Don't go anywhere, children, because the Murder Ride continues with someone I have known for many years now, horror icon Bill Moseley.
Bill is a regular guy. A family man with a sharp intellect and children of his own. He even looks like a regular citizen sitting at the booths of many horror conventions where he loves meeting his fans. But deep inside of Bill there is a dark side, and it stands out prominently on film. It burns itself in the cortex of horror fans like the X in his head in House Of 1,000 Corpses. He has been in countless horror films, loves and respects the genre, and is one of the kindest men you will ever meet. I first had Bill on my radio show a few years back in 2012, and the chat we had will forever be with me. I also spoke to his pals Sid Haig and the late and great Tom Towles. In short, I love the work of this man, and am proud to announce the ten year anniversary of one of the strangest, funniest, original horror films ever made, The Devil's Rejects.
Ladies and gentlemen, please turn off your Banjo & Sullivan, and please welcome into the Dungeon of Deadly Delights, Bill Moseley.
DODD: Bill, I cannot tell you what a pleasure it is speak to you again. Let's start. A few years ago, you were a guest on my radio show and we talked about how you started acting. Can you tell the readers how your journey began?
Bill: My acting journey began in third grade at the Countryside School in Barrington, Illinois, when I got cast as Diego, the son of the title role in Young Christopher Columbus. My one line was, “Bring me a heathen, father," and I was lead into the school gymnasium on a white Shetland pony. After that theatrical experience, it was only a matter of time before I landed parts like Choptop, Otis Driftwood and Luigi Largo.
DODD: Before you were an actor, were you a fan of horror, or was the genre something that you discovered a love for after working in it for so many years?
Bill: Always a horror fan! I risked life and limb as a boy to sneak into the library of our Chicagoland home right before midnight on Saturday nights to turn on the black and white Zenith TV and watch Shock Theater, the local horror movie show. I cut my teeth on movies like Last Man in the World, The Beginning of the End, which featured giant grasshoppers, House on Haunted Hill, Black Scorpion, the list goes on and on. Plus, my dad loved Halloween and always planned something to scare his three sons and their pals. So yes, always a horror fan.
DODD: You were a writer before you headed into acting, which I think is one of the most incredible things about you. Can you tell me a little about that, and do you miss any aspect of writing?
Bill: I was always a writer, still am. Won grade-school creative writing contests, and graduated from college with a BA in English. My first job out of school was head copywriter for a Boston, Massachusetts ad agency called Schmalenberger & Nargassans. Say that fives times fast! When I moved to New York City in 1978, I got a job as Editor-in-Chief of CB Bible Magazine, dedicated to the wide, weird world of CB Radio. When CB Bible was 10-7 (truckers' 10-code for off the air), I worked as a freelance writer for magazines like Omni, Psychology Today, National Lampoon, and Rolling Stone, contributing articles, interviews, and photo essays. Now, I mostly write song lyrics and screenplays.
DODD: That always impressed me the most about you. man. Of course we as horror fans know you as Chop Top from fan favorite Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. What do you think resonates with fans when it comes to that character, and what did you reference to create the crazy Sawyer member we all know and love?
Bill: Choptop is ninety-nine percent inspired by Ed Neal's crazy turn in the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre as the Hitchhiker. The movie itself scared the hell out of me when I caught it in Boston in a combat zone theater back in 1976, but Ed's performance really blew my mind. Not only was he loopy and laughable, when he cut open his hand with a straight razor just to get some sympathy from a van-load of hippies. Well, I'd never seen anything like it in movies or in life. Playing his twin brother was fun and easy, thanks to Ed blazing the trail. I was so excited to get the job, and so excited to be a part of the Sawyer family, that I was always happy in my work. Plus the dialogue given to me by director Tobe Hooper and writer Kit Carson was a real hoot to spew! I mean, who wouldn't have fun saying things like, "Dog will hunt", or "It's like Death eatin' a cracker?” I was so into character that I contributed "Lick my plate, you dog dick!"
