Oh, the Horror! recently conducted an exclusive interview with Trent Haaga, who has been kicking around in our fine genre for over a decade. He started off in Tromaville, where he could be found both in front of the camera and behind it. Since then, he's had a steady career on the independent horror scene; he was recently seen in Bonnie and Clyde vs. Dracula , where he starred as one half the legendary outlaw duo alongside scream queen Tiffany Shepis. During our recent chat, Haaga discussed his upbringing in the genre, its current state, and even dished out some info on his upcoming directorial debut.
Interview by: Brett G.
Oh, The Horror!: Most of your output has been horror-related—so, just how far back do you go with the genre, and what were some of the films that made you embrace it?
Trent Haaga: I've been heavily into horror stuff since I was a little kid. I don't know exactly what bent me that way, but it's been like that since I can remember. Some of my earliest memories are of going to the drive-in with my parents and seeing the Ray Harryhausen Sinbad movies. I also grew up in the time period before VCRs were invented, so a lot of the movies that I loved were the kind of things that played on local TV stations late at night - The Thing With Two Heads, Burnt Offerings, Dark Night of the Scarecrow, Gargoyles, etc.
OTH: It seems like few people (especially guys) these days embrace horror—we still have some new scream queens, but it seems like we have a lack of iconic guys in horror. The days of Cushing, Lee, Price, and even Englund seem long gone. Your thoughts?
TH: I suppose that you could look at the Usual Convention Suspects - the Kane Hodders, the Tony Todds, the Bill Moseleys, etc. as new scream kings ... but none of those guys are as classy as Price, Lee, et al (sorry, guys - I'm sure you're all cool dudes, but Price was a classy SOB!) ... The older ones were just regular actors that eventually came to embrace their horror pedigree after decades of work ... Maybe the newer guys will seem more like Price and Lee in another decade or so ... I don't know ... When I was a kid, being into horror was kind of like being a band nerd or a D&D player. It was a different scene. Now it's all Hot Topic and "my girlfriend is a tattooed pin-up model - check out my spiked Dawn of the Dead belt." I feel like I'm rambling here, but I guess my point is that the whole "horror scene" has somewhat cheapened the idea of Scream Queens, Scream Kings, and even the genre itself, in my opinion.
OTH: Would it be okay with you if you’re ultimately remembered for horror work?
LK: As long as I'm remembered, I'm cool ... but I'd love to not just be remembered as a "horror" guy ... I feel that I've got a lot more in me than that. I'll never get away from dealing with the darker side of human nature - that's what I'm interested in. But it could be in the form of a thriller or a crime story, or a dark comedy.
OTH: Michael Bay's "legendary" Transformers?
TH: Yes! I said to my wife that she was investing in Transformers Part 6. Don't let it out that her retirement money has gone down the drain. So, when she made me cut out my balls out of the movie, she also made us cut out the big fat guy [Joe Fleishaker]'s shit coming out of his ass. That's why those censored marks are there, my wife insisted on it.
OTH: What was your experience like working at Troma?
TH: Those crazy documentaries on the DVDs about making the movies only scratch the surface of how insane it is to work with Troma ... but insane in the best way. Troma is a great company in that you can walk off the street and they'll give you as much responsibility as you're willing to take on. It was like the best, and wackiest, film school that I could have ever gone to!
OTH: I actually spoke to Lloyd Kaufman earlier in the week, and said it’s harder than ever to get a movie distributed these days—do you agree?
TH: I don't know if I agree with that statement completely. I think that with all of the new formats and high-speed internet and streaming and VOD it's not too hard to get distributed these days ... it's MAKING MONEY through distribution that's damn near impossible. There are lots of companies out there that will take your movie, just very few that will give you money for it!
OTH: Lloyd says they’re still looking for a good script for Toxie V—have you been involved at all?.
TH: I'm not involved at all. I already had the opportunity to write a Toxic Avenger movie - time to let a new writer tackle it!
OTH: . Is it a yearly tradition in the Haaga household to watch Easter Bunny, Kill Kill? That was a pretty demented flick.
LK: Thanks, man. I used to watch My Bloody Valentine (the original) every year on Valentine's Day. Maybe EBKK should be my new annual holiday view ... Although, to tell the honest truth, I'm not really into watching my own movies ... I was there the whole time and I already know what happens!
OTH: Bonnie and Clyde vs. Dracula was pretty fun—how familiar were you with Arthur Penn’s Bonnie and Clyde, and did Warren Beatty’s performance influence you at all?
TH: I have to admit that I've never watched Penn's movie in its entirety, so Beatty's performance didn't factor in at all. I played this Clyde as he was written - as kind of a whipped wanna-be tough guy. Don't think that's the approach Beatty took ...
OTH: You’ve been working on your first film as a director, Chop. Tell us about that one.
TH: It's a gruesome comedy and it's been done for a few months now. We screened it at the Boston Underground Film Festival last week where it won the "Director's Choice" Award. I'm closing in on a North American distribution deal as we speak, so hopefully everyone will have an opportunity to see it this year ...
OTH: What’s your favorite movie that you’ve worked on?
LK: My favorite movie that I worked on would have to be Deadgirl. But the best time I ever had on a film set would have to be Terror Firmer.
OTH: Once again, thanks for your time, and we look forward to your projects in the future!
LK: Thanks very much! I'll keep making movies as long as people keep watching them!
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