Exclusive: Doug Hutchison Talks Vampire Killers
To read “From the mind of Doug Hutchison”, for genre fans anyway, is an invitation to be freaked out. The actor, who has given horror fans such memorable characters as Eugene Victor Tooms in two episodes of “The X Files” – “Squeeze” and “Tooms” (both in Season One of the show), Percy Wetmore, one of Stephen King’s more horrific villains, in Frank Darabont’s The Green Mile and most recently, Henry Victor, the racist and borderline sociopathic Army officer in JT Petty’s, The Burrowers, is also a writer AND serious horror fan himself.
Beginning in October 2008, under the banner of his own production company, Dark Water, Hutchison launched a web series entitled, "Vampire Killers". Set in modern day Los Angeles, the premise is that in a city the size of LA, with a vampire population of over 500,000, there are only 4 vampire killers to deal with the problem. And a problem this is indeed. For Hutchison’s vampires aren’t your daddy’s vampires. Dread Central recently spoke with the amiable, passionate-about-his-art and unable-to-unlock-the-“Caps-lock”-button-on-his-computer actor about his debut horror series and what more fans can look forward to, down the road.
Elaine Lamkin: Thank you so much for taking time to speak with Dread Central about your web series, “Vampire Killers”. Now you are known to most people as that creepy guy from “The X-Files”, The Green Mile, A Time to Kill, “Lost” (although it’s more of you being “that guy with the creepy hair” on that show) and currently in JT Petty’s amazing The Burrowers. How did “Vampire Killers” come to be? I remember from interviewing you previously that you are very well-versed in the horror genre. Could the genesis of “Vampire Killers” be traced back to some traumatic horror-related event in your youth?
Doug Hutchison: Sorry, Elaine. No big, traumatic, salacious horror-related events to share leading to the genesis of “Vampire Killers”. From collecting “The Tomb of Dracula” comics as a kid, reading Anne Rice’s novels and digging movies like “Nosferatu”, “The Addiction” and “The Hunger”. I’ve always had an affinity for the vampire genre.
EL: When did you discover that you were such a fan of horror? Any specific movie or book that can be blamed?
DH: See previous answer.
EL: Were your parents … concerned … that you were such a fan of horror (I know mine were)?
DH: No. Actually, my parents bought me “Creepy” magazine and monster models for Christmas when I was a kid. Mom took me to see “The Exorcist” when I was 13 years old. Later, they had to endure my obsession with Alice Cooper!
EL: For the uninitiated or simply unaware, would you give a brief synopsis of “Vampire Killers”?
DH: “Vampire Killers” is a gritty, sexy dark web-series about four 20-somethings solicited by a faceless entity to hunt down and destroy a cabal of 13 hot vampire babes in the LA area.
EL: When did you decide that you wanted to enter the horror genre as a writer (and producer/creator)? And why are vampires your monster of choice? They are certainly popular right now: “True Blood”, the Stephenie Meyers’ books.
DH: Vampires are eternal. Pardon the pun, but they are. The current popularity of “True Blood”, “Twilight” and the “Underworld” series are proof of the pudding.
EL: Did you do any research into the vampire mythology? Dracula, Vlad the Impaler, Countess Erzsebet Bathory, Princess Eleonore von Schwarzenberg, etc.? Or have you created vampires with their own idiosyncratic mythos?
DH: If you go to the website, you can read about our Queen vampire (Anesia Titov) and learn about her connection to an ancient Russian lineage of vampires called the “Upirs” with a direct bloodline to Vlad the Impaler. Anesia’s the oldest vampire in the clan (approximately 2,000 years old). Otherwise, no. We didn’t feel the need to conjure the likes of Countess Bathory or Princess von Schwarzenberg. Our vampires are contemporary creations who abide by their own “rules”. For example, our vampires wear crucifixes around their necks, can walk into churches unscathed and don’t have aversions to garlic. To kill our vamps, one needs to pierce the heart…with anything. A stake, a knife, a bullet or a pencil. It doesn’t matter. Just pierce the heart. Can our vamps endure sunlight? I don’t know. We haven’t seen them in the daylight … yet.
EL: I read that you actually conceived “Vampire Killers” more than 5 years ago but shelved it do to other projects. What or who convinced you that the time was now right to dust that project off and get it into production?
DH: “Vampire Killers” was originally conceived as a TV series and then my good friend, Marco Mannone, suggested turning it into a web series. I thought it was an enticing idea and the perfect venue for something like “Vampire Killers”.
EL: How did you go about collecting the cast and crew of “Vampire Killers”? Writer Marco Mannone, who also plays “Travis”, was one of your acting students and writer/director/editor Tim Baldini worked on The St. Francisville Experiment. How did you sell this project to the people involved?
DH: Yeah. Marco was a student of mine. We became friends. He’s a terrific actor and a helluva writer. We’ve collaborated on a few scripts. Marco introduced me to Tim who jumped on-board as our director. The three of us are the heartbeat of “Vampire Killers”.
EL: There are currently six webisodes available – when can fans expect more?
DH: As soon as we figure out how to seduce sponsors in order to make $$$ to invest in more eps.
EL: The set-up of “Vampire Killers” reminds me, superficially, of Robert McCammon’s vampires-in-LA novel, They Thirst. Have you read that book?
DH: Haven’t read They Thirst but Boy’s Life is one of my fave McCammon novels.
EL: Your production company, Dark Water, has the philosophy “With artistic vision, our goal is to manifest dreams.” With “Vampire Killers” being the company’s first production, wouldn’t “nightmares” be a more appropriate word?
