The Secret Circle: Natasha Henstridge on Her Character's Motivations and More! - Dread Central
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The Secret Circle: Natasha Henstridge on Her Character’s Motivations and More!

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Today we bring you Part 2 of our San Diego Comic-Con interviews with some of the cast members of “The Secret Circle”; we thought we’d close things out with long-time genre favorite Natasha Henstridge (Species, Ghosts of Mars), who portrays school principal Dawn Chamberlain in the series.

Natasha Henstridge, The Secret CircleAmong a few other things, we discuss her cult status among horror fans, working with co-star Gale Harold, and her character’s motivations.

With her very avid fanbase in the genre, we wondered if she felt extra responsibility accepting such a highly visible role on “The Secret Circle”. She replied, “I didn’t think about that so much, to be honest. It wasn’t lost on me obviously that it was going to be supernatural, in that genre, and it probably wasn’t lost on them either when they cast me, but I just had a responsibility to do something I wanted to do and something I enjoyed, and I thought this was really good. Kevin Williamson is obviously super talented, and everything he touches turns to gold, and it’s nice to be on a show that people want to see. He has that history. It’s great to do all these really obscure, interesting roles and things, but then nobody gets to see them. That’s no fun. You work your tail off, you want people to watch it, and I’m sure they’re going to be watching this.”

Given her experience with the paranormal (Natasha appears in an episode of “Celebrity Ghost Stories”), she was asked about her feelings on the use of magic in the context of the series. “Well, my grandmother’s passed away, but she would have said, ‘That’s the devil’s work, Tasha! That’s the devil’s work!’ [laughing] I’ve done so many things she would have said that about, I guess we’re in the clear! I just think it’s really fun. As soon as you have any sort of supernatural elements to a story, it makes for really good storytelling. It can also be an easy way out of stuff and an easy way to try and make something interesting. But I think in this case … for me the character itself is less one-dimensional. Kevin’s got a really beautiful way of making things really full and rounded. Each character is not just one thing or the other so that was exciting to me. I thought that was a fun way to play it. And already in the first script up after the pilot, I was really surprised by what I was reading. I was like, ‘Oh, interesting that she does this, but then she’ll do that.’ That’s fun to play, something that’s not completely ‘moustache-twirling’.”

Along the lines of her character’s motivations, her generation, the “broken” one, orchestrates Cassie (Britt Robertson)’s return and empowers their children, but now they want to rein the teens in. Is it for a greater good or their own motives? According to Henstridge, “It’s for a greater good. They think they’re doing it for a greater good. My character genuinely thinks it’s for a greater good. All of those things can change, and things happen, but I think she’s willing to do lots and lots of terrible things [laughs] but really somewhere in her head thinks it’s for the greater good eventually.”

The “elders” were brought up, and Natasha wondered, “Which elders? Because actually there are three generations involved in ‘The Secret Circle’.” She elaborated, “You have the elders, the grandparents. And then our circle. Our circle lost a bunch of the circle and don’t have the power because of that. The elders, however, could have the power, but they banished magic from a long time ago because of horrible things that happened. And then of course the young ones are the ones that could have all the power because they have a full set. A full deck! [laughs] They’re stacked.”

The Secret CircleSpeaking of the young ones, her character uses her child, Faye (Phoebe Tonkin), to get what she wants. How does she relate to something like that? “I don’t relate to that at all. I would never use my child … to do anything harmful to my child. But the thing is, in some ways the character is not … she definitely has her eyes on the prize and the greater good and getting the power back, and I don’t even know all the reasons for that myself yet, but they’ve given me a general sense of what it is. And in my head I think it’s all for the greater good. So in the character’s head it’s for that. She does have limitations as to what she’ll do. I’ve seen that in the first script. There are lines that she won’t cross. I think she does use her daughter, but she’s also trying to contain her daughter. Like the Gale [Harold] character, her daughter also seems to be a wildcard, and I think she has a good relationship with her in many ways. It’d be interesting to see how that develops. She’s intrigued by her daughter’s fierce independence, but also it’s about containing that and all about getting that circle together and the greater good. She’ll do a lot of things, but she does have a morality as well, which I see in the next episode.”

