This is an edited transcript of a telephone interview conducted with Bart Piece on July 22, 2011. Bart worked with Tom Sullivan on creating the meltdown sequence at the end of The Evil Dead, but also created a number of the other optical effects, assisted Tom with some of the physical effects.
Bart has a role as a zombie doctor in his two sons' new zombie-comedy-horror movie called Deadheads, currently touring various film festivals. You can find our more and see the trailer at DeadheadsTheMovie.com.
Bart adjusting a cut-out matte on the camera's matte for Scotty's meltdown in The Evil Dead (1980)
So to begin, how did you first get involved in The Evil Dead?
Well I went to a screening of Within The Woods,I actually went to see the them initially because I was making a film of my own, and I wanted to see if Sam would be interested in directing it. I was impressed, but Sam said "I can't help you with your film, because we're trying to make our own, would you on our film?", that's basically what happened.
The production started some time before you and Tom created the meltdown sequence, where you involved with the production prior to that?
Yes. I went to the cabin in Tennessee for three days, to assist Tom with some of the physical effects. They tried to do a lot of the physical effects while Tom and I were there together. People always lent a hand, but the only ones who actually knew what they were doing, were Tom and I. I was there watching a lot of stuff at the time, but it was better to have one person doing it. A lot of it was being there in case something went wrong, or having to correct or modify something, but Tom did a great job, his pieces worked fine.
I was there for the chopping up of Shelly, and Shelly's chewing her hand off too. I was actually holding the Shelly dummy as she gets hit with the axe. Sam Raimi was right in front of me holding a bottle full of fake blood, squirting into the air, and smiling like a demon! I did miss the ankle stabbing, I loved that scene though.
Bart Pierce's portrait photo
I left Tennessee at the same time that they were nailing Shelly into the floor, this was a few weeks into the production. I remember Sam and Rob had asked me to go and talk to her, because she trusted me, I think she was a little claustrophobic, and scared! She asked me; "this is going to be okay?", And I said "yes it's going to be okay, and you're going to be fine", as we were putting the boards over her. When I was getting up to leave and drive back home, she looked at me and said "you can't leave me, these people are crazy!", I said "no, no, no, it'll be okay, really", but of course she did fine.
Bart shooting on an exterior location (1980)
After the initial shoot we had two or three other shoots; one in Marshall, one in Farmington Hills, both in Michigan. There were others too, but those are the ones that I actually went to. The shoot where Bruce goes into the basement, the bulb explodes, blood goes all over him, and the record player plays, Tom and I were both there for that. We set the gags for the blood, the exploding bulb, and animated the record player. Some of that sequence was also shot in Sam Raimi's parents’ basement too. In fact, in reality if you go to the cabin, the cellar was just a hole they dug in the ground about three or four feet deep, just deep enough so that we could put a cameraman in there. Bruce did a great job, when he's going in there he just does it perfectly, like "I'm walking down the steps here!", When I look at it now, it just looks like he's walking down the steps, and then it cuts to Marshall, with him in the cellar.
I was also there when Bruce goes drags his girlfriend out to bury her and lops off her head. There were later things like Bruce reaching into the mirror, and the animated foot infection spreading, I was there for the setup, but Tom did all of the animation. Part of it was they couldn't afford to have everybody around all the time; it was a pretty low-budget film.
Was there a specific reason you went down to Tennessee just for that period?
Really, that was as much as I could do. I was the old guy of the show, I think the next oldest was 24, I was 26 or 27 with a job, wife and two sons. I just couldn't get up and leave for weeks at a time. When I had that opportunity, I called them up and told them I was able to join them, and they were good enough to make sure that I wouldn't be wasted. I literally got down there, and I think I slept about four hours over those three days; we were just working all the time. We shot both during the day and the night. During the day they just blacked off the windows. It was a gruelling shoot. Tom who also was kind of out of it, still to this day he can't remember me being there, and we talked, we sat in the same room and discussed things. He was sleep deprived, he barely remembers it, but everyone was just so totally exhausted.
