Standish913.com has been blessed to do an exclusive interview with...
Let's get into some questions...
So, I just interviewed David Howard Thornton AKA "Art The Clown" and he mentioned "Terrifier 3" was a go, my question for you is, are you going to work this next film?
I think that every step will be taken to keep the band together. There's a lot of love within the Terrifier family, and we all bring something different and unique to the table. There's no group of people on this planet that I'd rather work with. They've become like family to me, and I think that we've all helped to change each other's lives for the better.
Tell us a little about your overall mission, Stephen -
My mission has never waivered throughout my nearly 30-year-long career. To help bring really cool horror content to the masses. To help indie filmmakers get the same attention as studio filmmakers. To be able to do so is a gift and a privilege - one that I take incredibly seriously.
You never know when or where the next Carpenter, Romero, or Raimi will emerge. I've learned to identify talent that resonates with horror fans because I will always be a horror fan. My fingers will forever be on that pulse because it's who I am. My love for this genre is no act; it's in my blood, man. This has never been about my success for me. Don't get me wrong, success is great when it comes, but what has always excited me more is the prospect of the genre's success. In a way, I'm being selfish because I like cool shit! I want horror to flourish because I have more stuff to keep myself entertained when it does!
I've only ever staked my reputation on two films, Paranormal Activity and Terrifier. Both were HUGE successes. I've only produced one documentary, Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy, and it's been called one of the most outstanding film documentaries ever created, horror or otherwise. I created DreadCentral.com, and under my watch, it became one of the longest-running and respected websites ever. My track record speaks for itself, and as a result, I've been lucky enough to become one of the most trusted names working within the horror industry today. It may sound like I'm tooting my own horn, and there's a part of me whose skin will crawl every time that happens, but believe me when I say that doing what I do has been the most humbling and fulfilling aspect of my life.
Where did you get the nickname "Uncle Creepy?”
You know, had I realized the connotations that would eventually come with that name when I chose it as a screen/pen name, I may have been a bit more selective! LOL
Regardless of how it sounds, there's nothing perverse about it. I'm a child of the Seventies. During that time, my favorite comic book character was a dude named Uncle Creepy of Warren Publishing's CREEPY magazine. Uncle Creepy was sort of their Cryptkeeper. I chose the name as an homage to the magazine, which helped to shape me during my formative years. Over the decades, the name has brought me nothing but great things and more than a few awkward glances. I love it and would never change a thing.
How does it feel to be apart of the horror community?
There's NOTHING, and I mean NOTHING, that I'd rather be a part of. The horror community is tight-knit, and we take care of our own. It's unique in every conceivable way. I've met and worked with almost every talent in the industry today. If they EVER made a horror movie, chances are REALLY good we've met, gotten to know each other, become friends, and eventually constituents.
I treat everyone the same. Everyone is just as important as anyone else. Celebrity, fan, black, white, gay, straight, republican, democrat, male, female, it doesn't matter what you are. Horror is for everyone. There are only two types of people in this world, those who are assholes and those who aren't. The horror community is the most accepting of everyone, and I love that. I'm damn proud of it too.
How did you first get involved with the "Terrifier" films and or Damien Leone?
One of the things I'm most proud of in my career is that DreadCentral was always independently owned and operated. We had our voice. We never had a parent company and accomplished everything on our own steam. Eventually, with the surging popularity of social media, the bottom dropped out of the advertising portion of our business. At that point, we had two options: sell or close-up-shop.
Eventually, Epic Pictures group came to the table, and they wanted to acquire us, mainly to brand their horror movies under a trusted banner such as Dread Central Presents. To launch this film line, I chose the titles we'd be putting out. I was watching dozens and dozens of movies, and honestly, they all kind of sucked. There was nothing original or even fun—just retreads and cookie-cutter bullshit. Then Terrifier director Damien Leone emailed me looking for a quote for his movie. I obliged and told him I'd love to see it. Once I watched Terrifier, I immediately watched it a second time and then a third. This was it. Terrifier was the movie I wanted, no NEEDED, to kick off the Dread Central Presents home video label. It had EVERYTHING I was looking for. I felt it in my bones. I immediately got back to Damien and asked what he was doing with the film and if it had distribution. U.S. Rights were still available, and I pleaded with him not to do anything with it until I could bring it to Epic.
That's exactly what I did. Some people at Epic weren't exactly thrilled with the movie. This was a time when Stephen King's IT was killing it at the box office, so as far as some folks were concerned, the world already had its killer clown movie. I was adamant. Insistent. They probably got tired of hearing me bitch and moan, so they acquired it. One of the guys running the ship back then wasn't a fan of the acquisition, which pretty much made my life hell. It got to the point where I finally said, "Listen, if this movie doesn't perform EXACTLY like I think it's going to, you can have my portion of the company. I'll step down." That's HOW absolutely positive I was about Terrifier. This would prove to be the best decision I've ever made and proof that good things will happen if you stick to your guns and follow your gut. The time was right. The movie was released, and it exploded. There were murals of Art the Clown all over the world. People were making their own merch, getting tattoos, and even cosplaying. These are the highest honors from the fanbase.
