Director William Malone on his '70s Night Stalker spoof, working with Klaus Kinski, being a Beatle and his crazy expressionist dream film PARASOMNIA (2008).
TV STORE ONLINE: Do you
sit down and talk with people that say they are fans of your first
film NIGHT TURKEY (1972) very often?
You're a fan of NIGHT TURKEY?
TV STORE ONLINE: I am.
you on drugs?
TV STORE ONLINE: No, but I
wish I had been when I saw it for the first time!
(Laughing)...Listen, there's much to point out regarding NIGHT
TURKEY. Did you know that you and your friends spear-headed the
"Turkey-ploitation" genre? You may have beat out BLOOD FREAK
(1972) by a few months...
never seen BLOOD FREAK.
TV STORE ONLINE: The killer
turkey in BLOOD FREAK is just a guy wearing a turkey head, whereas,
your killer turkey is an actual killer turkey.
I'm glad we fell the way of pop culture.
TV STORE ONLINE: At the
very least, people should watch NIGHT TURKEY on YouTube because of
the fact that it features Rick Baker and one of the "Cantina"
creatures from STAR WARS (1977) a few years before it appeared in
|Screen Cap from NIGHT TURKEY. Watch the film here.|
TV STORE ONLINE: When you
were making the film did you ever worry that Kentucky Fried Chicken
wasn't a litigious time. No-one ever worried about getting the
rights to anything. We didn't have permission to shoot at KFC, so
we went there and slipped the night clerk twenty dollars so we could
shoot in there. We wrote the whole movie on the back of napkins.
It's our tribute to Kolchak:
The Night Stalker.
TV STORE ONLINE: One thing
that people may not know about you is that you played Beatle
George Harrison in Robert Zemeckis's I WANNA HOLD YOUR HAND (1978)...
TV STORE ONLINE:: I love
that film! I interviewed [actress] Nancy Allen a few years ago and
I asked her about that big final sequence on the Ed Sullivan Show.
Zemeckis keeps showing her face in orgasmic ecstasy and tears and
cutting to her legs quivering. I said, "Did Zemeckis ever
explain what your character was doing in the scene when The Beatles
were on stage?"
|Malone plays George Harrison in the film's final sequence.|
It was a dream job for me. I grew up in Michigan, and I had a band
called The Plagues. When I saw The Beatles on Ed Sullivan--it was a
huge influence on my life. My friend was the music editor on the
film and they searched for someone in the Musician's Union to play
George Harrison, but couldn't find anyone. He thought of me. He
asked me to go over to Zemeckis's office at Universal and meet with
him. I put on my old Beatles jacket that I had bought when I was in
high school, combed my hair down, and went over to see him. He said,
"You got the part..." He asked me if I could play any
Beatles tunes, so I played him "I Feel Fine." For me, it
was a great thing to do. I woke up one morning and it was 1964 again
and I was on the Ed Sullivan Show doing "She Loves You."
We shot it over at the Palace Theater in Hollywood, which was right
across the street from Capitol Records. It was great fun.
Obviously, you don't see my face, but I'm there in the background as
George when the camera shows the actual Beatles on Sullivan on the
studio monitors in the sequence.
TV STORE ONLINE: Can we
talk about Walter Hill's SUPERNOVA (2000)? I know you wrote the
original script for that. Is the Walter Hill film, as we know it,
in any way close to your original vision?
is quite a bit different. My original script...I took the notion of
the movie DEAD CALM (1989) with Nicole Kidman. I set that in space.
I wrote it and it got sold to a company called Imperial
Entertainment. I was developing it with them. I was going to direct
it. They kept asking me to make the script "bigger." I
thought that was odd because they were such a small company. So I
walked away from it because I didn't think it would ever get made.