Sam next to Linda's grave during re-shoots (1980)
Filming Linda's decapitation during re-shoots (1980)
Was the sequence with Bruce killing Linda, shot on location or re-shot afterwards?
Oh, that one was shot all over the place! On location, in Marshall, Farmington Hills, I think there was one other location too. I remember that we had to do some work to make sure we could see the head floating through the air. We couldn't do the stuff with her coming out of the ground in Tennessee because the ground was frozen, that was a freezing night, so we shot it later in Marshall. I just remember Bruce standing up an eight foot ladder and jumping off and falling on his back, maybe ten or fifteen times, to this day I can't believe that he did that. Bruce always was just a gifted physical comedian, he did every single one of his own stunts, I don't think he does so much of it now though; it was easier to do when he was 20.
In fact there are only two people in that sequence, but there were probably twelve people used to make that sequence work. There was Ted Raimi, Cheryl Guttridge, Rob Tapert, and Rob Tapert sister playing her at different points, among others. The Tennessee shoot went way over by six weeks. Sam had the actors for just so long and, and it was hard for some of the actors, they were promised six weeks, and then asked to stay another six weeks. So they'd go home, rest up, recover their psychological well-being, and come back again, so it was, it was a tough shoot. The shoot was supposed to go through the summer, but went all the way into early January. Parts of the shooting were just torture, because it was so cold! Originally the idea was to shoot a lot more stuff there, but the ground was frozen solid, we couldn't dig a hole, we couldn't do things that we needed to. So we had to improvise, and then finish the film back in Michigan.
Because Tom and everyone else was so exhausted, I know they tried to keep people in the make-up for two or three days towards the end of location shooting. I expect you've heard someone mention the latex point? I've heard this from other actors, and experienced it myself, but if you are wearing heavy make-up for a long period of time, you have this effect which is kind of like claustrophobia, where you can go a little crazy! There's a point where you say "I have to tear this stuff off; I cannot stand it any more". I've seen more than one actor just flip out, tearing the make up off because they could not take it any longer. After that they'd usually need a couple of days off. Ultimately they all came through though. I can remember Tom smoked a lot of cannabis while we were doing the meltdown sequence, and there was one morning I got up and went to work, and my wife said she was worried about Tom; "we didn't have any milk this morning, so he ate his Captain Crunch with Coke instead of milk!".
Linda dummy rigged for decapitation (1980)
You worked together with Tom Sullivan on The Evil Dead, can you just explain each of your respective roles in the production?
The easiest way to divide it up, there's physical effects then there's photographic effects, which now is called digital effects. If it was just physical effect, such as an artwork or something which required sculpting, Tom took care of it, for instance a fake head or hand to be chopped off, Tom would make up that up, putting in the tubes and blood bags inside so that the blood would squirt out. I did any photographic effects, actually designing the frame, so which part is going to be live action and which is going to be animated. The part that probably shows the most of my work on the screen is the meltdown at the end of the film, I did other things within it but that was probably the masterpiece for me.
How did you and Tom come to the final concept for the meltdown sequence together?
I remember Tom and I were driving up Marshall Michigan to part of the reshoot on The Evil Dead. We were debating over the issue. We talked back and forth about what we were going for, and what we thought was going to be the most effective. My presentation was that I had two favourite meltdowns; Horror Of Dracula with Christopher Lee dying at the end, and The Time Machine where you see the Morlock in stop motion disintegrate to a skeleton. We were basically in agreement because both of us were animation fans, and had been in unalterably changed by seeing the original King Kong when we were young. Tom's favourite meltdown was the Morlock and he wanted to do the entire meltdown as stop motion. Now I love stop motion, but my argument was what was really working in movies at that time, was things that were really gooey, ugly, like really gross, it needed to be fluid, and you had to the ick or goo factor, you had to have that along with the stop motion. Movies like Dawn Of The Dead and Night Of The Living Dead had that ick factor.
