At 1428 Elm we were fortunate enough to sit down with director Todd Tucker of the upcoming The Terror of Hallows Eve. Join us as we discuss learning from Spielberg and Coppola to horror movies with a message.
Are you ready for the Trickster?
Todd Tucker, is a former makeup effects guru turned director of the upcoming horror film, The Terror of Hallows Eve. Written by Zack Ward of A Christmas Story fame and starring Eric Roberts, Doug Jones, Christian Kane and Juliet Landau, the movie is set to debut at FrightFest on August 28.
1428 Elm:In 2011, you directed your first feature, Monster Mutt with some familiar names like Zack Ward and Juliet Landau. Zack wrote the screenplay for your current film, The Terror of Hallows Eve. How did you meet them?
TT: I met Zack on the set of Charmed. He was sitting on the phone talking to somebody and as I unpacked my makeup he insulted me to the person on the phone. I thought oh, this is how its going to be, okay. He got off the phone and I noticed he had this huge pimple on his face. I said luckily for you, I will be covering that second head with my appliance. He looked at me like he was going to kill me and then he said, we are going to be friends, arent we? We have been friends ever since. Then I did Monster Mutt and cast him as the lead bad guy and he was great.
I put together a 30-page outline for the film and we sat in my office for threeweeks and just went over everything and talked. We came up with the characters and then he wrote the screenplay and did an amazing job.
I was originally going to do makeup and co-direct a short film that Juliet was doing and the short ended up not happening. So, then I asked her if she would play a character in Monster Mutt. We have been friends ever since. I am actually helping her produce a project she is doing now called, The Undead. She came in and helped us co-produce on the Terror and she got us some of the additional actors. I have been very lucky to have them as friends and working people.
1428 Elm: You have been involved in the horror genre as well as mainstream blockbusters as a special effects makeup technician. Since you are well versed in what it takes behind the scenes to create believable moments on film, did those experiences help you as a director?
TT: Absolutely. When I first came here in 1990, I had a masterminded goal of getting in as a makeup effects artist, learning as much as I could and eventually acting and playing creatures in front of the camera and then writing, creating and directing my own product.
One of the first projects I worked on was Hook with Steven Spielberg. I just sat on set and studied him because he was the greatest director of all time. I watched how he worked with people and how he inspired them.
Then I was fortunate to work with Coppola on Dracula. I would literally just sit there and absorb and watch these amazing directors and how they did their jobs. I saw what worked and what didnt work.
My experience on set has carved out my niche or my way of directing and producing. I credit all those great directors, John Carpenter, Wes Craven and Spielberg and all those great movies of the 80s that inspired me so much to make it the rest of my life.
1428 Elm: Did you borrow any techniques from these famous directors that have helped you in your career?
TT: I watched Spielberg excite and motivate everyone around him. His crew was energized. That is why his movies came out the way they did.
And when he was working with his actors and he would get into a moment where it was going to take them to a sad place, he literally had the entire crew feeling that way. It was so impacting the way he ran his sets and that is why the magic happened.
As for Coppola, it was the intensity of how he interacted with the actors to get them to perform above and beyond what they even expected.
There were times when I watched things not work out and take note of that too. As a director, you dictate the motivation and the emotion on set. You need the right vibe on your film while you are shooting.
The Terror of Hallows Eve Courtesy of Think Jam and Michael Garcia
1428 Elm: I read that The Terror of Hallows Eve originated out of an experience you had as a teenager getting beaten up. Did you set out to make a film that addressed a very hot button topic today of bullying?
TT: Everything that happens in the first 30 minutes of the film happened exactly like that. The neighbors didnt like me. I was the weird kid, they didnt want their kids around me.
When I started writing this, my daughter was actually getting bullied in high school. I started really getting pissed off about it. I am definitely putting a message out there that this really happened to me. Rather than let it tear me down and affect me, I used it as motivation to better myself and become everything I wanted to be in my life. Dont let bullying dictate what is happening to you as a person. You can literally do anything you want.
Another message is if you were a nerd like I was and now you are big enough, keep your eyes out and try to help where you can. If you are a bully and you want to do better in life, then bully a bully. Jump in and do something about it.
Bullying is bullshit and anything people can do to stop it is a good thing.
1428 Elm: What was it like to work with Doug Jones who is generating huge buzz with his upcoming role in The Shape of Water and veteran actors, Eric Roberts and Christian Kane from The Librarians?
TT: Christian plays my dad in the film and he is very similar to my dad in real life. Juliet Landau actually helped me get Eric Roberts and Christian on the film. Eric is an amazing guy and he was very, very cool.
I have known Doug Jones a long time. We worked on Monkey Bone with Brendan Fraser and me and Doug became good friends. I just recently worked with him as a creature in Ouija: Origins of Evil.
I was getting ready to prep for my film and I asked him if he would play a creature. He is a sweet and loving guy. My lead character of the Trickster was a puppet. It didnt quite work in the film. Everyone loved the character Doug played. So, I thought man I want to get that same level of energy from everyone in the film. He came in and portrayed the Trickster in such a sweet way that it is creepy and lovable. Doug is one of the most amazing actors.*
The Terror of Hallows Evewill be premiering at FrightFest on August 28. Todds next project is a supernatural creature driven television series.
Will you be checking out The Terror of Hallows Eve? What are your thoughts on horror movies with a message? Feel free to comment in the section below. We want to hear from you!
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Reviewed and Recommended by Erik Baquero