ARTICLES

LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS

Exclusive Interview With Director Jeff Burr - Part 1
By James Whittington, Sunday 16th May 2010

Jeff BurrWriter, producer, director Jeff Burr has been behind some of the most inventive horror movies from the last twenty years. He gained notoriety in 1990 when he unleashed (well tried to anyway) Leatherface, the third instalment in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre series. Recently on Horror you may have caught his movies Werewolf Reborn and Devil's Den. Jeff has also made memorable contributions to the long running Puppet Master franchise and produced some pretty cool kids TV shows so we thought it was time we tracked this man from Georgia down to see exactly what inspires him to make such a diverse range of movies. In this, the first part of an exclusive interview, Jeff talks about his early career and his time with Vincent Price.

HC: Were you a horror fan when you were growing up?

JB: Yes, I was a big horror fan growing up. I totally got into the genre through Shock Theater, which aired on Channel 9 out of Chattanooga, TN and featured Dr. Shock and his pet bat Dingbat. Dr. Shock was a guy named Tommy Reynolds, and Dingbat was a puppet operated and voiced by Dan East. They showed all the Universal 30's and 40's horror package, and I fell in love with those films. They also showed stuff like The Thing, The Giant Claw, and stuff from the 60's like the Philippines John Ashley Blood Island movies, etc. I also would seek out any horror/Sci-Fi film in the theatre, and saw many many films at the Wink Theater, the Capri Theater and the Cherokee Drive-In. It was a great experience going to films in those days, as you knew that if you didn’t see the film in the theatre, you might not get a chance again for years, and then it would be on TV, cut up! Some horror/Sci-Fi stuff that made a big impression on me were Phantom Of The Paradise, Phase IV, Equinox, Land That Time Forgot, 7th Voyage Of Sinbad (which I saw in the '75 reissue) King Kong (which I saw in the '76 reissue before the DeLaurentis version came out) Silent Running, 2001 and on TV, Five Million Years To Earth, The Time Machine, The Conqueror Worm, too many to mention! And one of the most evocative theatre experiences I had was in early 1979, when I was in high school, the Tivoli Theatre in Chattanooga showed Citizen Kane, and I went nuts. I had read about that film, but had never seen it, and then seeing a great print in a big theatre was magical. Other guys who really influenced me were Jerry Lewis, because I loved his films, but also because his book on filmmaking (The Total Filmmaker) was the first book on filmmaking I ever read, and it was magical (in the pre-internet days) to actually see what a real script looked like, etc etc!

HC: Did you have a favourite director?

JB: I don’t know if I had a favourite director when I was growing up, but certainly I loved all the James Bond films, all the Clint Eastwood westerns and action films, Burt Reynolds films from the 70's probably just what you'd expect a boy from Dalton, Georgia to like! The town I grew up in was about 20,000 population, so we didn’t get some of the more "prestige" movies sometimes, but Chattanooga was about 30 miles away, and on very rare occasions, Atlanta was about 100 miles away. Even though I loved horror and Sci-Fi films, I also loved almost any other genre too...but I do remember suffering when my mom told me to come with her to see A Star Is Born with Barbara Streisand... I read about all the directors in magazines (when I could find them) like Castle Of Frankenstein and The Monster Times, which I always preferred to Famous Monsters. Although Famous Monsters always had the best covers! So, I certainly knew who Roger Corman was, I loved his Poe movies and Little Shop Of Horrors, I of course knew who Stanley Kubrick was, as I saw 2001 as a very little kid and it totally has burned itself on my brain for the rest of my life. That is one movie that I will drop everything to see on a big screen!!! But of course in those days (the 70's) it was a lot harder to find out things about movies if you lived in a small town, nothing like today. And I would have to say that I knew and loved Spielberg's work, because I saw Duel when it first aired, and it riveted me, and of course I loved Jaws and Close Encounters too.

HC: Were your family supportive of your decision to go into the movie business?

JB: My parents were supportive...both of them had a creative side to them, and they both appeared in community theater in Dalton. I vividly remember the thrill of being around backstage on a play when it was in rehearsal, and seeing the sets built, etc. So that had to have an influence on me, and all the people in my family, my grandparents, my uncles, etc were good storytellers and when we got to see them at Christmas or whenever it was always fascinating to hear their stories, of World War 1-2, etc. My mom also had a radio show in Dalton called Coffee Time, and she would interview all kinds of people. As a matter of fact, I got to interview Robert Vaughn and James Francicus because of her. She set it up through her station, and Robert Vaughn was doing a play in Atlanta, and I was a huge fan of his, so I got to interview him backstage. And Francicus was in Chattanooga doing a celebrity golf tournament. Of course I bent his ear about Valley Of The Gwangi! Also, with most people, when you have a hobby as a kid, the enthusiasm dissipates as you get older, but with me, when I started making little Regular 8mm movies in the backyard, with neighbourhood kids and my brother, it only got more intense the more I did it. So, I am one of the lucky people that found out very early in life what he wanted to do, and was able to pursue it. Of course there have been many bumps in the road, but I owe a lot to my parents early support...by that I mean that they never once said "Oh, that is a ridiculous idea...a film director? From Dalton? Get serious!" Or anything like that. And, my brother was always supportive too, he was a movie fan and could figure out great ways to rig certain things for special effects in my Super 8mm movies, he would act in some of the films, he would turn me on to films I hadn’t seen (he was a few years older), etc.