The Time Machine; a dead Morlock
Disintegrating via stop-motion
Down to a skeleton (1960)
The other thing was that we wanted it to be dramatic. I did really like the stop motion disintegration in The Time Machine, but the thing that makes the meltdown in Horror Of Dracula so wonderful even though it's not that it's the greatest meltdown ever made, is that it's set in such a great dramatic context. I just wanted to make sure that we had a good dramatic build-up, and that the sequence itself was dramatic. I didn't want to just aim the camera something and then watch it disintegrate, I wanted a bunch of cuts. That wasn't hard for Tom because he loved that idea too. I think Tom was thinking that anyway, before we even started talking about that. He had a series of storyboards and sketches of what he liked, and I knew just from looking at those that there was no other way that we could do those, but in a series of very dynamic dramatic shots.
Horror Of Dracula; Christopher Lee
Disintegrating via live-action
Turning to dust (1958)
We spent a lot of time talking Sam into doing animation, which wasn't that hard, because I think Sam really loved stop motion animation, but at that time it was kind of expensive and time-consuming. So little while after going up for the Marshall shoot around April of 1980, we did a test animation sequence with a head made by Tom, where it disintegrated. This was a basic vertical 50/50 split screen shot with animation which we could turn in to Sam. We shot it using an old Bolex 16mm camera that did not have registration pins which accounts for a slight weave in the matte line. That test also pointed out the necessity of doing density and colour correction tests for the variable speed split screens and the necessity of the 16mm Mitchell camera with registration pins to keep the Mattes steady. Sam absolutely loved it, he wanted even want more! I think that test is on some of the The Evil Dead DVDs. Sam liking it actually made it harder for us, because we ended up actually doing even more complex shots. I think at the time, Tom wasn't quite sure what I was telling him, what I was trying to do, and wasn't sure we could do it. I'd be sitting there telling him about the difficulties of doing split screens at variable speeds, but until he saw the test footage, that was what sold him. I think he was afraid the animation might fall into the background, and changed his mind when he saw that the animation was in there, and that it worked with the goop.
Tom Sullivans' original meltdown sequence storyboards (1980)
When the guys got back from Tennessee, they put together an early rough cut of the film at about 2-1/2 hours long, but nobody would have liked it as it was, because they had filmed a number of temporary effects which they never intended to use, like bad fake meltdown effects, like now you would call animatics, really just so they would have something to cut into the film. It had no music, no effects, and barely had any dialogue in it. We were shown it so we knew sort of what dramatic impact we were building to, and to show us what we needed to fill in. They also brought the cabin door and a section of the floor for us to use in the meltdown. They also give us all of the costumes too. Then Tom drew a full set of storyboards for the meltdown sequence, which were a combination of the things we were talking about. We took Sam through the storyboards to show him what we had in mind, but we weren't sure up to that point if that would make him happy not. Sam basically he said "I have to pay off what I promised, throughout the entire movie", and you can't just make a film like this and not payoff with a gory end, "all we want is the greatest meltdown that's ever been done!"
Many of the shots in the sequence are a complicated mix of stop motion and live action?
Yes, we wanted to do a combination of live action, and what's called a half frame animation. Half frame animation means that for every single frame of film you expose it twice, that gives you more of a blur, looking smoother and less animated looking. This meant for every second of film, we had to do 48 separate exposures. We combined that with split screens, matting off portions of the frame so that we could have goop and bugs coming out in live action.
Normally you'd try and film everything in a split screen at the same speed, if you're filming one section in stop motion, one at a slow speed, one regular, and one at high speed, that means you have to adjust, not only exposure, but colour correction for each split screen. We had to do everything in the camera because we really didn't have the freedom or the budget to do the optical effects, and post production computer digital effects didn't even exist at that point. So each shot was being exposed twice, and mattes were used to add live action into the same frame. So for example when the demon fists are punching out of both bodies, we also had the heads disintegrating in stop motion. Most of those shots in the meltdown sequence had to be exposed three times, sometimes as many as four or five times, between half frame animation and mattes in the same frame. In addition we couldn't completely control where the goop was trying to flow, but did to do things like tilting the table so that it would flow away from the matte line.
