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October 08, 2007
Sid Haig shines a light on Night of the Living Dead 3D and looks back on 50 years of horror-ible work


By Ian Spelling


The list of living horror icons—the ones whose movies you might pay to see or rent, the ones you'd stand in line to shake hands with or to snag an autograph from—isn't too terribly long. It includes Robert Englund, Linda Blair, Zacherley, Ken Foree, Doug Bradley, Misty Mundae, Udo Kier, Malcolm McDowell, Elvira, Brad Dourif, Michael Berryman, Jamie Lee Curtis and a handful of other men and women who've made their marks in mainstream horror films or B movies ... or both.

A relative newcomer to the list is actually a long-established character actor whose career spans nearly 50 years and more than 100 credits, ranging from The Lucy Show, Batman and Spider Baby to Get Smart, Mission: Impossible and THX 1138, and from Coffy, Charlie's Angels and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century to Galaxy of Terror, MacGyver and Jackie Brown.

His name: Sid Haig.

Quentin Tarantino lured Haig—a husky, bearded bald man with big, big eyes—out of retirement in 1997 for Jackie Brown, and Rob Zombie dragged him out of retirement again in 2003 to play the infamous Captain Spaulding in House of 1000 Corpses. Haig hasn't looked back since, lending his menacing presence to The Devil's Rejects, (the SCI FI original movie) House of the Dead 2, A Dead Calling, Halloween and the upcoming horror films Razor, Dead Man's Hand and Brotherhood of Blood, as well as Night of the Living Dead 3D, which arrives on DVD on Oct. 9 following a limited theatrical run. SCI FI Weekly recently spoke with Haig about Night of the Living Dead 3D, his horror icon status and his upcoming directorial debut, Last Door.
Night of the Living Dead 3D arrives in stores on Oct. 9. What was your initial reaction when your agent called and said, "Hey, Sid, any interest in doing a 3-D version of Night of the Living Dead?"

Haig: I was intrigued. I wanted to see what they were going to do, you know? So I kind of went for it.
The film is not a carbon copy remake of the George Romero film, and you play a new character named Gerald Tovar Jr., who runs a mortuary and shares some dark secrets with the other characters in the film. What's your sense of this guy?

Haig: This is absolutely nothing against George Romero, because I love the guy, OK? We have done a lot of horror conventions together, and he created the genre. But back in the day, when you really had no explanation for a phenomenon, you'd just say, "It came from outer space." When I saw this script and I realized that Gerald Tovar was actually the cause of the phenomenon, I said, "OK, this puts some logic to the whole thing."
Night of the Living Dead 3D was shot using what the production team called HD3 cameras. Did setups take longer? How did working in 3D affect you?

Haig: It really didn't take longer, and it wasn't trickier at all, because it just looked like a relatively normal camera. Every once in a while they would have to make some adjustments, but nothing out of the ordinary. So it was really an easy shoot.
How pleased are you with the finished film?

Haig: I think it's a fun film. The detractors, the people that are totally against touching the sacred cow, don't like it for whatever reason. But I think they fail to realize that this is a popcorn-and-Coke movie. You get your popcorn and Coke, you sit down and just have fun. It's a fun movie. Yeah, it's got some scary moments. It's got its zombies. It's got its weird stuff. But it's fun.
You are, in the eyes of many people, a horror icon. I'm guessing that wasn't necessarily your life's ambition starting out as an actor. So how strange has this evolution in your career been for you?
Haig: It's been very strange. When we did House of 1000 Corpses [at right], I just was doing it because it seemed like it would be a lot of fun. Rob basically brought me out of retirement for the second time to do it. I thought I could have a lot of fun with it, and sure enough, I did. And then, all of a sudden, everything started taking on a whole new dimension. In the beginning I was really taken aback by it. I didn't know how to react. How do you react to an action figure of yourself? And there wasn't only one. There were 10 different styles. I'm going, "What's up? What's going on here?" But it is what it is, and I'm settled into it, and I'm so grateful for everything that's happened since Corpses that I'm speechless—which is rare.
Your career dates back almost 50 years. If someone discovers you now as a result of your recent horror work, what of your older, nongenre credits would you suggest people check out if they wanted to see you in something completely different?

Haig: Wow. I usually answer this question by asking a question, like, "Do you have children? Can you pick a favorite, because we're going to eat all the rest." But I was really proud of my work in a film called Che! [a 1967 Richard Fleischer-directed drama with Omar Sharif as Che Guevara, Jack Palance as Fidel Castro and Haig as a character named Antonio]. Richard Fleischer was the greatest guy in the world, an amazing director and just a gentleman beyond belief. So I'm really proud of that. And I also did a little film a couple of years ago in Indiana, which is still looking for a release right now. That's called Little Big Top, and I play a guy [a clown, actually] who's an alcoholic who, through the course of the film, works his way out of it and becomes a pretty heroic character. This is like 180 degrees from Spaulding. It couldn't be any different.
And of your SF and horror credits, what's the one that got away? What's the one that, for whatever reason, no one saw, that you wish more people could have seen?

Haig: Galaxy of Terror [a horror-SF film from 1981] kind of went under the radar. I have heard rumors that, fortunately, they're finally releasing a DVD version. But that was a pretty amazing film. It had an amazing cast—Edward Albert, Ray Walston, Erin Moran, Grace Zabriskie, Zalman King. The cast went on and on. Robert Englund. It was a very cool film, and they were able to do some pretty spectacular things with it, and it just didn't get legs.
Real quick, you have three other horror films completed. What are Razor, Dead Man's Hand and Brotherhood of Blood, and what do you play in each of them?

Haig: Dead Man's Hand, I play a casino owner who is deceased. I'm a ghost in this haunted casino that relatives have come to take over because their ancestor died and willed them the place. And I have a score to settle with them. It's a revenge flick. Razor is about a cult of people who basically decide who's good and who's evil, and they kill the ones they think are evil. I direct people through that process. I try to save the good guys and kind of shun the bad guys. And in Brotherhood of Blood [at left] I play a 1,000-year-old vampire. It's a vampire/vampire hunter movie, which is kind of interesting. As a matter of fact, that's premiering in Spain in a week or two.
You're about to make your debut as a director with Last Door. After all your years as an actor, what do you think you'll bring to the table as a director?

Haig: I think I have a pretty expansive vision of the human condition, only because I've been on the planet so long. I have seen a lot and I have done a lot, and I can bring those human things to the production. Plus, I like to think that I'm a fairly creative guy and can come up with some ways to tell a story that are interesting. I'm extremely excited, raring to go. It's been in preproduction for a while, and I was just brought on board [as director]. I don't want to give too much away about the plot, because I have opened my mouth before and given out spoilers and I have paid the price. But I would refer people back to the release about Last Door [which describes the film as a supernatural psychological thriller about a family's desperate battle to save their troubled son from a secret society], and I think that gives you enough information.
And, lastly, is it safe to say you're officially un-retired at this point?

Haig: I am officially, officially un-retired. I have worked more in the past seven years than I did in the first 40 years of my career. It's rewarding. It's flattering. I always wanted to be constantly busy and working and doing interesting films, and I'm getting there.