Saturday, August 2, 2008

Interview With Bill Moseley (Circa. 1999)

Thanks to my longtime friend and web host with the most, Jason, the following interview, which I thought was lost forever, has at last been restored to me. The following piece means a lot to me for a number of reasons. It was originally posted on a web site I hosted in a previous life, at a time when the Internet was still gaining momentum toward becoming the one-stop media powerhouse that exists today.

It is my pleasure to re-present the interview I did with Bill Moseley, best known for his portrayal of "Otis" in Rob Zombie's House of 1000 Corpses, and The Devil's Rejects. While Mr. Moseley is hot!hot!hot! genre meat right now, he wasn't nearly so well-known at the time he gave this interview. He had TCM 2 under his belt, and was just gearing up to film Corpses.

On February 12, 1999 my year-long search for the phenomenal actor who gave me one more reason to love chainsaw movies ended! After viewing Bill Moseley's comments in the guestbook here, I decided to pester him into giving an Interview via email for Arachnia's Den of the Deceived. Not only did he comply, but he complied with kindness.

To the seasoned Horror fan, Mr. Moseley needs no introduction, but for those who aren't familiar with his work, you can catch him in the absolutely amazing Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 as "Chop Top", the lovable maniac who enjoys nothing more than a little head cheese and carving himself up like a turkey. Of course, he's also made notable appearances in other Horror greats such as: Night of the Living Dead '90, Silent Night Deadly Night III, and The Blob. This is by no means his full repertoire, but I could spend all day talking about the man. I'd rather you read the interview, you've 'read' enough of me at this point!

Q: Most people will list the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre as being one of their most memorable film experiences ever. Did this factor come into play at all in terms of feeling like you had some big shoes to fill with TCM 2? Or was it viewed amongst cast & crew as being something entirely different and separate from the original concept (which I actually think it ended up being, quite effectively)?

A: Did the original "chainsaw" make for big shoes to fill for "Saw 2"? Definitely. We were all excited about carrying on the tradition; I think the idea of ":Saw 2" fired up the morale of the cast & crew, but it never overpowered or cowed us. Can you imagine a more FUN job? Tobe Hooper at the helm, Kit Carson at the typewriter, Tom "King of splatter" Savini and his henchmen (Mitch DeVane, John Vulich, Gabe Bartolos, Gino Crognale (sp?), Sean McEnroe (sp?)) there to greet you every morning before dawn with cold glue and rubber appliances? No, you just can't beat fun at the old Chainsaw factory!

Q: In my own personal opinion, the Leatherface we are introduced to in TCM 2 actually surpasses Gunnar Hansen in overall creepiness. Do you have any thoughts on this yourself, or any comments about the transition we saw the leatherface character make from the original film to it's sequel? (He seemed to go from a supressed cross-dresser to 'product of brother and sister sleeping together' chansaw-wielding romantic-freak)

A: I never worked with Gunnar Hansen, but I loved everything about him in Saw 1, his fretting, his violence, the wide wide turns he made with smoking saw, his authority with the sledge. Bill Johnson was my Bubba, and we bonded like brothers on the set and off. The first nine days on the set for us, we sat in his or my little trailer cubby playing gin rummy. nine days in full makeup and wardrobe, and they NEVER used us! We got to be pretty good friends, and pretty good gin sharps. Bill lived in austin, a "local hire," married, worked as a bartender- you can see him for a second or two in the opening of "D.O.A."- he's the desk cop. anywho, what he did in the radio station with Stretch was one of the creepiest seductions I've ever seen - and man, that boy could really use his tongue!

My idea of "Saw 3"- conceived about a week after I'd gotten back to New york City from "Saw 2"- had Leatherface and Stretch married, living in New york, Stretch pushing a bone baby carriage with a baby in a cute little leather mask. Bubba had gotten "discovered" by the artsy fartsy crowd for his "sculptures," the Cook was chef of the best Tex-Mex chili parlour in town, and ChopTop had made it big as a rapper ("he-he-he-head cheese!") after a stint pushing a hot dog cart in Central Park. Whoops, I'm getting off the subject. Bill Johnson gave Bubba soul - and as his older brother, I deep down appreciated that he "turn traitor for a piece of tail."

Q: Along the same lines, what was the basis for the Chop Top character in TCM 2? Is he the same person we were introduced to in the first film (the "hitch-hiker" with an affliction for self-inflicted injuries) or is it another Sawyer brother that's just been locked in the attic until this movie was shot? If in fact, it's the same character, to what extent did you study Edwyn Neal's protrayal of the role? For what it's worth, I think a tremendous job was done on your part in carrying on the same basic character type (i.e. mannerisms, disposition, etc.) if in fact this was the objective.

A: ChopTop was Hitchhiker's twin brother who'd been fighting for his country in VietNam while Saw 1 was taking place. Thanks to a lucky head wound, courtesy of "a gook with a machete," I got a big payout from Uncle Sam, more than enough to bankroll the family chili business, buy the "Rolling Grille a go go," our cool pickup truck and some gasoline and oil for Bubba's chainsaws. Not only did i come back with a plate in my head, an itchy one at that, I came back with an attitude. Used to be that Drayton, the oldest brother, ran the family. but seeing as how I was bankrolling the operation, I got some big ideas about realizing MY dream, Namland! Vietnam theme park! Hell, we were already living beneath Texas Battleland- Namland would have been a snap to pull off!

