Little Sister is writer/director Zach Clark's fifth feature film, and arguably it may be his best yet. It stars a talented young cast (Addision Timlin and Keith Poulson) mixed with seasoned actors such as Barbara Crampton and Ally Sheedy. The result is a delight to watch --- and a very different family drama --- one thankfully not sickingly sweet.
Barbara Crampton has made quite the resurgence in horror films lately --- Applecart, Death House Beyond the Gates, Sun Choke, Tales of Halloween, We Are Still Here, You're Next, and Road Games --- to name a few. I caught up with her at the 20th annual Fantasia International Film Festival to discuss Little Sister (where it screened last night to a very receptive crowd) as well as what she's been up to lately, and what's next for her.
How did you end up being cast in Little Sister?
Barbara Crampton: I got a call from Ted Geoghan (We Are Still Here) who asked if he could pass my information along to Zach Clark. I believe Zach had seen Ted’s film and was looking for a semi-older actress to play a Mother Superior role. I met Zach electronically and read the script. I’d heard of him, but hadn’t seen his films. Then I watched White Reindeer and Modern Love is Automatic, and really liked them. I LOVED the script for Little Sister; I thought it was beautiful, and full of heart, love, and insight without swimming in its own juice.
It takes a look at this girl (the character Colleen) and what she’s doing with her life, but it’s not too sentimental. I think that’s representative of all his films. It’s just the right tone and attitude for a modern audience.
I don't think I've ever seen you play a religious-type figure before; was playing The Reverend Mother odd in any sense?
It wasn’t difficult at all. I wouldn’t consider myself a religious person by any means. I grew up Catholic, married a Jewish man, but I’ve studied a lot of different religions. I don’t find myself identifying with any one religion, but I’d say that I’m more spiritual. I try to get in touch with whatever the unifying love, light, and energy it is that connects us all.
I’m also a mom — so to be a Mother Superior who’s in charge of people finding their way and looking deep inside — it wasn’t too difficult a role for me. Addison Timlin, who plays Colleen, is a very deep, feeling actress, and I reacted off of her.
You've been primarily known for your work on horror films and sometimes, TV soaps; did you enjoy being in more of a "straight role?"
Yeah! All I’ve done recently are horror movies, which I love, they’re my favorite place to be. This role was a really nice diversion for me. I loved it.
Little Sister is a great spin on the family drama, but I heard that Zach may be turning his sights to horror. Do you have any plans to work with him again?
He told me that, and I’m hoping there’s a role for me! I really enjoyed working with him. He’s a very quiet, subtle director who’s really hands-on. I appreciated his tenderness while working with all of us on set. It’d be a pleasure to work with him again.
Can you discuss any new film plans coming up?
I just wrapped on a movie called Applecart, and I’m really excited about that film. It was directed by Brad Baruh and produced by on Don Coscarelli, which was the same team that made John Dies at the End. It’s funny, because they switched roles: previously, Don directed John Dies at the End, which Brad had produced. I had a great time acting with Brea Grant and AJ Bowen, and a lot of other young people who were terrific in the film.
Applecart is an outlandish, crazy horror movie, and it was one of the most fun experiences I’ve had in years! Everyone always asks me: who haven’t you worked with that you’d like to? To that I say, Don Coscarelli! And he just happened to be the producer of Applecart. I’d spend what seemed like days chatting on the couch with Don Coscarelli, one of our greatest living horror directors.
Then there’s Death House, which is in post, directed by Harrison Smith. He wants to whip up as much of a frenzy around the film as possible; he really loves the genre and wants to do right by Gunnar Hansen (who sadly lost a battle to pancreatic cancer last year). Harrison is a lovely person, and I’m looking forward to seeing the film. It’s in postproduction right now, and I worked with so many great actors in that one, especially Dee Wallace, Kane Hodder, and Sean Whalen.
I’m also really excited for people to see Beyond the Gates, and see all the work that Jackson Steward and the team put into it, as it continues on its festival run.