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Interview: In Conversation with Chad Crawford Kinkle – (Part 1)

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Interview: In Conversation with Chad Crawford Kinkle - (Part 1)

On the evening that his film Dementer was released, I had the pleasure of sitting down to speak with writer/director Chad Crawford Kinkle (Jugface). For more on his new movie, be on the look out for Part 2 of this interview.


BR: So congratulations! Today is the wide VOD release date?

CCK: Yeah, that’s correct, yes. North America VOD release is today, yeah. It’s been released into the world.

When do we get the UK folks to see it?

I’m not sure yet! Yeah we haven’t really locked any deals yet. So that’s to be determined, but hopefully, soon.

Awesome. So does this feel like the last little part of the journey? I’d imagine this has been years– You wrapped years ago, right?

No, no, no. Well, two years ago. But really, in terms of a movie production, it’s not that unusual to have shot it years before it comes out. Because you shoot and it takes, you know, months to shoot, you know, maybe six months to edit. And then you’re gonna do the festival run generally a year before it comes out. And of course the festival run was kinda cut short by Covid. So it’s really kind of the correct timing you would say. But it was just these months of no activity which were kind of driving me crazy. So I was definitely ready for it to come out when it did.

I hope the rest of the world’s ready too, because it’s a hell of a movie. I’m really pleased to be able to speak with you about it.

If I may, I’d like to take things back even further than shooting the movie. I wanna go as far back as you can remember, what’s, like, the first piece of media you can remember that scared you?

Ok, I know this.

Hell yeah.

I was like “He’s gonna ask me something I don’t remember,” but uhhh…I think it was The Wizard of Oz.  It was the monkeys. 

The flying monkeys?

[Editor’s Note: There are definitely only flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz, so why I sought to clarify, I have no clue]

Yeah flying monkeys were like the first really terrifying thing that I think I ever saw. I think in terms of like a movie, that would be it. I remember seeing a couple other things around that same time, movies that would kinda, you know, creep me out. But I think in terms of story or something like that, it’s The Wizard of Oz.

Dude, I’m right there with you. It’s strange to think about how to me, as a kid, the flying monkeys were scarier than the Witch was.

Oh yeah, for sure.

But she’s got all the power! These are her, like, henchmen.

Her lil minions. But they can fly! 

Chaos.

The idea that a monkey can fly is really scary to me.

It’s terrifying. It’s against God. I can’t imagine how they did it, you know? Like how they… got that?

Wires, I guess. 

I guess.

But the funny thing about the Witch, though, that did have an impact on me as well. Do you know what sleep paralysis is?

Of course.

When people feel like they’re paralyzed. I haven’t had that happen to me at any point in my adult life, but I did have it happen to me as a kid. And, I don’t know if you saw- there was a really cool documentary, I can’t remember the name, but it was all about sleep paralysis. And it talks about how people will hear or see things from television, like there’s some sort of strange running theme with them.

So this one night, I heard someone in my house. This was my sister’s old room. I guess to watch my sister- or to have her in a room they could still watch her- they cut the door in half, you know, kinda like barn style?  It was still there, latched back, but they could lock the bottom half and swing open the top half. And for whatever reason, I think that door was like that when I was asleep, and I woke up and I heard someone standing at the door. And they said “I’ll get you my pretty-”

WOAH!

And it was the Witch from The Wizard of Oz. I remember I was so terrified I could not move. So I think I had sleep paralysis right there.

That’s terrifying.

So anyway, that’s mine, monkeys. 

Witch and the monkeys, you doubled up, that’s a lot of scary right in that one piece of content. 

Yeah, for sure.

Wizard of Oz Monkey

I could be mistaken but I think that there was an episode of Sesame Street that Margaret Hamilton, who played the Witch, guest starred on as the Witch. And they had to take it out of re-runs because it scared kids so much.

Oh that’s so cool, I’m sure it would! That’s awesome. 

One of my favorite Wicked Witch things in the world was when Disney World used to have The Great Movie Ride, there was a sequence in that where the Witch does her whole schtick. And it’s terrifying by any standards: young, old. I think it was pretty spooky. 

I wish I’d seen that. I went to Disney as a kid, when I was nine. But I don’t remember that ride. And I’ve been- since I have a daughter now we go quite often.

