Interview: Dee Wallace

It takes a lot to get the Black Saint excited nowadays. I’ve “Been there, done that” ad nauseam over the milllenia and I’ve met plenty of actors/actresses/directors in the horror business. Make no mistake, I love & respect each and every one of them. They have all shown me nothing but love & have indulged me in my desire to toss some silly questions their way. But no one I’ve spoken with has gotten me as ridiculously excited as I got when I was offered some time to talk with Dee Wallace. I don’t need to tell anyone who’s a regular HNN reader who she is (But I will anyway)! She met aliens in “E.T. The Extraterrestrial”, Battled werewolves in “The Howling”, took on hungry furballs from outer space in “Critters”, battled for the life of her son against a rabid St. Bernard in “Cujo”, fought against a homicidal ghost in “The Frighteners” and those are just all frigging classics of the Sci-Fi & horror genres. She’s worked with directors like Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson, Joe Dante & a slew of others in which her sunny smile & her incredible work ethic made their films instantly better with her presence.

The reason for my dumb luck? Well Dee has a new film called “Hansel & Gretel” (Now available from Asylum Home Entertainment) making the rounds and although it’s from the asylum (I expected Bruce Boxleitner to play Hansel and Barry Bostwick to play Gretel when I heard about it), it’s really very good! In fact it’s the best thing the asylum has produced to date in my opinion and a lot of the credit has to go to Wallace! She is just balls to the wall scary as Lilith, the “Wicked Witch” who enjoys snacking on people in her spare time. But enough from me, let’s get to Ms. Wallace who told me about working on this movie, her career up to now and an upcoming little movie you might have heard of called “The Lords Of Salem“!

Dee Wallace: Hi honey!

Horrornews: Whoa! You called me honey! You don’t know what an honor it is to be talking to you Ms. Wallace! I have been a fan for so many years…

DW: Forty years!

HN: Well, let’s just say that I’ve been a fan for a long time! Thank you for taking some time to talk with me.

DW: You bet baby!

HN: Before I continue I gotta tell you that the way it was put to me by the people who got us together made me laugh out loud. I was told that “You have her for 20 minutes”. That sounded so risque to me!

DW: [Laughing] I didn’t know how the people at the asylum were wording it. Well now you have me!

HN: Yowza! OK, I watched the movie last night and I have to admit that when i found out it was an asylum production I was more than a bit worried. But it turned out to be a really good little movie! In fact I daresay it’s the best thing the asylum has produced to date. You know the asylum has something of a reputation…

DW: God! I hear that from every frigging person I talk to!!

HN: AHA! I was going to ask if you knew of the reputation the asylum had before you started working on the movie.

DW: No! I didn’t know anything about asylum. Look, I did “Boo” for Anthony Ferrante a while back and I think he’s a really good director with a lot of potential and he’s a really nice guy to boot. He called me and said “I have a shot to do “Hansel & Gretel” and I told him “Look, I’m not going to do the wart and the long nose”! [Laughing] He said “No Dee! Will you just read this script because it’s different & it’s good, and if you come on board then I can play it more realistically which is how I want to do it”.

So I read it & I loved the script! We kept improving & improving on it but I really loved the script and I said “If I can really play an arc here then I’ll come on board if I get to play with you”. So that’s how it all went down, I didn’t know anything about the asylum other than they did really low budget films but hell I’ve done a lot of low budget films that turned out to be great films! We’ve had a bunch of low budget films that turned out great like “Boys Don’t Cry”. To say you’re not going to do a film these days because it has an ultra low budget means you’re taking yourself out of appearing in films like “Little Miss Sunshine”. So anyway, I said “Yes”! Did we have a lot of money? No! Did we have a lot of time? Hell no! But afterwards I looked at it and I said “I really like this picture & I really like what I did in it”! And I don’t usually say that. Otherwise I wouldn’t be doing these interviews!

HN: You know I actually asked myself if you knew about the reputation the asylum had before you signed onto the movie?

DW: Well maybe they’re trying to change that, they’ve released a couple of features.

HN: Well I’ve seen more than a few films from the asylum over the last few years and this is by far the best thing I’ve ever seen from them. Is it going to get any kind of theatrical release at all?

DW: They talked about it but there’s three other “Hansel & Gretel” movies coming out and they didn’t want to compete with Jeremy Renner & I see their point. I screened it for my daughter & six of her friends, all of whom are 20-26 years old, that’s the target audience right?

HN: Yes it is.

DW: And they all said “Oh my god! Why isn’t this a film? We’d go see this in a theater”! I really like what I did in it and I had a great time chewing the scenery too! If people don’t like it…you can’t please all of the people all of the time can you?

HN: What was it about the script that you wanted to change? You mentioned something about an arc…?

