All posts by Landon Evanson

QUINTESSENTIAL QUINTUPLETS: CARPENTER CHARACTERS

Welcome to 2023, Nostalgia Nuggets! It’s my New Year’s resolution to write more, so the curtain shall rise on a fresh top five from a new horror(ish) category every Sunday beginning right now. So, if you’d be so kind, come with me for a minute.

I am fully prepared for the crucifixions to come, beginning with this inaugural list you’ll be dissecting momentarily. But before we begin, just know two things:

First, I love alliteration (and JAWS) so for a serial that deals in fives the title and image just made sense. Second, though this piece pertains to characters from John Carpenter movies, I’d be remiss if I neglect to mention Debra Hill because without Debra Hill, there would be no John Carpenter.

Now, if you don’t mind, let’s dig in because “I’d rather not spend the rest of this winter TIED TO THIS FUCKING COUCH!”

5 — NAPOLEON WILSON (DARWIN JOSTON) — ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 (1976)

Napoleon Wilson’s reputation preceded him. It was never specified what put him on death row, but it was clear that the mere mention of his name struck fear into the hearts of criminals and cops alike. Mysterious yet honorable with a dry sense of humor that pulled you in whether you liked it or not, Darwin Joston ATE as Napoleon Wilson. The man may have been a killer, but he had a code: give respect, get respect. Clearly disarmed when Bishop (Austin Stoker) apologized for not having a smoke, Wilson demonstrated courageous dedication to both the makeshift leader of Precinct 13 and Leigh (Laurie Zimmer), who finally provided Wilson with that long-awaited smoke. It was a loyalty that belied desire for pleasure or escape, because it was about the two things a man should never run from — and those two things landed Wilson on this list.

4 — DR. SAM LOOMIS (DONALD PLEASENCE) — HALLOWEEN (1978)

“I met him, 15 years ago; I was told there was nothing left; no reason, no conscience, no understanding in even the most rudimentary sense of life or death, of good or evil, right or wrong. I met this… six-year-old child with this blank, pale, emotionless face, and… the blackest eyes – the Devil’s eyes. I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up, because I realized that what was living behind that boy’s eyes was purely and simply… evil.”

Some might call it fancy talk, but this single moment encapsulated Loomis’ obsession, the driving force behind one of the finest films (and performances) in horror history.

3 — R.J. MacREADY (KURT RUSSELL) — THE THING (1982)

A former Vietnam helicopter pilot and functioning alcoholic who needed to get away from the world — only a little further than most. Mac just wanted to avoid whiteouts and sip J&B in his annexed shack outside Outpost 31 in Antarctica, but after setting out to “save those crazy Swedes” — one of whom shot Mac’s crew mate — strange discoveries began weighing on MacReady’s mind. When it becomes clear that an alien is targeting the camp to mimic and survive, Mac assumes the role of reluctant leader to a crew descending into desperation and distrust. In a stellar ensemble cast, Russell shines as the would-be hero in the wrong place at the right time.

2 — LAURIE STRODE (JAMIE LEE CURTIS) — HALLOWEEN (1978)

“Who needs books?” We thought we were getting to know Lynda when P.J. Soles delivered that dialogue, but in a way she was describing Laurie: never judge a book by its cover. Audiences were led to believe that Strode was apprehensive and meek, but nothing could have been further from the truth. When the chips were on the table, the old Girl Scout not only protected the children under her care but outfought and out-thought the Boogeyman. In the process Laurie Strode became the blueprint by which all horror heroines are judged. As James Jude Courtney, Blumhouse’s Michael Myers has said, Jamie Lee Curtis is “the poster child for an empowered woman”, and has silver on lock.

1 — THE SHAPE (NICK CASTLE) — HALLOWEEN (1978)

We weren’t given much. Michael Myers stabbed his sister to death on Halloween night in 1963, spent the next 15 years at the Smith’s Grove Sanitarium waiting for a silent alarm to trigger him off, and apparently he could drive. But the absence of background and development was why we were fascinated in 1978 and remain so today. In the Haddonfield created by Carpenter (and Hill), evil was a force of nature. Forever lurking. Everywhere. Unstoppable. As a fleshed out character, The Shape has no business on this list let alone topping it, but 44 years after The Babysitter Murders we remain fascinated–nay, obsessed–with a character who has come to define the genre.

