chorizo and Potato Empanadas, Crispy Lettuce Leaf Roll with Shrimp, Tropical Fruit Salad and Pomegranate Guacamole with plantain chips.  All entrees will be accompanied by fresh green papaya salad and Costa Rica’s national dish, Gallo Pinto – traditional rice and beans.

New Ride and Cafe Details Emerge From Upcoming Mega Attraction Jurassic World: The Ride at Universal Hollywood

The Jurassic Outfitters store will feature a variety of collectible merchandise to commemorate the ride’s opening, including a selection of exclusive items. From limited edition t-shirts and hats to drinkware, pins, amber stones, and jewelry, Jurassic Outfitters will offer keepsake merchandise for every member of the family.

The shop will also carry a variety of custom-made, high-end collectible dinosaur sculptures and maquettes. These incredibly crafted statement pieces replicate the Tyrannosaurus rex, Velociraptor, Dilophosaurus, Styracosaurus, Pachycephalosaurus and Triceratops and range in price up to $1,000.

In addition to experiencing the exhilaration of the new thrill ride, guests will have the opportunity to become immortalized in one of the ride’s momentous scenes as they plunge down its treacherous 84-foot waterfall with the introduction of slo-mo video capture offered exclusively at “Jurassic World—The Ride.”  The iconic moment will be available for purchase and received digitally for riders to share via their social media platforms so they assure their friends that they indeed survived the vicious dinosaurs. Keepsake digital images will also be available for purchase.

“Jurassic World—The Ride” features an original storyline that will take guests on a breathtaking excursion through the theme park as depicted in Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment’s film, JURASSIC WORLD.  It will soar to new heights with the addition of iconic dinosaurs from the movie, including the colossal Indominus rex and the magnificent aquatic Mosasaurus in her natural habitat.  The ride also features the stars of the JURASSIC WORLD films – Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard and BD Wong who reprise their roles as Owen Grady, Claire Dearing and Dr. Henry Wu.

The mega-attraction captures the essence of the blockbuster movies and comes to life in collaboration with the award-winning and inspired minds at Universal Creative, the Academy Award®-winning special-effects visionaries at Industrial Light & Magic, a division of Lucasfilm, Ltd., Universal Pictures and acclaimed filmmakers Steven Spielberg, Colin Trevorrow and Frank Marshall.

When “Jurassic World—The Ride” opens this summer, guests will be welcomed to a dramatically reimagined space reflective of the hit films.  A fresh entry statement, stonework landscaping, and a contemporary redesign of the iconic JURASSIC WORLD gates, illuminated with billowing flames, will create the framework for the all-new aesthetics.

 

And now I have to break my 10-year tradition because I literally can’t wait that long to see this. I just want to give Blue a hug and drink a Tiki cocktail.

With so much to see and do at Universal Studios Hollywood, the new California Neighbor Pass invites guests to experience 175 days of fun for $149 when purchased online. Visit www.UniversalStudiosHollywood.com for more details. Blackout dates and restrictions apply.

More information is available at www.UniversalStudiosHollywood.com. Like Universal Studios Hollywood on Facebook and follow @UniStudios on Instagram and Twitter.

 

*All images used belong to Universal Studios Hollywood and Nightmare Nostalgia unless otherwise noted. 

Why John Shepherd is the Best Tommy Jarvis

“Let’s think beyond the legend, put it in real terms.”

Only twice since Ginny Field (Amy Steel) applied her child psychology training in FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 (1981) has the Crystal Lake saga embraced those words: with Derek Mears in the 2009 reboot, and through John Shepherd’s performance as Tommy Jarvis in A NEW BEGINNING (1985).

Tackling a role that had already been fulfilled by other actors—particularly well-known actors—can prove a difficult endeavor, and Tommy Jarvis was no different. For John Shepherd in the fifth installment of the Friday franchise, that fact is and was compounded by a series of issues, not the least of which was timing.

To begin, Corey Feldman was not only the original, but easily the biggest name to have ever portrayed the character. Though THE FINAL CHAPTER opened in April of 1984, less than two months later Feldman would appear in the massively successful GREMLINS, which was closely followed by THE GOONIES, another blockbuster the following year. STAND BY ME hit theatres the year after that, by which time Feldman had become a household name and as a result, towers as the epitome of Tommy Jarvis in the eyes of many fans.

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What’s more, a large portion of those fans regard THE FINAL CHAPTER as the finest of Friday films, whereas A NEW BEGINNING is widely viewed as nothing more than the bridge between Part IV and JASON LIVES, another beloved franchise installment that saw Thom Mathews pick up the Tommy torch, and who already enjoyed cult status for his part in RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (1985).

While one would be hard-pressed to claim that continuity has been a series strong suit, that Mathews’ Jarvis no longer appeared to carry any of the burdens of the trauma he’d endured as a child (or even shortly before the events of Part VI) is a point rarely contended. The fact that JASON LIVES moved at breakneck speed while also embracing the absurdity and humor inherent in the franchise not only endeared it to Friday followers, but made the latter point an easy one to forgive or forget—to say nothing of the fact that Jason wasn’t really even Jason in A NEW BEGINNING. In short, when it comes to the Jarvis trilogy, Shepherd suffered the misfortune of being bookended by a pair of actors seared into the minds of Friday fans as the Alpha and Omega because they happened to helm two of the franchise’s most popular entries.

Key factors all, and components that have relegated Shepherd’s Jarvis to Crystal Lake purgatory. However, it would be a mistake to overlook what Tommy 2.0 brought to the table.

One aspect of Shepherd’s performance that made it so spectacular was that it fittingly followed in the footsteps of Jason from the standpoint that every tortured nuance was offered with nary a word. Writers Martin Kitrosser, David Cohen and Danny Steinmann fashioned A NEW BEGINNING’s screenplay in such a way that the elements of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder were not only on full display, but peppered throughout as though boxes to be checked off. It was in what Shepherd did with those opportunities, however, that left it feeling like anything but a laundry list put to film.

Jarvis mirrorWhat’s more, how many performances have the Crystal Lake saga really given us? For as beloved as Betsy Palmer is, her Pamela Voorhees was over the top—for effect to be sure—but over the top, nonetheless. So we’re talking Amy Steel from Part 2 (1981) , Lar Park-Lincoln from THE NEW BLOOD (1988), and Shepherd’s Jarvis from A NEW BEGINNING. So why not celebrate it?

Our first glimpse at Shepherd as Tommy found him waking in an Unger Institute of Mental Health transport van, sweaty and wide-eyed after waking from a nightmare where Jason rose once more. Unable to shake the ghastly events that led to the death of his mother and near murder of his sister at the hands of the Crystal Lake marauder, it was a re-introduction that could have easily fallen into camp, but Shepherd played it with purpose, an effect he wouldn’t relinquish for the duration of the film’s 92-minute runtime.

We bore witness to a character drowning in the symptoms of PTSD. Shepherd’s Jarvis avoided contact and interaction with others whenever possible, and suffered unwanted and intrusive memories of Jason of both the auditory and visual variety. Recurring nightmares made sleep nearly impossible and he was easily startled by nearly everything that crossed his path. Those instances of alarm led to angry outbursts of aggressive behavior because subconscious though they were, whatever figure plagued Jarvis in the moment wasn’t Voorhees, so it served as an outlet for frustration, a punching bag that could be beaten.

