Horror icon Bill Moseley discusses the intriguing zombie drama Exit Humanity, available now on DVD
Bill Moseley is a name synonymous with horror, from his roles in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Army Of Darkness, the Night of the Living Dead remake, Rob Zombie's Halloween remake, and Repo! the Genetic Opera!. The genre legend is back with one of the most intriguing takes on the zombie genre I've ever seen, Exit Humanity. Set in the aftermath of The Civil War, the story follows Edward Young (Mark Gibson), a tortured man who was forced to kill his wife and son after they were turned into flesh-eating zombies. He sets off on one last quest, to spread his son's ashes over a waterfall, when he encounters the power-hungry General Williams (Bill Moseley), who is convinced he can find a cure to this undead madness.
I recently had the chance to speak with Bill Moseley over the phone about his role in this poignant and intriguing take on the popular genre, currently available on DVD and VOD. Here's what he had to say.
I got to watch this last night, and I really, really loved it. I'm looking forward to seeing what other people think about this.
Bill Moseley: I'm glad, man. I'm glad you liked it.
I can't remember such a heady take on the zombie genre in quite awhile, if ever. Was that one of the biggest draws for you, when you read (writer-director) John (Geddes)'s script?
Bill Moseley: Actually, I'll tell you, the biggest draw was just the character of General Williams, and the fact that it meant also working with Stephen McHattie and Dee Wallace. It was going to be in northern Ontario, a province I know and love. All the elements combined to make it a no-brainer, which, of course, is disappointing in the zombie genre, since that's what they eat (Laughs).
Williams is so set in his convictions. He doesn't want to believe that it's something supernatural, that it's just a disease. Do you think he believes there is actually a cure, or does he just use that to have some sort of command on the few humans left?
Bill Moseley: Yeah. My big ambition, of course, is that the South shall rise again, and that what we're going to do is find a cure, and, in so doing, find a way to control the zombies. That will be my new army, and I will then prevail over the North, and the South will rise again. He's still very much a General. Over these past six years, a lot has happened. The war has changed, and yet, he is still very, very focused. He is really determined, I would say, obsessed, with controlling these forces that are just so chaotic and out of his control.
Just having this set in this time was interesting to me. Any present-day zombie project, people can go into town and grab supplies, but here you really have to fend for your own. Can you talk about how those locations in Ontario helped give the feel of post-Civil War Tennessee?
Bill Moseley: It was a beautiful area. It was funny because, when I was there shooting, it was hunting season. At one point, when we were shooting the scene where Edward Young and I have our final duel, our gentleman's duel, our production was interrupted. We were shooting on public land, provincial fish and game land. We had permission, but right in the middle of shooting one day, a very angry woman drove up wearing a camouflage outfit. She was the wife of one of the hunters, I guess she was a hunter too, and we were messing up their prime spot. Every year, they get a couple of days off of work, because the hunting season isn't very long, they've come all this way, to shoot deer. There we were, walking around in zombie makeup and Civil War costumes, messing up their hunting (Laughs). The woman was really angry. We tried to explain we were shooting a movie, and we had permission. 'Well, this is our spot! We come here every year!' I was just afraid that, if they got too pissed off, they might take a couple of shots at us and just say, 'Whoops, my bad. Sorry. Accidents happen.' I was wearing my general's coat, and it wasn't exactly bright orange. If I'm running through the woods, I'm thinking damn, man, I hope they don't think I'm a deer. I was able to use that as an actor, to maybe move a little more quickly and duck for cover.
There were actually bigger threats...
Bill Moseley: Yes, exactly! It was actually a lot of fun. To the credit of the production company and John, everybody was really into it, even the people who volunteered for zombie duty. I'm sure they had a much different idea of what that would entail before they showed up, as opposed to after they showed up. There were a lot of local volunteers who sat for hours, not only in the makeup chair, but huddling around in chilly or wet circumstances. They really did a great job. I think everybody was very enthusiastic about it and focused and they were ready to suffer for our art. God bless them all.
