Horror Icon Tom Holland Talks Ship of Fear, Twisted Tales, The Ten O’Clock People, and More

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Tom Holland Set to Start Killing FrankWhen you talk about horror legends, one name that has to be included is Tom Holland. From Fright Night to Child’s Play, Tom has had a hand in some of the most memorable horror films of all time. He recently sat down with Dread Central to talk about his projects past, present and future.

Holland will spend the next year helping to organize and host Ship of Fear, a horror convention cruise sponsored by Chiller that will set sail on October 28, 2013. Between now and then Holland and his team will create the most intense festival they can imagine… and then ship it out to sea. “The idea came about because I’ve been watching the horror convention circuit grow more professional,” Holland said. “I’ve only done two in my entire life where I had to leave LA, and one was in Franklin, Indiana, which is about half an hour from where my father was born, so that was doing it for the home team. And only one other than that, and that was a Fright Night reunion. And at first it felt like a cottage industry where a bunch of horror fans would get together and say, ‘Hey, let’s have a convention.’ And a lot of them were sort of fly-by-night operations and not terribly well organized. But as the fans base has grown, they obviously have become very, very professional.”

So just how exactly did Holland get the idea to put a horror convention on a cruise? “I’d been talking with my music supervisor, a fellow named David Chackler. David has been my musical supervisor since Fright Night,” Holland said. “He’s the one who put together the soundtrack album. He had the great idea in Fright Night to do the songs so the needle drops were oriented with what was happening in the movie, which at the time was rather innovative. So David has a smooth jazz catalogue, and they were doing smooth jazz cruises. He didn’t know anything about horror conventions, but he knew about cruises and I didn’t. So I’ve been talking to him about how interesting I’ve found some of the horror conventions because they’ve been growing more intelligent all the time. The panels are interesting, a lot of the stuff they had for sale when it went more toward the arts just became more interesting. And he (David) was the one who made the leap and said, ‘Why don’t we take a horror convention and put it on the ocean?'”

And right from the get-go Holland loved the concept. “I thought it was just a terrific idea and that’s what we’re doing and that’s where the idea came from,” Holland said. “And it came about because David already had a relationship established with Time Life and Carnival Cruises. They were used to doing the themed cruises. And I’ve known they’ve tried to do horror cruises before, but I don’t know that they’ve ever had the same level of professionalism before because this is a large undertaking. It takes a lot of coordination from a lot of different levels, and so far the response has been very encouraging.”

Horror Icon Tom Holland Talks Ship of Fear, Twisted Tales, The Ten O'Clock People, and More

And who better to bring in heavy-hitting horror celebrity guests than an icon like Tom Holland? And the planning of his Ship of Fear cruise definitely reflects that. “I know so many people. The directors scheduled to appear are people I’ve known for a long time, and I respect all of them,” Holland said. “They’re talented people and I like them. Some I’m closer to than others. I’ve known Mick Garris it seems like all my life. Since ‘Amazing Stories.’ I did an ‘Amazing Story,’ and he was one of the writers. I think they’re all just great. Joe Dante, Mary Lambert, Don Coscarelli. Those people I went to directly because I have a relationship with them. Then I tried to find actors that had appeared in their movies. And we’re going to continue to add to the list of horror celebrities. I wanted to put together a cruise where during the day we could have multiple panels where the directors could discuss their films with the actors that had been in them. I think that’s interesting. It elevates them. It’s about the art of filmmaking and the art of making horror films, and a lot of these people did really seminal works.”

In addition to horror celebs, Holland has plans to add music and some other fun to the cruise. Alice Cooper and Dee Snider are already scheduled to appear. “The horror conventions I’ve been to, on Saturday nights they’ll have the thrash metal bands and you can feel people really liking to party so we got some great acts for that,” Holland said. “But what I’m hoping for is that we’re going to have some great discussions about film and make-up and the art of sculpting during the day, and then I’m hoping at night we can all get totally trashed and dance our brains out and have a great time. You don’t have very far to go to get home. You don’t have to get in the car. All you have to do is make sure you don’t fall off the boat and you can stagger your way back to the cabin.”

If this sounds like a fun vacation to you, the dates are set and you can secure your reservation now. “Ship of Fear will set sail next Halloween, October 28 through November 2, 2013,” Holland said. “We’re going to be adding celebrity guests and laying it all out. We’re going to be doing a Halloween Ball with full-on costumes. We’ve got make-up artists that will work with the contest winners for the Halloween Ball. We’ve got the Screech at the Beach because we have our own private island. We’re going to mingle for five days and the celebrities will mingle with the guests…and I think a lot of the fun will be had at the various bars.”

Holland is a lover of horror art, and that will certainly be evident when the Ship of Fear sets sail. “I’ve gotten into what Eliot Brodsky is doing with Monsterpalooza because that’s an emphasis on horror art and sculpting,” Holland said. “I’m very familiar with that because I’ve almost always done in-camera F/X. I’m a big fan of the artwork that goes into it and also of storyboards because I’ve been dealing with that. I just like the horror art.”

