My time with CHUD.com has brought me many surreal moments – sitting across a table from Woody Allen not once but twice certainly ranks up there. Chatting with Jack White of the White Stripes for 20 minutes? Definitely. Attending the premiere afterparty for The Life Aquatic and having a completely cute CHUD contest winner piss off Bill Murray? Oh yeah.
Chalk another one up – phone interviews with Ken Foree. See, I am the man I am today because of a small number of films that I watched again and again as a youth, and Dawn of the Dead and From Beyond were most certainly right at the top of that list. Ken is great in both of those – in Dawn as Peter, the real hero of the piece and in From Beyond as an excellent corpse-to-be.
He’s also pretty good in Rob Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects, playing Charlie Altamont, a long lost brother to the Firefly clan (oh yeah, I asked him how that worked) who is now a pimp and proprietor of a ramshackle whorehouse. That film opens next week, so as part of the publicity I had a chance to talk to Ken not once but twice. This interview is the combination of both conversations.
There is a Devil’s Rejects spoiler in here, so I have hidden that with black text. Ken also drops some interesting information about what might have happened to Peter from Dawn…
Q: How did you get involved with the film?
Foree: Rob sent the script to my agent. I read it, I got real busy doing conventions, but I wanted to do the part. My agent calls me and said they’d like an answer and I said I would like to meet with Rob Zombie, I never met him before. I went in for twenty, thirty minutes. At the end of the thirty minutes I knew I had met someone who was going to be creative on the set and was going to create a fun atmosphere. I was happy when I left the office.
Q: Was there something about the character that you particularly liked?
Foree: I liked the idea that he was Captain Spaulding’s brother. I liked that there were some – it wasn’t just a flat line character. There were other things going on in his life. There were a few scenes that didn’t make the finished product, some very funny scenes. I liked the humor in Charlie, I liked the fact that he had to turn his brother in at the end. I liked the highs and lows of the character. It was a nice character to play, it wasn’t your regular ordinary run of the mill pimp. He’s forced into this, he’s a little bizarre, he’s forced into a position of making it work, so he becomes a pimp. And he’s not very good at it. His women are somewhat obedient and somewhat belligerent.
Q: When you got the script it was obvious that you were going to do it? There was no hesitation?
Foree: I was going to do it, definitely. I wanted to work with Sid Haig and some of the other cast members. I really wanted to do it. I was pretty psyched. And I like Rob a lot, I was excited to work with him and see what kind of experience it would be.
Q: In the film you and Sid Haig call each other "brother" a lot. Is that a term of endearment of is there a backstory between your characters?
Foree: I am his brother. I am a Firefly, I am a member of the Firefly family. I changed my name because I worked at the Rolling Stones concert at Altamont and I had a kind of religious experience and I changed my name to Charlie Altamont. That’s where that comes from.
It’s very difficult to explain how Sid and I are brothers. Some people might say that we’re from different fathers or mothers, but I say that one of us just had a gene that came out a little darker than the rest!
Q: Had you seen House of 1,000 Corpses?
Foree: No, Rob wouldn’t let me see it. He thought it might change my perception of what we were trying to make.
Q: You’re a veteran of some really great lower budget horror films, and Rob is trying to emulate that feeling with this film. What was it like on the set compared to some of those films?
Foree: It was a great time. The mood was creative. I’m speaking as an actor who was there for four weeks out of six. I’m sure that the general consensus is that everyone would do it again with Rob in a second and do it for the same money.
On all sets there are always problems. You have to deal with stress and things going pop in the night. All productions have their good days and bad days. I saw no bad days. I had a great time, I was very comfortable. I think all the actors and 99% of the technicians and people behind the camera would say that they would work with Rob again in a second.
But you can’t compare sets. Each one is different. But I had a great time, and it was one of the best experiences of my career.
Q: What was it like working with Sid Haig?
Foree: I hate the son of a bitch. I wished I could kill him every moment I saw him. If I ever see him again I’m going to shoot him like the dog he is.
Nah, he’s my brother. That’s my good buddy. I liked working with Sid. I liked working with Bill [Moseley]. It was fun. It was fun working with all three, but Sid I loved working with. We always wanted to work together and I would do it again in a minute.
Q: Bill’s pretty great in this movie. He’s almost unrecognizable.
Foree: Yeah he’s sleazy! He looks like he’s somebody’s cocker-spaniel. No, he has a very great look. They beat the shit out of him a couple of times. Bill took some punches for the old crew. My heart’s out to Bill. He did a great job in this.
One reviewer – I don’t get the reviews, so I don’t know what’s out there – but one reviewer said how wonderful Bill is and how he fit the part and then another reviewer said everyone was great except for Bill! So you take the good with the bad.
Q: You said there were scenes that didn’t make the final cut. Will they be on the DVD?