DW: I didn’t want to change anything but once I signed on Anthony & I had some ideas. We were trying to figure out why Gretel was different. It was already established that Lilith wanted a daughter, maybe she had a baby that passed away that wasn’t like her two weird sons. That’s how we got to the picture that Gretel (Stephanie Greco) finds, we’re looking at the picture and you see how vulnerable Lilith is at that moment about the little girl that she had and lost and Gretel was going to take her place. That’s what I mean…a good horror film has stuff like that in it. Stuff that’s not black & white, you know what I mean? I told Anthony that if this was just going to be six characters who show the audience how gruesomely they can kill each other with no story then I’m not interested but I think it’s a true rendition of a good horror story.

HN: Everything that the asylum isn’t known for is in this movie! And I was amazed at how good it looked as well, it looked like it belonged on a big screen.

DW: Yeah, it’s beautifully shot and I know that a lot of those elements had to do with Anthony Ferrante. As far as keeping the integrity of the story we hem very close to the original “Hansel & Gretel” yet it’s updated for the 2013 horror genre.

HN: Tell me about working with your co-stars (Brent Lydic & Stephanie Greco). Had you heard of or worked with them before?

DW: Nope & Nope! They were great kids! Everything was effortless, they were pros. I had most of my scenes with Stephanie and she was a real professional. Always knew her lines, always there in the moment, always with me. It was an effortless, total connection. No star trip going on unlike some of the young people I’ve worked with in the past who have done three films and all of a sudden believe all of their publicity. I’m like “Dude, I’ve been in the business 40 years and you better know who you are separately from what they say you are.

We didn’t have time to rehearse, everybody had to come in knowing what they were supposed to do & commit to it. I would’ve liked to have had more time & money for special effects but we pulled off some miracles in this film. But that’s not what makes it a good film, the fact that we did it despite the money which was the story of “The Howling”. I mean we did that movie for $1.3 million and our special effects were just as good as that other one…

HN: “An American Werewolf In London”?

DW: That’s the one! I don’t know how much they spent on the special effects for that one.

HN; I’m a big “Howling” fan myself. I’ve gotten into heated debates with people about which one was better but I prefer “The Howling”, it’s more visceral, it’s scary! “American Werewolf…” was fun but it wasn’t scary.

DW: Right!

HN: And I’m not even gonna start to talk about how good you were in “The Howling”! Were you ever approached to be in any of those wacky sequels?

DW: [Quickly] Oh sure.

HN: Really?

DW: Yeah, but they didn’t have the integrity of the original.

HN: How long did it take to finish “Hansel & Gretel”?

DW: I only worked on it for six days plus one pickup day. So that’s a lot of hard work! The hardest part of shooting “Hansel & Gretel” was the weather because we happened to be shooting during a stretch of weather when the temperature hovered between 103-105 degrees! And none of our locations had any air conditioning either…so that was challenging.

HN: Were any of Brent’s lines ad libbed? There’s a lot of humor in this movie & some of his throwaway lines are pretty hilarious!

DW: The humor was supposed to be there! Like the line “You shot the sheriff”! And my reply is “Yeah and I shot the deputy too”![Laughing} Those were in there, they were meant to be in there. There were a couple of lines that got cut because Anthony thought they went a little too far though.

HN: Oh no! I loved the humor in the movie, I thought it was great!

DW: There are a few ad libs in there as well.

HN: Well it was a really good script, it was tight!

DW: Yeah it was!

HN: It gets to the point really quickly. I was surprised at the amount of blood in the movie as well, it’s a pretty gory movie!

DW: Yeah, that was actually added after we started filming. I wasn’t too happy with the amount of stuff that we ended up having to do but it’s a horror film…you know?

HN: You would rather it was less bloody?

DW: The amount of blood & gore you put in something defines what kind of film it is. Whether you have millions to spend or not and my concern was that we didn’t have enough money to make this stuff look good but it did. It looked REALLY GOOD!

HN: It really did look good! Do you know what the final shooting budget was?

DW: You can ask me but I couldn’t tell you! You’d need to ask them that question. It was a pretty limited budget though. (Note: The estimated budget turned out to be $150,000. The movie looks like it cost 10 times that).

HN: You worked with Anthony before, are there any plans to work with him again?

DW: I’d work with him in a minute! He’s working on something now and he called me and said “Dee, I can’t find a part for you”! I told him “You don’t have to find a part for me in everything you do”! He says “But I want to! I want to”![laughing] He’s a nice guy and after you’ve been in the business for 40 years…
Life is too long to work with assholes! I don’t want to work with assholes anymore.

HN: Well it’s not like you’re not busy! You seem to have plenty on your plate according to IMDB.

