FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS | BOOTH'S BLOG Brand New Interview With Adam Rifkin Co-Director Of Chillerama
By James Whittington, Thursday 11th April 2013
The superb shocker Chillerama was given its UK Television premiere last month on the Horror Channel and can be seen on April 11th. This comic horror anthology was directed by four of the most talented directors around at the moment; Adam Rifkin, Joe Lynch, Adam Green and Tim Sullivan.
Over four nights we're posting interviews with these fine fellows about this movie and what other projects they're working on. Tonight it's the turn of Adam Rifkin.
HC: Did you know from an early age that you wanted to be working in the film industry?
AR: I grew up loving movies from as early an age as I can remember. My first love was monster movies. The classics; Frankenstein, Dracula, etc. I figured out pretty early on that someone had to behind making them. I didn't understand at that age what a director was, I just knew that someday I wanted to make movies too. The first movie I saw that opened my eyes to the idea that film can be more than just scary monsters and rubber heads was One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. I saw it when I was quite young and it really had a profound effect on me. Suddenly I realized that films can make you cry. Can make you think. Can change the way you look at the world. After that I became a real student of film. All kinds of film. I watched movies constantly. I also spent all of my play time making little movies with my friends. It was always fun... and it still is. I feel so lucky that I get to live out my childhood dream and actually make real movies for a living.
HC: Your career hits many different genres, do you have a favourite?
AR: I love movies. All kinds of movies. I also love telling all types of stories. Funny stories, sad stories, scary stories etc. That's why I feel beyond lucky that I've been able to spend my career so far making all kinds of movies. Big movies, tiny movies, family movies, tragic movies. In Hollywood it can often be perceived as a liability if you're not easily categorized into one box, but I've never been a subscriber to conventional wisdom. When an idea hits me I've learned that the best thing for me to do is to run with it. That's part of the fun, the challenge of telling a new and different tale every time.
HC: There's been a resurrection of the Anthology genre recently, why do you think that is and do you have a recent favourite?
AR: I like to think it's because they're fun. Conventional three act story structure will never go out of style, but sometimes audiences just want a sampler platter of stories. A buffet, if you will. Or in Chillerama's case, a "pu pu platter". When I was young there were tons of anthology films. Many of them were horror themed, like Creepshow and Tales From The Darkside, and Tales From The Crypt and Spirits Of The Dead before those. There were lots of comedy anthologies as well; The Groove Tube, Tunnel Vision and the granddaddy of them all, Kentucky Fried Movie. The anthology film that most directly inspired Wadzilla, and is still probably my favourite anthology movie, is Woody Allen's Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex But Were Afraid To Ask (there's a segment in which Woody and a hot blonde are chased across the countryside by a giant woman's breast). Anthologies went out of style for a while because Hollywood got stuck in a formula rut. Anthologies didn't fit into the Robert McKee three act structure format that studios became so obsessed with for so long (and still are to a large degree). Luckily some recent anthologies slipped through the cracks, got made, got some attention, made some money and opened the door for more. My favourite of the current crop would have to be Sin City. Mickey Rourke as Marv can't be beat.
HC: What was the inspiration for your story for Chillerama?
AR: Like with all of the segments in Chillerama, each of the 4 films was meant to be homage to a particular era of B-Movie. Green's was 1930's and 40's Universal Horror, Sullivan's was 1960's Corman-esque beach movies, Lynch's was late 70's and 80's zombie flicks and mine was to be a tip of the hat to the "giant atomic monster destroying the city" movies of the 1950's. The Blob was probably the one I was most inspired by, as well as The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, The Amazing Colossal Man, and of course, Godzilla. Knowing I wanted to have some fun with a giant monster movie, the first thing I wanted to do was to decide what would be the funniest giant monster I could think up. A gigantic sperm cell just seemed like the silliest thing I could come up with, so once that hit me I just dove in balls deep.
HC: Was it a hard piece to cast and how did you get a certain Hollywood mega-star to appear (without giving the game away who it is)?
AR: Actually, casting Wadzilla was easier than we thought it would be. Most of the key players I had worked with before, like Lin Shaye, Ray Wise and Miles Dougal. I just called them up, pitched them the idea and they all agreed on the spot. Casting Louise, was challenging only because it's never easy as it should be to find an exceptionally hot girl who can do great comedy. Luckily we found Sarah Mutch. Casting the lead was actually the most challenging role. We had, at one time or another, various big name comedic actors who had agreed to play the part. Unfortunately each one had to bow out due to scheduling conflicts. At the very last minute I agreed to play the role myself, but believe me, I was my last choice. And casting that Hollywood mega-star you refer to was a snap. I actually had known said star and his wife (who's also his manager) from meeting them at random Hollywood functions throughout the years. When I called them up and told them what I was doing and asked them to be a part of it, they laughed their asses off and agreed immediately. They got the joke and had a blast with it.
HC: Was it a fun shoot and what was the atmosphere like on set?
AR: It was ridiculously fun! First of all, anytime you're free as a filmmaker to get to go all out and be as crazy as your imagination allows, it's always a blast. Secondly, everyone involved was really only there to have fun. From the cast, to the Chiodo Bros., who agreed to do all the creature effects, to the rest of the crew. We all love movies, and the chance to get to make something this outrageous is just a rare opportunity for us all. Because of that, there were lots of laughs on set. Additionally, dumping garbage cans full of fake sperm of people's heads is something that doesn't happen everyday. How could it not be fun? The mood was pretty crazy everyday.
HC: It really captures the spirit of the crazy B-Movies of the 50s, are you a fan of this era?
AR: Very much so. Growing up in Chicago I was exposed to all the monster movies and B-movies I loved on a local TV show called the Son Of Svengoolie. Svengoolie was (and still is) the hippest horror host with the most and in addition to all the Universal monster movies, the Hammer Films and the Japanese monster movies he'd show, he'd also show a litany of 1950's atomic era classics. I loved them because not only were they fun, but they were always the ones that were the most philosophical. The monster movies with the moral center. The cautionary tales. I definitely tried to poke a little fun at that in Wadzilla and Ray Wise is brilliant as the 50's-esque scientist who comments on the philosophical responsibilities that comes along with living in a nuclear age.
HC: Would you like to be part of another anthology film such as the recent ABCs Of Death?
AR: Definitely! I love short form content. There's so much fun to be had telling a story in a limited amount of time. I hope I get to be a part of many more anthology films.
HC: You must be pleased Chillerama got its UK premiere on the Horror Channel?
AR: Beyond thrilled. It's the perfect home for Chillerama. Although I believe that Chillerama can be enjoyed by all audiences, Chillerama was made expressly for horror fans. Adam, Tim, Joe and myself are all horror movie buffs and Chillerama is our love letter to 100 years of scary movies. We just know that the Horror Channel audience with get all the jokes.
HC: You're a man of many talents; writer, director, actor do you have a favourite?
AR: Well, writing and directing is, has been and always will be my passion. It's what I've dreamed of doing from the time I was a little kid. That said I'd always suspected that the actors have all the fun. And the more acting I find myself doing, the more I prove myself right. Acting is a blast. That said if I had to choose one, writing and directing would win out.
HC: So what are you working on at the moment?
AR: I’ve written and am about to start directing a film that has been my passion project for the last several years. We finally start prepping in a few months but I’m sworn to secrecy for just a little while longer. As soon as I can talk about it I’ll give you all the delicious details.
HC: Adam Rifkin, thank you very much.
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