Foree: I’m sure they will be. If not I hope he’ll give them to me so I can use them as memorabilia for myself!
Q: What kinds of scenes were they?
Foree: You know there was a lot that didn’t make the final cut. Let’s say he’s got a lot of product and material for the DVD. A lot of it. I don’t want to give away too much, but let’s say there are a few people who didn’t make it.
Q: I understand that there’s a special edition of From Beyond coming out on DVD. Are you involved with it at all?
Foree: I have heard about it, I have no idea about it. Except that it was Stuart Gordon who told me last year that it was coming out this year. That’s all I know about it, but let’s hope that it’s done right.
I’m not sure what that means for me! The DVD contract with SAG…
Q: Word on the street is that there is a lot of deleted stuff that’s going to be on the DVD. Is there anything of yours that you remember that was cut?
Foree: Not much that I did. There was a lot that Ted [Sorel] did that got cut. There was a lot of stuff with Jeffrey Combs. I think all of Barbra Crampton’s stuff was there. But it’s been a long time.
Q: What was Stuart Gordon like as a director?
Foree: He’s a good director. I enjoyed him. He’s a good guy. He likes to talk about the project and it’s a collaborative effort with the actors, so that’s nice. Some directors are like traffic cops – go there, stand there. Stuart was not that kind of director.
Q: Rob’s a fairly new director –
Foree: Oh my God, Rob is the – if he wants to direct again, I don’t doubt that Rob could be the Capra of this age of horror film. He go to those heights. I just see the growth from House of 1000 Corpses to this and I say oh my, this kid does have a talent and a vision.
Q: How is with the actors?
Foree: He’s good. You’ve got to say that Rob’s an actor’s director or a people person. Being a rock star and that kind of thing, he’s had to deal with thousands upon thousands of people. Lots of interviews, lots of fans, he comes from a different perspective than most directors. Directors shoot films and then they show up at the premiere or accept awards, but then it’s on to another film. Rob comes from a totally different background, which I think helps him when it comes to relating with people.
We talked about creating a few scenes, which we did. He didn’t take all of my ideas, of course not, which I’m very pissed about – but he did take a few, which I’m happy about.
Q: He’s also a fan. Did he ever sit you down and try to get good stories out of you?
Foree: We never talked about stories as I remember. I think we just enjoyed working with each other on this project and getting to know each other. I don’t think we had time. There may have been a story or two, but there were so many actors around who had so many stories – you had EG Daily, you had Michael Berryman, Ginger Lynne. You had so many stories and they were flying all over the set anyway. But we did have a wonderful time working together.
Q: So there’s a new George Romero zombie film. With that in mind, have you ever wondered what Peter is doing right now?
Foree: Oh, I know exactly what Peter is doing right now. Peter is sitting here talking to you right now!
No, I do, but I can’t say because I’m writing something. And I don’t – no, we can’t go there! I am writing a script and I have to finish it in less than two weeks and I can’t say anything about it, and if I say anything about Peter or where he went, I would have to tell you about the script.
Q: Interesting! Is this your first script?
Foree: It’s the first one that I’m going to really push. I have others that I’ve written – a comedy, a docudrama, an action/adventure heroes kind of thing, one police drama. I’ve been told that my best talent is probably as a writer, but I didn’t do that and I didn’t push those scripts, but that’s another long story. I never got around to getting them done. I got involved in another business for three years, but now I’m back. The other scripts are still good, I’ve had them looked at by production companies.
Q: Have you seen Land of the Dead?
Foree: I have seen it. I thought it was very good. I thought it was excellent. I think that George Romero has put his stamp on it and it’s evident. It’s very good. It’s one of the top zombie films ever made.
Q: What else do you have coming up?
Foree: One I am working with is The Dark Between the Stars. It’s a sci-fi horror project. I’m producing, I’ve got a French documentary on Dawn of the Dead. It’s very fan-based and oriented. I’m working on that. I’m busy, busy, busy! I was called the busiest man in Hollywood the other day, by a man who was very busy himself.
I would have had two in the can this year, which I would like to do since I’m back. Devil’s Rejects was the first, and Dark Between the Stars – both were equally important to me. I liked the script for Dark Between the Stars, I liked the character I played. It was something different, a stretch, something I could dig into. But we got eaten up by the LA rains. It’s a desert/Indian burial ground, pre-historic monsters that are 14, 15 feet high coming out of the sand concept. I played a scientist that turns into one of the monsters at the end, and I never played a monster before so I was excited to play a monster. And the other work was going to be interesting too.
We were ready to do it. We were going to go January 18th, but I don’t know if you know LA, it rained for two months and after a lot of rehearsals and getting our passes to go on the Santa Clarita lot to do interior shooting the one week we had interior shots, they called us and said that they had lost $150,000, that one of the investors had pulled out.
We’re still pulling it for it, still seeking money for it. We’re trying to get financing for it.