16th Feb2018

‘Death House’ Interview: Yan Birch

by Philip Rogers

With the highly-anticipated horror Death House being released in cinemas on 23rd February 2018, I got a chance to speak with actor Yan Birch about the legacy of People Under the Stairs (1991), his character in Death House and hanging out with friends on the set.

Yan-Birch

How did you first get into acting?

My father was in the business in Sweden. Mostly Cabarets and Comedy shows. He was also a musician, so I grew up in a very creative arts environment. I started with music and then moved on to hosting a TV-Show in my teens. Then it continued from there.

You have had various roles over your career, but you are best known for your performance the Stairmaster from People Under the Stairs (1991). Did you think that the character would still be so popular over 25 years later?

I had no idea that anything like this would happen… I did know anything was possible with someone like Wes Craven. Then when we stayed No 1 on the US Box office for 6 weeks I knew this was something very special, but 25 years later and still this popular, no that’s hard to fathom… but amazing. I am very grateful.

What do you think makes People Under the Stairs so appealing to fans new and old for so long?

It’s a horror movie with a lot of comedy and heart. It also has a very strong political statement, and it bent the rules. The little black kid saves the day!  And the “People” that look like monsters are the victims, and later, my character shares being a hero with Brandon’s “Fool” and saves him…! I believe all the above made for a very entertaining, interesting and rewarding film. A horror film that not only scared you and made you laugh, it also made you feel good leaving the theatre.

You play a staff worker in the upcoming horror film Death House. Can you tell us what we can expect from the film?

This film is a tribute to Gunnar Hansen and a vision he wanted to present for a while. By putting all his Horror actor’s friends in the same film he wanted to do something no one had done before. Unfortunately, we lost him before it became reality, but I believe Harrison Smith and his team including Rick Finkelstein, Steven Chase, Michael Eisenstadt and Felissa Rose did a great job making Gunnar’s dream come into reality. It’s a roller coaster ride of evil!

How did you become involved in the film?

I heard about this film/idea a while back at a Horror Convention. 6-7 months later I heard it was moving forward. I have had some interactions in regard to other Projects with Harrison Smith before, and I know Felissa Rose very well so I told them both that I was interested to be in the film. So many of my friends had already showed interest as well. They loved the idea, we kept talking and I ended up doing a fun cameo as an evil Doctor. We had an absolute blast and it was like one Big family coming together.

Can you tell me a little bit about your character?

My character is one of the “evil” Doctors in the film. There is a lot of evil on both sides in this film by both Prisoners and Doctors.

Death House features so many horror icons including Sean Whalen, who worked with you previously with People Under the Stairs. Did you get to work with Sean again on Death House and what was it like being on set of such a landmark film?

Unfortunately, we worked on different days, him being a Prisoner and I being a Doctor. We both had a blast on the film, a very friendly and comfortable set.

What was your favourite part of filming Death House?

Just being involved and hanging out with friends…

You have continued to feature in movies over the years but next year looks to be one of your busiest yet. Can you tell us a bit about some of the projects we can expect to see released in 2018?

Yes, I am so grateful for the last couple of years. I love staying busy… I had the pleasure of working on quite a few great films with some awesome Directors and Cast in the last year. For 2018 I believe besides the Death House release on January 19th, the following Projects will be released at some point: Sky Sharks: A great German film with an amazing cast including, Tony Todd, Naomi Grossman and Robert LaSardo, Directed by Marc Fehse: Waking Dead meets Sharknado, Nazi-Zombies on Flying Sharks…I play a British MI5 agent… Waking Nightmare: A film with Diane Franklin and Shelley Regner by Brian Farmer and Steve Craig that was a lot of fun to shoot. I play a troubled soldier back from Afghanistan/Iraq with PTSD that gets into dark behaviour… but with a great twist…Terror Tales: A Horror Anthology Directed by Jimmy Lee Combs with great cast including Lynn Lowry and Felissa Rose where I play Satan himself…! Artificial Loyalty: An awesome Crime Thriller about human trafficking Directed by fellow Swede Harley Wallen and with cast including my old friend Billy Wirth…Then I also shot Mr. Blue Shirt: Inspiration, an out-of-the-box kind of Sci-Fi/Fantasy film with Director Mike Stewart. I also shot a fun horror comedy short about the film Industry called The Investors with Director Lara McCarthy, another fellow Swede…hitting the Festival circuit in 2018.

You are playing a wide range of characters in 2018, but are there any other characters who you would like to portray on screen?

I am open to anything and everything within certain limits of course. I take every role as a challenge and like to improve my craft Project after Project. I love having fun, and acting for me is fun… I love it…

Do you have any other future projects which you will be working on?

Yes. I am attached to star in Don’t Let Them In a campfire tales story based on the novel by Elizabeth Fields and Directed by Kevin Tenney…I am also in talks with Director Harley Wallen to star in one or more of his Projects set for 2018… we had a great experience together on Artificial Loyalty…I am attached to the sequel of Death House: Dawn of 5 Evils, which might also get going 2018. I am in serious talks to star in The Door Between a Swedish produced Super Natural Film Directed by Paul Weston and taking place in Sweden and Finland, shooting this fall. It would be amazing for me to come back to shoot in my homeland…there are also some other very exciting talks going right now about another larger Project…it’s too early for me to be able to talk about it yet…cross your fingers…lol…I will keep you posted…

What advice would you give someone who wants to get into acting?

Make the Decision. Visualize your Dream. Believe you can Do it. Create your own Reality. Love your Life.


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You can find out more details about Yan Birch and his future projects on the official website www.yanbirch.com and social media:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/yanbirchfanpage
Twitter: @yanbirch
Instagram: @yanbirchpage

Show Reel: http://www.imdb.com/videoplayer/vi3110712601

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