Can you talk a bit about working with Mark Gibson? It's one of his first major roles, and I was really impressed with his performance. I know you don't have a ton of scenes with him, but can you talk about the impression you got from him on the set?
Bill Moseley: He's an actor's actor. You really hope that when you're working with someone, especially someone who's new to this line of work, that they really focus on the character. He certainly did that. He was a breeze to work with. The scenes I had with him, of course, are when we first encounter him, at the campfire, and then the finale. I enjoyed working with him. I thought he was really focused. I could appreciate that from afar. He was really in character, he didn't fiddle around. He wasn't distracted by anything. He just seemed to have a secret mission to deliver Edward Young. I certainly appreciate that. Every now and then, you work with someone who is a little self-conscious or camera-conscious, and that's a distraction. It's an easy one, but it's a distraction nonetheless. I just thought he was a total gamer, and I was very happy to work with him.
It seemed like you really did a lot of work on the Southern accent. It seemed very authentic and I was impressed with the vocal quality. How much work had to go into getting that right voice for General Williams?
Bill Moseley: Thank you for that. It's a point of pride. I worked hard on the accent. I'm no Meryl Streep, in terms of living the part, but I was very happy to have that accent. What I do is basically go over the lines. You can run into some distractions, if you end up just really making it about the line, and getting caught up in how they sound, versus what you're saying. It was great just to have the opportunity to say 'scallywag' (Laughs). 'Look in that scallywag's satchel.' Stuff like that is a hoot. But I did work on it. In terms of going on Youtube and doing Tennessee accents, I didn't go that far. Sometimes, what ends up shaping a performance is the setting, the world, the environment that you enter. I think that really helped as well. I showed Exit Humanity to my girlfriend, Lucinda Jenney, a very accomplished actress. She talked about how relaxed the performance was, and I think that also has a lot to do with it. If you're comfortable with what you're doing, in the world, with the director, with the story, with the truth of the scenes, I think that makes you better than you are.
Every now and then you see horror films like Trick 'r Treat or All the Boys Love Mandy Lane that are very beloved but don't get a theatrical release. For me, I think this would have been great for a theatrical release, but it almost may seem too smart for a theatrical zombie movie. It's not quite the zombie movie people might expect. Do you think this should have gotten a theatrical release?
Bill Moseley: It's kind of like Days of Heaven, in a way. There's a certain pace to it that probably would make it less of a theatrical candidate, in terms of cineplexes. I've been going to movies a lot lately, because my kids are out of school. I've been seeing like Dark Shadows, Marvel's The Avengers, a lot of movies that really move. There's a real pacing. I don't know if you call it the MTV cut, but they just motor right along. If you get used to that, by comparison, Exit Humanity is more glacial. For those of us who appreciate that, it's a great asset, but for other people who are snapping their fingers and checking their iPhone's for text messages during the movie, I think that would be less appealing.
Is there anything you can say about Night of the Living Dead: Origins 3D. I talked to (director) Zebediah DeSoto almost four years ago about this project, and it really intrigued me. Can you talk a bit about your experience on that, and who you play?
Bill Moseley: I play Johnny. I reprise good old Johnny, so I get to say, 'I'm coming to get you, Barbara' yet again. This time, it's to Danielle Harris, who is Barbara. I haven't talked to Zeb in probably close to two years. Sometimes I see a post or two on Facebook, but I really have no idea what's going on with it. I know I play Johnny. I know it's set in New York City. The fact that it's animated gives the storytellers a lot more possibilities, in terms of being able to set the story in New York City. I know that Danielle is fired up about it. I know that Tony Todd is in it, so it has a pretty cool cast. I had fun working with Zeb. Basically, the first day I worked on it, was voicing Johnny. Then I came back, and he had rigged up some face-capture camera. We put on this sort of gas mask and repeated the lines again. It was supposed to capture all of the motions of my face saying the lines, and that was going to translate into this state-of-the-art animation. I'm very excited about it. I think it's coming out, one of these days. I saw that they sold the foreign rights, or something's happening. It's certainly alive and well, but maybe that's just the nature of animation, that it takes a long time.
Bill Moseley: Yeah, me too. It was very nice to talk to you.