Reel life: Bill Moseley's 'Alleluia!' breaks this weekend
Barrington's bad boy
Ask actor Bill Moseley the secret to playing frighteningly real psychopaths and he'll tell it to you.
"I just believe I'm the only sane one in the room," he said.
Moseley grew up in Barrington before he evolved into a horror film icon, having hit the trifecta of horror sequels and remakes. He played Chop-Top in "Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2," the ill-fated Johnny in Tom Savini's remake of "Night of the Living Dead" and a Deadite captain in "Army of Darkness," the last segment in the "Evil Dead" trilogy.
His newest movie, Darren Lynn Bousman's fantasy musical "Alleluia! The Devil's Carnival," plays at 6:45 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 11, at the Patio Theater in Chicago. It's the sequel to Bousman's 2012 musical. (Go to thedevilscarnival.com for tickets). Moseley reprises his role as "The Magician."
"I'm back with my sidekick Mr. Bunny," Moseley said. "He's a very dead rabbit. Of course, we're in hell, so I guess we're all dead, aren't we? Some of us are a little livelier. Mr. Bunny's stuffed."
How did the Magician and Mr. Bunny wind up in Hades?
"I got a little drunk and was dancing with Mr. Bunny and fell into the path of a train. So, for being an inept magician, I was sent to hell. So, I'm not completely bad, but ... no, wait, I am!"
Moseley two weeks ago returned from Queensland, Australia, where he headed the cast of "Boar," inspired by the 1984 Aussie killer pig horror tale "Razorback."
"I'm a good guy for a change, the head of a family," he said. "Mercifully, I play an American because I have a terrible Australian accent. And I had to play a good guy, which was a little stressful."
"You know, you have to be careful with your facial expressions, how you move. Not turn around too quickly. You have to be cool, like you're going to the Lincoln Park Zoo or Ravinia."
Moseley is now 63 and a member of an elite club of actors who've made careers out of exploring the dark side in movies.
"It's funny, because Tony Todd from 'Candyman' and Robert Englund from 'Nightmare on Elm Street' and Sid Haig (of 'Devil's Rejects'), Kane Hodder of 'Friday the 13th," and all these guys who are my contemporaries in the horror genre, they all have wonderful senses of humor."
"It's strange that the people who have excelled in this line of work seem to be really wonderful, balanced people," he said. "I'm glad I had that Midwestern experience growing up where I had that foundation and that balance in my family. I can do this kind of work without having to bring it home, if you know what I mean."
Uh, what do you mean?
"Rob Zombie used to get mad at me on the set of 'The Devil's Rejects.' I was playing a very evil character. As soon as he said 'Cut!' I would pop out like a piece of toast in a toaster, crack jokes and relieve the tension. Rob chastised me because some of the other actors were more 'Method' and they wanted to stay in character, remain in that dark place or whatever. That's not how I ever worked."
So, why has Barrington's bad boy Bill survived in a business known for chewing up and spitting out actors, metaphorically and literally?
"I think the thing that's made me popular over the years is that I'm happy in my work," he said.
"You should bring some enthusiasm to your job, even if you're playing a child killer or a cannibal chain-saw guy. You should always be happy in your work."
(For my profile on Bill, go to bit.ly/1NgA6RC.)
Film critics notebook:
• Join me for "Dann Gire's Cinematic History of Chicago," a speedy survey of movies made in the Windy City and its suburbs. The show starts at 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 12, at the Northfield Library, 1785 Orchard Lane, Northfield. With clips from key Chicago movies. Free admission. winnetkalibrary.org.
• The first Chicago ReelAbilities Film Festival continues through Sunday at various venues in the Windy City. Go to reelabilitieschicago.org for schedules, locations.
• The After Hours Film Society presents Sean Baker's comic drama "Tangerine" at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 14, at the Tivoli Theatre, 5021 Highland Ave., Downers Grove. It's about a call girl (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) who rips through Hollywood on Christmas looking for her apparently unfaithful pimp. General admission is $10. Guest speakers include Chicago film critics Blake Goble and Dominick Suzanne Mayer. Go to classiccinemas.com.
• The extremely popular Pickwick Theatre Classic Film Series kicks into gear for another season with Alfred Hitchcock's 1959 "wrong man" thriller "North by Northwest" (partially shot in Chicago!) at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 17, at the Pickwick Theatre, 5 S. Prospect Ave., Park Ridge. Iconic organist Jay Warren will perform prelude music on the Mighty Wurlitzer at 7 p.m. General admission $10 ($8 in advance, $7 seniors). Go to parkridgeclassicfilm.com.
• Dann Gire's Reel Life column runs Fridays in Time out!