Tom animating, with a black card for controlling light & shadow for Tim Philo (1980)
I understood photographic and optical effects, but the part that I was doing required a great deal of technical knowledge and understanding, an understanding of how film emulsions respond. So each time we did anything, we had to film exposure and density tests depending on the speed at which we were shooting, which was usually every day, in order to shoot the film that night and make sure everything would work. I worked as the night manager for a film lab at that time, called Producers Color Service. That meant I could develop film myself on the sly for free while other things were running through, otherwise it would have been too expensive for us to do the number of tests that that we did. That was one of the ways we managed to do things so inexpensively, and made it possible for us to do something that was much more sophisticated than we would have been able to do otherwise.
Ellen melting down via stop-motion animation (1980)
A promo photo of Scotty's meltdown (1980)
So then you and Tom started work on the sequence itself?
Well Tom started sculpting the clay pieces. I particularly loved the sculpture of Ellen when she's melting down, that's just a beautiful sculpture. He made the clay muscles, not only the flesh on the top but the muscles underneath so that when the flesh peeled away, you had muscles underneath, I thought that was wonderful. You can't imagine the detail, I was really impressed at the effort that he put in. I have done make-up and models before, and I know something about sculpting, but to have to sculpt flesh over the top of the muscles and still have it look believable, it really takes dedication.
Tom constructing a clay head for the meltdown (1980)
Clay muscles sculpted on a skull (1980)
A wooden armature for stop-motion articulation (1980)
Tom and I both animated, we had to, because at 48 frames for every second of film it was very time consuming. Of course we also shot Bruce in live-action, in my basement which could be edited together with the rest of our footage. We couldn't afford to make any mistakes, everything had to be done correctly for each of the 3 to 5 passes for each shot, and if we got anything wrong, we have had to do it over again. Luckily we never got anything wrong, but we were very careful. Tom in fact was recently commenting to me that he was amazed it worked out so well, that you don't see a bunch of flaws in the split screens, the animation, or flicker frames. But I'm proud of it. It was an extremely sophisticated sequence for the time. Nobody had ever done anything like that. Tom was a great partner too, he was like a big kid, he just loved anything to do with animation.
My brother-in-law, worked at a 7-Eleven convenience store. He had a video security camera which could tape one hour at a time. This was before VCRs, so in order to also be able to control split screens and match time, frame and film, I borrowed his security camera. We would aim this video camera at a scene, but we would be able to see the frame counter on screen and a clock in the larger frame background, and I would also count the seconds aloud, so they'd be recorded on the tape too. This would give us a recording which would show us exactly where actions happened. Then we rewound the 16mm film to re-expose the next portion of the split screen, and we would playback the video camera footage for the next portion, so we had the exact same timebase and verbal count as the previous one.
I'll give you an example, where you see the demon hands punching up through Scotty on the floor and throwing all the guts out, those were Tom's hands made up as demon hands. Tom would be sitting below, and he'd have his count list, counting up in seconds, and for each number there might be an action, so three; thrust your hands forward, five; bring your hands back, seven/eight; throw stuff out. It was like a sequence, and he had to follow the counts, because it had to match up with the other two or three portions of the split screen and look like they were all happening at the same time. It's actually very exacting, you have to have the exposure, density, camera speed, and the timing right. I don't think even Tom believed it was possible, he loved the idea, but he didn't know whether it was possible until we did it the first time. Then he was really thrilled, becoming even more mad, and started redoing the storyboards and making them more difficult.
