You may not know his name but you definitely know his face, and for fans of actor Dylan Baker, his ability to blend into the characters he plays is a talent that even the big-name stars wish they could master.
With over 100 films and television credits under his belt, Baker has played some of the screen’s most intriguing characters, including the pedophile Bill Maplewood from Todd Solondz’s Happiness, Dr, Curt Connors from the Spider-Man movie franchise and, my personal favorite performance of his, the psychopathic serial killer Steven Wilkins from Trick r’ Treat.
Yes, there is something incredibly twisted about a school Principal that dispatches delinquents underneath the sod of his yard that makes this horror fan-girl’s heart go pitter-pat and, as luck would have it, I got to chat with Dylan Baker all about the movie that is slowly becoming a horror classic in its own right.
Check it out after the break.
FOG!: Trick ‘r Treat sort of crept up on the public, making its way through film festivals for a couple of years before landing on DVD, are you surprised by how it is still finding an audience 6 years after its initial release?
DYLAN BAKER: You know it’s funny. I’m not because Michael Dougherty is behind it and you can tell he was not going to let this film die. He was going to keep pushing it and throwing it in front of people who would love it. It was always his plan to keep it showing to people that would just scream about it and tell their friends and that’s why I think it’s got legs. It constantly runs into a new audience each Halloween an if it’s out there and somebody sees Trick ‘r Treat they’re gonna say “Wait a minute, what’s that all about? I haven’t seen that one. I’ve seen Halloween 25 times and I’ve seen (Texas) Chainsaw Massacre” but Trick ‘r Treat I think could continue to bring in lots and lost more people and I think (Film Production Company) Legendary (Pictures) is very smart in trying to get it out there in like a yearly release for every Halloween because I think it could do very well.
FOG!: In a short list of Horror/Halloween anthology movies Trick ‘r Treat is becoming a classic in the genre and there is some talk among friends of mine who, after seeing that Fear Net did a 24-hour marathon of the movie on Halloween in 2011, are calling it the horror version of A Christmas Story and hope that it will begin playing every year for a full day on TBS. What is it about the movie that makes it so beloved among horror aficionados?
DB: (laughing) That’s interesting. You know I do think there is something about it that’s very different than A Christmas Story. I mean A Christmas Story is harking back to that 1940’s family and all the references to products of the day and whatnot whereas Trick ‘r Treat sort of has a timelessness, it could be happening at any time really in the 20th or 21st century in some ways. There are so many instances of just Americana, of just your hometown, that this could happen just down the street, or to the old guy who lives down the block that nobody likes to talk to, who lets his yard grow and all the crap and everybody hates him and he’s mean. There’s still one or two of those asylums that have just closed in the last few years and everybody tries to get close to them on a night like this because they have spooks and they have spirits still going around in them so you can scare the heck out of your friends. So I think there’s something about that Michael tapped into but at the same time he takes you on a real ride. He lets you laugh, he lets you have fun, then he lets you relax and then grabs you right when you don’t expect it…I love the film, I think it’s got so many different kinds of bumps and turns and twists.
FOG!: What’s so great about the film is that it has a real story, even though it’s presented as a series of interconnected vignettes and the time lines overlap. So many of the horror films today seem to be either Torture Porn or “This Really Happened, We Have the Footage” movies and I think people ultimately like to hear a traditional story that will give them a good scare and this movie really does do that.
DB: I think it’s true. I have to say, I have a daughter who was in high school a couple of years ago and on Halloween she brought a bunch of her friends over to the house and they were going to watch some scary movies, so I brought out Trick ‘r Treat and asked “Hey, do you guys know this?” and they were “No, No, let’s see that” and about two-thirds of the way through it I walked out of the kitchen with a big old butcher knife and asked if they would like anything to eat, maybe some candy and they started screaming. It was great, there’s nothing like giving someone a little scare.
FOG!: You are typically cast as the Everyman, someone who is trustworthy and good, and your performance as Evil School Principal Steven Wilkins in Trick ‘r Treat plays off that persona as well with the exception of being extremely very dark and disturbing. When you get to play a character that is so evil and immoral but steeped in normality, how delicious of a challenge is it for you?
DB: For me, the real challenge was to surprise people with that. I tend to have roles where I look kind of normal, but all of a sudden something weird is going to happen. So I felt like with trick r’ treat, I really wanted to work at changing people’s perception, changing what they thought might happen and instead hitting them with something completely different. And Michael, liked that, he loves playing with people’s perception. Those moments when I’m sitting with the boy at the beginning, there’s some false scary things mixed with a weary resignation of “You know, I’m tired of Halloween, I’m tired of all of this” and then it adapts and changes into something else. (laughing) I really like that part of it. When you have to play somebody that does something horrendous, like killing a child and burying him…well, burying a bunch of children in the backyard…who knows how many children are back there (laughing)…I learned to respect the rules of Halloween.
FOG!: Is horror a genre that you would like to do more of?
DB: I certainly enjoyed it, I thought it was a lot of fun and I worked with Sam Rami on the Spider-Man movies and I love his horror films, they are fantastic so yes, I would love to work with Sam on one of those. Drag Me to Hell I think is so, so much fun and he’s so great at it. Who wouldn’t want to do that?
FOG!: So, what’s next for you?
DB: After Trick r’ Treat I’m retiring from the business…I’m done (laughing). No, I’m coming out with a Christmas treat, it’s a movie that comes out right before Christmas and it’s really sweet. It’s about these four guys…oh what do they call it…oh yeah, Anchorman 2. I play this guy Freddy, the guy who gives Will Ferrell his next job.
It’s going to be funny.