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Exclusive – Robert LaSardo Opens the Doors to the Parlor

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Robert LaSardo Opens the Doors to the ParlorYou know Robert LaSardo; some of you just don’t know you know him. If you’re a fan of horror or action movies or television, you’ve seen LaSardo’s work, probably multiple times. In the new movie Parlor, LaSardo is finally getting his chance to be the leading man and carry a film.

He recently sat down with Dread Central to talk about it.

Although LaSardo has over 100 acting credits on his resume that spans nearly three decades, he’s never been the main character in a film.

“Parlor, the way it was written, with me in mind, represents a renaissance because I was introduced to something that, in the 28 years I’ve been in entertainment, I’ve never been introduced to before,” LaSardo said. “To stare at 2000 words of dialogue that was written for me, to some extent, and channeled through the writers, Kenny Gage and Devon Downs, was at first a bit overwhelming, but something that I’ve hungered for for a long time.”

Using a creative process a bit out of the ordinary, the filmmakers Gage and Downs met with LaSardo regularly and the movie cropped up around these sessions. “The way Parlor came about was through a series of conversations I had with the Kenny and Devon,” LaSardo said. “They took the time, which is very rare in the Hollywood industry, to actually get to know the artist and sit down and dialogue back and forth. We have a friendship that we’ve cultivated over the years, and it seemed almost vicarious that there would be something to entertain professionally from the relationship and the sharing of ideas.”

LaSardo continued about the connection between himself and the writers/directors of Parlor. “There are systems of belief without it being fundamental,” LaSardo said. “Devon Downs has a few tattoos, and so do I, obviously. And just through that alone we had a lot to talk about. And Kenny, on a certain level, represents the gladiator. He was formerly a boxer. So these meetings of the minds, these meetings of gladiators…we’d have conversations about how we felt about the industry, how we felt about life, any number of things. Just three guys talking and discussing stories that affected us. In time, they found a way to create a story around those conversations, the ideas, the principles, the beliefs, without necessarily being preachy, but it was something they felt that needed to be communicated, and something I had not been allowed, as an artist in Hollywood or in the creative realm, to communicate. I’ve been kind of limited by the structuring and perception of entertainment. They felt, after speaking with me over time, that it was appropriate, that it was time to communicate many of the things that we had talked about within a fiction, within a story that could bear some intelligence and be very radical in the way it does that.”

LaSardo spoke more on his past career and why he’s so excited for Parlor. “I don’t know that I’ve been allowed to communicate on that level,” LaSardo said. “There are a lot of lessons in aggression and barbarism I’ve been asked to communicate and audiences have been affected by that. But I don’t know if there’s ever been [that] combined with a character that has insight or intelligence, that shows up on the stage in a grey area where you can’t really pin him and say, ‘He’s the bad guy,’ or ‘He’s the good guy.’ He’s just there and the stage is set in the realm of horror because it is a horror film, so it’s up to the audience to decide, based on the content of the story, what he is.”

LaSardo spoke more on his character, simply referred to as “The Artist.” “He’s an artist; that’s the title, Artist, which I like,” LaSardo said. “I like it because it evokes the idea of something that’s a creative entity as opposed to a character that tears things down, destroys stuff. So he’s an artist. He runs a tattoo parlor. We filmed in Vilnius, Lithuania. I think it was very important for Kenny and Devon to authenticate the experiences of the subculture of tattooing. We went to various tattoo shops where I apprenticed and learned a little bit about tattooing so I could live and breathe the character. So he’s a tattoo artist. He runs the tattoo parlor. He also comes from a family bloodline of men who have a particular talent and this craft has been passed down through the family bloodline and that’s another aspect of The Artist that’s not revealed until you see the film and it’s also part of something that will be intriguing and also could be bizarre for some people to observe. It all depends on who’s looking at it.”

Not only is this film important to LaSardo because of his leading role, but also for his input during the creative process. “I was invited during the early stages to participate and creatively be involved on that level, which is something that’s very rare,” LaSardo said. “Writers and directors are very guarded about their creations and the actors are kind of the last to know. They’re allowed some flexibility within their instrument, but I don’t know if they’re allowed to affect the piece the way the creator or director envisioned it. In this case, I’ve been allowed to communicate feelings and suggestions to Kenny and Devon about that process. So, in that sense, I’ve become very attached to the project.”

