ANTIVIRAL is set in an alternate-but-not-too-alternate universe where fame is everything, and the grand bulk of the economy seems built around markets in steaks cloned and viruses farmed from celebrities. The film marks the directing debut of Brandon Cronenberg — son of David Cronenberg — and while its biologic creepiness demonstrates a clear blood-line (we can’t keep away from these metaphors), its clinical ambiance and dark humor are all its own.
I got to sit down with Brandon to discuss the promises and dangers of being gifted a distinctive legacy, and how this first feature throws a stark light on our present-day cult of celebrity. Click on the player to hear the show.
There’s something about a Don Coscarelli film, something that says, “We’re gonna mess with your brain, now.” But if power-drill-equipped flying orbs, interplanetary gateways stashed away in funeral homes, or Elvis battling soul-sucking mummies didn’t freak you out in such films as PHANTASM and BUBBA HO-TEP, maybe the director’s latest, JOHN DIES AT THE END, will do it, featuring as it does a couple of paranormal crime-fighters who have to contend with hallucinogenic soy sauce, trans-temporal cell phones, and sentient, cannibalistic sludge.
We got to talk with Coscarelli about the influences that led to the fevered insanity of his films, the shock of being hailed as one the godfathers of horror’s rebirth, and odds of the world ever seeing BUBBA NOSFERATU. Click on the player to hear the show.
Okay, yet another reason not to move to Southern California. In DETOUR, an ambitious businessman gets trapped in his car when it’s knocked off the road and buried in a mudslide. Actor Neil Hopkins carries most of the weight of this existential nightmare, playing a man confronting a modern-day Premature Burial, trapped in a vehicle that could offer the tools for survival or very quickly become his coffin. We talked with Hopkins about the pressures accompanying the production of this small, intense film, as well as discuss his time playing Charlie Pace’s brother on LOST, his role as the first abductee in SKYLINE, and much more. Click on the player to hear the show.
It’s our first Spielberg veteran here at CFQi, and a good one, too. Dee Wallace probably reached her greatest audience as the progressive but put-upon suburban mom of E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL, but she had previously developed her genre chops in two landmark horror titles: Wes Craven’s THE HILLS HAVE EYES and Joe Dante’s THE HOWLING, and most recently took her career in a darkly satirical direction with her work in the Asylum’s gory, fractured fairy tale, HANSEL AND GRETEL. Our conversation with Dee was frank and incisive, taking in a discussion of Spielberg’s personal investment in his films, the emotional complications of doing explicit sex scenes, and what it’s like breaking into the business on a low-budget horror film. Click on the player to hear the show.
It’s amazing some researchers haven’t figured out a way of determining personalities based on what aspect of Frank Oz’s career one is impressed with. Of course there’s Yoda — Frank voiced the beloved, and powerful, Jedi master, operated the puppet for most of the STAR WARS films, and for many helped form the heart and soul of the franchise. For me, it’s both the time he spent with Jim Henson — developing characters such as Miss Piggy and Grover and innovating puppetry in that surprisingly visionary company — and his work in the director’s chair for LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, taking the musical stage adaptation of the Roger Corman’s dark comedy and creating a rich and wondrous, albeit murderous, film world. I was able to talk with Oz on the occasion of the Blu-ray release of the film, which restores the original, apocalyptic Don’t Feed the Plants finale that was cut from the theatrical release. We also got to talk Muppets, STAR WARS, and the mysterious allure of sequel rumors. Click on the player to hear the show.
Quick, when I throw out the name Keith David, what’s your first thought? Him casting a suspicious glance towards Kurt Russell in THE THING? The fistfight with Rowdy Roddy Piper in THEY LIVE? Maybe it’s the noble and ferocious Goliath from GARGOYLES or the nefarious Dr. Facilier from THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG? Face it, the guy’s been around, including a notable performance in the various storylines of CLOUD ATLAS and, on the non-genre side, a recent turn as a dying and remorseful father in the drama THE LAST FALL. That kind of career requires a plus-sized CFQ Interview, and we’re delighted that Keith consented to spend the time with us to talk about a career that has spanned the length and breadth of stage and screens both big and little. Click on the player to hear the show.
It’s not easy playing the ingénue in the psycho-sexual farrago that is Clive Barker’s HELLRAISER — one has to maintain one’s humanity while being pursued by your demonic, hell-bent-for-incest uncle (masquerading as your father!) and courted by the sadomasochistic nightmares that are the Cenobites. Ashley Laurence pulled it off, and established herself as a supreme scream queen, following up with appearances in the HELLRAISER sequels as well a numerous genre and non-genre productions.
We were able to speak with Ashley on the occasion of the release of make-up effects artist Robert Hall’s semi-autobiographical drama, LIGHTNING BUG, in which Ms. Laurence plays the damaged mother of the film’s teen protagonist, a boy who dreams only of escaping life in his dead-end Southern town to make monsters in Hollywood. Click on the player to hear the show.
It takes some kind of actor to take the role of a Nazi sadist and make it more than just a broad caricature. And it’s no mean feat to then become the flesh-and-blood incarnation of one of comics’ most notorious egotists and turn him into a person you might consider hanging out with. J.K. Simmons has done both and — besides just defining the roles of OZ’s Vern Schillinger (scary) and SPIDER-MAN’s J. Jonah Jameson (even scarier) — has also played parts that include the adult son of a world savior in LEGEND OF KORRA, a skeptical police psychiatrist in the LAW AND ORDER franchise, and a reclusive hermit with the answers to a young clone’s vexing questions in THE VENTURE BROS. Now he’s appearing as the man who can bring some insight into the paranormal nightmare that has claimed an innocent family in the new thriller, DARK SKIES. We got a chance to speak with him about that role and many more — click on the player to hear the show.
Check his IMDB listing, you’ll discover Casper Van Dien has a full, rich career, including key roles in SLEEPY HOLLOW and MONK. But if you’re a genre film fan of a certain demeanor, you see his name and you tag him as does a subtitle in the recent comedy NOOBZ: “That Guy from STARSHIP TROOPERS.” Van Dien has moved on, recently branching out into comedy with his appearance in the video-game-themed NOOBZ, and with a sharp take-down of ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTERover at Funny or Die. For our conversation on CFQi, though, he was more than happy to revisit his career as Johnny Rico, talking about the legacy the character has created and confirming one ongoing legend about the notorious, coed shower scene. Click on the player to hear the show.
It’s not often an actor gets to redeem an entire species, but that’s what Armin Shimerman did when he took on the role of Quark, the amenable but eminently self-interested Ferengi barkeep of STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE. Having been present for the Ferengi’s ignominious debut on STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION, when a race posited as being the next Klingons eventually devolved into cartoon irrelevancy, Shimerman took the character meant to be DS9’s comic relief and added enough credibility to his motives and depth to his personality that for the first time, a race centered purely on profit seemed not only possible, but actually appealing.
As a demonstration of the depth with which we intend to explore the worlds of science fiction, fantasy, and horror film and TV on our brand-new podcast,THE CFQ INTERVIEW, we probably couldn’t find a better guest than Shimerman. In the span of this extended interview, we discuss not only DS9, but also his work on BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, and, in a surprising, eye-opening sidetrack, his guest stint on SEINFELD, plus so much more. It’s an hour-plus of insightful talk — click on the player to get it started.