Shock Interview: J.T. Petty, Clancy Brown & Clifton Collins, Jr. on Hellbenders


Not many interviews I attend take place at a bar.  That needs to change.  

Imagine the setting: An empty Irish pub.  Director J.T. Petty sitting at a table with actors Clancy Brown and Clifton Collins, Jr.  And lurking nearby, a handful of assistants, studio reps and publicist.  Want liquor?  Sure, they’ll make that happen. Anything to make the interview go smooth.  But even without the whiskey that floats my way, the interview would have rolled along just fine.  Petty, Brown and Collins are terrific guys to chat with.

They’ve come together to discuss Hellbenders 3D, which is getting a limited theatrical run and a VOD release starting today (October 18th).

The horror-comedy follows the Order of Hellbound Saints (Brooklyn Parish), a highly secretive and profoundly blasphemous men of God, as they battle demonic forces too terrible to be cast out by traditional Vatican-approved methods.

Head inside for our chat which offers a taste of this trio’s dynamic, a bit on the making of Hellbenders and has Brown reflecting on Pet Sematary Part Two.

Shock Till You Drop:  My first thought after seeing this film was, ‘this should be a TV series’…

J.T. Petty:  It would make a good TV series, yeah.

Clancy Brown:  That would be fun, what a great idea.

J.T. Petty:  Here’s our producer.

Brown:  I’m cool with that.  As long as we shoot in L.A.

Shock:  J.T., was this a script you had waiting on the burner for some time?

Petty:  No, this one came together pretty quick.  I just had the idea of these priests… It’s like every exorcism movie, the exorcist has to get possessed and kill himself.  It’s just hilarious to me the church would institutionalize that.  So they have to live debauched and you’ve got a bunch of priests living together debauched.  I told that idea to a group of people and they came back with money.  Six months later we shot the movie.

Shock:  Talk about bringing these guys together…

Petty:  Clancy and I worked together on The Burrowers and I will work with him as long as I can and I hang out with him as much as I can.  Even writing it, I was just thinking of Clancy for Angus.  And Cliff, I immediately tought of the Frankie Flores walk in Traffic.  Clifton will show up in something, and it’d take me a little bit to go, ‘Holy shit, it’s that same guy.’  Macon who plays Macon, he’s just going to be a star. We always talk about blue collar priests and they had to be a family, they all had to look like they lived.  Like dirty cops.  They know the criminals.  And applying that to priests, they had to look like they’ve been through a few exorcisms.

Shock:  Clifton, what got you excited about the project?

Collins, Jr.:  The script, really.  And I just wanted to sit down with J.T. and hear his thoughts and vision.  I had questions.  Then I brought my own ideas and the collaboration was great.  And knowing Clancy was involved was great, too.  You might not have had Clancy involved officially, maybe…

Brown:  Ah, good, because you were involved, see?  [laughs]

Collins, Jr.:  The subject matter was so original.  It wasn’t cliche.  Anything but that.  J.T. wasn’t shy about having the voice that he had for these characters.  We liked going against the grain.

Shock:  As the one at the top of this band of priests, did you hold the set?

Brown:  Nah, J.T. did.  The way he assembles his casts, he trusts them.  It doesn’t always work out, but he’s got this eye and he knows what he wants.  He knows the effect he wants to get.  And here, he did it perfectly.  I mean, Andre Royo, who would have ever thought?  Andre was absolutely the right guy for this movie.  He’s so funny to the point, he pulls me aside one day and says, “I have no idea what the fuck this movie is about, what am I supposed to be doing?”  I said, whatever you’re doing it’s perfect! [laughs]  He’s excellent.

Petty:  [laughs]

Shock:  For you and Cliff, how did you get to that “lived in” experience J.T. brought up earlier?

Brown:  That set, as soon as you walk into that set…

Collins, Jr.:  That fucking set.  That was lived in already.

Shock:  Where was that?

Petty:  Green Point in Brooklyn.  It’s an old church.

Collins, Jr.:  That place needed to be vacuumed.  The Mexican in me wanted to just get a vacuum and start going, but no one would let me.

Brown:  So much dust!

Shock:  On a side note, we’re doing this Kings of Horror series where we look at 31 Stephen King movies, and I just re-watched Pet Sematary Part Two…

Brown:  Oh yeah!

Petty:  Pet Sematary 2 is an interesting movie.  It’s got this 1930’s Universal thing, like the sets….

Brown:  It’s weird.  That was Mary [Lambert].  Mary had just done Grand Isle and had established herself.  I was like, “What are you doing this cheesy horror film for?”  And she said, “It’s the only thing they’d offer me.”  So, I told her I’d do it with her.  She had a great set demeanor.

Shock:  Are we going to see more of you in Sleepy Hollow?

Brown:  No, not that I know of.  They just called me and said, we’ve got this part.  I said, sure, I’m going to be around that part you’re filming.  I went in for two days, did my thing and I was out.  That show’s the young, beautiful people, but not me.  If you want me to do a TV show, do it in my house.  Come to my house and I’ll be happy to shoot stuff. [laughs]

At this point in the conversation, I turned to talk about Faces of Death with Petty, click here and read what he had to say about that upcoming film.

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