From Kraken: Tentacles of the Deep to 2006’s notorious Wicker Man remake, low-budget “scream queen” Christa Campbell has certainly appeared in her share of horror films over the years. Now the busty actress is serving as an executive producer on next year’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D, already set for release on October 5th, 2012.
I recently caught up with the very friendly Campbell to talk about the film, in addition to a remake of the 1995 direct-to-video movie Embrace of the Vampire (starring a nubile Alyssa Milano) that she’s currently attempting to get off the ground.
See inside for the full interview.
If you’re a horror fan, you’ve probably seen Christa Campbell somewhere before. Whether in a shoestring effort like Tim Sullivan’s 2001 Maniacs or a high-profile release like Patrick Lussier’s Drive Angry 3D (she’s the nude girl who gets punched out by Amber Heard near the beginning), the buxom actress has certainly been around the block, fright flick-wise.
Campbell began her career modeling and acting in a series of soft-core adult films with titles like Erotic Landscapes and Intimate Sessions, before going on to nab a few walk-on roles in “legit” fare like 2000’s The Crew starring Richard Dreyfuss and Burt Reynolds. More substantial roles wouldn’t come until later, in genre films like 2004’s The Drone Virus and 2005’s critically-lauded Mansquito opposite Corin Nemec.
It was right around this time that Campbell came to be regarded as a low-budget “scream queen” – the sort of buxom vixen who regularly finds herself soaked in Karo syrup on cut-rate movie sets. Minor speaking roles in films with A-list actors followed, including Lonely Hearts with John Travolta, The Wicker Man with Nicolas Cage and Cleaner starring Samuel L. Jackson. In September 2007 she even booked a six-page spread in Playboy, the accompanying intro labeling her “a horror-film hottie”.
Though Campbell continues to act – she recently won parts in two high-profile films, one with De Niro and Katherine Heigl and another opposite Ryan Phillippe and Anna Paquin – the starlet is now moving into the role of executive producer as well, with next year’s highly-anticipated Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D serving as her first credit in that capacity.
I recently chatted with the actress and burgeoning producer about how she got involved with the latest entry in the iconic Leatherface franchise, as well as with a remake of the cult classic Alyssa Milano vampire film Embrace of the Vampire. She also talked a little about her next horror project as an actress, the giant-arachnid flick Spiders 3D directed by Tibor Takacs (The Gate).
Bloody-Disgusting: So obviously I know you from your previous films, but it sounds like you’re ramping up your producing career at the moment. Talk a little about why you made the decision to cross over and start producing as well.
Christa Campbell: Well, I do everything. So I’m still acting too. Basically, my best friend, she’s a producer – her name is Lati Grobman – she was pushing me, like, ‘Come on, you know so many people!’ You know, like, ‘Explore! Do everything! Do all you can do.’ So her and I decided to work together. And basically from there, I kind of went through it, and, you know, landed one of the biggest horror franchises ever!
BD: Talk about the project and how you got involved with it.
CC: I met with Mark Burg [for] another project, because they were finishing ‘Saw’, and I wanted to see what they were gonna do next. And it sort of ended up where, you know, he ended up getting the rights…Carl Mazzocone and him ended up getting the rights to ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’. And my partner Lati Grobman…she was like, ‘Well, find out what they’re doing with this!’ And I knew Lionsgate were pretty much gonna put it out and all these things.
So we went to them and we were like…[Grobman] works for Nu Image, so she’s like, ‘Bring it over to Millenium Entertainment, bring it to Nu Image!’ So we met with them, and ended up where we kind of brought the project from Carl and Mark to Nu Image.
…You know, Nu Image usually doesn’t make horror films, but we were saying, ‘This is the next franchise, this is gonna be really big!’ So you know, as executive producers, which we are, you just kind of put people together. …I’m not on set, I’m not producing, I’m not really involved in casting. You know, I’m just there to put people together and say ‘Listen, if you need something let us know, we’re here…’
So we’ve put out a few fires, but other than that, pretty much Carl is taking the helm on this one and doing an amazing job, and we’re super, super excited. We’re gonna have a Columbus Day, October 5th release 2012, which is awesome. It’s becoming really, really cool.
BD: This is being called a direct sequel to the original. When I first heard that, I was confused. Now I know it’s a contemporary film, but at first I thought, ‘Oh this is gonna be a period piece set directly following the events of the first one.’ But I understand…the very beginning of the film starts right after the end of the original film. Is that right?
