Marshal Hilton with Sig PR Shot

Bigfoot And Bunnies: An Interview With ‘Primal Rage’ And ‘Bunnyman’ Star Marshal Hilton

 

 

I sat down with award-winning actor Marshal Hilton to talk about both past projects like the Bunnyman franchise, and his roles in several soon to be released films including Primal Rage, Astro.

Hilton also gave us an inside look at what it’s like to star in horror films, the good, the bad, and the gooey.

 

Horror Fuel: “How did you get your start?”
Marshal Hilton: “I wish it was some grand design to tell you about, but it isn’t. I was born in Long Beach, California and raised up thirty minutes north of Los Angeles. You’re never a headshot, a script, and a friend away from a role. I had that creative thing inside of me. I’ve been in and out of Hollywood since I was a kid. It’s something I continue to work at and do and the jobs just keep coming. I’ve probably worked on seventy or eighty films.
I meet a lot of people who come here, young actors. You meet people who say, “I’ve got a three-year plan, a five-year plan, and I just want to say, “If you think like that, you’re screwed.” That’s not how this works. You do it because you do it. For me, I just stay in the present game.”
Horror Fuel: “I have to ask, what has been like to be part of the ‘Bunnyman’ franchise?”
Marshal Hilton: “[laughter] Wow. It was odd. Carl Lindbergh is a very unassuming dude, but his imagination is freaking scary. The shit that goes on inside that guy’s head. If you just looked at him you would never know. He’s a closeted creative freak. He does some weird shit. You’ve got a six-foot-tall bunny running around hacking people up for no reason, you’re sensibility is a bit deranged. I didn’t know anything about the first one and he had me come in and talk about the second one. I played the sheriff who was a bit of a ball-buster. In the second film, at the end, they were really strapped for time and were running out of sunlight and we were shooting Sheriff Baxtor being killed, but they couldn’t use the footage, so Carl calls me up like two years later and says, “Dude, I want to bring the sheriff back.” I said, “Okay, how?” and he said, “We only saw your eyes getting dug out, but we didn’t see you die. So, we are going to have you show up with your eyes all bandaged up.” I said, “I can see that.” He brought me back and I believe in the last one and I think they effectively put the sheriff to rest, unless he can come up with a way the sheriff can come back from being smashed by a car, but this is Hollywood. You go “This is so freaking stupid, a man in a bunny costume.” It’s either Carl in the suit or it’s Josh and we’re shooting and there’s blood all over this freaking suit and Carl’s got the head off and the bunny head is sitting on the chair next to him and he’s directing [laughter].”
Horror Fuel: “Never say never.”
Marshal Hilton: “Right, never say never. Those movies were crazy [laughter]. It was a really funny story about how I got in. I read a scene for Carl and we finished and he said, “Thank you very much.” I was getting ready to leave and he called me back in. He walked to the table where there is this bag of shit on the floor, grabs a shirt and throws it at me and says, “Try that on.” It was a sheriff’s shirt. I put it on. He asks if it fits and I go, “Yeah it fits.” and he goes, “You’ve got the part.” So, I would like to say I got it because my reading was so absolutely stupendous, but I think it was because the god damn shirt fit. Stuff like that happens. I’ve always wondered if I had eaten that burrito and all that pasta and all that great shit and the shirt hadn’t fit would I have got the part [laughter].”
 
Horror Fuel: [laughter] That’s crazy. I’m sure you would have. You know, it’s funny. Last year I went to a convention and there were a group of cosplayers dressed as the cast.
Marshal Hilton: “Cosplayers are amazing. That’s a whole new level of dedication. I’ve been to Comicon several times, I go to Monsterpalooza, and their imaginations are truly inspiring. It’s amazing.
I’ve got two more scripts from Carl. One is a sci-fi film that we are going to shoot this year, called ‘Nowhere Girl’, and then we’ve got another one that I think is completely amazing called ‘Blood Angel’. It’s about a time-traveling Nazi zapped into outer space during World War II. There’s a DNA string attached to this young woman and with it, he can rekindle the Third Reich. He wants to make that one too. It’s pretty crazy. It’s super interesting. Do you know who  Bill Oberst Jr. is?”
Horror Fuel: “Oh yeah.”
Marshal Hilton: “He’s got Bill in mind to play Ickorist, the time-traveling Nazi. Everything about Billy, his look, his face, is perfect for it.”
Horror Fuel: “You’re most recent role was in ‘Primal Rage’, can you fill us in? The trailer looks great.”
Marshal Hilton: “‘Primal Rage’ is the brain-child of Patrick Magee, a special effects master. He does monster creations. He’s been around for a while and his lineage is through Stan Winston’s school. He was instrumental in ‘Predators’ and ‘Alien’. He wanted to make this movie for probably 15 years and expand on the Bigfoot lore, legend, and myth. It has a Native American vein to it. He really flipped it on its ear. It’s very different from the way other people have presented it.
We shot it on the Oregan, California border. It took a year to make it. He worked on the suit for three or four years and made it by hand. It’s fully animatronic and it fits Patrick who is around six-foot-ten, Patrick was the Bigfoot. And he’d been scouting locations for years. He’s taken Bigfoot almost into the realm of the missing link. It’s ancient, very prehistoric, a shy beast who lives in the flora. The closest thing I can compare it to is ‘Predator’, only the Bigfoot is the predator. I saw the family and friends screening a year ago and I was really, really surprised. We knew we were doing something cool, but you never know how cool it can be until you see the beast on the screen. It’s Patrick’s first movie and he killed it. The soundtrack is amazing. It’s definitely a movie to see in theaters, but it will be cool on the box or a laptop.”
Horror Fuel: “What was your reaction the first time you saw the beast on set?”
 
