18th Oct2018

Grimmfest 2018: Exclusive Interview with Barbara Crampton – Part 3

by Matthew Turner

This years Grimmfest special guest was actress and horror genre icon Barbara Crampton. Renowned for her roles in cult classics such as Re-Animator and From Beyond, Barbara continues to be a major figure in contemporary genre cinema, appearing in such acclaimed recent releases as You’re Next, Beyond the Gates, Sun Choke, We Are Still Here and Replace. We got a chance to sit down with Barbara during the festival to talk things horror, including her role in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich… Check out the links for part one and part two of this EPIC interview, and read on for the final part!

barbara-crampton-grimmfest

Do you have a wish list of directors you’d like to work with?

Well, Jordan Peele would be awfully nice to work with. It would be nice to work with James Wan, or Corin Hardy, who’s become a friend of mine – I would love to work with him. Joe Lynch I really like, or Edgar Wright would be fun. I’m trying to think of some women directors I’d love to work with. There’s a new up-and-coming woman who has paid her dues in a lot of different areas in the business and is really trying to do something for yourself in terms of directing and, you know, hitting some walls, and I would love to work with her, that’s Roxanne Benjamin. She’s directed some short films. And also, at one point, there was a possibility of working with Axelle Carolyn, who directed Soul Mate and she’s on The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, as a writer. So it would be nice to work with her. I also think Karyn Kusama’s a great director, I would love to work with her. So, I have a nice list.

You may have just answered this, but which of your films do you wish was more widely known? I loved Sun Choke, for example, but it didn’t get a cinema release here.

I think that movie was really, really well done and it had such a singular point of view and every bit and piece of the movie really seemed to come from the brain of Ben Cresciman. He wrote and directed that movie and he was also another hands-on director, Sometimes I don’t get the hands-on directors and you just do whatever and things happen and that can be fine as well, but Ben was very hands-on and very specific and really knew what he wanted and I enjoyed working for him quite a bit. And I loved that character – it was the first dark character that I played after coming back with You’re Next, and I was so surprised that somebody would allow me to play that kind of role because it’s not what I’m known for. And it was interesting, though, because on the page she didn’t come off as that speculative, in terms of who she was a person. She was the caretaker of this young woman who had a mental illness and I thought, well, that’s going to make you mentally ill too, if that’s all you do is deal with somebody on a one-on-one basis. There were some scenes in the movie that were ultimately cut out, where she didn’t have friends, my character – there was a workman that came to the house and she couldn’t look at him and I thought, well, she doesn’t deal with anybody, this is all she does, this is how she makes money and the father is gone all the time in business, so it’s just her and this one person together and how is that going to compromise you as a person and make you a little bit insane as well, you know, when you can’t leave, and she can’t be alone. So I said to Ben, when we were talking about the film before we started, we were chatting about the character and I said, ‘Well, in your view, is she really a good character or a bad character?’ And he said, ‘I don’t know, let’s find out together’, so when he said that, I knew I had found a really sensible person and a good director, because we were both going to explore that and I was going to be able to play both sides of her. And I thought it turned out really well and yeah, you’re right, I mean, we got such great reviews and it just – it’s one of those movies that, had it been a Blumhouse movie or something, and had some marketing behind it, more people would have seen it and it’s too bad.

I kind of fed you that answer, but do you have a different answer? Which of your films do you wish was more widely known?

I guess I might say, maybe, We Are Still Here. I mean it’s known within the horror genre and people that are cinephiles, but a lot of people haven’t seen that movie and that was another great role for me. And I had met Ted Geoghegan when he was the publicity guy for You’re Next, or one of them, and we became friendly and he basically wrote that role for me. And I think it’s a wonderful film, it’s like an ’80s throwback, but it has a lot of heart and soul and I think he took a big risk with the ending and it’s really grounded in something that’s real and emotional and I have a fondness for that film, so I guess I wish more people would see that. So please rent that, if you haven’t yet.

Do you have a favourite of the roles you’ve played?

I always go back to From Beyond because at the time, it was a very multi-layered strong role and it was also around the time that Aliens was made and The Terminator, and Sigourney Weaver and Linda Hamilton played those parts respectively, but we didn’t see a lot of really strong roles for women that weren’t dim-witted in some way or the girlfriend or the hanger-on, or something. And I was able to play a doctor in that film and even though she wasn’t so Lovecraftian, she was sort of the invention of Dennis Paoli and Stuart Gordon, dense villains are important I was able to don some black leather and become a sex fiend and then become a heroine and then try to save the day and go crazy at the end. So it was probably my biggest range of different emotions that I was able to play in the space of one movie, so that’s probably my favourite.

You’ve done some producing. Has that given you the urge to maybe write or direct?

I like giving notes on things. When other people write scripts and things that I’m involved in. I’ve never written my own script, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility for me to do that. But I’m helping to develop a few projects now that I have a hand in the story, so I’m dabbling in that. I enjoy the producing very much because I feel like I’ve been working in the horror genre for so long that I’m able to help others and I want to encourage young filmmakers to make the best first film that they can possibly make, and I frequently work with first time directors on these independent low budget movies, so I feel like I can be a help to them. And it’s part of my personality to also be a helpmate and be collaborative, so it’s sort of a skill set that I have naturally and as far as being somebody to champion movies, travelling to film festivals and meeting other people and talking about movies, I understand how that works now, since coming back with You’re Next, and how important film festivals are for a movie to get seen and word of mouth to promote it. And as far as directing, it’s the kind of thing where you have to work on one specific project for two years and it really can suck the life out of you and to make the best film you can, you have to dedicate your life to that one thing for two years at the exclusion of other things, and I’m really enjoying acting right now and going from project to project when they first come up, and I don’t want to dilute that in favour of throwing myself into some brand new branch of the whole business where I feel like I don’t have as many natural strengths as I do in producing and acting.

So, what’s next for you?

Well, there’s two movies that I’m trying to get off the ground. One of them is kind of a bigger budget movie, it’s about werewolves in Aspen, Colorado. We had that in development at Bron Studios for two years and they just dropped the option in the past few months, so I’m taking that out now and looking for a studio that might be interested in that. But it’s a bigger budget movie, so it’s a little bit harder to sell, but it’s a great script and it’s been worked and reworked and reworked again and the script is in perfect shape, so I have some people looking at that now.

What’s that called?

The Wildness. It has a great central character, sort of a cross between The Big Lebowski and The Lost Boys – this ne’er-do-well ski instructor comes to Aspen, Colorado and he has to save the town from for this outbreak of werewolves, and also he’s a slacker, but he has to find himself and he also wins the girl at the end, so it’s quite commercial, and really snappy dialogue and really well crafted, so I’m working on that and then I’m working on another one that just happens to be a vampire movie, not that I feel like I need to dabble in all the classic horror films of yesteryear, but this film is a much smaller film about an older couple and the woman is bitten by a vampire and how that changes her relationship with her husband. And then I’m also in the new season of Channel Zero, which the first episode dropped a few days ago – I don’t think you get it here yet. It’s Season Four, but around Halloween time in the States, all the rest of the season is going to be released. That’s my first television job in a very long time, so it’s nice to play a continuing character for a few episodes.
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Dead Night is now available on DVD across the UK, you can buy it now at Amazon; and Barbara Crampton’s latest film, Reborn, screens as part of Frightfest 12-hour Halloween event at London’s Cineworld Leicester Square on Saturday 3rd November 2018.

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