Writer-Director Jeff Ferrell Talks ‘Holiday Hell’

November 25, 2019

Written by Kelli Marchman McNeely

Kelli Marchman McNeely is the owner of HorrorFuel.com. She is an Executive Producer of "13 Slays Till Christmas" which is out on Digital and DVD and now streaming on Tubi. She has several other films in the works. Kelli is an animal lover and a true horror addict since the age of 9 when she saw Friday the 13th. Email: horrorfuelinfo@gmail.com



One thing we need more of in the horror genre is more holiday horror films. When I heard about Holiday Hell, both a holiday film and an anthology, I wanted to know more, so I went straight to the source, Holiday Hell writer and director Jeff Ferrell who talked about the film and more during our interview.



Horror Fuel: “Your film Holiday Hell is an anthology. Can you tell us a little about the segments?


Jeff Ferrell: “Holiday Hell is an anthology. It’s in the tradition of movies like Creepshow, Trick ‘r Treat, Tales from the Crypt, and Tales from the Hood. Essentially, it’s five short segments all woven together and the twist in each segment is based around a different holiday. One of the segments is around Hanukkah, another around Valentine’s day, and then we have Christmas, and the winter solstice. Each segment is its own little contained story. There’s a wrap-around that ties everything together.

The wrap-around stars Jeffery Combs from Re-Animator. He plays an eccentric shop keeper who owns a curiosity shop. A woman comes into the shop late at night right before Christmas for a last-minute gift. In the process of helping her find a gift, Jeff’s character tells her the story behind various strange objects in the shop. Each story sets off a different tale.”


Horror Fuel: “The film sounds awesome. Speaking of awesome, Combs is such a talented actor.

I love those types of shops. You can find the most interesting things in curiosity shops.”


Jeff Ferrell: “Yeah, they’re super fun. The shop that filmed in is actually a real curiosity shop owned by a friend of mine that no longer exists. We filmed it all there.”


Horror Fuel: “It’s great that you film in a real place.

If you had to give viewers three reasons to watch Holiday Hell what would they be?


Jeff Ferrell: “Well, I’d say one of the biggest reasons is variety, it’s an anthology film, so what we wanted to do with each segment is for them to stand alone and be different. So within this movie, you have a lot of different horror subgenres. The Hanukkah segment is about a little killer Rabi doll who comes to life to protect a young boy against some bad guys. It’s kind of our version of the golem myth. Then there’s a killer Santa segment about a guy who goes crazy on Christmas. Then we have a witchcraft based segment that’s got a Wickerman vibe. We hit a lot of these different subgenres. There are four different directors so that helps give the movie a lot of variety as well.

It features Jeffrey Combs. He’s a beloved actor in the horror community. He’s starred on so many legendary films and TV shows. He gives a great performance in this. He’ll keep you super entertained through the whole movie. He’s just a joy to watch and to work with. I really think horror fans will get a kick out of him while watching this.

The third reason I guess is the holiday season. It’s November right now and it’s the perfect time for people to be watching holiday horror-themed movies. If you’re a horror fan and looking for the perfect holiday film to watch, Holiday Hell is it.”


Horror Fuel: “We definitely need more holiday horror films. We just don’t have enough.”


Jeff Ferrell: “I agree. That’s why we wanted to do this film. Also, we wanted to represent some of those underrepresented holidays. There are not too many Hanukkah films.”


Horror Fuel: “Even though there are different directors, you wrote Holiday Hell with Jeff Vigil, is that right?”


Jeff Ferrell: “That’s right, we wrote it together. He wrote two of the segments and I wrote three of the segments and we helped each other out a little here and there. I directed two of the segments and he directed one.”


Horror Fuel: “Which segments are yours?”


Jeff Ferrell: “The wrap around and I also directed the Hanukkah segment with the killer Rabi doll. I’m Jewish and I’ve always wanted to do a Jewish themed horror movie because I felt like there were only a few I had heard of and I thought it was time for another one.”


Horror Fuel: “What is your favorite moment from filming?”


Jeff Ferrell: “I think for me, it was just the whole experience and getting to work with Jeffrey Combs. That was probably the highlight for me. We shot for a very short period of time and he’s one of my favorite actors of all time. I’ve watched him for years and years. Any time a director gets to work with one of their favorite actors, it’s kind of a dream come true situation. Great actors also bring a lot of great ideas, how to say a line or how to play a scene. It was a joy.

With the other segment, our main star is a young boy, Forrest Campbell. When we shot he was only eight or nine and he has an incredible performance. He’s a natural. It was amazing to watch this young kid really knock it out of the park.

I would say working with those actors was the highlight.”


Horror Fuel: “Combs is a horror icon.”


Jeff Ferrell: “It’s an honor when you get to work with someone like that.”


