Features | Written by Martin Unsworth 06/12/2021

Barbara Crampton | SACRIFICE

Horror legend Barbara Crampton needs no introduction to STARBURST readers, and we jumped at the chance of catching up with her ahead of the UK TV premiere of the film Sacrifice, which debuts on Horror Channel this December. We quizzed Barbara on Lovecraft, Norway, and being a producer…

STARBURST: What drew you to Sacrifice?

Barbara Crampton: I first got an email from Sean Knopp, who's one of the producers. He and I worked on Replace [2017]. I feel like, in the independent horror scene, you tend to work on movies with your friends a lot, so he reached out to me and said, “We're doing this movie. We don't have all the financing yet, we'll probably do it in a year or so. Would you be interested in reading it as we have a part in mind for you?” I said, Yes, I'll read it. He said it was kind of Lovecraftian, although it wasn't really based on any particular story from H.P. and it's a little bit of a pagan horror story. So I read it and I thought my part was great and really thought the story was interesting and I didn't know at the time that we were going to be shooting in Norway. When they finally did get the financing together and said, “Oh, we're gonna shoot this Norway”. I was like, I'm totally in. send me the plane ticket, I'm there! It really started because of my relationship with Sean and my friendship with him. And he's moved into producing as well as myself. I've moved into producing and acting and so I always want to look at things that my friends are working on. That's how it all began.

And what was it like shooting in Norway?

Ah, it was pretty amazing. I'd never been to Norway, it's gorgeous. You don't know where the water begins and the land starts, because there are all these different fjords and there are bodies of water with these mountainous landmasses that are seemingly growing out of the water. And then on top of the mountains, there's water that's coming down the side of them and filling up the fjords and it's really incredible, really beautiful. There are a few dotted little towns where we were, but no real major, big, big cities, and it’s so full of nature and I think it was a perfect spot for a movie like this.

Sacrifice

As you said, it touches on the pagan as well, are you a fan of folk horror?

Yeah, I like folk horror; The Wicker Man is one of my favourite movies of all time and Midsommar came out a couple of years ago, which was another riff on folk horror. I think in times of strife and uncertainty, folk horror is really big, because you're trying to make sense of your world and understand it and it's hard to understand what's going on in society, especially today. There's a lot of anger and frustration in the world right now, more so than ever before, also because of the pandemic. Movies like this grapple with the human condition and try to find your place in the world. I think folklores are making a comeback. People take solace in the journeys that they see on screen while trying to understand life and the human condition.

What were Tor Mian and Andy Collier like to work for as directors?

They're so funny together. They both have a great sense of humour. And there's a lot in the script even though things that happen are horrible. They worked really well together. Andy was more on the camera side of things, he was our DP and Tor was working with the actors more but after we would shoot a scene, they would both confer: “What did you think of that, Andy?” “I thought it was good too”. “That was pretty good, but maybe we should try this or maybe we should try that”. They’d confer and then say, “Okay, let's do one more take”. They got along great together and were of the same mind and kept us all laughing, so we had a very good time together.

How did you approach your part since you've essentially got two roles in this in the film?

Well, in the first part of the movie I'm working under pretence trying to find out some more information and being sort of the Constable of the town. But is that really who I am? Not really. I don't want to give things away but because there'll be people that haven't seen the movie, but I'm the head of something and I think for my character, I had to be steeped very much in the society of the community of where we were, and who we are. We shot the movie in Norway, so for me, I felt like I had to be the most Norwegian of anybody there. I hired a Norwegian language teacher, she was an instructor at the Scandinavian School of San Francisco and she came over to my house for about eight weeks, once a week. And we would work on the dialogue a little bit and we talked about Norway a lot. I said that I want to have a really thick Norwegian accent, I want to be more Norwegian than anybody because I'm the head of the whole thing. I actually use some accent on certain words that an old-timer would use. That was important to me, to hold on to the traditions of our community and where we were and just be really steeped in this society, as unforgiving as our society was to everyone else that comes in contact with us, and people from the island and Ludovic [Hughes] and Sophie [Stevens], the two actors who played the two main parts, to welcome them to the community but also showcase the difference in who we were on the island to who they were coming from the outside.

As you mentioned earlier, this film has a Lovecraftian element. Do you feel you get offered a lot of the Lovecraft type films because of your past history?