They definitely got rid of it in the past couple years, which is a shame. It also had a Nostromo sequence in the ship from Alien that was, again, terrifying. 

What was it called again?

The Great Movie Ride.

I wonder if there’s some video of that on YouTube. 

Definitely. Oh, there’s definitely gonna be some ride-through footage.

So Chad, let’s fast forward a little bit after that first scary experience of The Wizard of Oz. I’d like to know, when was the first time you fell in love with the horror genre.

I’m trying to think when exactly that was. I was always big into horror novels in a way, even though I loved to be outside and I loved to be in the woods.

Oh, cool!

So I was kind of all over the place in my imagination, wandering in the woods. I had this,  like, machete that I bought from Wal-Mart for $5 that was like a sword. I had a sawed-off BB gun.

Oh hell yeah. 

But when I’d go to the grocery store, I would see horror novels up on the shelf, and I really liked them, so I would buy them. And I even collected, like, Fangoria from way back in the day, and Gore Zone. And I think early on I just- I don’t remember the first horror movie I watched, but… I knew that I really liked them. There was this – I could never wake up for cartoons on Saturday, I just sleep a lot. On the USA Network, there was a show called Commander USA’s Groovie Movies. And I don’t think it was regional, I think it was nationwide. But the guy was a horror host, and he looked like a hobo dressed in a Superman costume. He smoked, like, a cigar, but he would take the cigar and make a face on his hand, and that was “Lefty,” he’d talk to his hand. He was in his own little cave, and it had crappy doors that would open for the TV screen. There were bad sound effects like spaceships. But he would show horror movies, and he would also show kung fu movies. So being a kid of the 80s, that’s all I wanted.

But I was young enough where I made this Lego mask to wear so I wouldn’t be scared.

I think those rituals are so important. I think everybody has their coping mechanism. I’m alway super interested in when that initial terror crystalizes into an interest. Maybe you start by looking between your fingers. Or me, it was peeking out from behind my parents’ recliner. So for you, it was a mask, that’s so cool. Because that would protect you, in a kid’s mind!

I watched a lot of like late-night television, you know, Dr. Who and any horror show I could find. For some reason, my parents just thought it was fine to let me stay up on the weekends and watch HBO all night.

Let that be a lesson to new parents, because that led to a career!

You’ll come out like me and have to make these weird movies.

You heard it here first, podcast exclusive!

So what were some of your first favorite titles? Did you go for slasher stuff when you were a kid, or more monster movies?

I think  particularly with the Commander USA stuff, that was a lot of Hammer movies. So I got exposed to that stuff really early. And also I remember watching Night of the Living Dead, that was one of the first ones I watched. I’m really drawn towards stories that are fairytale-like. I think a lot of the Hammer horror settings, to me, felt like they had more of a mystique. It felt otherworldly.

Absolutely.

Fantasy-like, fairytale-like… And I just loved everything that was, I guess, bad. Like Critters.

Yes!

Or Ghoulies.

YES!

Any of the Full Moon Entertainment horror movies, I just love them. Puppet Master. And of course I grew up during the time when you could rent movies, and I would just walk down the horror section, and just grab whatever I could. And my mom would take me and just let me rent whatever. I had a babysitter, too, who led to all this kinda stuff. She knew I loved horror movies, so she would go rent them every day before she came over.

Puppet Master 1989

Woah!

I watched, with her… I watched I Spit on Your Grave. The original.

That’s a fuckin’ cool babysitter. Maybe she shouldn’t be getting those jobs so much, but definitely cool. 

I Spit on Your Grave… Dude I’m 30 and I still feel like I’m not old enough for that content.

It wasn’t even junior high, this was probably late-grade school, like sixth grade. Maybe seventh. Something like that. It was amazing. SO I was always looking for anything I could find that was horror-related.

That’s so cool that you were able to access so much. WIth that horror host showing you Hammer stuff, I would consider that a more formal education. And the babysitter comes in with this exploitation material, that’s such a well-rounded introduction to the genre.

And then I was finding other movies like on HBO, that were not on that B-level, that were probably like The Howling, or whatever.

There ya go!

I was watching that. That one really messed me up.

The Howling. As a kid?
Yeah because there’s this one scene where the lady is outside atlike a deck, and she’s hiding underneath this piece of plywood, and the werewolf reaches in, and she chops off his hand.

Yeah!