True to character, though, Shepherd never ventured too far and instead stayed the course, his fright morphed to resentment and finally to anger, played in such a way that outward reaction was an involuntary response. When Tommy body-slammed Eddie (John Robert Dixon) at breakfast, he was almost immediately pinned to the wall by the head of Pinehurst, Matt (Richard Young), where Shepherd brilliantly conveyed the briefest moment of recognition. As Jarvis snapped back to reality, he glanced at Matt and closed his eyes in remorse, his chest heaving as he collected himself. Later, after he went Chuck Norris on Junior (Ron Sloan) at the trailer park, Tommy was again roused back to the present by Pam (Melanie Kinnaman) and fled at the sad, desperate realization that in those moments, he was unable to control himself.

Jarvis breakfastAnd finally, when Jarvis once more found himself standing face-to-face with “Jason,” Shepherd’s Jarvis was frozen, unable to move until threatened with his own demise. Stabbing his nemesis in the leg, he made his way to the barn loft where he lost consciousness. When he came to and laid eyes on Pam and Reggie (Shavar Ross) in imminent peril, Jarvis, as though having an out of body experience, leapt to action to protect a young woman and child in danger. Thoughts of Shepherd tearfully gazing at the photograph of his mother and sister earlier in the film flood through the audience’s collective mind as they watched Tommy, in a way, save the family he had lost, sending “Jason” / Roy (Dick Wieand) plummeting to his death.

Shepherd’s Jarvis was lost and tormented, and even when his actions were heroic, they emerged reluctantly and never escaped the fractured framework of a younger self who had seen things that could not be unseen.

With the simple decision to follow the path laid by Ginny three films prior, John Shepherd’s turn as Tommy provided FRIDAY THE 13TH more than its finest achievement of the Jarvis trilogy, but the single greatest performance the franchise has ever known.

For a series short on performance, that Shepherd thought beyond the legend and put it in real terms deserves respect, and 34 years on, it’s about time he gets it.

Jarvis window

What Keeps Us Coming Back for More Joe Bob

How often do we hear Joe Bob toss a word out then immediately repeat that word and look to the crew to ask, “What does (insert word here) mean?” It’s all part of his storytelling, because he wants to be sure the audience is on the same page before he escorts them further down whatever magical rabbit hole he’s concocted for that segment.

The word I want to use is “sustainable.”

What does “sustainable” mean, anyway? It’s about upholding a rate or level, right? So, how does that word pertain to The Last Drive-In? It’s not about Shudder renewing for a second season or further marathons, because I think we can all agree they’d be fools to walk away from the gold rush of subscriptions they’ve sold because of the presence of Joe Bob Briggs. They have a very small crew that isn’t handsomely rewarded for its efforts, and they’ve already paid for the rights to broadcast whatever films Joe Bob chooses every week, so, I ask again—how does “sustainable” enter the equation?

Think about the anticipation and excitement that surrounded the long-awaited return of the Drive-In Jedi for the initial Last Drive-In marathon this past July and the holiday specials that followed. Mutants who had waited nearly two decades for so much as a morsel of drive-in totals were frothing at the mouth and it made sense because it had been so damn long. It’s no different than the fanfare that accompanied the teaser trailers and subsequent release of Blumhouse’s HALLOWEEN (2018) last October and the enthusiasm the horror community is now experiencing for IT: CHAPTER TWO. It’s easy to harbor that type of glee in the short term, even though short can mean a month or two months, and sometimes even a year. But inevitably the film drops, folks attend in droves and it’s all anyone can talk about for a week or two, sometimes more, but without fail it fades and we move on to the next thing. Time is funny that way, it always wins because that type of enthusiasm cannot be sustained for long periods of, well, time.

BeerTherein lies the answer to how the word “sustainable” pertains to The Last Drive-In. The first marathon came and went, but it didn’t peak, there was no Joe Bob fatigue. It carried into the “Dinners of Death” Thanksgiving event but didn’t plateau there either because the anticipation for “A Very Joe Bob Christmas” was even higher than the marathon that preceded it, and dare I say the original, as well.

Which brings us to The Last Drive-In’s Friday night double features that began on March 29. After 21 films and well over 40 hours, the fans still hadn’t gotten enough Joe Bob, and what’s more, their hunger had only grown more ravenous. The Last Drive-In, Mr. Briggs and Darcy the Mail Girl are the television equivalent of an industrial-sized tub of The Stuff. We’ve grown helplessly addicted, desperate for our next fix, like a collective dog that just can’t wait to get at Danny Aiello’s throat.

What other horror program can compare? Very few if any are old enough to remember the original run of The Twilight Zone, so it’s possible that show generated the same visceral response from its audience, but with the lack of social media to connect every single viewer to the festivities, that’s doubtful. Hannibal is universally adored, but only lasted three seasons and clearly wasn’t must-see because the ratings dictated its end (damn you, DVR), and The X-Files enjoyed a spectacular run for a few seasons before it too lost momentum. For a show to completely dominate the public consciousness year after year is rare, and Game of Thrones embodied that for nearly a decade until we’ve all recently seen (depending on your perspective) the unfortunate end to that story.

But not The Last Drive-In. Now, before anyone goes off about the fact that The Twilight Zone and Hannibal and The X-Files aired for years when Shudder’s extravaganza hasn’t even existed for 365 days, I’d ask that one not forget part of it is the mystery of what films will be presented, what guest might pop up, or what Felissa Rose has to say about the male anatomy–but more importantly, that word–“sustainable.”

Stuff

The buzz for Joe Bob and The Last Drive-In has not only failed to level off, it’s intensified, and the reason for that is that this crop of Briggs disciples has been blessed with social media. While that may seem obvious, take a moment to truly think about what that means. The number of people who would watch regardless may not be affected by Twitter or Facebook, but how many tune in because of social media? Because they can keep up with Darcy (@kinkyhorror) on Twitter or interact with fellow fans who are engaged in real time discussions? The days of viewing MonsterVision on TNT in what often times equated to solitary confinement are long dead. Whether one is having a party or quietly watching alone at home, we are all-in together. The pictures, the videos, the GIFs, the art, the clever observations are all captured minute-by-minute, film-by-film, night-by-night, and can be kept on phones and computers and pads to relive and share from Saturday to the following Friday when it all begins again.

It’s an event. Every week.

As Briggs said in the press release that announced the renewal of The Last Drive-In for a second season, “it’s about something larger than horror. Don’t ask me what that thing is, but it’s a source of great joy to me.” So, you see, the fans may come for Joe Bob, but they stay for each other. It’s that shared experience—the commentary, the new friendships, the laughs, the memories we know will last a lifetime—which make The Last Drive-In “sustainable.”

Perhaps things will change if Shudder renews beyond Season 2, but I doubt that very seriously. Sure, we’ve seen it before, but have we seen it with an insatiable army of Mutant minions armed with interweb devices counting the seconds to 9 o’clock every Friday night? I think not.