Terrifier ended up being my swansong from DreadCentral for a myriad of reasons, and it essentially ended my 18-year-long tenure with the company I created, built, and carried on my shoulders for nearly two decades. In retrospect, I more than made the right choice. Not going to lie, though; my life was a scary place for a long time. Being Uncle Creepy was the only thing that I was good at, and no one was exactly beating down my door.
When Terrifier 2 rolled around, I asked Damien if I could be a part of it. It's ingrained in me now. These movies are a part of who I am. Thankfully he and producer Phil Falcone said yes. The film's success and the BLOCKBUSTER success of Terrifier 2 is the sweetest vindication I've had in my career. I put it all on the line, and I was RIGHT! Best. Feeling. Ever.
What can we look forward to in the future from you?
Hopefully, lots of things. I have several projects that I'm really excited about. Unfortunately, I never talk about anything until there's something to discuss. Rest assured, I'm not even close to done, and the horror world will have many more reasons to be afraid of the dark once I get cooking!
You were in "Hatchet 2" as a Hunter, can you tell us more & how you landed the role?
As I said, I LOVE being able to turn people on to new and exciting voices in the horror genre. One such voice is Adam Green. When I first saw Hatchet, I fell in love with it. Adam and I have become very close friends. I practically lived at his studio during some very dark times in my life. LOL. He credits me with creating the Hatchet Army initiative with him. I'm just happy I was able to help. When it came time for Hatchet II, there was room for me and several other familiar faces to slide in and have a cameo. It was SO much fun. I'll always be grateful for Adam, and he is one of the best writer-directors in the business. We haven't even remotely seen his best yet, and I cannot wait for when we do.
You were associate producer for "Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy," how was it seeing the behind the scenes of Elm Street?
Again, one of the many gifts of my career. So much talent was involved in that project that I'm just happy to be counted among them. Never Sleep Again is unique in that it tells the story of the rise and fall of New Line Cinema while filling in any blank anyone could have in terms of the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. The only downside is that I got so engulfed in the history of those movies and the minutia of detail surrounding them that I've only recently been able to sit down and rewatch them. I know that sounds ridiculous, but think of it like this - you have a job at a pizzeria and then come home to find out that someone has made you a pizza for dinner. There is too much of a good thing!
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
You are hopefully interviewing me regarding some other super-cool thing I've done. LOL Honestly, I don't know. I try and take things one day at a time. I can't look past tomorrow because life is full of twists and turns. I try my best and keep my eye on the prize daily.
Who are some of your mentors?
Along the way of this nutty ride, I met two of my greatest friends, Sid Haig and George A. Romero, who became mentors to me. They taught me so very much. Especially how to treat people and expect to be treated; without their guidance, I never would have made it this far. Of that, I am absolutely confident! Having those two as friends? That was like having Bigfoot deem you cool enough to know he exists. What an honor. I am insanely lucky.
I'd give anything to be able to talk to them right now. To see what they think. Would they be proud? Man, I hope so. Each night Terrifier and Terrifier 2 played in theaters, I bought them both front-row seats to enjoy the show. I hope they did, and I cannot wait to see them again.
During COVID, we all faced struggles, what was one of your main struggles?
The COVID-19 pandemic had a profound impact on people's mental health worldwide. Myself very much included. The outbreak led to widespread fear, uncertainty, social isolation, financial stress, and loss of loved ones. We all faced challenges related to working from home, adjusting to new routines, and coping with the constant influx of distressing news. Also, the restrictions on social gatherings and travel limited people's ability to seek support and maintain their usual support systems. It was a living nightmare.
The most crucial thing I learned was that I couldn't be there for anyone without being there for myself first. Mental health is just as important as physical health. It was a constant struggle, and the after-effects of it linger to this day.
Where can fans find your work?
Dread Central was a huge part of my life for many years, but I haven't had ANYTHING to do with them for a really long time. Hopefully, people will be able to find my latest projects on store shelves and streaming services everywhere, as well as on the big screen.
Anything you'd like to include?
Yes, actually. George A. Romero was a massive part of my life. Being in his final film, Survival of the Dead, as a featured zombie is probably one of the highlights of my career and life. It seems that George's movies take time before they catch on or are appreciated.
Even though I always loved it, people HATED Day of the Dead upon release, but now it's widely considered a classic. I hope that Survival of the Dead eventually meets with that same kind of love. Not because I'm in it, but because I know how much fun George was having on that movie. His smile was so wide so many times. I can still see it and hear his laugh. He put so much of himself into that movie, and I pray it will get the respect it deserves one day.
What are your social links?
Thanks so much for your time!
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