Andrew E interviews Jimmy Lee Combs (Terror Tales)
Andrew E: Thank you for agreeing to speak to us! Can you tell us about your movie Terror Tales?
Jimmy Lee Combs: You bet my pleasure! Terror Tales is about a family on a road trip who fall victim to a psychopath who has some tales to tell! The film is more psychological in tone and presents scenarios of the worse kind of horror which are those that could potentially happen in real life; such as situations in the Wraparound Story. That being said, we pepper in lots of blood and gore as to not take ourselves too seriously in delivering a fun and entertaining horror anthology.
Andrew E: What inspired you to create this movie?
Jimmy Lee Combs: First and foremost is my love for the horror anthology genre. I thought if I’m going to make horror films then at some point I have to do a horror anthology and contribute to the subgenre that is near and dear to me. As it turned out, I was beginning production on a horror-comedy web series but really wanted to crank out another feature film at the same time so it was fairly manageable to film the web series while shooting Terror Tales segment by segment.
Plus I’ve always been fascinated with being able to tell multiple stories within a feature film; it adds diversity to a film that’s not found in a conventional feature.
Andrew E: Your cast features some of the big titans of horror (Felissa Rose, Lynn Lowry, Ari) What was it like working with so many legends?
Jimmy Lee Combs: It’s a fantastic experience to have on set iconic horror actors of this caliber and stature. I had several actors come to me saying how inspiring it was to work with veteran actors and how much they learned from them. Also, when you have actors who have worked with such iconic directors such as Wes Craven, they bring with them all that amazing experience they learned from the horror masters. This turned in some incredible performances in Terror Tales that I think is going to surprise the audience when they see the caliber of acting in the film. Everyone gave it their 110% best and it shows. As a director, there is nothing more you can ask for at the end of the day.
It’s interesting because originally the film was going to just feature Lynn Lowry but as I thought about it and was writing the stories, it hit me that it would be a fantastic idea to showcase more of horror’s best in each segment, an Expendables of horror if you will, which got the ball rolling to cast more iconic horror actors in each segment. It was incredibly important for me to not take that lightly and to give the actors as meaty of a role as possible that serves a purpose to the story rather than just having bragging rights saying I have so and so actor in the film.
Of all the roles, I would have to say that the Susan McKay character was written from the ground up specifically for Lynn Lowry. I had seen a performance of hers in a horror story she performed called The Whole Town’s Sleeping. In fact, I’m including the link here because it must be seen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4LlzQe2twA&t=15s from this 11 min performance I knew Lynn could play an emotionally distressed character with range and vibrancy so it made writing the Susan character incredibly easy knowing that Lynn could pull off this character with an emotionally charged performance.
As a director, it was very fulfilling to direct such talent in demanding roles like Lynn Lowry and of course Laurene Landon’s unsettling and psychotic role as Miss Tate in the Radical Video segment. To be able to direct performances like those while allowing the actor to bring their experience to the role and to have worked with actors of this caliber from the horror world is an honor!
Andrew E: Are there any funny stories from the set of the movie?
Jimmy Lee Combs: There were several lol! One that always gives me a laugh is behind the scenes on the By Proxy segment when the Ink Demon and Lynn Lowry were dancing around, singing songs and having fun in between takes.
Another hilarious story is a prank that I and the actress (Pam Renall) who plays Kristen, the wife in the Wraparound Story were gonna pull. So during the first take in the scene where The Driver (Christopher Showerman) is in bed with the prostitute, our prank was to put a wig on our SFX artist Kevon Ward and have him in bed instead of our actress who was playing the prostitute. So the gag was to keep Christopher’s eyes closed as part of the performance, slip Kevon in bed and when I called action Christopher would open his eyes to the surprise of a dude with a wig on in bed with him. We were up for hours laughing about this prank but sadly due to time constraints were unable to execute it. But funny as hell in theory!
Also, a funny story with Felissa Rose comes to mind. So when I’m filming her doing the sexy witch dance, she was really getting into it! So what was happening was her short skirt was creeping up her leg revealing her underwear as she danced seductively. So I chimed in mid-take and was like Felissa, sorry to interrupt but just wanted to let you know that your underwear is showing. And Felissa being cool like she is responded “That’s okay right?” and I was like that’s totally fine, I just wanted to make sure you knew so you wouldn’t be surprised when your undies show on the big screen lol.
It was an awesome moment and it can be seen in the Bloopers on the DVD when it releases on 2-5-19.
Other funny moments can be viewed as well with the Bloopers on the DVD.
Andrew E: What was the biggest challenge making Terror Tales?
Jimmy Lee Combs: I would say the biggest challenge making Terror Tales came in the form of post-production. As the film’s editor it was incredibly challenging cutting the film down from a nearly 3-hour rough cut to an intended 1 hour 30 min runtime. As it turns out the film clocks in at 1 hour 55 min pre-credits.
When you’re the director editing your own film, you fall in love with some scenes and narratives that you find difficult to cut and end up keeping some things in that could have been trimmed out.
Andrew E: When is the movie available to the public?
Jimmy Lee Combs: The movie will release 1-8-19 on VOD and 2-5-19 on DVD. We’re currently working on getting the film into Wal-Mart store shelves as well.
Andrew E: How does it feel that now your film has begun being seen by other people, I imagine it is nerve-wracking!
Jimmy Lee Combs: As many independent filmmakers can identify with, you pour your heart and soul into making a film that; of course, you want to have found its audience and be praised. So to make good on your end as a filmmaker and deliver the best film possible to the public is incredibly rewarding and especially when you hear how much they enjoyed the film. The bulk of the reviews coming in have been incredibly positive so that feels great! But yes it can be nerve-wracking because no filmmaker likes to see a negative review of their film.
You always have to be ready for the haters too, the internet trolls and the negative comments which are bound to happen with most any movie. But the silver lining is that you get to take the good and weed through the bad for constructive feedback to learn from it for the next project. So it is very exciting to finally be able to show Terror Tales to people and hear what they loved about the film and what they didn’t. It will only make me a stronger filmmaker for the next film which is currently in development. But I digress.
Andrew E: What is your next project? (I’m excited to see what you do next).
Jimmy Lee Combs: It’s a horror-Western that I’m billing as John Woo meets Sergio Leone meets the horror genre. I have an incredibly ambitious vision for the film. SPIRIT RECKONING is going to be a high octane adrenaline rush in the horror western genre that can be best described as having the larger than life bullets flying action scenes of a John Woo film, the rich and vengeful storytelling of a Sergio Leone spaghetti western epic and the extreme blood and gore of the horror genre. Back that with heart and characters that you’re invested in from start to finish and you got the makings for one hell of a fun film.
Andrew E: (Just to become Ghost-Face for a moment) What is your favorite scary movie…and why?
Jimmy Lee Combs: Favorite scary movie, hands down is The Exorcist because to this day I still cannot watch it without having nightmares. And favorite horror movie is the original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Andrew E: Thanks for chatting to us.
Jimmy Lee Combs: My pleasure, thank you!
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