Exclusive Interview Part Two: William Friedkin on Enduring Characters, Spandex Movies, The Exorcist and More - Dread Central
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Exclusive Interview Part Two: William Friedkin on Enduring Characters, Spandex Movies, The Exorcist and More

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Exclusive Interview Part Two: William Friedkin on Enduring Characters, Spandex Movies, The Exorcist and MoreIn Part 1 of our interview with William Friedkin, the iconic filmmaker discussed his latest project, Killer Joe, how a real-life act of violence defined him as a director, and why he’ll always be a “one take” kind of guy.

In this second installment of our chat with Friedkin, we pick up right where we left off discussing the director’s ability to captivate us with brutally honest characters throughout his career. We also spoke to him about The Exorcist, faith and his undying belief in the characters he’s brought to life over the last 45 years.

You’ll find the rest of our interview with Friedkin below, and be sure to check out Killer Joe (review here) when it hits limited theaters this Friday, July 27th.

Dread Central: Maybe I’m wrong on this, but you seem to specialize in creating brutally honest characters; it’s something that we’ve seen in so many of your films over the years, and how you paint these characters in Killer Joe feels akin to a car wreck. You know you shouldn’t stop to look at the carnage, but you can’t help but stop. I don’t know if that makes any sense, but…

William Friedkin: Oh, I know what you mean; I’m just not interested in making ‘spandex’ movies. I’m not interested in seeing that stuff so I’m not interested in doing it. I’m much more interested in watching films that go deeper, and there are certainly a lot more filmmakers out there that go deeper into the well than I do so those are the ones I’m interested in.

Dread Central: I would love to hear more about how you shot the final kitchen scene; I think your claustrophobic shooting style really lent itself well to the intimacy of those moments of tension. Was it a challenge at all for you to keep the intensity going when shooting?

William Friedkin: Not really; this kind of style happens a lot in many great films with a claustrophobic setting like ours. There’s All About Eve, an extremely well-acted and wonderful film that did claustrophobia well. See, where dialogue is the most important in a film is in scenes like that final one in Killer Joe. It’s not just their body language; it’s through their words. That’s not a challenge; that’s a gift.

Most scripts now don’t have real words; it’s always like ‘Hey! How have you been?’ ‘Good! And how have you been?’…that kind of stuff. Who gives a crap- that’s not real dialogue. This guy (Letts) is a real writer; he writes character and he writes subtlety. His metaphors are so subtle that you don’t even recognize them. This movie is only about what it is about; these characters aren’t there to ‘stand for something’ unless you want them to.

But I love these characters in Killer Joe; they’re so finely drawn that, to me, they’re like characters you’d see in a painting. Like the people you’d see in a Rembrandt canvas, I believe in those people. Or when I see Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring” portrait, I can see that girl really existing. I’ve spent an hour and a half alone in front of the “Mona Lisa” and she’s lit up with a ton of these tiny little lights that just light up her face so well; it’s breathtaking just to imagine.

And when they take those lights away, though, it’s almost like she dies; she becomes virtually invisible, which is so interesting to me. But I love just standing there and taking in this woman and thinking about her actual existence and the fact that there is a life there that is so important, it was captured in that painting. And that’s the mark of a true artist really.

I’ve made a couple of films where I believed that the characters existed; sure, they’re not “Mona Lisa’s” but I believe in Ellen Burstyn’s character, the mother from The Exorcist, completely and wholly. I believe in Jason Miller’s character, too, the young priest who questions his faith. You know, whenever I see clips of that, I instantly regard them as people not as actors playing a part. And the people in Killer Joe do that for me as well.

Of course some of what you see is drawn from within the actors; to play any role convincingly, you have to find the character within yourself. I love Juno; I see so much of Dottie inside of her, but of course, she’s not like Dottie at all. And Gina- I love Gina; she just found something good inside of Sharla amongst all the bad. I like these people, these characters, and so we had a shorthand on set which helped so much.

If I actually had to go out and direct them and had to say, ‘Do it like this,’ it would have been an awful movie.

Dread Central: When you’re filming tough scenes, like a lot of the scenes in Killer Joe, how important is developing trust between an actor and the director?

William Friedkin: I think one of the most important things you can do as a director is create that kind of atmosphere so that the actors can feel free to create and not feel as though they’re being judged in any way.

Dread Central: Now, that Killer Joe is getting its release, what are you looking for in potential future projects?

William Friedkin: Something different, something that I feel is both challenging and unique and that surprises me. The greatest direction, or advice, I’ve ever heard a director give a performer was something that Sergei Diaghilev said to (Vaslav) Nijinsky, both being involved with the Russian ballet of Monte Carlo. And before Nijinsky would go out and dance “The Rite of Spring,” Diaghilev took him by the shoulders and said in French “Étonne- moi!” which meant “Surprise me!” and I have often said that to actors just right before a take. I say, “Now, surprise me!”

