Quantcast ICONS Interview with Actress/Producer Bobbi Sue Luther - LAID TO REST, NIGHT OF THE DEMONS

Bobbi Sue Luther!

This month, we got to speak to the lovely Bobbi Sue Luther, who produces & stars in the upcoming Anchor Bay DVD release LAID TO REST (written & directed by her husband Rob Hall of Almost Human FX). No stranger to the genre, she worked under the direction of Robert Englund for his recent flick KILLER KAD and will next be seen in the NIGHT OF THE DEMONS remake. We talked to her about her earliest horror recollections, recruiting close friends to make LAID TO REST and even her brief appearance on an episode of CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM. Read on for the FRIGHT exclusive interview! -by Robg. 3/09

What are your earliest recollections of the horror genre? What were the first films to scare & have an impact on you?

One of my earliest memories was walking to the local video store. My mom worked a lot and I was in a single parent household and so I walked home from school and until she came home, I was always wandering the neighborhood, and I walked to my local movie store and I somehow was able to check out THE EXORCIST. I don’t know how! I was a young kid and maybe they just didn’t care about renting it to me? But I got it and all my friends were like “Oh yeah!” I remember most I loved all the HALLOWEEN movies. That was my favorite recollection. I don’t think I ever watched HALLOWEEN 3 until recently? When I tried to watch it when I was younger, I wasn’t into it because I wanted Michael Myers!
I think that’s how it was for a lot of us as kids. It’s not a bad horror movie on its own though!

I know I tried to watch it, but didn’t see the whole thing until recently. I remember specifically loving HALLOWEEN 4 & 5, the Danielle Harris character, because about that time I was about her age. And so, I loved those movies because she was in it and I was right there with her!

You wanted to be Jamie Lloyd!
Exactly! Those are my earliest recollections. I think when I was a kid, HELLRAISER freaked me out the most. I thought all the rest of the horror series were way more fun, but I used to have really bad dreams as a kid, so HELLRAISER really freaked me out. It was really, really heavy for me at the time and I was really young when I watched it!

So, it’s safe to say you’ve pretty much been a horror fan since you were a kid.

Absolutely! Absolutely.
So where did acting start for you? Do you remember when your interest in making films began?

I think it was more of a natural progression for me. If you ask anyone in my family, I’ve always been a performer because the whole lineage on one side of my family was all performers. My great, great grandmother being the most famous of all them, so I guess it’s kind of in my lineage. As a kid you don’t know that stuff! I was always in the pageantry and performing and singing. I started out pretty young doing pageants, and then from pageants, I ended up doing some modeling and from modeling I ended up doing some hosting. And after hosting it was acting, but I always wanted the acting angle. But I think until I started studying it was when I truly fell in love with the craft. And so, I would say all my life – it’s really funny, I’ve been telling this story recently. When I was really, really young, I realized that there were ratings on movies, and I thought to myself, I want to be that person!
I had this idea that there was someone who sits around all day and watches movies and says, “PG-13!” Wow, what a cool job to watch movies all day and rate them! (Laughs) I was really young, and I used to call them “raters”. And I remember people asking “What do you want to be when you grow up?” And I’d say “I want to be a rater!” and no one understood what I meant. (Laughs) I figured somewhere there was this big boardroom that you just sit at the end of it and watch movies all the time.

So little did you know it at the time, but you wanted to be part of the MPAA!

Exactly. Little did I know at the time that you can sit around and watch movies all day long in other professions. (Laughs)

Anywhere in film essentially! So, let’s talk about LAID TO REST. This is Rob Hall’s 2nd film. I loved LIGHTENING BUG, I thought that was a terrific movie. And Rob is of course your husband, so what were your initial reactions when he pitched this idea to you for LAID TO REST?
Well, we had mutually decided to enter into a project together. So we thought “OK, let’s just do a movie.” And he had been writing another movie (that he’s still working on) at the time, but we thought “we’re going to self finance this thing and get it done. Let’s make a movie where the geography is tight and the budget can be low and go out somewhere & just make it.” So, we decided we were going to write it together, but very early on it became, “Ya know what? You’re just better at doing this then I am” so the collaboration kinda stopped there. (Laughs) But he would write a few pages, and then we’d talk about it. Then he’d write another few pages. We were away on vacation at the time, so we were working on it together while we were on the vacation, going back and forth & deciding things like whether or not there should be a history for the killer. We ultimately decided we didn’t need to reference that at all. We played around with all these ideas. I was always going to produce it and star in it and he was always going to write and direct it. We were both mutually financing it. So, it was just like “Hey, let’s do it.” And so we toyed with different ideas and developed them over a couple of months time, and immediately started looking for locations. The second he was done with the script, moments later I was off looking for locations.
You guys shot this in Maryland, which is where you’re from originally. They don’t shoot too many movies over there, so why’d that end up being the ideal location for the LAID TO REST shoot?