DH: Cute, Elaine. Very cute …
EL: In my research for this interview, I came across some information about “Vampire Killers” and the premise that Charlotte and the other 11 vampires in the first season are, in fact, ALL Queens. And that when the 13th Queen arrives in season two, all hell will break loose. Accurate? And I suppose viewers will eventually be treated to the 13 “ways to die” (sounds like something from one of the Saw films)?
DH: Well, that’s close but not completely accurate. There are 13 vamps in Charlotte’s clan. None of them are Queens except for Charlotte. However, there are 12 Queens world-wide and rumors of a 13th Queen on her way. The 13th Queen will be the final key.
EL: Will there be any backstory on the vampires in future webisodes? Why the coven is all-female, where did they come from, why are they in LA, etc.?
DH: There are no male vampires because…well…yeah…[ahem]… You’ll just hafta wait and find out, I guess. There will always be backstory on the vamps [as there are now on the site]. This particular coven is in LA because I am in LA and LA is where we shoot.
EL: How did you come up with the “look” of “Vampire Killers”? And who is your DP? I am under the impression, from another interview you did, that Tim Baldini is not only your director/writer/editor but your DP as well. Hope you’re paying that guy well.
DH: Tim is my director/co-writer/editor…and I’m paying him a whopping $0! Very few peeps got paid in “VK”. I reeled in a lot of favors and owe my posse big time. The look of “VK” was a combination of my desire to keep it gritty and urbanic [“The Shield”-esque] and Tim’s keen sense of that visual.
EL: “Vampire Killers” is, so far, not listed on the IMDb. Where can fans go to discuss the show and give you feedback? Are there “Vampire Killers” pages on any of the social sites like Facebook or MySpace?
DH: Yes. There’re “Vampire Killer” pages on both Facebook and MySpace. Several of the vamp gurlz have their own individual pages on these sites as well.
EL: Having your own production company must give you an extraordinary amount of freedom with the direction you want to go with “Vampire Killers”. For the blood n’guts fans out there, how extreme will you go with the killings? And who does your SFX makeup?
DH: The killings will be disturbing and realistic. My SFX makeup artist is James MacKinnon. We met ages ago on the set of Fox-TV’s “Space: Above and Beyond” where I played a recurring character [an android by the name of El-Roy El] and James was the key make-up artist. He’s a frickin’ genius and I was blessed to have him lend his impeccable talents to “VK”.
EL: I also understand that you have some other horror projects gestating in your head. Care to drop any hints as to what folks might have in store? “From the mind of Doug Hutchison” DOES have a sinister ring for those of us who have followed your genre career.
DH: Marco and I are working on a horror script called “The Devil’s Eye”. Other than that, yeah, I’m always pumping out horror-related screenplays in one way or another.
EL: You mentioned in a previous interview with me that today’s horror films “don’t have the teeth to scare [me]”. Are there any horror movies, past or present, that DO have the teeth?
DH: “The Shining”, “The Abyss” and “Carnival of Souls” are a few of my faves.
EL: What sort of feedback have you been getting for “Vampire Killers”? And how long do you see the series playing?
DH: Everyone who jacks in to see “VK” seems to dig it. Our audience continues to grow. My hope is to snag funding and continue to make as many eps as we can [possibly one a week] until it comes to an evolutionary end.
EL: Care to cook up some interest for your possible next project, The Devil’s Eye? And would you, like genre fave writer/actor/producer/director Larry Fessenden, ever act in one of your own films?
DH: Can’t really talk a lot about “The Devil’s Eye” [‘cause we’re still writing it] other than to say it’s a horror story about a group of con-artist ghost hunters who eventually run into the real deal. And yes, I would absolutely act in my own movies. In fact, Tim, Marco and I are currently developing a comedic script of mine called “Getting Lucky” in which I’ll star as the lead.
EL: The question all writers absolutely hate but, sorry, where do you get your ideas?
DH: Different sources. Sometimes, I’ll dream about a concept, wake up in the middle of the night and write it down. Other times I’m listening to George Noory’s “Coast to Coast”-AM radio and become inspired. Other times, it’s totally life-induced. I imagine everyone [if we were all writers] could conceive a gajillion scripts based on true events in our respective adventures.
EL: Are there any horror novels you would love to adapt for Dark Water? I know there are plenty of great books just waiting for someone to option them and give them the proper cinematic treatment (A Prayer for the Dying REALLY needs to be made).
DH: Are you referring to the Jake Higgins’ novel, “A Prayer for the Dying”? (NB. No, I was referring to the novel by Stewart O’Nan) If so, Mike Hodges made it into a movie back in ’87 starring Mickey Roarke and Bob Hoskins. I, for one, would love to make Peter Straub’s “Shadowland” into a film. I’m surprised no one has attempted it yet.
EL: One question about The Burrowers – was The Horse from Hell you had to ride named “Patches” or “Button”? Inquiring minds …
DH: That’s right! I thought that f-ing horse’s name was “Patches”, but you’re absolutely correct: it was “Button”. Just thinking about that damn devil-horse gives me the shivers…
EL: I read that you kept a journal while filming The Green Mile, hoping to publish it. What happened to that? I know I would love to read about what-all went on while shooting that film.
DH: You can read my journal, “Walking the Green Mile”, in its entirety, on my website: DougHutchison.com.
EL: Anything you would like to add that I haven’t covered?
DH: Yes. You can watch “Vampire Killers” on "VampireKillersTV". Bite in!
Well, you heard the man! Get to watching! Big thanks to Doug for taking time out of his schedule to talk with us.
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