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Roundtable Interview: Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken Talk Seven Psychopaths and More

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Last week Dread Central had the opportunity to catch up with two of the seven “psychos” – Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell – from CBS Films’ upcoming darkly comedic flick Seven Psychopaths.

Written and directed by Martin McDonagh, Seven Psychopaths also stars Colin Farrell, Woody Harrelson, Abbie Cornish, Olga Kurylenko and Tom Waits. The film follows a struggling Hollywood writer (Farrell) who gets mixed up in his friends’ crazy scheme after they kidnap the beloved Shih-Tzu belonging to a murderous gangster (Harrelson) who will stop at nothing to get his precious pooch back.

Check out the highlights from our roundtable interview with the always entertaining Walken and Rockwell, and look for Seven Psychopaths in theaters everywhere on October 12th!

Question: Well, you guys have both worked with so many directors throughout your careers; what did you see from Martin’s sensibilities that suited you well in working with him?

Christopher Walken: I don’t know; that would be more of a question for this guy (Sam). But no, I like him very much, and they say casting is some big percentage of movies and I think that’s true. If the casting is right, then you don’t have to work as hard because whatever you are is what they’re looking for.

So I don’t know; I know there’s something about my personality that’s suited for this movie. Just something about Martin’s taste I guess.

Question: On the subject of casting, Mr. Walken, were you always offered the role that you took in Seven Psychopaths or did you look at some of the other roles, too?

Christopher Walken: Nah, there was really one role I could play; I’m much older than the rest of them. I suppose I could have played the Tom (Waits) part – maybe – but it’s better with him.

Reporter: Or even Woody’s (Harrelson) part–

Sam Rockwell: (to Walken) Yeah, that’s the part you’d usually be playing; that’s why it’s genius that it’s not you in the movie.

Christopher Walken: Yeah, if I was THAT old and THAT crazy about my dog, well…geez (laughs), this movie would have ended up an entirely different animal I think.

Question: Sam, can you talk about your character and his relationship with Colin in the film? A lot of the comedic moments in the film come from the relationship between you guys; what was the approach you both took in fleshing out these characters?

Sam Rockwell: Colin and I had met each other ten years previous, but we didn’t really know each other all that well. Chris and I already knew each other from a play that we did together so he wanted Colin and I to bond so the three of us (Sam, Colin and Martin) all went to Joshua Tree and rented a house there. At one point, we stopped at a rest stop and Colin picked out the bear hat, the one I wear in the movie- he found it and put it on my head so he told me to eat Cheetos and chocolate milk. That might even be in the movie (laughs).

But yeah, I had always thought that while working on it; we were just talking about how Chris was part of the original stage production of “Hurlyburly,” the part that Sean Penn plays in the movie. It was the relationship between that character and Chazz Palminteri’s is very similar to the relationship between Billy and Marty in this movie; the out-of-work actor and the struggling writer who are sort of co-dependent on each other.

Question: We were talking to Martin about your (Christopher) unusual pronunciation of the word ‘hallucinogens’ in the film and he wasn’t quite sure if that was how you would normally say it or that was purposeful on your part?

Christopher Walken: Oh- you mean “hal-you-cin-o-gens.” (laughs) I mean, I come from a time where that’s the correct way to say that word.

Sam Rockwell: You mean British? (laughs)

Question: You both are known for creating such memorable characters, what for you did you find memorable about these characters in particular?

Sam Rockwell: Wait, can you say that again?

Question: You both are known for playing memorable characters-

Sam Rockwell: Okay, good; I just wanted to hear that part again (laughs). No but seriously- thank you.

Christopher Walken: I know what you’re saying; I always get told that by a lot of people who have seen it, but we’re all kind of in the business in this movie so I’ll be interested to see how regular audiences react. You know, I had to go to the dentist two mornings ago, and when I walked in, the dentist says to me, “Looking forward to October 12th.” I said, “What? What’s happening then?” (laughs) I knew the movie was opening in October, but then he says to me, “You know, your movie is opening,” and I said, “Oh yeah, right.”

So when him and his family go and see the movie, that’s when I can get an impression about this movie. When I’m on the road making a movie in another city, on my day off I always go to the movies. Always.

