A Chat with Tony Todd (“Hatchet II”)

Tony Todd is often unjustly considered to be just a horror actor, but one only needs to take a look at his filmography to see that he’s working in countless genres. Indeed, his television work alone has found him bouncing from sci-fi (“Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”) to comedy (“Chuck”) to action (“24”). Mind you, we’re probably not doing a whole lot to change that whole he-only-does-horror-movies perception by talking to him about his work as Reverend Zombie in the “Hatchet” franchise – “Hatchet 2,” by the way, is now available on DVD – but we did at least make a point of trying to ask him about as many different roles as possible. We did not, however, say the name of his most famous film five times in front of a mirror. (We’re not crazy).

Bullz-Eye: How are you?

Tony Todd: Good, good. Just going through the day.

BE: I can imagine. I’m sure they keep you busy. A tight schedule.

TT: It’s really weird when they give you someone for 15 minutes, then the next person, “You’ve got 15 minutes…” It’s like speed interviewing. (Laughs) But I guess it’s a necessary part of it. Where are you calling from?

BE: Norfolk, Virginia.

TT: Norfolk, okay. I just did a movie down in Petersburg, Virginia.

BE: Not too far away from here.

TT: It was great. Some of my best work I think I’ve done in a horror film.

BE: Which movie was that?

TT: It was called “Unbroken.” There’s a company down there called Stormcatcher Films.

BE: Right, exactly. Very cool! So…”Hatchet II.” You got to play Reverend Zombie again.

TT: Yeah, and doing the first one, I knew going in that this was going to happen. So I’m glad that Adam Green is not only a man of his word but has a vision that keeps me employed. (Laughs)

BE: Plus, we got to see a little bit more of him this go around.

TT: Yeah. Well, he had told me the back story when we did the first one, so I was able to play that scene in the first one knowing the full knowledge. And then we got to go down to New Orleans, which is one of my favorite cities.

BE: Even better. So what was it like to get the chance to step back into the Reverend’s shoes? I mean, he’s certainly an interesting character.

TT: Yeah, I tried to find his reality, which is that he’s a small time con man from New Jersey. His real name is Clive Washington. And just like when we go from high school to college, you get the opportunity to reinvent yourself, and he’s a reinvented person that, unfortunately, is believing his own hype. He can’t shed it.

BE: How did you and Adam first meet up?

TT: I met Adam on a convention circuit, actually. He comes from the fan world. He’s very enthusiastic; loves film, particularly horror. I think we chatted a few times, and then he made me an offer to play Reverend Zombie. I turned it down. And then he and (John Carl) Buechler kind of lobbied and convinced me that it was a project worth taking.

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Frozen

An audience favorite at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Adam Green’s “Frozen” will likely elicit one of two reactions: nail-biting suspense or unintentional laughter. It all depends on how much you buy into the movie, because while it’s a pretty frightening concept, it relies too often on absurd variables and bad decisions from its characters to be effective. The story is simple: a trio of skiers (Kevin Zegers, Shawn Ashmore and Emma Bell) are stranded on a chairlift and forced to choose between a potentially fatal escape and freezing to death. And since it’s Sunday night and the ski resort doesn’t open again until Friday, they don’t have the option of waiting around for rescue.

So what would you do? That’s the big question, because whether you like the movie or not, “Frozen” will almost always lead to a conversation about what you might have done differently in order to survive. One of the biggest problems with the film, however, is that none of it feels very real. While I’m willing to give any horror thriller a certain amount of freedom to be impractical (it’s the nature of the genre), “Frozen” is too ridiculous at times. The characters constantly complain about the cold weather and the likelihood of getting frostbite, and yet they never once consider zipping up their jackets for more protection. (Because then we wouldn’t be able to see their pretty faces.) And don’t get me started on the pack of wolves that just happen to be roaming around a public ski resort. It’s stuff like this that sucks the tension right out of the movie, and it’s ultimately what keeps “Frozen” from being as terrifying as its inventive premise promises.

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