It’s no secret that Barbara Crampton is a horror genre legend. While she’s most known for her work in films such as Re-Animator, Castle Freak, and From Beyond, she has shown no sign of stopping anytime soon. Now she embraces the cosmic realm again with the Lovecraftian inspired film, SACRIFICE, where she portrays Renate, the leader of a Norwegian cult that worships a sea-dwelling entity.
For the upcoming release of SACRIFICE, Nightmarish Conjurings got a chance to chat with Barbara Crampton, where we discussed what initially attracted her to the role, how our world inherently is a cosmic horror, and the difficulties of adopting a Norwegian accent.
Thank you so much for speaking with me today, Barbara. To start things off, can you tell us a little bit about your character and what attracted you to the role?
Barbara Crampton: Our horror community is a small community and everybody knows one another, so my initial introduction to the project was because of Sean Knopp, who was an actor in Replace (in which Crampton also starred), and he’s a producer on this film. He contacted me and he said, “Hey, I’m doing a movie, do you want to be in it? I’m going to send you the script” and I said “Sure!” Sometimes I get calls out of the blue for things, but most of the time in the independent horror world, the more you’re in it, the more you’re working with your friends. That’s the way it works. So I read the script and I thought it was super cool and fun. It felt like it had some Lovecraftian undertones, as far as this cosmic horror. Also, I would get to play the leader of a cult and also go to Norway. So everything was very attractive about the whole project.
How was it working with directors Andy Collier and Toor Mian? Was there anything they did to help prepare for you for the role, especially when it came to you having a Norwegian accent?
Barbara Crampton: Well, they just said, “Can you do a Norwegian accent?” and I said, “Not yet, but I’ll figure it out” (laughs). They were actually quite nervous about it and they said, “No, really, can you do a Norwegian accent?” I knew they were nervous about it, but I felt like I could do it, I’d figure it out. What I did was I hired a language teacher from the Scandinavian School in San Francisco. She came over, and she’s from Norway, and she teaches Norwegian to Americans. I took a few lines and she helped me with the accent. They really wanted me to sound more Norwegian than the Norwegians cause I’m the head of this cult and I’ve been on this island for so long so I have to be really Norwegian. So she helped me and then I recorded myself and I sent it to the guys (Andy, Toor, and Sean) and they said, “Oh, okay, you could do it.” But then I had to work very hard at it for the next eight weeks, because I knew two months before I went that I was going to do the film. The Norwegian language teacher would come over twice a week for eight weeks and we just went over the dialogue.
We also went over how to say other words because what if there is some ad-libbing – I want to feel like I’m really immersed in the sounds of Norwegian. There were certain words that I did have to speak in Norwegian, so we worked a lot, we worked extraneously on a lot of stuff. Then we picked out some operative words to use that just felt really close to me, that I could even say more Norwegian than the Norwegians did so that it felt more old world in a way. It was a fun challenge to work on authentic old-world Norwegian. So the [directors] didn’t really help me with that, there’s no way they could help me with that, they’re Englishmen, so I was just on my own for that. That’s just part of the research you do for a part. It might feel a little strange to hear Barbara Crampton doing an accent because it’s not normally how people know me, but I thought, well, this will be a fun thing for me to do.
How was your experience portraying a cult leader?
Barbara Crampton: Amazing! I mean, The Wicker Man is one of my favorite movies. It was fun to play the head of a cult and be sort of nice and lull people in and make them feel like they’re going to be safe and okay, and they’re really not. But you know, also with the Lovecraftian undertones of the script, even though it wasn’t based on a Lovecraft story, per se, it had these Lovecraftian themes of, you know, there’s stuff in our world that you can’t control and as much as you try to have control, you really don’t and you think you do. So there’s a lot in the story that brings out the best of Lovecraftian descriptions and what he’s known for and the atmosphere that he creates that’s in this film.
You’ve done so many movies that nestle within the Lovecraftian realm (From Beyond, ReAnimator, Castle Freak). What is it about cosmic horror that you enjoy so much?
Barbara Crampton: I think our world is like cosmic horror. There’s so many things that happen. Look what happened with the pandemic, that was completely out of our control. Look what happened with the Trump Administration and what happened under his reign. There’s so many things that happened in our world that you don’t have control over. I think it just exemplifies society so much, you know? We want to try to have control over our world as much as we possibly can. We’re always fighting for that and we get small moments of that, but really, if you live in the moment and you go day by day by day, surprises are happening all over the place. Just like I think the best horror gives you an experience to live out what is really happening parallel to our life. There are things that are controlled – there are fears, there are anxieties that are all around us and how can we rise up to meet those challenges and be that final girl and escape, you know, or not, and what happens to us? Just facing those fears and seeing what other people go through, it gives you a sense for yourself that you can face these fears and you can overcome them, even if people die. I think watching horror movies prepares you for challenges. I think horror movie fans are some of the most self-actualized people I know because we’ve dealt with it all.
I love the production design of the film and the Lovecraftian relics seen throughout with the Cthulhu statues and the large medallions that the cult members wears. Was there anything from set you wished you could have taken home?
Barbara Crampton: Yeah! Why didn’t I take one of those necklaces? Somebody I was talking to earlier said, “Do you have anything from the film?” and I said, “No, why don’t I?” I’m going to ask them to send me something – I really liked those necklaces… why didn’t I get a robe? (laughs). I know this is your last question, but I do want to profile Sophie Stevens and Ludovic Hughes, the two stars of the movie, because people don’t know them very well but they’re exceptional actors. Especially with young actors, you never know who you’re going to get. Those two actors are two of the best, most perceptive actors I’ve worked with. They aren’t seasoned performers. They’ve only done a few things each, and they were extraordinary! I think the film really works because they’re so good in their roles and I really want people to write about them and talk about them because I thought they were extraordinary. It’s easy to act in a movie when your partners good, you know? And they were amazing.
For more on SACRIFICE, check out our review here. SACRIFICE opens in select theaters on February 5th and will be available On Demand on February 9th. The film will then arrive on Blu-ray on February 23, 2021.