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An Interview with Larry Underwood aka Dr. Gangrene, Star and Co-Writer of The Dreadful Hallowgreen Special

by Mike Haberfelner

June 2011

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The Dreadful Hallowgreen Special - In a few words, what is it about?

 

It is a cross-over between myself and fellow horror host Penny Dreadful. In a pumpkin shell, all things Halloween-related have begun to go screwy. Pumpkins are turning pink, candy corn tastes sour – and it turns out the combined efforts of Gangrene and Penny caused everything to go haywire. It is up to the Physician of Fright and the Spooky Sorceress to set things straight.

 


Your character in The Dreadful Hallowgreen Special, Dr. Gangrene first came to fame as horror host of the horror movie show Chiller Cinema. A few words about the show, and the origins of the character?

 

I wanted to recreate the type of show like the horror host programs of the golden age of television. In Nashville we had Sir Cecil Creape - His show, Creature Feature, aired every Saturday night at 10:30 in the early 70s. Cities all across the country each had their own unique host who introduced that evening’s movie to the audiences. No one was doing this type show when I started in the late 90s, so I thought heck, I’ll do it myself.

 

with Penny Dreadful

A few words about your co-star Penny Dreadful aka Danielle Gelehrter?

 

I first met Penny at Wonderfest a few years back and we hit it off right off the vampire bat. She and I really share the same interests and sense of humor, and it was kind of eerie how similar we are in a lot of ways. I absolutely adore both her and her husband, who plays her sidekick Garou on the show. We’ve all become good friends and I just wish we lived closer to one another.

 

The Penny Dreadful-scenes of The Dreadful Hallowgreen Special were shot in a different studio in a different part of the country. How easy or difficult was this kind of collaboration?

 

It really couldn’t have been any easier considering the distance involved. Penny shot her parts in Massachusetts and I shot my parts here in TN. The tough part came with the initial editing, which I did myself. Going through the footage to make everything match up was a lot of work, but it all turned out fine in the end.

 

Who came up with the concept of The Dreadful Hallowgreen Special in the first place?

 

When I first asked Danielle if she’d be interested in collaborating on a project together she said sure and pitched the exact idea I had in mind for the story back to me! We were on the same wavelength from the get-go, and simply tossed the story back and forth between us until we got it the way we wanted it. It was a true collaboration.

 

What can you tell us about the writing process of The Dreadful Hallowgreen Special, and did you actually meet your co-writer Penny Dreadful/Danielle Gelehrter during scripting at least?

 

I would write a chapter, or segment, then send it to her and she would write the next and send it back. Both of us decided right away that we each know our own characters best, so if I wrote something she didn’t like or vice-versa we would simply change it. No egos or conflicts of any kind. Like I said, we are really, really similar, and even write similarly. We never met while scripting but talked through email and over the phone a couple of times, I think.

 

What can you tell us about audience reception so far?

 

We screened it at Wonderfest and the audience loved it. I was really glad that Penny and Garou were able to be there too – they won a Rondo Award for Best Horror Host last year and drove to Louisville to receive the award, so they were on hand and got to see the audience reaction too. I get emails and tweets from people who have seen it and loved it – the only complaint being that it was too short. They wanted more!

 

with Cameron McCasland

A few words about The Dreadful Hallowgreen Special's co-director (and your long-time collaborator) Cameron McCasland [Cameron McCasland interview - click here]?

 

Cameron and I have been friends for a long time, and it is terrific working with him. He is a talented guy and brings a lot to the show, not just on the set but with promotion and marketing too. We met through the show and stayed in touch, and when my previous director left I called up Cameron and asked if he’d be willing to help me out. He jumped onboard with both feet and has breathed new life into the show. We have a lot of fun on set and are always brainstorming new projects.

 

You have recently also played a role in Cameron McCasland's movie The Lashman. A few words about that movie and your role in it?

 

This is Cameron’s first feature film and is a throwback to the 80’s slasher genre. More than anything else I think Cameron wanted to get that first film done and out of the way, and this was something he felt comfortable with and could have fun shooting. My part is a really small cameo, kind of a nod to the old man in Friday the 13th, Ralph. I was going to kind of underplay the role but Cameron really wanted me to go over the top with it, get crazy, so it was a fun part. I cackle and laugh and hop around for the 3 or 4 minutes I’m onscreen. And I get to die violently, too. Haha – oops, that’s a spoiler there, isn’t it?

 

You have over the years also acted in a handful of features both in and out of the Dr. Gangrene character. Why don't you talk about those for a bit?

 

Mostly independent films shot locally. I have been killed in a couple of films, hosted a couple as Dr. Gangrene and played monsters in some, too. The most involved shoot was with the movie Demon Sight, by director George Demick, where I played the lead demon Xorto. I wore a full head prosthetic application took a couple of hours to put on. It looked great and I had fun wearing it. I drove home with it on afterwards – got some strange looks on the highway!

 

All my parts have been cameos or small parts mainly because I’m so busy with the show, my family and my full time job that I just can’t commit to a big role. I’ll give it a go one day, though, for the right project. I’m hoping maybe someone like Rob Zombie will give me a cameo in one of their films – that’d be a blast!

 

You have also shot a handful of PSAs known as the Go Green With Dr. Gangrene-series. What can you tell us about those?