That single scene really got under my skin. And then later, I would read Freud’s ideas, and he would say that seeing a severed hand would cause castration anxiety in men, I guess. And so, I was like “That’s it! That’s what it was, no wonder-” 

That’s what it was. Joe Dante leaned right into that, said “I’m gonna make little boys afraid to lose their dicks by chopping off this Wolfman’s hand.” That’s awesome. 

I actually got to tell him about that.

No kidding! Tell me all about that please!

With Jugface doing the festival run, which was really fun, I was in Spain at a festival and Joe Dante, Mick Garris, and Neil Marshall were there. And they were like A-list guests, I just had Jugface there. But I was like one of the only English-speaking people there. So they were immediately like “Hey do you wanna come hang out with us?” So I was like their third wheel, fourth wheel, for the week I was in Spain. So I spent many meals just listening to them tell stories and us talking horror movies. ANd I told him the story about the severed hand and what it did to me as a kid. 

Did he confirm the Freudian intention?

No, I think he just laughed and thought it was funny. I don’t remember what his response was, but it was cool. And they watched Jugface at that festival-

That’s gotta be super meaningful.

It was cool! The worst part about it was it was the worst screening ever. For whatever reason they couldn’t get it to stretch out right, the projection, so it was like smaller on the screen, and the bars were grey. So it looked horrible- 

Get it together Italians!

-Spain.

Sorry, Spain. You did say Spain. Not Italy 

It was like a huge old theater with like 600 people in it. It was a good but bad -technically- screening. 

That’s a thrill! Mick Garris, too, he’s the dude. Critters 2!

Critters 2. Sleepwalkers.

Sleepwalkers. The whole Masters of Horror thing. I didn’t know he wrote Hocus Pocus until recently. That’s insane to me.

Yeah and he produced it. That’s a huge one with my daughter and my wife.

Rightfully so, that movie’s a slam dunk.

Alright, so you’ve got the Hammer stuff, you kinda- you’re growing up in the perfect time to be a horror fan, as far as being able to walk down these aisles, pick out the tapes. And you got HBO and this horror host on TV. When did this love turn into “Oh I want to make this?”

Yeah it’s strange, I was the art kid in high school. And I think in junior high too. I was really working it perfectly. I was the art kid, and I’d even go to these live drawing classes. And I even convinced my mom- “You can buy me a Playboy, I’m just gonna draw the pictures.” I’d seen a guy actually doing that and he was using colored pencils and it was, like, really amazing. And that was half my intention. You know?

Of course. The other half was “the articles.” 

Yeah, oh yeah. The movie articles. So, I was the art kid. All of my art was really dark too. In high school my girlfriend, she and her grandmother, they would pray about my art projects that I would bring into school. Everything had chains on it, blood on it. There was a thing called a “radial design,” just something that has a center, and kinda sprays out from it, like the different pieces.  I did this face that was being pulled apart- it was like 6 feet wide- this face being pulled apart by rats and there was this rat coming out of its mouth.

Woah!

Just ridiculous stuff. So anyway, at that point, my aunt, and my mom, they got together and got like a VHS camcorder. So I just started making home movies with my best friend. And most of them were horror movies. And I loved special effects too, so I was buying magazines trying to learn how to do different cuts. Mostly we just did squibs.

Condoms?

Well no, just Ziploc bags, and then I would wear- for some reason I was always the one getting shot, and we were using a real BB gun, and I would put my sister’s magazines underneath my vest, and I would just have the squib like in between the buttons. And they would shoot me and it looked awesome. And one time, I do remember, we didn’t have the magazine, and they shot me, and of course it hurt so I fell down. And they’re like “That looked amazing!”

I had a generic Freddy- that was another thing: I was collecting horror masks like every year. I had Rawhead Rex. I had Teen Wolf. I had all kinds of em. So I had a generic, kinda crappy, Freddy one. I still have my Freddy glove on the bookshelf behind me. And we had this guy we called Microwave Man, and he was kind of like a Jason personality. It was a Freddy mask, but I wore a Jason outfit. And I would be the one hanging on the car, on the outside or whatever, and they would beat me up.

But I didn’t know- I was from a small southern town, there was no internet yet. There’s no access to really learning how movies were made. So I just thought movies were made in Hollywood. I had no idea.

Of course.

