Who can forget Barry Bostwick’s turn as meek Brad in the 1975 cult classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show? Stuck with his sweetheart Janet (Susan Sarandon) after getting a flat tire during a storm, the couple are forced to take refuge in the eerie mansion of Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry), a transvestite scientist.
That movie made such an impression on director Darren Lynn Bousman as a youngster that he sought out Bostwick all these years later to act in his own surreal horror-musical film The Devil’s Carnival: Alleluia!. We had a chance to chat with Bostwick about that exciting collaboration as well as his turn in Bousman’s short segment in the upcoming Tales of Halloween anthology film.
Dread Central: I’ve known Darren Bousman for many years, and I have an impression of what he’s like to work with from having been on his sets, but I’m curious to know what it was like from your perspective as an actor because I know in addition to Tales of Halloween, you just did The Devil’s Carnival sequel with him… so was it fun to just pop back in for a short stint on the Tales of Halloween?
Barry Bostwick: He gives you a lot of freedom – if he trusts you, I suppose. He seems to trust me. And so therefore he’s like a great audience member for me. It like I was doing a Broadway show and he was the only person in the audience. And I judge my performance based on his reaction. And that’s what I sort of feel like working with him. He’s like a fan and a mentor and a very smart guy all at once. I know I’m going in the right direction if I can get a laugh from behind the monitor – if it’s supposed to be funny. And he is very enthusiastic and he lets you know immediately whether or not you’re going in the right direction, and everybody on his team have always been very supportive of me and my craziness and allow me to just do things that I wouldn’t normally get the opportunity to do – play characters I wouldn’t normally get the opportunity to play. And I think with him the operative word is really play – I mean, he really encourages you to play. And that’s what we do for a living – in the best of times, you know? We just play.
DC: Where do you fit into the playground that is The Devil’s Carnival: Alleluia!?
BB: Well, I’m sort of like the spy. I’m heaven’s spy, [and I’m] called Watchword. And I’m the one who sort of reports to God [played by Paul Sorvino] if I see anybody that doesn’t belong there. And I’m a bit of a sleaze-ball. And what’s great about it is that I have this amazing make-up on, so you don’t even know it’s me, and I have this great song which is so wild and crazy and over-the-top that, unless you probably know that I’m in the movie, you wouldn’t know it was me based on what I look like and what I sound like and how I behave in it.
And in a similar way in the short film, again, I have this amazing make-up and I can hide behind the mask and be something that I’ve never been before. It really sort of harkens back to Greek theater, you know, when you had these masks in and you could really be somebody else because the visage, the image, was something so totally different than who you really are. And he has such a clear picture of what he wanted these characters to look like that all I had to do after my initial make-up session was to look in the mirror and see how the make-up moved. And that really helped me and sort of created the character. The make-up led me towards the behavior.
DC: You don’t usually do shorts – was it the opportunity to work with Darren again that brought you to the Tales of Halloween?
BB: Oh, yeah! Absolutely. I always have a ball working with him. He always pushes me and allows me to be something that I… as I say, I never really have the opportunity to be. And there’s always something very unique about his stories and about his style. I don’t know how he does it on- I don’t know how he gets the quality for the smallish amount of money that he has for these films. I know some day he’s going to finally have the opportunity to do big, big films. And he will- because he cut his teeth on having to be incredibly creative in how to use the money and how to get the vision, his vision, on film and his production values on film in such a schematic way. I know that when he finally gets the opportunity to do some large things, he’s going to be brilliant at it. And I’m just waiting for that day because I think he’s going to shake up the world. I mean, when he gets there.
DC: I’m sure he’ll take you along when he gets the opportunity; he’s a very loyal person.
BB: That would be nice. I first met him when I auditioned for Repo! The Genetic Opera, for the lead. And they were so enthusiastic. That sort of started our relationship.
DC: Yes, and you see all these years later he still remembered you. And I know you met SpookyDan Walker through Darren and did a movie with him, plus we have a mutual friend in Jesse Merlin. You worked with Jesse on the Helen Keller vs. Nightwolves movie, right?
BB: I have scenes with Jesse. I love that guy. He’s, again, he’s one of those people that’s just on the cusp of, you know, having a real big career. And he’s really good in the Helen Keller movie. It’s a perfect part for him. When we did the 35th anniversary of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, he interviewed me on stage in front of the audience. I was so impressed with his knowledge and research and joie de vive. And we became friends from then on. I’m a real fan of his. I like the oddball people. And Spooky’s movie – they’re just trying to find a few bucks to finish it – called Slay Belles, is great. I think he’s another talented kid. It’s a very sort of smart, interesting, funny, odd script too. And, well, that whole group I’m just so happy to be involved with because it’s not like doing an episode of “CSI.” I did the last episode of “CSI” last week – the last episode of their 15th season. And I’m sitting here, I’m going, ‘Well, you see now, this is good. I’m making a living. I’m paying the bills with this job.’ But it’s not as much fun as working with people like Darren, Dan, and Jesse!
Tales of Halloween will showcase the following ten short stories:
- “TRICK” Directed by Adam Gierasch
- “BAD SEED” Directed by Neil Marshall
- “GRIMM GRINNING GHOST” Directed by Axelle Carolyn
- “THE WEAK AND THE WICKED” Directed by Paul Solet
- “FRIDAY THE 31st” Directed by Mike Mendez
- “THE RANSOM OF RUSTY REX” Directed by Ryan Schifrin
- “THIS MEANS WAR” Directed by Andrew Kasch and John Skipp
- “THE NIGHT BILLY RAISED HELL” Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman
- “SWEET TOOTH” Directed by Dave Parker
- “DING DONG” Directed by Lucky McKee
The film has an ensemble cast including Pat Healy, Barry Bostwick, Noah Segan, Booboo Stewart, Greg Grunberg, Clare Kramer, Alex Essoe, Lin Shaye, Dana Gould, James Duval, Elissa Dowling, Grace Phipps, Pollyana McIntosh, Marc Senter, Tiffany Shepis, John F. Beach, Trent Haaga, Casey Ruggieri, Kristina Klebe, Cerina Vincent, John Savage, Keir Gilchrist, Nick Principe, Amanda Moyer, Jennifer Wenger, Sam Witwer, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Ben Woolf, Caroline Williams, Robert Rusler, Cameron Easton, Austin Falk, Madison Iseman, Daniel Dimaggio, Natalie Castillo, Ben Stillwell, and Hunter Smit.
Cameos include Joe Dante, John Landis, Adam Green, Adam Pascal, Adrianne Curry, Mick Garris, Lombardo Boyer, Graham Skipper, Stuart Gordon, Greg Mclean, Spooky Dan Walker, and Adrienne Barbeau.
Axelle Carolyn created the concept and brought the filmmakers together for this unique production. Tales of Halloween is being produced by Patrick Ewald and Shaked Berenson of Epic Pictures Group along with Mike Mendez and Axelle Carolyn. Composers Frank Ilfman (Big Bad Wolves) and Joseph Bishara (The Conjuring) are both attached to the project.
Ten stories are woven together by their shared theme of Halloween night in an American suburb, where ghouls, imps, aliens, and axe murderers appear for one night only to terrorize unsuspecting residents.