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Shudder Greenlights Another Season of “The Last Drive-In”

Though it seemed a foregone conclusion, ardent followers of Joe Bob Briggs, otherwise and affectionately known as the Mutant Family anxiously sat on the edge of its collective seat with just one week remaining of the Friday night double features that began on March 29.

Today, Shudder put those fears to rest with the announcement that The Last Drive-In had been renewed for a second season.

“From our first marathon and subsequent specials in 2018, through this year’s series, Shudder members have been loud and clear: we can never have too much Joe Bob,” said Shudder General Manager Craig Engler. “We have read every tweet, every email, and every Facebook comment crying out for more. Message received. Joe Bob will be back.”

The Drive-In Jedi himself weighed in on the outpouring of support and love received from that #MutantFam.

“It hasn’t even been a full year since the 24-hour Last Drive-In marathon, but since then I’ve made thousands of new friends and reconnected with thousands of old ones,” said Briggs. “The main reason I’m coming back to do another season is that this community of horror fans is greater than the sum of its parts, and it’s about something larger than horror. Don’t ask me what that thing is, but it’s a source of great joy to me.”

The initial Last Drive-In marathon streamed on Friday, July 13 of last year, and was followed by a pair of holiday events–“Dinners of Death” on Thanksgiving, and “A Very Joe Bob Christmas”–and the weekly program began a little more than three months later.

From cult films like C.H.U.D., WOLF COP and THE STUFF to classics like THE CHANGELING and HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER and eclectic titles like A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT, The Last Drive-In double features have dominated social media, with the likes of Larry Cohen and CASTLE FREAK trending on Twitter.

A date for The Last Drive-In’s second season is yet to be determined, but will continue its double feature live stream format when the series returns.

More information to follow as it becomes available.

A Year after ‘Ash vs Evil Dead,’ That Scene Still Resonates

“That’s the key,” Bruce Campbell noted on the DVD commentary of the Ash vs Evil Dead series finale, “give the actors something appropriate to do.” In the end, the lasting image of the EVIL DEAD franchise was not a one-liner or practical effect or or even gallons of blood, but the connection shared between a handful of performers and the audience which followed them on a journey that came to an end one year ago today.

Ash vs Evil Dead offered a surplus of splatstick, but over 15 hours of series life, it also provided a peek behind the curtain at who Ashley J. Williams (Campbell) truly was. Perhaps its greatest achievement, though, was getting a die hard fan base to fall in love with characters it had never known before 2015.

THE EVIL DEAD premiered in Detroit, Michigan on October 15, 1981, with origins that stretched back even further, but didn’t introduce Pablo Simon Bolivar (Ray Santiago) and Kelly Maxwell (Dana DeLorenzo) for 34 years, and it would be another two before Brandy Williams (Arielle Carver-O’Neill) entered the fray. By the time “Mettle of Man,” came to a close, however, they were just as beloved as El Jefe, a testament to the writing team that brought the show to life.

James Eagan was responsible for 11 episodes, while Nate Crocker, Zoe Green and William Bromell all had a hand in penning 10 chapters. DeLorenzo was and continues to be a champion of the team effort responsible for making Ash vs Evil Dead what it was, and never was that more evident than the series finale. Campbell, Santiago, DeLorenzo and Carver-O’Neill assembled in the back of a military truck, armed only with Rick Jacobson’s words (Jacobson wrote and directed the final two episodes), and provided EVIL DEAD fans with the farewell we needed, but didn’t deserve.

On that same commentary track, Campbell said “This is very potentially the last time you will ever see these characters, and story-wise, we’ve been through too much to give them short shrift, as they say.” A concept Jacobson understood as well as the most ardent of AVED fans.

With a six-story, Kandarian demon looming in the distance, the Ghostbeaters all remained true to character.

Amid chaos and gunfire, Pablo rushed to rescue a frightened little girl cowering on the street, Kelly picked up a weapon and defended the soldiers facing off with oncoming Deadites, and Brandy held tight to the ride or die stance that put her firmly at Ash’s side.

Ash vs Evil Dead Season 3 2017And as the Godzilla-like monster roared and the blades of a helicopter whirled overhead, the Prophesied One glanced at the faces of his family and “finally, for once, own(ed) up to who the hell [he] was.”

Brandy questioned what he was doing and Kelly barked “Ash, come on. Get in the fucking truck!” but Ash knew that nearly four decades on, the time had come. And Campbell, along with his partners in crime hit every note Jacobson had poured onto the page.

“My father always said I ran from my fights, Brandy. I’m not runnin’ from this one.”

As NYPD Blue methodically unveiled the soul of Andy Sipowicz (Dennis Franz) over 12 seasons, so too did AVED reveal that Ash was not only the hero we always believed him to be, but that he was no longer a caricature, rather a human being willing to lay down for those he cared about.

As Jacobson commented, “[Ash] knows that most likely, [his decision] was going to be a one way trip.” For the first time, it was not one-liner that left tears in our eyes, but the heartfelt emotion Campbell exuded saying goodbye.

Like a father stingy with a compliment, Ash picked the perfect time to show the Ghostbeaters how he truly felt about them.

“Kelly, people are going to need a strong leader. Someone they can depend on, someone they can believe in. That’s you.” Maxwell, the focused leader to Ash’s reluctant, fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants Chosen One, finally knew that she didn’t have to be like Ash, that who she was was exactly what the world needed.

PabloTurning to El Brujo Especial, “Pablo, you’re the Jefe now.” A quick cut to Ash’s right-hand man found his orbs moist with sentiment, but he said nary a word, just pursed his lips with a pained smile and nod of understanding. Nothing needed to be said. Perfectly written and perfectly acted. I’m not ashamed to admit that for all the times I had to pause Ash vs Evil Dead because I was howling with laughter, that reaction shot was the only time I paused it because I was overwhelmed. It was a good minute or two before the tears had stopped.

“You save them.” Once more, it was no longer about Ash or even those he held most dear, but the citizens of Elk Grove and the world at large, because the savior of humanity was finally ready to fulfill his destiny.

But not before parting ways with the daughter he’d only begun to know, but loved deeply.

“You said you wouldn’t leave me.”

Holding back tears, Ash responded “I’m doin’ this for you. I’m doing it for all of you.” Brandy placed her hand on the window, and Ash answered in kind, his head bowed, and a gentle, loving double tap of his fingers on the glass. As the truck pulled away, we saw Ash standing alone as the camera widened the distance between them.

“Now Rick, you know I’ve butchered dialogue before, I’ve butchered mercilessly,” Campbell said. “I didn’t change anything in that dialogue because I really liked it.”

It’s been a year since we said farewell to Ash vs Evil Dead, but much like Ashley J. Williams, those final fleeting moments when Rick Jacobson’s words were shared between the Ghostbeaters will stand the test of time.

DeLorenzo silhouette

 

 

 

“Got Some Mail For Ya”: An Interview with ‘The Last Drive-In’s’ Darcy the Mail Girl

Sometimes in life the stars align and magic happens. That was the case for Diana Prince, known to the Drive-In Mutant Family as Darcy the Mail Girl.