DODD: This is very true! (Laughs)
Bill: I became pals with Night Of The Living Dead remake director Tom Savini on the set of TCM 2, back when he was merely the King of Splatter. When George Romero gave Tom the job of directing the color remake, Tom sent me a copy of the script, and told me to pick any character. I wanted to play Harry, the coward in the basement, because Harry had the most lines, and therefore, so I figured, the biggest paycheck. When I told Tom that, he amended his offer, "Pick any character, just make sure it's Johnny!" After my grumbling subsided, I set to work studying Boris Karloff movies to get the right accent for Johnny's classic, "They're coming to get you, Barbara." I settled on "Die, Monster, Die!", watched it a few times until the line rolled off my tongue. When we were on the set (a rural Pennsylvania graveyard), I ad-libbed, "They're horny, Barbara. They've been dead a long time." Tom and George both liked it, so it stayed in the movie.
DODD: And pure legendary dialogue was born. (Laughs) After Chainsaw 2, you had acted in a few roles, but as I read you were not able to receive a break after playing ‘Top. What was that time like for you as a professional and did you feel that it was difficult to keep going?
Bill: My expectations were high after the success of Chainsaw 2. I packed up my then-pregnant girlfriend and moved from New York City to Los Angeles, the actor's version of The Beverly Hillbillies. I got an agent, had enthusiasm, but I ran into the buzz-saw of reality trying to make it in Hollywood: one thousand actors for every part, auditions, the crushing load of rejections. I did get parts in movies like Pink Cadillac with Clint Eastwood and Disney's White Fang. But for the most part, it was scratch-and-scrape until I got re-discovered by Rob Zombie in October 1999.
DODD: How did you get sucked into the world of Rob Zombie and House Of 1,000 Corpses? Was he familiar with your work, or was Otis a role that you auditioned for?
Bill: I met Rob when I emceed a Universal Studios Horror Awards Show dressed and made up as Choptop. Rob was shocked when he came on stage and got handed his little demon statue by the real guy. We talked after the show, and a month later, Rob's manager, the irrepressible Andy Gould, called me at home and asked if I'd like to play a character named Otis Driftwood in a Universal movie. Rob was going to make called House of 1000 Corpses. Uh, I said "You betcha!"
DODD: Did you expect Otis to become another fan-favorite, considering he is a sexist, pedophile murdering rapist, in retrospect? Because I absolutely love the character, and I know I shouldn't cheer for him, but I do.
Bill: Otis is one sexy, fucked-up beast. "Sexist," "pedophile," "rapist," aren't necessarily adjectives I'd attach to a 70's horror character, but everyone has their own filter, Rob, and if you want to impose your point of view, be my guest. Just don't do it when Otis is sharpening his blade. (Laughs)
DODD: (Laughs) I am so honored to be torn apart by you. (Laughs again) And you returned to the character in the amazing sequel, The Devil's Rejects. How grueling was playing Otis in that run-and-gun scenario? I mean you are running, shooting, fighting, and you can practically see the sweat coming off of every scene, so what was it like?
Bill: The Devil's Rejects was shot in thirty days, so there was plenty of running and gunning, and lots of sweating out there in the summer of 2005 in desert-like Lancaster, California. I actually appreciated having to work so hard because the schedule never gave me time to lose character. The difference between Otis in House vs. Otis in Rejects was simply that I found Otis in the first film, and took him for a spin in the second. For me, I don't always get the character by the time shooting starts. I like to read the script a few times, try to show up with my lines, as prepared as I can be. In my line of work, sometimes I get flown in the day before I shoot a movie, don't get to meet the cast or even the director until I'm on the set ready to rumble. No rehearsals, just go for it. With House, I felt I got Otis a few weeks after we wrapped when Rob shot the Run Rabbit Run scene as an add-on. But, baby, when we did Rejects, Otis hit the ground running.
DODD: Most definitely. Not to bring down the conversation, but we lost lost two incredible character actors and favorites in the genre, Tom Towles who was another industry friend, and Geoffrey Lewis whom I never had the pleasure of speaking to. What was it like working with these men, and do you have any great stories you will always remember about them?
Bill: I loved Tommy Towles, worked with him on Savini's Night of the Living Dead, Adam Wingard's Homesick, and Rob Zombie's House of 1000 Corpses, The Devil's Rejects, Werewolf Women of the SS, and Halloween. In fact, come to think of it, I suggested Tommy to Rob when Rob was casting House of 1000 Corpses. The casting people couldn’t find Tommy, so I looked up his number in the phone book. Just shows to go you. Tommy and I also hit the horror convention circuit, and I always enjoyed his wit, wisdom and especially his humor. He'll be missed in my household. I worked twice with Geoffrey Lewis, and both times I beat him up, and killed him in Rejects. First time was in Clint Eastwood's Pink Cadillac. I love Geoffrey's acting, but, man, you should hear his spoken word music CDs.
