ARTICLES

LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS

Exclusive Interview With Day Of The Dead Star Joe Pilato
By James Whittington, Monday 12th April 2010

Joe-Pilato-1George A. Romero’s masterpiece Day Of The Dead hit Blu-ray on March 29th thanks to Arrow Video. One of the films most memorable characters is that of Captain Rhodes played to scene stealing perfection by Joe Pilato. Joe took some time out to tell us about his acting career and how he came to be play one of horror’s most iconic creations.

HC: When did you realise you wanted to become an actor?   JP: Great question. First of all, hello to all my UK fans. I didn’t think I realized that I wanted to be an actor. When I was a kid I noticed that I would critique how other kids played. We would play ‘World War II army’ and you would shoot an invisible machine gun or broom handle and I’d look and I’d go, ‘That’s not the way you die - you die like this.’ Then I went to Catholic School and became an alter boy. The mass was a sense of performance and this was back in the Latin days of the mass and it was very mysterious and there was a lot of circumstance and candles, incense and costumes and pageantry, weddings and funerals and baptisms and a lot of symbolic action. I remember being very aware of being observed. And then I got to college where I was in pre-law aspiring to become a lawyer. One day I just figured out that I really had no notion of lawyering, but I was more fascinated with the people on television like Perry Mason, E.G. Marshal and Spencer Tracy in Inherit The Wind. I was more excited about portraying a person who was the lawyer. Unfortunately to this day, I have not played a lawyer.   HC: Did you model your acting style on anyone?   JP: If you mean did I model the character of Rhodes after anyone in particular, I would have to say no to that. My acting style is a product of the different teachers that I’ve studied with, Jerzy Grotowski the very famous Polish director, and of course the Stanislavski system. The character leapt off the page, George wrote it. That’s how Rhodes was personified.   HC: How did you get your first big break?   JP: I would have to say; my first big break was through my relationship with the Pittsburgh film family in a movie called Effects, which unfortunately after twenty years, was just recently released by Synapse Films. I was a local Pittsburgh actor and they were auditioning for this movie and I was not even supposed to audition. I drove an actress who needed a ride and it was the dead of winter and instead of waiting in the car, I went in. The person she was supposed to read with didn’t show up, so I read and got cast in the role of Dominic, the cinematographer. That’s how I got introduced to George.   HC: Did you have to audition for the role of Captain Rhodes?   JP: Yes. There were auditions in New York, L.A. and Pittsburgh. So, I did have to audition. Auditioning for George is always an enjoyable experience because he gives you a lot of feedback and adjustments to make. George was always very fond of Pittsburgh actors. I did three movies for him Knight Riders, Dawn Of The Dead - I had originally auditioned for David Emge’s character in Dawn Of The Dead, the helicopter pilot. But, there was just too much of a similarity between me and Scotty. And, so that didn’t work out. But, thanks to the Dario Argento release, my entire scene as the head officer at the police dock was put back in the movie because it was not in the American release. Then my number came up with my audition for the part of Captain Rhodes in Day Of The Dead. It took about a month to find out as they went to different cities. I got a call one day saying I got the role.   HC: How did you approach playing such an intense character?   JP: Well, I was pretty left of centre politically and was very influenced by my anti-Vietnam war experience. I was chased and maced in the streets of Boston and Washington DC by tactical police. So, Rhodes was everything antithetical to my political belief and it’s usually very easy to play an opposite or villainous character. And Rhodes was the epitome. Although, Rhodes’ point of view in the movie is correct, ‘shoot ‘em in the head.’ They’re dead people, wake up, shoot ‘em in the head, which is the military point of view. Rhodes thought, and I think that we all think, it’s kind of fruitless to domesticate the zombies.   HC: What was the atmosphere like on set as the movie has very little humour to it?   Joe-Pilato-2JP: That’s a very interesting observation. The movie does have very little humour in it due to the claustrophobic nature of the shoot. Most actors go back to their trailer between shots, but we had cubby holes with a cot, it was bare minimum. So, we basically entertained each other, both cast and crew. The camaraderie on the set was just magnificent. Everybody really bonded. I really hate to use that word, it’s so overused, but we basically did because we were under harsh conditions.   HC: The movie is known for its grisly effects, did you object to how graphic the movie actually got?   JP: Absolutely not. When you think about it there was a period, I think in the 18th century, there was something called the theatre of The Grand Guignol based on gore. I really have no objections to screen violence. What I do object to most is the ease with which they can CG the effect. These were really hands on masterpieces. Each special effect was like a work of art and to watch these guys - Savini, Nicotero, Howard Berger, I’m sure I’m forgetting some names - craft and sculpt the real thing as it were, was amazing. I have no objection as long as it works for the story.   