Today, December 7th, the teen horror comedy Bad Kids Go to Hell hits limited theaters nationwide, and to mark the occasion, we recently caught up with one of the film’s co-stars, Judd Nelson.
For the uninitiated, Bad Kids Go to Hell follows six private school students from Crestview Academy, home to the spoiled offspring of society’s elite, who find themselves in detention on a frightfully dark and stormy Saturday afternoon. During their time stuck in detention, each of the six kids ends up dead due to a horrible “accident” until only one unfortunately misguided soul remains standing.
In the film Nelson portrays stodgy Headmaster Nash, a complete 180 from another detention-themed project he’s been associated with for almost 30 years now: The Breakfast Club. During our recent interview with Nelson, we spoke to him about his involvement with Bad Kids Go to Hell and heard more about his experiences working alongside first-time filmmaker Matthew Spradlin.
We also chatted with Nelson about another upcoming project of his, Nurse 3, and he divulged a bit about his fate in the flick (spoiler-phobes, beware!). And of course we asked him to reflect on The Breakfast Club as well.
Check out our exclusive interview with Nelson below, and look for Bad Kids Go to Hell in theaters today!
Dread Central: Can you start off by talking about what attracted you to this project and playing the role of the Headmaster?
Judd Nelson: I think for me it all starts with the graphic novel; it’s such a great story that really speaks to this generation of fans, and I liked that. Fortunately for me, the guy that wrote the Bad Kids graphic novel also directed the film so I knew the material would be in good hands. I really liked the fact that these kids don’t get away with anything- they’re truly bad kids who get what they deserve. And Matt; he’s the poor SOB stuck in the middle of it all, which definitely adds to the comedic tones of the movie, and I just thought that was great, too. That poor guy (laughs).
Dread Central: I’m sure it comes as no surprise that people have been making comparisons between this project and The Breakfast Club; was that part of the appeal at all, to play around in a similar world again (kids in detention) but this time you’re the authority figure?
Judd Nelson: You know, there have been a lot of people who have made those comparisons between this movie and Breakfast Club, which I get. People like to put labels on things for reference, which I totally understand, but Bad Kids Go to Hell definitely stands on its own two feet as something completely different than Breakfast Club. This isn’t about kids working through their problems or anything like that. It’s completely different in tone and approach.>
But I did have fun coming in and being this hard-ass Headmaster; I don’t get the bad guy roles very often so I just wanted to have some fun with him.
Dread Central: Did you guys get a lot of prep time before shooting Bad Kids Go to Hell? How was it working with Matthew (Spradlin, director)?
Judd Nelson: We really didn’t; everyone just showed up prepared and ready to work. They had already filmed a lot of stuff before I arrived on set so I just jumped into everything. I was so impressed with the cast and crew on this because they all were working so hard to get done everything that needed to get done. They all had such great enthusiasm for this movie that it was a really great experience for me to just come in and be a part of it.
I also really enjoyed collaborating with Matthew; he was just very enthusiastic and really had a great grasp on everything for a first-time filmmaker. For seasoned directors it’s already hard enough to get the 50 or so setups you need but only have the resources to do something like 25 so it forces you to get creative, and that’s what Matthew did; he got creative and made it work. I think he did a remarkable job.
Dread Central: I wanted to ask about another project you have coming up, Nurse 3D. Every person I’ve asked about this movie always responds with a giggle and something to the effect of, “Well, what have YOU heard?” so this is definitely a movie I’m curious as hell about.
Judd Nelson: Me, too! I haven’t seen a whole lot yet- just bits and pieces. It’s very lush, very beautiful to look at if you can say that about a horror movie, but yeah, Nurse is going to be a weird and beautiful movie I think. The 3D isn’t gimmicky at all either; it was more used to enhance what was shot. I think fans will dig it.
And Paz (de la Huerta)… man, that Paz! She’s a handful. She and Katrina (Bowden) are so wild and great in this. The thing that appealed to me most about this project was something we didn’t even get to shoot.
[BEGIN SPOILER] As one would expect in a horror movie, I get “dispatched” in some fashion or another, but the original version of that was me getting taken apart limb by limb over the final credits in sort of this split-screen treatment. We ended up just not having the time to do that kind of shot so we had to amend things where I only lose one limb, but I definitely would have loved to shoot my original death. I think that would have been wild (laughs).[END SPOILER]
Dread Central: I’m sure everyone always asks about it so I’m just going to go for broke and ask anyway since I grew up about five minutes away from Maine East, where you guys shot The Breakfast Club—
Judd Nelson: Did you really? Des Plaines, right?
Dread Central: Yeah, that’s right!
Judd Nelson: Yeah, I remember when we got there, the school had just been built because of that population redistribution so that’s how we got in there. I still love that movie and talking about it, too; what John did on that movie – on all of his movies – was really tap into something relatable whether or not you saw that movie when it first came out or if you’re just discovering it now. It’s timeless.
We shot 6-day weeks there, and what was kind of funny to me is that on Saturdays there would actually be a group of kids going to detention while we were shooting so we’d go over and mess with them between takes. It was pretty great, and I think there’s definitely a reason it hasn’t been remade yet; no one will ever be able to capture that kind of lightning in a bottle again.
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