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Horror Channel FrightFest: Todd Tucker – The Terror of Hallows Eve interview

We discuss all things Halloween with the writer-director of the horror festival hit.

The Terror of Hallows Eve
Credit: Illusion Industries

One of the undoubted highlights of Horror Channel FrightFest this year was Todd Tucker’s brilliant homage to classic 70s and 80s horror; The Terror of Hallows Eve.

Check out our review of The Terror of Hallows Eve

Check out all our coverage & reviews from Horror Channel FrightFest 2017

Todd Tucker is one of the most innovative special effects makeup artist and creature creators in the industry with over 100 film and television credits. He became a SAG actor and started playing over a dozen of his own creations for the series Charmed. He’s acting / puppeteering include Blade, That’s So Raven, Wizards of Waverly Place, Van Helsing and The Passion of the Christ.

Todd and his makeup team were nominated for best makeup at the makeup union awards, for Nickelodeon’s The Thundermans. He is also a celebrity judge on the 2017 season of Halloween Wars, on the Food Network. In 2011 his film Monster Mutt won Best Comedy at the International Family Film Festival.

In 2010 Founders Todd Tucker and Ronald L. Halvas launched Illusion Industries Inc., a full service special effects makeup company, specializing in design, prosthetic makeup, creatures, puppets, and specialty costumes. The company is highly respected as one of the top effects creators and now production company. Credits include: Smurfs 1 & 2, GI Joe Retaliation, The Ice Man, Fright Night 2, Jack Reacher 2, Ouija: Origin of Evil, and Geostorm.

We chatted to Todd about all things horror in promotion for The Terror of Hallows Eve, playing at Horror Channel FrightFest 2017.

The Terror of Hallows Eve

Credit: Illusion Industries

First off Todd, congratulations on The Terror of Hallows Eve. Where did the idea for the project first stem from?

The first 30 minutes are based on true events that happened to me as a kid. The rest of the film is a homage to all the great horror films of the early 80’s that inspired me to become a director. I truly wanted to create something that felt familiar and new at the same time.

What kind of research do you have to do before filming starts on a production like this?

For The Terror Of Hallow’s Eve it was easy because the blueprint for the film was the memories of my childhood. Then when it came to the dark fantasy/horror part of the film, I simply referenced my favourite 80’s films like John Carpenters ‘Halloween’ and Wes Cravens ‘Nightmare On Elm Street’. I figured that if I even got close to the vibe of those films, I would be happy and hopefully so would the horror fans.

Is there room for much improvisation during scenes or do you have a clear vision for how a scene should play out?

For this film I had a very clear vision of what I wanted to make. There are always interesting challenges when making a movie filled with an army of creatures and puppets, but fortunately my crew and performers were so amazing that we were able to shoot the entire film in 20 days with all practical creatures. We did have around 100 visual effects shots, but most of them were used to enhance some of the elements of the practical FX.

The Terror of Hallows Eve

Credit: Illusion Industries

What was it like working with genre favourites Sarah Lancaster, Christian Kane, Juliet Landau and Eric Roberts?

My cast was amazing. I worked with Juliet Landau 7 years ago on my family film ‘Monster Mutt’ and we became good friends. Juliet is a co-producer on the film and put me in contact with Eric Roberts and Christian Kane, who were both a pleasure to work with. I met with Sarah Lancaster and was instantly sold on her playing the mom in the film. We were also lucky enough to get the world’s greatest creature performer and my friend, Doug Jones, to play the Trickster and the Scarecrow.

How did you first get involved in the effects and make-up industry?

I started working as a special effects make up artist in Hollywood in 1990. My first big film was Steven Spielberg’s ‘Hook’. I was a huge fan, so it was a dream come true. I have been fortunate enough to work on over 100 different studio films and television shows to date. Being an FX artist and creature performer has been helpful to me as a director because I understand how to inspire my actors and get the most out of the character they are playing.

The Terror of Hallows Eve

Credit: Illusion Industries

You’ve worked on many big budget projects like Pirates of the Caribbean, Passion of the Christ and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Do you prefer those gigs or working on a smaller productions like The Terror of Hallows Eve?

Working on big studio movies is always exciting, but writing and directing my own content is the most inspiring thing I’ve ever done. The process of creating the story idea, then putting all the pieces together and seeing your idea come to life, is an absolute thrill. The moment you present your film to an audience can be scary as hell, but their reaction makes it totally worth what it took to get the film done.

Talk us through the creation of Illusion Industries and what you bring to the table?

I started Illusion Industries about 7 years ago. My team and I have been very fortunate to work on some great films like Smurfs 1 and 2, GI JOE Retaliation and Ouiji Origins of Evil. We wanted to make The Terror Of Hallow’s Eve a film filled with creatures that the fans would fall in love with.

Who are your biggest career influences?

My two biggest influences as a director are John Carpenter and Steven Spielberg. As a kid, I would spend entire weekends at the movies watching my favourite horror movies over and over. Horror movies were my escape from the real world.

The Terror of Hallows Eve

Credit: Illusion Industries

What were the biggest challenges working on this film from a technical standpoint?

We used all practical characters, including a cast of puppets. A lot of the puppets were shot against green screen to achieve some of their movements, so the shoot days had to be carefully planned out so that there was no time wasted once we got on set.

Do you have a particular favourite scene from the film?

I love the scene when the lead character Timmy, played by Caleb Thomas, first meets The Trickster played by Doug Jones. The music for the scene is our featured music by John Carpenter and gives the film the true feeling a 80’s vibe.

Do you have a favourite horror movie?

The movie Halloween scared me so bad as a kid, it is the absolute reason I became the horror fan I am today.

Many believe that we are in a golden age of TV, and that it’s overtaking Film. What do you think?

The higher budgets on some of the more recent television shows have noticeably upgraded the quality. For me, I still prefer to go to the movie theatres where there are no distractions and you can fully immerse yourself into the movie you are watching.

The Terror of Hallows Eve

Credit: Illusion Industries

Did you find it hard to break into the industry?  Does today’s technology make that easier or harder do you think?

I started working in Hollywood as a FX make up artist in the early 90’s. I was very lucky to start working at a company that was doing major studio films. CG has become such a huge part of film making that it created new jobs but took a lot of work away from practical FX. As of recently, a number of director and studio heads are turning back to practical FX within the last couple years, thank God.

Can you tell us about your upcoming projects?

We have a new creature driven television series that we a talking to different studios about. I am also starting to write the sequel for ‘The Terror Of Hallow’s Eve 2.’

And finally…how will you be celebrating Halloween this year?

For this Halloween, my family and I are going to see John Carpenter perform his music live in concert. I can’t think of a better way to spend my favourite day of the year.

 

The Terror of Hallows Eve is playing at Horror Channel FrightFest 2017 and will be released later in the year.

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