And LaSardo wanted to be sure the faith put in him by Gage and Downs did not go without reward. “I’ve never been allowed to be a lead in a film,” LaSardo said. “I’ve never been allowed to carry a film in my entire career. So it’s quite a compliment from Kenny Gage and Devon Downs to me to trust me at the helm of it. In that way also I’m attached to it because I wanted to deliver something, produce or creating and conjure the spirit of the character how they envisioned it or how I envisioned and then collaborate and make impact so when they look at it, they go, ‘Wow, we’re affected by it. You did it, Rob.’ Here’s a chance to finally, after all these years. What are you going to do with it when you’re finally given that chance to stand up at the plate and hold that bat and stare that ball down? It’s like, okay, do or die.”

Finally LaSardo spoke on the unique experience of shooting in Lithuania. “After about a week or so I felt this incredible sense of déjà vu,” LaSardo said. “Looking at the old city, ruins, buildings from the 14th Century… someone showed me a brick building where there had been machine gun holes from World War II where the Nazis had come through and shot up the building and it’s still the way it was then. The city itself conjured a lot of emotion for me. I felt a sense of belonging there. I have traveled around the world and found that my spirit was waiting for me there. I felt a sense of connection to the landscape itself. There’s a mysterious aspect to it because a lot of the city is still preserved since World War II and not touched by the war. That also lends to the spirit that was necessary to communicate this piece that is an allegory and has a mythological aspect to it. So being in the city, walking the streets and the cobblestones and looking at the buildings and looking at a church that was built in the 14th Century, just feeling the vibrations through the brick and then moving on to the movie set, which wasn’t even something that was created, it was already there. So a lot of the buildings we shot in on location had this incredible history and spirit to them.”

Although they were from two very different lands, LaSardo felt the two film crews meshed together very nicely. “There was a little bit of a gap between the two cultures, so we had to learn very quickly to work together, the American crew and the Lithuanian crew, and basically complete the film, the goal,” LaSardo said. “Once we got in there together, it wasn’t necessarily about Americans and Lithuanians; it was about getting deep into the trenches of Parlor and people understanding what we’re trying to communicate and how powerful that could be given the subject matter.”

Keep an eye out for Parlor. Coming soon!

Parlor Synopsis
The new face of horror! The writing/directing team of Gage/Downs brings you their depraved Lithuanian vision… Parlor. Shocking, disturbing, a fresh new take on the American horror genre, the film follows six young college hopefuls vacationing and partying in Eastern Europe who get more than they bargained for when they unwittingly get caught up in a maniacal tattoo artist’s fiendish side business.

Robert LaSardo - Parlor

Robert LaSardo - Parlor

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Vampire Hunter D: The Series Gets Writer For Pilot Episode

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It’s been a little while since we’ve heard news about “Vampire Hunter D: The Series”, the CG-animated series based on Hideyuki Kikuchi’s titular character. However, some new news broke today over at ANN as they’ve reported that Brandon Easton, who is writing the scripts for new Vampire Hunter D comics, has been tapped by Unified Pictures to write the pilot for the series. The pilot will be based on Kikuchi’s “Mysterious Journey to the North Sea” storylines, which make up the 7th and 8th titles in the book series. Unified is making this series in conjunction with Digital Frontier, the Japanese animation studio behind the CG Resident Evil titles.

Easton told the site, “I’ve had to manage the expectations of three entities: the creator Hideyuki Kikuchi, the producers at Digital Frontier and Unified Pictures, and ultimately myself. This means that you have to find new and exciting ways of telling a story that has a set of concrete rules that have been fully established by the novels.

Meanwhile, the studio has also announced that Ryan Benjamin is taking over as the artist and colorist on the Vampire Hunter D: Message From Mars series with Richard Friend inking the issues.

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Watching A Quiet Place’s John Krasinski Get Scared by Freddy on Ellen Will Brighten Your Day

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I was just researching the new Platinum Dunes horror-thriller A Quiet Place and stumbled across this video. It features the film’s writer-director and star John Krasinski getting scared by a man dressed as Freddy Krueger on “Ellen.”

It’s as much fun as it sounds, and I’m sure it will make your day. It sure as hell just brightened mine.

Give it a watch below, and then let us know what you think!

John Krasinski directs the film, which will be the opening night entry at this year’s SXSW festival in Austin, TX. Emily Blunt stars alongside Krasinski, Noah Jupe, and Millicent Simmonds.

A Quiet Place will then open wide on April 6.

Synopsis:
In the modern horror thriller A Quiet Place, a family of four must navigate their lives in silence after mysterious creatures that hunt by sound threatens their survival. If they hear you, they hunt you.

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Interview: Director Jeff Burr Revisits Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III

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Director Jeff Burr was gracious enough to give us here at Dread Central a few minutes of his time to discuss the Blu-ray release of his 1990 film Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III. Recently dropped on 2/13, the movie has undergone the white-glove treatment, and he was all-too-happy to bring us back to when the film was being shot…and eventually diced thanks to the MPAA – so settle in, grab a cold slice of bloody meat, read on and enjoy!

