I met Matthew at the New Beverly screening of Nightbreed: The Cabal Cut back in July. Not only is he a great actor in films like Wrong Turn 2, Hangman and The Fog, but he’s also a horror fanatic who has appeared on some of TV’s most interesting horror shows like The Twilight Zone, Wolf Lake, Dark Angel, and The Dead Zone. I recently caught up with him and invited him to kick off “The 13 Question Marks of Horror”. Enjoy.
1. You’re a horror guy through and through. What was the first horror experience you had that solidified your love of the genre?
There are so many great ‘horror’ experiences… I think the VERY FIRST was when my aunt took me to see Jaws in the theater when I was 4. I came home and went on and on about how scary it was; yet I wasn’t really scared, I was just really jazzed. Needless to say my mother was not impressed.
My dad and I used to watch the Universal Monster Movies on TV every Sunday afternoon. I was really into monsters at a young age… the final nail in the horror coffin, however, came when I watched a terror marathon on Cable. I was 11 years old the movies were: Wolfen, John Carpenters: The Thing, and Alien. I was terrified for weeks and loved every second.
2. You’ve done a lot of horror related Television work over the years as well as Features. Do you have a preference and why?
I will always prefer features to television. There’s something so satisfying with a solid three-act structure. It says beginning middle and END!
3. Wrong Turn 2 was a strong follow up. Were you a fan of the original and what was it like filming the sequel?
Aside from that AMAZING chase scene in the trees, I really didn’t like Wrong Turn at all. The sequel was a great filming experience. Joe Lynch is a fantastic director and a real horror fan. He added so many cool things to the script, things that only ardent horror fans would get. I liked that experience quite a bit.
4. Actors always talk about how scary the movie was to make. Did you ever get creeped out on set?
No. With Wrong Turn 2 we are all having so much fun that it wasn’t scary. When it came time for my big emotional death scene, I removed myself from the frivolity and did the work I needed to do to get into the headspace in order to convey the terror. But most of the time I’m like a kid at a candy story, I LOVE making movies and still think the process and outcome are magical.
5. You did the film Hangman about two vets caught in a horrific game with their lives in the balance. Do you find you’re more of a fan of creature features or of real world horror?
Creature features, definitely. There is so much ugliness in the world, so many fucked up people doing fucked up shit… I view movies as an escape, especially horror films. The last thing I want to watch is some torture porn.
Being a father has also made me sensitive to the horrible shit out there. Don’t get me wrong, I love watching people get torn limb from limb and I love hearing the screams of the victims as the hatchet falls down… but I have to be entertained first and foremost and while I don’t find a hockey mask wearing predator particularly frightening, I do find it entertaining. It’s all in the (pardon the pun) execution, I suppose and I think many filmmakers have taught us you can easily do both.
Reversely, there are great films out there like Martyrs that show ‘torture’ can exist for the greater good of the film! If you entertain or subvert me… I’m IN! Otherwise its just masturbation and I’m not interested.
6. Is there an actor whose work inspires you, not just in your day to day, but when you’re in character as well?
There are many actors who inspire me… I like watching actors who listen and respond. I like actors like AJ Bowen or Gary Oldman. They have a command of their faculties and whenever they are on screen I automatically see a fully realized character.
For me acting is a craft I respect greatly. It’s one thing to just hit your mark and bark, it’s quite another to understand that there are many tools in a toolbox. Gray Oldman is someone who can just freak the fuck out in Harry Potter and then just shut it down completely and be so captivating just by reacting in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; that is a command of your facilities and an ability to know which tool is needed for which job.
Watch AJ Bowen in A Horrible Way To Die. It’s not a particularly great film but his performance is so compelling, so thoughtful… so inspiring. You can see that there is a fully realized character lurking behind his eyes. We never really know what makes him tick, but we know that HE KNOWS and that’s fascinating when an actor can convey history and motive without words. I think AJ is definitely an actor to watch.
7. You’re currently in pre-production on your directorial debut “P5Ych”. Can you tell me about it?
P5YCH is a slasher film that takes place in 1984. It revolves around the 5 survivors whose real life stories loosely influenced 5 scary slasher films. They enter into experimental psychokinetic treatment for PTSD and, when people start dying they are not sure what’s real or not and are forced to survive again… It’s basically Inception meets Friday the 13th.