Marshal Hilton: “That was the first time I saw it moving. The first time I saw it was in Patrick’s studio. That’s where they wanted to meet with me. The door goes up and you walk into what’s basically a little factory. The place is lined with amazing monsters. There’s a recreation from the original mold of the original Predator. It was just amazing. Then he showed me the concept video and then took me to the back and showed me the head and I was done. You just know when you’re around a person that has incredible passion. You know it when you see it. I was in. Then I read the script. I knew it was going to be cool. By the time I actually saw it moving through the woods, it was just…you just go ‘Wow!’. It was looked so real.”
Horror Fuel: “I’m a big fan of practical effects.”
Marshal Hilton: “Practical effects are taking a bath. It’s almost a dying art with the making of all these movies these days with all the CGI going on. So these guys, in order to continue their crafts and perfect it, they kind of have to take that step into making their own projects. That’s exactly what Patrick did. Patrick’s known Greg Nicotero from ‘The Walking Dead’ for years, in fact, he still works with Nicotero on The Walking Dead’s Universal Studios attraction. Nicotero, what did he do in order to stay in the craft? ‘The Walking Dead’ happened, now he gets to create zombies and do practical effects all the time. He gets to chop off heads and throw blood and stuff everywhere. That’s his deal. That’s what he loves to do. He’s got a show now where he can do that all the time. That’s what Patrick did with ‘Primal Rage’.
We didn’t reinvent the wheel, but we made a cool movie. You have a guy and a girl, the car breaks down and they get lost in the woods. It’s all how you present it. Rubber suit monsters are not new to Hollywood, but it’s about what you put into it. Can you imagine what the original ‘Predator’ would have been like as a CGI movie? Or ‘Alien’? They would have never have been the movies that are. There’s a certain organic feel to a practical effects movie. When you watch a film with practical effects it feels more real. CGI works for certain genres, but when you watch a movie like that it’s a completely different experience. When practical is done right, it’s badass. This is done right, no doubt about it.  I was impressed with ‘Primal Rage’. It’s one thing to make it, but seeing it when it’s all combined, music, action, and the soundtrack, it’s amazing. Patrick’s passion shows up in every single frame.
I’ll be honest, it’s more of a thriller than horror, but they lump it in with horror because it has some carnage, it’s Bigfoot okay. The marketers like things to fit into little boxes. But it’s got more to it than that. There’s a spiritual side to the movie, in fact, the original name was ‘Primal Rage: The Legend of Oh Mah’. Oh Mah is what the Native Americans of the Hupa (also spelled Hoopa) called the Bigfoot for centuries, thousands of years. So, it’s not just Bigfoot walking around slashing people.”
 
Horror Fuel: “Can you tell us about the characters?”
Marshal Hilton: “Primal Rage is the story of Ashley and her boyfriend Max, lost in the forest trying to get back to the road after a freak accident with their car. Along their journey, they stumble upon my character “BD” and his band of merry men in the deep woods. They are a rude and somewhat obnoxious bunch that serves up more frustration to Max and Ashley rather than actual help. Outgunned, and hopelessly lost, they are forced to endure BD in his gang as he leads them back to safety. A local Sheriff and his Deputy come across Max and Ashley’s wrecked car and begin searching to find them as well. And then, well, as you can probably imagine, BD and his crew are least of their worries. Things go from bad to worse, much, much worse.”
Horror Fuel: “What about your character?”
Marshal Hilton: “Old B.D., he is a bit of an ass. He’s the leader of this band of hunters that the couple, unfortunately, runs across while trying to find their way out of the woods. He’s a big fish in a little pond. He sees himself as important, he probably is. There wasn’t a lot on him or who he was, but Patrick and I figured out he probably owns the liquor store and the car dealership in town. He is “the guy”, you know? We figure that the hunters are probably his “yes men”. He likes to mess with people’s minds. He’s set up to be the antagonist of the story, but we come to find out there’s something much more dangerous in the woods than him and his men. Here’s a little movie trivia for you, when Patrick visually imagined B.D., he kind of pictured Brian Dennehy from ‘Rambo: First Blood’. That’s also how he wanted it to look, all wet and nasty. They never came up with a full name for the character, but B.D. is after Brian Dennehy. I didn’t know that. When I confronted Patrick about the initials, he wouldn’t tell me. He said, ‘You’ll figure it out.’
After having the script for a while, I was watching Patrick Swayze in ‘Road House’ and you remember the character of that head-honcho played by Ben Gazzara? The image of that kind of guy popped into my head, passive-aggressive, charming, kind of a dirtbag, an arrogant dick.
At one point B.D. offers Ashley his coat so he’s being kind and the next minute he gets mad and you don’t know if he’s going to do something bad to her. Whenever he’s talking to the couple he’s talking to his boys at the same time. He was fun, but yeah, he’s a dirtbag.”
 