Since she mentioned Gale Harold and his character, Charles Meade (father of Diana, a member of Cassie’s circle, played by Shelley Hennig), we commented on their great onscreen chemistry and inquired as to what the dynamic between their characters is like. Mysterious? Ulterior motives? “Ulterior motives is a good one,” Henstridge offered. “Yeah, we just always have motives! It’s great, it’s fun. I get to sort of put him up to things, too. It seems like it’s sort of unraveling in that way where he’s not my minion (he’d hate it if I said that) … he’s got his own set of things. He’s like fire in a bottle, and he’s excited by the magic, and I have my eye on the long-term, big scheme. Working with Gale is great; he’s an unusual fellow. He is really super creative, and he’s interesting. He’s really interesting.”

Delving a bit more into what’s in store for Dawn Chamberlain, as the school principal, how involved is she going to be with the teens and the magic? Henstridge said, “She’s like the overseer, and no better place to be than the principal at the school where all the kids go so she’s in a really lucky position there. I don’t know if it’s lucky or by design – probably the second. She is very pivotal, and it’ll be interesting to see what my relationship will be like with Charles, Gale’s character, but certainly, like I said, I think he is very excitable and very excited by the power and the things he can get from that, and I am trying to contain him as well.”

We concluded with everyone’s favorite topic at Dread Central – how dark the show will be considering its demographic. Do they push the line for a series aimed at teens and even pre-teens? Henstridge’s response was semi-reassuring, “I guess the demographic is what it is. I don’t know if it’s necessarily so pre-teen … I’m sure that will be part of it. I think those things are always left to the parents to decide what’s acceptable and what’s not acceptable for kids to watch. People were asking me — I have a 13-year-old son — if I’m going to let him watch it, and I let him watch the pilot, and I think that people are exposed to, unfortunately, things far darker and more graphic than this show is. And I did let my son watch it, and he did absolutely love it. You’ve got so many elements that are fun to watch. The relationships and then of course the special effects and the drama and the magic. There’s a lot to like.”

We’ll be looking forward to seeing how much we like of “The Secret Circle” when it debuts on The CW on Thursday, September 15th. From what we’re hearing, like most new series, it takes a few episodes to get going so we’ll be tuning in for at least the first several of them in hopes that it’s a good match for us and our readers.

As always, thanks to Natasha for taking the time to speak with us and to The CW and Warner Bros. TV for arranging the interview.

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Doug Jones Would Love to Return as Billy Butcherson in Hocus Pocus 2

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“Wench! Trollop! You buck-toothed, mop-riding, firefly from hell!”

One of my favorite horror movies as a kid was Hocus Pocus, co-written by Mick Garris (The Stand, Sleepwalkers). The film has only grown more precious in my eyes as I’ve grown up due to its utter love of all things Halloween.

If you haven’t seen it (for some reason) think of it as a combination of Rob Zombie’s Lords of Salem and Michael Dougherty’s Trick ‘r Treat… but, you know, a kid’s Disney movie version.

However you choose to describe the awesomeness that is Hocus Pocus, you have to admit that the film is primed for a sequel. And recently we heard word that a TV sequel is on the way, but no one seems to be too happy about that.

Well, except Doug Jones.

For those who might not know, Doug Jones is – oh, whatever, all of you know who Doug Jones is – but you might not know that in addition to playing such iconic roles as The Pale Man in Pan’s Labyrinth, Abe Sapien in Hellboy, and the creature in The Shape of Water, Jones played Billy Butcherson in Hocus Pocus.

In a recent interview with Digital Spy, Jones spoke a bit about Hocus Pocus 2 and his desire to return to his much-loved role as Billy Butcherson.