Ed Neal rules. I met him at Universal Studios, LA, when he and the Saw 1 bunch were inducted into the Horror Hall of Fame. What he did as hitchhiker will forever blow my mind. For me, the first thing I found as Chop Top (originally named Platehead - but I think there was already a Masters of the Universe character registered by that name) was that VOICE. then when I came down to austin and they SHAVED MY HEAD, the twitching began. I was fully willing and able to be a geek for the two-plus months we shot Saw 2. I had a beautiful girlfriend at the time (the mother of my now 11-year-old daughter), so I didn't sweat the girls all running in the opposite direction. Baldness runs in the family, so I found it cool to be Mr. Cueball, knowing (and hoping) that my hair would indeed grow back.

I worked so many hours a day - four hours of makeup each morning, hour and a half to remove it, hour to and from the set, plus working time - that my brain just melted somewhere along the way. i never BECAME ChopTop off the set - I didn't slash anyone, stomp kittens, etc. but I've always loved him.

Q: One of the things that influenced my opinion of TCM 2 was the fact that it put a different spin on the "damsel in distress" situation. Caroline Williams (Stretch) wasn't the stereotypical "screaming beauty" we've been exposed to in the past (PJ Soles immediately comes to mind). On the contrary, she was brave (but not to the point of being blatantly stupid), tough as nails, and when she screamed, you didn't just feel the hair on the back of your neck stand up, you felt it right in your gut. Now that's a Scream Queen! Was this "new approach" to the woman in danger aspect of the film intentional, or am I just imagining it because Ms. Williams did such a great job with the role? (Also loved her in Leprechaun 4)

A: Caroline williams was so a blast to work with. She was a local hire out of Dallas. She told me for for her audition, she ran screaming into the office where Toby and Kit were waiting for her, slammed the door behind her and piled up all the furniture in the room against the door! We've been great good friends since Saw 2, live in the same town, still keep working as actors, talk as often as we can. I stay in touch with Tobe and Jim Sidedow, too.

Q: I've often wondered, does an actor have to be equally as twisted to do a good job with a slasher role as the people who enjoy watching the performance, or does it only seem that way? I mean, am I wrong in assuming that you must have felt just a little different about yourself, carried yourself a bit differently, after hacking the Hell out of L.G. in the radio station lobby? In a nutshell, does it help to be just a little bit looney?

A: Yes, I am a bit looney. I've always loved horror films, monsters, dinosaurs, space travel. when I was a kid of 8 or 9, I founded the Hairy Monsters Club in my hometown of Barrington, Illinois, still have my membership card! I loved Famous Monster of Filmland, disobeying my parents and sneaking into the library long after I'd been put to bed to watch Boris Karloff on our black & white TV - in chicago we had "Shock Theater."

I loved making faces of sheer terror in the bathroom mirror. And I always felt an obligation when I acted in horror films to give the audience the real deal, no fake stuff, because as a young horror fan, the real stuff was what gave me the four-star chills. I guess fear was my first drug of choice - right, Sigmund? I loved throwing snowballs at passing cars, getting them to stop and maybe, gasp, chase me and my little pals. Making a living being a monster was for me a dream come true! You just can't beat fun at the old boneyard!

Q: You mentioned when you signed the guestbook here that Mr. Hooper and yourself are in the midst of discussing a possible comeback for the guy who's plate we'd all love to lick. Is this for real? Anything you can say about it, is it under wraps, or still just a vague semblance of an idea? Would Chop Top get the floor to himself or be spazzing it up once again with Leatherface and the gang? (By the way, I absolutely ADORE Jim Sideow, I hope he'll make it back for a new installment in the series if there is to be one.)

A: Tobe and I are talking about doing something together. I just did a Chop Top cameo for his son, Tony's 10-minute digital video called The All-American Chainsaw Massacre. ChopTop as an older man, with flashbacks using a ChopTop lookalike named Tod Bates. Hell, I'm not that old, but Tod was willing to work for the thrill of it, and I'm getting used to money. I'm not sure what the story will be with tobe, but I'll keep you posted as things progress. It will focus on ChopTop, or whatever his name will be to keep us legal and independent. I just got back from Haiti, and down there i was sketching out some ideas that are fun, scary and very very weird.

Finally, pant, pant, I just want to say that Jim Siedow is god. He's old as the hills, so i'm not sure what his future holds in terms of feature films, but I'd love to fly down to Houston and shoot some home movies of him and wife Ruth kicking back in their hammocks or lawn chairs or whatever they do down there in the cactus belt. When I first got to Austin, full of excitement and fear in equal parts, just seeing Jim walking around the motel was so uplifting, such a psych that it gave me LOVE for Chop Top and Chainsaw. The only other time I've had that feeling was when I happened to see Muhammad Ali walking through Chicago's O'Hare airport one time. Without thinking, I gushed, "It's the champ!" He looked up and smiled at me as he passed. Same feeling seeing Jim Siedow. My heart leaped up. And hell, he's a dirty old man with some sick jokes and a great sense of humor.