 

They are a series of award winning PSAs featuring Dr. Gangrene and various monsters talking about environmental issues such as littering, pet safety and recycling. We won a Rondo Award for these PSAs and they have been nominated for two local Emmys.

 

Just hosting Chiller Cinema versus acting in an actual plot-driven film - what's the difference, and which do you prefer?

 

They are totally different and I guess if I had to pick I’d say hosting the show, mainly because I don’t have to memorize anything! I am self conscious of my acting, whereas with the show I have done it for so long it's second nature. I can stand and talk about pretty much anything in front of a camera and be right at home. Acting is mostly mental. I tend to overthink it, and am too conscious of what I’m doing and saying rather than just letting it flow naturally. With some practice I could probably learn to be just as comfortable acting though.

 

Any future projects you want to talk about, both in and out of the Dr. Gangrene-character?

 

We are just about to shoot the next season of our program. I’m thinking toward doing some other Dr. Gangrene-movies, and I’m finding myself getting pulled back into drawing comics. I am making, right at this moment, a series of Dr. Gangrene mini-comix that will be included with our DVDs. I’m also preparing to release some of our older stuff, too. And I have an ongoing series of videos and reviews up on youtube. In addition I write a regular column for Scary Monsters Magazine.

 

Since you are known primarily for being a horror host - is horror a genre especially dear to you, and which types of horror do you prefer?

 

Oh yeah – ever since I was a kid I was just drawn to this stuff. Between the great shows we had growing up – The Munsters, Addams Family, afternoon monster matinees – horror comic books and awesome music like Alice Cooper and Black Sabbath I was hooked. Halloween was a big deal for me, and still is. It just has something magical for me that no other holiday has. I try to tap into that vibe and keep it alive with my show, which in fact was my tagline for years – Chiller Cinema, where it’s Halloween all year long!

I especially like horror movies with a sense of humor, like Shaun of the Dead, Young Frankenstein, and the EC Comics-anthologies like Tales from the Crypt and Vault of Horror. Especially the EC-stuff, where there is always a twist and the bad people get what they deserve in the end. They’re like morality plays, and that stuff just really is my favorite. I love shambling corpses – not modern zombies, mind you ( although I like those too) – but the reanimated corpses that come back for revenge. Those are my favorite.

 

Is it true that before you became a horror host, you for a time wrote and drew comics?

 

I did – I wrote and drew comics and even self-published my own line of comics before quitting to pursue horror hosting. Most of what we published was, naturally, horror oriented. We even published Eric Powell’s first printed art, the prototype for his character The Goon. At that time he was calling it Monsterboy.

 

How did you initially hook up with the movie and TV-industry, and did you have any formal training as an actor or something?

 

I put my show on cable access initially because that’s what I had access to. I later moved the show off access onto pay TV, selling ad time to sponsors to pay for the timeslot. Later the station gave me my own slot where I didn’t have to bother with sponsors any longer, and I now air on our local CW station. Over the years local directors would contact me to be in their movies. I even had one group drive up from Chattanooga to my set to have me host their documentary. I don’t have any formal training but it seems I’ve been in front of crowds my whole life.

 

Your favourite movies?

 

My very favorite film is the original Planet of the Apes. I’d have to throw in the original Night of the Living Dead, Creepshow, Tales from the Crypt, Psycho, Curse of the Demon, the Universal-classics – there are really too many to mention. I’m a fan of all of it, good bad and silly, and appreciate each for different reasons, you know?

 

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And of course, films you really deplored?

 

I detest the Psycho-remake. The original is a masterpiece, and that ham-fisted remake is a real disgrace.

 

Your website, Facebook, whatever else?

 

My website is www.drgangrene.com. I have sort of combined the website and blog into one site for now, and try to post on it daily. Right now in honor of the 100th birthday of the late Vincent Price [Vincent Price bio - click here] I am celebrating by writing 100 posts on Vincent. There are links to all my other sites off of it – Facebook, youtube, etc. My twitter is @drgangrene

 

Anything else you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?

 

I have always claimed my biggest inspiration to be Alice Cooper, and I now front my own band, SPOOKHAND. We are a horror punk band but I have incorporated some shock rock theatrics to our show. I also host a yearly rock event called Dr. Gangrene’s Horror Hootenanny, which is held in Nashville TN. I get a real kick out of hosting horror events in the heart of Music City. Haha. This year will be the 8th annual Horror Hootenanny and we’re holding it in conjunction with the Nashville Zombie Walk on October 8th. For details visit my site and we’re about to launch a new site too, www.horrorhootenanny.com.

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

Thank you. Stay scary and like Sir Cecil used to say – Good night, sleep tight, and don’t let the beddie bugs bite!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Thanks for watching !!!



 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD

 

 

Stell Dir vor, Deine Lieblingsseifenoper birgt eine tiefere Wahrheit ...
... und stell Dir vor, der Penner von der U-Bahnstation hat doch recht ...
... und dann triffst Du auch noch die Frau Deiner (feuchten) Träume ...

 

Und an diesem Tag geht natürlich wieder einmal die Welt unter!!!

 

Bauliche Angelegenheiten
ein Roman von
Michael Haberfelner

 

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