That was actually kind of a fluke. Originally we were going to do it in Kentucky where Rob has some family members who own all kinds of stuff, like land and a convenience store. Ultimately, that’s why there’s a convenience store in the movie! Because we had this idea based on the production value we could get based on where his uncle lived. But the more I started researching it, yeah we could’ve shot at a lot of places (in Kentucky) for free, but where do we put our crews up? Where do we get our equipment from? It didn’t add up in our favor as much as we would’ve liked it to. So we started looking at other places. We went to Oregon. We looked in Los Angeles, but ultimately we just could not do it here for the budget we had.

On a whim, I thought all this stuff Rob’s asking for, we can really get it all in Maryland. I thought it’d be funny to go back to Maryland. So I looked and we actually found the greatest location in the world. The more we started doing research and the math associated with it, it just seemed right. They shoot really big stuff in Maryland. It’s not a hotbed of activity, but the city had just come off of doing JOHN ADAMS & they also shoot THE WIRE in Baltimore. So, there’s a small nest egg of crews there, as well as equipment. We brought our cameras from LA, but all the grips, electrical equipment, the crew was home based, it was all from there. And just the fact that I was the local girl from there, it was a great opportunity for me to use the “local girl card” because people respond to that kind of stuff & it makes people want to help & get involved with the whole Hollywood movie making experience. Once we found the location, away we went.

One of the cool things about the movie is definitely the cast. You’ve got a ton of familiar faces in LAID TO REST. Let’s start with Lena Headey. Now, you did an episode of THE TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNER CHRONICLES, and then you acted in a short film she directed? You’ve known her for a bit?

Well, yeah. Rob and her and Thomas (Dekker) and everybody else associated with this thing all met on the pilot of THE SARAH CONNER CHRONICLES and quickly became friends. They had watched LIGHTENING BUG when they were in New Mexico doing the pilot. Thomas and Lena both said, “We love this movie! Any movie you do, let us know, we’d love to be in it.” So right about that time, Rob was thinking about doing LAID TO REST and said, “Oh yeah? Because I’m going to call you!” (Laughs)

So when the time came, they both said “Sure, of course.” In addition to them being friends, it was also partially because of the writer’s strike. That opened a giant window of opportunity for us. A lot of crews and cast were out of work. They were in a forced hiatus and we took advantage of that. We escalated how fast we put this film into production because of the writer’s strike. We’re very good friends with Lena. I’m doing another project with her shortly where she’s going to be directing and I’m producing it. And Thomas is similar. We’ve become very close with those 2, as well as Anthony (Fitzgerald) who plays Anthony.
And Thomas, according to the DVD special features went beyond the call of acting and at one point was doing music with Rob for the movie!

Yes! He’s a really good musician. He does that on the side. He recently just shot a music video, which we went down and helped on.
How about Kevin Gage? He was one of the highlights of the movie for me and I think he’s such a great actor. Plus, he was in Rob’s first movie LIGHTENING BUG, so was he on board based on Rob’s previous relationship with him?
Yeah. And for that matter, I asked Rob, “What if Kevin can’t do it?” He was like, “Well, then we have to wait for him.” (Laughs) It was written for Kevin. Because… Kevin always plays these giants assholes! Like the meanest son of a bitches on the planet. But if you know Kevin, he’s sugar sweet soft. He’s the nicest, sweetest individual you will ever meet. He’s always smiling & always giggling. There’s not a mean bone in his body, and it’s so funny to see him play these fucking assholes! So, Rob said, “Ya know, I want to make him play a nice guy sometime, because that’s who he is!” So, he wrote him to be a nice guy.
I think you captured his character finally then! As a horror fan, what’s your favorite kill or gag in LAID TO REST?