HC: You must get asked this a lot but what was it like waiting on set waiting to be “pulled to bits”?   JP: It was horrendous. I spent five hours in that hole and it was very uncomfortable. They told me the morning when I walked on the set not to eat or drink anything, and I asked them why, and they said because you’re going to be laying in a hole for four to five hours. They had created this false floor and drilled a hole in it, and they actually put a toilet seat cover over the hole. There’s a picture of me somewhere in long underwear crawling into this hole like an astronaut. It was very painful, but the most horrible part of it was when the guts came out. The smell was just so putrefied and so rotten. It took about two and a half more hours to set that up. They had an aspirator on my face and people were spraying Aramis and whatever cologne they could grab that was laying around. Once they covered up the chest, the smell subsided minimally. But, once they reopened it, with three cameras rolling we shot the scene, and I think you can see it on scream greats, I immediately started retching and gagging. When it was over they were afraid I was going to aspirate and they pulled me out of that hole real fast. I was covered with all this blood. Thank God there was a shower on the set.   HC: Captain Rhodes is one of the most acclaimed and memorable characters in horror movie history; you must rightly be proud of this?   JP: Oh, I absolutely am. I owe it all to the fans. The genre fans are the greatest fans in the world. They don’t come to the table empty and they don’t come just as autograph seekers. I’ve never met an unintelligent genre fan. And without the fans, I would just be a piece of celluloid. But, thanks to George’s creation and George’s vision and the embrace of the fans, it makes me feel wonderful. I just spent three or four days in the UK in the fall and met some of my UK fan base in Dublin, Glasgow, and Edinburgh, and I was blown away by the reception I received. Thank you very much.   HC: The film has also become hailed as a horror masterpiece, why do you think it remains so popular some 25 years after its initial release?   Joe-Pilato-3JP: I think that the entire trilogy has stayed famous. The concept of the dead walking is so revolting and so repulsive. The concept that there is death after death, not life after death or immortality after death, but there is nothing but vicious cannibalism, mindless cannibalism. I think that whole concept was touched briefly in the forties with Zombie Island and White Zombie, I believe. I’m not sure of the titles, but I think I’m pretty close. I think DAY out of all three of them has stayed so memorable because it is very dialogue driven because the budget was cut and we had to compress a lot of ideas into words and descriptive analysis as opposed to action. I think that’s why people quote DAY more than any other movie. I think that’s what gives it its longevity. It’s like a lifeboat. You have these people trapped in this cave with really nowhere to go, all having different points of view.   HC: Was it hard to get work away from horror or did you become typecast?   JP: No. I wish I had become typecast because typecasting gets you more work than non-typecasting. But, I’ve done an array of things both in film and theatre. I’ve done the Soaps. I was in Music From Another Room with Jude Law, Gung Ho and Wishmaster, where I played a civilian human being. No, I have not been typed but I would love to be typed because the more you’re typed the more you work. So, you young budding directors out there in the UK, come and find me.   HC: How did you get involved in the animated feature Night Of The Living Dead: Origins?   JP: I had done a production that is still kind of in progress for Zebediah DeSoto called, War Dogs. Zebediah called me one day out of the blue and introduced himself. He’s a huge fan of Day Of The Dead and Captain Rhodes and that’s basically how we were introduced. He virtually just offered me the role of Harry Cooper. There’s some footage of War Dogs out on the Internet if you go to either my MySpace page or Zeb’s site. It’s been a great collaboration. I’m anxious for you all to see the final project.   HC: It seems to be something of a unique production, meaning one of the first ever serious horror cartoon movies, would you agree?   JP: After the footage I’ve seen, I would say absolutely yes. Zeb has created something that nobody has seen before. The repercussions are going to make shockwaves in the world of cinema. I can’t really explain, but it’s kind of like a living Monet, bleeding. It’ll grab and engross the audience, believe me. It’ll leap off the screen.   HC: What else are you working on at the moment?   JP: I’ve got four or five conventions coming up. I’m slated to do a movie in April that I can’t really talk about yet. That’s basically what’s happening right now. Zeb has some projects lined up that he’s interested in me for, one is a film about Vlad the Impaler. I’m also working on some projects with Red Maverick Publishing, which is a comic book company. So, I’m keeping busy my friends.   HC: Joe Pilato, thank you very much.