She was part of a contingent who regularly encouraged Joe Bob Briggs to make his triumphant return to television, and when Shudder decided to make it happen, Briggs remembered Prince, offering what can only be described as the gig of a lifetime for a horror fanatic.

From the first marathon last July through a pair of holiday specials and now weekly double-features, Drive-In fans everywhere have gotten to know the new Mail Girl, who has quickly found a special place in our collective heart thanks largely to the fact that no one is a bigger Joe Bob fan that Darcy, herself. Whether the show is streaming live or not, Prince tirelessly tweets to promote The Last Drive-In and the man none of us can get enough of.

“The love that he gets makes me so happy. He still doesn’t get it, he’s just super humble. But he literally never understood how much he meant to us growing up,” Prince said, continuing, “You have no idea, man. You raised us.”

On Friday afternoon, Nightmare Nostalgia spent a few moments on the phone with Darcy to discuss her escape from Twitter jail, what the future holds for the show, a flick and guest combination she’d like to see happen that will blow your minds, and what being a part of the Joe Bob renaissance means to her.

Darcy 3NIGHTMARE NOSTALGIA: How does it feel to be out of Twitter jail? 

DARCY THE MAIL GIRL: [Laughs] It was actually really frustrating. I sent all these texts to anyone who would listen “They won’t let me tweet!” because I couldn’t tweet to anybody and all The Last Drive-In people panicked and were like “What are we gonna do?!” So Joe Bob was trying to figure out his password to let me tweet from his account, and he was like “I don’t know it. I don’t know how to do that [laughs].” It was actually really sweet how quickly they got it fixed, because so many people atted them and it got a real person’s attention and it made them look to see that I wasn’t a bot. So it was sweet and I hope that it doesn’t ever happen again [laughs].

NN: While we’re on the topic of Twitter, if you had to guess (and maybe you know), give us an estimate on the number of messages you receive from the mutants each day? And how much does that number balloon on air dates?

DMG: [Chuckles] Lord, I would have no idea how to guess that. I know the week before last Twitter sent me a message saying you’re getting a ridiculous amount of of messages, we need to compartmentalize or something, but I was like eh, just let ’em keep coming in [laughs]. It’s cool, I’m so happy everyone gets involved, but Lord I have no idea. Hundreds, hundreds, hundreds [chuckles].

NN: Sounds like you didn’t believe Joe Bob when he first offered you the gig, so that has got to be a good story. How did you land the role of Mail Girl?

DMG: I was one of several of his die hard fans who just really wanted him to come back and we kept encouraging him even though he insisted he was done, there was no place for him anymore. We were like that’s just bullshit, you have no idea how bad we need you. And two of them, who are now the producer (Matt Manjourides) and director (Austin Jennings) said “If we can get somebody to do this will you just give it a shot?” and [Joe Bob] was like “Well, whatever.”

They took it to Shudder and Shudder was like “All right, we’ll do it” and Joe Bob said “Well, you believed in me forever, do you want to be my Mail Girl?” and I was like “Whaaa? [Laughs]” He said to me “You’d be doing me a huge favor if you would,” and I said “(Shocked sound) Okay, I’ll give it a shot” [laughs].” So, I guess that’s kind of how it worked out, just friends banding together and [Joe Bob] just being an amazing person saying “We’re all in this together. Let’s go.”

NN: For someone who’s a huge horror fan—and gets nervous on camera anyway—were you losin’ your s*** before the cameras rolled for the first time?

DMG: The first time was fucking ridiculous! I was a wreck. I actually didn’t leave on the plane the first time, I was like I’m going to mess up his show, and I know it’s going to be a pain in the ass to replace me last minute, but there’s no reason I should be doing this. I thought I was doing them a favor like “Sorry, I can’t make it.” They said “Get your fucking ass out here now [laughs].”

So I got another flight, went out and when it was time to actually go on camera I just couldn’t. They had Felissa Rose and I was like “You be the Mail Girl. You’d be amazing.” And she was just being so supportive and pushed my ass in front of the camera, but I was worried I’d have severe stage fright and not be able to speak, it was just a mess [laughs]. But once again Joe Bob was just very kind and understanding, like “You’ll get it. It’s going to be fine, don’t worry.”

And literally, I remember crying to him during the marathon “If this messes up it’s ’cause of me, because everyone’s going to love you and you’re doing everything great. The only thing people can hate is me, so I’m really sorry if you don’t get picked up because of me,” and he was like “That’s just nonsense.” His confidence made me feel a little bit better, but it was hard. It has gotten much easier, but the last few times it was really scary. You go out there and he’s just so Joe Bob-y, the set and everybody watching, and he nails everything like it’s nothing, and then I come out there like “Wha? Whaaa? [laughs] What am I supposed to say? Where’s the camera? I don’t know, can I go back to the Twitter now? [laughs]”

It’s been a challenge and interesting, but it helps me grow as a person and that’s one of the things that he’s great about, just encouraging people to believe in themselves and be more than you think you can.

NN: Your take on THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974) led to the Joe Bob reaction of all-time. It’s been since Thanksgiving, but that moment still has life doesn’t it?

DMG: Yeah, people have definitely not let me forget about that [Laughs]. I think some people were using that as why I shouldn’t be Mail Girl, like “She doesn’t even respect the first CHAIN SAW! You’re terrible! [laughs]” But I like different opinions and I know Joe Bob loves it, and that’s great, but I like the remake better. And a few people have signed up saying they feel the same so, all right [laughs].

Darcy 5

NN: Let’s talk cosplay. First, what’s been your favorite so far? And perhaps more importantly, when are you going to get the Drive-In Jedi into an outfit that isn’t jolly St. Nick?

DMG: [Laughs] I am trying so hard, trust me. He’s just a very stubborn little man. I’m grateful for the Santa Claus, if he hadn’t done that, it wasn’t even Christmas, come on! [laughs] But every time I say “How ’bout you wear this?” and he says “How ’bout I don’t? [chuckles] My favorite so far, I don’t know, I never feel complete because I have to travel and I don’t have all my stuff. I would love to do it in L.A. sometime where I could do really good effects makeup and stuff, so I kind of feel like it’s half cosplay [laughs].

I really liked the pilgrim version of the condom salesman because I don’t know that people would have paid as much attention to Ted Raimi’s part if I hadn’t [chuckles], so it’s kind of cool to remind them that he’s there, and that’s a thing that happened. Although I forgot my machete with that. See, that’s the problem. I forget half my pieces before I go out on camera all the time [laughs].

NN: There have been so many, but for you, what’s been the moment of The Last Drive-In so far?

DMG: A bunch of [Joe Bob’s] speeches, I think this is the most ultimate thing that could ever happen and then something else happens [chuckles] and it’s like no, this. He’s had some really great speeches, but the one that sticks out the most, just because I didn’t know what was going to happen after, was when he was saying goodbye at the very end of [the original] The Last Drive-In where he was like “Thanks for having me back.” We worked so hard just to have this one moment of his just saying goodbye to people if nothing else happened, and then he was and it was like “Oh, no! [sad chuckle] Don’t say goodbye like that,” he walks away and left his hat and literally we were all crying. It was like, no [chuckles], we have to figure something else out for you, sir. That was probably the moment for me, and I’m so glad it wasn’t the end, but in the moment [chuckles].