Well, my fingers are bleeding and my morning coffee's starting to wear off. My kid's still sleeping (day off for Lincoln's Birthday) and in the distance I hear what may well be a chainsaw laboring through a tree (a human body?). So I'll say ta-ta, and for all you fans, LICK MY PLATE, YOU DOG DICKS!!!!

Bill Moseley


Karswell said...

Fun interview... and interesting to see how far along he's come since '99.

I love the pic of you with him at the Rue Morgue Festival too, evil kitty grin.

Kitty LeClaw said...

It was a really fun interview, and unfortunately ridden with typos. I cleaned it up a lot when I re-posted it here, but I did it from work and was kinda in a hurry...

I think the "evil kitty grin" is more like a grimace of shock and bewilderment. I have another pic from the fest where he is choking me, but I'm making a ridiculous face, so I don't like to plaster it around as much.

Karswell said...

>I don't like to plaster it around as much.

Insert lyrics for Plaster Caster here.

Kitty LeClaw said...

Nicely done, Darkling. You never disappoint. Ever.

The Vicar of VHS said...

Hey, Kitty! Great interview. I got to interview Mr. Mosely a couple years back at the World Horror Convention in San Francisco--I was there with the City Slab crew, and our vendor's table was set up right next to his autograph table, so I actually got to spend the whole weekend hanging out with him. What a fun, kooky guy. In fact, one of my convention highlights was huddling around his Apple laptop (Lapple?) watching Russ Meyer's Mondo Topless and laughing our asses off.

Anyway, the interview ran in City Slab #9, of which there may be a few copies floating around the vicarage. Just sayin'. ;)

Kitty LeClaw said...

Vicar: I actually got to spend the whole weekend hanging out with him

Kitty is envious. I've only tossed a few emails, and blushed uncontrollably the few times I got to meet him. Such a cool guy!

Over the years, I've been wanting to get a second interview with him (now that he's become The Horror Guy), but I can't bring myself to ask. He still writes back to the occasional email I send him, but it takes a lot longer these days, and he writes a lot less.

City Slab #9, of which there may be a few copies floating around the vicarage.

Collectibles... *drool*

Maybe I have a spare copy of Rock N' Roll Nightmare kicking around the, umm... Litter box?

I am trying to offer a trade, but you know how cats are with economics.

The Vicar of VHS said...

Glee! I have long lusted after John Mikl Thor...I mean, after his wait, that didn't come out right either...

Let's just say, DONE. :) Let's swap emails and I'll get some goodies in the mail--scott.axeman[at]gmail[dot]com. And since mags are cheaper than movies, I'll dig up an extra issue or two to throw in as well. Also, I'm egotistical and like to show off my stuff.

Damn it, that's not right either...

Oh wait. No. It is. :)

Kitty LeClaw said...

I'm egotistical and like to show off my stuff.

Bien Sur!

I like to show off my stuff, too. Jon Mikl Thor (we call him JMT up here in the nizzorth) is a Canadian Legend. We are a proud people.

Have you seriously never seen it? Fresh eyes?

Excellent Mail Swap: Game On.

The Vicar of VHS said...

Oh, I've seen it--I just don't OWN it. A gaping hole in my collection of Higher Culture, you'll agree.

Thor actually played in Little Rock a few months back, but like a dumbass I had previous plans I couldn't get out of. Ever since I've totally cursed my Social Secretary for the short-sightedness, and myself for not just blowing that shit off and GOING.

Kitty LeClaw said...

Oh, I've seen it--I just don't OWN it

Ah, zut! Not going to be the same now...

Ever since I've totally cursed my Social Secretary

I curse my Social Secretary all the time. Sometimes, I hit her with a big stick. Bad!!! JMT has been de-locked since RNRN, so it probably wouldn't have been that good, anyway.

Yeah, it still would. Legend.

aunt john said...

"The only other time I've had that feeling was when I happened to see Muhammad Ali walking through Chicago's O'Hare airport one time. Without thinking, I gushed, "It's the champ!"

Kitty: I can totally relate, except I saw Paul Williams ('70s singer/songwriter) while catching a connecting flight in South Carolina. Instead of saying, "It's the camp!" I said, "Oh, it's that short dude who was in the Muppet Movie." We did not share a smile.

Kitty LeClaw said...

Aunt John: Tee Hee. I sure hope you shared the Spoiled Shrimp Salad with him, though. He needs to be punished re: A Star is Born.

aunt john said...

Aunt John says: "It's the camp".

I swear I meant to type champ, but it's equally as applicable.

Tomato / Toe-mah-toe.

Kitty LeClaw said...

Heh. In Canada, the "h" is silent. I actually thought you left it out to make me feel more comfortable.

Karswell said...

I met Colonel Sanders at the airport when I was a kid. We were waiting for a plane to arrive and someone wheeled him by in a wheelchair. Shook his chicken murderin' hand and everything!

All this talk about Paul Williams makes me wanna listen to the Phantom of Paradise soundtrack now...