You know that among all the cool Q&A’s, press conferences, and film screenings that one of the most anticipated events I wanted to see during the 2011 Texas Frightmare Weekend was the panel discussion and sneak preview of some clips for Robert Hall’s upcoming CHROMESKULL: LAID TO REST 2. You know how much I loved the first LAID TO REST and credit Robert Hall with single handedly reviving the slasher genre by injecting some new blood (ah-hem) into it. With the character of ChromeSkull, Hall created an instant horror icon that is menacing, brutal, and absolutely fucking frightening (no thanks to actor Nick Principe). But the best part of ChromeSkull? He doesn’t spout out stupid one-liners after each of his kills!! LAID TO REST was a serious slasher film that wasn’t trying to be self-referential or overly clever. It was just a kick ass and very gory slasher flick. The only problem is that Hall did such a good job at the end of the first film “killing off” ChromeSkull that it seems he wrote himself into a corner. But as Hall explained to the crowd during the panel, “What corner? I didn’t do anything that most slasher flicks don’t do [by killing off the killer in one film and bringing him back in another].”
The main cast was in attendance. Let me allow Robert Hall introduce everyone to you himself:
As you might be able to tell from this brief video, the cast was pretty hung over but still had a lot of energy left in them. After the introductions Hall jumped right into opening the floor to questions. We learned some pretty fun facts like the original name of the killer was “Shadow Man” (this is what Hall called him in the script). But Hall hated that name and wanted something a little more ominous for the film. At the time his email address was chromeskull@???.com (he just loved those 2 words together), and then it dawned on him that that is a great name for a killer. He also told the crowd that the film’s gonna be released on DVD on September 20 and will have a small theatrical run in select cities before then (but I already knew this from the Red Carpet :-))
One fan asked him about any future projects he’s working on and the answer drew a huge cheer from the crowd. He’s working on making a feature out of his FEAR CLINIC web series that he does with Robert Englund and Danielle Harris. Check out the trailer below that Hall himself shot:
Hall also told us that the project he’s been playing with for over a year now, OLD SCRATCH, which he premiered the trailer at last years Texas Frightmare Weekend, has been put on the back burner until financing can be secured. I don’t get what the problem is; OLD SCRATCH looks friggin awesome!! Its about the old craze of playing records backwards and hearing satanic messages. Well the impending success of LAID TO REST 2 should help secure the money for that one. Part of the problem, Hall tells us, is that he’s shooting OLD SCRATCH on film and that increases the budget quite significantly. But he’s unwavering on this; OLD SCRATCH needs to be shot on film to achieve the right feel and tone that Hall’s looking for. When someone asks if there will be a LAID TO REST 3 Hall completely threw that one back at us: “That depends on you and how successful you all make LAID TO REST 2.” Nice answer.
Hall also talked a lot about the f/x in films. Hall owns and operates ALMOST HUMAN, INC., a special f/x house based in Los Angeles. He’s done the f/x for a ton of films and TV shows including ANGEL, BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, the remake of THE CRAZIES, and QUARANTINE. He was asked the typical question most people ask special f/x artists: Do you prefer practical or digital f/x in films? To the crowd’s surprise he said he loves both:
“People think I only used practical f/x in LAID TO REST, but the fact is I shot all the practical f/x in such a way so they could be digitally enhanced without being obvious.”
Hall thinks it’s silly for fans to hate digital f/x because when they’re used properly they supplement the practical f/x and bring a whole new dimension of believability to the effect. Think about it; is there one instance in LAID TO REST where you were sitting there thinking to yourself, “Aahhh, there’s a digital effect.” No. He blends to two styles together to give a frightening sense of realism to his f/x. After this discussion Hall proudly looks to the crowd and says, “But I am thrilled to tell you all that CHROMESKULL was shot in 2D,” to which the crowd erupted in applause. Again, Hall isn’t against filming in 3D per se, he’s just not a fan of a film being shot and then the producers come along and turn the film into 3D in post-production.
And what about those creative kill scenes? How, someone asked him, does he come up with such great “kills.” Hall answers that it takes him a really long time to think up good death scenes. He takes his time because, as he says,
“I hate lazy and shitty looking death scenes … I hate when someone picks up a broom handle, swings it at another character and decapitates them. Have you ever decapitated someone? [crowd bursts into laughter] There’s a lot of bone, muscle and gristle in the neck.” [To this Nick Principe looks at Hall and asks, “Did you just say ‘gristle’?”]
What an awesome answer!! But more interesting is that when Hall is thinking of a death scene it’s not just the actual death he’s thinking about. He’s thinking about where the death is going to occur and what else might be around in the scene that could play into and interact with the death. He gives the example from the first LAID TO REST where a knife was plunged through the cheeks of one characters, twisted upwards, and then cut off the characters face. If you watch that scene closely you’ll see that the car window and hood play important roles in that death. Pretty intelligent approach to f/x if ya ask me!! Hall also noted that the old f/x of Tom Savini influenced him, but when he watches them now they feel a bit dated.
And of course a few questions from the crowd asked him if ChromeSkull could beat various other screen killers in a fight. Hall took these in stride, obviously having been asked these kinds of questions a hundred times before. There were two here that are worth noting: “Would would win; ChromeSkull or Victor Crowley [from the HATCHET films].” Without hesitating Hall replies,
“Hhmmm, ChromeSkull or a retarded hillbilly living in the woods wearing a foam-latex body suit … ”
It seems there might be some (hopefully friendly) competition between Hall and HATCHET creator Adam Green. It doesn’t sound like Hall much cares for the HATCHET films. I think there’s room for both. Both films did a tremendous job revitalizing the slasher genre, but in different ways. Green’s HATCHET films aimed at recapturing the slasher feel of the 1980’s. Green basically wanted to make a 1980’s slasher film in the 2000’s. Hall, on the other hand, wanted to update the traditional slasher film to incorporate all the modern technology and show how that technology can desensitize and almost dehumanize modern man. I’m a huge fan of both franchises and think there’s more than enough room for both kick ass franchises!!
The other great question came from a friend of mine I met while standing in line to meet Clive Barker. Ryan asked, no doubt because Brian Austin Green is the star of LAID TO REST 2, “Who would win … ChromeSkull or the cast of BEVERLEY HILLS 90125.” The crowd of course exploded into laughter and Green, being the good sport, immediately responded, “The cast of 90125 of course … I’ve seen Shannen Doherty’s ‘wrap sheet.’” Nice answer!!
We then saw a few clips from the upcoming CHROMESKULL: LAID TO REST 2. We got to see the entire opening, which begins seconds after the first film ends, and we got to see the new red-band trailer, a scene inside the “death cage,” and even one of the kill scenes. The crowd was S T O K E D!! Like with all the guests at the 2011 Texas Frightmare Weekend, the cast of CHROMESKULL: LAID TO REST 2 proved to be a great group of people who were genuinely excited to be involved in the convention and really excited to be showing clips from their new film. I must also point out that Robert Hall was giving away full-sized movie posters of LAID TO REST 2, which he was signing, for free. Nice!! And let me tell you, to all you doubters out there, that Hall isn’t ignoring how fucked up ChromeSkull was at the end of the previous film. He addresses this head on and comes out looking like a champ. There also seems to be some kind of “conspiracy” angle going on here too. Green’s character seems to be the head of some kind of organization that has been tracking down ChromeSkull and for some reason wants him alive. We didn’t get much insight into the actual plot, but from what I saw over the weekend it looks pretty bad ass!!
I just hope their “limited theatrical run” includes Austin, TX!! I’ll keep on this one for sure.