NN: You’ve got to have a behind the scenes story.

DMG: There’s definitely a lot of behind the scenes craziness [laughs]. The first thing that pops into my head is Felissa Rose, the first day I met her she was so encouraging and she just has so much personality, she was trying to coach me up to be comfortable in front of the camera. We were having a blast, until I had to go on camera [laughs], but behind the scenes it was all jokes. “Oh, we’re going to be twins and blah, blah, blah,” and I was like “Oh, this is fun [chuckles].” So that was cute.

And then last week, everyone trying to blow up the blow-up doll really quick was very funny, have some good behind the scenes footage of that where we were like “We’ve gotta get the doll blown up! Hurry! [laughs]” And a lot of my costumes, it was like a group effort trying to put on my PHANTASM balls [chuckles], “I can’t get them to stay, man!’ We were trying glue and to staple them [chuckles]. Yeah, I cause drama, I think [chuckles].

NN: Yeah, the blow-up doll was fantastic. I didn’t see that coming and then you walked out with it and I was like “Oh, boy. Here we go!”

DMG: We film on a set where, I can’t remember his name, but some CNN guy or whatever, but it’s his place and sometimes they’re doing stuff at the same time and everybody from his camp was trying to come and be like [whispers] “That’s the room with the blow-up doll” and trying to see what was going on [laughs]. Like “Don’t mind us, this is work [laughs].”

NN: What movie are you really pushing for to be featured?

DMG: Oh, Lord. I have a whole frickin’ list of like please, please, please, but number one easy, is HALLOWEEN III (1982). It’s just sitting right there and it would be amazing, and I definitely want to debate [Joe Bob] because he’s so wrong in his hatred for it [laughs]. Plus, what if we had Tom Atkins on? That would be just fucking iconic. So I would love to share that, so easy, but he’s stubborn so we’ll see [chuckles].

But FRIDAY IV (1984) needs to happen. He did the whole marathon but [Briggs] had to leave that one out and he’s never done it before, and that’s one of my favorite movies ever. So, we have to figure out a way to do FRIDAY THE 13TH PART IV.

NN: That’d be a hell of a double feature, a couple of huge franchise films like that, but I agree HALLOWEEN III is fantastic. And I hadn’t even thought about the idea of maybe Tom Atkins being a guest, that would be unbelievable. 

DMG: Right?! It would be amazing, and we can so do it. Ugh, get your shit together, Joe Bob [laughs].

Darcy 1

NN: Give us a HOGZILLA (2014) update.

DMG: [Laughs] HOGZILLA was never actually released. SYFY was talking to them about buying it, but they didn’t show enough of the hog so they bowed out and then they just said “Oh well, fuck it [chuckles].” There’s two people I know that have copies. One is the cinematographer or something but it’s on QuickTime or some weird thing, but our biggest lead so far is the director (Diane Jacques), who has it, and she’s just very difficult to keep in communication with.

She’s like “Oh yeah, we’ll figure it out,” so I think she wants to maybe release it if she can show it on The Last Drive-In if I can get everyone to agree to that. And if I can’t, I have to convince her to just “Let me have it, man! [chuckles]” We just have to show it somehow, but it’s kind of all in her hands, she’s like the sole HOGZILLA owner at this point. We’ll get it, though. I’ll get somethin’, man, even if I have to QuickTime it together [chuckles].”

NN: What can you tell us about VENGEANCE (2019), the FRIDAY THE 13TH fan film you’ve been working on?

DMG: It’s just a really amazing project from a bunch of really die hard FRIDAY THE 13TH fans that they’ve been trying to put together for a long time. I first shot a little bit for the trailer like a year ago, then they did a Kickstarter, and now it’s finally filming and coming together.

It’s different because they’re bringing in people who sincerely love it, all the kills are homages to other famous kills from the series, like the sleeping bag kill and mine is [short pause] an iconic one. I guess I shouldn’t say [laughs], but you’ll recognize it for sure. And it’s an actual sequel to PART VI (1986), the people involved loved that so much that they’re just continuing that story. (JASON LIVES director) Tom McLoughlin is a consultant I guess you could say, and then we have C.J. Graham and we have Steve Dash’s last appearance, Amy Steel’s coming in and it’s just like wow, what an amazing little thing to be a part of.

And everybody is giving up their fees to donate to a leukemia charity because one of our actresses (Chalet Brannan) was battling with that but she’s good now, so all the money that we don’t have to spend on production is going to that cause. We’ve got $15,000 raised so far, so it’s just a really neat little thing. They built this whole Camp Blood, very detailed set and it’s amazing to just be up there and shoot and walk around in Jason’s territory [laughs].

NN: Any new twists or expanded role in the works for you as we get more and more of The Last Drive-In?

DMG: [Laughs] [Joe Bob] is definitely trying, like with SOCIETY (1989), “Hey, you have knowledge in this. We’re gonna need you to come talk about it.” Like, “Okay [laughs].” He’s changing more and more as he gets to know me more. The first marathon was kind of like a written out character who was just being annoyed by Joe Bob and shit, and I was just like this is not at all what’s happening with me here.

So [Briggs] is like “Just be you,” so now I don’t have anything written, it’s just like “Darcy talks [chuckles]” and he brings me out. So that’s interesting and cool and he wants to do that more and more, and we’ll see how that goes [laughs]. ‘Cause I’m always like “I’m good, you’re nailing it. You can talk to yourself. [laughs].”

But some of the movies, I definitely love being able to represent. Like we have one for the finale, it’s one that I want to say, it’s one I’ve been pushing for forever and I can’t believe we get to do it, so I think he wants me to be out there because I just love it so much to talk about it, so yay! [chuckles] I’m excited for that one.

NN: And you can’t tell us what it is.

DMG: I can’t! But God I want to so baaad! But that last week, I will just shout it “You guys have to watch this! [chuckles]”

NN: First, we had the hilarious Mail Girl v. Male Girl showdown from the original marathon, and now Felissa Rose is the show’s go-to mangled dick expert. How much more can we expect to see or hear from the SLEEPAWAY CAMP (1983) star?

DMG: As many dicks as we can bring out, we’ll bring her [chuckles]. Any way we can bring in Felissa it’s always gonna be a party [chuckles]. And I’m always pushing [Joe Bob] to pick movies that have dicks anyway for equality, so it’s like we need dicks, and we need to talk about dicks [chuckles].

NN: We’re about to embark on Week 3 of a nine-week run of double features, but many are wondering, are there any marathons lined up for later this year?

DMG: We are hoping to. I know that we all love the marathons, it’s not Shudder’s favorite [chuckles], but we love doing them. They’re actually renegotiating everything now and figuring that out so none of us know for sure what’s going to happen after [the nine-week double feature run], but I’m hoping and Joe Bob’s hoping that we can do holiday marathons. We have Friday the 13th coming up, I want to do a proper Christmas [laughs], and I hope we get to. It’s just the vibe of a marathon is so frantic, hectic, and it’s such a party atmosphere. The weekly shows, people know that they can watch it later in the week or whatever. It’s cool, it’s still fun, but the marathons are such a different little monster [chuckles].