I'll tell you an idea that was Tom's, although I think originally the idea came from Sam Raimi, but he promoted it, was the shot of the disintegrating skull falling towards the screen. I remember came up as a result of us just sitting around having discussions. Tom said "we've got to have a King Kong shot", I asked what he meant, "you know the shot where Fay Wray is in the tree and the tree falls towards you, only that will be the head". So we did it, we mounted the head and the camera looking at it, on a length of wood. This was attached to a turning car jack, so we could make minute changes to the angle as we animated the head. That was shot in my garage, but luckily my garage roof looked a lot like the cabin's. The next shot with the head exploding towards you, we literally had to turn the entire piece of floor upside down. The skull was fixed together with bunch of goop inside of it. That whole shot was done upside down so with the help of gravity, everything would come flying out towards the camera. So we slammed it in, and filmed it that high-speed, and that worked really well.
We spent about three months on and off around June & July of 1980, shooting that sequence. We had to stop sometimes because we'd have to go and make some money, we were working for almost nothing. I was working full-time that entire period, so I would work eight or ten hours, and then come back, and work on the sequence. While I was at work, Tom would be making up the heads of the mockups. It was incredibly time-consuming, and we were exhausted a lot of the time. Although we really did have a great time, we were constantly arguing over what was the best shot. I actually loved Sam's camera work, and we copied his style as much as we could. We also had Tim Philo there, he'd done the original cinematography for The Evil Dead so he was familiar with the lighting setups, which made it easier to match all the lighting. I also designed and worked with Tim Philo on a couple of matt shots of the moon. We used a slide projector to project close-up still shots we had taken of the moon on to a screen. We then placed a tank of water between the screen and the camera. In order to achieve the ominous cloud effects we squirted a variety of gray, black, white, or blue paints into the water to create the clouds over the moon. That was later optically combined with live-action shots of Ellen walking in the woods.
Shooting the 'King Kong shot'; animating Ellen's final moments (1980)
Obviously Tom was good enough to have sculpted the meltdown characters as ultra realistic, but he went for something slightly more stylised, why was the decision taken to go off in that direction?
That was Tom's decision, but we were always kind of riding between realistic and stylised. Even choosing to do animation has a style to it, it's a form of art. As Sam would say, this was a nightmare, so we wanted to make it look like a nightmare. When Bruce goes into the basement for the second time, it becomes a full nightmare, and you don't know whether he's gone insane. Like literally stepping off that bridge, and going into unreality.
Tom and I both come from an art background, I'll tell you where I think this comes from; King Kong 1933 is a piece of art. The jungle doesn't exist anywhere, it's an artistic nightmare, dark, multilayered, and sort of scary, and it's supposed to be. It's a fake reality, it's meant to be an artistic expression. If you look at Tom's artwork, he's very much an expressionist. His demons are ultra-real, like a step over the line, and I actually think he likes that better. He can just draw a normal picture of me, but he'd much rather draw a picture of me influenced by the sort of nightmare, that's Tom. I think the most realistic sculpture that he did was the first shot of Ellen in the meltdown sequence, with her hair falling off of her. That helps as it provides a bridge into the animation, you see the same face of the zombie Ellen, but she's animated, and it looks unreal.
Was there much that you shot for the sequence, that didn't end up in the finished film?
Initially the meltdown sequence was about two or three minutes long. That wasn't really edited together, it was just all the shots we did, put in sequence so that Sam could see what he had to edit into the final film. I don't know where that footage is, we turned it all over to Sam. I did later get together with Tim Philo, and edit together an actual meltdown sequence from that footage. I still have that version, that might have a few additional frames and a bit more live-action but it's very close to what's in the film. I pulled that out a few years ago and showed it at a convention so that people could see it. Eventually we will probably put that on one of the DVDs.
An early Book Of The Dead poster designed by Tom (1980)
I also have a few other things, like one of the earliest draft scripts of Book Of The Dead, that was something Sam gave to me he was trying to convince me to work on the meltdown. It's a bit different than what you have in the movie, and it's only about 40 pages long. It's got a different opening; they’re driving and stop at the gas station, then talk to an old guy who tells them about the cabin. It's far closer to Within The Woods, you can see the flavour of Within The Woods there. The later scripts seemed to departed a little bit more from Within The Woods as they went along. They did make the decision that Bruce was going to be the hero early on, rather than be the demon as he was in Within The Woods, and part of that was because Bruce didn't want to have to put on a bunch of make up. I haven't read it in a long time though. I think Sam always had the ideas in his head, but he didn't write everything that he wanted in the script, he kept some of it in his head, and added after the fact.
