Interview: Jake Busey on GHOST IN THE GRAVEYARD and the Existence of Ghosts
Ghost in the Graveyard is the first feature film from Writer/director Charlie Comparetto and it is so much more than just your average ghost story. A group of children play a game called Ghost in the Graveyard and attempt to summon a spirit, but the game ends in tragedy. Years later, the children have become teenagers and are still haunted by what happened that day in the graveyard.
Jake Busey plays Charlie Sullivan, whose teenage daughter Sally (Kelli Berglund) is still trying to deal with what happened when she played Ghost in the Graveyard as a child. What they don’t realize is that there is a lot more at stake than simply being haunted by a ghost and ultimately, Charlie must try to save his family.
Jake Busey has appeared in a number of horror movies over the years including The Frighteners, Identity, and The Hitcher II: I’ve Been Waiting and was recently seen in the third season of the Netflix show Stranger Things.
Dread Central had the pleasure of speaking with Jake Busey about Ghost in the Graveyard, what he enjoys about working in the horror genre, the existence of ghosts, Mr. Robot, and a lot more. Read on to find out what we talked about!
Ghost in the Graveyard will be released by DarkCoast in select theaters and on VOD on November 5th.
Dread Central: In Ghost in the Graveyard you play Charlie Sullivan, the father of Sally Sullivan, played by Kelli Berglund. Sally is dealing with a ghost, but this is more than just a ghost story. What appealed to you about the script and the role of Charlie?
Jake Busey: In my career I’ve not often had the opportunity to play a guy who’s not a villain. I definitely have a unique appearance, so I’m relegated to playing villains. When they asked to me to play Charlie, I thought it was a great opportunity for me, as a father who has a daughter, and it’s just really cool to play a father who is trying to save his daughter and his son. It was some good written material and it was nice to do a little bit of acting and not just one line here or there. It’s nice to be given the opportunity to break out of your relegated box [laughs].
DC: I think Ghost in the Graveyard is a very compelling story. There is a game that’s played in the movie by a group of children, called Ghost in the Graveyard, where they try to summon a spirit, which leads to a tragedy. Do you believe in ghosts?
JB: Oh yeah, I definitely believe in another realm, another dimension of existence. It’s even been scientifically proven that there is energy and there is a lot more going on than meets the eye, or than we know. I’ve been in places and I’ve felt an energy. I’ve felt a change in mood and temperature, when you definitely get the sense that there is something beyond yourself in the dwelling or wherever you are. In the universe, there is finite matter and energy and when you die, your energy is not gone, it transfers to something else. Whether the Mayans or the Egyptians or other cultures are correct, and your spirit goes back to somewhere otherworldly, or whether it’s somewhere on the planet, I do think that type of thing is possible.
The story is interesting. Ghost in the Graveyard is not a game that I grew up with. I grew up on the West Coast and there’s not too many graveyards around. When we went to shoot the movie in New England and New York, there seemed to be a graveyard every couple of miles. It’s not something we see out here. There’s a certain lore, energy, and vibe from those cemeteries. Whether it’s from years and years of urban legends, or whether it’s factual, it was definitely impactful on me. And also, to learn that Ghost in the Graveyard is a bonafide game that kids have played back east for ages. It’s a real game and it’s basically hide and seek in a graveyard.
DC: You’ve starred in a lot of horror movies and TV shows over the years, including Stranger Things, The Frighteners, and The Hitcher II: I’ve Been Waiting, just to name a few. What do you enjoy most about working in the horror genre?
JB: I like the phantasmical aspect of working in the horror genre. I like the fact that it’s really far away from reality. You can be really big with your performance, you can be really zany, and you can be really over the top scary, and it’s kind of like Halloween. It’s the same thing, but you’re not just somebody walking around with a costume on. You’re really scaring the pants off an audience and that’s pretty fun. In the horror genre, there’s a lot of freedom to do things that you can’t do in other films.
It’s funny because I don’t feel like I’ve done a whole lot of horror films. The Frighteners was a big one and I guess there’s been a couple along the way. I don’t even know that I would call Ghost in the Graveyard a horror film. I think it’s more of a ghost tale or a thriller. Maybe that means horror. Let’s see, I’ve done Identity, Dead Again in Tombstone, and The Hitcher II. I guess I have done a few horror movies [laughs]!
DC: Ghost in the Graveyard is Writer/director Charlie Comparetto’s first feature film. What was it like working with him on this movie?
JB: Working with Charlie was a lot of fun. While we were filming, I made suggestions here and there and he was always open to suggestions. It felt very collaborative working with him, and I feel like he made a great movie. At first, I was skeptical because of the experience level, but when I saw the film, I was incredibly impressed. He’s also a really humble guy. He’s really down to earth. He kind of wrote the story from the point of view of it happening to his family, so he’s kind of that guy. He’s a family dude. He’s got a couple of kids and lives out in the suburbs, so he’s not an eccentric, whacky director. He’s just a cool cat. If he ever makes another movie, I sure would want to work with him, that’s for sure.
DC: Ghost in the Graveyard is being released November 5th. Can you tell me what you’re working on next?
JB: I’m about to start working on a western. That shoots here in Los Angeles. It’s a hero narrative about a young girl. She has to win a gunslinger competition to get a costly back surgery for her sister and it takes place in 1876. We start shooting that mid-November and it’s called Shooting Star. And I’m in Mr. Robot on TV at the moment. Mr. Robot was fun to do.
DC: I saw you on Mr. Robot. That’s awesome. Congratulations!
JB: Oh cool. Thanks [laughs]! That was a tough one, Mr. Robot. Whew! It took six months just to do that twenty-minute bit at the beginning. They would fly me to New York, and I would work one day and then I would fly home. Then they would fly me back a month later and I would work one day and fly home. Then I would be at home for a month and then go back and work one day, so it took six months to do six days. It’s a really good testament to how good their hair and makeup department is, because when you’re watching it, you really can’t tell that six months went by. I lost about fifteen pounds during the process, but I had on all those clothes, so you couldn’t tell [laughs].