Oh, I love Cindy’s brother’s death, which is the Johnathon Schaech death. I just love that, it’s just so cool and so well executed. Jana (Kramer) screams so well during it. The whole thing, I love that.
Good appearance by Johnathon, introduced just to get killed right away! (Laughs) Rob coming from a background in special FX make-up, did he spend a lot of time focusing on the “kills”? Because you’d expect that with his name attached...

What’s kind of funny is no! He didn’t. It came to him naturally, but soon thereafter, he realized he probably should’ve focused on it more. He really wanted to take a step away as a make-up artist and focus on directing. That caught up to him eventually, where he was working on a great story, but then would say “Oh, let’s make this a little bloodier and scarier.” He was really focusing on the story as a director would. The one thing he did make sure from the on-set, none of the kills are realistic in the sense that it’s a movie, everybody knows that, but with like the neck-sawing stuff? He always hates it in movies where the head lops right off. He’s like, “that doesn’t happen in real life! If you see a real beheading, it’s really grisly and hard to do.” So that kind of stuff he wanted to make realistic. And he also wanted to try to create unique deaths and a lot of things you hadn’t seen before.
Yeah, there’s a lot of beheadings in this movie! Chromeskull really went for the head with the majority of these people!

He likes heads! There’s a lot of beheadings!

Judging from the DVD special features, it looked like it was a lot of fun. Were there any hi-jinks on the set?
Not really hi-jinks, but a lot of talking and laughter and stuff like that. It kind of pisses people off when you’re working a 16 hour day? (Laughs) Especially when me and Thomas get together. Everyone was like, “OK, you guys need to tone it down a little bit.” I was the producer that was setting the bad standard for everyone.

But as the producer, you have the right to do that!

Yeah, exactly! What you said! (Laughs)
Speaking of, this is the first full length feature you’ve produced, but you have a background in producing music videos. So, what were the differences you discovered going from music videos to a feature film? I’d imagine making a music video is probably a lot like making a short film?

Oh yeah, absolutely. Our music videos that we’ve shot have been over a day or two. Obviously, the process is condensed greatly into a much smaller window! And the focus is obviously a much different thing. There’s a lot of differences with unions and pay roll and just paperwork. The legalities of it all is much different. The process is completely different, but the concept is the same. The reality of it is… what you want to do in a nutshell is show up some place, make something that looks cool so you can put it somewhere where people can watch it. (Laughs) So the concept is there! The stuff in between is much different. Movies are a much longer process. I’m still working on LAID TO REST today, even though we’ve delivered. The job has still not ended. Every single day, I’m doing interviews, or pulling photos or answering emails, or collaborating on a poster for some kind of promotion. Literally, it’s a 24/7 job and it has been since last January.

LAID TO REST is currently enjoying a limited theatrical run prior to this month’s DVD release, so what’s the general reaction been like?

So far people have been really responding to it. Either they’re not telling us that they don’t like it, or everyone seems to be happy! What little reviews there have been on line have been really positive, which is encouraging. Look, I know that there’s going to be people that trash it, or me. And there will be people that love it. I just have to learn how to flow with it all. I’m sure there will be people that attack my performance and there will be some that think it’s great. As a producer, as a filmmaker, as an actor, I need to take it all with a grain of salt, and walk away from my experience knowing that we did a killer job & we all had a blast while doing it. I really, truly made a new family on this movie, and I just hope that every one of my filmmaking experiences is like this, because it was really wonderful. There were no major issues. We all just put in a ton of heart and with a unified approach & this is the result.

You recently shot NIGHT OF THE DEMONS in New Orleans with director Adam Gierasch…

Who’s wonderful, by the way.

So, what was your experience on that film like? As a genre fan, were you familiar with the original and its sequels?

Absolutely. I totally knew the original and sequels. “Angela’s throwing another party. Trick or treat, sucker!” Isn’t that the tagline for the 2nd one? (Laughs) I love the original, I love all the 80’s campy stuff. Working on the remake with Adam – I’ve seen a lot of the film now in the editing stages and it just looks fantastic. It’s really well done and a ton of fun. I was really honored to be chosen to be part of the cast. It was a giant ensemble cast. The process was so much fun! I got to live in New Orleans for a month and a half. I loved every minute of it and I’m really, really excited about that movie. Adam and I are collaborating on some other projects that hopefully we’ll be able to discuss soon!