HC: Your first directing job was on the movie Divided We Fall which you co-directed with Kevin Meyer. Were you nervous and did you have any artistic differences?

JB: Well, Divided We Fall started as a student project at the University of Southern California. It was made in the winter/spring/summer of 1982, and premiered at USC Norris Theater in November of 1982. It was an incredibly ambitious, epic Civil War tale, running about 30 minutes long, shot in black and white with no sync dialogue. Kevin Meyer was an incredibly talented guy who I met in a class at school in fall of 1981. We teamed up to make this film, and I have to say it was a great partnership all the way, and in many ways it still might be both of our best films! We did everything...write, produce, direct, edit, photograph, etc. Certainly one of my best experiences making a film. The film won many awards around the world, and a clip from it can be seen on the American DVD of Straight Into Darkness, in the documentary made by Dave Parker. The film featured John Agar, who was a joy to work with, (and he hung in with the project over several months) Nick Guest, who was a blast (and I worked with him again on Puppet Master 5) David Cloud, who was a really talented guy who is now a teacher, Willard Pugh (who I worked with many times later and he also did The Color Purple, Robocop 2, etc) and two future "Leatherface" alumni...R.A. Mihailoff and Michael Shamus Wiles. Courtney Joyner did special effects makeup (he was the co-writer of From A Whisper To A Scream) and Will Huston and Mike Malone were production assistants (they were integral parts of the production of from a whisper). Kevin Meyer went on to do some thrillers for the producer Bruce Cohn Curtis, and he wrote the studio film A Smile Like Yours with Greg Kinnear. Of course we had some differences, and we have somewhat different sensibilities, but we meshed on that film and as I say, it may be the best film with our names on it so far! We worked from January 1982 to November 1982 on the film, and dropped out of school to finish it. We broke a lot of rules, and pretty much did what John Carpenter had done with the short film Dark Star, i.e. do things your way and alienate most of the faculty! The only difference is that he had the foresight to expand it into a feature, and that is what we should have done! Of course you realize this in retrospect. But I have great memories and feelings on the making of that movie, and want to repeat that experience, meaning how the film was made. In a lot of ways, Straight Into Darkness was a very similar experience. But, Divided We Fall won a lot of awards, but it really didn’t do that much for our careers right away. It did a little later, as it was a great thing to show potential investors for my first feature.

HC: The next project you directed was the anthology movie The Offspring starring the legendary Vincent Price. How did you get him involved?

JB: We got Vincent Price involved with the film by first going to his house (we got his address from a celebrity address service, such services don’t exist anymore in the wake of anti-stalking laws). We knocked on his door, he answered, he actually invited us in, and we talked for a bit and gave him the script. All true. He had every right to throw us off his property, tell us to submit the script to his agent, or that he wasn’t interested! But he was truly gracious and charming. So, he read the script, thought it was good but it was the type of film he was avoiding at that time in his life, and that was that, or so we thought! Months later, we had shot the stories of the film and were preparing to do the linking sequence, which was always planned to do in Los Angeles. I thought that it would be great to have Max von Sydow in the film, so I tracked down his agent, and his agent Walter Kohner reads the script and says Max won’t do it but he has the perfect client for me...VINCENT PRICE!!!! So, that's how we get Vincent! Totally a coincidence that he had the same agent, and his agent liked the script and recommended it to Vincent again. I think Vincent probably thought that this project was stalking him, so he better do the film or be harassed forever!

HC: Did Vincent talk about his career to you and was he an easy person to direct? He must have had a lot of presence on set, how did the rest of the cast react to him and was it an enjoyable experience?