NN: You don’t have a lot of down time, but have you had that moment where it hit you and you realize what you’re involved with?

DMG: The second I walked on set the first time, I did. I was like “Holy fucking hell, this is Joe Bob and he’s back and I’m part of this somehow. That’s fuckin’ weird! [chuckles]” I’m so happy for [Briggs] to be back, and any way I can support him and the people who put this on, I’m so happy to be able to.

Darcy 4

The Antithesis of Pennywise: An Interview with ‘Terrifier’s’ David Howard Thornton

It takes something truly special for a new character to take the horror world by storm, but Art the Clown is special personified. From stark makeup that demands your attention to the dichotomy of silly and sinister, writer / director Damien Leone’s creation has quickly become the latest obsession of the clown subgenre.

Though TERRIFIER (2016) wasn’t the first time we’d set eyes on Art, it was an experience that won’t soon be forgotten. David Howard Thornton has cemented himself as one of the most indelible villains in recent memory, and with TERRIFIER 2 looming, the eagerness of its star to get back into character is palpable.

“It kills me that I can’t tell people about some of the kill scenes that we have because they’re going to be so much fun to film.”

Nightmare Nostalgia caught up with the 40-year old actor for a telephone interview to discuss what makes Art so unique, filming that scene, the sequel’s challenge and hope to up the ante (keep the word Empire in mind), that Art (like the Joker) needs his Batman, and just where Thornton believes his prankster ranks among the pantheon of horror clowns.

David Howard Thornton

NIGHTMARE NOSTALGIA: Following the TERRIFIER short (2011) and ALL HALLOW’S EVE (2013), Damien Leone needed a replacement for Mike Giannelli, so tell us how you came to land the role of Art the Clown.

DAVID HOWARD THORNTON: I randomly came across a casting notice online, a website called Actor’s Access looking for a tall, skinny guy who had clowning or physical comedy experience for the “role of a lifetime.” (Laughs) I noticed it was Art the Clown and I had seen ALL HALLOW’S EVE a year or so before, so I was familiar with the character and already liked the character. I was like “Oh my God, I can totally play that role.” (Laughs) So I told my agents to contact them and get me an audition, I’m like “I can knock this one out of the park, guys. Please send me in.” And that’s what happened, so I went in there, knocked it out of the park, had probably one of the weirdest auditions I’ve ever had because they didn’t give me a script because Art doesn’t talk and I didn’t realize that I was not going to have a script. So I get in there and I was expecting to be there for me, and I’m like “There’s no script. Uhhh.” All these other people had scripts and I’m like “Oh nooo. (Laughs) I came unprepared. Oh shit.” (Laughs) I go in the room “I’m so sorry, but I don’t have a script” and they said “Oh, you don’t need one,” and I’m like “Oh?”

“Yeah, Art doesn’t talk. You don’t need a script,” I’m like “Sooo, what do you want me to do?” (Laughs) They said “Just come up with a scene where you stalk a guy and decapitate him.” I’m like “Okay, cool. I can do that. Can I have a few minutes to think it out?” and they said “No, just go ahead and do it off the top of your head, we want to see what you come up with.” So I just came up with this scene where I snuck up behind the guy very cartoonishly, knocked him out, then cut off his head, tasted the blood from the head, didn’t like the taste of the blood so I salted it. You gotta add seasoning, ya know? Enter Julia Child. Then I liked it and skipped out on my way and that’s what got me the part. I think they could see that I was just playing around and doing all this crazy stuff just right off the top of my head and they’re like “We want him.” So they asked me right there in the room “Can you come in for a makeup test?” and the rest is history.

NN: Art has really taken on a life of his own since TERRIFIER dropped. Have you been at all taken aback at the we’re-not-in-Kansas-anymore reaction to your character?

DHT: It’s starting to slowly sink in. (Director) Damien (Leone) and I talk about that all the time because we’re at these conventions together, because if I do a photo op he comes and does my makeup and he’ll sign autographs, too. We get to experience a lot of this together and it’s pretty surreal still for us. I was down in Orlando and had a girl come up and she had a tattoo of me on her leg and she wanted me to sign the bottom of the tattoo so she could get my signature tattooed on her leg, too. I was like “Wowww!” (Laughs) It’s pretty surreal walking around and seeing the different vendors that have unofficial merchandise that they’ve made themselves that they’re selling. It’s bizarre for a little independent film that was only the first real big film in the franchise and it’s already exploded like that, we did not expect this at all.

It’s really weird because we don’t just get adults, but we get little kids who’ve seen the film and they love the film and we’re like “What?!” (Laughs) It dawned on me, I turned to Damien at one of these conventions after one of these kids left and I said “Damien? Dude, I think I’m going to be this generation’s Freddy Krueger.” And he’s like “Oh wow, you’re right.” When we were kids, that’s when Freddy and Jason and Mike Myers were big, and these kids don’t have that right now, and I’m like “Oh wow, maybe that’s what we’re going to be.” That was a weird thing, so basically how Freddy and Jason and all those guys were the new Wolf Man and Mummy and Frankenstein’s Monster, that’s kind of what Art might be, a new generation of horror starting, I hope.

NN: As opposed to Tim Curry and Bill Skarsgard with Pennywise and Sid Haig’s Captain Spaulding, your makeup conceals your face to the extent that it doesn’t look like you at all. Outside of conventions, can you walk around and go relatively unrecognized?

DHT: For the most part, but people are now starting to know what I actually look like, but I don’t mind, it’s kind of cool having a little bit of anonymity, but it’s often cool being recognized, too. I went to a preview of PET SEMATARY last week in New York and I’m out at the concession line and some people actually recognized me from TERRIFIER in the line and I was like “Holy crap!”

NN: Though Art the Clown is very expressive in a mime-like way, the character is completely bereft of dialogue as you talked about. As someone who’s done extensive voice work, how challenging was it to attack that role, and how much of Art’s personality came from you as opposed to the page?

DHT: It definitely was challenging, especially being a voice over guy because all the characters I’d ever played before, even on stage, I would use a totally different voice, I just never wanted to use the same voice twice if I could help it. That helps me become the character is the voice, I guess that’s my process is first discovering the voice and then everything builds itself off of that. With Art I was like “Oh, Jesus. (Laughs) This is more complex.” So I basically tapped into my extensive knowledge of great physical comedians and actors from cinema going all the way back to the silent film age of (Buster) Keaton, (Charlie) Chaplin, all the way through (Jim) Carrey and Doug Jones and my good friend Stefan Karl who was Robbie Rotten in LAZYTOWN.

I was his understudy for five years on the national tour of (Dr. Seuss’) How the Grinch Stole Christmas The Musical, and he kind of took me under his wing and helped me fine tune physical comedy abilities because he was a trained clown and all that kind of stuff, so he really helped mentor me. So, I put that into Art and for what was mine and what was on the page, I would say about 50 /50 because Damien, of course there was no dialogue written, so most of it was just descriptions of what was going on in the scene. So, there would be times when Damien knew exactly what he wanted me to do down to what angle I would cock my head at or what expression I had on my face, and other times he would just say “Go ahead and play.” Like the diner scene, he said “Just play around and see what you come up with.” It was really nice having that collaborative relationship with the director where we had a lot of give-and-take with each other, it was fun.