MORE INTERVIEWS
Interview with Scott Reiniger star of the original Dawn of the Dead
Posted on Sunday 15th November 2020
DAWN_OF_THE_DEAD_3D_BD_SLIPCASE_PACK_ (1)

On the eve of a stunning new 4K box set of George A Romero's Dawn of the Dead from Second Sight Films, we chat to one of its stars, Scott Reiniger about this incredible film.

HC: How did you first become involved with Dawn of the Dead?

SR: Well, I was in New York, I was a stage actor in New York and I went to college with Christine Forrest, who later became George's wife and she asked me if I wanted to audition for this film called Dawn of the Dead, she wanted to know if I knew who George Romero was and I said, "Yeah, he was the guy who directed Night of the Living Dead". So, they sent the script over and I read it and it was pr...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Steve Speirs, star of Concrete Plans
Posted on Sunday 1st November 2020
Concrete Plans poster

Welsh, Scottish and Ukranian dialects clash in Concrete Plans, a stand-out movie from Will Jewell which has just been released by FrightFest Presents via Signature. Its a super and very dark thriller with an outstanding cast headed up by Steve Speirs. Here he chats about this amazing piece.

Be warned this interview contains some spoilers about the movie. If in doubt watch the movie before reading. You have been warned!

HC: Was there one actor of one film you saw when you were younger that made you want to be an actor?

SS: Oh, I've never been asked that actually. When I started to get into watching films, I'd always wanted to be an actor for as long as I can ...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Shayne Ward, star of The Ascent
Posted on Thursday 22nd October 2020
SHAYNE WARD NEW PROMO HEADSHOT 2020-6

A special ops team on a mission in a war-torn country find themselves trapped on a never-ending staircase that they must climb - or they die! This is the premise for Tom Paton's superb, action-packed horror The Ascent which is having its UK TV premiere at 9pm on October 23rd. Here its star, Shayne Ward tells all about his career to date and how he became involved in this sci-fi shocker.

HC: How much did the X-Factor change your life?

SW: Oh, like anyone can say who has been on it, who has done well on the show, it does change your life because it catapults you into the limelight, into the public eye. One day you are relatively unknown...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Ryan Kruger, writer and director of Fried Barry
Posted on Sunday 11th October 2020
Fried Barry

Anyone who as been to Grimmfest will know that the team behind the event try their very best to bring to their audience films that challenge and push as many envelopes as possible. Fried Barry from director Ryan Kruger is such a movie. Packed with mind-bending imagery and and emotional punch, this polarizing movie has to be seen just for its creativity and strong storytelling. Here, Ryan chats about this incredible movie.

HC: Where did Fried Barry come from?

RK: Fried Barry was born out of total frustration where I was in my career. I am known in South Africa as a music video director for doing narrative story telling within music vids and sharp visuals. Although I al...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Deiondre Teagle, star of Death Ranch
Posted on Sunday 11th October 2020
thumbnail_Brandon Blood

Grimmfest 2020 is packed with new talent and one actor that stands out is Deiondre Teagle who styars in Charlie Steeds' grindhouse homage, Death Ranch. Here Deiondre explains his role and what it was like being part of such a bold movie.

HC: Did you know from a young age that you wanted to be an actor?

DT: I've definitely known my whole life I've wanted to be an actor. One of my favourite movies of all time is the original Men In Black. When I was little (about 3 or 4 years old), I would re-watch my VHS copy of that movie over and over and over again. I would re-enact every scene. Since then, my love for acting and film has just grown. I have such a love for the...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Faith Monique, star of Death Ranch
Posted on Sunday 11th October 2020
FAITH MONIQUE INTERVIEW PHOTO

Grimmfest 2020 is packed with world premieres and none so bold as Charlie Steed's Death Ranch. We chatted to one of its main stars, Faith Monique about her role in this brutal and brilliant movie.

HC: Was there one person you saw at a young age who inspired you to want to become an actress?

FM: Funny fact, I grew up without a TV! So, at a young age, I never had an actor that inspired me and to this day I still don't. Acting did not become a dream of mine until 2016 and for inspiration, I like to dig deep into my own soul to find truth to bring into each character.

