Tom Holland has directed some of the most iconic horror films of our age inChild’s Play and Fright Night. He also wrote such landmark films as Psycho II (as well as a non-horror fave of mine Cloak And Dagger). So it was a no brainer for me to pick up the phone to speak with him to mark the release of Tom Holland’s Twisted Tales, which is available on DVD today, March 18th from RLJ Entertainment/Image Entertainment.
The anthology film stars Holland, William Forsythe, Danielle Harris, AJ Bowen, Sarah Butler and Bonnie Piesse. “Horror legend Tom Holland dares you to join him for nine nerve-shredding, totally Twisted Tales. Serving up a mind-bending assortment of the macabre, it’s an anthology fine-tuned to keep you on the edge of your seat. A new drug offers users a glimpse of the future… with beastly consequences. A murderous husband is stalked by his own cell phone. A jilted lover wreaks satanic vengeance. The nightmarish action then leads to worlds haunted by dark magic, demonic possession, vampires, witches and more in this seriously freaky festival of fear.”
I loved ‘Tales From The Crypt’ growing up, all of those morality tales. But you directed all of these. How was it putting all of that together?
Oh boy. One of the nice things about it was that I was able to shoot 3,4,5 days and then take a week off. The production challenge was to do it with guerrilla filmmaking in LA. And in order to get the performers I wanted the roles had to be challenging and appealing. They had to be actor oriented.
You don’t have 10 million dollars worth of CGI, so you have to have character work that’s really appealing to the actors.
As an extension of that, in the writing of it you have to organize all of these setups and payoffs in each episode and you have quite a few episodes. How long did you have to conceive all of them?
I wrote them all for this. I wrote more than I could use and turned them into prose stories called “Tom Holland’s Untold Tales” and they’re kindle singles. I have them up on Amazon. Some of what I wrote was too expensive and I couldn’t do them. I was interested in the form, I found that the half hour format is best suited to this kind of tale. If I went shorter than a half hour I found that I didn’t have enough time to really construct a story that had some punch. If you do 10 minutes or less, you’re in more of a monologue situation. If you do 17-18 minutes you have enough twists and turns that you can expose character. What I found was that the half hour format was the minimal amount of time that I needed to achieve some emotional complexity. So I experimented with different lengths in terms of how penetrating I could make the story.
Are all of the connective tissues, the intros on the DVD, new?
A few of them I did when we were filming and a few of them are new. I was echoing back a lot of what I grew up with. It sounds like hubris on my part but, I got to be the Crypt Keeper here. I directed a few episodes of that show as well and I remember everyone trying to figure out how to make the bloody Crypt Keeper work. So for me to do that now was just fun for me.
How’s The 10 O’Clock People coming along? Anything you can tell us?
Well it’s a Stephen King piece. We’ve got Jay Baruchel starring and we start in Montreal on June 15th. I’m very excited about it.
And Killing Frank?
I’m going to shoot that in England in October. It’s a horror riff on Agatha Christie believe it or not. It’s “Downton Abbey” gone mad, in an old huge country house. I’m trying to update it, but it’s twisted. To take that form of And Then There Were None. Everybody’s trying to kill Frank, who’s a billionaire who’s become a vegetable.
The original Fright Night is one of my favorite movies, but it’s sort of surprising how long and circuitous its legacy has become. What are your feelings on that?
It never occurred to me. It never occurred to me that Child’s Play would turn into six episodes of Chucky. It never occurred to me that Psycho II would kick off all of those sequels. It’s flattering but it makes me regret how bad the deals were that my representatives made for me. I have so little participation in these franchises. Even though it feels like I’m anonymous, my sensibility is deeply embedded in popular culture.