Agree? Disagree? Who’d we miss? The floor is open for debate, but know this: my original intent was to drop five characters from five different flicks. However, there was no way I could justify abandoning one of the immortal classic’s three titans.

Till next week…ta-ta.

FIVE YEARS AFTER THE REVEAL OF ‘VICTOR CROWLEY’: AN INTERVIEW WITH PARRY SHEN

Parry Shen dies harder than Bruce Willis.

No one ever stated it quite as succinctly as my friend Muse when she paraphrased Ice T. On his third character in the HATCHET franchise, Shen has more than established himself to be the cinematic pain in Kane Hodder’s ass.

As VICTOR CROWLEY (2017) writer and director Adam Green often says, “Parry Shen is the final girl of Honey Island Swamp.” From Shawn and Justin in the first two HATCHET movies, to Andrew Yong in the most recent installments, Shen has proven impossible to eradicate. And no one is complaining.

With the fifth anniversary looming for the utter shock and surprise that was the unveiling of the fourth film of the series in August of 2017, we arranged a phone call with the franchise’s true MVP.

Before Shen embarked on day trip last Friday, we spoke about the secrecy that surrounded VICTOR CROWLEY, the struggle to keep a straight face acting alongside Dave Sheridan, a moment of “method acting to [Shen’s] detriment”, and whether he’d be down for a fifth flick should Green decide to resurrect the Bayou Butcher one more time

But before we dive into the interview, please note that we said “should” Adam Green decide to do another HATCHET movie.

If.

Nothing is in the works. There are no definitive plans. Again…if. Not to put a damper on things, but it had to be said.

“Now, enjoy the rest of the album!”

Parry Shen, everybody.

NIGHTMARE NOSTALGIA: So, Adam Green reaches out one day and says that he wants to make a HATCHET movie. In secret. Walk us through that conversation.

PARRY SHEN: Adam emailed me the script. It was all through email, I believe, the first time. And I was kind of astonished because I thought [HATCHET III (2013)] was it. He was pretty sure that the third one was going to be it, and I remember him on the set just kind of observing–he was writing HOLLISTON at the time and B.J. (McDonnell) was directing–and I was like “this is it, huh? He said “yeah,” but I saw a glimmer in his eye, like if there is a fourth one, the gears were running in his head, “it would have to be just…you.” (Laughs) He knew how the third one ended, because he did write it, and that came to fruition years later.

I remember thinking, because the first three took place consecutively, with revisiting and making it literally ten years after the first one, it just made sense logistically, the story made sense about how to bring Victor back in a new way and I was like, “oh wow, this is really cool.” And it was cool to be front and center for the first time in the franchise, through deathocracy you know, everyone was gone! (Laughs) It was just a really cool challenge to have more weight on my shoulders.

The whole secrecy of it, I though, was really cool. We, people who were a part of it, thought that it had ended, so the fans for sure thought that. To have them a couple of steps behind while we did it was kind of awesome.

NN: I spoke with Kane Hodder at a convention a while back and asked how y’all managed to make a movie and no one had a clue. He said “that’s a good question! I have no idea!” Do you ever stop and marvel at the fact that no one said a word for two years?

PS: Everyone was so on board with how cool that concept was that nobody wanted to mess it up. It was like, why would you do that, you know? So much had been set up in terms of the three (films), that’s the trilogy and that’s it, and after a while it became very easy because we just didn’t talk about it. When people would ask me what projects I had, I would tell them other things and just keep it pushed to the side. When it was time to release, and seeing teasers from Adam–this is going to be the trailer once the world knows–I was like, “oh wait, that’s right! I did shoot that (laughs). Because I never talked about it for a year afterwards, it was like out of sight, out of mind. Oh wow, that’s right!

