With Butcher Boys (review) out today courtesy of Phase 4 Films we sat down with the man behind the scares Kim Henkel (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre) to get the skinny on what fans can expect. Read on!
Dread Central: Kim, it’s a real privilege to talk to you, I’m from Texas myself. I remember being on the set of Butcher Boys at the Highball in Austin when you were shooting all night and meeting you briefly. How often were you on set and how was the atmosphere while filming? I can imagine it was pretty relaxed considering your relationship with Justin [Meeks] and Duane [Graves].
Kim Henkel: Well, I was exhausted most of the time on the set. For me, it was gruelling. But I would say it was a pretty relaxed set compared to most.
DC: Was the Jonathan Swift quote from “A Modest Proposal” that appears at the beginning of the film something you picked out? Was that quote and that story about cannibals something that started you down the path of writing Butcher Boys?
KH: Oh yes, yes, very much so. The whole idea was the history of the Boneboys began shortly after the writing of “A Modest Proposal”. I can’t remember exactly based on the timeline but there was an Irish famine a few years after the writing of “A Modest Proposal”. It was common knowledge that there was a certain amount of cannibalism that went on during that period. What I sort of imagined was that with “A Modest Proposal” in conjunction with the famine that this whole thing began back then.
DC: I see. I know the family dynamic in Butcher Boys is so damaged that it’s kind of hard to tell who’s crazier and who’s more disturbed. Usually, in a family there’s one bad seed but you seem to tell stories where the whole family is made up of bad seeds. I feel like that kind of setup is something that you practically invented and it’s still seen in films like You’re Next and the New Zealand film Fresh Meat – and obviously New Zealand has a long history of cannibalism. Do you feel kind of responsible for the crazed family trend?
KH: (laughs) Well, I think crazed families themselves are responsible for it. Have you known a family that wasn’t dysfunctional?
DC: My family definitely put the “fun” back in “dysfunctional” that’s for sure, and your films do as well. Without getting too personal, what was your family like growing up? Was it perfectly normal or crazy or somewhere in between?
KH: Oh, it was a little crazy but more colorful than anything else. I have a total of five children so that made for considerable mess right there. And then parents who are oddballs in their own ways. My father was a merchant seaman who then became a small town newspaper guy. He brought with him some crazy notions that he tended to impose on the family so there was kind of an evening free-for-all everyday. But it wasn’t ugly, it was just peculiar.
DC: Well, it looks like that set you up for some good writing. Didn’t your son [Ian Henkel] work with you on this film?
KH: He did, yes. He was principally a musician and he did write a couple of songs and we threw a couple of his songs in there, but he did help me with producing chores.
DC: One thing I liked about this film is that there are a number of older actors in the film. Obviously, there are a lot of cameos, but there’s one that even gets to play the hero – the character Carl Wayne played by Sonny Carl Davis – who you’ve worked with before. Usually with horror movies it’s just a cast of frat boys and sorority girls, and being a little older yourself is that something that attracted you to the project – the fact that you have some older characters that are actually participating and doing interesting things onscreen?
KH: Really, I think the older characters came out of the dynamic. It really never occurred to me that I was doing anything other than creating a structure across generations. So, I really needed to give it a historical basis having younger and older characters.
DC: The surviving girl or the last victim, whether it’s Marilyn Burns or whomever, always delves deeper and deeper into this crazy world of insane characters while she’s trying to escape. Do you like the idea of the heroine trying to avoid going crazy herself with each crazy character she meets? It’s not only escaping just to escape; it’s escaping with your sanity intact. Would you agree with that?
KH: Oh yeah, absolutely. The real problem, as much as the physical torture, is the mental process that anyone would go through in those circumstances.
DC: If the original Texas Chain Saw showed that the country was just as dangerous or even more dangerous than the city, it seems like Butcher Boys is saying the city is more dangerous than ever. It seems like it’s gone from eat the hippies to eat the rich. Would you agree with that?
KH: (laughs) Yeah, definitely. That’s one principal thing I wanted to do with the Boneboys is move it into the urban world which is as the world is today. In 1973, the country itself was still principally an urban country, particularly Texas. But that shift has been rapid over the past forty years and Texas is no longer a rural state; it’s an urban state. That’s our environment, that’s where we live, and I felt the horror needed to come home where we as a populace reside.
DC: I was curious, there are animal rights activists that are seen at the beginning of the film protesting in front of the restaurant, J. Swift’s. You’re not a vegetarian by chance, are you? That would be really ironic.
KH: I would be if I could manage it. Morally, I think it’s the right way to go but I’m too addicted, as are the Boneboys, to the flesh.
Phase 4 Films is releasing Butcher Boys in select cities/theaters on September 6, followed by VOD/DVD/Blu-ray outlets starting October 8.
Butcher Boys stars Ali Faulkner (“Bianca” in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn), Johnny Walter, Derek Lee Nixon, Tory Tompkins, Gregory Kelly, and Sonny Carl Davis.
In this gut-wrenching, non-stop roller coaster ride through the hellish underbelly of inner-city America, a birthday celebration at an upscale restaurant sets in motion events that bring a group of friends face to face with the macabre world of cannibals, the Butcher Boys. The Butcher Boys are international predators who deal in human flesh – dead or alive.
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