So writing the script for the sequel, now he knows what my style is like so we kind of collaborated together and came up with some fun ideas. There are a lot of moments in this new script where he’s like “Okay, I’ve given you some ideas, but this is a scene were I just want you to go crazy again and play, and play, and play, and see what you come up with.” And I’m just like “Awesome!”

Art DawnNN: Talk to us about that scene. Catherine Corcoran and the saw. For shock value, that may be the most intense kill of the flick. What were your initial thoughts when you read that scene, and then while filming it?

DHT: When I first read the scene I was like “Holy crap. (Laughs) I’m going to do this?! To wha? Wowww! Okayyy. Wow, what am I getting myself into here? This is dark.” I was expecting also your typical horror film where they kind of cut away from the violence, but nooo they don’t. (Laughs) Not at all, you see all of it happen. So, I was like “Geez, that’s brutal.”

When it came to the night of filming, that was probably the most serious night we had on set because that was such a dangerous stunt we were pulling, because that was very dangerous for Catherine hanging upside down like that, that’s not good for the body. We would only let her hang upside down for 30 seconds at a time, we had this apparatus that was built to swing her back up so she wouldn’t have to lay upside down for that long. Still she even got sick after all that, she had some inner ear problems for a little while.

Plus, it was 20 degrees in that room that night, too. It was cold. I was cold, so she was definitely cold covered in all that fake blood and hung upside down like that in a very uncomfortable position. Sometimes the blood would go in her eyes or in her nose and it was hard to breathe because her mouth was duct taped shut, but she never complained except like “Ow, it’s in my eye,” typical stuff that of course you’re going to complain about.

But she was totally gung-ho for the scene. She knew what scene was going to become, she knew. She was like “This is going to be the scene that everybody talks about.” I think she was excited to do it because of that, she said “This is going to be one of those scenes in movies that people are going to talk about for years to come.” She was just happy to be part of it.

NN: You touched on the set, and every picture has behind the scenes tales worth telling, so give us a hilarious or even poignant moment from your time filming TERRIFIER.

DHT: Oh yeah. The one I love to tell was this one night when we were filming the scene with Jenna (Kanell) and I with the gun, and she was on set filming one of her reaction shots or something like that, so I’m waiting in the waiting / makeup room. And it was in this very dangerous part of Trenton, New Jersey where we were filming, it’s late at night and I hear these two women have an argument on the street below me. I’m bored so I was like I might as well go watch what’s going on over here, and I forgot I had all my makeup on, I had blood all over me, so I’m just watching this argument happening about 10 feet below me (laughs), and one of the women looks up and sees me looking down at her from the window and I just did a little wave, totally forgetting how I look and was like “Hi!” (Laughs) They freak out and go running off screaming and about 10-15 minutes later our producer Phil (Falcone) and Damien and our Director of Photography (George Steuber) come in like “Dave, Dave, Dave, Dave. We’ve got some people out here who want to meet you, just don’t come out till we tell you to.” I was like “Okay, cool. I wonder who’s here to meet me? Cool, I’ve got fans!”

There was this roll-up garage door where we were filming and I’m on the other side of the door and I hear “Dave, come out!” So I roll up the door, go under and I look up and there were like 10-15 of New Jersey’s finest in full riot gear. I mean they’ve got the shields, the grenade launchers, all that kind of stuff and I’m like “Ohhh.” I just felt my ass tighten up (laughs) and my voice just squeaked out (high pitched) “‘Sup guys?” (Laughs) And there’s this pause and then they all just start laughing their heads off. I was like “Oh, my Goddd” And one of them said “Dude, be glad you didn’t come out here first because we would have shot you on sight.” And I was like “I. Believe. You. (Laughs) Oh, my God, I think you just took five years off of my life.” (Laughs) Because we didn’t have running water in the building so we had a porta potty out there, so if I had been out there taking a leak when they first arrived I would have been dead. (Laughs)

They were in really good humor about it, taking pictures with me and stuff, except there was this one cop who was deathly afraid of me, which I found funny because he has an assault rifle slung over his shoulder. I was like “Dude, you’ve got the gun!” And he said “You’re probably the nicest guy, but no, no I can’t get near you, man.” (Laughs) And I was like “I will let you do you.” Of course all of his buddies are just raggin’ on him “Oh, you can shake hands.” And I don’t know if they were joking or not, but they said “Hey, if you need any bodies we’ve got one down at the precinct right now you can use.” And we were like “Ohhh, no we’re fine. We’re fine.” We were like “Was he joking?” and I said “I don’t know!” (Laughs)

NN: So you’re sitting in a chair prepping for full Art makeup at Mad Monster Party in Charlotte, North Carolina this past February while Sid Haig was getting the Spaulding treatment just feet away. How surreal was that experience?

DHT: That was extremely surreal. Damien and I are just geeking out the entire time like “Yee yee yee!” (Laughs) And one random part of it was when Sergeant Slaughter just walks through the room to get to the back hallway to get to his table, and it was just like “And there goes Sergeant Slaughter.” Didn’t bat an eye. So you have two clowns getting made up and he just looks at us and nods his head and keeps walking (laughs). We were like “This is so bizarre what’s going on over here right now.” And then Bruce Campbell’s about to do his photo op in the next room and we actually had to vacate my photo op because we had something smoking in the light fixture for a second, so I was able to poke my head into his photo op and photo bomb him for a second, so that was kind of fun. I’m like “This is weird. This is my life right now. I’m photo bombing Bruce Campbell.” (Laughs) I didn’t just jump in front of the camera or anything like that, but I was just poking my head into the room, messing around with people. I didn’t want my first experience with Bruce Campbell to be me just being a total asshole and jumping into a photo and him being “What the hell are you doin’, man?” (Laughs)

Art smileNN: Every character and performance are different, but in terms of sheer terror, where would you rank Art the Clown among horror’s beloved jesters?

DHT: (Long exhale followed by a laugh) I think he’s probably at the very top if not right under Pennywise. And I’m talking about the Tim Curry version.

NN: Not as big a fan of the Skarsgard version?

DHT: No, I liked Skarsgard’s, too (laughs). Tim’s is the one everybody thinks of, the one everybody thinks of first, I think. That was my introduction to the character. And Art was kind of born off of Pennywise, the antithesis of Pennywise. Damien created him to be the total opposite of him–he’s bald, he’s silent, he’s black and white, not colorful at all.

NN: We know your hands are tied, but what can you tell us about TERRIFIER 2. And perhaps the better question, how can you up the ante?

DHT: That’s the real challenge there, upping the ante, especially with the hacksaw scene. We realized that and we’re like “We’ve got to write the sequel now. Oh God, how are we going to top that scene? (Laughs) Oh crap, did we set the bar too high?” We have some ideas that we hope will be on-par with that one, we don’t know if they’ll surpass it but I think some of these kills will be right up there with it.