“There was talk about doing a ’20 years later’ sequel that I would have been involved with,” he told the site. “I was actually approached and asked about that. I would love to reprise Billy Butcherson.”

Sweet! So does this mean the that a “20 years later” official sequel might still happen?

“It’s not off the table,” he said. “The news article that I read about this TV movie sounds like… I’m not sure if it’s a reboot or if it is that ’20 years later’ sequel. It was grey about what the storyline was. So I’m just going to keep my knees bent and be ready in case they call.”

Nice! To finish it all up, Jones then went on to say this about the original film:

“It only grows in popularity every year,” said Jones. “I did not see that coming, that 24 years later it would be more popular now than it’s ever been! That’s crazy for a movie to do!”

I agree! Hocus Pocus is one of those rare movies that almost everyone I know enjoys. Sure some people are a little hesitant to share their love of the film, but those of us who don’t care about such things as digging a cool kid’s horror movie, we share the love when and where ever we can. Case in point, if you have never seen Hocus Pocus, do so tonight! Trust me, you’ll thank us.

BUY IT ON BLU-RAY!

Synopsis:

After moving to Salem, Mass., teenager Max Dennison (Omri Katz) explores an abandoned house with his sister Dani (Thora Birch) and their new friend, Allison (Vinessa Shaw). After dismissing a story Allison tells as superstitious, Max accidentally frees a coven of evil witches (Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy) who used to live in the house. Now, with the help of a magical cat, the kids must steal the witches’ book of spells to stop them from becoming immortal.

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Henry Rollins Will Be Back For More Cannibal Carnage in He Never Died 2

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If you’ve somehow missed it there is a killer horror-comedy out there (streaming on Netflix) starring Henry Rollins called He Never Died.

The film is a big recommend from all of us here at Dread Central and it is with this in mind we are excited by today’s news.

Yes, not only does it look like there will be a sequel, fittingly titled He Never Died 2, but THR reports that Henry Rollins will return.

While there is currently no word on additional casting, but we will let us know as soon as we hear more about the sequel.

Until then let us know what you think of the original film below!

He Never Died 2 will be written and directed by Jason Krawczyk and David Miller will produce along with Zach Hagen.

The film begins shooting in North Bay, Ontario this May.

Synopsis:

After saving his estranged daughter from his criminal past in the original movie, Jack is now a vagabond attempting to keep his supernatural compulsion in check. Along the way, he confronts depraved sadists similar to his own long life of destruction and must defy his inner demons and strike a balance of revenge and responsibility.

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10 Terrifying Moments from Kids’ Movies That Haunted Our Childhoods

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When the trailer for Solo: A Star Wars Story dropped a couple weeks ago, I watched it with a tinge of dread. See, Han Solo traumatized me as a child. I was 7-years-old when I saw The Empire Strikes Back in theaters, and the scene where Harrison Ford gets tortured at Cloud City gave me my first bona fide panic attack. It was dark, intense, and completely out of left field in an otherwise fantastic franchise where no one ever bleeds (or screams).

I might be the only one who had such an adverse reaction to Solo’s torture (which happens, primarily, off-screen), but those of us who came of age in the 1980s can probably relate to encountering terrifying moments in otherwise kid-friendly films. For the most part, these were the days before PG-13, meaning there was a ton of leeway for movies that fell in between the extremes of Cinderella and The Shining.

In retrospect, 1980s kids were subjected to a litany of scares that would be considered highly inappropriate by today’s standards—perhaps explaining our generations’ intense love of horror! Return with me now to those terrifying days of yesteryear with 10 terrifying moments from kids’ movies that haunted our childhoods!


The Tunnel of Terror in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

The only film on this list that wasn’t produced and released in the 1980s (and the only one I didn’t see in theaters) is nonetheless one every child of the era has seen: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory from 1971. I remember my parents telling me that I was in for a treat when they sat me down in front of the TV at the tender age of 6.