Bruce & Joanne Kruse in a promo photo from Within The Woods (1978)
The main thing we were really worried about, was that the censors would cut it all out. We were very worried that we would do all these very sophisticated things, and all this really immense gore, and have it cut down to one or two quick shots. I mean we wouldn't have been surprised by that, that also happened with big Hollywood movies too. They'd spend a lot of money on very extreme sequences and they would end up being cut out, or just two or three quick shots. We knew going in that we weren't going to get 'PG' rating, we were going to get an 'R', an extreme violence rating, or even an 'X', which is really what porno films get rated, but they would have been giving us an 'X' for violence. I give a huge amount of credit to Sam and Rob Tapert, because they really went for it. This is the movie they wanted to make, the movie that they wanted to see, but the rest of us were a lot more chicken about it.
It was incredibly dynamic for the time, It's been out-done it since then, the most impressive thing that I saw after I had done it was John Carpenter's The Thing, which was made right around the same time. Production wise, we were done with it by 1979, so it took a long time to get out there. In fact, because we were showing the film around, we were worried that people would copy what we had, before it got widely seen and then the audience would think that we were copying someone else, and that did happen.
There was some movie, I think it was called The Boogeyman, where they kind of copied our force in the woods thing. Then some of the filmmakers with larger budgets did start doing elaborate meltdowns, like Steven Spielberg, although he did a bunch of really good ones actually, I liked his. One of the things that you do when you're making a film is that you want to show somebody something for the first time. I remember being concerned thinking "by the time it gets out there, there's going to be a billion meltdowns sequences!
One of the big things missing from the meltdown sequence was the cockroaches and snakes, do you remember anything about that?
Oh yeah. We filmed a lot that which Sam could just could cut in as needed, but I think there's almost none of it left in the film. I think they made a good decision, they wanted it to be dramatic as possible. It was meant to be at the very end of the meltdown sequence when things are just falling, glooping and gloping, with the roaches skittering across, or have them croaking in the middle of this goop. Those shots were usually two live-action split screens, so they were less complex. I didn't have to do any tests in between because it was all the same speed, and live action, so we could shoot two or three of them in a night.
Ellen's meltdown, a shot of cockroaches & snakes (1980)
Scotty's meltdown, a shot of cockroaches & snakes (1980)
A friend of mine acted as a cockroach handler, he got the cockroaches from an etymologist at Michigan State University. Sam or Rob might have found him. He had all these roaches; there was this giant roach from South America, like two or three inches long. It would like to get up on its Back legs and hiss at you. We had this gas you could spray which would freeze the roaches, but not kill them; they just wouldn't be able to move. When you'd spray them with this stuff, they'd fall over and let kick like they were dying, but they weren't. We'd use that to control them, but we also had to put up a big plastic thing up high around it to keep them in. Eventually my wife found out that we were shooting massive amounts of roaches in her basement, and she didn't like that, so she insisted that we move the studio out to the garage.
In Cinefantastique Magazine (Vol. 23 No. 1 - August 1992), there is a quote; "...Bart Pierce came up with an ingenious system to manufacture home-made blood bags. Pierce used Saran wrap to cover Styrofoam cup, with fishing line attached to the construction staple, using a rubber band and string. With one of the bags attached to his own arm... Pierce inadvertently pulled the line and promptly stapled himself producing the real thing", do you remember anything about that?