Sam Rockwell: He saw Puss in Boots while we were making this. (laughs)

Christopher Walken: I did, I did! I liked it. But I love going to the movies- you get a ticket, you sit there, and to me it’s very interesting to be around people who aren’t personally invested in you in any way. They’re just going to the movies.

Sam Rockwell: What’s memorable for me- I mean, I hate to be ‘Mister Whatever’ but they experience that we had during the play and with Colin, Woody and everybody on the film it was such a great experience. We took our jobs very seriously but we also had a lot of fun; that memory, that’s what is really memorable for me.

But you know, who knows? Of course we want the movie to be a smash hit, but who knows what’s going to happen? I have memories of films that nobody ever saw that I was very proud of, and those are still great memories. It would be great if people saw this movie; it’s a cool movie.

Question: Were there any movies in particular that inspired you with this role, this performance?

Sam Rockwell: I think there were; I actually watched Colin in In Bruges a couple of times because I thought the rhythms and the characters were similar. There’s tons of stuff that this guy (Colin) has done throughout his career; you know, I’m like Spider-Man, stealing things from actors to put in the web arsenal (laughs). They become like spider webs, ready at any moment.

I did watch that documentary Grizzly Man; I thought watching that guy was helpful to watch. Also, Kathy Bates in Misery- I watched that because her obsession with James Caan…

Christopher Walken: Grizzly Man- that guy was crazy.

Sam Rockwell: Oh yeah, when he talks to the park rangers (laughs). With bananas or something like that…

Christopher Walken: Disturbing.

Sam Rockwell: But yeah, I actually found that helpful for when I did the play with Martin because my character in that was a nerdier version of Billy. He was a hotel clerk and his character was a bit more like Woody’s character here.

Christopher Walken: You know, there was this desk clerk once where when you’d take the elevator, you’d come to find out that he would go up the stairs and get off on your floor while you’re on the way up. Then he’d follow you down the hall to your room- I just remember that guy so vividly and he reminded me of that character in the play.

Sam Rockwell: Oh yeah; that character, again, was more like Woody’s character or like Ralph Fiennes in In Bruges. The gasoline, the whole thing- and a suitcase of cut-off hands.

Christopher Walken: I said to Martin once in rehearsal, “How did you ever come to write a play about a guy who goes around with a suitcase filled with cut-off hands?” and he said, “You know, I was just sitting there one day and thought to myself, ‘I wonder what it would be like for a guy who went all over the place with a suitcase filled with hands.'” It’s as simple as that.

Question: What did you guys find to be the most surprising aspect of the script?

Christopher Walken: The whole thing is surprising; whenever you read a script that has big chunks of intelligent and juicy dialogue, you know- that’s pretty unusual. I have a lot of trouble with scripts, I have a lot of trouble imagining things while I’m reading them. Sometimes if you’re lucky before you start shooting the actors will sit around a table and they read the script out loud. For me, that’s a big moment because no matter how many times I read a script before I get there, I can’t see it. But the moment that I get there, that’s when I finally can see it.
Obviously, this was a terrific script but I couldn’t imagine it.

Question: Mr. Walken, you just mentioned those juicy bits of dialogue; is that something specifically you seek out? So many of your performances have these really great dialogues.

Christopher Walken: You always look for good stuff. What I meant when I said that was that very few scripts have that kind of focus on what people are saying. Movies can be a lot of things, but they’re usually not about dialogue; you know, the kind of dialogue that tells you where you are and where you’re going.

But you don’t get really smart, fun stuff to say all that often.

Sam Rockwell: Fun stuff to say? Yeah, but I think good material seeks him (Christopher) out because he’s so good at those monologues. Like Biloxi Blues, True Romance, Pulp Fiction with the watch shoved up the… (laughs). Man, he’s great at that.

Christopher Walken: Yeah, but there aren’t a lot of screenwriters who do that.

Sam Rockwell: Oh I know they don’t do that, but when you have a specialty, and you’re good at that, so they find you. That’s no accident.

Christopher Walken: Yeah, I suppose that’s true, but I’ve also made four studio movie musicals over the years, and these days they just don’t make those kinds of movies now. If you’re an actor and you can tap dance a little bit, you can be in that movie.