Yeah, I guess it was because of the first movie I worked on with Stuart Gordon, Re-Animator. I did a few adaptations with him. And then I did one short called The Evil Clergyman based on an H.P. Lovecraft story, which Charles Band directed. I do keep getting offered these types of roles, but I think there's more of an interest in Lovecraft than ever before. A lot of other people have also adapted his stories for the screen. I just helped produce a movie that is going to be announced soon, which has the Lovecraftian feel to it, but it is really based on any particular Lovecraft story. I also have in development another movie that looks like we're going to go into production next year of an actual Lovecraft story. Lovecraft keeps following me around or I keep following Lovecraft around, I don't know! It's just I do love his stories. I love the atmosphere and the dread, and the energy that they seem to provoke in a viewer. I think that his writing is really particularly inspiring lots of different horror stories. So whether it's a true adaptation or whether it's something that is Lovecraftian feel, a lot of people more so than ever are using his stories to tell their stories.

What was your favourite part of filming Sacrifice?

I have to say, I really enjoyed any of my scenes working with Sophie. As the lead character in the film, I think she was particularly great as Emma Pickman. She's a very naturalistic actor. I think Ludovic Hughes was also good at as her husband, but Sophie had to carry the film. She really connected to a deep part of her own fear and humanity in her characterisation, and to me, it's just really thrilling to work with other really good actors. I feel like those two were particularly good. I hope she gets many more roles after this because I think she's really good. I think working with the other actors is usually my go-to and connecting with them. That's what it's all about for me as an actor - making a connection with another performer and I feel like I really connected to her and really loved working with her.

So you'd be open to working with her again?

Oh my gosh, yes! In fact, we were talking about shooting something recently with another company. I work a lot now with AMP films, who produced Jacob's Wife and we're developing some movies together. And there's a movie that we were thinking, “Oh, we’ll shoot this in Eastern Europe”. And I said, “Well, we have to get some people from England. I know a few people”. And she was one of the ones that I thought of in particular.

horror picks

Sacrifice is screening on Horror Channel in the UK, what would you say to people who were channel hopping to get them to watch?

First of all, I want to say I love Horror Channel, they've been very supportive of me and loving towards me and showed a lot of my movies. I would say this is a movie about a family and a longing for one's self and looking for identity and your place in the world. That's kind of a question that we all grapple with throughout our whole life, I think it's an ongoing, eternal question. I think the movie is scary and tense, and has beautiful, beautiful landscapes and photography and is also a fun movie. Sort of! In a strange way! But anymore into horror will know what I'm talking about, something that's scary is also fun. So I hope people enjoy it.

And what's next for you?

I have a couple of movies coming out next year. One that did well on the festival circuit, called King Knight.

We’ve seen it, as it played FrightFest, and it's brilliant.

Yes! I play Matthew Gray Gubler’s mother. That's coming out, I think in February, so the wider audience will get to see that soon. I don't get to do comedy very often - like a straight comedy - and this is more of that. I appreciated being a part of that film. Ricky Bates, Jr. is the director and a writer that I'm a big fan of his and I became good friends with him. I really loved working with him. And then there's another movie that I did Alone With You, where it played a girl’s Mom, it's very more of an arthouse horror film. It’s really interesting, beautifully shot during the COVID pandemic and the filmmakers shot it mostly in their apartment, and then I did a Zoom with them. And I was the camera person! They sent me a camera through the mail, and I had to set that up and be my own DP, sound person, makeup artist, and actor. That’s something coming out very soon as well. Then as a producer with AMP Films, I'm in development on a couple of movies that we're hoping to shoot this coming year so you'll know more about that later. But I'm always looking for stuff, always out there reading material. Since I became a producer, I really love developing stories and matching scripts with directors and other actors. So I’m really enjoying this later phase of my career moving into producing

Do you prefer producing rather than go into directing?

I don't think I’ll move into directing. If I could direct a short, maybe I would consider that, but I feel like my personality is much more like a dabbler. And if you're directing a movie, you really have to be with that one film for a year or two really. Probably two years developing it and then shooting it and everything, then going on the film fest circuit with it and I prefer to divide my time among a few different projects as a producer and also I love acting. I have really fallen in love with acting again. In this latter part of my career, I've gotten so many really great roles and I want to continue being able to do that. So I think the producing and the acting is really the place for me right now.

SACRIFICE has its UK TV premiere on Horror Channel on December 12th. You can read our interview with directors Tor Mian and Andy Collier here.

For more information, head over to http://www.horrorchannel.co.uk

Tune in on Sky 317, Virgin 149, Freeview 68, Freesat 138.