I mean, they know about the scene, they know what they have to do so now it’s time to forget all of that and surprise me but also, surprise yourself. That’s the only direction I’ve ever used and that’s the kind of feel I look for in a script. Now with Killer Joe, the script surprised me. It really did; I thought that if you could cast this picture right, get someone to finance it, hopefully get some people to see it, that it would end up becoming a surprising experience. That’s what I look for.

Really, I’ve only made 16 films in 45 years, and yet, I work all the time. I’ve also written a number of my own scripts; I did the final version of The French Connection, I wrote To Live and Die in L.A. and I wrote a couple of others, but it is hard for me to write. I’ve only seen ‘it’ just a few times with a few writers like (Tracy) Letts, Harold Pinter and even Bill Blatty for his script for The Exorcist, which was really great.

Dread Central: Speaking of The Exorcist– Is it hard to believe that the 40th anniversary of the film is already coming up next year? Frankly, I’m still kind of stunned that there’s been no remake, but I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that the movie is still scary as hell. Do you see that terror as a big part of its enduring legacy then? I feel like that’s part of what makes The Exorcist an untouchable film.

William Friedkin: I’m not aware of that; what I AM aware of is that I didn’t make that movie just to scare you. It’s a movie about the mystery of faith, and that’s something that occupies a lot of people; it even occupies some of the people who call themselves atheists who don’t even believe in God. We all think about these things: Is there anything after this, or is it all over? We have no say whatsoever about how we come into this world or how we leave it so everything is a mystery- birth, death, life, love- all of it is a mystery.

And so The Exorcist touches on that mystery; the fact that it was based on an actual case helped me to make it real, not make it as a horror film. I made it as though I believed in the story but not as though I know from whence that story came. It’s also explores the idea of why bad things happen to good people and that helplessness when you can’t save someone you love, and while maybe I don’t believe in a tangible ‘devil,’ I do believe in pure evil, and I think that’s another view that people can relate to. I don’t know; maybe that’s why this movie’s legacy has lasted as long as it has.

But the sequels to it were all done to cash in on the name of the original, and the guys who did them believed in nothing- well, nothing except separating people from their hard-earned money.

A very special thank you to William Friedkin for taking time to speak with Dread Central!

Exclusive Interview Part Two: William Friedkin on Enduring Characters, Spandex Movies, The Exorcist and More

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Alien: Covenant’s Carmen Ejogo Joins True Detective Season 3

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“From the dusty mesa her looming shadow grows…”

The first season of HBO’s “True Detective” was one of the best seasons ever put on a TV screen. Hands down. The second season was another story altogether. While not a complete waste of time (Colin Farrell owed) the season was basically merely ‘meh’.

But what about “True Detective” season 3?

Well, a few months back it was announced that the third season had been greenlit by HBO, with creator Nic Pizzolatto returning to pen the series and director Jeremy Saulnier (Green Room) taking the helm of the episodes.

Today we have news that Carmen Ejogo – who you may recognize Ejogo from such recent fright flicks as It Comes at Night, Alien: Covenant, and The Purge: Anarchy – will be joining the previously announced Mahershala Ali (Moonlight) for Season 3.

Ejogo will play the female lead, Amelia Reardon, who THR describes as “an Arkansas schoolteacher with a connection to two missing children in 1980.”

Nice Pizzolatto will serve as showrunner and direct alongside Jeremy Saulnier. Executive producers include Pizzolatto, Saulnier, Scott Stephens and season one stars Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey as well as original director Cary Joji Fukunaga. Steve Golin, Bard Dorros and Richard Brown are also credited as exec producers.

Synopsis:

A macabre crime in the heart of the Ozarks and a mystery that deepens over decades and plays out in three separate time periods.

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Danielle Harris Tried to Get Jamie Lloyd into New Halloween Movie

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One of the top films all of us are looking forward to the most here at Dread Central is Blumhouse’s upcoming sequel/reboot thing to John Carpenter’s Halloween.

The new Halloween (2018) film is written by Danny McBride and David Gordon Green and is all set to be directed by Green this year. Recently we learned that original Halloween star Jamie Lee Curtis was going to be returning to the new film.

Not only that, but Curtis’ classic character Laurie Strode would have a daughter… played by Judy Greer. But what about Danielle Harris?

After all, Harris was the star of Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers and Halloween 5: The Curse of Michael Myers. Let alone, she had a starring role in both Rob Zombie’s remake and it’s sequel. So how about the new film?

Turns out Harris tried to get her character Jamie Llyod (aka the daughter of Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode) from Halloween 4 and 5 into the new film… but she was turned down by Blumhouse and the new creative team. That sucks.

Harris was pretty bummed about the whole deal and took to Facebook recently to clear the air. You can check out quotes from her video, along with the video itself, below.

After that make sure to hit us up and let us know how much you would have liked to see Harris return to Halloween in the comments below or on social media!