I do remember that, in the meltdown sequence there is a shot where blood comes gushing out of a leg, and you hear like, gunshots. We didn't have any sophisticated exploding squibs, so I made some squibs myself. I took some monofilament fish line, and attached one end to two or three corrugated nails, those little barbs that you get to made to fix two pieces of wood together side-by-side. Then I took some plastic bags, filled them full of blood, and then put the barbs inside and sealed them up with rubber cement. Then we mounted that bag on the fake leg, and pre-scored the pants with a razor blade, so that the material would break easily. We filmed that in high speed, and I just yanked on the fish line, splitting open the bag of blood. One time I yanked it out a little hard, and the barbs flew out and stuck in me, and I was more careful after that first time!
One of Bart's homemade bloodbags exploding out of a fake leg (1980)
The recently released Blu-ray of The Evil Dead has a number of tweaks correcting little mistakes. What's your take on that?
I do, and I'll tell you in reference to something else. Right now I'm trying to find a lost sequence for the original 1933 King Kong. It's not something that I think should be put back into the film, but I do want to see the sequence and I think it exists. As long as someone doesn't destroy the original or stop access to it, I'm fine with the idea. I wouldn't mind if someone got rid of some of the flickers, film damage, and small flaws, and they actually did this in King Kong where they had a measuring device that they put next to the models that sometimes got photographed, they've gone back and digitally removed those. This was actually a Sarah York Schemp. We filmed part of her death scene in my basement with Rob Tapert's sister shemping for Sarah. I don't know why we had my 16mm print of King Kong running on the rear screen.
Rob Tapert's sister shemping for Shelly in Bart's basement, watching King Kong (1980)
On King Kong I actually enjoy watching the flaws. I have friends who also work in effects, it's actually fun to go back and figure out how someone did something back in 1933, when it was much harder to do. I like the idea that somebody improves and cleans up King Kong, there are people who won't watch it because they think it's just not a real movie, it's a puppet which looks fake. Whereas digital effects look real to them. I actually like the new remake. I really do. I think they did a really good job. Of the two I prefer the original. So I have actually thought about doing this, going back to The Evil Dead and actually improving it, making it look better. Now there is a way to go back and smooth out the animation, you can put blur into it, get rid of the flicker. All of those things are within the realm of improvement of digital technology.
Did you do any work on Evil Dead II or Army Of Darkness?
I just did some blue screen work on Evil Dead II, but I wasn't really available to work on it, much as I would have loved to. I shot a blue screen element for when the car goes into the vortex, which was about the only thing that I did. I know Tom had some stop motion stuff that he wanted to do really bad, but a lot of the stop motion for Evil Dead II fell by the wayside and didn't get done. Army Of Darkness, it was all creative input on the ideas, like where it was going, a lot on going into the past, the hero, the boomstick, but I didn't shoot anything on it.
Is there anyone else who worked on the trilogy which you're still regularly in contact with?
I talk to Sam once every couple of years, I actually talked to him about a month ago. I see Rob Tapert every few years too. I run into the girls occasionally, the ladies of The Evil Dead. That's mostly because they go to a lot of the same conventions as Tom, and I'll stop by and see him. I sign a few photographs too. Then we all go out and have dinner, hang out and catch up. Find out you how everything is going on in our lives. I talk to Bruce more than anybody else, we just happen to have been talking to a lot lately, because he's a huge fan of my son's film Deadheads.
Can you tell us a bit about Deadheads?
Yes, go to DeadheadsTheMovie.com to see the trailer it's a really good comedy horror film. If was to compare it to anything, the closest I can get to is Shaun Of The Dead. It's playing at the FrightFest film festival there in London at the end of August, and it's been sold already there for distribution. I think it's being marketed by the same company who did the Norwegian film Trollhunter. It's actually been sold in a large portion of Europe too.
I recommended to my sons that they make a horror film because that's the easiest way to introduce yourself, because comedy is not necessarily international, you go to different parts of the world and things aren't funny everywhere. I'm really curious how it will play in England, I know that American/English comedy is different. People refer to my sons, as the sons of The Evil Dead, because they are second-generation Evil Dead, they were born in the pits of the creation of The Evil Dead.
The Pierce brothers; a Deadheads 1-sheet US promo poster (2011)
Thank you very much for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us, and best wishes to yourself and your sons for Deadheads