HC: Are you a big fan of horror movies and were you aware of grindhouse and e...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Charlie Steeds, writer and director of Death Ranch
Posted on Saturday 10th October 2020
CHARLIE STEEDS EDITED-23

Horror movies and controversy always go hand in hand but when they tackle serious issues by using extreme violence to hammer home a point they can be very worthy. Death Ranch from Charlie Steeds is having its world premiere at Grimmfest so we chatted to him about this very strong movie.

HC: What inspired you to write Death Ranch?

CS: I'd always wanted to try making a movie with a 70s Grindhouse/Exploitation style and was watching old Grindhouse trailers for inspiration. I came across the movie Brotherhood of Death, where black characters fight back against the KKK for some of the film (the tagline is 'Watch these brothers stick it to the Klan!') and that conce...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Nicholas Santos, writer and director of It Cuts Deep
Posted on Saturday 10th October 2020
It Cuts Deep Image 2

At Grimmfest we're used to comedy horror but none as well written as It Cuts Deep from writer/director Nicholas Santos. Here he chats about this true dissection of a romance going terribly wrong.

HC: Have you always been a big horror fan?

NS: I've been a big horror fan since I was a little kid. Some of my favourite childhood memories are seeing Event Horizon with my dad when I was in second grade, being absolutely terrified by Chucky from Child's Play at every waking moment and watching Psycho for the first time on VHS when I was 7 years old.

HC: Where did the idea for It Cuts Deep come from and did it take long to write?

NS: It Cuts Deep is a hor...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Robert Woods, director of An Ideal Host
Posted on Saturday 10th October 2020
Robert Woods

Ever had the dinner party from Hell with people you don't really relate to and seem alien? Well this is the premise of the the hilarious horror comedy An Ideal Host from director Robert Woods. Here he tells Horror about this cracking movie.

HC: What did you think of the script when you first read it and what made you decide that this would be your first project as a director?

RW: Tyler and I had been writing theatre together for a decade, but movies are our first love and we wanted to give it a crack as well. Tyler came up with the initial idea but we worked on the story together and it evolved a great deal from the initial pitch. As it was my first time directing, I think we were j...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Chad Ferrin, writer and director of The Deep Ones
Posted on Friday 9th October 2020
Jeff Billings and Chad The Deep Ones

H.P. Lovecraft's influence on horror cinema is immeasurable and continues to this very day. In fact, today at Grimmfest a movie called The Deep Ones is showing so we asked its writer and director Chad Ferrin and how the great man himself has influenced his work.

HC: When was the first time you heard or read anything by or about HP Lovecraft?

CF: My parents worked nights, so the television was my babysitter. I must have been around six years old when I saw an episode of Rod Serling's Night Gallery called "Pickman's Model". Seeing that monster carrying off Louise Sorel terrified me beyond belief and seared the name H.P. Lovecraft into my...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Cody Calahan, director of The Oak Room
Posted on Friday 9th October 2020
The Oak Room - Director Headshot (Calahan, Cody) (Photo Credit - Miz Monday)

If you like your horror to have a "Twilight Zone" style twist then The Oak Room is for you. Showing today at Grimmfest we chatted to its director, Cody Calahan.

HC: We show your movie, Let Her Out on the Horror Channel here in the UK, what was the best thing you remember from making that movie?

CC: Experimenting. I definitely played more on that film than any other film I've done. Whether it was with the camera movement or editing, everything seemed very experimental. That was very refreshing.

HC: What did you think of the script for The Oak Room when you f...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with actress Mary Madaline Roe, star of They Reach
Posted on Thursday 8th October 2020
Mary Madaline Roe

Grimmfest continues to champion new talent in front and and behind the camera. Mary Madaline Roe is the star on the superb retro chiller, They Reach and here she chats to Horror about this festival favourite.

HC: For someone so young you've built up an impressive resume, can you recall how you felt when you first walked out onto a movie set?

MMR: When I first walked onto the film set, I was very excited and ready for this day! I had been anticipating the first day of filming for about a year. All the cast and crew were delightful to work with and felt like we were a family. I've learned so much from They Reach as it was my first major role.

HC: Are you a fan of ...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interviews Archive: 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006
PICK OF THE WEEK
Shut In
SHUT IN
Wednesday 27th January
9.00 PM
Journey To The Center Of The Earth
JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH
Sunday 24th January
6.45 PM
Star Trek: Enterprise
STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE
Friday 29th January
7.00 PM