The Ship of Fear will certainly be a thrilling event for every level of horror fan, from the casual observer to the die-hard fanatic. “I would like to make it a five-day immersive experience where it goes beyond any individual and the whole thing works together and you have a variety of experiences that take in every facet of making a horror movie,” Holland said. “We haven’t gotten them all yet, but we’re hoping to have the big people that do the in-camera F/X. I’m inviting the people that create the make-up. You’ll have the actors… I’m trying to do the stuff they do at the traditional horror conventions. You’ll have the monsters, you’ll have Kane Hodder and Tony Todd and Chucky, and I’d like to have panels that can have serious film discussions at the same time. I want to put up sort of our own Hollywood maze, sort of a haunted corridor, that kind of thing. We’ll have a wide range of things that appeal to all horror fans from the surface fan to the hardcore fans that want to know how the films get made.”

In addition to organizing the whopping undertaking that is the Ship of Fear, Holland has a laundry list of other projects going on. He recently set up an online store where fans can go to get some authentic props, memorabilia and horror art. Be sure to check out Tom Holland’s Twisted Curios for an opportunity to own some amazingly horrific items. “I’ve set up a store called Tom Holland’s Twisted Curios for the fans because over the years I’ve been getting requests for signed autographed pictures, so they are there,” Holland said. “But what I’m hoping to do is bring in more horror artists. Now I’ve got Clint Carney on there, and I’ve just signed someone else to come on. So I’m hoping I can provide a place for people who are into horror art and turn it into a place where you can go and look at a wide variety of artists who are echoing the themes and characters that we’ve all come to hate and fear and love.”

Horror Icon Tom Holland Talks Ship of Fear, Twisted Tales, The Ten O'Clock People, and More


Horror Icon Tom Holland Talks Ship of Fear, Twisted Tales, The Ten O'Clock People, and MoreWith Tom Holland’s Twisted Curios, Holland is really hoping to provide a venue where horror artists can show and sell their works. “I’m hoping that as the site becomes more credible, I’ll be able to add more horror artists,” Holland said. “And I’m going to take the props from ‘Twisted Tales’ and put them up on the site, too.”

And, of course, the “Twisted Tales” Holland is referring to is “Tom Holland’s Twisted Tales,” an anthology-style television show produced by his and Chackler’s Dead Rabbit Films company that will be premiering on FEARnet next year. “I’ve been very fortunate,” Holland said. “I got some terrific performances there. A lot of friends coming together to help. Angela Bettis is wonderful. Ray Wise is wonderful. William Forsythe, Danielle Harris…it’s just an endless list.”

Describing what fans can expect from “Tom Holland’s Twisted Tales,” Holland said, “We’re going to put it out as 10 episodes. It’s an anthology series. They go from short to half-hour and hour programs. It’s a mix. I’m sure the people are going to like some episodes more than others, but conceptually, creatively, it’s very interesting. We had very little money to work with, but I know all these actors from over the years, and they came down and made it affordable for me to work with them. I got some really great performances. I’ll compete with anything out there on television in terms of the acting. I’m very enthusiastic about the actors. You’ve got Amber Benson; you’ve got James Duvall and Angela Bettis in one episode. I mean, that’s a helluva cast. William Forsythe and Danielle Harris going at each other. Yeah, I’ll watch that.”

Additionally, Holland will again collaborate with Stephen King to bring the short story “The Ten O’Clock People” to the big screen. “They’re in negotiations right now with the cast,” Holland said. “We’ve got Rachel Nichols for the heroine, but we’re in negotiations for the male lead. We’re hoping to be shooting by the first week in December in Providence, Rhode Island. I think everyone knows it’s a Stephen King short story, I’m very excited about it.”

Asked whether it sticks close to the original story or ventures off, Holland said, “Oh, we venture off a lot.”

With a lifetime of experience, we asked Holland what kind of big changes he’s seen since his early years in horror through today. If you want a crash course in horror, pay attention when you read this: “Digital has crushed the cost of production and it’s given rise to found footage, which has become an incredibly inexpensive way of making movies,” Holland said. “Blair Witch was 13 or 14 years ago, and that was the first time anyone saw it as a genre and they tried for 10 years to do something commercial with it and failed, failed, failed. But then, because of the advances in technology, because of the hi-def cameras getting better and cheaper and because they started to become prevalent in the household with the security cameras and the cams to watch the baby, they made it possible to take the found footage genre and advance it to where it was second nature in the house, and that became Paranormal Activity. That’s one example of technology working with horror to reflect what’s going on in our daily lives. So all of a sudden the baby camera becomes one of the most frightening things you can imagine.”

Finally, Holland spoke about his love and respect for the horror genre. “Horror is the most consistently remunerative of the genres,”Holland said. “By that I mean you have the best chance for making some money on your investment, traditionally speaking, in horror. Because horror is comparatively cheap to produce, you can make horror movies quicker and get them out there quicker, and they reflect the anxieties that we’re dealing with in our society. So horror represents what’s happening socially and politically quicker and better than mainstream movies ever will. The other thing is the mainstream movies, the $100 million movies, are about taking risk out of the financial bet. Whereas horror costs comparatively little to make and is more often than not about the risk the filmmakers take. It’s also, in terms of film technique, the genre that’s quickest to advance, whether it be the shaky cam or the handheld or the ‘you are there’ which leads to cinema verite, which is what you get in Traffic. It’s probably the conduit that certainly stylistically influences major films both in editing and how the film is shot. It comes first through horror, and horror is the first not only to adopt the technological change, but also to reflect what’s happening in terms of our social consciousness. It’s the most vibrant. If you didn’t have horror out there, God only knows what mainstream films would look like. They’d still be making Stanley Kramer films from 1957.”

Horror Icon Tom Holland Talks Ship of Fear, Twisted Tales, The Ten O'Clock People, and More

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Scott Hallam

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