Over the past three decades, Barbara Crampton has established herself as an icon in the horror genre. With films like ‘Re-Animator,’ ‘From Beyond,’ ‘Castle Freak,’ and ‘Chopping Mall,’ she was more than your average Scream Queen. With each passing year, she has continued to challenge herself and audiences with complicated characters as she continues to grow at her craft. Her latest project, Ted Geoghegan’s ‘We Are Still Here,’ is no exception to that rule.
The story focuses on Anne and Paul Sacchetti (Barbara Crampton and Andrew Sensenig). After the death of their college age son, the couple relocates to the snowswept New England hamlet of Aylesbury, a sleepy village where all is most certainly not as it seems. When strange sounds and eerie feelings convince Anne that her son’s spirit is still with them, they invite an eccentric, New Age couple (Larry Fessenden and Lisa Marie) to help them get to the bottom of the mystery. They discover that not only are the house’s first residents, the vengeful Dagmar family, still there – but so is an ancient power. A primal darkness slumbers under the old home, waking up every thirty years and demanding the fresh blood of a new family.An altogether new take on the haunted house genre that deftly mixes human drama and comedy, ‘We Are Still Here’ is a couple’s terrifying journey through darkness and loss set against the freezing New England winter.
Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently sat down for a quick chat with Barbara Crampton to discuss her amazing journey in the film industry, the challenges she has faced along the way, her latest collaboration with director Ted Geoghegan on ‘We Are Still Here’ and what the future may hold for her.
What made you take the plunge and pursue a career in the entertainment industry?
I think all children love the art of pretend and play acting. I would say, at different times, both of my children have said to me, “I want to be an actor.” It is exciting, it is fun and it is a chance to put yourself into someone else’s shoes and to perhaps understand why people do what they do. I never got over it! [laughs] I kept saying to my mother and father, “I really want to be an actress!” I think they thought at some point I would change my mind and veer into another possibility, as my children have. I never did! I just kept saying that I loved acting and I loved watching the Million Dollar Movie after coming home from school. I loved watching Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins. Those were some of my favorites ladies that I grew up watching in the old 1940s movies. I really like to understand the psychology of people and their desires and fears. I also think it helps me to be a sane person to understand why people do the things they do! [laughs] I love to create characters, justify their actions and try to understand them. It is both a fun and informative way to live, living vicariously through other people to figure them out and understand them.
Obviously, you have an impressive body of work behind you. You also continue to expand with amazing new roles with each passing year. What is the secret to your success and longevity?
I have heard other people say this before and I will say it. Everything that has happened to me has been a surprise. I feel when I try to go out for different roles or try to do certain things in my career, nothing ever happens the way I think it is going to happen. Everything that happens to me and every role that I have ever gotten or characters I have played in movies that people remember me for are always projects that have come to me out of the blue. The roles I try to get that I don’t fall away and go to somebody else. Everything I have done has come up at a moments notice! When I did “Re-Animator,” another girl was originally cast in that part. We were all quite young at that point and her mother read the script and said, “No. You can’t do this! This movie is outrageous! It is too provocative for you and you aren’t going to do it.” [laughs] I got the part only a few weeks before we began filming. “From Beyond,” obviously, I did because I was able to continue to work with Stuart Gordon. I took a little hiatus for about six to eight years and came back to my career with “You’re Next.” I got a call, out of the blue, 10 days before they were to start filming. They offered me the part. I didn’t have to meet with Simon Barrett or Adam Wingard or talk with the producers. They just offered me the role! That really brought me back to my career in a big way. Until that point, I thought I was completely done with my career and had moved on to take care of my family. Things just happen to me out of the blue! Then I met Ted Geoghegan while we were doing “You’re Next,” where he was handling some of the publicity for the film. Out of the blue, a few years later, he said to me, “I want you to do this movie.” I feel like everything that has happened to me has spontaneously and I didn’t realize the impact it would have on me over time. I would say it is out of my hands but I don’t know! [laughs]
I spoke with director Ted Geoghegan and he was singing the praises of yourself and the entire cast of “We Are Still Here.” This film, as you know, is his directorial debut. Being a seasoned veteran of the film industry, what did he bring to the table as a director?
I can’t say enough nice things about Ted! I completely adore this man! First of all, he has an encyclopedic knowledge of film. I don’t think there is a movie he hasn’t seen or doesn’t know something about! He is a walking sphere of knowledge when it comes to film. He has a sensibility about what people like to see on the screen. That comes from his background as a publicist. He has been working as a publicist for over 10 years. I don’t know too many people who have been a publicist who have gone into filmmaking. He has been a filmmaker alongside being a publicist and he is quite a prolific screenwriter as well, so he is very deeply embedded in the system. I think he has an outsider view of what people are interested in, as well as an insider view. I think that is probably what he brings to the table as a first time director. Also, working with him was pure joy because I have known him for a few years now and he is a very gentle director, although he is very specific about what he wants. He created an atmosphere on the set of complete ease and comfortability. He created a space where the actors could voice any concerns or possibilities about how the characters could be played. The people on set, from the cinematographer to the special effects crew, would throw in their ideas about how they thought the scenes should go. Ted would take all of that very easily and then tell us exactly what he wanted. He had complete command on the set but was also very generous and collaborative in working with us. I would say it is one of the nicest experiences I have ever had working on a set!
What is the biggest lesson we can take away from the life and times of Barbara Crampton to date?
I would say learn a little bit about everything. When you are working on a movie or telling a story about why people do the things they do, the hows and what of it, you need to know about life. You need to go out and live your life and not be tunnel visioned about trying to just be in the entertainment business. Try to live your life and learn a little bit about every subject in life, be it math, science, nature or whatever. Don’t just try and pigeon-hole yourself into the business of making a movie. Learn about life!
Any chance we may get to learn more about your life in the form of an autobiography? Any interest there?
That is an interesting question! I have thought about it from time to time. A few people have talked to me about doing that as well. I hope that I have a lot more life to live, so if that is something I am going to visit, it might be in 20 years!
That is a great way to look at it! We will certainly stay tuned for you continuing adventures and wish you all the best!
Thank you, Jason! Take care!