DODD: I will definitely check those out, and Tommy really was a great guy and a hell of an actor, i'll miss him a lot. For one of my absolute favorite and unsung films Grindhouse, you were in the fake trailer for Rob Zombie's Werewolf Women Of The SS. Was there ever a chance that an actual film would see light that you were aware of, and did you get a chance to chat with Nicolas Cage? I had to ask because I heard so many great and strange stories about talking with him.
Bill: I was onboard Werewolf Women of the SS for a day or two, and didn't have much contact with Nic Cage. His chauffeur gave me the fish eye when I accidentally got too close to Mr. Cage's fifteen hundred thousand dollar Maybach car, and when I introduced myself to Nick in the hair and makeup trailer, he maybe nodded and grunted hello.
DODD: Oh, wow. That's crazy. You have also been a musician for quite some time, also doing voiceover work for other bands along with performing with the Corn Bugs. But I had read that you are going to be collaborating with one of metal's most legendary vocalists, Pantera and Down's Phil Anselmo. I am so excited even hearing anything about this project, can you say anything about it?
Bill: My collaboration with Phil Anselmo is called Phil & Bill. I can't say much more about it, other than it was a blast to work with him down in his home state of Louisiana back in March, and Phil says the fans will love what we did.
DODD: I can't wait for this. You have so much coming up in horror that it is hard to pick out one to chat about, so I am going to give you the choice. What is the film project that you are most pumped about, and why do you feel so passionate about it?
Bill: I did a movie several years ago with my buddy Kane Hodder, of course Jason in a movie called Old 37,?wherein we play brothers who drive around in a beat-up ambulance, listen to the police scanner and show up at accident sites before the real ambulance. I can't tell you what we do, but suffice it to say, we do have a wood chipper in back of Old 37. Kane and I also teamed up for an Aussie slasher movie called Charlie's Farm, starring Tara Reid of Sharknado fame, and written and directed by Christopher Sun. I've seen both movies, and I think they'll be some real crispy treats for the horror fans.
DODD: Of course I have to ask, what is Bill Moseley listening to and watching in the genre these days?
Bill: Lately I've been listening to a lot of bluegrass in the car on Sirius XM Radio. At home I just got a new tape player, so I'm dusting off some of my old mix tapes featuring The Doors, Zeppelin and a lot of Captain Beefheart. Last night for dinner I forced my family to listen to Dr. John's Greatest Hits, and they enjoyed it. And I just ordered Anvil's Greatest Hits from Amazon. Of course, I love all things Anselmo and the great Australian band King Parrot. Oh, and Rest In Peace, Oderus Urungus.
DODD: What is it about horror that you still love, and what advice would you have for someone attempting to break into the genre in this different day and age?
Bill: Best advice I can give to the horror actor looking to break into the genre is take any job you can get, and make it real. But don't hurt your fellow actors.
DODD: Great and simple advice, my friend. And my final question is a weird one. But let's say that your psyche breaks into different people, and you are in a situation where you have Choptop and Otis on the edge of a cliff, and you only get to save one. Who do you save, and why?
Bill: Great question! But reality's hard enough for me without having to go all hypothetical. I wish the best for them both.
DODD: As do we all. (Laughs) Bill, thank you. Cannot wait for everything you have coming up.
Bill: Anytime, and remember, "This better be some Mark Twain shit" when it releases. Talk soon.
Well, there goes one of the greatest horror maniacs in the genre, and I was proud to have him in my Home Sweet Hell.
Well, there you go. Now, it is time for you to go to so that I may slumber until our next guest.
That's all for now. If you want to contact me, you can send your bloody love to my email which is firstname.lastname@example.org, or Rob DiLauro on Facebook, I WILL check them and respond, personally. And no more human heads in my mail, I have enough, okay? Watch Dungeon of Deadly Delights on the official HorrorWeb YouTube every week streaming Sunday at 8 p.m. eastern/5 p.m. pacific.
Well, that's it. Farewell my horror loving friends. remember. "The only thing that can impale your dreams is your own negativity". NEVER give up and follow your nightmares!
And for now, the casket is closed. Scare ya, later.