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Herding Cats: A Chat With TALES OF HALLOWEEN Creator Axelle Carolyn

Axelle Carolyn

This Friday, October the 16th, Tales of Halloween will be available in theaters, iTunes, and VOD — and in my opinion, you’d be missing out if you didn’t give it a watch (you can check out my review of the film here); eleven of the most noted filmmakers in the horror genre combining with iconic talents to make what I feel is a “must-watch” Halloween flick.

I had the good fortune to be able to have a conversation with the creator of this great anthology film, the multi-talented writer/actress/filmmaker Axelle Carolyn.

LEGLESSCORPSE: Out of the gate, I have to say that I’m a huge fan of Tales of Halloween. You and the stable of horror auteurs involved in its creation (collectively known as The October Society) all have an obvious love of the genre, and quite a bit of knowledge of it. I describe the film as a “love letter from horror fans, to horror fans”. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall for pre-production meetings, discussing the ideas and the loads of nostalgia that were incorporated. Can you describe how that process went?

AXELLE CAROLYN: It was all very collaborative. We pitched ideas to each other, gave each other notes, helped each other out whenever needed. It wasn’t always easy – Adam Gierasch said today that my job as creator/wrangler was like herding cats, and he’s not wrong – but it’s wonderful to get to have feedback from a group of like-minded filmmakers you like and trust.

Speaking of all that nostalgia, I have to throw in a personal interjection here: who was it that put the model of “The Car” in the film? Being the horror nerd that I am, I’m just curious as to who loves that flick as much as I do…

Tales of Halloween – 2015

Ah, that’ll be Dave Parker, who directed the episode Sweet Tooth. I agree, it’s a really nice touch. I think when horror fans make a movie for horror fans, homages and nods here and there are inevitable.

You were the progenitor of the film’s conceptualization; how long had you been thinking of such a film?

Well, I’d been thinking of gathering my friends for an anthology for a few years, but the concept itself, to make a movie about Halloween night, in the same town, really was born early last year. It came together very quickly; I pitched it to a few of them and everyone got on board. Mike Mendez then brought the producers from Epic Pictures, whom he’d worked with on Big Ass Spider.

You pulled together a terrific roll call of horror personalities for this movie; Adrienne Barbeau, John Landis, Barbara Crampton, Stuart Gordon, Lin Shaye; that list just barely scratches the surface. How did you pull this off? How excited were these folks to be a part of this endeavor?

The whole idea of the movie is to pay homage to the horror community we have here in Los Angeles, and to the people we admire and we’re lucky enough to be friends with. So it wasn’t just about gathering friends behind the camera, but in front of the camera too. Everyone did it for the love, and I think there’s an enthusiasm shows on screen. Having Joe Dante or John Landis act for us was really awesome.

Axelle_Skull_hrFanboy that I am, I would have been totally star-struck visiting your set; what was it like working around and with all of these horror movie legends?

We know them all fairly well, so to be honest it wasn’t intimidating. I filmed the bathroom scene first, and when we wrapped that scene and moved to the living room for the opening scene, the candles had been lit, and all my friends were in costume. It felt like it really was Halloween! They were really good sports; I know it’s not easy for directors, like Stuart Gordon and Mick Garris, to feel comfortable in front of the camera, and do it in costume. They were awesome and patient and I’m so happy every time I see them in the movie! And then Lin Shaye of course is wonderful; she’s a dear friend and I’ve been wanting to work with her for a long time. Hopefully this is just the beginning.

For an anthology of this size come together so well is a very impressive feat; could you tell us about the working relationships/environment you and your co-conspirators in the October Society have?

We’re close friends, so we meet on a regular basis at screenings, parties, signings, or to shop for horror goodies or watch movies or play board games (usually horror themed). Hardly a day goes by that I don’t speak to at least one of them. So it was a great pre-existing environment for a collaboration. And I think you can tell, watching the movie, that we all helped each other out and worked together every step of the way; we also cameo in each other’s films. I show up four or five times: in the crowd, at the police station, in a pumpkin (!), and a couple of other more fleeting ones.

Your own contribution, chapter five’s Grim Grinning Ghost, was in my opinion the most frightening of the chapters, creating a nice urban legend vibe; was that something you came up with for the film, or had that one been in your head a while?

Alex Essoe in Axelle’s chapter, The Grim Grinning Ghost

Thank you! Yeah, I really wanted to tell something spooky. One of my jobs as creator of the anthology was to collect the scripts and gather them into a cohesive feature, making sure no two were too alike, and yet that the world was consistent. I saw a lot of scripts come in that were more on the comedic side, and thought it’d be good to counter balance that with a story that would be more tense, and that would make people jump. I researched Halloween urban legends and the idea of not turning around if you hear footsteps at night seemed perfect for a spooky story. I hope this is the one people show to their little sisters to scare them before bedtime…

We always hear what a good time is typically had on-set with most horror films; you guys certainly seemed to be having some fun with the material. Are there any particular memories or stories from the set you’d like to tell us about?

The best parts of this movie were always the collaborations. Neil chainsawing a body for Mike’s episode in Adam’s garage, while I hold the prop in place, and everything gets covered in fake blood – that was fun. Having cameos in each other’s shorts was awesome too. Mike wanted me to be the head in the pumpkin in his episode. It looks so goofy and was kind of sticky and uncomfortable to shoot, but it was a fun time. And Mike knows next time I need a really goofy cameo in a movie, he’ll be up for it…

On the job…

Is the October Society planning more films of this nature in the future? What other projects do you personally have in the works right now?

Whether we work together again as the October Society will really depend on the demand from the audience. If everyone goes to see the movie come October 16, we’d all be up for an encore, I’m sure!

Well, I have to say that THIS reviewer would certainly be happy to pony up for an encore performance!  I want to sincerely thank Axelle for taking the time out to chat with us, and for being the driving force behind what I consider to be a new Halloween classic! 

Do yourself a favor this Friday, October 16th Fellow Fans, and check out Tales of Halloween!





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Andrew Thompson

Editor-In-Chief at LeglessCorpse
The Mouse...VP/co-owner of LC Films, Editor-In-Chief of your average guy with what is most likely an unhealthy affinity for horror movies, sci-fi, superheroes, bacon, old cartoons and horror movies. Oh, I almost forgot, I really dig horror movies; new ones, old ones, it matters not; I love 'em. Husband, father, veteran and scribbler. I like bacon as well. The Mouse abides 😉