NN: Speaking of Kane. Across the board, cast and crew mention how terrifying Hodder is when he emerges for a scene. Grizzled veteran of Honey Island Swamp that you are, has Kane lost any of that affect on you?

PS: No, he hasn’t lost any affect because every iteration, the makeup gets better every time, so there’s always something that’s different. And Kane always brings a level of ferocity (laughs) to the performance. So yeah, it’s never lost upon me.

NN: You’re on your third character in this franchise, but with Andrew Yong, you got your first opportunity to pick up where you left off. Is it more challenging to come in for a new role or the continued portrayal of an established one?

PS: They’re both different. It’s probably the most challenging to create a new character from scratch. You’re doing a different back story, whether Adam gives it to you or coming up with it for yourself with the clues of the dialogue.

It’s probably easier to have an existing character because then you have something to springboard, having things to go off of for Andrew, his experiences from the third movie to roll into the fourth. But, at the same time, there’s a lot of stuff that popped up that wasn’t there that was like new information that I had to do homework on. His past history with Sabrina (Krystal Joy Brown), his ex-wife, and Adam had written the actual book I, Survivor after we had shot the film. That would have helped out a lot (laughs) in terms of providing back story. 300 pages of back story.

NN: On GENERAL HOSPITAL, you sprint through filming 100-plus pages per day, but with HATCHET flicks you’re primarily shooting at night, in the elements, and in a constant state of panic. As an actor, how arduous is that particular pivot?

PS: They’re actually fairly similar because for both we’re moving at a very quick speed for different reasons. With GENERAL HOSPITAL, it’s the sheer amount of material that we have to get through because we have a new episode that airs every day. For HATCHET, it’s a lot of material in the constrained amount of time that we have to shoot for budgetary reasons. And also because we’re fighting daylight because we’re filming at night.

Those skill sets, of being able to make choices quickly and making the most effective choice (chuckles) quickly was kind of the same. It’s not an easy thing to do because there are a lot of people who need time to ramp up, which is very understandable. But at the same time, I think one helped me with the other. My experiences on GENERAL HOSPITAL helped me to get back into the saddle with the pace of HATCHET, and my experience with HATCHET helped me get ready for the fast pace of GENERAL HOSPITAL.

NN: Was it hard to keep a straight face with Dave Sheridan?

PS: Yyyes. Yes. His improvisation is great. It kind of sucks because I have to play the straight man in all of this, where I can only contribute to the improvisation that makes sense in the frame of things.

I always say that one of my favorite scenes from the HATCHET movies is when [Sheridan’s] saying “Austin’s dead.” And [Brian] Quinn comes behind me and says “dude, I’m right here.” And [Sheridan] says “Austin’s alive!” All I can do is give a shrug like “why would you…?” But I love that because the way the camera was framed, you could get so many actors and see their expressions, and seeing Austin pop up in the back is just so well done. The timing was great from everybody.

NN: Sounds like you had a bit of a mishap filming the scene where you emerged from the water outside the plane?

PS: The only mishap was that we all felt that it would be really cool for us to emerge from head to waist like we were really coming out of the water because we were submerged instead of just exiting the water. The camera crew, I think, were taking bets like “nah, they’re not gonna do it,” because it was cold. If you haven’t been in extremely cold water before, it’s hard to describe, because you’re breath is just sucked out of your lungs. You can’t even control it, it looks like you’re doing this fake acting (laughs) of being cold, but you really can’t control your body when it’s that cold. And it was that cold. It was at night and the water was freezing, but let’s just do it real quick. “Action!” and we did it. I even took a couple gulps of water like I was having trouble swimming away from Victor. I took a big gulp when they called action and the end result was us literally just walking out of the water (laughs). We didn’t have to do any of that!

And then I found out that Kane had pissed in the water. So, I had taken a mouthful of water for no reason and swallowed his diluted urine. It was so dumb, as soon as I swallowed I was like “they’re not going to see this. It’s so dark.” It was like method acting to my detriment.

NN: This is one of our favorite questions: be it at a convention, through your website, or a random encounter on the street–what is the strangest request you’ve received from a HATCHET fan?