When we were developing it--I went to Zurich and starting working
with H.R. Giger for the film. The script was sent all over
Hollywood and everyone loved it. I don't want to accuse anyone of
knocking it off, but it does have similarities to EVENT HORIZON
(1997) and a slew of other science fiction films that came out around
My original script was called
"DEAD STAR." It was a sad experience for me. I did get
a letter from Francis Coppola [SUPERNOVA editor] just before it was
released which said that he had wished that the Producers would have
stuck with my original script. So that was the saving grace of it
TV STORE ONLINE: I'm a fan
of FORBIDDEN PLANET (1958) just as you are, but you're the ultimate
fan since you own several props and the original "Robby, The
Robot" from the film...
one point I had all of the props that were known to exist from the
production except the giant flying saucer. I think FORBIDDEN
PLANET is the finest science fiction film ever made. It's pure
science fiction. The whole premise of the film is a genius conceit.
I look at the film, also, as the perfect representation of the
1950's. From the art to the acting styles--it's very 1950's. It's
very charming, and the film also represents the opposite of the auteur theory. There is no one person responsible for the vision of
STORE ONLINE: Do you think that the screenwriters truly set out at
the beginning to make this sort of science fiction version of Shakespeare's
hard to say. The screenwriter, Irving Block, was a very well-read guy.
He was fascinated by old myths and legends and such, so it certainly
TV STORE ONLINE: It's such a
different type of film for the era. There are monsters and space
creatures certainly in that era of the science fiction film, but
FORBIDDEN PLANET goes way beyond explanation--it borders on the
metaphysical facets of human nature and science....
think FORBIDDEN PLANET stands over, not just several films from the
'50s, but above many from the era's that followed as well. STAR WARS
was just a romp in space. The only other film that I can think of
that is more cerebral than FORBIDDEN PLANET is 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968).
|Malone, a superfan of FORBIDDEN PLANET, owns the original Robby, The Robot from the film.|
TV STORE ONLINE: With your
film CREATURE (1985) you worked with Klaus Kinski...What was that
like? Was he as crazy and intense as others have suggested over the
was a character. I wrote that part for him in CREATURE because the
producers wanted him part of the film. The day I met him, he started
bragging about how he had raped his daughter. I was always
surprised that he didn't get arrested. At one point, when we were
shooting the film, the producers and I had gone to lunch at La Maison
in Hollywood. Klaus walked in and he was with a girl that couldn't
have been over fifteen-years-old.
TV STORE ONLINE: Had you
been familiar with his work prior to working with him?
course. I had seen him in Herzog's re-imagining of NOSFERATU THE
VAMPYRE (1979). I had heard all the stories about how crazy he was.
When he was hired for CREATURE I wrote him into the film as a crazy person because I knew that's what I was going to be dealing with.
TV STORE ONLINE: How does
one direct Klaus Kinski?
just turn him loose. He was very difficult. He wanted to have an
argument between every take. It slowed us down horribly.
TV STORE ONLINE: I'm ashamed
to admit that I just saw your film PARASOMNIA (2008) for the first
time last week. I'm not sure how I missed before now...
TV STORE ONLINE: I loved the
film. It was right up my alley. My favorite films are works that
are driven by their aesthetics. I love films that aren't just
dreams on the inside, but on the outside as well. I see all film as
think the best films are those that have dream-like qualities...I
don't need to see movies about real life. I'm living real life. I
think, that if you're going to make a film it needs to have
dream-like qualities because it needs to carry you off....
TV STORE ONLINE: I'd confer
with you. Yet, I don't understand why contemporary audiences have
this obsession with reality having to exist in cinema... Kubrick,
Bergman, Fellini, Tarkowsky, David Lynch--all believe/believed that
all of film was a dream. And you, a filmmaker yourself, agrees with them....
Why do filmmakers perceive cinema in this manner, but audiences
don't have a good answer for that. Maybe it's conditioning.
Audiences have been conditioned. To make a film centered in reality
is, in some ways, easier to do. There are fewer filmmakers now that
have the sensibilities that you are talking about. I think it also
speaks to horror films as well. The horror genre, in the '80s for
example, was limitless. You could do anything in horror. When I
released PARASOMNIA--I got bashed by critics because my bad guy was a
mesmerist. I mean, this wasn't something that I came up with!
It's an idea that comes out of classic horror cinema. You can go back
to the films of the '30s for that. Look at SVENGALI from 1931 with
John Barrymore. It wasn't a new idea. Dracula was a mesmerist!