Roundtable Interview: Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken Talk Seven Psychopaths and More

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Dread Central UK Enjoys a Box of IT

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One of the best things about writing for Dread Central is the cool gifts companies send us in exchange for covering their releases.

With Stephen King’s It now being available on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK, Warner Bros. were kind enough to send me an It-themed gift box absolutely free of charge. I collected this beautiful piece of merchandise from Organic Marketing’s London headquarters, and it is quite possibly my favorite thing in the world. And that’s not an exaggeration.

Inside this beautiful box were four Pennywise-themed cupcakes, a Pennywise Vinyl Pop figure in its original packaging, a laminated flyer, and of course, a copy of the film on Blu-ray. As you can see from the images below, a red balloon, just like the one held by Pennywise in the film, was attached to the box, although I’m sorry to say that it has now been burst (and I’m keeping the remains).

It, which now has the honor of being the highest-grossing R-rated horror film of all time, was directed by Andy Muschietti and stars Bill Skarsgård, Jaeden Lieberher, Wyatt Oleff, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, and Finn Wolfhard. With the film now being available on home video in the UK, you shouldn’t waste any time ordering your copy, especially since we gave it a perfect score in our review.

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Fearsome Facts – Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966)

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Sir Christopher Lee returned to portray the charismatic count of Transylvania in Hammer’s Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966) for the first time since taking on the iconic role in 1958’s Horror of Dracula – an eight year absence. 

And while Lee endured a love/hate relationship playing the Carpathian Count over the years, the actor reluctantly tackled the role a total of 10 times for the Silver Screen. Three of those performances came outside of the purview of Hammer Horror, but this list is dedicated to the first Hammer Dracula sequel to feature the return of Christopher Lee in the lead role.

Now, here are 5 Things You May Not Know About Dracula: Prince of Darkness.

5. Dracula: Speechless

Dialogue never played a crucial part in Christopher Lee’s portrayals as Count Dracula, but this film is the epitome of that contentious notion. Lee doesn’t utter a single word during Dracula: Prince of Darkness’ 90 minutes of run time. In interviews over the years, Lee said that he was so unhappy with his lines that he protested and refused to say them during the filming process. “Because I had read the script and refused to say any of the lines,” Lee said in an interview at the University College of Dublin.

However, screenwriter Jimmy Sangster insisted that the original script was written without any dialogue for Dracula. There was even a theory that circulated for a time which postulated that Hammer could not afford Lee’s growing salary, so the studio decided to limit the Count’s screen time. Did this lead to the demise of Dracula’s dialogue? Regardless of whom you want to believe, Dracula is the strong, silent type in Prince of Darkness. 

4. Double Duty for Drac

Hammer Film Productions doubled down, so to speak, on the production and post-production aspects of Dracula: Prince of Darkness. First, the studio filmed the vampire flick back-to-back with another project titled Rasputin: The Mad Monk (1966). In doing so, Hammer used many of the same sets, actors – including Francis Matthews and Suzan Farmer – and crew members to shoot both motion pictures.

Second, Dracula: Prince of Darkness was featured in a double billing alongside the film The Plague of the Zombies (1966) when it screened in London. Insert cheesy cliche: “Double your pleasure, double your fun with Doublemint Gum.” 

3. Stunt Double Nearly Drowned

Dracula: Prince of Darkness introduced a new weakness in the wicked baddie, but it nearly cost a stuntman his life. During the film, it was revealed that running water could destroy Dracula. Wait, what? Apparently, leaving the faucets on at night not only prevents frozen pipes, but blood-sucking vampires, too.

All kidding aside, it was during the climactic battle scene in which Christopher Lee’s stunt double almost succumb to the icy waters on set. Stuntman Eddie Powell stepped in as the Count during that pivotal moment, as Dracula slipped into the watery grave, but Powell was trapped under the water himself and almost died.

2. Lee Loathed What Hammer Did to Stoker’s Character

Christopher Lee’s return to Hammer’s Dracula franchise was a stroke of genius on the part of producers, but Lee was more than a little reticent when it came to initially voicing his dislike for playing the iconic role. As mentioned above, a lot of speculation swirled around the lack of dialogue given to Lee in the Prince of Darkness script. And if you don’t count the opening flashback sequence, which revisits the ending of Horror of Dracula (1958), Count Dracula doesn’t appear on screen until the 45-minute mark of the film.