As for the sequel, I like to say that TERRIFIER, the first one’s kind of the audience’s introduction to Art the Clown as well as the universe he inhabits, so everything happens in real time in that movie. No one knows what’s going on, they just know there’s this clown killing people. Now this one we get to explore more of what’s really going on with him. We’re not giving everything away, but you’re seeing a little more machinations behind the clown in this one, I would say, and we’re building the world around him more. We wanted to bring in a really good protagonist, so now we’re introducing this character into this one that we want to build more on top of.

I remember talking to Damien and saying “Art needs his Batman, the Joker needs his Batman. Someone who can actually go up against him.” So, we’ll see how that plays out, but it’s definitely going to be a bigger movie in scale, too.

NN: You probably can’t answer this but I’m going to ask it anyway, you talk about a protagonist–do you have someone who’s accepted that part or do you have someone that you’re looking at for that role?

DHT: Ohhh, we don’t have anybody that’s accepted it yet, but we have someone we’re thinking about at least for the role. We met this person at a recent convention and we were like “Oh, this person might work.” We’ll see how things are negotiated and stuff like that, but if we can get this person that might help us get more money (laughs). We’ll see. That’s what we’re doing right now, we’re looking for backers and stuff like that. I don’t know if we’re going to get big studio support or anything like that, we hope so, but at the same time there’s that fear that if a big studio took us on they would make us pull back on things that we want to do, and we don’t want to do that, I don’t think that would be fair to the audience to pull back from what we did in the first one. We want to keep going forward, we want to keep pushing boundaries, we don’t want to play it safe.

I think that’s the big problem with a lot of horror films right now, trying to play it safe instead of taking risks. They’re more worried about being PG-13 than rated R because they want to put more butts in seats. Especially with slashers, it’s kind of weakened the genre in that regard. I remember seeing HELLFEST (2018) recently and it had such promise because it’s a slasher film set in an amusement park that’s all horror oriented and that sets it up for some awesome kills, and they just kind of poo-pooed them, they didn’t really show anything. They showed a head being smashed in but that was about it, everything else just showed the stab and then cut away, it’s like “Ahhh!” Especially when you say that the villain disembowels people, then show it don’t tell. If you say that, I want to see Drew Barrymore hanging from a tree with her intestines hanging out, not just someone getting stabbed and you see a little blood go around the wound and you cut away immediately, like “Grrr!”

CochranNN: Sounds like a third is also in the works?

DHT: It’s in the very, very, very, very beginning stage (laughs), because we haven’t even started filming the second one yet. Damien this whole entire time has had in his mind at least a trilogy, especially the second one setting stuff up for what’s going to happen in third, so it’s a continuous thing. I guess he’s taking the George Lucas approach, he wanted to see if his NEW HOPE worked first and he’s like “Okay, we got NEW HOPE, so let’s do EMPIRE and JEDI now.” (Laughs) Hopefully TERRIFIER 2 is going to be the EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (laughs) of horror. Who knows, that’s a high bar to set for ourselves. Oh God!

NN: It is, but we’re hopeful that’ll be the case.

DHT: That’d be a miracle. (Laughs) This script has got me so excited, the things that we’re going to be doing. It’s great because we’re adding more story to it this time, because that was one of the things that people had problems with, that there was very little story, it was basically just one big, huge cat-and-mouse game. Yeah, we did that on purpose, that’s how a lot of the original slashers were. Even look at the FRIDAY THE 13TH movies, they had very little story, it was just Jason killing a bunch of counselors. (Laughs)

Like I said, we do want to flesh out the universe more and build more character development type of scenarios and stuff like that for this next one. It’s gonna be fun. It’s gonna be fun, I can’t wait. (Laughs) It kills me that I can’t tell people about some of the kill scenes that we have because they’re going to be so much fun to film. (Laughs) That’s what I love about this character, he’s just fun. All his mischievousness that’s behind him, he loves what he does. He’s not like Jason where he just kills someone and he’s on to the next kill, Art revels in what he’s doing, he plays around with it all, he’s not just stab, okay moving on to the next, stab move on to the next one. That’s what I love about the character so much, he has fun.

NN: Whether it’s at a convention, a random encounter, fan mail or otherwise, what is the strangest request you’ve received from an Art the Clown fan?

DHT: Hmmm, I’m trying to think. I haven’t really gotten anything too strange yet. Yet. (Laughs) That’s the operative word, yet. (Laughs) It’s pretty much been pretty normal, “Hey, can you sign this” or “Hey, can you give a shout out” or do a birthday video, which I’m happy to do from time-to-time. I know even Mark Hamill can’t do all that stuff now (laughs), but I haven’t really gotten anything that’s too, too crazy yet. I’ve had some fans who have gotten a little obsessive but that goes with the territory. I’d say the craziest thing that’s happened so far was signing that girl’s leg and having my signature tattooed on it. That was a cool kind of crazy, like “Wow, someone really wants this on their body for the rest of their life, so okay wow, cool.” I’m sure given time there are going to be a lot crazier things. (Laughs)

NN: Finally, when Farsighted stated that “Art makes Pennywise look like Krusty” they spoke for horror fans everywhere. What does it mean to you that your character has become so exalted in such a short period of time? 

DHT: Oh, it means the world to me, I mean we didn’t expect that at all. We thought we had something cool, but like I said we were just this small, little, independent, low budget film that not many people knew about. I mean, we didn’t really get any real press coverage from mainstream media–we still haven’t–it’s basically from all the horror websites that have been saying stuff about us. Stuff like IGN, Vanity Fair, Hollywood Reporter, none of them have said bupkis about us.

Buzzfeed has helped spread the word, which is great, and I think that’s what amazes me so much, the following that has come around this film that wasn’t even released in theatres is just astronomical. I think Netflix really helped us a whole lot, but it’s because the fans just keep on talking about this film, and they tell their friends about this film and it just kind of snowballs from there. It’s been absolutely fantastic, we didn’t imagine any of this was going to happen, we just thought we had a fun little film that we liked. We did this because we enjoy slashers and we want to make the type of slasher we wanted to see. We were like, “You know what, yeah, we think we have something cool but we’re being realistic.”

One of our producers came in one night, it was his first time seeing me in makeup, and he just stopped “That’s really cool. That’s something that’s going to stand out to people. You guys don’t realize it but you’ve got something special on your hands here. This is going to go somewhere.”

NN: You talked about the playfulness with the character, reveling in the kills and all he does, and that’s true, but it was those moments when you would stare. The scowl and the look in your eyes, that counterbalance to the goofiness, but it’s absolutely terrifying with the makeup and the look on your face when you stare someone down. It really has an effect. 

DHT: That’s something I like about the character too, he shows his emotions. When he gets mad he gets mad and you can see it, when he’s disappointed with something you can see it. I love that the makeup gives me that ability to express as much as I want to. It’s not just somebody behind a mask and all you see is their eyes and no other expression on their face. I love having that ability to actually act. (Laughs)

You think about Robert Englund, he was able to actually act as Freddy, which I think is why Freddy stood out to so many people because you could kind of relate to the character in a way because you saw those emotions that he was going through. I think that’s why people relate to Art, like “Oh wow, there’s a human side to him.” He’s not just 100 percent kill, kill, kill / angry, angry, angry the whole entire time.

Thornton

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