PS: You know, I don’t get the weird ones (laughs). Usually that’s like Kane or Danielle [Harris] who get that stuff. I’m not a violent person in the movies, so no one asks me to choke them like Kane does, So, it’s going to be very boring. I can’t think of anything that’s been weird.

NN: OK, so a little more tame.

PS: Yeah.

NN: Anything weird from the soap opera fans? Both are rabid in their own way.

PS: Sorry, this one’s gonna be a boring answer (laughs). I’ve been very fortunate to not have any weird requests. The only strange thing that’s happened was when I was in a restaurant. I had a story line (on GENERAL HOSPITAL) where there was a baby switch and I took someone else’s baby and kept him as my own, raised him as my own. Someone (at the restaurant) yelled “you give that baby back!” And I said “no, he’s mine!” (laughs).

NN: Bit of a sidebar here, but tell us about MADELINES.

PS: That was a movie I did with Brea Grant and Jason Miller, who I did a movie with called UNIDENTIFIED (2013). We just worked really well together. We have the same sensibilities. He’s my producing partner. Then he and Brea started working together and Brea wrote this script about this couple who invent a time machine, something goes wrong–the coding goes wrong–and basically she experiments on herself to go into the future.

But something goes wrong and we see the coding and realize that she is going to reappear at the same time every day for the next ten years, basically. So, 3,600 of her are coming every day for the next ten years and we have to figure out a way to get rid of them. And it gets kind of grisly. The only solution they have is to basically start killing them off one-by-one.

NN: And while we’re at it, Green’s Halloween short FAIRY TALE POLICE was so incredible. How is that not an actual series?

PS: I loved that concept and loved the shoot. I was so excited to possibly keep doing more in that universe with fairy tale characters and policing that area with Rachael Leigh Cooke. I watch it at least a few times every year. It’s so well done. For anyone who hasn’t seen it, you can find it on YouTube.

NN: Would you be down for a fifth installment if Green decides to give it another go?

PS: Yeah! I mean, it’s no secret now that he said that there should be one. He has some pieces in his head. They’re pretty ambitious, but we have to keep outdoing the last one, so with less budget and bigger ideas that he wants, does make it more challenging. It’s kind of always having the right things in place to be able to meet the expectations of what you have in mind. Your imagination (chuckles), right? Then meeting somewhere in the middle. Yeah, I’d be totally down. Ready to go.

NN: It had been 10 years since the journey began when VICTOR CROWLEY had its big reveal, and now we approach the fifth anniversary of that release. The HATCHET Army is fiercely devoted, but as a member of the inner circle, what does being a part of the HATCHET family mean to you?

PS: It’s a lot of different things. It’s obviously the fans. I went to a HorrorHound convention recently, and was able to visit with a lot of the fans over the years, and how they got introduced to the film. Some of them were stationed overseas in the military, and all they had was a few movies, and HATCHET were one of them. It helped them get through that time in their lives. Some people were bed-ridden from a sickness and it helped them get through that time. Other people are aspiring filmmakers, young students, and that sort of got them inspired to get into makeup effects and filmmaking.

And on the other hand, Adam just chooses very well the people he surrounds himself with. They’re like-minded and have become really great friends. You can see when we do the Halloween shorts, (Green) just gets everyone together and it’s just really cool when someone is indoctrinated into the HATCHET family, because we know that you’re in that club and you’ve got a good friend for life.

BRINGING US TOGETHER: A CONVERSATION WITH ‘METAL AND MONSTERS’ HOST MATT “COUNT D” MONTGOMERY

“Honestly man, I miss the days when we could get together on things.”

For Matt “Count D” Montgomery, long known as the bassist for Rob Zombie, the vision for METAL AND MONSTERS–Gibson TV’s brand new show dedicated to the worlds of heavy metal and monster culture–really is just that simple.

Two years ago there came a tapping at his Lyft door as he was leaving John Carpenter’s Halloween Nights show at the Hollywood Palladium when Gibson TV Content and Director Todd Harapiak, rapped Montgomery’s shoulder. Harapiak offered his card and an invitation to give him a call.

