INT: William Butler

The Arrow interviews William Butler

William Butler has been around! No I don't mean his sex life your pervs, I mean his horror life! He has done everything! From acting in Ghoulies 2, Friday the 13Th Part 7, Leatherface, Night of the Living Dead and the list goes on, to working special effects for films like From beyond and Village of the Damned. Today he's focused more on writing (ROTLD 4-5) and directing (Madhouse). I caught up with Mr. Butler and here's what he back-handed my way.

What’s your favorite horror movie?

I have several really, but I’d have to say “The Innocents” by Truman Capode is my favorite. Debra Kerr plays a nanny who agrees to take care of two children who turn out to be quite diabolical. It’s a very scary film that uses no make-up effects what so ever, but keeps you glued to the screen.

You’ve acted, written and directed genre films while doing much more on other levels within the industry. What is it about horror that cranks your dial so much?

It’s because I am totally fucked up... J I dunno, I just love the genre very much and always have. Since I was old enough to read and my mother turned me onto Edgar Allen Poe, I have been obsessed with everything that goes bump in the night. I knew I was going to work in show business since I was eight. I never cared about being famous or popular for what I do – I always aimed to do what makes me happy and somehow, through some awesome stroke of luck…I made it happen. I feel so fortunate to do what I do and to have the chance to be interviewed by sites like this, when I’d be at home reading them anyway. I am a hardcore fan first and foremost.

Do you ever find it difficult to remain focused since you are such a “Jack of all Trades”? Or would you say it’s an advantage?

When I was acting I only focused on that. As I have said before, I had to work really hard to stay in the game. Even in order to stay thin enough, I literally would eat one meal a day – trust me, for a guy like me that in itself took most of my concentration. When I was performing I lived on the verge of hunger for like twelve years to keep my fat ass in shape. Then you have to stay in class and constantly network and study. I wanted to stay working so I stayed focused.

Years later when I became a writer for National Lampoon I realized that I enjoyed that much more than performing alone and started to change my focus. Not long after that I became a producer at Fox Family, and eventually met Tom Fox from the “Return” franchise and we started to work on several projects which included “Madhouse.” I think the more skills you have the better, if you are half decent at it what you do, all the better. Trust me you need all the options you can get in Hollywood.

You wrote both of the upcoming sequels: Return of the Living Dead Part 4 and 5. What were you aiming to deliver when tackling these follow-ups?

Well, certainly not the film that you ripped to shreds in your review. J

Tom Fox and I met about five years ago. He told me that the “Return” franchise was dead – which it was and asked me to brainstorm some pitches for some potential new spins on the story. I wrote a dozen pitches; the problem was that there were already ten zombie films in production all with the same basic storyline, so we had to come up with something that had a different approach. The one thing I really loved about the original film was that it was funny – and according to Tom unintentionally so.

The original story that I came up with took place on a military base, but somehow the story evolved to a prison that was created to hold zombies, that also functioned as a zoo of sorts. Part five came out of the idea that the franchise simply had to move forward somehow as how many sequels can you watch where zombies are popping out of coffins? The idea of a “life after death” drug angle came out of the many raves that were taking place at the time we wrote it. After all is said and done, I am really proud of how the scripts turned out. I haven’t seen the films yet so I can’t really tell you that you don’t know what you are talking about in your review…as much as I’d like to…he he. So, I do understand part of your mentality, as a fan I like things to stay on track as well…but, whether you agree with this mentality or not, it is really, really hard to convince any production company to keep making the same film over and over again.

My recommendation to anyone who wants to stay true to the first film is, if you think you can’t watch it without getting yourself upset, don’t watch it. If however, you can’t get enough zombies and would watch them no matter what then – CHECK IT OUT! I only wish that you guys that review films could experience what movie folks go through to get a studio project done. If you only knew the many hands that have their say in what goes in and out of a film – you would never dare stick the blame of what you don’t like on any one person. But like I told you yesterday, I basically bitch about every film I ever see, so to each his own. I enjoy your website and will continue to do so. Don’t hate the playa – hate the game.

How much creative input, if any, did you have while the films were being shot in Romania?

None. Unfortunately, once Tom Fox passed away last October, I was cut out of the deal and the production took over. We had originally wanted Tobe Hooper to direct, but once Tom passed they moved on to Ellory, who is a great guy and did a good job I heard. We polished the script according to their notes and were asked to leave the production.

You’ve been killed my Jason, a Ghoulie, Leatherface, Freddy, Zombies and more…which horror icon would you like to be killed by next?

I mostly write and direct these days, so I would have to say I will next be killed by old age or overdose.

The title of Dead Grrl (a film you’re set to direct) tantalizes me. What is it about and where is the picture at in terms of production?

The film is an overtop combination of The Bad Seed meets Evil Dead. These horribly spoiled and awful teenagers end up at the house where a dead pageant child has been brought back to life with black magic. Unfortunately, she isn’t quite the same and goes on a ruthless murdering spree. She’s Jon Benet Ramsey meets the Tasmanian Devil.

Other than that; what’s next up for you acting/writing/producing/directing/etc. wise? Any projects in the works?

I am currently editing a project for the Disney Channel that I just directed and am writing the Paul Lynde Story with my writing partner Aaron Strongoni. Other than that you can usually find me staggering around two or three horror conventions a year.

Having been so deep in the movie business for a while; what would be the key thing that you’ve learned about it? Share the wisdom…SHARE I SAID!

Choose your battles wisely. Your worst enemy could very well end up your greatest supporter one the next project. I also learned to accept when someone doesn’t like work that I have done, because it’s all very subjective.

When he’s not working 24/7 what does William Butler do to kick back?

Try and stay out of trouble for one. Kick it with my dog Gibby Haines and George and Weezie the cats. My idea of heaven is laying in bed with a pile of bad DVD movies.

What’s your favorite alcoholic beverage?



I'd like to thank William for checking into the site and sharing the horror love. Keep kicking man and we'll keep watching!




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