I think we can all agree that Tom Atkins is a god damn national treasure, especially in regards to the horror genre. Having been in such films as Halloween III: Season of the Witch, The Fog, Night of the Creeps, and more, Atkins cemented himself as an iconic figure for many horror fans. Recently, we had the opportunity to chat with him about his latest film TRICK, which finds him reuniting with co-writer/director Patrick Lussier and co-writer Todd Farmer. The film, which centers around a no-nonsense detective tasked with tracking down a serial killer named Trick who has been terrorizing a small town, finds Atkins taking on the role of Talbott, the town grump. During our talk, we discussed everything from the joy he felt in being a part of this film to his favorite Halloween tradition.
To start things off, can you talk a little bit about working again with Patrick Lussier and Todd Farmer as well as who your character Talbott is?
Tom Atkins: One of the joys of my life was making that movie because it’s the third with Patrick Lussier – we did My Bloody Valentine 3D and then Drive Angry, which we shot down in Shreveport, and now TRICK, which we shot up in Newburg, New York, about an hour and a half from Manhattan in a beautiful little picturesque town. I love working with Patrick and I would go anywhere anytime to do anything with him. We’ve become such good friends and he’s such a wonderful director, I feel like I’m with my younger brother when I’m with him. It feels like I’m with family when I’m with [Patrick and Todd Farmer] and we had a wonderful time shooting the film. They write something for me in everything they do and I’m looking forward to whatever they do next.
Talbott was a real treat because they know me and I got to play the old-time curmudgeon (laughs). Someone had asked me if I had to do anything special to prepare and I said: Hell no, I’m an old curmudgeon (laughs). It was easy – I just showed up, wore funny clothes, carried a shotgun, and tried to help the kids of the town, who obviously Talbott adores and loves but he would never say that or show that or act like he did. Yeah, he was a delight to play.
How was it working with the rest of the cast?
Tom Atkins: They were terrific! I’ll tell you a little secret – Omar Epps wasn’t there yet. We did a scene in a diner with me and two of the female actors. One of them goes over to talk with Detective Mike Denver, the character portrayed by Epps, and then I go over and pour him some coffee and talk about her father who had gone off the roof and died and I say: it weren’t no accident. We all had to do it with a stand-in because Omar wasn’t there, but somehow Patrick put that all together after and it looked seamless. It was perfect and I wondered when I went in to watch the movie what that was going to be like and it was great. When [Omar] got there, he did his scenes on the other side of the camera and it was all put together great. Patrick is a genius, honest to God, him and Todd write wonderful stories and his years of being an editor with Wes Craven just really put him the seat for directing.
You’ve obviously been in so many iconic horror films throughout your career. What is it about the genre that you love so much?
Tom Atkins: They’re all jobs, honest to God. I didn’t purposely set out to be a horror movie icon. There was a time when I was younger that I would have liked to have had the career Vincent Price had. He was always more of a classical actor but I thought he was a wonderful, wonderful actor and person. The genre of horror just kind of came to me because Adrienne Barbeau was a friend and she told me she was dating this guy named John Carpenter and she wanted me to see his first movie called Halloween. I went and saw it and I said: Adrienne, you can’t marry this guy, this is too weird, this is a wonderful scary-ass movie and whoever put this together, I don’t know…I wouldn’t hook up with him (laughs). Of course they had a lovely life together for awhile and had a beautiful son named Cody. [Carpenter] invited me to do The Fog out of knowing him and being with him and Adrienne and that was the beginning.
With TRICK being centered around Halloween, what is your favorite thing to do to celebrate the holiday?
Tom Atkins: My wife and I have baskets of candy to hand out to the kids and the house is all lit up and I have big silhouettes in the windows of a witch, Wolfman, and Frankenstein. When we open the door to trick-or-treats we usually try to wear those clear, translucent masks. They’re really creepy because your face is behind them and they’re really weird. Kids are always creeped out when we hand out the candy – hopefully they don’t get scared too much. If they’re real little and they look like they’re going to start crying and running for their mom, then we take them off and laugh to try to put them at ease. That’s our Halloween tradition!
For more on TRICK check out our review here. TRICK is now available in theaters, On-Demand and Digital HD.