I’m not exaggerating when I say I grew up on Tom Holland’s films. As a horror and action film loving child of the 80s, Fright Night, Child’s Play and Cloak and Dagger were some of my favorite films growing up. When I wasn’t renting them on VHS, I was watching the on cable whenever they should happen to show up, which was quite often
I got to chat with Tom last week, thanks to The Awesome Fest where he will be hosting a double bill of Child’s Play and Fright Night Saturday, June 22 at Parx Casino. I hope you enjoy what started out as a simple Q&A and sort of evolved into just two guys just talking about genre film.
So first off, what have you been up to? I heard you were working on a new TV series.
I am working on something called Tom Holland’s Twisted Tales and that will come out November 9th and that is showing on Fear.net. I think they will start to advertise that in August. I am also working on Tom Holland’s Untold Tales I am going to publish on Kindle, these are the tales that weren’t approved or I didn’t have the money to shoot.
I’ve turned them all into short stories and I am very excited about that. I expect to have those out in the next couple of weeks on Kindle. It’s the Wild West out there they tell me as far as fiction is concerned. That is the great thing about the net, is you can self publish. I was sitting around and I had 3 of the teleplays left over that I hadn’t gotten to shoot and they are sort of novellas as compared to short stories, so I am putting those out via Smashwords so we’ll see.
Speaking of writing, I have to ask what was the original inspiration for the Child’s Play script?
The impulse for it was the moment in time when they first put computer chips into dolls.
Before that you would lay the little girl doll over and she would say “I want to wee-wee” and that was it. So they put these primitive computer chips in and they were coming out with these full-size dolls. The doll was talking to you but you didn’t know what it was going to say, it now had 10-15 stock phrases and you never knew which would come out.
They also had a doll that came out called My Buddy, originally Chucky was named Buddy and then we couldn’t use it because of the Buddy doll. But that doll was a full sized doll.
That was 67 or 68 and Dan Curtis an Unsung Genius, now gone, those were all based on Richard Matheson short stories. But what Cutis did was took the 35mm camera and put it on rollerskates on the floor and went to the dolls point of view chasing Karen Black and it worked.
What I did was put a stedi-cam on a low-boy and you could move after anyone with a fair degree of stabilization. So I knew if I went to the doll’s point of view in an enclosed space two or three feet off the ground it would scare the shit out of you.
Whenever Chuck didn’t work, and that was like 90% of the time since we were using mechanical effects, I would cut to the point of view and it worked just great. And that is all thanks to Trilogy of Terror and the universal thought all of us have had at one time or another, what would it be like if our play things came alive.
So you why do you think 25 years later Chucky is still so popular with fans?
Because he was scary and had a mean sense of humor and that gave the audience a chance to release the terror they were feeling. It was the combination of thrills and chills and big laughs. There was also something very lecherous about Chucky as well.
I definitely saw some Sam Kinison is Chucky as well.
Well yes, he was a genius; I still look at him every now and then on YouTube.
So you are double billing Child’s Play at the Awesome Fest with Fright Night, I have to ask what did you think of the remake?
I don’t mean to be unkind I am thrilled they made it, it’s a huge complement, but there is no similarity between the remake and the original. They made the exact same film, but they forgot to put in the charm, the heart and the comedy.
It’s amazing. It’s extremely competently done. The cast was terrific. It was competently written and well directed and it has nothing to do with my original. The inciting incident isn’t Charlie looking out his window as he is trying to get his girlfriend into bed and seeing Jerry Daniels carry the coffin in, instead the inciting incident happens off-screen and its given to Evil Ed.
So therefore Charlie is never really motivated and you loose a comedic scene that set the tone for the original.
We use to rent Fright Night all the time and it was definitely one the go-to films when I was younger, not too mention it was also always on cable. So if you we couldn’t get the VHS, we would check to see if it was on cable.
The other one like that, but they stopped showing it was Cloak and Dagger.
I love that film!
Me too, I wrote it for all the kids growing up. They haven’t remade that yet. It wasn’t a success when it came out, because the studio didn’t know what to do with it, because it was a family oriented film when they were making a lot of R rated films. But they played the shit out of it on cable and it became enormously influential.
I just went down to the New Beverly a year ago, I looked out at the audience and everyone was like 30 years old and it was all those kids that had grown up watching it on cable.
Finally, being a huge Hitchcock fan I have to ask about Psycho II, that must have been an overwhelming undertaking writing a follow-up to a genre classic by one of the masters. What was that like for you as a writer approaching the project?
Terrifying. I had been writing, I think my first job was in 1977 with The Initiation of Sarah, that was a big TV movie and the first to have a wet t-shirt scene in it and it created a firestorm of controversy. They already remade that, believe it or not.
But then I had The Beast Within which was my first movie after trying for years and it was a failure and I couldn’t get a job. It was a year later and I got my next job, which was Psycho II. I never worked harder, that script was my life. Every given fact in that was based off my original script and that is what really started my career.
Psycho II originally started off as a cable movie, and what happened was the only way we could kick it up to being a low budget movie was to get Tony Perkins.
In order to get him, I had to have a very strong acting roll for him in Norman. What was fascinating about the original is the ambivalence you felt towards Norman, but you felt sorry for him and that is what Hitchcock did that was so amazing. That is what Psycho II is about.
It’s the good side of Norman, fighting with his insane side and it worked like a sonavabitch. That was the number one movie that summer, it did a $100 million world wide.