DC: First off – congrats on seeing the film get the treatment it deserves on Blu-ray – you excited about it?

JB: Yeah, I’m really happy that it’s coming out on Blu-ray, especially since so many people bitch and moan about the death of physical media, and this thing made the cut, and it’s great for people to be able to see probably the best-looking version of it since we saw it in the lab back in 1989.

DC: Take us back to when you’d first gotten the news that you were tabbed to be the man to direct the third installment in this franchise – what was your first order of business?

JB: It was fairly condensed pre-production for me, and there really wasn’t a whole lot of time to think about the import or the greatness of it – it was basically just roll up your sleeves and go. It was a bit disappointing because a lot of times in pre-production you have the opportunity to dream what could be – casting had already been done, but certain decisions hadn’t been made yet. A very condensed pre-production, but exciting as hell, for sure! (laughs)

DC: R.A. Mihailoff in the role of Leatherface – was it the decision from the get-go to have him play the lead role?

JB: No – I totally had someone else in mind, even though R.A. had done a role in my student film about 7 years earlier, and we’d kept in touch, and I’d felt strongly because I’d gotten to know him a bit that Gunnar Hansen should have come back and played Leatherface, which would have given a bit more legitimacy to this third movie. He and I talked, and he had some issues with the direction that it was going – he really wanted to be involved, and it ended up boiling down to a financial thing, and it wasn’t outrageous at all – it wasn’t like he asked for the moon, but the problem was that New Line refused to pay it, categorically. I think the line producer at the time was more adamant about it than anyone, and Mike DeLuca was one of the executives on the movie, and he was really the guy that was running this, in a creative sense. I made my case for Gunner to both he and the line producer, and they flat out refused to pay him what he was asking, so after that was a done “no deal” I decided that R.A would be the right guy to step into the role. Since New Line was the arbiter of the film, he had to come in and audition for the part, and he impressed everyone and got the part. He did an absolutely fantastic job – such a joy to work with, and he was completely enthusiastic about everything.

DC: Let’s talk about Viggo Mortenson, and with this being one of his earliest roles – did you know you had something special with this guy on your set?

JB: Here’s the thing – you knew he was talented, and I’d seen him in the movie Prison way back in the early stages of development and was very impressed with him, and he was one of those guys that I think we were really lucky to get him on board with us. I really believe that The Indian Runner with he and directed by Sean Penn was the movie that truly made people stand up and notice his work. Every person in this cast was one hundred percent into this film and jumped in no questions asked when it was time to roll around in the body pits.

DC: It’s no secret about the amount of shit that the MPAA put you through in order to get this film released – can you expound on that for a minute?

JB: At the time, I believe it was a record amount of times we had to go back to the MPAA after re-cutting the film – I think it was 11 times that we went back. What a lot of people don’t realize is after Bob Shaye (President of New Line) had come into the editing room and he thought that it was very disturbing, and cut out some stuff himself. He thought that it would have been banned in every country, and it was banned in a lot of countries but so were the previous two. It was definitely on the verge of being emasculated before even being submitted to the MPAA, and I would have thought just a few adjustments here and there – maybe a couple of times to go back…but eleven? It was front-page news in the trade papers then, and I think that the overall tone of the film was looked at as being nasty. The previous film (Chainsaw 2) had actually gone out unrated, and with the first film being so notorious, I think it was a combination of all of that, and now even the most unrated version of this would be rated R – that’s how far the pendulum has swung in the other direction.

DC: Looking back at the film after all this time – what would be one thing that you’d change about the movie?

JB: Oh god – any film director worth his salt would look back at any of their films and want to change stuff up, and with this being 28 years old, I can look back and say “oh yeah, I’d change this, this and this!” You grow and learn over the course of your time directing, and this was my third movie and my first without producers that I had known, so the main thing that I’d do today would be to make it a bit more politically savvy. I had always thought that they wanted me to put my vision on this film, and that wasn’t necessarily the case, so maybe I’d navigate those political waters a little better.

DC: Last thing, Jeff – what’s keeping you busy these days? Any projects to speak of?

JB: Oh yeah, I’ve got a couple of movies that I’m working on – I’m prepping a horror movie right now, and then I’ve got a comedy film that I’m doing after that. You haven’t heard the last of me! I’ve had a real up and down (mostly down) career, but I still love it – it’s what I love to do, and it’s still great that after 28 years people still want to talk about this movie, and are still watching it – that’s the greatest gift you can get, and I thank everyone that’s seen it and talked about it over all these years.

BUY IT NOW!

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