I've never understood the criticism.
TV STORE ONLINE: And
PARASOMNIA was inspired by THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI (1920)?
I was watching CALIGARI late one night and I thought about how you
could make so many great movies around the ideas in that film.
TV STORE ONLINE: You've made
films in the horror genre you're entire career, yet, one gets the
sense that you're a student of all cinema...
love all films. There are horror films that aren't labeled as
horror films. I happen to think that SUNSET BOULEVARD (1950) is a horror
film. I love film noir. Going back to the silent era--SUNRISE
(1927) is so wonderful and so dreamy. A lot of films have creepy
qualities to them and it isn't always the intention of the filmmaker.
You can see something and get a creepy feeling from it. You
begin to ask yourself, "Why is that creepy?" It becomes
TV STORE ONLINE: Talking
about FORBIDDEN PLANET and the limitlessness of the '80s---why has
the horror genre become so focused on the serial killer or the
slasher and moved away from the good old monster? Does it have to
do with that element of audiences wanting reality?
|Malone directs actress Sean Young in PARASOMNIA.|
think it also has to do with what is successful in the genre as well.
HALLOWEEN (1979) was a gamer-changer because producers locked on to
that because it was successful and cheap to make. And there are a
lot of sick people out there too. I'm not sure if it's life
imitating art now, as much as art imitating life...
TV STORE ONLINE: It was nice
to see Sean Young in PARASOMNIA...
really came out from nowhere. I made the film without that
opening sequence with her. Originally it had a very different
opening. The distributors thought that the film was taking too long
to get going, so I decided to redo the opening. I knew that we
needed something right off the bat that tells you what type of movie
you're watching. I never thought in a million years that I'd get
Sean Young for one of my movies. I went over to her house and
showed her some of the things we had shot for the film and she got
excited about it.
TV STORE ONLINE: There's a
fun cameo by John Landis in PARASOMNIA...
is always a director. When we were shooting that scene with him...I
guess I let the camera go on for too long. He said, "Cut it
|A Pre-Community Alison Brie in PARASOMNIA|
STORE ONLINE: You managed to snag a pre-Community
Alison Brie for a part in PARASOMNIA...
came in and read for it. I thought she was great. She doesn't
actually play the cello or any other stringed- instrument but she really
pulled it off.
TV STORE ONLINE: It strikes
me that not only is PARASOMNIA your best film to date, but that, it's
also a very personal film for you....You've even used some music made by your
band from the '60s, The Plagues, have some music in the film...
Yeah, it is personal and it's the film that I'm most proud of. I
was able to put in a lot of things that I never could in any of my
previous films. I was very pleased with how it came out.
TV STORE ONLINE: The ending of PARASOMNIA
is dark, albeit romantic...
ending is the thing that I'm most proud of. I really wanted the
film to feel like a spiral that the audience can't get out of. The
characters continually go downward. There is no way that they can
recover from where they end up. It was the only way to end the film,
and in a way, it's a happy ending. It's a fairy-tale in that way too.
TV STORE ONLINE: To
re-visit, quickly, the idea of reality in cinema...There's this
theory I have about low budget aesthetics..I call it the police-man
theory. When you watch a lower budget film and see a policeman in
his traditional blues--in low budget cinema, often times the officer
won't have all the bells and whistles on his uniform that he should
have. He isn't quite convincing enough to be a police officer from
reality...While this may jettison many out of the possibility of a
reality--for me, it does something different. It ties into that
dream aesthetic... The filmmaker inserts this not-quite-realized police officer into
his film, and yet he is a figment of imagination, a officer in a
completely realized dream or netherworld....He can define a
film's dream aesthetic.
lives in that world I think. My cops--I wanted them to be like film
noir cops. I didn't want them to be modern cops. When I thought of
the movie as a whole, I knew that if I put modern cops into it--it
would pull the audience out of that idea. I don't know if I was
successful or not. I wanted it to feel of a certain ilk. I blended
the classical music with '60s garage rock to give it this out-of-time
Interview Conducted By: Justin Bozung