Icons of Fright chats with TALES OF HALLOWEEN director Axelle Carolyn

tales-of-halloweenWhen you have an anthology that features ten segments and has eleven directors, it’s a given that at least a few of them won’t be that great, right? Well, TALES OF HALLOWEEN is the anthology that proves that very wrong, with a solid film from start to finish. Whether it’s monsters, scary kids, or something far more sinister, the anthology (which is now in select theaters and on VOD) has something for everyone. Having already had chats with directors Mike Mendez and Darren Lynn Bousman about their entertaining parts of the film, we thought it would be nice to speak with the person who initially brainstormed the idea, director Axelle Carolyn (SOULMATE). Taking one hell of an idea and making it happen, Carolyn’s segment in the film, “Grim Grinning Ghost” features a group of individuals telling a scary story on Halloween night, and is one of my favorite parts of the film. Read on!


We previously spoke to both Mendez and Bousman about how they came into the project, but I’m curious, with this being your brain-child, how you came up such an interesting idea?

It came from knowing all of those guys and knowing that there was such a great horror community here. It’s something I had never known before, I knew filmmakers but this community is more like friends. When you think of Hollywood, you think of something completely differently, but there such a friendship and harmony to the horror community. I thought it would be really cool to channel that into a movie and make something special out of that. Every Halloween, we all do so many things together, it’s like six weeks of going to haunted theme parks, movies, and I just thought “this would be great”, to make a movie that was fun and was made by all of these people who were friends. Every story would take place on the same night, in the same town, and what makes it cool is that it’s not only not one director, but it’s also not just a bunch of random directors who don’t live in the same place. Everybody would come to my house and we’d talk about the stories together, what worked or didn’t worked. We’d show each other the script and say “Yeah, this works!” or “This needs a little bit more work” and we’d all help each other. It was a really cool process.

With your segment being titled, “Grim Grinning Ghost”, I’m curious if that was an homage to Disney’s Haunted Mansion song?

Oh yeah. To be honest, I’ve wanted to do something with that title for a long time. It’s such a cool title, but I’m also such a huge fan of the Haunted Mansion. There’s an entire room that I have, that’s Haunted Mansion-themed. I thought most of the stories that were coming from the others were more on the comedic side, so I wanted to do something scary that I could do in six or seven minutes and just make it really scary. I started moving into urban legends, and there was one that basically said that if you’re ever alone on Halloween night and you hear footsteps behind you, don’t ever turn around. Being such a fan of the Haunted Mansion, I instantly thought of “the ghoul will follow you home”, so I wanted to make something with that in it.

I really liked your previous film SOULMATE. Was the process of doing TALES OF HALLOWEEN a completely different experience for you?

Yeah. SOULMATE was something that I spent months talking to the actors about the tone and atmosphere and the character. Both of them are atmospheric, but with TALES OF HALLOWEEN, it was more about helping my cast, Lin Shaye, Stuart Gordon and everyone know about the mood. You have to make sure the editing is perfect, and the music crescendos at the right time and all of that stuff, but I had a lot of fun with this one. It was really great.

The casting of the entire film is great and your segment had a lot of really great people in it. Did you have Lin Shaye or any of the others in mind at the beginning? 

I definitely had Lin Shaye in mine. I’m really good friends with her and she’s really amazing. She’s very talented, and I knew that I had to have someone who at the beginning would tell that campfire kind of story. Having her, Stuart Gordon, Mick Garris, and Barbara Crampton came down from San Francisco to do it, so we had them and Lisa Marie, who was also great in WE ARE STILL HERE. It was amazing cast of people.  Alex Essoe came from me going to see STARRY EYES at the Egyptian theater in LA and I met her and the directors and I just thought she was great, not only as an actress but she was a genuinely nice person and really likes horror movies. She understands the genre. I wanted to find a place for her within the anthology and it took me a while, because I had always envisioned someone older for the role she played. Since everybody else kind of hate teenagers and kids in their shorts, I wanted mine to be about people who were in their ’40s or ’50s, but she was just so great, that I decided to have her play the character she plays. We had a really fun time.

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