Be honest with me – Most of NIGHT OF THE DEMONS takes place during a party. Is filming a party scene even remotely as fun as being at an actual party? (Laughs)

No! It’s really hard, because you have to film so much coverage! So the more people there, the more coverage you have to do. And it’s time consuming. But I have a couple of funny things that I do at the party. In particular, I was on a dancing box – my character is the wilder one of the group. I’m obnoxious, loud, and kind of crass and funny. I’m that girl. So, I’m up on this go-go box dancing in the crowd and basically Adam was giving me direction to spin and shake my hair, and basically he wanted to get a series of shots of me getting progressively drunk. So you’d cut back to me and I’d be a little drunker and a little drunker. And so, I kept doing this and started letting my knees get kind of loose, where eventually, I spun out and literally fell off the box! They kept the camera rolling and I jumped back up with demon fingers and they kept it in the movie & it turned out really funny! That got a big cheer from the crew & everyone, and that was a little fun moment.
You also were in KILLER PAD directed by Robert Englund, whom we all know and love as Freddy Krueger. This was the first feature he directed since 976-EVIL. So what was the working relationship like with Robert?

Robert was very visual and never runs out of energy. Those are all really great qualities to have as a director. He’s a really nice guy, and he loves the genre. And because he’s so nice, and kind and respectful, people are very respectful to him as well. That’s a nice thing to have on a set, and I really enjoyed working with him. It was really cool. I loved my character, Amber Waves and KILLER PAD was fun. Anytime you can play a porn star and you can be really bubbly and over-laugh everything is a great time. (Laughs)

You did an episode of CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM too, right?

Yep. I play Bobbi Sue! Imagine that!

I know it’s a heavily improvised show, so what was that experience like compared to some of the films you’ve done?

In the sense that there wasn’t a script, but there was an outline? Yes. It’s funny how organization and structure beget success. I mean, there was a tremendous amount of structure and direction on set. In some ways, it was a little looser, but in other ways, it really wasn’t at all, if that makes any sense? Yeah, it was a really fun experience. Larry is awesome! He’s actually really quiet and more private in person. He’s not as loud as the Larry on TV. He was really nice to me because he found out I was an alumni of the University of Maryland, because that’s where he went. He talked a bit about that. My scenes were mostly with Richard Kind, and he was awesome. Such a nice guy, and so is Jeff (Garlin).

I’m pretty sure I spotted Larry David on the train into New York City last year, and I so wanted to say something, but I was petrified that it would end up on a future episode of CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM. (Laughs) Can you talk a bit about the working relationship with Rob, because obviously he’s your husband and you know him personally. So how’d that compare to the other gigs you’ve done in the past?

I’ll be honest. It’s very difficult! The nature of a relationship generally speaking, the men & the women don’t trust what the other says – perfect example “Do I look fat in this?” And the guy always says, “No.” And the girl always says, “You’re lying!” (Laughs) That’s a traditional fabrication. So, the validation that you need and/or get from your significant other, sometimes you want somebody else’s opinion. Often times, the short hand that we had eliminated some of the validation that we’d give each other. It’s difficult to work and live and know somebody so deeply. I wouldn’t say it was easier and/or harder then working with somebody else. The structure is inherently different. You show up on a set with somebody you don’t know and often times try to impress them more, whereas this I was a part of the process for so many months ahead of time, that you skip that stuff. It’s difficult to work with your husband, but certainly I trusted him greatly and he trusted me and that allowed us a lot of flexibility, so that was really wonderful.
You both are into the horror genre, and this movie you made with your production company. Are you looking to continue doing genre films, or maybe branching out to other genres?

Oh absolutely. I love the genre! But I would like to do everything. Everything from family to indie-dramas to whatever comes my way. I love filmmaking and so does Rob. I love every kind of film. I’m not much of a romantic comedy person myself, so I don’t foresee myself going into that anytime soon! (Laughs) But we love horror and we’ll never stop making horror, but we’re not going to keep our production company restricted to horror only.

Special Thanks to Ed Peters!

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