Check out the website: www.canthe5survive.comyou can see the short film I shot that more or less explains what you can expect from the film! We’ve also the P5YCH Development Fund Campaign. Much like Kickstarter only it’s ongoing and we’re offering incentives directly from the website! Developing films cost a lot of money; every penny raised goes into the development of P5YCH. More importantly, though is the branding/awareness factor. While I’d love to reach our $10,000 development goal, my ultimate goal is awareness. I would love to see 1000 horror fans wearing 1000 P5YCH t-shirts. Check out the incentives page HERE
8. Was your ultimate goal to get behind the camera, or is it something that evolved over time?
I’ve always wanted to make movies, never sure how that would manifest. I started acting and writing after my music career didn’t pan out, I started producing when the writer’s strike hit and sort of killed my acting career and I started directing once I realized that I could get further traction with P5YCH if I was behind the camera. Basically, I’m motivated by the completion of the project… whatever it is. If there’s anything I can’t stand it’s a half eaten sandwich and languishing film project.
I’ve written or co-written over 20 features, four of which are in various stages of development including our fun/scary vampire flick called Self Storage which we are actually producing simultaneously with P5YCH. I can’t stop working until something hits and I’m not about to stand in my own way. In order for me to make P5YCH or Self Storage a reality, I have to do EVERYTHING I can to make it work. I cannot ever give myself an excuse to fail and will take whatever role I need to make my dream come true.
That’s a long answer; the short answer is YES I’ve always known I’d end up directing and producing films.
9. The hardest thing for any film maker to do is getting financing. What advice do you have for upstart film makers?
Don’t give up! Financing is without a doubt the toughest part about getting your movie made. The best thing you can do is make sure that you have EVERYTHING in place and be ready to do the work. Make sure that script is PERFECT. Make sure your producer is ready with the tough questions, learn about tax credits, incentives etc. When you’re asking for millions of dollars learn how to mitigate risk to make your project even more compelling to an investor.
Most of the time money people just want to get into the movie business to brag about making a movie, if you can tap into that then make sure your project and your pitch is brilliant. Our strategy involves making P5YCH and Self Storage back-to-back and pitching investors that making two films together is not only less cost prohibitive but the returns are infinitely greater.
10. You snagged David Hayter for the film. Do you have a dream cast in mind, or is it the best actor for the job?
Yeah David’s a good friend of mine, we wrote a movie together that is currently in development called Demonology. I’m actually flying to Toronto to act in his directorial debut Wolves.
As far as a dream cast, yeah I have some choices but it ultimately depends on whom financiers like. Like it or not, when you’re pitching a movie the first thing people ask is “Who is in it?” Because P5YCH is my first project I can’t be too precious who’s in it, I know that when we cast we’re casting professionals and I speak ‘actor’ so it should be fun. That being said, P5YCH is a low budget ($4 Million) horror film that’s not really cast dependent. So if we get one or two ‘names’ we’ll be good and I can cast people I know will be BRILLIANT in the roles.
11. You’re originally from Canada. Is there a difference in the horror culture between there and here?
Canada has Cronenberg ‘nuff said!
I think Canadian horror culture is similar to American horror culture; one of the first slasher films ever made (Black Christmas) was a Canadian film. As was My Bloody Valentine and Prom Night.
I think the main difference is the cerebral element in Canadian horror, like with Cronenberg for example. There really isn’t an American horror filmmaker doing more cerebral horror, whereas in Canada that’s a go-to with movies like Pin and Ginger Snaps. But then America has Freddy and Jason, and they are ICONS. So, it all evens out!
12. We’ve all had a crush on a horror Icon at one time in our lives. Whose poster was on your wall and did you ever meet them?
I used to collect Gore Zone Magazine when I was 13. Every issue had a gory centerfold. I remember the first horror poster I put on my wall was of Bill Paxton all crispy and covered in blood as Severn from the brilliant vampire flick Near Dark. I’ve yet to meet Mr. Paxton but am dying to tell him he was the first to adorn my wall. May more followed!
13. Do you plan on continuing in the horror genre, or would you like to branch out and write other types of films?
I love horror films. I do write other genres. I have a Drama/Comedy script in the vein of Judd Apatow called …john hughes died today currently in development up in Canada as well as a superhero/stoner comedy. I definitely have many more horror projects than any other genre, P5YCH and Self Storage are just the tip of the terrifying iceberg. I do adore things that go bump in the night but in order to be a well-rounded filmmaker I believe you have to try your hand all genres. Ideally, I would love to graduate to badass action flicks like The Raid Redemption. One at a time!
Thanks to Matthew for taking the time. Look for Matthew popping up in a horror film near you and don’t forget to check out and support P5YCH.