DW: Yeah, I’m pretty busy, But sometimes I work one day & sometimes I work a month, it all depends. I just did a movie for the SYFY channel where I was in Bulgaria for two weeks. I do not know how it turned out but the script was really good…again!

HN: Was it called “Beyond”?

DW: No, that’s a different one.

HN: So what’s the SYFY movie called?

DW: It’s called “RoboCroc” which is ridiculous! But basically it’s “Transformers” and the story was really tight.

HN: [Laughing] I’m sorry, that title just kills me! It’s just that SYFY has made so many movies with “Croc” in the title…

DW: Don’t! I just take a script when it comes to me…I guess I should research them?

HN: [Still laughing] NO! Don’t do that! This is what makes you Dee Wallace! This is why you have the fan base that you have, you’re awesome! Don’t change!

DW: OK! Thank You! I just wanna do scripts with a part that I can really sink my teeth into. To waltz in and do these namby pamby mom roles is pretty boring. Everybody knows I can cry on cue already, but I’m a real ball buster in “RoboCroc” and I don’t get to play that role too much. And I thought it would be fun to bust everybody’s balls for a change, and I did! And at this point in my career what are they gonna say, that my career is over?

HN: Ridiculous! If anything you’re bigger than ever, you’re everywhere!

DW: You know “Lords Of Salem” is coming out on April 26th!

HN: I was going to ask if I was allowed to ask you anything about that movie but apparently Rob Zombie had you all sign your contracts in blood & all of you swore to keep details about the film a secret.

DW: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah! I can say a few things though. It’s based on the witches of Salem and we go from flashback into the present day. Rob’s got a lot of his music in it & it’s a very different movie than what he’s done before and that’s intentional. He kind of tips his hat to films of the 70’s.

HN: Oh yeah, Rob has already shown that he has an obvious affection…an affinity for horror films of the 70′s.

DW: It’s beautifully shot, amazingly shot actually and with no hand held which he usually uses. He wrote the part for me and I play Sonny, one of the three witches. I’m a proclaimed self help guru in my life where I mislead people and then I have a very big arc…

HN: The trailer is pretty intense.

DW: That’s abut all I can put out about it though.

HN: [Laughing] I figured that!!

DW: I can tell you that the last shot of the film is basically a work of art itself. You know Rob Zombie is just the nicest frigging guy, we should all be as talented & nice as he is.

HN: I’m sure he is but right now it’s all about “Hansel & Gretel”! I have you for three more minutes after which I’m going to ask you if it was as good for you as it was for me!

DW: [Laughing] What? The interview or the movie?

HN: The movie was great for me and talking to you is giving me chills so I’m good all around! Someone I know referred to you as the “Grand Dame” of horror movies for my generation, are you comfortable with that description?

DW: You know if it makes my fans happy I feel good! I’ve been working steadily in this business for 40 years. I’ve been doing what I love and getting paid for it. Did I plan to be a horror icon? Hell no! Have I had a great ride doing it? Hell yes! I’m thankful to the universe and me and god…did I get to be happy and do what I do best. Yeah I’d like another “E.T.” in my career, I’d like another big blockbuster movie but if it doesn’t happen I’ve been really happy doing what I love. And continuing to do it & being healthy enough to do it for so long.

HN: That’s all you can ask for.

DW: You can ask for everything and you can receive everything! I pretty much do in my life, the other side of me is that I’m a international healer and I’d love for you to include my website here so that everyone can go and check it out. It’s iamdeewallace.com.

“Hansel & Gretel” is now available on DVD/Bluray from asylum home entertainment. Please check out the other side of Dee Wallace at iamdeewallace.com.

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About The Black Saint

Those of you who don't know of The Black Saint & have yet to commit yourselves to him body, mind & soul will find yourselves in a most uncomfortable position when my army of acolytes is complete & ready to wreak havok upon this pitiful blue ball we live on. Oh, I really like horror movies as well & will take on all comers in a horror trivia contest. Bring it on!
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3 Responses to Interview: Dee Wallace

  1. Mike Joy says:

    This is a great interview. Black Saint really got the best out of Dee Wallace. I couldn’t have done a better interview. Good job bro! It’s funny, the other night I popped on “The Howling” and re-lived how great a werewolf movie it really is. The ending of “The Howling” gives me chills each and every time out. It’s good to see that Dee Wallace hasn’t lost a step in “Hansel & Gretel”. I can’t wait to see “Lord of Salem”!

  2. The Black Saint says:

    Awww shucks…

  3. Victor De Leon says:

    Fantastic job, Saint. One of your best interviews. Well, maybe it is your best. You made Wallace open up with your great questions and your incredible knowledge of all her work. Wallace is a class act and your interview reflects that. Stunning work, my man!

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