Genre fans adore Barbara Crampton, and well, to be honest, how could they not? Her roles in REANIMATOR and FROM BEYOND alone are worthy of being labeled a scream queen, not to mention the countless other great roles in films like CHOPPING MALL, CASTLE FREAK and BODY DOUBLE. Barbara’s always given off such a likable presence in her films, and fans that have been wanting to see her in something new can rejoice with her role in Adam Wingard’s upcoming home invasion film YOU’RE NEXT. Barbara was nice enough to talk with us about her films past and present, as well as a few other things. Read on!
First of all, I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to talk to us, we’re all really big fans of your work.
Thank you so much, I’m a big fan of your site!
Yeah! How long have you been working for it?
I’ve been with Icons of Fright since last year, it’s been great.
So YOU’RE NEXT is somewhat of a comeback film for you, the first time we’ve seen you front and center in a while, what made you want to take it on?
Really, it was because of getting the call to my agent from Simon Barrett (writer of YOU’RE NEXT, A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE), I think he was a big fan of REANIMATOR, and they needed a mom in the movie. I think in his mind, he was thinking, “Whatever happened to Barbara Crampton?”. As he tells it, he had ran into Stuart Gordon at a screening at Fantastic Fest the year before and started chatting, and I think he had me in mind for the part, for a while.
I really had kind of semi-retired by that point. I had moved up to San Francisco with my family, and I have two children that are 10 and 12 now. I wasn’t really looking to do any movies, and I’ve been very active in my kids’ school, volunteering a lot there. When I got the call, and read the script, I really liked the part and the story. I found out about the producers and who they were, their backgrounds, and it sounded like a really good project, so I said “I’ll do it!”. I’m really glad that I did, because it turned out to be wonderful, and I think the movie is great. Having the film being bought by Lionsgate was wonderful, because it’s going to get a really great distribution release and we’re all very excited and proud of the movie.
Now that you did YOU’RE NEXT, are you interested in pursuing more roles?
Yeah, damn that Simon Barrett! He put the taste back in my mouth, and now I’m thinking, “Wow, motherhood is really hard, and acting is really fun!”. (laughs). I’ve done a couple of little projects since then, and I have a few more that people have been talking to me about, that are in development.
Awesome! Speaking of small roles, I was on a podcast with The Wolfman and Justin Edwards recently and we all shared our mutual dissatisfaction of only seeing you for three small seconds in THE LORDS OF SALEM. Originally, wasn’t your role in that film a bit longer?
Yeah, it was kind of an extended cameo, which is what Rob(Zombie) does quite frequently. I had a nice scene with Peter Brady from the Brady Bunch (laughs). I believe that they cut out that whole scene, and about six other actors’ parts. In the final movie, I’m in there for a second or two, in a montage scene. So, unfortunately I wasn’t IN the movie, but fortunately, I did get to work with Rob. I had a great time being on set with him and we got along fabulously, I think he’s a great director. I was happy just to be on the set for a bit with him.
You’ve worked with everyone from Brian DePalma and Stuart Gordon, all the way to Rob Zombie. Are there any filmmakers that you’ve wanted to work with that you just haven’t gotten the chance to yet?
How about Christopher Nolan?
(Laughs) That would nice, wouldn’t it?
He would be a good guy. Back in the day, I would’ve loved to work with John Carpenter, or Tobe Hooper. I guess I still could, who knows? There’s a couple for ya.
FROM BEYOND and REANIMATOR have both achieved huge cult status within the genre, throughout the years, and are both getting even more fans with their recent re-releases on Bluray. How does it feel to be a major part of two of the most loved horror films of all time?
It’s unbelievable, incredible and fascinating to me. When we made both of those movies, we didn’t have the advantage of social media. I didn’t know that people liked the movies as much as they did at the time, when they came out. Now when somebody watches the movie, they say something to me on Twitter about it, and I know immediately. All of these people are watching the movies, and we have new fans that are saying that they love them. It’s very exciting to me to be a part of that immediacy of the social media aspect. When REANIMATOR and FROM BEYOND were originally released, they were only in theaters for a few weeks or a month, which was kind of short back then. I think the films have developed that cult status over the years, and more and more people like them because they’ve also heard of them from other people. So, although we initially got really good reviews on both of those movies, it’s sort of taken on its own life over the last 25 years, both of them have. It’s very gratifying, that people are still watching and enjoying them today.
Speaking of those films, you worked on a handful of movies with Jeffrey Combs and Stuart Gordon. What was it about working with them, that continually brought you back?
The three of us have a really good rapport together. We really understand each other’s language and vibe, and we feel at home with one another. Unfortunately, we haven’t gotten to work together in the recent past, but when we were working together, it was a nice combination of people. We really got along very well. I think a lot of times, when directors appreciate someone and like their acting style, they tend to want to work with them again.
Out of the films that you did with Gordon, which role was your favorite?
It would have to be Katherine McMichaels in FROM BEYOND, because she goes through so many changes and incarnations in a period of two hours, that made it very exciting and challenging to play that character.
It seems that in films like HIGH TENSION and THE DESCENT, and from the sound of it, YOU’RE NEXT, that female characters in horror films aren’t so much just the victims anymore, they’re getting stronger as characters and aren’t just eye-candy these days. What do you think it is that is causing people to make that change in films?
When I look at any movie, and I can even talk about horror movies specifically, what makes them timely, is how culturally, they’re relevant to what’s going on in today’s world. We keep gaining ground and momentum for ourselves. There have been a lot of movies out there that have featured male players, and now they’re featuring more women leads because women have a stronger place in society than they had before. Also, I think people are tired of seeing the same guys all of the time, and it’s our time now! (laughs). “Let’s tell some new stories, with stronger women”. It’s been working, so they keep doing it, even in comedies. BRIDESMAIDS did really well, and now there’s the new movie with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy (THE HEAT). I think specifically, you’ll see that in YOU’RE NEXT. Sharni Vinson has a leading role in the movie, and she is fantastic. So, after this movie, you’ll see more of her, and you’ll see more women in action-type movies coming out. I know that there’s one movie in development in right now, a heavy-action movie with a lot of female stars in it.
Nice. Have there been any newer horror films that you’ve gotten into?
COLD FISH is the first one that comes to mind, I keep thinking of that. I had the same experience watching that, that I did the first time I saw THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, in that I couldn’t stop thinking about it for at least three days afterwards. It really affected me while I was sleeping, and when I was just walking around, it just stayed with me. The visceral feeling that I got from it was so strong, and not a lot of people know about it, because it didn’t have a huge release in the United States. It was psychologically disturbing and VERY gory, with amazing special effects. I’d recommend that to anyone who hasn’t seen it.
What is it about the horror genre that has kept you coming back to it throughout the years?
It’s exciting. You get an energy from watching a horror movie, a feeling in your body that you don’t get with other movies. It’s the excitement that you feel watching a horror movie that I’m very attracted to, the heightened reality.
Are there any genres that you’re not widely known for, that you’d like to work more in?
I’d love to do comedy, or maybe even a role in a horror movie, where I’d be able to do a little more comedy. I think that it would be a fun thing for me to explore, in the future. I did one teen comedy called FRATERNITY VACATION many years ago, and I just haven’t been cast in that type of genre at all. That would be a lot of fun for me to explore, some people do think I’m funny (laughs). I’d like to see if maybe they’re right.
Awesome. Well, thanks so much for talking to us today, I appreciate it.
Thank you Jerry.
YOU’RE NEXT invades theaters beginning August 23rd via Lionsgate.