Set Visit: Masters of Horror - Tom Holland


As I step up into Tom Holland’s trailer, I immediately spot him; a shock of white hair on his head, a cigarette clamped in his teeth. To my surprise, seated next to Tom Holland is the writer of the episode, David J. Schow (The Crow, Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III). David smiles at me through a cloud of cigarette smoke; equal parts rock & roll novelist, screenwriter, journalist and serial killer. I offer my hand to each man and introduce myself.

Tom Holland (TH): Hiya, kid!

David J. Schow (DJS): Arrow in the Head! I go there all the time…great site!

Thank you! Wow, I’ve got both of you guys here.

DJS – Yeah, we’ll make sure to interrupt each other.

Awesome…I can’t wait to transcribe this later and see if I can make heads or tales of it.

DJS – (laughs) Good luck! It’ll be like: “Did he say…suck my what?”

The first thing I know pretty much every one of our readers is going to want to know is where has Tom Holland been for the last ten years? I think I speak for the majority of horror fans when I say that you’ve been missed.

TH – Thank you…that’s incredibly kind. I’ll try to make it really simple. I’ve got Belles Palsy…and half my face slid-off, and…they can talk about how it’s a fuckin’ virus and it’s not a bad thing…it was God-awful! And if you look at me in any pictures now you’ll find one eye, the left eye, is always smaller than the right, and when I get tired, the eye-lid droops…(Tom runs a finger around his eye-socket) and I’m frozen around the eye here and I’m frozen here…I have no feeling and no control over the muscles. When that happened…I just didn’t feel like leaving the house. It took me about eighteen months for it to start to come back to where there was some…solidity, and psychologically it really had a bad effect on me. It kicked the hell out of me. And then I turn around I was offered a whole bunch of low budget horror films, and I wasn’t gonna do that…so you know, one thing led to another.

Did you turn down anything good?

TH – When I was hot I turned down a lot of things that ended up being good…but anyway… now here we are!

So what’s ‘We All Scream For Ice Cream’ all about?

TH – It’s a childhood dream. Some kids play a prank when they’re like nine or ten…on Buster (William Forsythe), the ice cream man, who’s a sweet, wonderful retard…or “mentally deficient” as they say in PC-land. They let the brake go on his truck, thinking it’s gonna roll away and he’s gonna chase after it, instead it runs over him and kills him. The kids carry this guilt with them into adulthood until one day; the ice cream man comes back from the dead to exact revenge.

DJS – It’s kind of a sins-of-our-fathers story turned on its ear…ah, where in a conventional horror story you’re supposed to sympathize with these grown-up kids but once you reach the mid-point in the story your going “Hey wait a minute…that was kind of mean”, but an aspect of that is that the innate sadism of children is not always malign…you know what I mean? It’s like kids do…they don’t know any better…usually kids find out the first time they mistreat a pet, “If you do that you’ll hurt the puppy, so don’t do that”…unless of course you’re a sick psychopath and you grow-up to stack bodies like cords of wood in your basement, then…

TH – David’s in love with serial killers…

DJS – I’m in love with a serial killer…but let’s not go into that. So Layne, our main character…our protagonist…he’s very sympathetic. He made a mistake and he’s kind of been in denial of that mistake for years and years and years and now he’s moved back to town and Buster’s come back to bite him on the ass. If this movie would have been made in 1983, it would have been the start of a franchise.

Hey you never know. Maybe we can get a spin-off feature

TH – Buster will return with Buster’s army of the living dead!

DJS – There you go!

David, was this something that you brought to Mick Garris as a possible ‘Masters’ story?

DJS – Yeah, I was literally on another trip and I got off the plane and went right into the ‘Masters’ production office and the producers were sitting around the office and they were like, “What do you have?” and I knew this story by John Farris and in very much the same way as Halloween started with someone looking at John Carpenter and saying two words: babysitter murders…right? It was sort of the same thing, I said “Evil clown” and Andrew Deane the Executive Producer lit up and was like “Buy it!” and here we are!

So Tom, how did you get involved with Masters of Horror?

TH – They sent me the…well for one, a lot of my friends and fans started asking me why I wasn’t doing one, and just about the time I started to get resentful that nobody had asked…they asked!…and they sent me this, and I fell in love with it. It’s that chant, it’s that jingle; “I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream” because we all did it. It seems to go through generations…so I though, well…this is gonna have a wide appeal, because everybody’s gone out as a kid in the summer and chased the ice-cream man. It’s gonna be recognized by a lot of people of all ages. But, at the same time, it was the characters…it had a real character arcs…it had an emotional voice so it wasn’t just graphic-horror…not that there’s anything wrong with graphic-horror and terror but it’s nicer when it’s matched with emotional complexity. 

So there’s a little bit more substance to it rather than just hack and slash.

TH – Absolutely!

DJS – Of course we’re talking about our own project here so we could be totally bullshitting you.

TH – It could be fuckin’ awful.

DJS – You might look at it and go “Lame!”

You two seem like a great team. Is it common on ‘Masters’ to have the Writer and the Director together on set?

DJS – Tom invited me in to like, a really extreme degree…in fact the producers said no writers have had this much access to the production floor on any episode ever…except for me on my last show, “Pick Me Up” with Larry Cohen…but Tom was the guy who invited me to casting and make-up meetings and sought my opinion on other things so in a lot of ways…in a minor key…in a small way, I’ve also been Tom’s second set of eyes on things.

One more thing I wanted to ask…with being away from the work for so many years and now coming back, especially to horror, what’s it like being back behind the camera?

TH – I feel sharper than ever.

Do you have anything in the works after your ‘Masters’ episode wraps? Anything we can look forward to?

TH – Yeah…I’ve got a project I’m pretty jazzed about called “Simian” and it’s (Tom looks across the table to David Schow, they share a devilish smile. Tom pulls back and playfully dangles a carrot)…you know I think horror fans are gonna love it…but that’s all I’ll say right now.

No tidbits? No morsels to whet our appetites?

TH – Fans are gonna love it.

And with those final words my visit to the Vancouver set of Masters of Horror drew to a close. Tom and David got called back to set for rehearsals and sadly, it was my time to leave as well. I had the chance to ask Tom when we might expect his episode to go-to-air as I walked with him towards video-village and he simply threw-up his shoulders; “Ask Garris” he replied as he quickly doused his cigarette.

We shook hands and I thanked him for his time just as Buster the Clown himself, William Forsythe, stepped-up between us and politely stole Tom away with a question regarding his blocking for the scene. I took one long, last look around the fantastic snow-covered set before I sank back into the thick stand of pines and snuck through the wardrobe and back to reality once more.

While I didn’t have the opportunity to take Tom Holland’s advice and ask Mick Garris about the air-date of “We All Scream For Ice Cream” before I left (there is no hard and fast rule as to the order that these suckers run, basically it’s which ever finishes first) I was told by Unit Publicist Bill Vigars that the second season will bow sometime in October on Showtime in the US, right around the same time shooting wraps on the still-shrouded-in-secrecy and all-too-coveted thirteenth and final episode of the season, rumored once again to be internationally flavored ala last seasons much ballyhooed Takashi Miikie entry ‘Imprint’. 



Latest Entertainment News Headlines