Dracula’s lack of character, and presence, began to affect Lee particularly when it came to signing on to play the character in the three films following Prince of Darkness. Indeed, the lack of meaningful character development led to Lee initially turning down Dracula Has Risen From the Grave (1968), Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970) and Scars of Dracula (1970). Lee said in countless interviews that he never got to play the real version of Count Dracula created by Bram Stoker, at least via Hammer Studios. This was a true disappointment to the late actor.

But Hammer guilt Lee into taking on the role over and over again, because the studio claimed to have already sold the aforementioned films to the United States with Lee’s name attached to the projects. Hammer informed Lee that if he didn’t return the company would have to lay off many of their workers. The tactic worked, since Lee was friends with many of the Dracula crew members. Fortunately for fans, Lee kept coming back for blood.

1. Faux Pas

Outside of the character of Dracula only appearing on screen for the last half of the movie, Dracula: Prince of Darkness had even more pressing issues that unfortunately survived all the way to the final cut of the film. One of the most appalling of these occurrences happens during the picture’s climatic confrontation. Watch the skies above Dracula and you will see the trail of a jet-engine plane staining the sky.

Another faux pas occurs in this same sequence when Dracula succumbs to the icy waters. Watch closely as the camera’s long shot clearly reveals the pivots holding the ice up underneath Chris Lee. Finally, watch the dead girl who is being carried during the opening funeral sequence. She is clearly breathing and quite heavily at that.

***

Which Dracula: Prince of Darkness moments did you find the most interesting? Were there any obscure facts you would have enjoyed seeing make our list? Sound off on social media!

 

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Desolation Review – The Joy of Being Rescued and All the Surprises That Come With It

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Starring Raymond J. Barry, Brock Kelly, Dominik Garcia-Lorido

Directed by David Moscow


It’s those random, once-in-a-lifetime encounters that only a select few get the chance to experience: when we as regular participants in this wonderful thing known as The Rat Race, stumble across a soul that we’ve only witnessed on the big screen. I’m talking about a celebrity encounter, and while some of the masses will chalk the experience up as nothing more than a passing moment, others hold it to a much larger interior scale…then you REALLY get to know the person, and that’s when things get interesting.

Director David Moscow’s thriller, Desolation follows shy hotel employee Katie (Lorido) and her “fortuitous” brush with Hollywood pretty-boy Jay (Kelly) during one of his stops – the two hit it off, and together they begin a sort of whirlwind-romance that takes her away from her job and drops her in the heart of Los Angeles at the apartment building he resides in. You can clearly see that she has been a woman who’s suffered some emotional trauma in her past, and this golden boy just happens to gallop in on his steed and sweep her off of her feet, essentially rescuing her from a life of mundane activity. She gets the full-blown treatment: a revamped wardrobe, plenty of lovin’, and generally the life she’s wanted for some time.

Things return to a bit of normalcy when Jay has to return to work, leaving Katie to spread out at his place, but something clearly isn’t kosher with this joint. With its odd inhabitants (a very creepy priest played by Raymond J. Barry), even more bizarre occurrences, and when one scared young woman cannot even rely on the protection from the local police, it all adds up to a series of red flags that would have even the strongest of psyches crying for their mothers. What Moscow does with this movie is give it just enough swerves so that it keeps your skull churning, but doesn’t overdo its potential to conclusively surprise you, and that’s what makes the film an entertaining watch.

While Lorido more than holds her ground with her portrayal of a woman who has been hurt in the past, and is attempting to place her faith in a new relationship, it’s Barry that comes out on top here. His performance as Father Bill is the kind of stuff that wouldn’t exactly chill you to the bone, but he’s definitely not a man of the cloth that you’d want to be stuck behind closed doors with – generally unsettling. As I mentioned earlier, the plot twists are well-placed, and keep things fresh just when you think you’ve got your junior private investigator badge all shined up. Desolation is well-worth a look, and really has kicked off 2018 in a promising fashion – let’s see what the other 11 months will feed us beasts.

  • Film
3.0

Summary

Got your eye on that shining movie star or starlet? Better make sure it’s what you really want in life – you know what they say about curiosity.

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