CC: Yeah, yeah. The script is fantastic, and the thing is, when you don’t have big-name stars, you really just put all the money into production, which is fantastic. Because you know, we have a huge budget, and every dollar is going into the movie.
BD: It also seems like you guys are trying to distance yourselves from the two Platinum Dunes films by sort of putting a new spin on the story. I’m wondering if that’s an accurate statement. Can we expect something really different from the Platinum Dunes versions?
CC: Well, I think they wanted to make it a little bit…from speaking with the director, I think they wanna make it like ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’, like a little gritty, really real. Not so…not like a music video. I loved the stuff that Platinum Dunes did, but I think they’re just gonna make it a little more raw.
BD: I’m sure you heard about this being executive producer, that there were some plot details leaked, and apparently someone got their hands on the script. And I’m wondering how accurate those details are.
CC: I don’t…well, I mean, I don’t know what I’m allowed to say, that’s the thing. And I’m really nervous about saying too much. I don’t wanna piss off anybody, you know?
BD: Understood. So what made John Luessenhop the right choice as director? What’s he bringing to the project that you think is gonna be fresh and interesting?
CC: He’s really, really cool. He’s a really good director, and he has really good ideas…him and Carl were working on it for months before they even brought the project to us. So they fully were working with the writers…they were working like non-stop. So when it came to us, John was attached to it, and they already had been working on it for like four months or something.
BD: Is it hard going from the acting thing to producing and being taken seriously? What has that been like for you?
CC: You know, I love it. It gives me the same high. I’m also producing right now a movie called ‘Embrace of the Vampire’. Do you remember the original with Alyssa Milano?
BD: Yeah, it was like a direct-to-video sensation!
CC: Right. So I’m producing that with Anchor Bay right now too. So we’re gonna hopefully shoot in October. You know, I love doing it. I still love acting, but I do everything. So you know…there’s always that where when you start creating your own projects, too, you’re open to act in them as well! So I’ve been working on ‘Embrace of the Vampire’, and we’re writing the script right now. ‘Embrace’ was a huge cult success.
BD: And also, it sort of changed Alyssa Milano’s good-girl image. I think that was only a few years after, or maybe during the years when she was still on ‘Who’s the Boss?’
CC: Yeah, I think it was right after, where she was…’I don’t wanna be the sweet girl, I wanna be a woman, I wanna show everybody I’m a woman’. …So I think we’re gonna look for someone basically like that, who’s coming off of a show, that wants to take that step, you know? We don’t know who we’re gonna cast yet, but I mean, that’s kind of like the same vibe we wanna go towards…I think this film is gonna be…[the original] was more like a romantic novel, this is gonna be a little more ‘Black Swan’-ish.
BD: So you’re gonna deviate from the original then quite a bit.
CC: No, no. We’re gonna keep the same storyline, because I don’t think…it’s a remake, it’s not a sequel. So we wanna keep the same storyline, but we just want an updated version where it’s a little more edgy. The first one was more of a romantic fantasy novel. You know, we’re still gonna have, I’m sure, the lesbian scenes, and all these other things, but I think we’re gonna really just update it so it’s a little more edgy. Like ‘Black Swan’…the tone of the movie’s different.
BD: Is that something you guys are hoping to release theatrically?
CC: Honestly, we always shoot for a theatrical. But you never know. I mean, what they do is, you know, you shoot the movie, and then they take it out and they test it, you test the numbers, and if our numbers are good, then they take us out theatrical. So you really don’t know until the movie’s finished.
BD: It definitely seems like it must have been a really good experience and given you a lot of insight into producing being an actress and being on sets all the time. You must have learned a lot about the process of producing just from being an actor in these films and observing.
CC: Oh, for sure, for sure. I mean, I don’t know how to physically produce yet…like Carl, he’s doing everything [on set]. I don’t know how to do that. You know, I don’t know how to be on set and say, ‘These are the…whatever, we have to make our days, and this is the budget, and this is this…’ I don’t know anything about that.
…Right now, where I’m at is, I know how to put people together and say, you know, ‘I got this director, I got these actors, this is the script. I’m gonna give it to you. If you like it, you can buy it!’ [Laughs] But I don’t know how to be on set everyday…I’ve never physically produced a film, only executive-produced.
BD: Is there anything else that you’re trying to get together that you can talk about, horror-wise or genre-wise?