Horror Fuel: “If you will, tell me about the Rabi doll. I’m sitting here looking at a still and it’s creepy as hell.”


Jeff Ferrell: “It was made for me by a friend, Odessa Godoy. She’s from Portland and I’ve known her for years. She makes dolls and puppets. I called upon her when I wanted to make the doll. I don’t think that I gave her too many instructions, just what size I wanted it to be. I wanted it to be creepy and for it to look ancient. She hand-carved the whole thing out of wood. It’s really amazing work. I had no idea she was going to make him a little Rabi. It’s amazing. It’s not what I originally had pictured, but as soon as I saw it I knew it was so amazing that it would be perfect. I have to credit her for the look of the doll. It really was all her.”


Horror Fuel: “It’s a very creepy little doll. I wouldn’t want him sitting on my shelf. Your friend did a great job.


Jeff Ferrell: “I have it displayed in my house, so I get to look it all day.”


Horror Fuel: “I can’t deal with dolls. They creep me out.


Jeff Ferrell: “A lot of people don’t. Some don’t like dolls, some don’t like clowns. This movie has no CGI in it. I think there’s something about a real, hand-carved doll. It’s creepier when you know it’s real.”


Horror Fuel: “I love practical effects.”


Jeff Ferrell: “That was one of our goals with this film, to have it all practical effects. I think that practical effects age better.”


Horror Fuel: “You had another horror film come out recently, Dead West, a serial killer movie. Fill us in?”



Jeff Ferrell: “That one is a very different film, it’s a psychological thriller. It’s about a serial killer who is on a cross country road trip/killing spree. It’s more of a character study about a serial killer and what makes a serial killer. I really wanted to explore the mind of a serial killer and focus less on the gore. Dead West has been out for a while now.


Horror Fuel: “I’ve always found serial killers fascinating. You can’t help but wonder why they do what the do.”


Jeff Ferrell: “I think there is a lot of people interested in how their minds work. There are so many true crime shows these days. It’s not based on true crime, but it’s about one killer and his life. I want to stress that it is not a western film. The distributer kind of marketed it to look like a western, but it’s not. It’s got kind of a Cohen Brothers vibe. And it’s kind of a revenge film.”

Then, my first movie, which hasn’t been available for a while will be coming back out on all the VOD platforms. That one’s called Ghostlight. It’s a supernatural horror film. It’s a ghost story set in a haunted theater. We filmed it inside a real haunted theater. It’s a fun, really creepy movie. I’m really excited to get that film back out there for people to see. I’m really proud of it. It will be out on all the VOD platforms within the next couple of months.


Horror Fuel: “I look forward to checking those out.

I’m always interested to learn what were the first horror films people saw and what the circumstances were. You know, the ones that make people sort of fall in love with the genre. What was yours?”


Jeff Ferrell: “Oh, man. I grew up on horror films. Since I was a kid I’ve loved horror films. I can’t remember the first ones I watched, I grew up on so many of the classics, you know, Universal and Hammer. I loved all of those. I had a grandmother who was really knowledgable about horror films and she introduced me to them at a very young age. I’m really grateful to her because she helped my film education. But I think the first horror film that really made an impression on my mind was Night of the Living Dead. I saw it when I was a little kid. I was four or five when I walked in on my dad watching it. It was right at the scene where the car blows up. The zombies are eating all the bodies that blew up. I walked in and saw it, screamed and ran out. I was totally terrified. It sort of seared itself into my brain. I was scared for years aftward. I had this whole childhood trauma about it. When I was a little bit older I finally sat down and watched it and loved it. I realized it was a masterpiece. I became one of my favorite movies of all time.”


Horror Fuel: “That’s very similar to my experience, except mine was Friday the 13th and I slept under my bed for two weeks. Then I realized that I liked the safe fear you can get from scary movies. I’ve been chasing that feeling since.”


Jeff Ferrell: “That’s the great thing about horror films, you can be scared, you can face your fears, but it’s safe, you know? It’s only a movie. No matter how scared you get, your brain knows that it’s not real.


Horror Fuel: “I think we spend the rest of our lives trying to recapture the fear from those first films.


Jeff Ferrell: “Right. It’s hard, as kids we don’t have much to fear, but as we get older and I’ve seen 18,000 horror movies over the years, it gets harder and harder for me to get scared by anything. Over the past ten years, there have been a handful of films that scared me. As a horror film fan I feel like I’m looking for films that really will scare me. I find it really hard to find those.”


Horror Fuel: “I know exactly what you mean. It’s amazing that you could share that with your grandmother.”


To learn more about Jeff Ferrel and Holiday Hell, follow Jeff on Instagram and Twitter. Holiday 
Hell is out now. What are you waiting for? Go check it out!


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