For the next year, Harapiak and Montgomery traded records and got to know one another. Then just before the pandemic began, Montgomery got a call that changed everything.

“I’m thinking about a show where we combine our love for heavy metal and maybe your love for monster culture and stuff it into one thing. What do you think?” Harapiak said.

And just like that, METAL AND MONSTERS was born. Nearly every day for the next two-and-a-half years Montgomery and Harapiak were on the phone planning the show. Before long they were location scouting, then a crew was assembled, and finally they started reaching out to horror and metal legends for a 60-minute program which Montgomery would host.

“Before I knew it, last October, there we were in the Los Angeles Theatre with a coffee table we built from scratch, with a set that we designed for the show, and [Robert Englund and Don Dokken] sitting in front of me,” Montgomery said. “It’s one of the coolest bands I’ve ever been in.

It’s the most honest thing I can be doing with my time. I’ve celebrated the elements of this show literally my whole life.” Montgomery continued, “I consider myself extraordinarily fortunate to be a host of this campfire, so to speak. It’s the easiest thing I’ve ever done because I feel like I’ve been studying for it my whole life.”

Which brings us back to Montgomery’s vision.

“When I grew up, Thursday nights on NBC were a thing, Saturday morning cartoons were a thing,” Montgomery said. “We all used to watch 60 Minutes on Sunday night. We all used to watch the Carson show, and we’d all go to work or school the next day talking about who was on Johnny Carson the night before. It brought us together.

As different as we could be politically or religiously or whatever it was, we could come together on things. We could meet. Even if it was for five minutes by the water cooler, we could meet up on stuff.”

Whether it was “did you see the game?” or “did you see Orson Welles on the Carson show last night?” it was the mutual geek sessions that resulted from a shared experience that Montgomery wanted to recreate, or to put it in horror terms, re-imagine.

(Photo credit: Todd Harapiak)

“I miss the unity that used to come from something as dumb as television,” Montgomery said. “I don’t think it’s dumb, but some people think it’s dumb. That was my intention with the show.”

Intent is one thing, but an endeavor such as METAL AND MONSTERS required a level of expertise from its host that would be difficult to meet.

“It just so happens that I can speak to all of that stuff and I can be a little bit of a ringleader by being a curator with all of the elements that are in this peanut butter & jelly sandwich,” Montgomery said. “The intent was really to bring people together for an hour. Especially now, man. We’re such a mess as a culture. To be able to sit down for an hour and just talk about Dokken or Freddy Krueger. If we could all shut up and put our differences aside for five minutes or an hour, and just sit around a campfire warming our hands, it’s a good day at work.”

The pilot episode reunites Robert Englund and Don Dokken, who Harapiak describes as “two pillars of the metal and monster genre” to celebrate the 35th anniversary of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS (1987).

Dokken penned “Dream Warriors” exclusively for the film that featured Englund’s third turn as one of horror’s most iconic characters.

(Photo by: Mark Weiss)

And as you might suspect, METAL AND MONSTERS’ tagline says it all: “If you like blast beats and things that go bump in the night, this is the show for you.”

When Harapiak’s idea met Montgomery’s vision, it presented the opportunity to test Count D’s theory.

“I think if you’re a fan of horror or you’re a fan of metal, your mind is open to the possibility of suspending disbelief to storytelling, you’re open to fantastic ideas,” Montgomery said. “If you buy, for two seconds, that there’s a movie about a dream demon in a red-and-green sweater that haunts your dreams, and if he kills you in your dreams, you’re really dead–if you buy a ticket to that movie and make it all the way through, and you walk out of it and enjoyed where you’ve been for an hour-and-a-half–you’re more likely to be accepting of imagination, of fiction, of science fiction, of entertainment in general.

On the second Metallica record, there’s an instrumental song called “Call of Cthulhu” based on H.P. Lovecraft. And then Master of Puppets, you’ve got “The Thing That Should Not Be,” a song about a fuckin’ sea monster. Lady Gaga’s not writing songs about sea monsters,” Montgomery said. “There’s an element of fantasy there, in heavy metal and in horror, that we, as fans of both of those genres, we want to be entertained by great stories and by interesting characters and by history.

