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An Interview with Bill Oberst jr, Star of A Stranger in the Woods

by Mike Haberfelner

February 2024

Films starring Bill Oberst jr on (re)Search my Trash

 

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Your new movie A Stranger in the Woods - in a few words, what is it about, and what can you tell us about your character in it?

 

József Gallai [József Gallai interview - click here] is a director who can make the natural environment - trees and sky and water and earth - a character in itself. A lot of his work has what I call a "gothic nature" vibe, which I'm very into. A Stranger in the Woods is like a solitary walk in an unknown forest on a grey day: What you are doing is less important than what you are feeling; a creeping unease, an unnamed dread. That's very much my kind of terror. In the film, I play the agent of that terror. His name is Victor.

 

What did you draw upon to bring your character to life, and how much Bill Oberst jr can we find in Victor?

 

I love József because he allowed me, in animating Victor, to draw on the holy ones of horror, people like Lon Chaney and Boris Karloff [Boris Karloff biography - click here] and Peter Lorre [Peter Lorre biography - click here] and Conrad Veidt and Max Schreck; to summon the ghosts of their old movements and expressions and to waft those into the air around Victor. There is also much of me there. And much, I am sure, of József himself.

 

How did you get involved with the project in the first place?

 

József asked me to do a voice part in I Hear The Trees Whispering (a film that also dappled with gothic nature story-pollen). We got on, so when he sent A Stranger in the Woods I was already interested because I like his work so much. He's a bit reserved, József is; you sense things beneath the surface to which you are not privy. As an actor who yearns to be the confidante of my directors, this always frustrates me, but it drives me to go further to please them and to understand their vision. Actors are vast chasms of need, you know. It's in the blood.

 

To what extent could you identify with A Stranger in the Woods' brand of horror?

 

To the fullest extent. I live inside my tortured head and I like horror that takes me into someone else's tortured head. That's cathartic. A bloodfest is over when the vein runs dry. I want more. I want a lasting effect. I want the idea of the movie to crouch in my cobwebs for a few days afterward. Disturb me. Give me that noonday demon. Horror is quick. Terror takes time.

 

What can you tell us about A Stranger in the Woods' director József Gallai [József Gallai interview - click here], and what was your collaboration like?

 

See above. Plus this: To me, József's films are about the feel of the thing, not the action of the thing. When you watch his work, try not to think but to feel. Remember a time when your body was alive, really alive. Get a hot cuppa. Close the damned tabs. Then watch. I know I'm asking a lot, but at some point, you've got to relax and let go... I'm just suggesting that you try to do that before you try to get into a work of art. And independent film is, very often, art. The fact that our culture doesn't recognize that is a defect of the culture, not the art.

 

As far as I know, A Stranger in the Woods is the first film you've shot in Hungary - so what can you tell us about Hungarian style indie filmmaking, and in what way (if at all) does it differ from shooting a movie in the US?

 

I loved shooting in Hungary! It was on my list - I've shot in most of Eastern Europe but had missed Romania and Hungary - and it did not disappoint. I had an apartment in a historic town with a feel of faded majesty that you could just inhale. The work ethic of József's crew was impressive, a bit more intense than most US shoots, which I liked. I'm a worker.

 

Do talk about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere!

 

The location was in the woods (of course) near farmer's fields, and strangely silent. Very off the grid. I enjoyed the drive each morning because we would pass this beautiful statue of Christ, almost hidden in the trees and undergrowth. You could easily miss it. The guys and gals on the film team told me that most small towns at one time had a statue of Jesus or a cross near their entrance and that some, like this one, still existed but were not always kept up. I found that Christ more poetic and more moving for its half-hiddenness. The forests of Hungary which we visited are evocative, silent, towering. It was all wonderful imagination fodder. Of course, we weren't in the city. That was a blessing. Cities are a bit much. I'm a barefoot guy. I need dirt.

 

Any future projects you'd like to share?

 

I'll mention three, two on screen and one on stage: Billy Pon is prepping a sequel to his cult classic Circus Of The Dead and has asked me to reprise the role of Papa Corn. József Gallai is prepping a movie about a phenomenon that scares the bejeesus out of me, The Black-Eyed Children, and has asked me to do a role in that one. Both directors I respect and both projects I'm looking forward to. On stage, I've just begun touring a little solo show I've been developing for a year. It's called Adversary. It's about Satan. The website is https://AdversaryShow.com

 

Your website, social media, whatever else?

 

My site is https://BillOberst.com, and I'm @billoberstjr everywhere.

 

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

 

Be kind, people. Cruelty is overrated.

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

Thank you, Michael, for all you do for independent art and independent artists. You're one of us, and we appreciate you.

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Thanks for watching !!!



 

 

In times of uncertainty of a possible zombie outbreak, a woman has to decide between two men - only one of them's one of the undead.

 

There's No Such Thing as Zombies
starring
Luana Ribeira, Rudy Barrow and Rami Hilmi
special appearances by
Debra Lamb and Lynn Lowry

 

directed by
Eddie Bammeke

written by
Michael Haberfelner

produced by
Michael Haberfelner, Luana Ribeira and Eddie Bammeke

 

now streaming at

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Amazon UK

Vimeo

 

 

 

Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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