JB: Vincent was a total pro, and was a total dream to direct. He made it clear to me that he WANTED to be directed, and trusted my guidance. So, I must say, that after maybe one-half day (we had two days of shooting with him) I talked to him director to actor, as opposed to say, fan to legend! But that was his doing, and his grace and professionalism. He was incredibly open on and off the set, and it was a great moment when Roger Corman came down and had a little reunion with him. We were shooting at Roger's studio in Venice, CA. The rest of the cast came down for photo shoots with Vincent...there is a lovely picture that I treasure of Rosalind Cash and Vincent, taken by the very talented photographer Dan Golden. Clu Gulager and Miriam came down, Martine Beswicke was there, and Hazel Court came by to see Vincent...so it was a great time. I am telling you that Vincent never stopped talking from the time he came on the set to the time he left. Everyone I had ever met called me and asked to come to the set to meet him! And also, Otto Preminger had just passed away, and he gave a lovely interview to Entertainment Tonight on our set, talking about Laura. Vincent loved talking about his career, but he was bored with mundane questions and certainly blanched at being referred to as a horror actor. Of course we know that he was so much more, and the longer it is since he has gone, the gap he has left gets wider. So, overall, I can only say that it was a total honour, and I don’t use that word loosely, an honour to get to direct a bonafide cinema legend like Vincent.

In the next part of this exclusive interview Jeff talks about Stepfather 2 and horror movie remakes.


MORE INTERVIEWS
Interview with Paul Davis, director of Uncanny Annie
Posted on Wednesday 16th October 2019

Ahead of the International premiere of Uncanny Annie at Arrow Video FrightFest Halloween 2019, director Paul Davis reflects on working for Blumhouse, bemoans attitudes to British genre film funding and reveals the movies that inspire him the most...

HC: Tell us how Uncanny Annie came about?

PD: Uncanny Annie is my second movie for Blumhouse as part of Hulu's Into The Dark movie series. I had the opportunity to actually kick off last October with a feature adaptation of my short film The Body (which had its world premiere at FF in 2013). The concept was to release a movie a month, for twelve months, with each revolving around a holiday or particular day for the month of its released. With The Bod...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Lars Klevberg, director of Child's Play (2019)
Posted on Thursday 10th October 2019
CHILDS_PLAY_Universal_2D_BD_Pakcshot_UKIt was the remake everyone was against! The interweb was ablaze with negativity but director Lars Klevberg and his team managed to pull off one of the best horror movies of 2019. Here he chats about the smart shocker, Child's Play.

HC: How nervous were you taking on a re-imagining of such a beloved concept and franchise?

LK: I was in fact very nervous the minute I signed on to do the movie. Before that, I worked relentlessly for weeks to get the job, but immediately after getting it my body had a very stressful reaction. I was fully aware of the legacy I was about to re-open so, I didn't sleep one minute that night.

HC: W...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Chris Bavota, co-director of Dead Dicks
Posted on Sunday 6th October 2019
ChrisBavota_DeadDicks

Horror is the perfect genre for getting across very serious issues. Dead Dicks, which is showing at Grimmfest today does exactly that by looking at the sensitive subject of mental health. Here co-director Chris Bavota talks about this intriguing movie.

HC: How did you and co-writer and co-director Lee Paula Springer first meet?

CB: In case people don't know, Lee and I have been married for almost 10 years and we have 2 young daughters. Making movies somehow came as a natural evolution of that but wasn't really a part of our lives until about three or four years ago. We originally met back around 2004 through a mutual friend and honestly, we didn't really ge...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Robi Michael, writer and director of Every Time I Die
Posted on Saturday 5th October 2019
Robi Michael

Grimmfest 2019 is well underway and one of the stand out movies so far has been Every Time I Die from director Robi Michael. Here he chats about this gripping movie.

HC: Was there one person or movie that you saw that made you want to be a director?

RM: Hard to think of one person or movie, because as long as I remember, it was clear to me that all I want to do is make movies - I was in love with films and decided to pursue it from a very early age. I was too young to realized what it takes to make movies or what is the job of a director. I can say that an early big influence in story telling is the legendary graphic novel writer, Alan Moore. Books like "Watchmen" and "V for...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Tom Botchii, director of Artik
Posted on Wednesday 2nd October 2019
Tom Botchii

Grimmfest 2019 begins tomorrow and Horror will be there bringing you news of all that happens as well as three Facebook Live events on the 4th, 5th and 6th of October.

One of the movies showing is Artik from director Tom Botchii so we chatted to him about this superb, brutal shocker.

HC: Where did the idea for Artik come from?

TB: The idea of Artik came from two things -
1) Getting my car broken into and seeing the initials A-T-K tagged on the wall behind it. When discussing with police they said that stands for a local gang member named ARTIK and when he spray paints ATK it means that you're marked and he or one of the other gang members is coming back to brea...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Rob Grant, director of Harpoon
Posted on Monday 30th September 2019
Rob Grant director

Grimmfest 2019 is only days away and Horror Channel will be there delivering all the info you'd want from this fear-filled festival as well as bringing to you three Facebook Live events on 4th, 5th and 6th October.

Here we chat to Grimmfest regular Rob Grant about his superior psychological shocker Harpoon which is showing at the festival this year.

HC: It's been a couple of years since we last chatted when Fake Blood played at Grimmfest, what have you been up to since then?