CC: As far as the horror stuff, I have ‘Spider 3D’ coming out…we shot that in Bulgaria in November. It’s a big action/sci-fi. Yeah, they’re doing all the CGI stuff on it now, so hopefully it’ll be…finished by September and we can…see something by then.
BD: Who are some of your favorite horror directors and horror films?
CC: ‘Poltergeist’! I love Tobe Hooper…love ‘Poltergeist’. I like ‘Audition’…there’s so many, there’s so many. I like more of the psychological thrillers. Not so much blood and gore, but the ones that kinda stick with you.
BD: So you must have loved ‘Black Swan’ then. I loved it.
CC: Yeah, I thought it was awesome. It’s weird because it kind of is a horror movie. You know, you watch it and it’s totally different from what I expected and all of a sudden it became like almost a horror movie. I was like ‘ok…’ I mean, it’s different, you know? But I loved it, I loved it…I thought it was really, really cool.
BD: I think you touched on this a little bit already, but it must be nice being an actor and being able to act as an executive producer to sort of create roles for yourself.
CC: Yeah, I mean it’s hard, because usually if I end up acting in it I’ll take my name off of it as a producer because it’s not really appropriate I feel, at this point. It feels kind of strange because you’re working with the director and you’re like, you know, he wants to be able to yell at you…I don’t know, it doesn’t, at this point, feel comfortable for me.
So if I end up acting in something I generally will produce it but then…you know, I’ll work on it, and then as soon as everything is in place, then I’ll sort of step back and say ‘Ok, now I’m just an actor. You can scream at me, and call me a bitch.’ [Laughs] I don’t feel comfortable yet doing both. It just doesn’t feel right yet. Especially when you’re working with big names, for big movies. It’s just like, ‘Who are you? Oh, that’s how you got the job. Ok!’ [Laughs]
BD: Do you ever hope to direct one day?
CC: No. [Laughs] I mean, it’s so difficult. You have to go pre-production, and then post-production. You’re there…I mean basically, you’re giving up a year of your life. It’s very, very difficult.
BD: Well, and then the film fails or something, and you kind of take all the blame from the press.
CC: Yeah. As an actor, you show up on set, you do your thing, you leave. Even as an executive-producer, you put the film together, you give it to the production company, and you’re like ‘Thanks! See ya!’ You know? That’s it! That’s where all the work comes from. But if you’re the director, I mean you’re really committed for a full year of everything…I’m not there yet.
BD: Is there anything else you can say about ‘Texas Chainsaw’?
CC: I mean, I just sort of get all my bits from Carl…I’m gonna go visit the set, but I’m not gonna…he’s doing everything. Carl Mazzocone is amazing. I mean, he sort of just feeds me information that comes in. So there’s nothing for me to really do on that film. …He tells me, ‘Oh, we cast this one’, or ‘We cast that one.’ I’m not involved. I’m not sitting through casting sessions and giving my input or whatever.
BD: I was actually in Shreveport for ‘Drive Angry’, which I know you were in.
CC: Yeah, ‘Drive Angry’!
BD: That was a fun movie. I was disappointed that it didn’t do better.
CC: Me too! I mean, it really was…I don’t know, I think there was a theory that in the trailer that they said [the words]…’cult’ and ‘baby killer’ and that maybe that kind of turned a lot of people off. But I mean, it’s one of those things. I really think it was a really good movie.
BD: I do too. I really enjoyed it. I thought it was fun, it delivered what it promised, the 3D was great. Cast was great. I don’t know, it’s one of these films that just falls through the cracks that might get more of an audience later on and develop a real cult around it.
CC: Yeah, I think on DVD people are gonna really…I think it’s doing well on DVD. Now I see people and they’re like ‘Oh my god, I saw Drive Angry on DVD!’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, why didn’t you go see it in the theaters?’ [Laughs]…You know it’s just one of those weird things. Sometimes you see a cool, fun movie and it makes no money, and sometimes it’s a piece of crap and making a ton of money. It’s so tricky how these things work.
BD: Well, thank you so much for talking to me.
CC: Thank you. Thank you so much. You want me to send you like a classy photo or headshot or something so it’s not like [my] ass is hanging out?
BD: That’d be great. Though I’m sure our readers would love the tits and ass photo.
CC: Well, it doesn’t make me look professional though!
BD: That’s right! Because you have to be nice and suited up now, right? Cause you’re a producer.
CC: Not always, but if I’m gonna say I’m trying to do something else, it doesn’t look professional if I’m naked on the website! [Laughs]