Most commonly known amongst the public for his role as Billy in the legendary Gremlins movies, actor Zach Galligan has led an exciting and varied career both within and outside of our genre. On the eve of the premiere of his newest film, psycho horror/thriller Cut, Zach spoke with our own Gareth Jones about the film, its gimmick, and what he’ll be up to next.
DC: Can you give us an overview of the plot of Cut and your character’s involvement?
Zach : It’s basically about five people who are spending a weekend in a country estate and they simply come under attack by forces they don’t understand, for reasons they can’t comprehend; and…it’s just basically a “five people in a house in the middle of nowhere” scary horror thriller. I mean, we’ve seen this film before, but I don’t think we’ve seen it done this way, with the execution and the gimmick of the one continuous shot – and hopefully people will feel that that really puts them in the experience.
DC: The “one continuous shot” gimmick – was that something that actually drew you to the project, or had that even been decided upon when you signed on?
Zach: Here’s the thing – if it had just been a conventional movie, I probably wouldn’t have done it…but the fact that it was, you know…before you do it, it just seems like it can’t be done. It just seems incredibly ambitious. The guy wanted to put a fight scene in it…breaking furniture…blood, special effects – five different people running around the house and up and down staircases. It just seemed like it was going to be impossible. It came together really nicely.
DC: Were you drawn to the challenge of that as an actor? Was that something you really wanted to have a stab at, so to speak?
Zach: Yeah, well it kind of occurred to me that it was going to be really much more like a play than movie, so in a way it was sort of like a piece of “film theatre”. So yeah, it just seemed like a real challenge, and it was also three free weeks in England, and I was going through a bit of a difficult time in my personal life so I thought, you know, maybe this is a good time just to get out of here and get away and go halfway around the world and get some perspective…and that worked out well, too.
DC: Had you ever filmed in the UK before? This was filmed in the Peak District, right?
Zach: I had never worked in the UK before. Oh no, wait a second! Hang on! I keep saying I’ve never worked in the UK before and I forgot – I did once … I shot a movie called Prince Valiant in Wales, but it was so removed from civilization when I did that in like 1996 – it was basically just “Me on the Heath” … it seemed like I shot it on a giant field.
It seemed like I was on a tundra. [Cut] seemed a lot more like it was shot in England ‘cause there were pubs nearby.
DC: How many tries did it take to get a usable cut?
Zach: Well the thing that was really kind of amazing was that we got one that was usable, I think, on take number three – which made all of us extremely cocky. Then, the next night everything we tried, because we were so cocky, everything was just crap. It was one of those things where so much tension built up that when you got it, there was the inevitable let-down the next day. Then when we did the crap night, everyone was so irritated with themselves that they came roaring back the night afterwards.
DC: It must be quite a frustrating experience when you’re working at it for, say, 60 minutes and then somebody fluffs a line or whatever. Did everyone involved have a sense of humour about these things?
Zach: Well, I think once we hit about the 25- to 30-minute mark, everybody really, really, if they were being a little casual before – which they probably weren’t – but if they were, everyone buckled down, and in those last few minutes … Everyone is absolutely on their best behaviour…because you do not want to be someone who blew it. Luckily I never blew a solid take. There were one or two that were blown around the 44-minute mark and that … that was difficult.
DC: Cut also marks the film debut of British celebrity/model (and Cut poster-girl) Danielle Lloyd. As a novice, it must have been a challenging project for her, too. Did you find yourself helping her out with advice or acting as a mentor of sorts?
Zach: Without giving too much away … she’s only in about the first four or five minutes, so that I don’t think was too much of a problem for her. She was definitely nervous – who wouldn’t be? I think people will be surprised – she acquitted herself well. She comes off smelling like a rose.
DC: Looking at your filmography, you’re no stranger to the horror genre, but are you a fan of horror yourself?
Zach: Yeah, I grew up watching horror movies when I was a kid. I love them – horror movies, monster movies, Godzilla movies … definitely. I grew up in New York and there was a show every Saturday night at 8 o’clock called “Chiller Theatre“, and it would show a horror movie every week…I can remember looking through the TV guide, which would come early like Thursday the week before…and the first thing I would do is open Saturday night…and see what was going to be on and be like “Wow, The Crawling Eye, never saw that one!”
DC: Have you any particularly favourite horror movies?
Zach: I love the ‘50s ones, I really do. I guess it’s probably my childhood,’ cause they’re not that great, but I love them…there are a couple of ones that I looked at recently that I really watched again and was like “Oh yeah, I remember this!” One was The Atomic Submarine … it’s black and white and all shot in this Cabinet of Dr. Caligari German expressionist kind of weird angles. The submarine meets this underwater UFO that’s being run by this alien that’s basically a giant squid with this huge eye – which is very weird and disturbing…even now. You should definitely check it out!
DC: You were also involved with Wes Sullivan’s Nightbeasts, which apparently wrapped towards the end of last year …
Zach: The funny thing about that is I shot that movie in the summer of 2004. So, I shot that movie and it had a LOT of problems. I thought that that thing was never going to come out, and then I suddenly got a call from Wes Sullivan a few months ago – and he’s like “Well, Nightbeasts is alive and well and coming out!”, and I was like, well, that’s half a decade later…crikey, I hadn’t thought about that in a long time. So I’m REAL curious to see what that looks like …
DC: With the Internet rumour mill churning on, can you confirm or deny anything regarding Gremlins 3/3D?
Zach: You know as much as I do! One of the things that people don’t realise is that when I did Gremlins 2, we started shooting at the end of May, in 1989. I didn’t find out about it or get an offer pretty much until I found out they were probably going to do it in October … and then I didn’t get an offer until February – about two or three months before production began. So, they don’t really contact me until about the last four or five months. If there’s something going on right now…they’re doing a script, development, looking for a director…all of this stuff’s gonna go on for months until they even get to me – or don’t get to me – so I probably won’t know for sure until probably the end of the year.
DC: Would you be happy to do it?
Zach: It would depend on the script, honestly. I think it sounds cool, but it depends on how they do it. I’m not sure I’d be interested on doing one of those two-line or walk-through cameos, you know, like “Oh, look, there’s the guy from the original one for those people in the know.” I probably wouldn’t care much for that.
DC: So what’s next for you?
Zach: The same people who did Cut … in March we’re going to do sort of a bawdy sex comedy called The Ten Year Itch … we’ll shoot it in London this time; I’ll finally be able to work in the UK near civilization!
Cut – Trailer
Uploaded by dreadcentral. – Check out other Film & TV videos.
We at Dread Central would like to thank Zach for taking the time to talk with us and Cut producer Rob Jacques for arranging everything!
Cut is currently awaiting Guinness Book of World Records confirmation as the first horror movie shot entirely in a single take [Editor’s Note: Albert Pyun already did it with Invasion (review here)] and is being released on DVD in the UK on February 22nd. Pre-order below!
Got news? Click here to submit it!
Get cut in the Dread Central forums!