Horror Fuel: “B.D. sounds like a real piece of work, but I can’t wait to see you in action.”
Horror Fuel: “When can fans expect to see ‘Primal Rage’?”
Marshal Hilton: “I believe it’s coming to 400 cities nationwide, then it will go to Europe, then the VOD will drop. If you like practical effects, you’ve got to see it. It will have an advanced one-night screening on February 27th. They will also be showing a featurette of the making of the film.”
Horror Fuel: “I can’t wait to see it. You have another film coming out soon, ‘Astro’.”
Astro (2018)
Marshal Hilton: “Yeah, Astro is a sci-fi film. We shot in Roswell, New Mexico, appropriately. New Mexico is a phenomenal place. It’s the brainchild of Asif Akbar. I had worked with him on several films previously.  He had this sci-fi thing in his head and I guess he liked what I was about. The character is called Alexander Biggs. He is a billionaire enigma for sure. The only thing you know is that he’s got a shit-load of money and that he’s fascinated with the universe and cosmos. That’s where life is headed and he wants to be there first. They’ve developed technology so that they can go into outer space. While out there they scoop-up a lifeform and brings it back. Through the testing of this species, they learn that its DNA is linked to ours. It has kind of the concept of a star child. He finds out that there’s this link to someone he has known from his past. I’m co-starring in it with a guy named Gary Daniels, he’s done a lot of martial arts films, he plays this hero of the film who is linked to this thing.
It’s in post and I think they’re trying to wrap production in late February or early March and then it’s going to do what it’s going to do. 
 There’s another one. Do you like the supernatural?”
Horror Fuel: “Really? Of course! Supernatural films are my favorite. Do tell.”
Marshal Hilton: “I worked on a film with director Brian Avenet-Bradley, he did ‘Malignant’ with Brad Dourif, and he did ‘Ghost of the Needle’ and ‘Dark Remains’. It’s a supernatural-thriller kind of thing and it’s almost done. They are going to do the festival route, in the beginning, I think. I play a character that is very out of the box, very different for me. When you see me, you’ll think, ‘No fucking way.’ I play the kindly neighbor next door. The guy drags around an oxygen tank and has a tube up his nose and around his ears so he can breathe.
I did another one with my friend Jesse Johnson called ‘The Debt Collector’, with Scott Atkins and Louis Mandylor. I did a little piece in that thing and it will be out soon.
Then there’s Flicks, a little indie dramedy series that you might see on FX. I call it ‘Entourage on Top Ramen’. It’s about the bull shit that goes on in Hollywood. I play an old-school agent, you know spray tanned with all the jewelry. He’s foul-mouthed, kind of “bull in a china shop.” It was really fun to do.
So, yeah, I’ve got a few things going on.”
Horror Fuel: “It sounds like you’ve been really busy.”
Marshal Hilton: “I have been. Hopefully, knock on wood, I’ll keep getting calls and keep doing what I’m doing.
Horror Fuel: “So, what’s your favorite horror movie?”
Marshal Hilton: “I hate having the shit scared out of me, but it’s hard not to like the ‘Alien’ movies and the ‘Predator’ movies. What’s yours?”
Horror Fuel: “My all-time favorite is ‘Jaws’.
Marshal Hilton: “‘Jaws’ is a great movie. That film brought back practical effects in a big way. Everything changed after ‘Jaws’, like after ‘The Exorcist’, everything changed. After ‘Jaws’ nobody wanted to go in the ocean. Did you like Bram Stoker’s Dracula with Gary Oldman?”
Horror Fuel: “I love it. It was brilliant.”
Marshal Hilton: “Gary Oldman was sick in that. I’m a drama guy. It’s very different to work on horror films vs watching them. As an actor, you come in and you know the gag, shits gonna fly and someone off camera is going throw a bunch of fucking blood at you and it’s going to hit you in the face. Then you’ve got to figure out how to get this gooey crap off you, out of your hair, and from places it’s not supposed to be [laughter]. It’s not scary in the least.”
Marshal Hilton: “Have you seen del Toro’s monster yet?”
Horror Fuel: “No, I have not, but I’m looking forward to it.”
Marshal Hilton: “It’s supposed to be absolutely stunning. del Toro loves monsters. He’s a big fan of Patrick’s work. He has an amazing collection that includes several of Patrick’s creatures. People will commission Patrick to make things like the werewolf from ‘The Werewolf in London’. He does life-size recreations too. You may see us at conventions or his monster pop up. The way the movie ended, it’s wide open for a sequel.”
Be sure to keep an eye out for Hilton’s upcoming features and see Primal Rage in theaters for its special one-night screening on February 27, 2018.  Follow Marshal Hilton on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and visit his website for regular updates on all of his projects.

 

 

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