I was already unnerved by the tall man in the trench coat and the bizarre antics of Gene Wilder’s Wonka, but that boat-ride scene completely destroyed my childhood. It wasn’t even the chicken decapitation or the centipedes that rattled me; it was Wonka’s unhinged shrieking! To this day, the scene gives me the willies (pun intended!); Wilder truly channels the dangerous intensity of a lunatic.


Gmork attacks Atreyu in The NeverEnding Story (1984)

The NeverEnding Story was an exciting alternative in the Disney-dominated landscape of kids’ movies in the 1980s—exciting and dark! But a kid trapped in an attic, a horse drowning in a swamp, a nihilistic turtle, and a devastating void all paled in comparison to Atreyu’s confrontation with the insidious Gmork.

Those green eyes staring out from the cave froze my blood. The fact that it could speak made it infinitely more terrifying; this wasn’t some primal beast, this agent of The Great Nothing was a cunning and merciless villain. The matter-of-fact way it informed Atreyu that he would be his last “victim” was beyond bleak. When the monster attacked as thunder roared and lightning struck, I screamed.

Though many aspects of The NeverEnding Story show their age, this moment remains, objectively, as scary as any horror movie werewolf attack.


The Wheelers Descend in Return to Oz (1985)

When Dorothy (played by Judy Garland) first arrived in Oz back in 1939, she was greeted by a community of cheerful Munchkins. When Dorothy (reprised by Fairuza Balk) returned to Oz in 1985, her reception was much colder.

The eerie silence of a seemingly abandoned wasteland was broken by an assault by Wheelers: colorful, mechanically enhanced cousins of the Wicked Witch’s flying monkeys. As adults, we can laugh at the impracticality of villains who can’t even maneuver stairs, but we weren’t laughing as kids, I can promise you that!

While the hall of heads, an unintentionally terrifying Jack Pumpkinhead, and a truly demonic Gnome King are perhaps the scariest moments of Return to Oz, the sudden and unexpected arrival of the Wheelers was a truly devastating moment. It obliterated all our happy memories of Oz in an instant, transforming the land of enchantment into a labyrinth of evil.


Large Marge Tells her Tale in Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985)

Many of the films on this list are dark from start to finish, containing multiple terrifying moments. But part of what makes the tale of Large Marge so impactful is that it appears in an otherwise completely lighthearted film. Sure, man-child Pee-wee Herman has always been subversive in ways that only become apparent as we get older, but he never dabbled in ghost stories or jump scares.

Luckily, the scary face of Large Marge was as funny as it was shocking, so even though kids like me hit the ceiling, our fears quickly dissolved into fits of hysterical laughter. Today, I remember practically nothing about Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, but I’ll have fond memories of Large Marge until the day I die.


The Emperor Turns to Ash in The Dark Crystal (1982)

Over 35 years after it’s release, The Dark Crystal remains a unique and beautiful anomaly. Jim Henson’s G-rated Muppets were left in the workshop! This film was populated by fascinating and terrifying characters, conveying a tale that wasn’t dumbed down for its audience. These factors give the film profound resonance and contribute to its status as an enduring classic

Like the title warns, this film is dark. The Skeksis are demonic, Augrah is arresting, and the Garthim are pure nightmare fuel. The process of draining Pod People of the essence and the stabbing death of Kira are horrifying. But it was the death of the Skeksis Emperor that really hit me like a ton of bricks.

There was something metaphysically terrifying about this moment; not only is the idea of a creature crumbling into ash creepy as hell but the effect was gasp-inducing. As a child, it was something I’d never seen before, a concept I’d never imagined, and it floored me. Death had never been conveyed with such shocking profundity.