“What I am bummed about is… [Laurie] has a daughter,” Harris says. “I was okay with it when she had a son… but they’re saying it’s the last one and… she has a daughter. And it’s not Jamie. It’s just kind of a bummer, I guess. I think somebody had said, it wouldn’t have hurt the movie to have Jamie reunited with [Laurie]. But that didn’t happen.”

“We did put in a call, thought it’d be kinda cool even just to have a little flashback…” She continues. “They were not interested. So. I tried.”

Blumhouse’s Halloween hits theaters October 19, 2018.

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Posted by Danielle Harris on Monday, November 6, 2017

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Through the Cracks – Trick or Treat (1986) Review

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Starring Marc Price, Tony Fields, Lisa Orgolini, Glen Morgan, Gene Simmons, and Ozzy Osbourne

Directed by Charles Martin Smith


I have been a horror fan for more than half of my life at this point. Meaning I have seen most of the quality horror offerings under the sun. But that said, every once in awhile a classic sneaks past so we wanted to create this “Through the Cracks” review section for such films.

Case in point, I had never seen the Halloween horror flick Trick or Treat until last night. I know, right? How the hell did that happen? But these things do happen and so for everyone that has seen the flick a million times, this will be a review of the movie from a super horror fan that – at the age of 33 – is seeing Trick or Treat for the very first time.

Now let’s get to it.

First off you have to love the movie’s plot. Mixing horror and heavy metal seems like a given, yet preciously few films Frankenstein these two great tastes together.

Like many of you out there, I am a big metal fan as well as a big horror fan. The two seem to go together like chocolate and peanut butter. Or Jason and horny campers.

I dig bands like Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, and even those hair metal bands (Dokken forever!) and I’m well aware of the legends surrounding playing these records backward.

Off the top of my head, the only other flick that combines the two to this degree is the (relatively) recent horror-comedy Deathgasm. I say more horror-metal flicks! Or should we call it Metal-Horror? Yeah, that’s a much more metal title.

It only makes sense that someone, somewhere would take the idea of “What if Ozzy Osbourne really was evil and came back from the dead (you know, if he had passed away during his heyday) to torment a loner fan?” Great premise for a movie!

And Trick or Treat delivers on the promise of this premise in spades. Sammi Curr is an epic hybrid of the best of the best metal frontmen and his resurrection via speaker is one of the great horror birthing scenes I have seen in all my years.

Add to that the film feels like a lost entry in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. More specifically the film feels like it would fit snugly in between two of my favorite entries in that series, Dream Warriors and The Dream Master.

This movie is 80’s as all f*ck and I loved every minute of it.

And speaking of how this film brought other minor classics to the forefront of my brain, let’s talk about the film’s central villain, Sammi Curr. This guy looks like he could share an epic horror band with the likes of Mary Lou from Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II and the Drill Killer rocker from Slumber Party Massacre Part II.

Picture that band for a moment and tell me they aren’t currently playing the most epic set in Hell as we speak. I say let’s see an Avengers-style series of films based on these minor horror icons sharing the stage and touring the country’s high school proms!

In the end Trick or Treat has more than it’s fair share of issues. Sammi Curr doesn’t enter the film until much too late and is dispatched way too easily. Water? Really? That’s it?

That said, the film is still a blast as director Charles Martin Smith keeps the movie rocking like an 80’s music video with highlights being Sammi’s rock show massacre at the prom and his final assault on our hero teens in the family bathroom.

Rockstar lighting for days.

Even though the film has issues (zero blood, a rushed ending) none of that mattered much to this horror hound as the film was filled to the brim with striking horror/metal imagery and a killer soundtrack via Fastway and composer Christopher Young.

Plus you’ve got to love the cameos by Gene Simmons (boy, his character just dropped right out of the movie, huh?) and Ozzy Osbourne as a mad-as-hell Preacher that isn’t going to take any more of this devil music. P.S. Watch for the post-credits tag.

More than a few of my closest horror buddies have this film placed high on their annual Halloween must-watch lists. And after (finally) viewing the film for myself, I think I just may have to add the film to mine as well. Preferably on VHS.

Trick or Treat is an 80’s horror classic. If you dig films like Popcornand if you put the film off like I did, remedy that tonight and slap a copy in the old VHS/DVD player.

Just don’t play it backward… God knows what could happen.

All said and done, I enjoyed the hell out of my first viewing of Trick or Treat. But what do YOU think of the film? Make sure to hit us up and let us know below or on social media!

Now bring on Trick or Treat 2: The Prom Band from Hell, featuring Sammi Curr, Mary Lou Maloney, and Atanas Ilitch’s Driller Killer from Slumber Party Massacre Part II!

  • Trick or Treat (1986) 3.5
3.5

Summary

Charles Martin Smith’s Trick or Treat is a sure-fire Halloween treat for fans of 80’s horror flicks, as well as fans of heavy metal music.

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User Rating 3.25 (12 votes)
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