RG: Been very busy... was a director for hire on Alive. that I unfortunately had to miss at last year's Grimmfest due to an illness in the family, made Harpoon and been travelling around ...

SHARE: READ MORE
Brand new interview with Dee Wallace, star of Cujo, The Howling and now Beyond the Sky
Posted on Sunday 12th May 2019
Cujo

Dee Wallace is one of those people who seems to have be around forever and yet never ages in enthusiasm or her ability to bring to life some of cinema's most memorable characters. With a resume that includes E.T., The Hills Have Eyes, Cujo and now Beyond the Sky, we chatted to Dee about her career to date and how she prepares for each acting project.

HC: What made you want to be an actress?

DW: Oh, you know... I was born! (laughs) Seriously, I think creative people are just born to be creative and they have to find an outlet for that. My mother also was a beautiful actress, locally in my hometown and did all the plays at church so I think I naturally found my way into a family that supporte...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Horror's Channel Manager Stewart Bridle
Posted on Friday 10th May 2019
Stewart Bridle is Horror Channel's longest serving Channel Manager. He has guided Horror for almost a decade and has managed to bring to our screens many classics as well as introducing us to some new horror movie talent. In this, our 15th anniversary month we chat to Stewart about his role and some of the juicy pieces he has lined up for the rest of 2019.

HC: Have you always been a horror movie fan?

SB: Yes! I've always been interested and fascinated with horror and all genre stuff. I have an older brother who would manage to rent or get bootleg VHS of some great horror titles and I have memories of watching things like the original Dawn Of The Dead or slashers like The Burning while far too youn...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with exploitation legend David McGillivray
Posted on Wednesday 24th April 2019
Pete WalkerAhead of Horror Channel's premiere of Pete Walker's Schizo on April 27th, horror and sexploitation movie writer/director David McGillivray reflects on disastrous scripts, his volatile relationship with Walker and writing smut for Julian Clary.

Q: Schizo is unusual in your body of work with director Pete Walker because the concept and narrative were not of your choosing. How much of a problem was that for you?

DM: Huge. I thought the script that we re-worked was terribly old-fashioned and this led to big arguments with Walker that ended our relationship.

Q: You often play a cameo in the movies you've written - you're 'Man at Seance' in Schizo. Any particular reason?

DM:...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Abner Pastoll, director of Road Games
Posted on Thursday 21st March 2019
Abner Pastol

Horror Channel loves to promote new talent in the industry and one of the most exciting new directors around is Abner Pastoll. His first feature, Road Games, is an adrenaline packed killer of a thriller which is showing on the channel on March 22nd at 9pm. We decided to chat to Abner about this tense movie and his plans for the future.

HC: Did you know from a young age that you wanted to work in the film industry?

AP: Yes. I remember being as young as 4 or 5 and just knowing with such clarity that I needed to make films. My family had a cinema, drive-in and video store, all of which certainly enhanced my obsession with movies of all shapes and sizes.

HC: Was there one film t...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Zach Lipovsky, director of Leprechaun: Origins.
Posted on Thursday 28th February 2019
Zach Lipovsky

On March 1st, Horror is bringing you the UK TV premiere of a real corker of a shocker, Leprechaun: Origins. The movie follows two couples backpacking through the Irish countryside who end up spending the night in an old cabin, and learn the terrible truth about Ireland's most famous legend. So begins a living nightmare... The movie is a smart entry into the franchise so we decided to chat to its director, Zach Lipovsky.

HC: Did you know from an early age that you wanted to work in this industry?

ZL: Yes, I grew up as a child actor. Mostly as an excuse to be on set and not at school. I was quickly more interested in making movies than acting and from the age of 10 started shooting silly pro...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Tom Paton, director of Redwood
Posted on Monday 4th February 2019
Redwood Poster

Ahead of Horror Channel's UK TV premiere of Redwood, director Tom Paton reveals the secrets of his prolific work-rate, talks about tackling the subject of fake news and the twists and turns of his new film Stairs.

HC: Redwood gets its UK TV premiere on Friday 8 February, courtesy of Horror Channel. Excited or what?

TP: Honestly, I'm so proud that Redwood has made its way onto Horror Channel. I've been a huge fan since the channel launched and over the past decade I've discovered so many horror gems on there from classic through to films I'd never heard of but now love. It feels incredible to know that someone might discover Redwood in the exact same way.

HC: Is it true y...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interviews Archive: 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006
PICK OF THE WEEK
The Woman In Black
THE WOMAN IN BLACK
Friday 25th October
9.00 PM
Star Trek: Voyager
STAR TREK: VOYAGER
Wednesday 30th October
7.00 PM
Space: 1999
SPACE: 1999
Wednesday 30th October
8.00 PM