I mean, For Whom the Bell Tolls, another Metallica example–that’s classic literature (by Ernest Hemingway). That was a famous book before it was a Metallica song. Horror fans and heavy metal fans are some of the most well-read, intelligent people in the world because they don’t limit themselves to every day realism. I mean, we all have to live in the real world, but let’s be honest, the real world is pretty fucking horrifying. But, there’s something fun about studying history and there’s something to be learned from that. There’s something fun going to a mythical place like Oz, or Freddy’s lair; there’s something fun about going somewhere you can’t get in your car and go to. And if you’re willing to accept that, then you’re one of us and you’re along for the ride I think, with heavy metal and horror.”

(Photo credit: Ross Halfin)

And because, as Montgomery pointed out, “somebody had the forethought to go ‘you know who’s watching these movies? Teenagers. And you know what teenagers love? Rock and roll. So, we need some rock music in this movie.’ The result, as they say–in this case Dokken on Elm Street–is history.

“You know what was a happy accident? Robert was early,” Montgomery said. “I consider him the Vincent Price of my generation. At a young age, my mom got me hip to Vincent Price. I started with the [Roger] Corman [Edgar Allan] Poe pictures that AIP (American International Pictures) made in the ’60s and became obsessed with those movies. I knew who Robert Englund once at a young age, too, because he was on V, and those were Friday nights for me in elementary school.

To be sitting there with him after loving him for so long, and he just talked. He told me stories like he was my uncle. It was crazy, he was completely at ease with himself and with me, and I had my stack of Fangoria magazines and Freddy poster magazines there,” Montgomery said. “And [Englund would] be like ‘you know, in NIGHTMARE 5’, and he told me things I probably shouldn’t know,, but he just felt so candid.

So, by the time we got to the stage, we were loose and had already touched on things. He brought up different things in the interview when we were filming, and that was all very natural. I had questions to kind of kick the ball back onto the field, but I didn’t have to. One of the things going into the show was going to be that the secret sauce was going to be whoever we paired together. If we put any thought into who to pair together, we knew that whatever happened between those two people, would be completely organic and / or magical in its own way, and that’s exactly what it was. I didn’t know that they both [Englund and Dokken] had spent so much time in New Mexico, so they had this whole conversation with themselves about New Mexico while we were there, and I was like ‘Oh my God, this is amazing.’ It’s those happy accidents that come from two people and their own organic chemistry being near each other, and all I have to do is open the can and get out of the way.”

Super7 Iron Maiden action figures as seen in the “Terror Trek” segment of METAL AND MONSTERS.

Montgomery geeked out listening to Englund and Dokken, and anticipates a similar reaction from the legions who also possess stacks of Fangorias and vinyls of their own.

“There’s so many surprises that come by just putting two people in the room and the relationship that they may or may not have together, it makes for good TV,” Montgomery said. “Sometimes I’m as surprised as the viewer will be. I’m like ‘Oh wow, I didn’t know that!’ and everybody else is gonna go ‘huh. I didn’t know that.’ I guess that’s the reward of a good interview, is that you walk away from it having learned something you didn’t know.

Robert told the story about ASPHALT JUNGLE (1950) and Bill Haley {& His Comets) and “Rock Around the Clock” when that came out, and how teenagers had never heard rock and roll played that loud, and how it worked them up and got the adrenaline pumping in the theatre. It was the same reaction I had as a kid seeing DREAM WARRIORS. Hearing Dokken loud on a Friday night. Man, it was exciting! I love those feelings. And I love it when people get excited about being in the moment. I think there’s more of that to come with the show. I think people will see that there’s an excitement in the air when the combination of these elements get together. It’s kind of like watching the jelly melt into the peanut butter and the peanut butter melt into the jelly — it becomes its own flavor.”

And it will be 60 minutes of METAL AND MONSTERS that calls everybody to the dinner table, ready for their ration of peanut butter & jelly. Ready for the explosion of that unique flavor. Ready to remember. Ready to rock. Together.