I ended up going to the Savannah College of Art and Design, and they have a film program. And one of my roommates, out of the five roommates I had, he was older and already in the program. I saw his project and I was just, like, “Oh my god, I can learn how to make movies here?” It looked like just what I’d been doing, goofing off with my friends. It dawned on me I could learn how to make horror movies. So that was just this thing that I was doing until I got like a formal education I guess with how to make movies.

It’s cool that you were making horror, even before cameras and stuff were involved. To hear a creator be like “Yeah it’s so in my blood that I was in school drawing this.” I hope that some high school kid could hear a story like that and think “Oh shit maybe I should pick up a camera and make a movie.” 

Well they’ve got a camera! That’s what’s so wild about them having phones now. I mean I was dreaming of the day that cameras would shrink from this size [gestures widely] down to this size [gestures less widely]. Much less tiny. The quality of a phone now is ridiculous. And just the access to anything you want to learn about. It’s probably a little overwhelming for people, too. You had to use your imagination- it was figuring things out on the fly that was a really good learning experience. 

That’s brilliant. And I do agree with you that having access to everything always might not be the best way to come to anything. I think there’s real value to- like you grew up with- being in a physical location, seeing titles on VHS covers. But the trade off is- we can look up anything. If I want something to look a certain way, I look it up and make it look that way, and boom!

It’s great and bad at the same time. Just in general, movies were really important to me. Obviously I’m older now so I’m not growing up in these times. Sure movies are important, but, you know, I have movies- the experience of going to the movies and seeing my first R-rated movie. My Dad took me, and you know what it was? RoboCop

Oh my god. That is the quintessential experience! 

It was amazing. So I don’t know, it just… It’s cool in a way. I’m nostalgic about the 80s and 90s the way the older generation was nostalgic about the theater watching many films back-to-back on Saturdays and Sundays. Like Joe Dante. He talked about his childhood the way I do. I think it’s the same thing. I’m sure kids will talk about binging Netflix horror movies and how that inspired them, and they’ll have these funny memories with their friends or whatever. So I guess it just depends on the timeframe. But it’s kinda the same spark I guess. When you realize early on, these stories speak to you, and you don’t know why, but they do. Sometimes you won’t let go, like me. 

We need more people like that, who don’t let go. We’ve lost so many great unrealized movies to somebody being like “Ahhh I gotta work too much this week, I’m not gonna be able to sit down with this.” It’s a shame.

Movies are kinda, in their own way, miracles. Even the bad ones, or the misguided ones. Just getting a movie made has so many elements that have to come together, not to mention the money behind it. It’s just a force of effort trying to get this idea, which has so many components on the screen for other people to watch. It’s pretty nuts. I think when I was in college, I was probably more critical of movies. Once you get into it, you start realizing that it really does take a lot of magic to make movies in general. So I’m pretty easy-going on other films. Unless they’re just- 

I wish more people thought of things that way. Especially critics, I feel like they don’t get into a movie to enjoy it, you know? It’s a shame.

The biggest thing I’ve seen with most critics is they’re not open to the experience of the movie, whatever it is. They’re more concerned with “Do I like it? And if I don’t like it, then I wanna try to pick out elements” that they think are wrong technically. Generally it’s not anything thematic, anything deep about the movie that they can talk about. They just know they don’t like it. To me, that’s always been the word thing about movies. As people, everyone’s seen a ton of movies, so people think that just because they’ve seen a lot of movies that they really do understand them. You can tell that their reviews are not in-depth enough about any real details, especially about anything thematic- the themes and ideas that are in the movie. 

Because these people aren’t trained-

That’s kind of a new phenomenon. People that would get jobs reviewing movies in newspapers- it seems like those critics really did understand movies. THat’s probably not exactly true. But it seems like more these days- since everybody can talk about a movie, or be a critic- there’s something that has been lost a little bit. It’s just kinda strange. It is what it is, because more people talk about it. So it has a positive effect too, even if it’s a “whatever” review, still the name of the movie is getting out there, maybe more people will take a chance on it. 

There might be 20x more people writing about Dementer, but none of them are Pauline Kael.

The funny thing is, if I’d made Dementer back then, they may have just hated it.

Hey that’s true, too.

Keep an eye out for Part 2 of our conversation, where Chad and I discuss his brand new movie, Dementer.

Dementer Poster

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