The Lab Rats are Injected in The Secret of NIMH (1982)

When I sat in the theater in 1982, I don’t think I realized that The Secret of NIMH wasn’t a Disney movie, but I realized soon enough Mickey and Minnie weren’t hangin’ with these rodents! The Great Owl was petrifying and the finale was as harrowing as anything my young psyche had yet experienced, but it was the flashback of experiments conducted on lab rats that stuck with me and haunted my childhood.

It wasn’t just the brilliant animation that powerfully conveyed the rats’ pain as syringes were plunged into their bellies, it was a brutal moment of education they don’t teach kids in school. It was my first introduction to the realities of animal experimentation, and the fact that grown-ups would perpetrate such atrocities felt like a betrayal


The Ending of Time Bandits (1981)

In retrospect, it was irresponsible for any of our parents to think that Time Bandits was a kids’ movie just because the main character was an 11-year-old boy. In 1981, the only other film Terry Gilliam had directed was Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Yes, Time Bandits is funny and exciting with motifs common to kid-friendly time-travel fiction, but the film is nearly hopelessly bleak from start to finish.

Kevin (played by Craig Warnock) is completely neglected by his parents and essentially kidnapped by a troop of interdimensional robbers. He’s made complicit in a series of crimes throughout many dangerous eras, forced to endure wars and even the sinking of the Titanic. Eventually, Kevin is dragged into a realm of ultimate darkness. Though triumphing over Evil personified, he’s abandoned by God before returning home—only to find his home engulfed in a blazing inferno.

Though rescued by firemen, Kevin’s parents didn’t even realize he was missing and are soon reduced to piles of ash by a stray bit of concentrated evil. The friendly firemen take little notice, leaving our young protagonist utterly alone.


Faces Melt in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

A lot of my peers will count the human sacrifice scene from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom as one of the most terrifying moments of their childhood. Not me. After what I’d endured in Raiders of the Lost Ark, I was ready for anything.

Since it gets less attention than its predecessor (bonus fact: Temple of Doom is a prequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark), I think people forget just how scary Raiders really is. It’s worlds darker and grittier than Doom, which has a colorful, comic book pallet by comparison, not to mention a clear emphasis on comedy. The spiders, the snakes, the boobytraps: they all put monkey brains and extracted hearts to shame.

But the climax of Raiders of the Lost Ark is more intense than most horror movies, past and present. The face-melting evoked Cold War Era fears of nuclear annihilation and the idea of a vengeful God was devastating.


The Death of Shoe in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988)

I wasn’t always the jaded gorehound I am today; I was young and sensitive once. And even though I was well into puberty by 1988 (or maybe because of it) I was especially traumatized by a moment in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. The hard-boiled plot loaded with barely veiled sexual innuendo was, for the most part, completely buried beneath a cacophony of cameos from just about every cartoon character ever penned.

But it wasn’t the fever-nightmare of Roger’s mania or even the emergence of Judge Doom’s true form that devastated me; it was the execution of poor Shoe, a paradigm of animated innocence unceremoniously dropped into a barrel of “dip” (a toxic concoction made from turpentine, acetone, and benzene).

Most kids in their early teens couldn’t stop thinking about Jessica Rabbit; I was haunted by the death of Shoe.


Supercomputer Makes a Human Cyborg in Superman III (1983)

There’s an evil streak that runs throughout Superman III, the third film to feature Christopher Reeves as the titular Man of Steel. While Superman II had its dark spots (specifically the devastation caused by Zod and his companions) there’s an undercurrent in Richard Lester’s follow-up that’s absolutely wicked—containing a scene that contributed to the destruction of my childhood.

A makeshift batch of Kryptonite turns Superman into an immoral, selfish thug before he participates in a troubling fight to the death with himself. But as unsettling as the concept of an evil Superman may be, the scene where the supercomputer turns Vera into a cyborg was some next level shit for 10-year-old me.

I re-watched the scene in preparation for this article and was shocked at its similarities to the moment in Hellraiser II when Dr. Channard is transformed into a Cenobite—especially the wires! No wonder it scared the hell out of me!

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